Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of their opinion, keeps their minds in a state of great uneasiness, and creates a dislike to the laws of their country, instead of a respect for them.

* That your Petitioners conscientiously differ in opinion from the established religion of their country, but have no wish whatever to disturb it; they conceive that Deists and Christians, if they act according to their professions, and are not knaves and hypocrites, may carry on their discussions with temper and moderation, live together in peace, výing with each other in good works, and not striving for each other's destruction.

" That your Petitioners are not anxious to engage in theological controversy, but as they are weekly consigned to eternal perdition from the pulpit, and daily by many of the people, they have surely the strongest reasons to examine the truth of these doctrines, and the merit of these books, from which they are threatened with such unrelenting severity.

“ That your Petitioners besides being consigned to eternal misery in a life to come, are also unfairly dealt within this, as they are not allowed by the law to answer the arguments and examine the doctrines of those Christians who attack their opinion, abuse their character and motives, and use every exertion to make them detested by their fellow men.

" That, as your Petitioners are compelled to pay their full proportion of the Established Clergymen's stipends, they consider that these Reverend Gentlemen would act more consistent with their professions, if they were to visit those whom they think bave gone astray, and endeavour to instruct them, rather than so rashly to pronounce their condemnation.

That, by the prosecutions instituted against all those who are known to print or sell their books, your Petitioners are prevented from obtaining those books which defend or advocate their own opinions, and are thus deprived of the benefit of the press, and excluded from the same privileges

which are enjoyed by every other sect, however extravagant.

“ That your Petitioners being liable to be punished if they meet together for public discussions and instruction, are convinced that it is througb the forbearance of the Civil Authorities, and not under protection of the laws, that they can meet for that purpose; consequently, in their present state, they have as little interest in the stability of the laws and institutions of their county, as Jews or Aliens.

“ That your Petitioners, in publishing their opinions concerning revealed religion, and in defending their opinions, conceive that they are no more guilty of blasphemy than the Jews, who openly dispute and ridicule the doctrines of Christianity, and even reproach the character of its founder; yet they are protected by law.

" That your Petitioners have no motive but the love of truth in questioning the divine origin of Christianity, and can have no interest in following error when it is so dangerous; they have as deep an interest in discovering and supporting true religion as any other men: they question the divine origin of Christianity from the sincere conviction of their minds which their inquiries into its origin bave produced, and not from any wish to disturb the peace of society or the happiness of individuals.

“ That your Petitioners do not conceive that their public discussions or the circulation of their books are dangerous to religion; as it is only reflecting men who engage in such inquiries, their principles are never likely to be generally embraced; besides, Divines inculcate that the church is founded on a rock, and cannot be overthrown, and many who have studied the human character, are convinced that the principle of devotion is so deeply planted in the human heart, and so much influenced by surrounding circumstances that it will never be destroyed by any arguments, however rational or strong.

66 That the unrestrained circulation of books, and free discussion of all religious subjects, would be of great benefit

in clearing away error and superstition, and displaying the merits of true religion, and also in directing and assisting the human mind in acquiring knowledge, and thus promoting the improvement and happiness of mankind.” The Petition was then ordered to be printed.

May it therefore please your Honourable House, to take the laws of Scotland, regarding blasphemy, into your serious consideration; and, in the spirit of liberality and humanity, which distinguishes this enlightened age, modify them só far as to allow the free circulation of all books not immoral, and the liberty of free discussion on all subjects; as the syrest means of avoiding error, and arriving at truth, and your Petitioners, as in duty bound, shall ever pray, &c. i

COPY OF A LETTER SENT TO THE REVEREND JOHN PARSONS, CLERICAL JUSTICE, SHER: BORNE, DORSET.

SIR,

Dorchester Gaol, Nov. 1, 1824. I hear that you have, or that some other clergyman has, called John Vicary of Serborne to account, for having visit ed me; and as I know of no other clergyman in Sherborne but yourself, I take the liberty to call you to account, for interfering with the visits of any person to me.

By way of trying your competency or warrantry to call to account, or to instruct John Vicary in matters of right and wrong, I have, in a letter to Mr. Wollaston, framed three questions, of vast importance between you and me and others, to see if you will venture again to send for John Vicary, to shew him that they are not well supported by me.

I am, Sir, an Anti-Christian, or the very Anti-Christ, if you please, and a contemner of Clerical Justices,

RICHARD CARLILE. P. S. Your will not do amiss to consult your neighbour, John Davis, the Vicar of Cerne, as to his experience of the utility of bis interference with Richard Hassell on a similar occasion.

[ocr errors]

Printed and Published by R. CARLILE, 84, Fleet Street. ---All Correspon

dences for “ The Republican” to be left at the place of publication.

No. 20, Vol. 10.] London, Friday, Nov. 19, 1824. [Price 6d.

TO THE CHRISTIAN JUDGE BAILEY.

LETTER XXIV.

Dorchester Goal, November 10, 1824

of Christian Morality. Now, my Judge Bailey, we will see what the moral precepts of the New Testament are worth, what the sermon of a God is worth. You have laid them down as both unimpeachable and unimproveable-as instructions for the regulation of human life from a God that is styled the fountain of wisdom, &c. &c. &c. You will now see, that as men improve,

the Gods lose their credit for wisdom. As a commencement, I must quote a long note of yours on the Gospel for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity, Matthew chap. v. in wbich you say :-

“ This is part of that discourse of our Saviour's, called his sermon upon the mount. The sermon upon the mount contains rules of such peculiar wisdom, so truly calculated to advance the happiness of man, that the late Mr. Soame Jenyns(who was no entbusiast) considers them as furnishing most satisfactory evidence that the Christian religion came from God. His chief grounds are these, that it contains a system entirely new both with regard to the object and the doctrines, infinitely superior to any thing which had ever before entered into the mind of man; that it carries every moral precept founded on reason to a higher degree of purity and perfection than any system of the wisest philosophers of preceding ages; that it totally omits every moral precept founded on false principles; that it adds many new precepts, peculiarly corresponding with its object; and that it is such a system as could not possibly have been the work of any man, and therefore must have derived its origin from God.”

These are your, and Mr. Soame Jenyus', assertions; now for mine : not my assertions only in this instance, but my

Printed and Published by R. Carlile, 84, Fleet Street.

analysis of, ard arguments upon, this most contemptible of sermons !

If I have read this sermon through once, I have read it through twenty times in this Gaol, and the more I read, the more I discover its precepts to be defective and impràcticable; and if practicable, pernicious. I have already twice analyzed it--once in a letter to Dr. England, in No. 1, Vol. IX. of this work, and again in No. 7, Vol. I. of the “Moralist. But if I do not yet rightly understand it, I will read it and analyze it again. The moral precepts, if the major part of them deserve the name, are these and these only.

“ Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness. — Blessed are the meek--the merciful-tbe pure in heart-the peace makers.-Swear not at all.–With what judgment ye judge, ye sball be judged: and with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again. -First cast out the beam out of thine eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. All things whatsoever ye would that men sbould do unto you, do ye even so to them."

There, that is all of the moral precept, in this boasted sermon upon the mount! I defy you to shéw a moral precept in it that I have not here extracted : and these scárcely deserve the name of moral precepts, as they do not stimulate to good actions. I have lately criticised to death a much better sermon than this preached by a Mr. Allin, a Metho. dist; but now, you shall see how I will morallý sbatter this sermon which you attribute to a God! If I were certain, that I can beat the Gods, as well as the priests, I would not war with them.

The beginning of this sermon in Matthew's Gospel leads us to suppose, that it was a set discourse delivered to bis disciples by Jesus ; for the inference is, that he went up into a mountain to avoid the multitudes of people that he saw about him, and when his disciples came unto him, he opened his mouth and taught them. The conclusion tells us, that he preached to the multitudes of people and they were astonished at his doctrine. St. Luke's Gospel, chap. vi. tells us, that he came down from the mountain and preached this sermon to the people in the plain; and the reporter for St. Luke not being so expert as the reporter for St. Matthew, bas not taken down the whole, por has he made it altogether resemble that of St. Mątthew's reporter. About the contradictions as to the mount or the plain being the rostrum, the disciples alone or the people with them, as the auditors we will

« AnteriorContinuar »