« AnteriorContinuar »
bad disposition in one or both, and form an obstacle to other matches that may be subsequently sought, would still add to the controul of temper, and become a further stimulus to mutual happiness when married. “ Ob but,” says some advocate for things as they are,
because they are so, - who sets the same value upon a woman that has been a wife, as upon one that has not? who likes what another man parts with ?” Upon the head of sexual intercourse, I sball answer, that where conception does not follow, and any one may now prevent it that wishes, the woman is no more injured than the man, no more corrupted than wbilst she remained a maid---no more ruined iban when an infant: she is, in fact, in every sense, the same unchanged woman. The contrary idea has generated a mass of misery. Many a virtuous girl has construed seduction to be ruin, aud from the terror which the idea has generated she flies to prostitution as a matter of course; when, she might remain as virtuous and as worthy as before, under a better state of knowledge and education. If she has yieldded to the indulgence of a powerful passion, or bas consented through promises of marriage that have not been performed, she has committed no vice, she has done herseli no injury, she has injured no other person, if there be no conception from the intercourse.
A state of prostitution, a woman that will lend her body to any man that will give her a small sum of money, is a most dreadfuľ and abborrent state, and such as an enlightened legislature would seek to prevent by every possible means. Yet this disgrace to mankind is a matter as common and as little heeded in this Christian country as indissoluble marriage; and seems to follow as a consequence. If early marriages were encouraged, as should be the case, or as soon as ever the sexes begin to feel a strong passion for intercourse, and if separations were as free as marriages, there would be no such beings in existence as horrid and much-to-be-pitied street-walking prostitutes. There are none such among other animals. That dire disease which is now perpetuated under the present system, and carried into almost every family in a greater or less degree, would be extirpated, would die for the want of food. Sexual intercourse, I repeat it, should be encouraged; but it should be so encouraged and regulated by custom as to leave the smallest possible number of ills. Some will arise, as they do out of every
other eneral regulation; but the fewest in number is what should
be sought. Therefore, marriages should be early; separations should be easily obtained; and sexual intercourse should not in any state be ranked among the vices.
If man or woman be guilty of adultery, as it is now termed, it proves nothing more than that they are badly matched, and that it is time for them to be separated. If that separation be not desired, the adultery will be most assuredly avoided and wedded happiness perpetuated. Children will then have no cause to be ashamed of their parents, nor find in them a bad example. Parents will have no cause to be ashamed of their children, nor be subject to that dread which now attends them in behalf of every female child.
If it be argued that such a freedom of separation would encourage profligate men to be continually changing their wives; I ask, who would wish a female friend or relative confined to so profligate a character? Nor would the means of change be so easy: the character of such a man would soon get known; and marriages founded on the possibility of separation would be much more discreetly made than at present. No system can generate a greater amount of more sordid, more unhappy, or more corrupt marriages, than the present. Marriage, under the proposed system of free separation, must be a partnership as to property; whatever each may bring, the whole to be equally divied when a separation takes place. This, of itself, would be a powerful inducement on both sides to union and happiness. A hundred little regulations may be added as moral ties, which cannot be applied to the existing system; and a certain great improvement be made in the condition of, and amount of happiness among mankind.
So, Bailey, I conclude, that your great moral teacher of Christianity has been very mischievous on this head. Your Christian Milton was wise enough to plead for free and easy divorcements.
Twenty-third head.“ Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: nor by the earth for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black, But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”
I who look upon oath-making as a vice cannot find fault with this precept; but if you look upon this as a piece of peculiar wisdom, why do you not follow it; why make such a clamour in your
Courts about the importance of oath-making? You see clearly, that your Christian code denounces the practice of oath-making; and you most inconsistently denounce Anti-Christians; because they would also remove this odious and immoral practice of swearing!
A word or two about God's throne and foot-stool! I have told
you before, that I do not pretend to know where heaven is situated; but I know, that, if your God were to make a throne of tbe whole body of the moon, he must have very long legs to make a footstool of the earth, such as we could not fail to see. Besides, a round ball, in such rapid varied motion, as is the earth, must be a very uncomfortable footstool, and calculated to slip from under his feet, unless he takes an annual ride round the Sun! See what comes from ignorant teachers! Your divine revelation and sermon writer did not know, but that the earth was flat and motionless ! The moment the contrary was clearly ascertained, Cbristianity and every other kind of religion should have been abolished.
Twenty fourth head. “ Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto
resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from hin that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that bate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you ; that ye may be the children of your father wbich is in heaven : for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love tbem which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the Publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the Publicans so ? Be
ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect."
And a very pretty sort of perfection it is, to court every evil which can accumulate pain and degradation of character! Were it not for that spirit of independence, of love of pleasure, of resistance to evils and injuries, wbich fills the
bosom of almost every animal, there would soon be an extirpation of the milder sort. Such preposterous recommendations as here made vever were, never will be acted upon; and least of all among Christians, than whom, none have been more free to give offence without cause, instead of bearing it quietly when inflicted without a cause. This God, or this Gospel writer, was an arrant fool, whoever he was,
may send me to bell-fire as soon as be pleases. I know that fire produces the most speedy and the most clean resurrection of all the powers of matter; so I shall never fear it. Thougb I see by the papers, that a poor Spaniard bas been burnt alive for acknowledging, or for being accused of acknowledging, that he was ignorant of the birth of Jesus Christ! a matter of which no being ever had a knowledge. A hint for Mr. Cobbett, as to the value of a uniformity of religion, particularly if it is to be Roman Catholicism in preference to Unitarianism or Deism. There will never be a uniformity of opinion of the matter, until it be extirpated; aud though Mr. Cobbett may imagine, that so long as peo ple die there will be a religion, a little reflection may change that notion, if he considers that a child may be as easily taught truth as falsehood, and more easily, or that there is not, as well as, that there is, an intelligent God. It is education that makes religion, and not any inherent fears of death or futurity. In any other sense-every animal would be as religious as degraded man. The Catholic of Ireland is only a inancipated and ill-used Catholic; because he has been educated in Ireland. It is strange, that such a man as Mr. Cobbett cannot see, that religion is wholly a matter of education--that education is po test of truth, and that a child is more capable of imbibing Atheism than Theism; for every child is in reality an Atheist, and void of religion, until its miserable parents or teachers corrupt its mind with the deadly notion of an intelligent God and Devil.
Returning to my text, I shall dismiss so palpable an ignorance of human nature, by saying, that without the principle of self and social defence, men, like other animals, would prey upon each other to canabalism, and that every correct principle of self-defence, of peace, of justice, and of humanity, scouts such an abominable precept, as that of quietly submitting to whatever insult or injury is offered. It is a premium for crime and tumult. Besides, a man cannot love his enemies, if he does not resist them: pray for them, he may; because prayer is a sort of bastard feeling, that degrades its utterer; and instead of resisting an enemy and defending himself, he may be so idle or cowardly to pray to others to resist
for him, or to the enemy to desist from injury. A man may avoid retaliation of injury from a high state of mind; but it is generally more wise to make an aggressor feel an evil to arise from his evil doing. So upon the whole, I conclude, the recommendations of this text are immoral ; because, they are calculated to encourage and increase the amount of evil doing and human pain. Theoretically, Christianity sees no evil in human pain; though the more powerful godless passions of Christians, with a few exceptions, have made them follow other animals and seek as much pleasure as their knowledge could obtain for them.
Twenty-fifth head. “ Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them : otherwise ye have reward of your father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou dost thine alms, do not sound trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth : That thine alms may be in secret : and thy father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”
The truth about alms-giving is, that there is no merit in it as an act. It is as likely to be an act of evil as of good : unless pains are taken to ascertain who are proper persons to receive the superfluities of those who have to give. Charity has long been a fashionable high sounding word; but mis-applied charity is a vice. Priests, who live by a species of charity, may well recommend it for their own benefit; but the principle of indiscriminate charity is only calculated to generate beggary, idleness, and misery. Let hospitals exist for the aged and infirm, who have no other means of support than charity: and beyond this, I have often thought, that the only true charity on the part of those who have enough to give would be, to find young industrious people who are struggling with poverty and adversity from the want of a little capital to second their good dispositions. I sighed through several years for a little charity of this kind, but could not find it: and it was by mere accident that I got above the want of it.
I have already said enough about the Father in Heaven to supersede a repetition at every meeting with such words. I have proved, and can at any.
prove, that there is no such a father, nor any such a heaven in existence as Christians impiously preach and foolishly suppose.
Twenty-sixth head. “ And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as hypocrites are, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily, I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy father which seeth in secret shall reward th openly.. But
when ye pray, use not vain repetitions as the heathen do: for they think, that they