Page images
PDF
EPUB

munity! Let her laws prove her superior wisdom and kindness. A creditor was allowed to seize his insol. vent debtor, and put him in chains: he might expose him for sale three market days, and if not sold at the expiration of the third, put him to death. If there were many creditors, they were permitted to tear and divide his body among them.”

A father had the right of life and death over his children, and was permitted, by the laws of Rome, to expose his own offspring to perish.'

A husband had a right to put his wife to death without the formality of a public trial. • The sports of the gladiators, the licentiousness of divorce, the exposing of infants and slaves, the procuring abortions, the public establishment of brothels ; all subsisted at Rome.'

Xenophon relates, without any marks of reprobation, that the most unnatural crimes were encouraged by the laws of several Grecian states. Among the Phænicians, a father, to avert some public calamity, did not scruple to immolate his own child; nor a husband to plunge his knife into a heart as dear unto him as his

own.

The laws of Sparta commanded weak or deformed children to be destroyed.

The ancient Germans offered human victims in sacrifice. Prior to the introduction of the scriptures among them, our ancestors in BRITAIN immolated their children to idols, painted their bodies with the juice of wood, went in a state of nudity, and had their wives in common.

The Indians of North and South America, like other barbarians, treat their females with the greatest cruelty; their prisoners of war are made to undergo the most excruciating tortures of a savage ferocity; and the moment they fall by the deadly weapon of their conquerors, their bodies are dressed up as a delicious feast, on which all join in eating with the most greedy exultation.

The Hindoo females deem it an honour to burn upon the funeral piles of their departed husbands. A father in Congo, a country of Africa, will sell a son or a daughter, or perhaps both, for a piece of cloth, a collar or girdle of coral or beads, and often for a bottle of wine or brandy:

The Negroes, for a slight offence, will assignate a whole family, none daring to dispute the propriety of the punishment. The polite Chinese expose their infant offspring, particularly their females, to destruction.

These, Sir, are some of the amiable characteristics, fine feelings, happy associations, gentle manners, humane principles, and rational practices, of the people who have not been corrupted by the scriptures.

Here is nature, pure nature; nature uninfluenced, unsophisticated, and untaught by revelation.

Who does not admire its conduct, and long for its universal sway, to banish the word of God from the earth, as a dangerous interference with the attractions of sanguinary rites, superstitious forms, and all the unbridled passions of ferocious beings, stained with human blood ?

0! but the professors of Christianity have been cruel in their deeds :—they have erected inquisitions, and invented different modes of torture; they have persecuted even unto death. Indeed they have; but Christianity itself never approved their conduct: never acknowledged them as its friends; never uttered a syllable to justify the hostility of man to man. Its language is the extent of forbearance; and its maxims are the essence of kindness.

It commands men to imitate the beneficence of God, To love their enemies, to return blessings for curses, and to do good to them by whom they are hated. • Recompense to man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves. Vengeance is mine; saith the Lord. Do these precepts warrant persecution ? Let the sceptic, then, who charges the revelation of eternal mercy with the misdeeds of any of its professed admirers,

no

r

Kneel, now, and lay his forehead in the dust;

Blush if he can, not petritied he must. Turkey has substituted the Alcoran for the Bible; and what are her superior advantages in consequence of the scriptures being unknown? The grand Seignior is master of the goods and lives of his subjects, and they are little better than slaves.

Then, to adopt the language of an excellent writer on this very point-Go to your natural Religion; lay before her Mahomet and his disciples, arra in mour and in blood, riding in triumph over the spoils of thousands, who fell by his victorious sword. Shew her the cities which he set in flames; the countries which he ravaged and destroyed; and the miserable distress of the inhabitants of the earth. When she has viewed him in this scene, carry her into his retirements. Shew her the prophet's chamber, his concubines and wives. Let her see his adultery, and hear him allege Revelation and Divine Commission to jus tify his lust and oppression. When she is tired with this prospect, then shew her the blessed Jesus, humble and meek, doing good to all the sons of men; pa. tiently instructing the ignorant and perverse. Let her see him in his most retired privacies; let her follow him to the mount, and hear his devotions and suppli. cations to God. Carry her to his table, to view his homely fare, and hear his heavenly discourses. Let her see him injured, but not provoked. Let her attend him to the tribunal, and consider the patience with which he endured the scoffs and reproaches of his enemies. Lead her to his cross, and let her view him in the agony of death, and hear his last prayer for his persecutors—" Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” When Natural Religion has viewed both, ask, Which is the prophet of God? But her answer we have already had, when she saw part of this scene through the eyes of the centurion, who attended at the cross. By him she spoke and said, “Truly, this man was the son of God." ;

The Bible is a book of pure laws, sublime doc

z

trines, and faithful promises: it makes the simple intelligent, and has produced the most happy changes in societies, families and individuals. Let not the infidel, therefore, expose his own folly, by accusing the volume of grace as the source of human wretchedness; and madly bring destruction upon his own head, by assailing and blaspheming eternal wisdom.

In vain he points his powers against the skies,
In vain he closes or averts his eyes,
Truth will intrude; she bids him yet beware,

And shakes the Sceptic in the scorner's chair.' 'The French philosophists were a set of men who entered into a combination to overturn Christianity, and if the Scriptures had promulgated their doctrines, they would indeed have been a deadly poison to the morals and comfort of society.

Those deluded creatures, with Voltaire at their head, asserted, “The Universal Cause, that God of the Philosophers, of the Jews, and of the Christians, is but a chimera, and a phantom. The phænomena of nature only prove the existence of God to a few prepossessed men:-so far from bespeaking a God, they are but the necessary effects of matter prodigiously diversified.

We cannot know whether a God really exists, or whether there is the smallest difference between good and evil, or vice and virtue. * * * * The immortality of the soul **** is a barbarous, desperate, fatal tenet, and contrary to all legislation. All ideas of justice and injustice, of glory and infamy, are purely arbitrary, and dependent on custom. Conscience and remorse are nothing but the foresight of those physical penalties to which crimes expose us. The man who is above the law can commit, without remorse, the dishonest act that may serve his purpose. The fear of God, so far from being the beginning of wisdom, should be the beginning of folly. The command to love one's parents is more the work of education than of nature. Modesty is only an invention of refined voluptuousness. The law, which condemns married people to live together, becomes barbarous and cruel on the day they cease to love one another.' These extracts, from the secret correspondence and public writings of the French infidels, shew us the nature and tendency of their horrid system. Let a man once have the boldness to adopt it, and he is prepared for the blackest deeds of an incarnate fiend. And, are we to reject the Revelation of God for such awful principles as these? No! I would say, respecting both the Philosophists and their adherents, 'O, my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly mine honour be not thou united. Their hatred to the word of life is one of its highest commendations; and their aspersions against that hallowed book, are a strong proof of its intrinsic purity.

It has civilized barbarous nations, and implanted tender feelings in savage breasts:-instead of being the cause of crime and misery to mankind, it has preserved an untold number from the paths of vice; made myriads of human creatures happy under their deepest afflictions, and triumphant in death.

'There and there only (though the Deist rave,
And Atheist, if earth bear so base a slave);
There and there only is the power to save.
There no delusive hope invites despair;
No mockery meets you, no deception there.
The spells and charms, that blinded you before,
All vanish there, and fascinate no more.
I am no preacher, let this hint suffice
The cross once seen is death to every vice."

I remain, Mr. Editor, your's, &c.

T. W.

London, May, 1823.

WITNESSES FOR CHRISTIANITY.-No. 2.

In the inspired writings, truth, without a mixture of error, shines forth in all its energetic lustre; constraining the unprejudiced reader to acknowledge that none but the Deity himself could be the author of them. Read the Holy Scriptures with accuracy and eandour, and you will find, in their humble plainness,

« PreviousContinue »