Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

would find more room to contain it, than when it first sipped and relished the sweetness of truth 23.

Enough is done in the way of refutation. I might have gone through the sermon, overthrowing, at every point, the propositions that are applied to Theism, but more would be tedious.

Mind is the subject of the sermon, and but little remains to be said upon it. Taking it in its most enlarged sense, we can make nothing more of it than a power of providing for the wants and desires of the body: and this power exists more or less in every animal, and in every vegetable; in. short, in every compound substance. Ils character varies only with the variance of the substances. To attract and combine that which is in affinity with, and to repel or reject that which is hostile to its properties, seems to be a common principle in matter, whether compound or elementary. As yet we are very ignorant of the principles and properties of matter, and that ignorance leads us to invent causes for phenomena for which we cannot rationally and scientifically account, The fluid properties of matter, and the properties of fluid matter, are those of which we are most ignorant; and that ignorance has been the sole cause of using those nonsensical words-immateriality and personified spirit. The only difference between the Materialist and Spiritualist is, that the former confesses his ignorance and inability where he cannot proceed further in explanation; the latter, vain enough to aspire to omạiscience, too haughty to confess ignoronce, fables a cause to fill up every chasm in his knowledge, and, by that fabled cause, erroneously settles every difficulty. The spiritualist is evidently less honest than the materialist. The one is a liar from habit; the other abhors lying

In conjunction with this seriod, I have been reading Paley's “ Natural Tbeology,”-his effort to make an intelligent contriver essential to material contrivance. The whole of this effort centers in the endeavour, first, to deify intelligence, and next, man as an inference, as its possessor. It behoved Paley to shew, as a first principle, that the properties of matter were unequal to snch arrangements as he advances, without an intelligent contriver, a designing power. Not having done this, he has done nothing-he bas not advanced the cause of spiritualism a step. 23 A most convincing proof that knowledge is but the sum of sensations,

R. C,

Mr. Paine has wisely observed, that man, in all his scientific boastings, invents nothing. In his arrangements of matter, he merely imitates what he sees in nature, and produces particular effects where nature has not produced them. This is substantially true—and the inference is, that, so far from intelligence being essential to natural productions, all that intelligence, this boasted intelligence and contrivance, can do is, to imitate, what, in Paley, I have seen quoted as an admirable expression - the insatiable varieties of nature. Intelligent power is but a mockery of natural power: the contrivances of art, are but at most, a faint effort to imitate designless nature.

Lord Bacon bas also, wisely said, that all the intelligence of man can do is, to arrange the powers of matter-he cannot create or increase those powers: be arranges equal or unequal parts to produce a particular effect-he never makes his materials. There is, therefore, no analogy between nataral productions, and intelligent arrangements of those productions; consequently, no proof of intelligence as an existence separate from animal existence.

But it is Mr. Allin and not Paley that I have here to refute; thougb, if it were called for, I am prepared to refute this man, who was too poor to be able to afford to keep a conscience, at every point of his scheme of intelligent natural contrivances. Mr. Allin I have, I presume, fairly refuted; and bere I terminate my critique upon his sermon.

RICHARD CARLILE.

Dorchester Gaol, Sept. 12, 1824.

INDICTMENT OF JAMES AFFLECK,

(Continued from page 352.)

“ Q. What practice do you allude to as opposed to our ideas of Wisdom?

“ A. The practice of altering the Laws of Nature, ou the most trivial occasions, and of bringing forward Miracles, which cannot be believed, in support of truths which cannot be doubted.

“Q. What do you allude to, as opposed to.our ideas of Goodness?

[ocr errors]

“ A. We are told that God approved of the treacherous assassination of Sisera, and that Moses had Divine authority for spoiling a neighbouring nation, and for murdering all the women and infants, except a portion of the female children, wbo were set aside for the use of bis countrymen. Such transactions are so directly opposed to our ideas of Right and Wrong, and to the unchangeable nature of the Power that Governs the Universe, that it is scarcely credible that they ever met with Divine approbation.

“Q. What do you allude to, as opposed to our ideas of Greatness ?

“ A. The descriptions which represent the Great Goveroing Power of the universe as subject to the passions and prejudices which are peculiar to Human Nature,-as walking in a garden, or dwelling in a bush,-clothed in the human imagination,) with all the organs and dimensions of tbe Human Figure.

“ Q. But are not such descriptions evidently intended to be altogether metaphorical ?

" A. The literal interpretation of such descriptions, is so grossly absurd, that no individual, who reflects at all, can be deceived by them. But children, who are unaccustomed to a reflection, generally receive them in their literal sense ; and it is known, that the natural tendency of such doctrines, is to destroy the Human Intellect, and to make a great portion of mankind continue in a state of imbecility and childhood, during their whole lives.

“Q. Are mankind not bigbly culpable for impressing such notions on the minds of their helpless children?

“ A. If their own notions were true, they should then, indeed, be highly culpable, for it is a part of their doctrine, that man has power over the formation of his own mode of thinking. But seeing, that every Rational Being has, within himself the most conclusivé testimony that no such power exists,-it necessarily follows, that such individuals,--as they act from the best intentious),--are in no degree culpable, though they are much to be pitied.

“Q. Wby are they to be pitied?

A. Because, by the unspeakable wisdom of the Laws which govern our nature, it is so ordained, that a Human Being cannot act wrong, without entailing misery upon himself; and the inconvenience which these individuals suffer from their adherence to Error, is the punishment which Nature inflicts upon those who deviate from the dictates of Reason and of Common Sense.

“ Q. But would it not be more painful for these individuals to act otherwise?

" A. There cannot be a shadow of doubt but that is the case ;

because the desire of happiness is the chief motive to all human actions, and these individuals act thus irrationally, merely because false impressions have been made upon their minds, which would make it more painful for them to act otherwise; and it is upon this account, that they are so much to be pitied.

“Q. How can we distinguish the restraints which are congenial to the laws which govern our nature, from those that are of a different description ?

“ A. The natural consequences which attend the useof these restraints, furnish the only.criterion which has been equally respected by all nations, and in all ages; and no rule for distinguishing good from evil, can be more plain or simple.

“ Q. Do the doctrines of Atheists or Unbelievers teach us to despise or disregard the Laws which govern our nature?

“ A. The Truth and utility of these Laws are so self-evident, that no Human Being can openly either despise or reject them. They teach us, 'that every thing wbich has a tendency to promote the General Welfare and Happiness of Man throughout the period of his existence, is Good.'-And that every thing which produces a preponderating share of misery or suffering to the Human Race, is Evil;' and that it is our duty to do the one, and to avoid the other.

“ How do you know that these are the Laws which govern our Nature ?

“ A. Because they have remained the same in all ages and countries; and because they form the criterion by which each nation judges the proceedings of all other nations. Though each nation invariably considers its own proceedings as an exception from this rule. Because impressions have been made in infancy upon the minds of the natives, which impressions produce actions that will not bear to be judged by this criterion. If their minds had been free, they would have been willing to respect and obey the Laws which go, vern their Nature, and to have followed the Truth, whereever it might lead.

6. Q. What is Truth?

“ A. Truth is simply an account or description of any thing, which account or description exactly corresponds with the Reality; though the word.' Truth' embraces every thing that is True, and, consequently, can only be of one kind, yet on account of our limited capacities, it necessarily comes under three different definitions; Demonstrable

Truth, or that which can be brought under the cognizance of our own senses ;– Traditionary Truth, or that which has been told us by others;-and Imaginary Truth, or that which we fancy to exist, or to have existed, in regions, or times, which are beyond the reach of demonstration.

“Q. What is the cbief characteristic of Demonstrable Truth?

“ A. That it bas remained the same in all ages and in all countries. The impressions it makes, cannot be obliterated. Whenever it is known, it becomes self-evident and undisputed. It embraces every thing, which is of any practical utility in promoting the welfare or bappiness of mankind. It is always consistent with itself. It remains the same under every view or comparison of it, which can be taken or made; and it can be completely separated from error, without offending against the prejudices of any one, whenever individuals are inclined to make the separation.

“Q. What is the chief characteristic of Traditionary and Imaginary Truth?

“ A. The great facilities which they afford for forming a union with Error, and the great difficulties which exist in the way of making a separation after this union is formed ; upon account of the absurd and irrational prejudices which have been forced upon the Human Mind in infancy, - which lead the individuals to imagine that they have merit in believing inconsistencies, and that they will be punished if they doubt them.

" Q. How can these prejudices be easiest overcome?

“ A. Simply by ceasing to force upon the minds of infants any Traditionary or Imaginary doctrines, whicb are at variance with Demonstrable Truth.

Q. Is the belief of such doctrines general ? “ A. Every nation and country have been disputing, quarrelling, and fighting, about such doctrines, in all the bygone ages of the world.

“Q. Why are all nations so earnest in impressing a belief of absurdities upon the mişds of their infant children ?

“ A. Because they seem to be aware, that such impressions can be made, only while the mind is incapable of distinguishing Truth from Falsehood.

“Q. Is it really the interest of Children to be so trained ?

“ A. No,--such treatment is illiberal, unjust, and barbarous.Illiberal, because it proceeds upon the principle, that Truth is not a match for Error, while both have fair play.Unjust, because it leads us to form a decision upon a dis

« AnteriorContinuar »