« PreviousContinue »
they have taught themselves, that the Christian religion is neither historically true, nor socially useful. They may be in error. On this head they are not positive. But with them, error, if it do exist, is not wilful; and they desire to be corrected, or to correct others, by free and fair public discussion. They have sent their yet unanswered challenge, to these people who call themselves free-thinking Christians, and who, presumptuously, not to say preposterously, style themselves the only true church of God. For persons truly and sincerely attached to the common Christian faith, the Infidel Missionaries have respect and desire mutual instruction, by the only means in which it can be obtained, by amicable discussion, with good feeling, and the charitable allows ance of good motive for each others errors. But for such persons as the saints of the day, who profess to be super-eminently religiotis, and to treat the people of the establishment as mere breathen; for the Unitarians, who pick and choose of what they call divine revelation and the miracles, who profess to be reasonably religious, and religiously reasonable; and for the free-thinking Christians, who, with the Unitarians, contemn the doctrine of the trinity, the fall of man, the atonement, indeed, all the essentialities of the Christian religion, and still call themselves Chris. lians, “John Bull” himself cannot feel more contempt, than do the Insidel Missionaries. We uniformly denounce these latter persons, not as dishonest Christians, but, we are to sorry to say it, ás dishonest Infidels.
And furthermore, Mr. John Ball, I must individually complain, when you charge me with caricaturing the Almighty, a charge which I repel, which I disclaim, and at which I am most reasonably offended, and defend myself, in the retaliation, that I have rever so far caricatured the Almighty, as to profess to conduct a newspaper for his benefit. No publications are more free from superhuman blasphemies, or blasphemies toward superhuman things, than mine. You cannot know them, or you would not have so misrepresented them. Thine, in civic fellowship,
One of the Infidel Missionaries. RICHARD CARLILE.
THE SORROWS OF A PRIEST.
Probitas laudatur : at alget,
Probity is praised: but it shivers, MR. RICHARD CARLILE.. A word with you. You affect to be, and I believe in my heart you are, a right honest man. I have read your publications. I am quite at home to all you aim at. But it is my misfortune to be that (in your eyes ) despicable character, a Priest. Your readers are pretty generally led to look on all whose fate has bound them
to the business of preaching, as either knaves or fools, or a mix. ture of both characters. But justice requires, that ere we condema the conduct of others, we should put the question to our own hearts, as to how we ourselves should be likely to reason and to act, were we placed in their circumstances. Do me this justice: and I am assured that pity, and not censure, your admission of the reciitude of my conduct, not your condemnation, will follow on your consideration.
lam a preacher of the Gospel. I live by the Gospel. My sole means of subsistence for myself, wise, and six children, is the income I derive from the letting of the seats in my chapel, and occasional liberalities stipplied to make up the deficiencies of that income, by about three or four wealthy individuals, who are Trustees of the Chapel, and upon wbose approbation and favour I am wholly dependent. They are pleased to pronounce me orthodox; and I have two-hundred a year. My wife, myself, and the still dearer objects of my solicitude, have raiment, bed, and food. Should they please not to be pleased, should they hear from me at any time, an expression of my real sentiments, or a sentiment not in accordance with their own, actum est de me, it would be all over. Turp out! turn out! would be the cry. Poverty, the reward of honest fools, would await me and my children. Ruin, starvation, beggary, would be our portion. And all for what Sir ? For a remunerating recompence in heaven! No. For any thing to be envied or desired in what you and your friend Mr. Taylor have gained on earth ?. You will say no, again. But for the beau ideal of a romantic virtue, that will be praised, not honoured, admired, but not respected, applauded, but despised. Is this, Sir, such a bargain as a man who would rather have a bed to sleep on, tban shiver in the streets, could have a right to propose to another ?
I am getting old Sir, and have no portion of that eloquence and declamation, whereby Mr. Taylor is enabled to make infidelity interesting, and cause reason itself to affect the passions. From me, it would be a very dull story. Whoever will use his own understanding, will become an Infidel; and men will seldom pay others for doing for them, what they can do for themselves.
Already, a hundred greedy, carking aspirants, for the situation i øll, are on the hue and cry to catch me tripping ; and the Truslees; my masters; and their masters, their wives, and daughters; are on the look out; and only waiting for a fair excuse to put a finer man into my place.
And I must say; that you and Mr. Taylor have done me no shall injury. You have made my place of much more difficult tenure than it would otherwise have been: you have agitaled the country, and awakened a jealousy against ihe encroachmenls or possible insinuations of infidelity, that makes my path-way over ibe yawning gull, like the bridge Sıral on the Toad to paradise;
as narrow as a hair, and as keen as a razor. Those, who were but cats before, are lynxes now. The Trustees, who used to oblige me by nodding over my discourses, now listen wide awake: and the utterance of a single sentiment that they had not been familiar with, or whose gist they might not happen to take, would be dangerous. Ope plain and downright truth would be fatal to me. Have you no sympathy, Mr. Carlite, with the feelings of a man, who, after having only insinuated a liberal sentiment, and committed himself in an honest expression, sees his distracted wife, in agonies of alarm ät the threatening consequences, exclaiming, 4. Good God, what have you said ! Look at our Children!" And is it then dishonesty ? Is there villainy, and pought but villainy, in the husband, in the father, that should reply as I did ? dry up your tears; l'll eat my own words—l'll recall, I'll rescind, l'll recant, I'll explain it all away; I'll never speak the truth agaiq: I'll ward off its impressions from my heart, and drive away its remembrance from my mind.”
I must make conscience to contenience bend :
But say, Mr. Carlile, or let any of your correspondents, who can do so, say for you-who are the priests in their very loins, the scoundrels to the back-bone, in this enforced compromise; they who are overborne by it, or they who drive? Is it the preacher, who is priestridden by the people, or the people by him? Is it 1, or they, who are the authors, the first movers, the causes of this imposture? You cannot demur. It is those from whom the money comes, that the wickedness comes. The God-fearing, pious, conscientious Trustees, who pay to have lies told them, and would consider the putting forth of truth from their pulpit, as a breach of the contract on which they let, set up their minister nominally as their teacher, but really as their slave-a scooped turnip, with a candle in it, which serves Jheir game of frightening women and children, and which they knock down again, when they have had their game.
What then is a priest, but à praying machine ; a Kurada, as innocent of the villainy to which he ministers, as the cogs of a power loom are of the fabric it produces. It is the master villains, the trustees, the people themselves, who are the priests indeed, who work the priestcraft, who ride the priest, who pay to be deceived, and deserve to be so.
ÉRRATUM. - In the last Discourse in Lion No. 14, page 438, for God, trail Foe. The whole sevtence being, it should be no matter of lightness to junpeach, no possibility lo vituperate the character, even of his foe.
The following American correspondence between a preacher of
the Christian religion, and Miss Frances Wright, offers an example worthy of being followed by the preachers of this country. When shall we see such fair play here?
Philadelphia, August Ist, 1829. Miss FRANCES WRIGHT-I have recently delivered lectares against the system you so conspicuously advocate, in which I have freely commented on, and censured ihe principles contained in such of your writings as are in my possession. Anxious, however, to enter into a deeper investigation, I have concluded, after fasting and fervent devotion, to invite you to a public discussion at a time mutually convenient hereafter to be fixed upon ; for which purpose, I am authorised by the trustees to offer the use of the church in this city, in which God has appointed me to teach bis holy word, in order there to conduct a public discussion.
Should the place be exceptionable to you, I will use every endeavour to accommodate you by obtaining another, or by accepting one as suitable, that you may propose.
My friends, the Reverend Doctor Janeway, and the Reverend Doctor Ely, have consented to be moderators on my part, you will of course appoint two others, and the whole four may ap. point a fifth, should they think proper so to do. The selection of moderators is only suggested ; this, as well as other preliminary arrangements, can be suitably arranged at a subsequent period.
I should not presume to call a lady to such a conflict, if I did not feel my duty urged by a sense of strong preparation in the gospel, and if I did not confidently hope to win a lost sheep to the fold of my Lord and master.
William L. M' Calla. P. S. You can acquaint me by letter of your acceptance of my invitation; or, if more agreeable, by notice in some public print -in which case you will please publish my letter at the same time.
W. L. M' C.
To Mr. William Nľ Calla.
New York, August 11th, 1820. SIR-Your communication of the 1st instant, addressed to Boston, has reached ine only by this day's post. Although by no means covetous of disputation, and, believing truth to be rather discoverable by the study of things, of man and of ourselves, than atlainable by argument, yet am I most willing to meet you as proposed. The views I have presented to the Amercan people are a fair subject of challenge and of criticism ; and, far from objecting to their examination, I shall hold myself indebted to those who may assist in detectiug their error or confirming their truth.
The building designated in your letter will be perfectly agree
able to me. With respect to time, the early part of the month of October would best suit with my engagements.
SUNDAY SCHOOL OF FREE DISCUSSION. SEVERAL schools of this kind having arisen in London since the Bommencement of mine, and the poor having now on the Sunday, something better than the gospel preached to them, it is my intention or wish, to keep my room for more select company than occasionally got into it in the last winter, and for a more respectable opposition than we had then occasionally to encounter. It must so succeed or not at all. The“ Reforming Optimist” has now the possession of a chapel for Sunday evening lectures and discussions, to which admission can be obtained for a mere farthing a week, and affords room to five hundred persons. It is situated in Windmill-street, Finsbury-square, and is open at six every Sunday evening. My sehool-room will not comfortably seat more than a hundred persons; therefore, selection of company is essential to its being well and usefully attended. But to show, that I'do not aim at any thing unwarrantably profitable; I will consent, first, that all ladies be admitled free ; and second, that all persons who subscribe one shilling per week to the India del rent be admitted free. All other persons, who are not subscribers, must, if they please, submit to the payment of one shilling. Attendance will be given by myself or the Rev. Mr. Taylor, or both, from se ven to ten. - On Sunday evening last; Mr. Taylor commenced a critical reading of the New Testament, the very title of which formed a text for a sermon, and almost every word was showu to be pregnant with proofs, thät it was a trick upon mankind. “The New Testament,” were words, which, in their import, were opposed to all idea of divine revelation, for the God that never died and never changed, could not make a Testament, much less then a New Testament. The nature of a Testament was something that was to come into operation, when the testator was dead : while in this case, if the testator were to die, the Testament would be good for nothing. And the supposition that God had made two Testaments, was a blasphemous imputation of defect in the first, of uncertainty, of change, and presumed improvement. A God, with the power to communicate with, or reveal himself to mankind, would certainly not do it by stich a defective means as that of language, which was constantly changing, and through men that could produce no vouchers to save themselves from the charge of imposture. While a God that would only reveal hiniself to a few individuals, whose account must lose ils credit in proportion to the distance of time and place, would be a God