Imágenes de páginas

phenomenon, if not permitted to ascribe it to one which charity forbids me to mention '5.

Besides, I may ask, has the Atheist never his fears, as well as the religionist 16 ? Is he so sure of his Atheism, and has he so conclusively demonstrated the groundlessness of religion, that he can entertain no fears at any time of a God when he professes to deny, and a futurity at which he professes to laugh"?? Ah! let his own bosom answer the question. If incapable of such fears his nature must be miraculously constituted; and while he denies miracles he himself is a miracle 18.

You say, that, in pleading, that to God nothing is impossible, I have betaken myself to “ the dernier resort of all theologians when baffled by arguments which are incontrovertible.” I am not conscious of having met with such arguments in


letters 19. But with respect to this last resort of which you speak, no maxim can be more just than that an almighty power is capable of working miracles—that a miracle is as easy to an almighty being as any occurrence in the common course of nature 20. You

may talk about the invariableness of the laws of nature; but what are the laws of Nature? Do they bind the hands of the deity so as that he cannot perform a miracle?!Surely there is nothing irrational in supposing that when the Deity has an uncommon end to serve, he may accomplish it by uncommon means. The propagation of Christianity was an uncommon object, and required for its success uncommon events called miracles, which manifested God's patronage of Christianity. Now there can be nothing irrational in supposing that a wise God would accomplish such an object by such means, which were the only means and the wisest means by which it could be accomplished”. We hear a great deal of

Speak out man, or priest rather, say the devil at once; fou you cannot frighten the Doctor more with this than with your other God. The Doctor would like a longer and a happier life, but is too wise to amuse himself with the delusion.

R. C. 16 I answer so for all.

R, C. 17 I answer yes for all.

R. C. 18 Why? Because he is not superstitious ?

R. C. 19 There is a proverb which says, that there are none so blind as they who will not see. The priest may see better or more willingly when he has made himself master of the medical craft.

R. C. 20 Why could not such a God form an acquaintance with, and make himself known to mankind, without playing miraculous pranks with his other arrangements. They have not been incredulous. Cannot be.

R. C. 21 And what are the hands of the Deity? Are the hands infinite too?

R. C. » Then his was a very finite and limited power, if he had no choice of


[ocr errors]

R. C.


be so

talk about “ violation of the law of nature :” pray


you good as to tell me what law of nature could be violated in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead? Was there a single cord of the machinery of nature broken by that event? Was there any thing put out of its place by it, or was the system of things in the smallest degree disjointed by it 23 ?

I see that still you would fain persuade me, that I have not argued the question fairly with you. If I have not, I must be strangely deceived. One thing is true, that if I have not argued well, you have not yet refuted my arguments. Have you yet proved that the Apostles did not declare that they saw Jesus alive after he was dead and buried 24. Or have you yet proved that when they declared this, they declared a falsehood, though the declaration was made in the certain prospect of rousing the prejudices of the world against them, and of incurring certain misery and death itself? Or have you yet explained how, if they were a body of impostors, they would ever think of selecting for the founder of their faith, one who died a death more ignominious than that which is in the present day inflicted by the hangman 2 ? Or have you yet explained how a man of talent and of the most violent prejudices against Christianity could all on a sudden abandon Gamaliel, disappoint the hopes of his friends, incur the hatred of almost his whole countrymen to whom he was enthusiastically attached, become the brother and apostle of the despised sect, which he hated with the most rancorous inveteracy, and run in the face of the most direful persecutions; have you yet,


say, explained this on any ground more rational than that of the fact that he really saw and heard the voice of the Jesus whom he persecuted? Or if admitting the honesty of the apostles of Jesus, have you proved that nevertheless their testimony had no foundation?? Have you proved that Jesus did not really die, and that he rose only by the recurrence of the smothered' but not extinguished spark of life? Had you done this, you would have done much. But this you have not done, nor any of the things which

23 No certainly not, because nothing of the kind occurred: the supposition of the occurrence, with that of the ascension, renders unstable every idea of regularity in the material world.

R. C. 24 Have you proved that your Jesus lived ? That was the question on which the correspondence commenced.

R. C. 25 Remember the story of Prometheus, the prototype of your

Jesusyour dying, dead, and Aying God.

26 Read the conclusion of the Epistle to the Romans and the commencer ment of the Epistle to the Galatians for your answer.

R. C. No. 21, Vol. X.

R. C.

I have mentioned”. You have not proved, that he whose body had before crucifixion been exhausted by a sorrow, which wrung from his pores a blood like sweat 28, and had been scourged and buffeted, one through whose side a spear was thrust, to the effusion of blood and water; one who after being suspended on the cross for several hours exhibited so clearly all the symptoms of death, that even the malice of his enemies exempted him from the customary practice on such occasions of breaking the legs of the criminal; one, after all this, consigned to a cold sepulchre under the custody of a Roman guard, where if life had really lingered in his body it would soon have departed; you have not proved that such a one could spontaneously revive. You have brought forward no counter evidence of any signs of life in the crucified Jesus, though his malicions enemies must have been exceedingly sharp in detecting them 29. Moreover, you have not explained how Jesus came to surrender so cheerfully his life on any other ground than that of his sincerity, his piety and benevolence, the truth of his pretensions. You have not explained how the matchless character of Jesus, as described in the Evangelists, could be compatiable either with imposture or enthusiasm on his part, or on the part of those who describe it-how such a matchless character, a character so superior to every thing in history, could be the character of an impostor, or could be written by any but such as had seen the real original of the picture. All this and much more you have not done, and therefore you have but little reason to triumph 30. You

say that if the religion which I call divine “had emanated from a being possessed of power and wisdom, he would have given a system so as that it would have been intelligible to all." A system has been given. All Christiaus agree that Jesus taught the existence, the lenity, the goodness, the providence of God, a future state, love to God and man and the various moral duties. In the belief of these principles all Christians agree 3.

27 The Doctor has no proof and consequently no credulity for the existence of Jesus.

R. C. 28 Why was this God afraid--of what?

R. C. 29 Let it be the basis of your search after truth, that what is not physically possible, is not historically true. By this test I have exploded the fable of the existence of Jesus.

R. C. 30 See a refutation of this bombast in a critique on the “ Sermon on the Mount,” in “The Republican."

R. C. 31 But neither love man, nor practice the moral duties. And pray if they all agree about the Unity of God what does Trinitarianism mean? Çan there be unity in infinity?

R. C.

They may differ in their representations of some of them. · For instance, the Trinitarian may say that the Unity of God is a unity in trinity, but still he agrees with the Unitarian in the belief that Jesus taught the unity of God; and impartial men, by an unbiased, investigation of the scriptures, can easily judge who gives the more scriptural view of the divine unity. Though then Christ had said in the style of a creed “ I believe in one God,” Christians could not have more agreed in the belief that Christ taught the unity of God, and still, nevertheless, each might, if so disposed, have given his own explanation of that subject. Were I to go at length into this subject, I could show, I think, to the satisfaction of the unprejudiced, that that objection against Christianity which is drawn from the differences that exist amongst Christians is altogether groundless, by analyzing those differences and proving how innocent revelation is of them. You say, that such an event as the resurrection of Christ never possibly could happen. Really, for my part, I can see nothing more marvellous in the resurrection of one from the dead, than in the creation of a human being. The gift of life by creation, is as marvellous as the restoration of by resurrection. And when you can show that the power which created cannot raise from the dead, then may you say that such an event as the resurrection of Jesus never possibly could happen.

You lay great stress on the silence of the learned cotemporary authors on this event. But you will lay less stress on this circumstance when you consider that to have asserted that Jesus rose from the dead would in fact have been a profession of faith in Christianity. But that they should have refused to become Christians is a circumstance by no means wonderful. When you consider what contempt was incurred and what sacrifices were to be rendered for the avowal of Christianity, is it wonderful, that the learned, and especially those who lived at a distance from Jerusalem where Jesus died, should not take the trouble to enquire into the truth of Christianity; but be disposed rather to satisfy themselves with the persuasion that Jesus and his Apostles were magicians and not worthy the regard of philosophers.

I have, in former letters, discussed the merits of Mr. Carlile's dissertation on the origin of Christianitys? I shall not therefore at present recur to the subject.

In the history you give me of the formation of your opinions, you seem to ascribe to anatomy a very malign influence. You seem to think, that anatomy teaches Atheism. I for my part, should think, that it teaches the reverse. Anatomy converted the celebrated Galen from Atheism to Theism; and I think that if its lessons be only listened to without prejudice, they furnish most

32 Have you? Where? How? I have seen nothing of the kind. The only point you discussed was to say that the land of Judea was not a barforcible demonstrations of a hand divine 33. lf such a machine as is the human body could be the result of any unintelligent power, (let it be called by whatever name you please) we can no more reason on cause and effect. Any thing in that case may be the cause of any thing 34.

I congratulate you on the complacency with which you stand on your “ pinnacle" and look down on the contemptible world of worshippers below. Take care however and not fall from it. It is a precarious situation I assure you. Before I presumed to take such a contemptuous look of my fellow creatures, I should like to have firmer footing, and a somewhat broader basis than your pinnacle.

You again advert to impossibilities. But you do not shew how miracles can be impossible to almighty power. I have already given you my thoughts on this subject, and therefore I need say no more upon it at present.

You have now expressed a willingness to abandon the subject of Christianity, and to resort to the discussion of the existence of God. Your God I find is motion. Well let us contemplate this God. Does this God think? Can he plan, can he arrange, can he adapt means to ends. Is he in short an intelligent power *. If he is, your God is just mine, under another name. If he is not; if your God be nothing more than a blind inanimate power, he is the maker of machinery that displays infinitely more intelligence than the finest productions of the most ingenious artificer. If he 37 want intelligence his works do not want ingenuity, but manifest a skill above all praise glorious. How comes this to pass? How such an incongruity as a blind unintelligent cause of the most skilful effects. You sneer at the incomprehensibility of the Christians God; but here is not only incomprehensibility; here is absurdity; if we can trust to our reasoning on cause and effect.

ren land, which all travellers say is most barren. Chautebriand says it looks as if the curse of God was upon it. It produces nothing.

R. C. 33 What is a hand divine?

R. C. 34 It may be so, if experience offers no facts to the contrary. All we know in the matter is our ignorance.

R. €.
the Doctor, what you meán,


know about Almighty 'Power. Again, infinity implies an absence of power.

R. C.

R. C. 87 Who is be? You, Christians, are incessantly calling for admissions that cannot be made,


35 Tell

36 No!

« AnteriorContinuar »