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Title: Watson Refuted - Being an Answer to The Apology for the Bible, in a Series - of Letters to the Bishop Of Llandaff
Author: Francis, Samuel W. (Samuel Ward), 1835-1886
Language: English
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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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By Samuel Francis, M.D.

     Pudet me humani generis, cujus mentes et aures talia fern

     --Div. Augustin.




I had written a considerable part of another work, containing strictures
on religion. The appearance of the Bishop of Llandaff's pamphlet, and
the number of editions that have been published for the purpose of
encouraging its sale among the poorer classes, induced me to take up the
pen expressly in answer to this publication, that I might undeceive
the multitude, and show that, under the imposing title of a Bishop,
Dr. Watson has been guilty of the most gross misrepresentations, and,
whether intentionally or from ignorance, has deceived his readers,
while, under the pretence of meekness, he triumphs in the detection of a
few errors, committed by a man who does not pretend to be a Theologian,
or to be possessed of any great learning. He has uniformly passed
over the weighty arguments of the Age of Reason, and stopped at a few
immaterial inaccuracies. I hope, in the following sheets, to show, that
the learned Professor of Divinity has committed errors in the Natural
Sciences and History, which would be inexcusable in any author; but,
when coming from a dignified Clergyman, who wishes to dictate to the
nation, their detection cannot fail to show to the public, how necessary
it is for men to employ their faculty of reason, and not to yield it to
those whose profession is to teach things they acknowledge to be above
reason, and incomprehensible. I shall, as soon as my other avocations
permit, give the world a tract upon religion in general, with strictures
on the Jewish and Christian systems. For this reason, I shall not, in
the present pamphlet, enter deeply into any abstract reasoning, but
confine myself chiefly to the detection of the errors contained in the
Apology for the Bible.

S. F.

London, Aug. 15,





You have thought it not inconsistent with your dignity as a Bishop, to
oppose the _Age of Reason by Thomas Paine_, and I, as a member of the
community, find myself called upon to expose your reasoning, and stop
the career of error. You disclaim controversy; but if your candour
is any thing more than a vain boast, I entertain hopes of seeing the
defender of Christianity again step forward to answer my arguments, if
he deems them of sufficient weight to disturb his quiet. I am sincerely
glad to find a dignified churchman begin a dispute with men, whom
formerly the pious members of the Church would have deemed fit victims
for the fire or the gallows; at the same time, I feel deep regret, that
the Bishop has not yet altogether laid aside the clerical passion for
the extermination of the heterodox. I hope, says Dr. Watson, that
there is no want of charity in wishing, that Mr. Paine's life had been
terminated long before his publication. This may be consistent with
Christian charity, but nature and reason teach us ugly unbelievers
another doctrine: and, however inveterate I may be against those of
the clergy who persecute and deceive the multitude, I confess, that the
death of a person, whom I conceive to be acting for what he thinks the
public good, would give me no pleasure; and the Bishop allows the purity
of Mr. Paine's motives. The wish of the philosopher is, let reason guide
us, and all parties have freedom of debate. No dogmatical dictates of
bigotted priests, no passive obedience to the mandates of inquisitors,
nor to the persecutions so often fomented by churchmen. To the progress
of letters, during this century, we owe the mildness and condescension
of clergymen: till philosophy taught us, the clergy never discovered,
that persecutions for heresy and witchcraft, or inquisitions and popery,
were horrid institutions. Dares Dr. Watson affirm, that freedom of
inquiry was ever suffered on religious subjects? that people were
allowed to examine the grounds of the doctrines taught by the Church?
No, Sir, your predecessors of all beliefs have ever persecuted
philosophers and inquirers into truth, both in science and in religion.
Neither Galileus nor Rousseau escaped the malevolence of the opposers
of science; and in the Bible they found authorities for their inveterate
opposition to the progress of truth and knowledge. The New Testament
informs us, that the wisdom of God is foolishness to man, that human
learning produces nothing but pride 1, and that the poor in spirit gain
the kingdom of heaven.

     1 "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain
     deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of
     the world, and not after Christ." Colos. ii. 5, 8.

     "Cum sit nobis divinis literis traditum cognitiones
     philosophorum stultas esse, ad ipsum re et argumentis
     docendum et; ne quit bouesto sapieutiæ nomine inductus, aut
     inanis eloquentiæ splendore deceptus, humanis malet quam
     divinis credere."

     Lactantius, Inst. lib. i. chap. 2.

Under these and other similar pretences, have barbarous priests led
their credulous followers to massacres in the name of their God; by
means of that touchstone word, _Faith_, they made the multitude forget
that their leaders were but men. Now, Sir, we have grown bolder:
knowledge being no longer confined to clerical seminaries, priests are
not kings. The church totters; and a single pamphlet, you say, "has
unsettled the faith of thousands." Now, that you cannot stifle reason,
you pretend to liberality of sentiment.

The natural historian, or the astronomer, fears not the publication of
opinions contrary to his own, except from a scholastic habit, learned in
the clerical seminaries, which still disgrace almost every country. The
chemist eagerly peruses all theories; the divine alone refuses to argue
with his opponents, and trembles at the very name of reason. I differ in
my philosophical opinions from Mr. Paine; my principles extend so much
farther than his, that I suspect I come under the class which you are
pleased to call madmen, and every clergyman would affect to despise, but
dare not argue with, before an unprejudiced tribunal. These, Sir, are
the effects of superstition, and the cunning policy of the Church. The
Bible is hardly suffered to be read in Catholic countries. The English
reformers could not go so far; their revolution sprung from a dawn of
philosophy. The English clergy, however, would confine us to the
reading of that unintelligible farrago, and the still more insufferable
commentaries upon it. So did the scholastics with Aristotle; their
bigotted partiality to this author was nearly of the same force with the
priestly attachment to the Bible. They retarded science; but the motives
of the clergy are stronger. By the Bible they live; and it is not
uncommon to hear the parson deride in private what he preaches from the

But to your first letter.

After the pious wish for Thomas Paine's death, you proceed to state
how miserable the adoption of his doctrines would render the "unhappy
virtuous." Fear not such a dire event: the _pious_ are few in number,
and of those, few have the courage to open a book controverting their
opinions, and which, they are taught to believe, contains nothing but
blasphemies But, should chance lead them to a detection of their errors,
they would only become less devout, and more useful citizens. Freed from
the prospect of hell and heaven, they will have leisure to think of
this world, in which they live somewhat like hermits, loving only their
priests, and ready to sacrifice victims to credulity.

You say, that guillotine massacres were not the effect of the Popish
religion, but of the disbelief of this system. This deserves some
consideration. It is not true, that the majority of the people of Paris
were unbelievers. No, Sir, they swore to the miracles of Abbe Paris,
and were as ready to give testimony to the wonderful cures and prodigies
operated by his intercession, as the Jews or Christians have been
to vouch for theirs. The fact is this: the lively disposition of the
French, the unintelligibility of their religion, and the shameful
conduct of the priests, turned their attention to the more serious
object of politics; but this event could not immediately change the
nature of the murderers of the Protestants on St. Bartholomew's day.
Does your Lordship imagine, that the peasants of La Vendee are models of
morality? If you think so, I must undeceive you. Nothing but ignorance
prevails in that district; like the ancient crusaders, they are led
solely by their priests, who, by means of certain words which early
habits and superstition have made their followers respect, and, together
with want of communication with the rest of France, have inflamed them,
and driven them to slaughter: even miracles have not been wanting in
that part of the country; but in this, as in many other instances, they
have disappeared, on the arrival of incredulous troops, whose hearts are
perhaps hardened by God, like the Egyptians of old. Since God diminishes
men's faith in proportion as he gives them human wisdom, let us not
endeavour to controvert this heavenly will, by endeavouring to make
the enlightened people of the eighteenth century so credulous as in the
former days of ignorance. The Bishop allows, that the higher classes
of every country all lean towards infidelity; they are more guided by
reason, and reason is the avowed enemy of faith, it being the criterion
of faith, that it contains natural impossibilities. It is unfortunate
that so many sects pretend to faith, and differ so much among
themselves; and that to explain their faiths, they use the weapons of
reason against one another. This of itself proves, that faith is but
a cant word, since the faithful argue about what comes not under human
knowledge. Thus all religious sectaries, whether Christians, Jews,
Mahometans, Boodzoists, or Bramins, as staunchly believe contradictory
doctrines, while, in the inquiries that depend on their reason, we find
that, wherever men have long been civilized, they have, in astronomy,
in physics, or ethics, come in general to the same conclusions. The
language of the philosopher is understood in Pekin as well as in Rome;
but the religious fanatics of every country differ in their opinions,
and consider all but themselves as dreamers and impostors. The Bramin
laughs at the story of Noah and the ark, the stopping of the sun, and
the incarnation of God; while the Christian shows the same contempt for
the incarnation of Vishnu, and other articles of the Braminical
faith. The exercise of reason alone shows us the true limits of our
intellectual faculties. Ignorance of this is the cause of all reveries
in science, as in religion; it is only superstition that incites men to
launch beyond their conceptions.

You accuse of infidelity all those who commit crimes against society.
When we answer, that the Jewish and Christian religions have deluged
the world with blood, you reply, that it is not as being Jews and
Christians, but because they were wicked. At the same time, I hope you
allow, that the Spartans, the Athenians, the Romans, the Chinese, did
not commit half the atrocities which disgrace Jewish history, the aera
of the crusades and the Christian persecutions, of the invasion of
America, the massacres of heretics, &c. The candid observer must
therefore conclude, that right and wrong is not confined to sects; that
the Christian religion, whatever its precepts may be, has not been able
to prevent crimes, while nations who knew not so much as the name of
Moses or Christ, produced a Confucius, an Aristides, a Socrates, an
Epaminondas, a Cincinnatus. Among these nations, who knew not the Lord
Jehovah, we find Archimedes, Epicurus, Demosthenes, Plato, Aristotle,
Cicero, while the chosen people of God, and their successors, the
Christians, borrowed their language, the very names of their gods, and
the little science they knew, from these despised infidels. It was not
the oracle of Delphos, the augurs, or the sybils, that enlightened the
Greeks and Romans. The rabble credited them, as the ignorant Jews and
Christians did their prophets and apostles. In short, morals cannot be
invented; there cannot be two systems of morality. The precepts must be
directed to principles existing in the heart of man. Ignorance conceals
from nations the rule of conduct, in the same manner that it prevents
them from knowing geometry; the moment they study either, they are put
in the road of truth. No wonder, then, that in the times of the greatest
oppression, when frightened into certain doctrines by the stories
of nurses and parents, many learned men should not have been able
to conquer their first prejudices. You certainly know the time when
astrology and the philosopher's stone were in fashion; the believers
in these reveries were men of science. Van Helmont, Stahl, Boyle,
and innumerable others were possessed of this madness. You can be no
stranger to the numerous wretches that suffered for witchcraft and
necromancy, and, upon the very brink of death, confessed they were

The next reflection the Doctor makes, is respecting gospel moderation,
for which purpose he quotes, "Who art thou that judgest another man's
servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth." Yet has this been
done by all Christian rulers; and the clergy are at this moment,
in express defiance of this maxim, about to send missionaries to
disseminate principles that have ever produced internal dissensions, and
without which infidels have lived in perfect happiness. It is, perhaps,
an excess of piety; but cool observers pretend, that it is the high
priest, not the High God, that they are going to preach: to fill their
knapsacks is the first object of these pilgrims, and their God is
made subservient. Unluckily for the Bishop, he could not adduce a more
detestable maxim, to show his charity, than that which I have just
quoted: it is the pivot of Oriental despotism; it teaches passive
obedience to all classes; the father is the tyrant of his children, the
nabob of his subjects, the emperor of all: it is a maxim whose tendency
is to root in men's minds, that we are the property of one another, and
may be inherited as cattle. To those of my readers who are pleased with
it, I wish a thorough experience of its effects.

The remainder of your first letter contains observations to which I
perfectly accede. Your conclusion against Thomas Paine is perfectly
fair. Any apparent deviation from moral justice in the world must prove
as much against the goodness of God, as a similar inconsistency in his
immediate actions and commands proves against revealed religion. My
Lord, we are in the abyss of error; your question with Thomas Paine
is about the comparative absurdity of the two Opinions. The deistical
notions of your adversary do not agree with his reasonable tenets; but
I readily grant, that, to a religious person, nothing is incredible; and
that the greater the inconsistencies, the more sublime the system.
But let me ask your Lordship, what you conclude against one, who, like
myself, is not a Deist? and repeats, with the first philosopher of the
age, that there are only four possible hypotheses upon the causes of the
universe: 1st. That they are purely good. 2dly. That they are malicious.
3dly. That they are a mixture of good and evil. And, lastly, That they
neither possess benevolence, nor any other passions. The two first
hypotheses are equally contradicted by daily experience, the mixture of
good and evil is too apparent: the third is denied, by the steadiness of
the laws of nature: the last, then, only is admissible.

You next proceed to justify several actions of the Jews, which you and
the Bible are pleased to call God's commands. I must decline following
your reasoning; for the very existence of such crimes as the Jews
ascribe to their enemies, and which, they say, were so repugnant to
God, would of themselves prove against the goodness of that Being. His
frequent threats, and the extermination of so many miserable nations, is
a poor expedient; like that of a man, who, attempting to make a machine,
and foiled in his endeavours, gloried in breaking it in a thousand
pieces. How much more ridiculous is that sublime Artificer, who employs
the same means which impotence or malevolence give rise to in his
wretched children. I am glad you have no recourse to the silly causes of
atheism, as given by that illustrious dreamer, Plato.

The world has too long been imposed upon by ridiculous attempts to
vilify atheists, and show their nonexistence. That name has been a cant
word, like Jacobin in France, and Whig and Tory in England, which
every person applies to his neighbour as it best suits him. In Catholic
countries, all who dare think are heretics; among Protestants, they
are atheists. Being a word of opprobrium, it has ever been used as a
powerful engine in the hands of the clergy. The question is upon the
truth of systems, not upon the character of those who profess them. If
this were the discrimination, and the palm given to that religion that
has had the greatest number of honest men, the Christian system would
certainly lose the contest.

The Bishop seems to think, that savages have not so perfect a notion of
God as we imagine: religion, he supposes, begins as it were in express
revelation. This is but the fancy of a clergyman, unsupported by
any proofs; but at least it shows, that the Bishop involuntarily
acknowledges, that reason alone can hardly give us the idea of a ruling
Being. The savage, it is true, does not discourse in a metaphysical
jargon; he wants expressions: but I wish the Doctor would inform me in
what our Catechism definition of God is clearer than the notions of the
rudest savage, who, trembling at the approach of thunder and violent
convulsions of nature, or enjoying the genial sun and fertilizing
inundations, imagines all the world to be animated with his own
passions. The thunder is a mark of wrath, while the blessings are signs
of a propitious genius. To conciliate these imaginary beings, to avert
their wrath, is the grand object of superstition. Schoolmen conceal,
under their mystical jargon, the real materials which their gods are
made of; they conceal that the Supreme Artificer is the offspring of
fancy, the figurative and unphilosophical symbol of nature, to which
they give human dispositions: in all religious systems men are the
type of their gods. Your letter concludes with a remark sufficiently
extraordinary, that most Deists of your acquaintance disbelieve the
mysterious conversations of God, his miracles, and such other stories,
because they are too wonderful, and against the order of nature. Your
reply is curious: because we never have seen the like of them, does it
follow that they are untrue? Give me leave to tell you, my Lord, that
you have forgotten the rules of logic: you know, that in all cases, but
of demonstration, the philosopher does nothing but weigh probabilities.
Any thing that is conceivable is possible: but are we therefore to
believe in the existence of witches or necromancers? Are we to give
credit to the world having sprung from an egg? That Mahomet divided the
moon? That the sun stood still? That astrology is a science? Yet what
reason have we to disbelieve them? The respective supporters of these
opinions may say with the Doctor, that nothing can be too wonderful, and
that, because these things have not happened in our time, it does not
follow they should be untrue. I acknowledge, with the Doctor, that
many Deists admit a Being as inconceivable as any religious mystery;
therefore it may seem ridiculous in them to stop their credulity; since
we call God just, when nothing but a concatenation of causes and effects
can be perceived in the world; when we proclaim him benevolent,
while the world is full of vice, while millions perish in misery, and
continual calamities befal mankind; while, in short, most men have the
gloomy prospect of damnation before them. These are greater miracles
than an universal deluge, making a woman from a rib, or God's
countenancing the atrocious murders of Jews. He that will believe one
wonder, has no plea for doubting the rest.



Your second letter begins with some nice distinctions between
authenticity and genuineness. The whole reasoning seems to amount to
this, that a book may be authentic, although not genuine, and _vice
versa_. To this proposition we were no strangers; but piety makes
your Lordship forget some other considerations. When the proofs of
authenticity depend in a great measure upon the genuineness of a
book, then the authenticity falls to the ground the moment we prove it
spurious. Thus the Jews strenuously maintained, that the Pentateuch had
been written by an inspired man at a particular time. But if Moses is
shown not to have written these books, I trust you will not declare
them authentic, without other very solid proofs. When a whole nation
is proved to be mistaken respecting the author of a work, we ought not
hastily to credit their legends. Moreover, logic teaches us, that in
proportion as events are incredible, they require a stronger testimony
to prove that they have actually taken place. A battle may have been
fought, a city may have been destroyed, but miracles being against the
order of nature, no testimony can be strong enough to prove them, we
must again appeal to faith. It is so much easier for men to be deceived
or imposed upon, or for persons designedly to mislead their credulous
followers, that unless it were more miraculous that a man should be
mistaken, than that the miracle happened, we ought not to give credit
to such fables. If we drop this rule of logic, we shall readily believe
prodigies of all sorts, whether wrought by Moses, Jesus Christ, Mahomet,
St. Antony of Padua, or any modern wonder-workers, witches, magicians,
astrologers, or magnetisers. Mr. Paine no where asserts, that because
a book is not genuine, it must be false; but certainly he might assert
this of the Bible. You say, that if the works of Titus Livius had been
ascribed to another, they would nevertheless be true; how would you
ascertain it? If the whole Roman nation supposed them to have been
written by a particular author at a certain time, and should we be
enabled to point out many passages evidently written in a posterior
age, would you, without any other proofs, join in the assent to the
authenticity of the history, upon a tradition so vague, and already
proved false in so material a point? Although I am no Bishop, I would
only imagine, that as to probable events contained in such spurious
books, there might have been some grounds for them; but I would receive
them with great caution; and, at any rate, never would I establish a
system of history, much less of religion, upon the productions of an
ignorant people: in all cases, events related against the order of
nature are to be considered as the reveries of dark ages. To elucidate
your principles, you mention Anson's voyage, written by Robins, under
the name of Walter, to prove that a spurious work may contain a true
history; but, my Lord, do you forget, that this was written at a time
when the whole nation knew that Lord Anson had made such a voyage, and
every man in his fleet could testify the particulars of it? But if
our posterity, four or five centuries hence, should discover a book
purporting to be written by a Mr. Walters, detailing the voyage of
Admiral Anson, and if in that book they should meet a passage speaking
of the late revolution in France, or of the author's death and burial,
would not that strike at the authenticity of the whole? Would any part
be believed that was not corroborated by the evidence of respectable
contemporary authors? All that could be inferred would be from the
nature of the events related, such as the accurate description of
countries, and such other particulars as marked either the period of the
observations, or their truth: in the first case, they might suspect the
work to be interpolated; in the second, they would value it only for
the accuracy of information. It is different with scientifical and
historical works: a spurious book of science may contain truths, they
stand for themselves, they are the same at all times and places. Not so
in history: the truth here depends on the universal consent of nations,
on the testimony of authors of credibility confronted with each other,
and in all cases relating things probable. When we read in a Chinese
history, that the goddess Amida peopled the world by bearing male
children from under one arm, and females under another, or, in the
Mahometan writers, that the trees spoke to the founder of that sect,
would a man credit any circumstance, however probable, related in
such histories, without the strongest collateral proofs? And should
we further discover, that these histories detailed events posterior
to their author's death, would not this make the whole still more
improbable? Your remark upon this subject is singular: you say, that if
Joshua, Samuel, or Moses, declared themselves the authors of the works
ascribed to them, then to prove these books spurious would at once
destroy their genuineness and authenticity. I would reason thus: Moses
does not say, that he was the author of the Pentateuch; why then do
we believe that he wrote it? You would, no doubt, answer, that the
tradition of the Jews proclaims him such. I retort, that if the
genuineness of a book may be proved by tradition, we ought as much to
argue against the authenticity of a work, from having proved the general
belief of its genuineness to be founded on error, as if the author had
said, I am the author of this book. This we shall, in the sequel, prove
to be the case with the books of the Old Testament. The addition of
an express declaration of Moses would add no authenticity to the
Pentateuch, since it is as easy to forge a work where the author speaks
in the first as in the third person.

Your next remark is concerning miracles. I have already observed, that
no testimony can give them belief. You maintain, that the degree and
kind of evidence for the prodigies recorded in the Bible exceeds that
for any other wonders. How this happens I am unable to comprehend. I
know they are contained in a book composed by the priests of the
most credulous and ignorant nation that perhaps ever existed; and the
authority of these unknown and obscure persons, is all the evidence
we have for crediting their stories. An English Bishop tells his
countrymen, that the miracle of the sun standing still is better
supported than the prodigies of Abbe Paris, Mesmer, and the late Labre
at Rome, than the numerous Indian, Chinese, and Popish miracles, of
which a great part are attested by magistrates, divines, physicians, and
the most enlightened classes of society; while the wonderful repast of
the angels with Abraham, or the marvellous tale of Jonah's three days'
residence in the belly of a fish, depends upon the authority of a book
which we shall prove to be spurious, to have been lost for several ages,
and to be compiled, if not altogether composed, by some Jewish scribes,
who were, as they themselves acknowledge, the only men versed in the
scriptures of the nation. I thought you would have known sacred history
better than at the present day to make such unsupported assertions.
Have you forgotten the wonders of the magicians of Pharaoh? Do you not
recollect the express acknowledgment of Moses himself, that there may
be miracles and prophecies performed by men who adored not the Lord
Jehovah? Does he not say, in chap. xiii. of Deuteronomy, "If there arise
among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or
a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass whereof he spake unto
thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, &c.--that prophet, or that
dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death, _because he hath spoken to you
to turn away from the Lord your God_." It is not because he is a false
prophet, but because he is not a prophet of Jehovah. Does not this
at once show the grossness of the conceptions of the Jews, and the
sophistical mode of arguing of their legislator? For I would ask, How
did Moses prove himself the oracle of God? Or how did Jesus Christ
show himself the Son of God, but by their pretended miracles? Why then
believe the testimony of a miracle in one instance, and not in another?
But the Jews certainly imagined, that there were several gods, and that
they quarrelled with each other, as kings are used to do; therefore it
was natural that one set of prophets should try to exterminate another,
and be as inveterate against them as the Lord Jehovah was against Baal,
or other rival gods. If the reader imagines I speak at random when I
say, the Jews believed in other gods, I refer him to Judges, chap.
xi. ver. 23, 34, where it is said, "So now the Lord God of Israel hath
dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and shouldst
thou not possess it? 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." There cannot be a fairer

I can hardly imagine a Bishop ignorant of the augurs, oracles, and
sybils of the Greeks and Romans, and of the implicit belief these
nations had in them; the truth of their prophecies was fully as well
established as the prophecies of the Jews. Neither were miracles
uncommon among the heathens. You have, no doubt, read St. Ambrose and
Origen, and have found in the works of these and other fathers, that
the only difference between the miracles of the Christians and infidels,
was, that the former were operated by God, and the latter by the devil;
and could I be satisfied that Satan took up Jesus Christ to the top of
that high mountain, (now unknown to geographers) from whose pinnacle all
the world could be seen, this would surprise me as much as to see Jesus
Christ, or any other wonder-worker, bringing a dead man to life. I am
ashamed to have inveighed so long against silly prejudices; but I
could not avoid calling upon your Lordship, to point out the difference
between gospel-miracles and the ridiculous tales believed in all dark
ages, and of which we find so copious collections in the works of the
first fathers. The axiom of philosophers, that no human testimony can
establish the credibility, of miracles, you have left unanswered. You
say it has been confuted an hundred times: had you given the confutation
of it, we would have been able to ascertain the truth of your assertion.
You are writing for the multitude, and being a dignitary of the church,
ought to furnish the people with arms to oppose reason. Perhaps the
unsuccessful attempt of Dr. Campbell has deterred you from at least
recapitulating the principal answers to this proposition. Till you can
prove that the great mass of mankind are not very fallible and easily
deceived by any impostor, or that they are disposed and capable to
examine the truth of reports spread about prodigies, you will never be
able to persuade men of sense, that events impossible are to be believed
upon the testimony of those who not only are, but have constantly been,
the slaves of credulity in all countries.

You then show, that Mr. Paine's objections to the genuineness are not
new. This is true; and I am surprised you have quoted so few supporters
of his opinions. Your attempt to prove the genuineness of the
Pentateuch, by direct evidence, is ridiculous. What! Maimonides, ten
centuries after the destruction of the Jews, a Jew himself, and writing
at a period so remote from the supposed date of the books of the
Old Testament, is, by Dr. Watson, called a direct evidence of the
genuineness of the Pentateuch. Juvenal, a poet, who in more than one
place ridicules the credulity of the Jews, says, that they believe in
Moses--so do the Europeans allow that the Indians believe in Brama.--We
question not the general traditions of the Jews, but the credit they
deserve; and I shall next proceed to show, that the books of the
Pentateuch are spurious, and undeserving of credit. The name of
Moses and the Jews were unknown to the famous Phoenician historian
Sanchoniato, of whom Eusebius has preserved us some extracts; he has
never mentioned a word about this famous legislator: had he done so,
Eusebius was too strenuous an advocate _for_ Christianity not to have
recorded it. The books of the Jews were concealed from all the world
before the famous Greek translation made at the instance of Ptolemy
Philadelphia. Josephus himself acknowledges, that no heathen knew
the Jewish books, which he endeavours to explain, by some miraculous
interference of God to keep them from the impious. It is evident, that
the insignificance and ignorance of the Jews were sufficient to screen
them for a long time from the search of philosophers. Upon the early
history of the Jewish nation, however, we have the testimony of several
of the ancient writers. Manetho, and Chaeremon, Egyptian historians,
give the most unfavourable account of this nation. Lisimachus does not
favour them any more; and, although he differs about the name of the
king who expelled them from Egypt, yet he agrees in calling them a set
of men infected with leprosy, and the meanest of the subjects of the
king of Egypt. Diodorus Siculus is as hard upon these wretched Jews. In
short, the opinion of their being the vilest and most ignorant of men,
has prevailed among all antiquity. All the writers about them agree in
stating that they never produced any work in science; indeed, that they
never improved any branch of useful knowledge. Many of these authors
mention Moses as a priest of Heliopolis, who led them out of Egypt, and
gave them a religion. Diodorus Siculus informs us, that the God of Moses
was Jau, or Jahouh, which is the true pronunciation of Jehovah; and
Plutarch (de Iside) says, that the Thebans adored this God, and had not
images in their temples, because Jau signified the general principle of
life, the soul of the world.

Strabo, in his Geography, book 16, informs us, that Moses, who was an
Egyptian priest, taught his followers to worship the God Jahouh, without
representing it by emblems. This was the God of the Thebans, the soul of
the world. The Jews have even preserved the name of Tsour, or giver of
forms, and commonly translated by the word creator in chap. xxxii. of
Deuteronomy. Herodotus affirms, that the Jews or Syrians of Palestine
borrowed circumcision from the Egyptians. Diodorus says the same; and
even Philo and Josephus do not deny it. A great many other rites
were copied by the Jews from this nation. It is, therefore, of great
consequence to ascertain the age in which the Jewish books were written;
for if we can prove that all the fundamental points of their religion
were copied from their masters the Egyptians, or borrowed from the
Babylonians during the captivities, then the reader will judge of
the truth of the clerical opinion, that a handful of hordes were the
favourite people of God; that a set of ignorant and credulous vagabonds
taught science to the Chinese, Indians, and Egyptians, and preserved
nothing among themselves but some ridiculous accounts of their origin,
and a collection of absurd prodigies. If we succeed in pointing out
from what sources Jewish mythology is derived, there will be but
little difficulty in unravelling the principal fables contained in the
Pentateuch and other Jewish books. We are pretty well acquainted with
the allegories of the heathen mythologies.

I am ready to grant that several of Mr. Paine's objections are not
valid, and often trifling; but I declare, once for all, that I do not
think myself bound to follow Mr. Paine in every instance. I shall direct
my remarks, rather to disprove your reasoning, than to defend every
objection of your opponent; at the same time, I shall avoid repeating
what he has advanced, and you have not disproved. The chief proofs
against the genuineness of the Pentateuch have been overlooked by Mr.
Paine. I shall state them briefly.

First. It was believed, by all the best informed old fathers of the
church, that the Jewish books had been absolutely lost during the
captivity, and that Esdras had written them from inspiration; or, that
he collected the Pentateuch, and all other canonical books, out of
whatever records he could find, and put them together. 1 In either case,
their authority is greatly invalidated; and the more so, as the fourth
book of Esdras, adopted by the Greek church, and generally deemed
authentic, says expressly, that Esdras dictated the holy books during
forty successive days and nights, to five scribes, who were continually
writing. This tale shows sufficiently the general belief that he was
the restorer of the long lost books of the law. In our second book
of Nehemiah, or, properly speaking, Esdras, it is said, that Ezra, or
Esdras the scribe, who was above all the people, brought the book of the
law to the people, and then the people rejoiced much in being instructed
in the law of God, that when they found there the commandment of the
Lord ordering the Jews to perform the feast of the booths, there was
great gladness, "and all the congregation of them that were come again
out of the captivity made booths, and sat under booths: for, since the
days of Joshua the son of Nun, unto that day, had not the children of
Israel done so.". If the Jews had even forgotten a feast, the memory
of which every father would transmit to his son, is this not an evident
proof that they had no books in the captivity? Again, in chap. vii. of
the 1 book of Esdras, it is said, that Esdras "had very great skill,
so that he omitted nothing of the law and commandments of the Lord, but
taught all Israel the ordinances and judgments."

     1 Porro Esdram sancti patres docent iostanratorem suisse
     sacrorum librorum, quod non ita intelligendum est, quasi
     scripturæ sacræ omnes perierint in eversione civitatis, et
     templi Nabuchodonosor, et ab Esdra divinitas inspirato
     reparatæ fuerint, ut fabulatur auctor, L, IV. Esdræ C. XIV.
     Sed quod Scripturas Mosis, et prophetarum in varia volimina
     descriptas, et in varia loca dispenreas, et tempore
     captivitatis non diligenter conservatas, Esdras summa
     diligentia collectas ordinaverit, et in unum quasi corpus
     redigerit. Bellarmin de Script. Ecclesiast. page 22.

Can any man, after this, doubt that Esdras is the compiler of all the
books which the Jews had not known for many centuries? And are we, who
laugh at the Catholic councils, to trust to the word of a Jewish scribe?
it is further stated in 2 Chronicles, chap. xxiv. ver. 15, that Hilkiah
the priest found a book of the law of God _given_ by Moses, and sent it
by Saphan to king Josias, who heard it read, which shows that it must
have been very short; and, by the context, it would appear to have
been the law strictly speaking; another proof that these records were
altogether scattered, and are all without authority, since it was so
easy to forge them among a people who seemed to preserve no more than
a traditional law. Again, although, in the older Jewish books, such as
Kings and Chronicles, we find the name of Moses often mentioned, yet no
word answering to the five books of Pentateuch is to be found. The Code
of laws of Moses seems to have been forgotten; for Solomon ornamented
the temple with calves, in express contempt of that law, and this while
he was the favourite of God, and the wisest man in the world. The very
confusion that pervades the books ascribed to Moses, shows them to
have been compilations. Jerome, who was one of the most learned of the
fathers, confesses that he dares not affirm that Moses is the author
of the Pentateuch; he even adds, that he has no objection to allow that
Esdras wrote the books in question. 1

     1 Sive Mosen dicere volueris auctorem Pentateuchi, sive
     Esdram ejuadem iustauratorem operis, non recuso. Hieronim.
     Op. Tom. IV. p. 134. Apud Edit. Paris 1706,

Secondly. We know that no canon of books ever existed among the Jew's
till the time of the synagogue under the Maccabees. Before their reign,
there had never existed among the Jews any such council; and, if the
word occurs in the Pentateuch, it is a fault of the transcribers and
composers, who lived when there was a synagogue, and is not to be
understood in any other acceptation than a collection of priests. The
Pharisees of the second temple chose the books they thought best among
a multitude of forgeries. The Talmud relates, that this synagogue
were about to reject the Book of Proverbs, Ezekiel's prophecies, and
Ecclesiastes, because they imagined these writings contradictory to the
law of God; but a certain Rabbin having undertaken to reconcile them,
they were preserved as canonical. A prodigious number of forged Books
of Daniel, Esdras, and of the Prophets, were then in circulation; and
to distinguish the genuine from the false works became absolutely
necessary. This doubt and uncertainty conspires to render the decision
of the synagogue very doubtful; particularly, as we shall show in the
sequel, that many passages of the Prophecies are written evidently about
the time of this choice of sacred books, and inserted in them, probably
by some cunning priest, as the oracles of Sybil were forged to suit

Thirdly. The similarity of the mysteries of the Jews to those of the
Babylonians, is too glaring not to let us see the origin of Genesis in
particular. The creation in six days is a perfect copy of the Gahans,
or Gahan-bars, of Zoroaster; the particulars of each day's work are
literally the same. The serpent was famous among the Babylonians. The
mythological deluge of Ogyges and Xissuthrus, are symbols of changes
arising on earth, as they imagined, from the revolutions of the heavenly
bodies. These, a little ornamented by the historical narration of
Deucalion's inundation related by Berosus, is the pattern of Noah's
flood; the ark of Osiris and emblematical dove and raven were Egyptian
hieroglyphics. The man and the woman in Paradise is a mere copy of
Zoroaster's first pair. The original sin is Pandora's box. The Talmud of
Jerusalem says expressly that the Jews borrowed the names of the angels,
and even of their months, from the Babylonians. The Elohim, or Gods,
(not God), are said in Genesis to have created the world. It was not
Jehovah, but the genii or gods that are in the Hebrew called makers of
the world. And these are the very genii, who according to Sanchoniatho,
were by Mercury excited against Saturn.

Fourthly. We ask, in what language was the Pentateuch written, if it
really was the work of Moses? It is known that Hebrew is a dialect of
the Phenician, and that the Jews spoke Egyptian for a very long time
before they adopted the language of the people among whom they dwelt. In
Psalm lxxxi. we learn that the Jews were surprised to hear the language
of the people beyond the Bed Sea. If, therefore, Moses, or any person of
that age, is the author of the Pentateuch, it is evident that the
Hebrew books are mere translations. What degree of credit does a nation
deserve, who have been able to take for originals books that were in the
face of them translations? Is it right to persecute men, as priests have
done while they had power, for refusing to give credit to this tissue of
contradictory and absurd fables?

Fifthly. In the books of the Old Testament, we find abundant proofs that
they have been written in an age greatly posterior to that of Moses. In
Genesis, chap. xii. ver. 6, we find these words, "And the Canaanite was
then in land." This implies another period when the Canaanite was not
in the land, which, we learn from the Bible, did not happen till after
David, and could not therefore be written by Moses. The beginning of
Deuteronomy is certainly not written by him; for he never passed the
Jordan; he died upon Mount Nebo, to the eastward of it. The English
translation has in chap. i. v. 5, of this book, said, "on this side
of the Jordan," for "on that side," which is in the original. The
translator has taken similar liberties very often. In chap. xxxiii. we
find this expression, "There never was in Judea so great a prophet
as Moses," and such could be pointed out in many places. Here needs no
comment to show that such passages could only be written in a posterior
age, and when there had been several prophets after Moses. Thomas Paine
mentions many other passages, which I shall consider when I come to your
next letter.

The above considerations would be sufficient to invalidate the
genuineness and authenticity of any historical book: but here we find
that the credulity of bigots requires less proof for the authority of
a work, which, according to them, is the fountain of faith, than
for Ossian's poems, or any other book of no consequence. If a common
historical work contains fables, impossible events, and anachronisms;
if its age is not ascertained; if we are certain that it was unknown for
many centuries; if we are even ignorant whether it is an original or a
translation, who would give the slightest credit to such a book? Yet are
enlightened nations led by the testimony of the Jews, a people credulous
beyond measure, extremely ignorant, almost continually in slavery, and
dispersed. This is the nation that pretends to give an account of the
creation, and, with a vanity peculiar to an insignificant people, to
assume the supremacy among nations, and arrogate to themselves the
exclusive protection of Jehovah, and dare make their Adam the common
stock of mankind. You allow, my Lord, that several passages have been
interpolated in the Pentateuch. No person in the least acquainted with
the history can deny that it has suffered great alterations; 1 and I
have already noticed the opinion of the best informed fathers of the
church upon the non-existence of the Pentateuch, several centuries prior
to Esdras. I now beg to be informed, how we are to decide, if Hilkiah,
in the reign of Josias, collected from tradition, or some old book he
found in a chest, the precepts of the law? and whether the other famous
scribe, Esdras, did not compile from hearsay, and some imperfect and
scattered manuscripts of no authority, together with a great many
Babylonish traditions, those venerable five books of Moses? We are
informed, in one of the books that bears his name, that Esdras was
the wisest of his cotemporaries, and therefore a very fit and probable
person to write books out of old legends.

     1 Multa in Hebraicis et Græcis codicibus vitia esse
     ostendimus. Malta mendacia in rebus minutis, eorum pars
     uliqua non exigua nostra editione vulgata extat.---Marian
     pr. edit. vulg. cap. 21.

If the books of the Old Testament were composed at so late a period, no
wonder then that we find all the mysterious part of them so much like
the religion of the ancients, and particularly of the Babylonians, and
the historical part made up of heterogeneous matters, which in our days,
unassisted by any profane writer of that age, we can make nothing of. I
shall mention a few of the most striking points of resemblance between
the Jewish and other mysteries. Abraham, the most famous of their
patriarchs, has ever been celebrated in India. This they seem to have
brought from their native country, Arabia. We have already noticed,
that their account of the creation is exactly copied from Zoroaster, who
says, that the world was made in six periods of time, called by him the
thousands of God and of light, meaning the six summer months; in the
first, God made the heavens; in the second, the waters; in the third,
the earth; in the fourth, trees; in the fifth, animals; and in the
sixth, man. The Etrurians and the Hindoos have very similar traditions
of the highest antiquity, which, though they were emblems at first
perfectly understood, astronomers afterwards converted them into
periods, comprehending as many years as was required for different
revolutions of the planetary system.

Thus, while the Hindoos and Persians called the days or ages of the
world, each of many thousands of years; the Jews, ignorant of astronomy,
and fond of the marvellous, comprised all within six common days. Their
firmament or heaven of crystal, and its windows, are absurdities not
peculiar to them; the feast of the Pascha, which signifies passage, is
of Egyptian origin, and was in reverence for the passage of the sun at
the vernal equinox: the sacrifices of calves or oxen, the ceremony of
the scape-goat, are Egyptian and Indian; the latter, in particular, have
a ceremony altogether the same with that of the scapegoat. It is too
long to insert here, but I refer my readers to Mr. Halhed's introduction
to the code of Gentoo laws for information on this head. The distinction
between pure and impure animals was first made by the Egyptians; the
ladder seen in Jacob's vision, is exactly a copy of that with seven
steps in the cave of Milthra, representing the seven spheres of the
planets, by means of which souls ascended and descended. It is also the
mythology of the Hindoos, whose antiquity no man at the present day
can venture to deny. The seven candlesticks, and the twelve stones are
Egyptian, and were emblems of the seven planets, and twelve signs of
the Zodiac. The serpent is the most famous Egyptian hieroglyphic; it
signifies eternity, or the sum of all things. The fasts before feasts
are also derived from this nation. The Jewish high-priest, like the
Egyptian, wore an image of sapphire, being the emblematic picture of
truth, upon, his breast: in short, the Egyptians, their masters, gave
them the first ideas of mysteries, which, in the course of time, they
mingled with the Chaldaic; and Manetho informs us, in the extract given
by Josephus in his first book against Appian, that, in authors of great
authority, he found the Jews to have been distinguished in Egypt by the
name of captive pastors, which Josephus artfully enough has attempted
to convert into captive kings. These are the men whom sacred historians
pretend to have taught the Egyptians all their arts. These wretches,
despised of all nations, were themselves the emphatical admirers of the
wisdom of the East. Their legislator was an Egyptian priest, and learned
all that he knew from them; and you would persuade us that a set of
Arabian hordes had founded the Egyptian empire, simply because they,
like the Irish, are pleased to say that they were antedeluvians. I
pardon the Jews for their credulity; but Europeans in the 18th century
ought not to think as the inhabitants of Palestine. If we give credit to
all the reports of the origin of nations, we may give up all pretensions
to common sense.

The immortality of the soul is shown, by the learned but superstitious
Warburton, never to have been mentioned in the Pentateuch; nor the
notion of hell, or of future rewards and punishments. There is nothing
more certain, however, than that the Pharisees, long before Christ,
strenuously maintained the immortality of the soul, and in some measure
adopted the doctrine of transmigration of souls, which they had got from
the Greeks and other nations.

The Sadducees, founding themselves upon the Bible, fervently denied
a future life. The Essenians, according to Philostratus, were
Pythagoreans, both in their morals, belief, and mode of life, except
that a few of the Jewish articles of faith, such as the necessity
of circumcision, were mingled with their creed. Josephus himself
acknowledges the similarity between the Essenians and the Plisti among
the Thracians, to whom Zamolxis, the disciple of Pythagoras, taught
his doctrines: The Therapeutes, the pattern and ori--gin of Christian
morals, were reckoned amongst the Jews to be the most holy among the
Essenians. They sacrificed their passions to God; they never swore,
but made simple affirmations; they lived, as it were, in convents; they
despised bodily pain: when they entered their state of perfection, they
abandoned their property, wives, children, and all earthly concerns;
they lived upon bread and water and salt; and spent the six days of the
week in interpreting the allegorical sense of the Bible. They revered
the Sabbath with a most scrupulous exactness; then they assembled in
places set apart for religion, the men ranged on one side, and the
women on the other, separated by a division four feet high, to prevent
temptation. Then they sung praises to God, and preached; they obeyed
all the laws of their country, but never would execute any order to
hurt another person. They, like the Pythagoreans, thought themselves
possessed of the gift of prophecy; they, like the Pythagoreans, believed
in the great year, whence arose the famous millennium of the Christians.
The three sects of Jews--Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenians, lived all
in perfect harmony; the incredulous Sadducees not being considered as
heretics, but often attaining the dignity of high-priests. This suffices
to show, that the Jews borrowed from other nations those very mysteries
which the ignorance of writers has misled mankind to consider as the
special revelations of Jesus Christ.

I have insisted so much upon this circumstance, because there is not a
single article of Christian morals, nor one religious tenet, contained
in the New Testament, that was not known before Jesus Christ was born.
And the Christian religion, like that of the Jews, is a corruption of
the mythologies of the nations they brand with the name of infidels.

I return to your book. It is now needless to answer your logical
inference, that if Esdras is the compiler of the books of the
Pentateuch, they may still be true. I have already said, that we are not
to sacrifice our reason to the compilations or works of a Jewish scribe,
who borrowed evidently so much, and who pretended to divine inspiration
and conversations with the angels. When I began to read your book, I
was impressed with the idea of your candour; sorry am I to see
the malevolence with which you treat Mr. Paine, and how much you
misrepresent his just aspersions on the conduct of Moses. Your language
almost persuades me that you do not differ from the gentlemen of your
profession. Could Moses affirm, as you pretend he might, that he never
persecuted any man? What! that monster, who, although married with a
Midianite, ordered thousands of his credulous followers to be murdered,
because one of them had slept with a Midianite, whom Josephus states was
his wife! What! when his brother and coadjutor makes a golden calf to
the people, this impostor, instead of punishing him, orders 3,000 men to
be murdered, and appoints Aaron his successor! Because Korah, Da-than,
and Abiram, could not suffer to see him usurping all the power, he
murders them, although Korab was the descendant of Levi. This is Moses,
who says, like Bishop Watson, that he "was a very meek man!" Were these
continual murders necessary to instruct ignorant idolaters who followed
the example of their priests? Have not the founders of our faith been
the most cruel murderers? But all this we are told was the immediate
orders of the Lord Jehovah, a merciful God. How feeble appears the power
of this great God! He is continually repenting, and always obliged to
renew his covenants with a set of wretches, who, although they enjoyed
his special protection, always forsook him, and only fulfilled his
commands strictly when they were ordered to massacre. They might have
been the favourite people of God, but I am sure they were the disgrace
of men. You talk of idolatrous nations sunk in vice. I know of none so
barbarous as the Jews, whose legislator was obliged to fly from Egypt
for murder, a perfect assassin. The laws concerning paternal power,
which you support, are horrid. Their having been adopted by many
nations, is a proof of the general prevalence of superstition,
ignorance, and despotism. I have nothing to answer to your discourses on
tythes. The Bible is preached up, because it teaches passive obedience,
donations to the church, and such other acts of _public utility_.


After what I have observed above, it will be useless to say much as to
your third letter, in which you examine minutely the passages Thomas
Paine has pointed out to prove the Pentateuch not genuine. First, As to
the objection taken from the name of Dan, I never thought it specious.
This is not the case with the very next one, which is of very great
weight. The writer, after enumerating a number of Arabian names,
concludes in these words, "These are the kings that reigned in Edom,
before there reigned any king over the children of Israel." Contrary
to my expectations, you acknowledge this to have been written after
the Jews had kings. Many of your brethren have attempted to deny it by
quibbles! but you say that this does not invalidate the authority of the
book: wonderful! if your _alma-mater_ taught you, that an evident lie
or contradiction in any book, particularly of remote antiquity, and
relating histories unsupported by impartial authors, does not create
a suspicion, which approaches to certainty, that the book is not
authentic; if you think so, I must give up arguing with you. It may be
an interpolation, you observe. How did you learn this? You will at least
leave, me the right to suppose, and you cannot deny that the presumption
is against you, an absurdity in a book is a reason for distrusting
the rest. I have probability on my side; for the Jew who forged this
passage, either from piety or ignorance, might have forged the whole
book, or so interpolated it, as to destroy its credibility. At any rate,
the detection of falsehood in a history, is not a motive to suppose it
true. It requires an excess of piety to break through all the rules of
logic and common sense. How does it happen, that the Lord Jahovah does
not provide better against such mistakes creeping into the book of
the law of his favourite people? It could seem as if he had done it
on purpose to create incredulity, and enjoy the pleasure of punishing
unbelievers, as of old, he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he might have
a pretext to inflict calamities on him and his people.

My Lord, what credit would we give to a history of William the Conqueror
that had the following sentence, after naming different persons, _And
these were the names of the Kings of England before George the Third
came to the throne_; for what purpose could any person insert such a
passage? He must have been absolutely mad. It could only get into the
work from its being compiled during the reign of George the Third,
and arising from a forgetfulness of the writer, or ignorance of the
transcriber: in no case could it be inserted in a book, which you say
was kept in the public records, and over whose purity the whole Jewish
learned men would watch; you must either give up your argument from the
public records of this people, and no longer deem them great authority;
or, if you persist in it, I leave you to reconcile the most palpable
interpolations and forgeries with the scrupulous attention with which
you suppose the Jews preserved the word of God. But what is most curious
in this passage is, that we find it verbatim in 2 Chronicles, chap. i.
ver. 43, and you seem to glory in discovering this similarity of the
passages. "Why might not," you say at the end of your fourth letter,
"the author of the book of Chronicles have taken them, (meaning
the names of the kings of Edom, &c.), as he has taken many other
genealogies, supposing them to have been written in the book of Genesis
by Samuel?" Another acknowledgment of more interpolations in Genesis.

But, Sir, who gave you the right, you who exclaim so much against the
unsupported assertions of Thomas Paine, to suppose that the author of
Chronicles copied an interpolation from Genesis, knowing, as he must
have done, that it was interpolated by Samuel?

Would he not rather, to make the book consistent, expunge it? Could he
be so ignorant as not to see the contradiction? What is more strange,
how came Samuel to introduce such a passage? The tendency of it could
only be to weaken the authority of Genesis; but, allowing all your
groundless suppositions to be true, do you not see that they only prove
the ignorance of Samuel and of the Jewish history writers, and at once
destroy the superstructure you have in your following letters raised
upon the supposed accurate records of the Jews? The supposition of
Samuel being the author of the interpolation, is like an historian,
who, to the history of Charles the First, should add some accounts,
concluding with observing, that all this took place before George
the Second, or should even venture further, and instruct us in some
prominent features of the French revolution: yet this is the case with
the passage in question; for it is unquestionable that the Jews had
never a king till the time of Saul; that, under Moses and the Judges,
they held kings in detestation. The fact is very plain. In Chronicles,
the passage has an obvious and clear sense; for there an account of
the kings of Israel is given, and the sentence now under consideration
precedes it. Indeed, the whole chapter xxxvi. of Genesis is almost
literally the same with chapter first of Chronicles; and every unbiassed
man will conclude, that the former is copied from the latter. That
little concluding expression, before _there reigned any king over
Israel_, certainly marks its date; and there is nothing more probable,
than that when Esdras and the scribes compiled these books, they should
insert in Genesis the posterity of Esau, as far as the history of
Genesis went, and that this unlucky passage should by mistake be copied
too. I acknowledge, that an interpolation, when we can prove the period
of its insertion, does not destroy the validity of a book, if the rest
of the facts are consistent, and supported by collateral proofs; but the
Bible is an unconnected rhapsody, written by we know not whom, without
order, arrangement, or a shadow of method. Besides, it is the word of
God; and what, in a profane writer, would be a slight error, is here a
most material fault; if our future happiness depends, as you suppose, on
our believing this book, which certainly can never take place while such
reasons for scepticism remain. In proportion to the importance of an
event, so we must be careful in examining the grounds upon which it
stands, or else we must be like those whimsical men, who will require
the best evidence for the truth of a trifling report, but find no
repugnance in crediting the most marvellous events upon trust.

Mr. Paine properly concludes, that Genesis is a book of stories, fables,
traditions, or invented absurdities, or downright lies; and this I not
only affirm with him, but will prove to my readers, that it is in no
respect deserving of more credit than the fabulous and early history of
all nations. Next follows your rhapsody upon the beauty of the Bible and
the truth of it. Pardon me if I think it like a madman's reveries. Even
the men of your profession have long ago given up such a ridiculous
conceit. Whoever has read eastern literature, or the late translation
from the Shanscrit, will find that the same style with that of the Bible
pervades all eastern compositions. In all of them we find the frequent
use of allegory, and a quaint and formal manner of expression. Divest
the Bible of its Oriental garb, and put it into common language,
you will find, except the episode of Joseph, and two or three other
passages, it is absolutely illegible. I have already shown the
Pentateuch to have been a very modern work, and the Jews to have
borrowed every thing from other nations. No wonder then that the _Abram_
should resemble the _Brama_ of the Hindoos, or that a few names in the
supposed genealogies of the Jews should be like those of the Assyrians,
Medes, &c. Genesis gives a description of creation truly beautiful! We
did not spring from grasshoppers, nor the world from an egg; but the
wise Moses informs us, that we were made of clay and a little breath.
This may be sublime to you; but the philosopher is never elated by
fables so absurd. It is not true that Genesis is the oldest, nor a very
old book. Sanchoniato, the Hindoo books, those of the Egyptians and
Chinese, are of much higher antiquity than Moses. In vain has Mr.
Maurice struggled to dazzle our understandings with his incoherent
suppositions, to prove that the Hindoos borrowed their religion from the
Jews, from a set of Arabian hordes, from the slaves of the Egyptians,
from a petty nation, who, as Julian says, never produced a single work,
and whose credulity has ever been proverbial. The astronomical records
of the Chinese prove, that there were men and astronomers in that
country at the time when the wretched Jews would make us believe
the world was inundated from the windows of heaven, and no creatures
existing but Noah, his family, and the beasts in the ark. Further,
Souciet mentions an eclipse of the sun recorded in the Chinese history,
which happened 2155 years before Christ, which is but 236 years after
the Deluge; a time when, the Bible informs us, the earth was only
inhabited by the sons of Noah, while Egypt was then so peopled, that
90,000 cities could not contain the inhabitants, and China was not
less so. The Hindoo astronomical observations, as far as they have been
examined by the most learned astronomers of the age, such as Baillie,
Le Gentil, and others, carry their antiquity between four and five
thousands beyond our æra; for a proof of which, I refer you to Mr.
Playfair's excellent paper, in the second volume of the Edinburgh
Philosophical Transactions. The Hindoo religious books contain, besides,
a great many of the ideas afterwards adopted by the Jews. The long lives
of antedeluvians, in particular, are the exact copy of the Iogues of
the Indians. The Dwapaar Iogue, the latter part of which answers to the
period of Noah, was when men's lives were limited to a thousand years;
and Methuselah we know did not live so long. They have, too, their
mythological deluge, or the incarnation of Vishnu into a fish. For
an account of which I refer my readers to Volney, and to Mr. Maurice
himself. The former gentleman is a good judge of ancient literature;
he pretends that he can prove, that most of the chapters of Genesis,
supposed to contain names of persons, are mythological: the posterity of
Noah is, according to Volney, no more than a geography of the world
as known to the Jews. I have not read Mr. Volney's memoir which I
understand he has published on this subject; but, when I consider the
late period when Genesis and the other books were composed, and how
much the Jews borrowed from the Egyptians and Babylonians, how much the
deluge of Noah and his ark resemble the emblems of Osiris; in short,
when I reflect on the unintelligibility and apparent absurdity of
Genesis, on the impossibility of the Deluge, and of the not less
absurdity of the population of the world so soon after that calamity, I
confess I am much inclined to despise the whole performance. There have
been various suppositions upon the meaning of the names mentioned in
Genesis. Adam has been said to signify, in many parts of Asia, the first
day of the week; and Enoch, the seventh successor of Adam, to be the
same with Saturn, or the seventh day. Thus Assur, Elam, Lud, Madai,
Javan, and Tiras, which are said to be the founders of the Assyrians,
the Elamites, the Lydians, the Medes, the Ionians, and the Thracians,
may very probably be nothing else than the enunciation of the names of
these countries; for, between Assur and Assyria, or Lud and Lydia,
there is not a very great difference. We know that Egypt is by the Arabs
called _Masr_, which has the same consonants with the Hebrew _Misraim_,
whose plural termination implies properly the inhabitants of Egypt.
In the Bible, _Misraim_ is called the founder of that kingdom. We also
know, that Syria is called _Barr-el-sham_, or the country to the left.
The inhabitants of Thebaid are called the sons of Cush. Again, we
find several names of towns very much resembling those of the supposed
founders of these monarchies; Sur, or Tyre, is not unlike Assur. These
are conjectures; I pretend to found nothing upon them; but, at least,
they are probable. Your Genesis, on the contrary, as it is commonly
explained, contains palpable lies. It supposes a deluge, which neither
did nor could take place; it destroys the human race, when we know that
nations were then in existence. Lastly, it talks of the founders of
nations, which existed long before that period. But, even had Genesis
been written at the time of Moses, it might be worth while to
inquire into the import of his genealogies; but, being a very modern
compilation, collected by an ignorant people, partly from tradition,
partly from scattered and mutilated records, it does not deserve the
serious attention of the philosopher.

You next attempt to justify the conduct of God towards the Canaanites,
whose great crime was to defend their own country, and to adore their
own gods instead of the God of the Jews. When a man makes an apology for
such conduct, we only can answer by an appeal to the feelings of men,
from which alone we derive notions of humanity. It was natural for the
adorers of a Phenician Jehovah to be the enemies of the Babylonish Baal:
both these gods sprang from the wild fancies of men. The jealous God of
the Jews, the all-wise, omnipotent, and benevolent, could not convert
the worshippers of another god, without exterminating whole nations,
even to the little children; but this barbarous mandate came from the
priests, who have in all countries, and all systems of Religion, adopted
this method of conversion. You state, that Moses "gave an order that
the boys and women should be put to death; but, that the young maidens
should be kept alive for themselves;" and, that you "see nothing in the
proceeding, but good policy combined with mercy. The young men might
have become dangerous avengers of what they would esteem their country's
wrongs; the mothers might have again allured the Israelites to the
love of licentious pleasures, and the practice of idolatry, and brought
another plague upon the congregation; but the young maidens, not being
polluted by the flagitious habits of their mothers, not likely to create
disturbance by rebellion, were kept alive:" and you add, that "the
women children were not reserved for the purposes of debauchery, but
of slavery; a custom (you acknowledge) abhorrent from our manners, but
every where practised in former times, and still preserved in countries
where the benignity of the Christian religion has not softened the
ferocity of human nature." Is extermination an example of the mercy of
priests and their gods, "whose justice is subservient to mercy," "whose
punishments originate in his abhorrence to sin,"--and whose commands
to massacre, to butcher, and to exterminate, "are only benevolent
warnings?"--You dare Mr. Paine to prove, that the young women were kept
for debauchery; and you triumphantly add, "that if he does, you will
allow Moses to be the horrid monster he describes him, and the Bible a
book of lies, wickedness, and blasphemy." Do you think, that consigning
to slavery thirty-two thousand maids, is consistent with the benignity
of God? I do not hesitate to consider this worse than merely making them
the partners of licentious pleasures. But, in what consisted the wonted
wisdom of a God, whom you describe as ever solicitous to lessen the
influence of sin? Let me ask you, if the young women were not as liable
to incite the passions of the Jews as their mothers, and whether their
slavery would not increase the opportunities for debauchery? Could it
be consistent with humanity, much less with the mercy of an all powerful
God, to put to death all the boys of a nation, merely because they might
in time revenge the insolent invaders of their country? Were all the
male children already polluted from their birth? It would have been easy
for them to convert them to another religion, but to your God it was
impossible. The bloody invaders of America pursued not another plan,
even after "the benignity of the Christian religion softened the
ferocity of human nature." Have these Christian invaders any where
respected the chastity of women when they made them slaves? And have
the Jews, God's chosen nation, at any period, either while under his
protection, or since he abandoned them, shown themselves more virtuously
inclined than other people; were they ever prevented by the striking
manifestations of his mercy, his power, and his justice, from going away
to adore other gods, and falling into all sorts of wickedness? In
short, if the Bishop rests his defence of Moses and the Bible upon this
passage, I am willing to appeal to the judgement of all mankind. If any
person can believe it consistent with the benevolence of omnipotence, to
sacrifice whole nations to be massacred and plundered by a few hordes of
bloody Jews; if he can think this to be part of a grand scheme for
the good of mankind, he must give up all pretensions to reason, common
sense, and humanity. But it is time the world should see, that this holy
book the Bible, "which, in weight of authority, and extent of utility,
exceeds all the libraries of the philosophers," contains pretences for
all bad actions, and stifles the laws of humanity and morality. Upon
this book have inquisitors, crusaders, and religious men, founded
pretences for the most diabolical persecutions, avowedly undertaken for
the express purpose of unrooting infidelity, and for the glory of the
Lord. Every man who reads the word of God is warranted to reason thus:
God has ordered murder and robbery; he has instigated his favourite
people to exterminate whole nations; therefore I can do no better than
to imitate the Almighty; and every crusader may pretend to have the same
authority from God as Moses; and miracles are never wanting to prove it.
Because Abraham was a pimp, and his wife a prostitute, so may any person
be, without losing the patronage of the God of Abraham. Every man, in
short, may imitate the meek Moses, the humane David, without fearing
to incur the displeasure of the Almighty. Thus Ravaillac thought he was
doing as holy a deed, when he attempted the life of Henry; as Dominic,
or Torquemada, when butchering the wretched heretics, who had the
misfortune to fall a prey to their bloody zeal. The whole Old Testament
is so filled with barbarous stories, that if they did not excite
laughter by their improbability, they would freeze the blood in, the
veins of any man endowed with humanity. What an irksome task have those
undertaken, who have attempted to reconcile the horrible crimes of the
Jews with the mercy and wisdom of the Creator? Has ferocity forsaken
Christians as you insinuate? Have the modern religious fanatics yielded
in cruelty to the Jews? Those two religions have successively inundated
the earth with the blood of innocent victims. Have not the followers of
Christ constantly preached passive obedience to the church, have they
not frequently relieved the people of their oaths, and have they not
fomented most of the civil wars that laid waste all Europe? It is well
that priests have not been able to persuade mankind of late, that the
minister was the oracle of God. The pride and foolishness of science has
put this out of their power; they cannot lead nations as they did the
Jews; we are not so easily persuaded of the immediate manifestations of
God's commands to the priest. We know science too well to believe that
the pillar of fire that went before the Israelites was God himself. We
might have shown the people, that a pan with red-hot substances would
have the appearance of a fire by night, and a cloud of smoke by day, a
custom practised, from time immemorial, by the caravans. Although, my
Lord, the wisdom of God may be foolishness to man, I acknowledge I am
neither fond of crediting absurdities, nor have I so much faith as to
take the work of priests for supernatural mandates of Providence; when
they speak in their usual senseless and unintelligible language, I
conclude that it is either to dazzle the ignorant multitude, or I look
upon their dreams as the consequence of dire superstition, the first
effect of which is to make us unacquainted with ourselves, under the
imposing aspect of familiarising us with imaginary beings. At the
conclusion of my remarks upon the Old Testament, I shall give a few
extracts from those books, wherein my readers may see the character of
the Jews and their God in glaring colours, and judge whether any honest
man would not tremble at the thoughts of having done as much injustice,
and committed such atrocities as this Jehovah.


You enter again upon your favourite topic, genuineness and authenticity.
I shall not repeat what I have already said. I confess my great surprise
at your laying such stress upon the most trifling and false of your
arguments. You now strive to prove, that a book may contain a true
history, although it should be anonymous. Pray, my Lord, do you think,
that to prove a book spurious, when it is believed to be genuine, is a
demonstration of the truth of the contents? You thus leave us uncertain
whether Joshua be a genuine book. You have sadly confused yourself in
the maze you have created. To put it beyond a doubt that the sun stood
still, you appeal to the book of Jasher, which Joshua mentions in the
following words, "Is not this written in the book of Jasher?" And in
like manner, you refer to other books frequently quoted as authorities
in the Bible. Does your zeal blind you so far as not to let you
perceive, that this very argument may with redoubled strength be
retorted against you? for if an author, who is said to write his own
history, appeals to another book for a proof of his actions, that
book must be of much greater authority than his own: we cannot avoid
believing the writer of the work alluded to had better information. In
short, the book appealed to contains the only authentic testimony. Now,
permit me to ask you, who could be better authority than Joshua himself,
writing at a time when we must suppose many of his soldiers who had
witnessed the miracle were alive? What is this anterior book which
Joshua respects so much? Was it written by himself, then it would
be idle to quote it; and, at any rate, whoever had written it, it is
evident that the author of the book of Joshua has no proofs of his
own, but rests solely upon the book of the Holy, or of Jasher. This
circumstance proves clearly, that the writer of the Book of Joshua
composed his book out of some more ancient memoirs, which being lost, we
can say no more of their authority than for that of any old tales. You
talk of the public records of the Jews as confidently as a Member of
Parliament speaks of the papers in the Tower. Do you know at what period
the Jews began to keep written records, and do you also know, whether
those that were kept existed when the books of the Old Testament were
compiled? Had you been instructed in these particulars, and had you
been not altogether divested of candour, you might have informed your
readers, that, previous to the time of kings, we have not a shadow of
proof of the existence of any historical records among the Jews. We, no
doubt, read, that there was a book of the law of Moses, in which Joshua
wrote something too respecting the renewal of a covenant. This seems to
be the only written record among the Jews, and it contained nothing
but religious precepts, or the law, strictly speaking. In Joshua, chap.
viii. ver. 31, we read, "As Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the
children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses
and ver. 32, He wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses,
which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel and ver. 35,
He read all the words of the law, the blessings, and curses, according
to all that is written in the book of the law of the Lord, and there was
not a word of all that Moses commanded which Joshua read not before the
congregation of Israel." We know, likewise, that this law was written
in the circumference of an altar composed of twelve stones. This is the
only book either Moses or Joshua were ever said to have written; the
writers of the Pentateuch, and of the other books, certainly never meant
to inscribe them to Moses, Joshua, &c.; they bore the names of books of
Moses, of Joshua, Judges, &c. because they treated of these personages.
What then do you infer from the quotation of books by the Bible authors,
except that they all wrote in very modern times, when they wanted the
corroboration of more ancient books, whose date and authority we are
equally strangers to? This book of the law, which you so triumphantly
mention as a book written and existing a few years after Moses, turns
out to be nothing more than what is contained in Exodus, chap. xx. to
chap. xxiv. to which Joshua added some detail about the third covenant
of God.

I beg the reader will observe, that the writer of the Book of Joshua
does not mention the second, third, or any other book of Moses, but
simply notices the book of the law of God. Now this great book
was written upon twelve stones, and in Exodus we find the precise
commandment of Moses to build the altar, and to read the commandments at
the feast of tabernacles; so that it contained not one line of history,
and could have no authority. It was a law written upon stones, which
Moses, in Exod. chap. xxiv. v. 7, is said to have read to the people:
"And he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the audience of
the people." This covenant, and particularly the repetition of it after
the disobedience of the Jews, is the only part of the Scriptures that
Moses ordered to be preserved with a religious care. Nothing of the most
important parts of Genesis or the other five books is ever mentioned in
the commandments of the law of God: the writer of the law certainly knew
not that the Pentateuch existed. Had Moses written such a work, would he
have failed to recommend to the Levites to keep the precious records of
mankind, the sublime account of the creation? Did not the whole of the
faith of the Jews depend on their being acquainted with the history of
their forefathers, who were under the immediate protection of God? The
ten commandments every person knows from the light of nature; no nation
has ever mistaken them; but the origin of mankind is a subject of great
darkness, and which the Jews ought to have preserved most carefully.
Certain, however, it is, that excepting a few rites, the Jews lost not
only their books, but even the recollection of their feasts, during
their captivity. The other books referred to in the Bible prove, that
those left are mere collections of borrowed stories, and pretended
abridgements of books of greater authority, which are unfortunately
lost, and leave a wide field for scepticism, particularly upon
improbable or contradictory accounts. As to the belief that the books of
the Old Testament are inspired, it is a tale, which, after what we have
stated, even a child would laugh at.

You next seriously endeavour to corroborate the ridiculous miracle of
the sun and moon standing still. You are as unsuccessful in historical
as in scientifical arguments. The story in question is so stupid, that
the bare mention of it marks a man's credulity, so as to render him the
object of compassion. That an ignorant fanatic should attempt to defend
such absurdities, would be a matter of no surprise; but to witness a
Regius Professor of Divinity, a natural philosopher, bring forward facts
from profane history to prove the truth of so bare-faced a lie, denotes
at least your want of prudence. I cannot persuade myself that you
seriously believed what you wrote; I cannot think you capable of falling
at once into the most gross astronomical and historical error. I shall
state the matter briefly. There was a tradition in all antiquity, and
particularly among the Egyptians, relating to that motion of the
earth's axis which has been observed by astronomers, and whose complete
revolution round the four cardinal points takes up no less than
9,160,000 years. In the course of this revolution, it necessarily
happens, that the sun will rise where it sets, that north will be south,
and so on. The Egyptian priests pretended that this revolution had
taken place in their country without changing the climate, while the
Babylonians maintained, in the time of Alexander, that 140,000 years had
elapsed since their first astronomical observations. This, no doubt, was
the time that must have elapsed since the earth moved north and south.
The Egyptian priests, long before Herodotus, had lost their knowledge
of astronomy, which accounts for their mistake. It is evident, that the
displacement of the earth's axis must be accompanied by the heaviest
gravitating matter, and, therefore, what is now land, has been and will,
in the course of ages, become sea. Now, my Lord, what has the Egyptian
tradition to do with the sun stopped by the robber Joshua? What
connection has the stoppage of the sun, or rather the earth's motion,
with the sun rising where it sets? Were the thing possible, the sun
would nevertheless rise in the east. Besides, does Joshua say the sun
changed its course? Had this been the case, (I am ashamed even of the
supposition), how could the earth change its axis in an hour, without
shattering the whole globe, without inundating vast tracts of country,
and tearing others asunder to reestablish the equilibrium of gravity?
Study and consider; do not attempt to ridicule the little learning of
Thomas Paine, when you fall into such absurdities. Read Chinese history,
and you will find that their careful astronomers did not perceive the
long day and night. It was probably the sun of Judea only that altered
its course; they did not seem to be enlightened by the same luminary.
Those who believed that heaven was made of crystal, could find no
difficulty in crediting this silly story. I have insisted so much upon
this, because you ought to know the common principles of astronomy, and
somewhat of history. Here again you appeal to the book of Jasher:
it deserves no more consideration. To deem an appeal to a lost book
evidence of a prodigy, because the author affirms it, is a degree of
credulity which may gain the kingdom of heaven; but, in the republic of
letters, such believer will pass for a very contemptible reasoner.

These are the miracles, and the histories, better attested than the
History of the Twelve Knights Of Charles the Great, and such other
foolish tales. Surely, none can believe that 19,000 men fought against
the Midianites, and murdered a prodigious number, without having lost a
man, and disbelieve the famous battles of the knights, in many of which
six men fought several thousands; the conversation of the devil with
Cromwell, or the miraculous appearance of God to almost all the knights
and warriors among the Catholics. The sacred phial of Rheims, and the
chapel of Loretto, were both conveyed in a manner you know well, and
which few men in the two countries dare controvert. They too appeal to
their books of Jasher. The tale of making the sun stand still has not
even the merit of novelty; this luminary had long before stopt his
career, out of respect to Bacchus. Neither is the shower of hail-stones
new, for Jupiter of old sent a shower of hail upon the rebellious sons
of Neptune.

As to Joshua having written the book that goes under his name, we
have, besides what has been stated, the strongest evidence against the
genuineness of this performance. The death of Joshua is recorded in
chap. xxiv. and it is related exactly in the same style as what precedes
it. The writer even mentions several events posterior to the death of
the son of Nun. You have passed over the arguments of Thomas Paine drawn
from this passage, "The Jebusites dwelt with the children of Judah at
Jerusalem unto this day." It was natural for you to overlook a passage,
which demonstrates that the book of Joshua was not written until after
David, when, and not before, the conquest of the Jebusites took place.
It is beyond a doubt, that they never dwelt with the Jews in the time of
Joshua, since, in the first part of the above quoted passage, he says,
"As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of
Judah could not drive them out." How then did the Jews inhabit Jerusalem
in the days of Joshua? I refer the reader to the Age of Reason, and to
an answer to it by Mr. David Wilson, for further information, on this
head. In the latter, he will be amazed at the weak subterfuges used by
the author to evade the strength of the objection by Mr. Paine. But this
is not the only event related in Joshua, which did not take place till
some time after his death. Almost the whole of chap. xvii. contains
facts of this nature. Where the portion of Manasseh is described, it is
said, in ver. 12, "Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the
inhabitants of those cities, but the inhabitants would dwell in that
land." It is added, "And it came to pass, when the children of Israel
waxed strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute; but did not
utterly drive them out." Now this certainly did not take place during
the life of Joshua, for in the very same chapter, he promises those of
the tribe of Manasseh success against the Canaanites. In the preceding
chapter, v. 10, there is a passage of the same kind, "And they (the
Ephraimites) drove not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the
Canaanites dwelt among the Ephraimites unto this day, and some under
tribute." This needs no comment: let any person ask himself when this
came to pass, and they will at once find out the credit due to books
containing such shameful anachronisms and falsehoods. In chapter first
of Judges, purporting to contain the history of the Jews after Joshua,
the reader will find a faithful copy of the passages quoted, not
excepting the taking of Jerusalem. Let himc ompare ver. 8, 27, 28, 29,
and following, with the detail of distribution of lots to the tribes,
in chap. xvi. and xvii. of Joshua the same events are told in the very
words, and apply to two different periods. This is a strong instance of
the disorder that pervades the whole of these books, and how undeserving
of credit, even in the most probable events, is what you call sacred
writ. We are constantly reading over accounts of the same events,
sometimes said to be written by dead men, and never marking time; for
_it came to pass_, which is the Bible phrase, does not fix the period
when the event took place. These books bear all the marks of being the
productions of some persons at a very late period, and to have suffered
great interpolations. Joshua is, in the face of it, a continuation of
Deuteronomy, Judges of Joshua, and so on through the remainder.

You pass on to Judges. It requires neither great knowledge nor ingenuity
to discover, that this book is an unconnected farrago put together by
some unknown person. You do not attempt to say any thing in its favour.
Sad falling off from the paths of faith! Formerly it would have been
a heresy to assert that Judges was a book of no authority: now, even a
Bishop has nothing to say in its defence. You then proceed to Ruth,
and endeavour to blot out the apparent infamy of her conduct, with what
success, I leave the reader to judge, after he has perused her
history. Next follow your subtle distinctions between the inspired and
non-inspired part of the Bible, which may be very intelligible to an
inspired Bishop, but cannot fail to appear a mere dream to a man in his
senses. Notwithstanding Austin and your other brethren, this distinction
rests upon nothing but fancy. Your request is very moderate. "Receive
the Bible," you say, "as composed by upright and well-informed, though
in some points, fallible men, (for I exclude all fallibility _when they
profess to deliver_ the word of God), and you must receive it as a book
revealed to you in many parts by the express will of God, and, in other
parts, relating to you the ordinary history of the times." Bravo!
A Catholic is as reasonable in his demands. He only asks a little
credulity to believe the inspired when _they profess to be so_. It is
truly a childish request, begging the question at every word. To believe
the Bible to be inspired is the grand point. The reasoning you employ is
in perfect consonance with the absurdity of your wishes. You disbelieve
a history if you find it inconsistent, but revere it, and swear by the
author, if he wrote by inspiration. Swedenburgh could not wish more
faith in his adherents. You say _receive it_, as the inquisitors said
_imprimatur_; but philosophers weigh the ground of their belief; they
detect the Bible writers, prophets, and inspired men, in palpable
contradictions in history; and you will obstinately insist on our
believing the most improbable of all their stories, because their
absurdity persuades the faithful that they were revealed by their God in
dreams.----You have acknowledged yourself, in a subsequent letter, that
the history and mystery of the Bible are so interwoven, that if one
falls the other cannot be maintained. Why did God mingle his important
and sublime precepts with such ridiculous trash, so as to induce mankind
to disbelieve them both? Suppose I should meet a peasant coming from a
fair, pretending he had seen the king with his guards, and if I should
find this to be untrue, would I not deserve to be laughed at, if I
credited that he had wrestled with a spirit, or that he was carried up
to heaven? This, however, is the case with the Bible. Here we are told
that the sun stood Still to protract the bloodshed of that villain
Joshua, while, in another place, we read that a city was taken 370 years
before that event. Your vaunted prophets were soothsayers, psalmists,
and orators, who were generally employed in writing the public records.
It is a word applied in the Bible to holy men. These prophets, like the
augurs of the heathen, were often detected in falsehoods, and, in the
time of Samuel, it would appear, by the Bible itself, that to raise
ghosts was a trade as common as that of tailors in our days.

You now come to Samuel. You are candid enough to acknowledge with
Hartley, that he could not have been the author of the second book,
nor of most of the first that go under his name, yet this has been the
opinion of the church; and I know of no direct proofs that he wrote the
remainder: by what logic do you or Hartley conclude, that Samuel wrote
any part of the books ascribed to him? An author is proved not to have
written most part of a work ascribed to him, who then would, without
direct proofs, proclaim him the writer of some small passage, or any
particular part of the work? Who but a clergyman would build a system
upon a mutilated, spurious, and insignificant collection of absurdities
and wonders? It is, I allow, probable that Samuel wrote something: your
quotations prove no more; but what this was, we are, I presume, equally
unacquainted with. That the scribes also composed some records of the
lives of their kings, I will not deny. The question is, what degree of
credit does the mutilated, contradictory, and fabulous collection, said
to be made out of these records, deserve?

In the time of Charles the Great, some persons probably recorded his
actions. Is this a reason for any man to believe the fabulous legends we
have of him, written in the dark centuries? The legends of the Egyptian
and Greek gods, and their collection of oracles, were not only credited
by whole nations, but proclaimed true by councils much wiser than the
synagogue. The records of the saints were undoubtedly made few years
after their death, in ages far more enlightened, after the invention of
the press, written by the then most learned men of society, (the monks),
who certainly were not inferior to the Jewish scribes, yet these legends
contain often nothing but collections of absurdities and miracles. Read
the _Flores Sanctorum_ of the Romish church, and you there will find
miracles in every page, and the lives of saints a tissue of prodigies. I
need not add, that very few learned men among the Papists give credit to
the absurdities contained in these books. It is even the opinion of the
best informed men, that the monks have written lives of saints who never

You acknowledge the wickedness of the kings of Israel and Judah; but
you take care to observe, that this was not owing to their religion.
Impertinent assertion! Was not Saul dethroned because he was humane
enough not to cut Agag in pieces? Did not the Lord Jehovah love the man
after his own heart, who put the miserable inhabitants of Rabah
under saws, axes, and arrows of iron; who made them pass through the
brick-kiln? Did not this Jehovah approve the base murder of Adonias? Was
it the same Jehovah who said to Jonah, that he was not so unjust as to
sacrifice the whole city of Nineveh for their sins, because there were
thousands in it who did not know between good and evil; and who yet, the
Jews tell us, commanded the extermination of whole nations, without
even sparing the little children? Did not the plagues which he sent to
Pharaoh and David fall upon thousands of innocent individuals? At least,
do not the Jewish books affirm it? Such horrors could only be respected
by the Jews; such absurd miracles could only be credited by the most
ignorant of men. You pretend, that the partiality of God to the Jews
proceeded from their being the only nation that believed in the unity of
God, and who have preserved their belief on this head unshaken till
the present day. Are you in earnest, can you assert this before men of
common information? Do you take Englishmen for idiots to be deceived by
your assertions? Are you ignorant of the adoration of the Ethiopians? Do
you forget that the wise men among the heathens said, _Colitur forma
pro Jove?_ Did you never peruse any account, of the Chinese, or of the
Hindoos? Do they not admit one supreme agent, an all-wise, intelligent,
&c. being, and whose inferior agents they represent by symbols? The
Hindoos have even all the metaphysical refinement of our divines; and
their definition of God is fully as perspicuous as that given in our
Catechism. I have avoided to give long extracts in this pamphlet; but,
that the authority of an English Bishop may not be a presumption to many
that I am making false assertions, I shall transcribe a passage from
a commentary upon the Reig Beid, a book unquestionably of the remotest

"Glory be to Goneish! that which is exempt from all desires of the
senses, the same is the mighty Lord. He is simple, and than him there
is nothing greater. Brehm, (the spirit of God), is absorbed in
self-contemplation; the same is the mighty Lord who is present in every
part of space. Brehm is one, and to him there is no second; such is
truly Brehm. His omniscience is self-inspired, and its comprehension
includes all possible species," &c. It is true, we are not here told
that God is a jealous God, that he visiteth the iniquities of the father
even unto the fourth generation. I could adduce fifty passages from the
Greeks and others to prove my position, but it is needless. The point
is still to know whether these notions make men better, whether they are
founded on truth, and, indeed, whether all gods are not the work of the
fancy of man, nature allegorised. _Primus in orbe Deos fecit timor_,
says the philosopher; can you disprove it? I suspect not, and that all
the subtle reasoning of divines destroy themselves. The world is the
ultimate of human reason. We adore the idols either of our hands or
of the brain, and mistake them for existences. The region of chimeras
exists beyond the universe; our prattling upon it is but a play of
words. Jehovah himself, when he said, I am that I am, called himself
pretty plainly Pan, or the great whole.

But if the unity of God be the only gracious belief in the eyes of
the Creator, I do not see that Christians are entitled to his favour,
because they make him three. What was the belief of the Jews? Had
they any very refined ideas of their God? They thought him corporeal,
incessantly speaking and moving among men, jealous, revengeful,
powerful, whose angels ate with Abraham, who himself strove to kill
Moses in a public house; they imagined him repenting of his deeds; and,
in all respects, a poor contemptible being, the offspring of Jewish
fancy. He is throughout the Bible an Asiatic Sultan, who, like the
merciful God of Mahomet, puts to the sword, and smites with plagues
thousands, as a tribute to his infinite mercy. I refer the reader to
the collection of extracts from the Bible, in a subsequent letter, for
proofs of my assertions. The Jews admitted, besides other gods, such as
Chemosh, several beings subordinate to God, but superior to man, as
the serpent which tempted the mother of mankind. They had exterminating
angels and cherubims, the Elohim or Genii that made the world, &c.
But why dwell upon such topics, when it is evident that all the Jewish
mythology is of Chaldean origin, and our theology a copy of that of

You proceed in your attempt to reconcile the justice of God with his
goodness, and, in the height of your reverie, you imagine that the
sufferings of the Jews were parts of a grand scheme for the general
good of mankind. What, and when are we to see the good effects of their
barbarities? We may see reason counteracting the evil of superstition,
rendering men humane; but I apprehend, that, if your reasoning was
generally adopted, every highwayman would be much inclined to think
himself sent by Providence for good and wise purposes, and if chance
should bring about a happy event at the end of his career, which he
thought the consequence of his deeds, he would triumph in his crimes,
and, like Moor in the Robbers, exclaim, "If for ten I have destroyed,
you make but one man blest, my soul may yet be saved!" This has been the
language of persecutors. They destroy mankind to make them happy in the
next world--tortures, burning, and beheading, are but purifications. The
worst is, that the famous divine scheme of general good, has never been
one jot more advanced than when the Jews were enduring the greatest
calamities, and committing atrocities. I count not the effects of
reason, for faith is alone the godly faculty; reason destroys it. I
close my observations upon this subject with repeating the old question
of Epicurus, which your brethren have as yet left unanswered; either
God can prevent evil and does not choose it, or he chooses it and wants
power to avert calamities from his creatures. In the first instance, he
is a malevolent despot, a character we ought to abhor; in the second,
we see him an impotent and secondary being, which raises our contempt.
Reconcile this with his infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, and show
us that he is not formed after the image of man, or else let unbelievers
hold their opinions in peace.


Your fifth letter begins with stating the importance of the concession
of Thomas Paine, that the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are genuine. You
triumph, and think it a silent acknowledgment of the reality of the
prophecies mentioned in those books. Stop, my Lord, your _alma-mater_
surely has not taught you to draw such conclusions. In a genuine book
there may be contained incredible events, as in Tacitus, Suetonius,
and almost all existent histories. It is your duty to prove that the
prophecies there related are not among those popular stories which
are apt to gain general credit, whether they are or are not forgeries
written after the events. Before we know when Jeremiah wrote, and what
is the meaning of the writings under his name, no man is warranted to
triumph at the testimony of the Jews after the captivity; since it is
a point, in which all parties agree; that their canon and books were
compiled at that period, and nobody ever questioned the credulity of
the Jews. You proceed to state your notions of the history of the Old
Testament; it is all a matter of opinion; and, as you do not support it
by any proofs, we must still continue to regard the contradictions and
impostures contained in the Old Testament as proofs of its having
been the work of ignorant fanatics. I pass over your effusions: that
metaphysical disquisitions teach us the limits of our faculties, I
strenuously maintain; and if you mean nothing else, we are agreed. That
our notions of time and place are not the bugbears which the scholastics
would persuade us, is to me unquestionable; that both in science and
religion we affix no ideas to many words, I grant; that certainty in
philosophical disquisitions is not easily found, I also allow; but, that
a man tired with the arduous task of reasoning, of discerning between
truth and falsehood, should seek in polemics or superstition a
consolation for his ignorance, I consider as a proof of the impaired
state of his faculties; he is like the thirsty traveller, who, burnt
by the scorching sun, seeks to relieve his distress by drinking of the
first water he meets, without regarding its purity. Your acknowledgment
that it is possible even for a Bishop to err in matters of religion,
gives me real pleasure. To consider our creed as a matter that admits of
doubt, is a great step in the road of truth. You say, "May God forgive
him that is in an error." Your wish is humane; but, if God be the
Creator of mankind, he cannot be offended at the conclusions we may
draw, after having employed the faculties he has given us. I wish too
that mankind should forgive them that are in an error; but, I hope,
they will recollect the long sway of superstition, and its danger to
mankind; may they decide in favour of that system which is conformable
to reason, and has the greatest tendency to improve society!

You next proceed to show the propriety of the angel ordering Moses to
pull off his shoes, which you say is a mark of reverence to God. Is it
then by such ridiculous customs that you reconcile your omnipotent
and all-wise God? Too long have men substituted rites for morality. O
superstition! that makes the Asiatics eat the excrements of the lama,
the Papists devour their God; that persuades all Christians that water
washeth away sin; and, that if a child happens to die before his face is
sprinkled, he must inevitably suffer everlasting torments: led by
this, men despise society, and tremble at ceremonies invented by their

I shall not go at great length into the particular contradictions which
are found in the enumeration of the families that returned from Babylon.
There certainly are great mistakes in the sums; and where precision was
to be expected more than in any thing preserved in the record of the
people of God, we find them committing the most gross errors, even when
they attempt to be peculiarly exact. It is curious, that the individual
sums are altogether different in the different accounts, and, therefore,
that there must have been a much greater number of errors than you would
persuade your readers.

You come to the book of Job; and confine your remarks to disprove the
objection of Mr. Paine, drawn from the name Satan, which, he says, is
there for the first and only time mentioned in the Bible. Your answer,
that it is repeatedly to be found elsewhere in the Old Testament, is
just but it certainly does not prove Job to be a Jewish book. We know
that _Sathan_, as well as the names of all the angels, are Chaldean; and
as I have already shown, that the Scriptures are compilations written
after the captivity, it is not wonderful that this name, together with
many others, should be found in the Hebrew Bible. As you say nothing in
favour of the book of Job, I shall only observe, that it is not only the
opinion of Abenezra, but even of Jerome, the author of the Vulgate, that
it is not a Hebrew book, the idiom being in many instances altogether
different from the style of that language, and very frequently bearing
marks of its Arabic and Syriac origin, as the reader may see in his
preface to Job in the Vulgate edition of the Bible. The resemblance
between Job's Satan and Momus is so striking, that we cannot help
recognising the author to have been a Gentile; and thus are the Jews
deprived of a book, which, at least, contains no murders, and shows
more knowledge than that nation ever possessed. Your remark as to
the generality of the belief of a benevolent and a malevolent being,
certainly does not prove that the Gentiles borrowed this notion from the
Jews; you ought to have known history better, and that the wars of
the Gods and angels formed part of the creed of many nations, not only
before a book of the Bible existed, but even before the birth of Moses.
Dionysius and Osiris had already fought against the evil genii: the
famous Vishnu has been from the highest antiquity the enemy of Chiven.
That the numerous mythological systems which have ever existed, sprang
from the report of the fathers of the Jewish nation, may appear probable
to a clergyman; it is but a pious whim; to me it is a proof, that all
religious systems have sprung from the fancy of men. The philosophers
among the heathens understood by the evil and bad genii nothing more
than the influence of the good or bad seasons, which, personified
by ignorant or cunning priests, have by the vulgar been deemed real
personages. Besides, where do you find in the Pentateuch any accounts of
the Devil? I only see the serpent, an emblem I have already said, copied
from the Egyptians, but by the Jews considered a real snake, which
talked and walked upright. It was but a poor imitation of the Ahrimanes
of Zoroaster.

Concerning the utility of prayers, and the tendency of those of the
Jews, I shall say nothing. It is a certain fact, that Solomon, the
wisest of men, and who made excellent prayers, killed his brother; while
many of those heathen tribes, abhorred by the Jews, had no other crime
than to adore images; and, if superstition among them sometimes produced
the abominable practice of human sacrifices, they never carried their
piety so far as to exterminate whole nations. Besides, the Jews had
not even a pretence to despise their neighbours for offering human
sacrifices. The case of Jephtha shows plainly that this barbarity was
common among God's people. I am utterly surprised at your misplaced
exclamations upon the morality of the heathens. Far be it from me to
stand forward as the patron of heathenish superstition; it is the mother
of ours, and I abhor the common stock; but, my Lord, you ought not
to confound the rites of the Greeks with their morals. The Athenians
possessed virtues which we in vain look for among the despicable Jews.
They possessed knowledge, and their philosophers had more sense than
to believe the tales of the priests. Epicurus taught peaceably, and was
revered by all, while the vulgar of his country firmly believed their
mythology. Such an instance never happened among the Jews. Jehovah would
quickly have sent a plague among Epicurus and his followers, or ordered
his priests "to kill every one his neighbour and his friend, and hang
them up before the sun." Your holy brethren would think nothing of a
burning match on the occasion; if it were in your power, atheists would
not exist long. But you talk so confidently of the adoration of
images among the Gentiles, that we would imagine the Jews were all
philosophers. Do you forget their reverence to the holy of holies, which
none could approach; the ark of the covenant, and the calves? Or has the
story of the five golden mice, for looking at which fifty thousand and
three score and ten Israelites were smote by the Lord, escaped you?

Your rhapsody upon the sublimity of Bible composition, and its
superiority to all profane writers, is a proof of the strength of early
imbibed prejudice. I lament to see a man of your learning think so much
like an old woman. The proverbs, to be sure, are wonderful compositions,
and prove the great gift of wisdom bestowed by God upon Solomon! What
indeed can be more sublime than the following, which I beg leave to
add to the specimens given by your Lordship! "The horse leech hath two
daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never
satisfied, yea four things say not it is enough; the grave, and the
barren womb, the earth that is not filled with water, and the fire that
saith not it is enough."--"There be three things which are too wonderful
for me, yea four which I know not; the way of an eagle in the air, the
way of a serpent upon the rock, the way of a ship in the midst of the
sea, and the way of a man with a maid."--"There be three things which
go well, a greyhound, an he-goat also, and a king."--"It is the glory
of God to conceal a thing, but the honour of kings is to search out a
matter."--"When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently
what is before thee, and put a knife to thy throat if thou be a man
given to appetite."--"Buy the truth, and sell it not."--"A whore is a
deep ditch, and a strange woman is a narrow pit."--Excellent Solomon!
Hear also this wise king in Song of Songs. "How beautiful are thy feet
with shoes, O prince's daughter! The joints of thy thighs are like
jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman; thy-navel is like a
round goblet which wanteth not liquor; thy belly is like a heap of wheat
set about with lilies; thy two breasts are like two young roes that are
twins; thy neck is as a tower of ivory; thine eyes like the fish pools
in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim; thy nose is as the tower of
Lebanon, which looketh towards Damascus." Whether this alludes to one
of Solomon's concubines, or our mother, the church of Jesus Christ,
the expressions are equally applicable, beautiful, and simple; they are
worthy of a man "wiser than Ethan the Ezrehite, and Heman, and Chalcol,
and Darda, the sons of Mehol," who, I dare say, were wise men. Upon the
whole, I agree with you, that Solomon, the illustrious offspring of the
man after God's own heart and the virtuous Bathsheba, was not "a witty
jester." As to what you call his "sins and debaucheries," these holy
books were certainly not written with a view to make us avoid them.
Solomon is set before us as a pattern of wisdom and goodness; and the
number of his wives and concubines is exultingly recorded as a proof of
his greatness, as much as his treasures, which exceed all conception,
and the number of his horses, which exceed all belief.

Your pious belief in the inspired prophecies of Isaiah, is natural to a
superstitious and credulous mind. The philosopher who doubts before
he gazes, sees in what you call prophecies nothing else but scraps of
history or legend. He receives with diffidence all predictions. He is
aware of the great ease with which forgeries may be passed among the
vulgar for prophecies. When pretended predictions are made, they are
altogether overlooked; even the ignorant think not of them till they are
said to be accomplished; the learned despise them in both instances;
and it is not till after their authenticity has gained a sort of general
belief, that the philosopher thinks of enquiring when and how they were
made. At this period he can find no evidence of their history, but from
the credulous who have been imposed upon by them. Besides, no prophecy
is ever direct, it always has an equivocal meaning, and is explained to
suit the events which have happened. Religious enthusiasts write in such
a mystic language upon the sins of mankind, and the judgements that are
to come upon them, and in so general and ambiguous terms, that it is
easy for a subtle interpreter, or a visionary fanatic, to explain them
according to his own system. Have not the bears of the Apocalypse
been made to signify by turns, the Pope and the Devil? Has not the New
Jerusalem been sometimes taken for a real flying town, seen in the air
by the first fathers of the church, as Tertullean informs us? Do not
other divines tell us that it means the kingdom of heaven? Have not
scripture divines, even in the first ages of the church, pretended that
the verses of Virgil, _Jam redit et Virgo, redeunt Sa-tumia regna, jam
nova progenies ccelo demittitur alto;--natte mets vires, mea magna
potentia solus, and talia perstabat memorans, fixusque manebat_, were
clear prophecies of the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ? It might be worth
enquiring at this time, whether the Roman Bard was inspired by the
Holy Ghost? Lastly, I may ask, does your Lordship believe in the many
prophecies that have of late appeared of the French revolution?

But we have more reasons to declare the pretended clear prophecies of
the Bible to be fables. In many instances they are so accurate, and so
unlike these passages which we know to have been written previous to the
events to which they are applied, or those which are not yet
fulfilled, that no philosopher can pronounce them to have been written
historically. Thus, we find Jacob announce to his twelve sons, the
heads of the twelve tribes of Israel, the fate of their posterity; the
situation of the district to be occupied by the Israelites in the land
of Canaan, two hundred years before Joshua parcelled out this land in
lots to the Israelites; the kind of life the different tribes would
lead; the small number of the posterity of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, as
well as the power of Judah; all which are related as exactly as if the
patriarch had seen the throne of David and Solomon with his own eyes.
Some of the supposed predictions of Isaiah and Daniel, are even more
minutely correct. You have treated the question of the genuineness and
date of works very lightly; you think it is of no great consequence to
ascertain the genuineness of the different books of the Bible. Let us
for a moment suppose, that by some accident, the age of Virgil had been
forgotten, or the sixth book of his Æneid been ascribed to a writer of
the age of Æneas; would not the Romans be entitled to regard, as a most
wonderful prophecy, the lively representation given by Anchises of the
future heroes of the republic, the two Cæsars, and the young Marcellus?

To resume our subject: I remind you of the passage already quoted from
Bellarminus, that it was the opinion of the fathers of the church, that
the Prophets, among other books, had been collected and arranged
by Esdras. I have also stated the selection of genuine works by the
synagogue, during the reign of the Maccabees, when the Talmud says that
the forgeries of Daniel, Esdras, &c. were prodigious. The destruction
by Antiochus Epiphanus of the already broken Jewish books, written by
Esdras, may be collected from what is said in Maccabees, chap. i. ver.
56 and 57. "And when they had rent in pieces the books of the law which
they found, they burnt them with fire, and whosoever was found with
any of the books of the Testament, or if any consented to the law, the
king's commandment was, that they should put him to death."

It is without reason that you triumph at the application which Thomas
Paine makes of the prophecy of Isaiah, in chapters xliv. and xlv. No
man that reads the passage can hesitate for a moment to declare it a
narrative of the deliverance of the Jews by Cyrus, after the seventy
years captivity. Cyrus is mentioned by name, as well as his command to
rebuild Jerusalem, and his victories over the nations, above one hundred
years before the event. Will you then, without any proofs of Isaiah
having written this book, insist upon calling it a prophecy? And have
not sceptics been justified in their disbelief of the genuineness
of such books? Mr. Paine, however, has overlooked a more remarkable
prophecy in this book, which has been tortured into an application to
Christ. This is contained in chapter lxiii. ver. 1. "Who is this that
cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious
in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that
speak in. righteousness, mighty to save." And again, in chap. ii.
(talking of the supposed Christ) Isaiah says, "And he shall judge among
the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their
swords into plough-shares."--"And the idols he shall totally abolish."
Can this possibly allude to Christ? Did he come from Edom in mighty
power, in rich garments? Was his march so terrible? Was he the man who
trampled all in his fury; who with his own arm brought salvation to
himself, and was upheld by his fury; as also mentioned in chap. lxiii.?
Do not these pretended prophecies also apply to Judas Maccabeus, who
delivered the Jews from the tyranny of Antiochus Epi-phanus? And is it
not also a proof of the mutilated state of the works of the prophets
to see details about Cyrus intermingled with others applying to Judas
Maccabeus? I say nothing of Daniel, for his _prophecy_ I shall consider
particularly afterwards, and show its true meaning; at present, it may
be sufficient to say, that the similarity between the book of Ezra and
Daniel proclaim them to be from the same hand; but both have evident
marks of having been considerably mutilated. When philosophers cannot
ascertain the age of pretended predictions, they consider their
clearness as a demonstration of their being histories. Who tells you
that the books which the synagogue, like the Nicene council, chose, were
not either altogether written, or considerably interpolated, to adopt
them to the times? The great question is always, what authority had the
synagogue to decide, and whether their decision ought to influence men
of sense, any more than the determination of the Popish councils.

As a proof of the absurdity of the application of prophecies, I shall
here quote one, which is apparently clearer than any in the whole
Bible, and is adduced by the most famous divines as an unquestionable
prediction of Christ. It is in Micah, chap. v. ver. I. "Now gather
thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us;
they shall smite the Judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek. But thou
Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among thousands of Judah, yet
out of thee shall he come forth unto me, that is to be ruler in Israel;
whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." Here even
the birth-place of Christ is mentioned, the insults offered to him, his
existence from everlasting, and his coming to save Israel. And Matthew,
chap. ii. ver. 6, and John, chap. vii. ver. 43, both expressly refer to
that passage as a prophecy. Hear now what follows in ver. 5, of the same
chapter of Micah: "And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrians
shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then
shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men."
Can this apply to Jesus Christ? Were the Syrians in the land when he
came? Were not the Romans masters of Judea? Your rules of belief
are admirable: a little faith, wherever you meet contradictions,
absurdities, or wonders, is an invaluable prescription, common to the
Bramin, the Musselman, and the Christian. Do but believe that Mahomet is
a prophet, that he went up to heaven and saw the eternal Father, and
you will go through the other articles of the Mahometan faith without
difficulty. Do but admit the gospel of Barnabas where Mahomet is
predicted, and we have no reason to say that it is less authentic than
our gospel, and the work is done; but, I may say with you, "Proof, proof
is what I require, and not assertion."

We will not relinquish our reason in obedience to the despotic mandates
of the credulous.

You allow that the miracles of the Jews fall to the ground, if the
history of that nation is proved false. I beg you to observe, that if
it is true, it does not follow that the miracles are. If you can believe
that the history of the Jews is well authenticated, and without numerous
contradictions, and if you can exculpate the writers from bad motives,
and a desire to deceive, and if you can rely upon their wisdom, you then
will really prove yourself a Christian, a man of uncommon faith.
The history of the Jews, every where confused, containing prodigies,
deserves no more credit than their antedeluvian tale. Even Chinese
history, supported by astronomical observations, is beyond a certain
period rejected by all men, from the fables it contains. If you are
disposed to believe, I advise you to read the fabulous history of China
and of Hindostan, in the holy books of the respective nations, which
are adopted by whole nations, and are, at least, more beautiful than the

I have purposely omitted to speak of Ecclesiastes. I find here several
Epicurean notions, a disbelief of a future life, the propriety of
enjoying themselves in this life, and other sensible remarks; which
prove that the writer enjoyed more common sense than most of his


You begin your sixth letter by attempting to disprove the arguments of
Thomas Paine upon Jeremiah. You acknowledge the disorder that prevails
in the writings of this prophet; and you modestly assure us, that you
do not know the cause; no more do I: and whatever incidents might have
occasioned it, I am certain that, as it stands, it deserves no degree of
credit. In a former part of your pamphlet you grant, that the history of
the Jews is so connected with the prophetical part, that if the former
was done away the latter could not stand; and now you inform us, "that
prophecy differs from history, in not being subject to an accurate
observance of time and order." This you think a matter of no importance,
but, in my opinion, it is very material to know if a prophecy is written
after the events it alludes to. I shall not follow far, either your
Lordship or Mr. Paine, in proving several of the prophecies of the Bible
false; but if they are not prophecies, why should we trouble ourselves
with disproving them. If they are scraps of history, we know that of
the Jews to be so contradictory, imperfect, so completely without order,
that one historical extract, of prophecy, will often contradict another;
but much more generally these prophecies are strict enough, being copied
from history, and embellished with a little of the figurative style of
prophecy. As to Jeremiah, the works that go under his name, as well
as those of Isaiah, appear on the face of them to be a collection of
extracts from different historians.

While we know so little of the history and genuineness of these
writings, we cannot possibly draw any conclusion concerning them, except
that they are in the utmost disorder, and that when writers intermingle
history with prophecy, we are at a loss to know which is which. I cannot
forbear to mention the ludicrous story of Elisha, the children, the
bears that devoured the children of men, as you are pleased to call
them. Whether Elisha did this as a prophet, I cannot but declare my
abhorrence at your approbation of such abominable cruelty, to murder
individuals because they bestowed the appellation of Baldhead on
another. According to the laudable custom of the church, you appeal to
a miracle, and conclude, that if God wrought a miracle it must have been
just. I suppose this comparatively as when he destroys whole cities for
the sins of a few; but this is the very ground on which every crusader
supported his massacres; and every man may imitate the conduct of Ahod,
the treacherous murderer, patronised by Jehovah, without incurring the
blame of a Bishop. Whether the ridiculous tale which you take for a
sign of God, most probably of his cruelty, converted any person, is not
known; but as the event most undoubtedly never happened, you may suppose
what you please. To murder them is not the way to ingratiate ourselves
with our fellow-citizens. If any person set a few bull-dogs on some
children, and pretended to do so by authority from heaven, he would most
undoubtedly be taken up by our officers of justice. In what respect do
these brutal prophets differ from Mahomet, who decided all disputes by
the sword? Their business was to exterminate and murder by the direct
commands of God.

The writings of Ezekiel are considerably truncated. The very beginning
of his prophecies shows it. The conjunction and texture of the whole
work refers to something that ought to have preceded it. He begins
saying, "That in the 30th year the heavens opened, and he saw visions of
God." And in ver. 5, he adds, "That the Lord had inspired him often
in Chaldea," which refers to some prophecies written in that period.
Besides, Josephus's work, book 10, chap. ix. of the Jewish antiquities,
says, "That Ezekiel had prophecied that Zedekiah should never see
Babylon." This is no where found in Ezekiel, but, on the contrary, in
chap. xi. and xii. he says, "That the king would be carried a prisoner
to Babylon."

As to Daniel, I have already noticed the great similarity between the
first book of Esdras and his, and the probability that they came from
the same author. The seven first chapters, except the first, were
written in Chaldean, and are by the most learned thought to be taken
from Chaldean chronologists. It is also thought by men of great
learning, that the books of Esdras, Daniel, and Esther, were altered a
long time after Judas Maccabeus, because it appears evident that Esdras
could not have written the whole of them, since Nehemiah carries the
genealogy of Jesuhga, the sovereign Pontiff till Jaddua, the sixteenth
in number, who after the defeat of Darius went to meet Alexander. And
Nehemiah, ver. 22, "The Levites, in the days of Eliashib, Joiadah,
and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers; also the
priests, to the reign of Darius the Persian." We have no reason to
believe that Esdras or Nehemiah could survive fourteen kings of Persia,
Cyrus having been the first who gave the Jews permission to rebuild the
temple, from whom to Darius there are 230 years.

I now come to the famous prophecy of the seventy weeks of Daniel, which
you exultingly mention as the most wonderful, and, at the same time, the
most incontrovertible prediction in existence, one which never can fail
to confound the most perverse unbeliever. If I prove, that so far from
being the surprising prophecy you pretend, it has altogether a different
meaning, and can nowise apply to the coming of Christ, I shall think
myself fully excused, if I do not go through every individual prediction
in the Bible. The passage alluded to is in Daniel, chap. ix. ver. 24, to
27, as follows: "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon
thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins,
and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting
righteousness, and to seal up the vision, and prophecy, and to anoint
the most holy. Know, therefore, and understand, that from the going
forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, unto the
Messiah, the prince, there shall be seven weeks; and threescore and two
weeks the streets shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous
times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but
not for himself; and the people of the prince that shall come, shall
destroy the city, and the sanctuary, and the end thereof shall be with
a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he
shall confirm the covenant with many, for one week; and, in the midst
of the week, he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease; and for
the overspreading of abominations, he shall make it desolate, even
until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the

This passage is generally applied to the coming of Christ. The seventy
weeks are supposed to mean weeks of years, or seven years each. Now
it is evident, that it cannot apply to Jesus Christ; for if from going
forth of the commandment in the time of Artaxerxes Longimanus, until the
coming of the Messiah, there were to be seven weeks or forty-nine years,
how does this agree with what follows? "After threescore and two weeks
(or three hundred and seventy-four years) shall Messiah be cut off."
And again, "He shall confirm the covenant with many for a week." Did
then Jesus Christ live four hundred and twenty-three years, or are there
two Messiahs predicted? Dr. Frideaux acknowledges that some parts of
this prophecy are so injudiciously printed in the English translation of
the Bible, that they are quite unintelligible; his alteration is in the
punctuation, and according to it we read, that, _from the going forth
of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, to the Messiah, the
Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks_; and in verse
27, he puts the half of the week, instead of the midst. The explanation
of the prophecy as thus altered, he gives as follows. From the
commandment given to Ezra by Ar-taxerxes Longimanus, to the
accomplishment of it by Nebemiah forty-nine years, or the first seven
weeks; from this accomplishment to the time of Christ's messenger John
the Baptist sixty-two weeks, or four hundred and thirty-four years; from
thence to the beginning of Christ's public ministry, half a week, or
three years and a half; and from thence to the death of Christ, half
a week, or three years and a half; in which half week he preached and
confirmed the gospel with many; in all, from the going forth of the
commandment, till the death of Christ, seventy weeks, or four hundred
and ninety years.

In the first place, we confidently assert that Dr. Prideaux followed his
fancy, not the original Hebrew, when he altered the punctuation. He is,
however, justified in the alteration of half of a week; but, granting
all, let us see how it applies. Did the Messiah come after seven weeks
from the commandment of Ar-taxerxes Longimanus? The explanation only
says, that Nehemiah finished the work which Ezra began. What has this
to do with the Messiah coming at the end of the first seven weeks? The
prophet says, that after threescore and two weeks, the street and the
wall shall be built. Again, and previously, that after the commandment
for the city to be built, the Messiah shall come in seven weeks. The
learned divine, on the contrary, makes Daniel say, that John the Baptist
began to preach the kingdom of the Messiah sixty-nine weeks after
the commandment, and in the first seven weeks he talks of nothing but
building the temple. Again, how does the oblation cease in half a week?
In fact, the same objection occurs here, as to the passage as it is
written in our Bibles. Daniel speaks quite clear, when he says, that
"from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem,
unto the Messiah, the Prince, shall be seven weeks." If we find,
in whatever explanation of the prophecy, that Christ did not come
forty-nine years after this commandment, and that he did not live four
hundred and thirty-four years afterwards, the whole must be an
untruth. And, if the first period of seven weeks is united with that of
threescore and two, that is, if the period of rebuilding the city, and
of the coming of the Messiah be the same, then let divines inform us
whether this really came to pass, and reconcile it with what follows, in
ver. 26, that the city is to be destroyed at the same time. Did Christ
confirm any covenant with many for seven years?

Let us attempt to unriddle this enigma. The passage evidently talks of
two Messiahs, or makes one live upwards of four hundred years; and is
altogether unintelligible as it stands. For the better understanding of
it, I shall quote some previous part of the same chapter, ver. 1. "In
the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the
Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans. 2. In the
first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood by books, the number of
the years whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet,
that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
3. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayers and
supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes. 4. And I prayed
unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said." After this
follows his prayer, until the 20th verse; and, in the 21st the angel
began to unfold a prophecy to Daniel, which begins in verse 24, and he
promises to explain the mystery that had so much grieved Daniel, that
is, the prophecy of Jeremiah; then follows the passage I have quoted:
the alterations I conceive ought be made in the reading of which, I
now proceed to mention. In verse 25, the sentence stops after the seven
weeks, as it is in the English Bible, because in the original we find
here the stop Atnach. In verse 26, instead of, _shall Messiah be cut
off?_ we ought to read, _the oblation shall cease_. This is the real
meaning of the expression in the original, according to Tertullian,
Eusebius, and Theodoretus. Eusebius says, _Unctum (vel Christum) nihil
aliud esse quam successionem Pontificum, quos unctos nominare S.
Literae consueverunt._ The Hebrew properly signifies _perdetur unctio_.
Theodoretus understands by this word, the same as _sacerdotes uncti.
Excidetur unctus,_ signifies the same as the _oblation shall be
abolished_; for the verb _excido_ does not always signify to kill, but
is applied to whatever falls into disuse that was once in practice, or
any thing that perishes. It is in this sense used in many parts of Kings
and Chronicles. Samuel says, _excidi de altare_. In Jeremiah,
chapter xxxvii. ver. 18, the verb is used in the same sense, _non
de sacerdotibus Levitis excidet ur homo coram me_, which is given in
English, "neither shall the priests, the Levites, _want a man_ (or
cease to have a man) before me." In verse 27, "and he shall confirm the
covenant with many for one week," means no more than the exemption of
calamities, and is tantamount to, _he shall let many remain in peace_,
as in Genesis, chap. vi. ver. 18, it is used in this sense.

To understand the real meaning of this pretended prophecy, the reader
will remember, that Daniel mourned for the 70 weeks of captivity
prophesied by Jeremiah; the vision of Daniel took place in the
first year of Darius, King of Chaldea, that is, in the year 162 of
Nebuchadnezzar; but, in chap. x. of Daniel we learn, that he ate no
pleasant bread, neither came flesh and wine into his mouth, till three
whole weeks were fulfilled. Now, the term weeks is used in the Bible
indiscriminately for weeks of years, or of days; here it appears clear
it signifies the former, particularly as the whole relates to the 70
years of Jeremiah; and the angel, in chap. x. ver. 14, tells Daniel, in
the same figurative style, "Now I am come to make thee understand what
shall befall thy people in the latter days, for yet the vision is for
many days." If then Daniel wept three weeks of years, or 21 years, from
the destruction of the temple, in the year 141 to the time of the vision
in 162, (the angel, chap. x. ver. 13, says, that the prince of Persia
withstood him 21 days, or years), it is easy to see what Daniel means.
Jeremiah had prophesied a captivity of 70 years, of these, three weeks
or 21 years were past; therefore Daniel, after entreating God to tell
him "how many more years were wanting," received for an answer what
follows, "At the beginning of thy supplications, the commandment came
forth, and I am come to show thee."--"Seventy weeks are determined
upon thy people to seal up the vision and prophecy," that is to complete
the prophecy of Jeremiah; and we find,-therefore, that from the issuing
the commandment to restore the Jews, and to build Jerusalem, or more
properly from the revelation of the angel, (exitu Verbi), promising that
Jerusalem should be rebuilt, ver. 23, to the coming of the Messiah, the
prince, or Cyrus, who freed the Jews from the captivity, there were to
be seven weeks, or 49 years, which, added to the three weeks already
past, made the 70 years of Jeremiah. Cyrus is by Isaiah called the
Lord's anointed: "Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose
right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him for Jacob my
servant's sake." Cyrus gave, at that time, liberty to the Jews, as the
reader may see in Ezra. It is evident, that the word commandment cannot
mean any express order to build Jerusalem, for the angel says, just
before he reveals the prophecy, "at the beginning of thy supplications
the commandment came forth we know that Daniel began to address prayers
unto heaven, at a time when there was no order to build the temple, on
the contrary, the Jews were in captivity.

This is the most difficult part of the pretended prophecy, the remainder
is plain. There shall be 62 weeks till the rebuilding of the wall. The
writer alludes here to the building of the first temple under Zerubbabel
and Jeshua, and then to the rebuilding of the wall, and restoration
of the temple by Judas Maccabeus, after its profanation by Antiochus
Epiphanes. The period of this last event is by the prophecy made to
extend to 63 1/2 weeks, or 444 years. Let us see if chronology confirms
this supposition. The temple was destroyed in the 141st year of Nabuch,
or 4107 of the Julian period; add to this 444 years, or 63 weeks and a
half, and we have the year 4551, or the second year of Judas Maccabeus,
according to Josephus; who also informs us, that having conquered his
enemies, he then built a wall about Sion, which is clearly meant in the
words, "the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous
times," 1 Maccab. chap. iv. ver. 60. At that time also "they builded up
the mount Sion with high walls," &c. Troublous the times certainly were;
the Jews were fighting against the cruelty of Antiochtis Epiphanes. It
is certain then, that after 343 years, or 69 weeks, the wall should be
built, and although it was not really completed till about ten years
after, it is presumable that the loose historian, or prophet, did
not choose to alter the beautiful idea of 70 Weeks. We know how
superstitiously the Jews respected not only the number 7, but all its
different affections. We are besides informed, in the first book of
Maccabees, that after the first depredation of Antiochus, the people
rebuilt the city of David, and made walls and forts; this happened
some years before the building of the wall by Judas, and brings the
prediction nearer to historical accuracy.

The next part of the prophecy is, "And after threescore and two weeks
shall sacrifices cease;" this means in the course of the week that
succeeds the 62. And, no doubt, Antiochus Epiphanes abolished them in
the seventh year of his reign, as we read in I Maccab. chap. i. "And
the people of the prince that shall come, shall destroy the city and the
sanctuary." This Antiochus most certainly did, "and went up (Antiochus)
against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude, and entered
proudly into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altars, also he
took the hidden treasures, and there was great mourning in Israel," 1
Maccab. J. "And the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end
of the war desolations are determined." The coming of Antiochus into
Jerusalem is pompously detailed in the first book of Maccabees: the Jews
compared a great calamity, or an invading and irresistible army, to
a flood. Let us proceed with the remainder: "And he shall confirm the
covenant with many for a week," this alludes to the first seven years
of the reign of Antiochus, during which he did not interfere with the
worship of the Jews, although he gave liberty to those who chose to be
heathens to follow their respective worship: it was in the end of the
sixth, and in the beginning of his seventh year that he attacked the
Jews, destroyed the temple, plundered it of its riches, and made himself
the tyrant of Judea.

The last part of the passage is as follows: "And in the half of a week
he shall cause the oblation and sacrifice to cease," and, I have only to
observe, that, from the taking of the city by Antiochus, to the absolute
forbidding Jewish worship, there elapsed about three years and a half,
or half a week, for he came to Jerusalem in the 143d year of the kingdom
of the Greeks, and the erecting of idols was in the year 145; after
which, he continued to persecute the Jews, and promote idolatry, until
the year 148. Now Antiothus attacked Jerusalem at the end of his sixth
year, to which, if we add two years and three months, we have pretty
exactly the period of half a week, or three years and a half. The
expression, "the spreading of abominations," evidently alludes to what
is said in Maccabees, chap. i. ver. 34. "Now the fifteenth day of the
month Casleu, in the 145th year, they (the followers of Antiochus) set
up the abomination of desolation upon the altar, and builded idol altars
throughout the cities of Judah, on every side." Daniel says, chap.
xii. ver. 11, speaking of his vision, "and from the time that the daily
sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that: maketh
desolate set up, there shall be (that is between the first interdict of
Antiochus, and the setting up of idols) 1290 days;" which is a little
more than three years and a half. The wonderful prophecy is then
unriddled, it becomes a contemptible piece of history in an affected
style. I trust the explanation which I have given, after Marsham, will
appear satisfactory. I challenge Bishop Watson to produce a plausible
explanation of the passage according to the sense of the church. It
may not be improper to observe, that Clemens Alexandrinus, many of
the fathers, Calmet, and other persons of great knowledge, have flatly
denied the application of the weeks of Daniel to Jesus. Those who
espouse your cause lose sight of the context of Daniel, they forget
chronology, and evince to what a pitch of delusion their minds have

This is the famous prophecy that silenced the Jewish rabbins of Venice;
it is of a pattern with Daniel's four beasts; the fourth is also a story
of Antiochus Epiphanes and Judas who slays the beast. Judas is the son
of man coming in clouds; he is the person of whom the prophets speak,
and who has most ridiculously been distorted to Jesus Christ. This
farrago of prophecies seems to have been the production of Esdras
or some very late writer; and I am not sure, but the doctrine of the
Pythagorean millennium gave rise to some of the expressions in both
writers, about the beasts: they seem to have sprung from the same origin
with those of the Apocalypse; and with the four Indian horses, they
crept among the Jews, together with many other Chaldean mythological
ideas: the Ancient of Ancients appears in his fiery car as Osiris
triumphant, or Chreeshna conquering Chiven; the books are opened before
him, as his kingdom is everlasting, like that of Vishnu with the
Vedams. But visions so ridiculous as that of Daniel deserve not our
consideration; whatever be their source they are but reveries, and may
serve to amuse idle people in their ridiculous speculations about the
world's end. Like Swedenburgh, men may dream, and interpret their own
dreams, and like him have the mortification to be laughed at for the
non-accomplishment of their predictions. We have had of late another
Daniel in Mr. Brothers; he too saw beasts, and, what is more, he
understood their meaning; but unfortunately we are not Jews, and he is
cruelly imprisoned in a madhouse.

I have now followed your animadversions on the objections of Thomas
Paine upon the Old Testament; and I trust I have shown that you have in
no degree been a more successful labourer in the cause of Judaism than
your predecessors; even your wonderful prophecy of Daniel is converted
into a mere historical tale, and the application Jesus Christ makes of
it to himself is accordingly proved to be ridiculous, the more so, as
it comes from the Son of God. I have a few more observations to make,
before I leave this book. I cannot pass in silence the gross blunder you
have committed, when you refer Mr. Paine to Ferguson for an astronomical
proof of the miracle of the total darkness at the crucifixion of Jesus.
An odd conceit, upon my word! You might know that the event is omitted
by all the authors of eminence who wrote at that time; that even Pliny
passes it unnoticed. Lest you should mislead the reader with your
groundless assertions, I shall state the matter as it stands in reality.
You avoid learned disquisitions to be intelligible, but you ought not
to have been so deficient of authority, where it is most needed. Besides
the gospels, the darkness is not mentioned in any author; but divines
have attempted to prove the event from a supposed passage of Phlegon,
related by Eusebius; it is in the following words: "In the fourth year
of the two hundred and second Olympiad, there was the greatest eclipse
ever seen; it was night at six, and even the stars could be seen." This
passage has long been disregarded by men of knowledge; it alludes to an
eclipse, not to a miraculous darkness. Both Mr. Ferguson and you have
blundered in chronology and astronomy. It is certain, in the year of
Christ's crucifixion, according to the common chronology, there could
have been no eclipse of the sun visible at that time at Jerusalem;
Ferguson, therefore, concludes it a miracle. But you ought to have
known, that the fourth year of the two hundred and second Olympiad, is
not the year of the crucifixion in any system of chronology; that there
was an eclipse of the sun, in the year mentioned by Phlegon, in the
month of November, which, however, was not central; and you know that
Jesus is said to have died at the time of the full moon in March, or in
the beginning of April. Besides, had even such a darkness taken place,
are you ignorant of the existence of comets, and would not one passing
between the earth and the sun eclipse that luminary? Have not such
miracles taken place if we credit historians? The death of Caesar
was preceded by wonderful prodigies, and a comet made its appearance
immediately after. The supposed miraculous influence of comets, and
their being prophetic signs, was once an article of faith throughout
all Europe, and the ancient history of every country records many events
which the authors maintain arose from comets.

Your reflections on prophets I cannot pass unnoticed. You pretend to
make a distinction between dreamers, and impostors, and true prophets.
You acknowledge the number of soothsayers and fortunetellers among the
Jews; but you maintain that they were altogether distinct from the
true prophets, and appeal to Jeremiah, who puts the Jews on their guard
against false prophets. Does not every quack, every impostor, do the
same, and caution the world to beware of counterfeits? You might have
saved a great deal of trouble, had you condescended to produce your
proofs of the genuineness of the writings of the prophets; and then we
might enquire concerning the works of these augurs. You pretend that a
sure mark of the reality of a prophet is his predicting bad things, for
a fortune-teller always prophecies good. Pardon me if I suppose you a
follower of Mr. Brothers. For surely the destruction of London was not
a most desirable event. It is in vain you attempt to turn Mr. Paine
into ridicule for his definition of a prophet. He most justly calls them
strolling-poets, fortune-tellers; being in Judea what the gipsies, the
augurs, and the astrologers have been in other nations. The Hebrew word
_Navi_ signifies nothing but an orator, a public speaker, and is by
the Jews applied, in a forced way, to soothsayers and diviners. It is
incontrovertible that they existed among the Jews in colleges, and were
brought up to the business. Their chief employment was to write
the chronicles of the times. The name prophet is given in the Bible
indiscriminately with that of holy man. Among the Hebrews, the first
book of Kings was called the prophecy of Samuel. Abel is called
repeatedly in the New Testament a prophet, (see Matth. chap. xxiii.
ver. 31 and 35, and Luke chap. xi. ver. 50 and 51), although we have no
account of his having predicted any. Among the Jews there certainly were
fortune-tellers, necromancers, and witches, all of which you rank
among the impostors. But had not the witch of Endor a real power of
incantation? Did she not most wonderfully raise up the spirit of Samuel?
Or are we to look upon the story of the witch of Endor in the same
light as those of modern witches? That the prophets of the Jews were
repeatedly deceived, we cannot have the smallest doubt when 400 of
these gentlemen told a downright lie to Ahaz. But you have a very easy
expedient in all these cases. When a prophet tells a lie, you may, as
was done in this particular case, attribute it to a design of God to
cheat the person who consults his oracles, just as Jupiter did of old to
Agamemnon when he sent him the false dream.

You reproach Thomas Paine for want of candour. He has not, you say,
examined the general design of the Old Testament There he would find
the benevolence of the God of the Jews, and his infinite goodness in
selecting them from among the nations, in preserving them from idolatry.
If he chose this people he has certainly exposed them to continual
sufferings, and all for no other purpose than to teach mankind that
idolatry is the greatest of crimes; that to avoid it, murder, plunder,
the crusades, the inquisition, persecution, may all be laudable means
for the preservation of the faith of nations. Thus, the cherished
people, who were most intimate with their God, committed the most
enormous crimes, under the pretence of preserving pure their adoration
of the implacable God Jehovah. Did not all the endeavours of Jehovah to
rescue nations from idolatry prove fruitless? This despicable creature
man has been able to effect what mighty Jehovah never accomplished.
Science is the only antidote against all kinds of superstition. Did
Cicero adore stocks or stones? Or did ever any learned man among the
heathens humble himself before idols? Has not the principal branch of
the church of Christ been notorious idolaters? But what avails all
this? Have you proved that the Heathens "emulated in the transcendent
flagitiousness of their lives, the impure morals of their gods?" You
assert it; but unluckily it is one of the many unsupported and assumed
propositions in your pamphlet. Did nations necessarily imitate the
conduct of their gods, I would tremble at being among the followers
of the bloody Jehovah. The heathens were certainly dreamers in their
adoration of the planets; we are taught by science, that these bodies
resemble our earth in the general laws that govern them. It was natural
for rude men to gaze at the sublimity of the stupendous fabric, the
refulgency of the sun; the blessings derived from his genial influence
could not be contemplated without admiration by the amazed and fearful
savage. Idolatry is ridiculous: but have you proved that Jehovah
deserves more to be revered than the Great Whole of nature, whether
called Pan, or otherwise disguised in emblems, than the harmony of the
planets designed by symbols, the generative powers by Venus, or the
vivifying light emanating from the bright orb of Apollo? Confess at
least, that the allegorical adoration of nature could only deceive
the multitude who were kept in ignorance by their priests. If you are
candid, you must acknowledge, that the Polytheists were tolerant, that
the Atheists or Deists lectured close, to the temple. They did not
exterminate nations, establish inquisitions, murder unbelievers as the
Jews, and the Christians; although, as you observe, they received the
gift of God through Jesus Christ, and were made alive by the covenant of

In what consists the superiority of the Jewish or Christian notions
of God? Jehovah is a being incomprehensible; he is a jealous and a
revengeful God, he hardens men's hearts, and sacrifices whole nations to
a particular people, who, in their turn, are sacrificed for the boasted
scheme of general good, which is never the nearer being accomplished.
He must be adored and revered, and yet he does not make himself known
to man. He does not even show himself face to face to any but Moses.
You pay no great compliment to his omnipotence, when you observe, that
"probably he could not give to such a being as man a full manifestation
of the end for which he designs him, nor of the means requisite for that
end;"--and, "that it may not be possible for the Father of the universe
to explain to us, infants in apprehension, the goodness and the wisdom
of his dealings with the sons of man." Jehovah, in short, equally the
offspring of fancy with the Heathen Jupiter, is as cruel as Moloch,
and, like other productions of the brain, an invisible phantom, to which
priests give the passions of a tyrant; and, in their desire that he
should reign alone, that men should not worship other deities, his
ministers have preached up this God, and the multitude, eager to admire
what they cannot comprehend, have followed the mandates of the pretended
interpreters of his will. Still, however, the greatest number of
ignorant men are, and will ever be, idolaters; in vain their spiritual
guides preach up incomprehensible and ideal beings in an unintelligible
jargon; man will always seek to satisfy his senses. Even the immediate
presence of Jehovah, and his horrid massacres, could not prevent the
favourite nation from following other gods. Even the inspired, the wise,
the royal Solomon forsook "the God of Israel, holy, just, and good," for
"the impure rabble of heathen Baalim."

According to your nations, according to the doctrines of the Jewish and
the Christian churches, the sole aim of God has been to be exclusively
adored, and jealousy is his prominent feature. It is not in the pursuit
of knowledge, or in the practice of morality that he delights. The
precepts of social virtue occasionally scattered through the Old, as
well as the New Testament, can make little impression when contrasted
with the vindictive cruelty of the Deity. The Jewish Jehovah requires
nothing of his followers but their compliance in executing his bloody
commands against nations whom he calls impious, because he has not
revealed himself to them. The man after his own heart, is the murderer
of thousands of innocent people. Christ orders his followers to despise
the reason he has given them, to avoid pleasure, to hate the world,
and to love pain, to pray, and to spend their lives in continual
mortification, and in gazing over unintelligible mysteries to acquire
his kingdom. If they fail to believe in him, whether from ignorance or
from conviction, he punishes them with eternal damnation, or as _Saint_
Athanasius emphatically expresses it in his celebrated creed, "Whosoever
believeth in these things shall be saved; and whosoever believeth not
shall be damned."


I now bring under review a few passages from _Holy Writ_, which I leave
to your Lordship to explain, and which scoffers pretend to say are
undeniable proofs of the stupidity of the Jews, and gross ideas they
had of God. I shall follow the order of the books without attempting an

Genesis, chap. iii. ver. 1. "Now the serpent was more subtle than any
beast of the field which the Lord had made; and he said unto the woman,
yea hath God said," &c.

This Mr. Serpent would make a fine figure in Æsop's fables. They say it
means the Devil, but how does that appear?

In ver. 22. and 23. "And behold the Lord said, the man is become one of
us, (i. e. one of us Gods), to know good and evil, And now lest he put
forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for
ever; therefore, the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to
till the ground from whence he was taken."

This shows strongly that boasted attribute of God, Jealousy. Is it
consistent with a Deity to punish this pair, and all their progeny, for
their attempt to know good from evil? We here find that the priests have
made God expressly after their own image. God's selfishness prevented
men from eating of the other tree, which would make him live for ever.
_Queritur,_ then, at what period of the world did the soul of man become
immortal? Was it not till Jesus Christ came? And was this tree a type of
him, as the bread and wine are at this day? It appears also, that it was
not one, but two trees, that were prohibited!

Ib. chap. xxxii. ver. 24. "And Jacob was left alone, and there wrestled
a man with him, until the breaking of the day; (this shows the antiquity
and high authority of sparring); and when he saw that he prevailed not
against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh (Mendoza like): and the
hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And
he said, let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let
thee go, unless thou bless me. And he said unto him, what is thy name?
And he said, Jacob. And he said, thy name shall be called no more Jacob,
but Israel; (which, in Chaldee signifies seeing God); for as a prince
hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. (Or, as the
Vulgate more correctly translates, for if thou hast been to oppose the
Lord, how much more shall thou prevail against men). And Jacob called
the name of the place Penial: for I have seen God face to face." This
passage requires no comment.

Exodus, chap. iii. ver. 4. "And when the Lord saw that he (Moses) turned
aside to see, God called unto him out of the bush, and said, Moses,
Moses. And he said, here am I." This is a pretty play at bo-peep.

Ib. ver. 14. "And God said unto Moses, I am that I am; and he said, thus
shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I am hath sent me unto you."

Divines hold this passage to be a great instance of sublimity!!!

Ib. ver. 21. "And I will give this people favour in the sight of the
Egyptians, and it shall come to pass, that when ye go away, ye shall
not go empty, but every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, jewels of
silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your
sons, and your daughters, and ye shall spoil the Egyptians."

Here the Jews made God after their own image; and the dealings of that
nation in silver, gold, and clothes, at this day, show that they have
not forgotten their God. It is not easy for divines to reconcile this
with God's other precept in the eighth commandment.

Ib. chap. iv. ver. 24. "And it came to pass by the way in the inn, (by
the way, were there inns then in Egypt?) that the Lord met him (Moses)
and sought to kill him!!! Then Zepporah took a sharp stone, and cut off
the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet."

This business of the circumcision is brought in rather by the head and
the shoulders, and the cause of it is not quite clear; but it is very
evident that the Lord could not kill Moses.

Ib. chap. xxxii. ver. 27. "And he (Moses learning that the Jews had made
a golden calf), said unto them, (the sons of Levi, i.e. the priests,)
thus saith the Lord God of Israel, put every man his sword by his side,
and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every
man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his
neighbour; and the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses,
and there fell of the people that day about three thousand."

Ib. chap. xxxiii. ver. 9. "And it came to pass, as Moses entered into
the tabernacle, the pillar descended, and stood at the door of the
tabernacle, and the Lord (who was in the pillar) talked with Moses."

In this manner modern goddesses stop their carriages at shop-keepers'
doors at this day.

Ib. ver. 90. "And he (God) said, thou canst not see my face, for there
shall no man see me and live." God must here have forgotten his dialogue
with Adam and Eve, his wrestling with Jacob, and conversations with
Moses. In Numbers, chap. xii. ver. 6 and 8, he says, "Hear now my words:
If there be a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will make myself known
to him in a vision, and will speak to him in a dream," but, "with thee
(Moses) will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark
speeches, and the similitude of the Lord shall you behold."

Ib. chap. xxi. ver..5. "And the people spoke against God, and against
Moses, wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the
wilderness, for there is no bread, neither is there any water, and our
soul loatheth this light bread." No wonder the Jews tired of living upon
manna without water, but the Lord taught them not to grumble. "And the
Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, and
much people of Israel died." When God was tired of making his serpents
bite the poor devils, he said unto Moses, "Make thee, a fiery serpent,
and set it upon a pole, and it shall come to pass, that every one that
is bitten when he looketh upon it shall live." This is below all the
tricks of necromancers.

Ib. chap. xxv. "And the people began to commit whoredom with the
daughters of Moab. And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the
anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. And the Lord said unto
Moses, take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the
Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned
away from Israel. And Moses said unto the judges, slay every one of
these men who were joined unto Baal-peor. And behold one of the children
of Israel came, and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman, in
the sight of Moses, &c. And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son
of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation, and
took a javelin in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the
tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the
woman through her belly, so the plague was stopped from the children of
Israel, and these that died in the plague were 24,000." As a reward for
this, the Lord gave Phinehas the everlasting priesthood, "because he was
zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel."

Ib. chap. xxvi. Dathan, Korah, and Abirim strove against Moses and
Aaron, and the earth swallowed them up, and the fire devoured 250 men.

lb. chap. xxxi. ver. 16, there was a plague among the congregation of
the Lord, on account of the tres pass against the Lord, when he ordered
thus, "Now, therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill
every woman that hath known man by lying with him; but all the
women children that hath not known man by lying with him, keep for
yourselves." For the observation on this passage, I refer my reader to
Bishop Watson, and the former part of this work.

The following ought to be the fate of all idolatrous people, and has
been happily practised in the discoveries made by most European
nations. Deuteronomy chap. xiii. ver. 13. "Thou shalt surely smite
the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it
utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge
of the sword."

Joshua, chap. vi. v. 21. "And they utterly de-, stroyed all that was
in the city, (Jericho), both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and
sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. And they burnt the city with
fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the
vessels of brass, and of iron, they put it into the treasury of the
house of the Lord."

Chap. x. Joshua being attacked by five kings, and they having taken
shelter in a cave, he caused great stones to be rolled to the mouth of
the cave, till he followed and destroyed the people, then he ordered the
five kings to be brought out from the cave, "And it came to pass, that
when they brought out those five kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called
for all the men in Israel, and said unto the men of war, come near, put
your feet upon the necks of these kings, and they came near, and put
their feet upon the necks of them. And afterwards Joshua smote them,
and slew them, Joshua took Makdekah, and smote it with the edge of the
sword, and the king thereof he utterly destroyed, them, and all the
souls that were therein; he let none remain." And so he did in all to
31 kings, as related in this and the following chapters, and all this
by the express command of God, who made the sun and the moon both stand
still to witness these unprovoked atrocities. But this was just; God
having given that country to his chosen people the Jews, as in latter
times his vicegerent the Pope gave America to the Portuguese and
Spaniards, who, Joshua-like, exterminated the kings and people, because
they were not Christians. This, as you say, serves the general scheme of
God's benevolence towards mankind.

Judges, chap.i. ver. 4. And the Lord having delivered the Canaanites and
the Perizzites into the hands of Judah, "They slew of them in Bezek 1000
men. But Adonibezek fled, and they pursued after him, and caught him,
and cut off his thumbs, and his great toes." lb. ver. 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!" Why? "Because they
had chariots of iron." Chap. iv. recounts the manner in which Deborah
and Barak delivered Israel from Jabin and Si-aera. Ver. 21. Then Jael,
Hebber's wife, (to whose tent Sisera had fled), "took a nail of the tent,
and a hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail
into his temples, and fastened it into the ground, (_a goodly nail_),
for he was fast asleep and weary, so he died." Chap. 5, contains the
_beautiful_ song of Deborah and Barak, which I particularly request my
reader to peruse, as a finished piece of scripture praise of good words.
Chap. xxi. relates, that the Israelites having sworn not to give their
daughters to the Benjamites, and the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead not
having come up to Minzeh, "the congregation sent 19,000 men of the
valiantest, and commanded them, saying, go and smite the inhabitants
of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the
children: utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by
man;" but, having found 400 young virgins that had known no man by lying
with any male," they gave them to the sons of Benjamin, "and yet so they
sufficed them not." So as they had sworn not to give them wives of their
own daughters, "therefore, they commanded the children of Benjamin,
saying, go and lie in wait in the vineyards, and see, and behold, if the
daughters of Shiloch come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of
the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife."

First Samuel, chap. vi. The ark of the Lord having been among the
Philistines seven months, they, unwilling to send it back empty, asked
the priests and diviners, what they should send in it as a trespass
offering? "they answered, five golden emerods, and five golden
mice,---and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel,--and make a new
cart, and take two milch kine, and take the ark of the Lord and lay it
on the cart;" and they did so, "and they of Beth-shemesh lifted up
their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it,--and the men of
Beth-shemesh offered burnt-offerings, and sacrificed sacrifices the same
day unto the Lord,--and he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they
had looked into the ark of the Lord, even he smote of the people fifty
thousand and threescore and ten men." Gracious God! Blessed Jews!

Second Samuel, chap. xxiv. ver. 1. "And the anger of the Lord was
kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, go
number Israel and Judah." (In first Chronicles, chap. xxi. ver. 1, it
stated, "and Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number
Israel.") And having thus instigated David to do what is good policy in
a king, God, of his infinite mercy, said unto David by his prophet Grad,
David's seer, (an officer of the household in those days), "I offer thee
three things: shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land, or
wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, or that there be three
days pestilence in thy land?" And David having chosen the latter, "the
Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel, and there died of the people 70,000
men but the Lord is ever merciful, for, "when the angel stretched out
his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord _repented_ him of the
evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, it is enough,
stay thou thine hand," _Delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi_.

1 Kings, chap. ii. David being upon his death-bed, having made peace
with God, and purified his heart, called Solomon to him and gave him his
last charge. As to Joab, the son of Zeruiah, he said, "do according
to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in
peace,--and behold thou hast with thee Shimei the son of Gera, which
cursed me, but he came down to meet me at Jordan, and I sware to him
by the Lord, saying, I will not put thee to death by the sword; now,
therefore, (_proceeds the man after God's own heart_), hold him not
guiltless; for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to
do unto him, but his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood."
Solomon having succeeded his father, the first act of his reign was to
put to death his brother Adonijah.

1 Kings, chap. xi. ver. 4, "Solomon's heart was not perfect with the
Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father, for it came to pass,
that, when he was old, his wives turned his heart after other gods." But
why go through such barbarous details? All along we find imprecations
against those who despise the prophets, and praises lavished upon
murderers, traitors, and assassins. This is the people "selected by the
wisdom of God, that they might witness to the whole world in successive
ages his existence and attributes, that they might be an instrument
of subverting idolatry, of declaring the name of the God of Israel
throughout the whole earth a people, who are to us witnesses of
the existence, and of the moral government of God."--This is the Old
Testament, which you presume to say afforded matter for the laws of
Solon, and a foundation for the philosophy of Plato,--which has been
admired and venerated for its piety, its sublimity, its veracity, by all
who _are able to read and understand it!!!_ This is the God who maketh
the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, who is all perfection,
all wise, and all powerful, and whose mercy is above all his other


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