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poster. ' And how do you know that Moses was not an impostor? For my own part I believe that all are impostors that pretend to hold verbal communication with. the Deity. It is the way by which the world has been imposed upon; but if you think otherwise you have the same right to your opinion that I have to mine, and must answer for it in the same manner. But all this does not settle the point, whether the Bible be the word of God, or not. It is therefore necessary to go a step farther. The case then is.
You form your opinion of God from the account given of him in the Bible; and I form my opinion of the Bible from the wisdom and goodness of God, manifested in the structure of the universe, and in all the works of creati.
The result in these two cases will be, that you, by taking the Bible for your standard, will have a bad opi. nion of God; and I, by taking God for my standard, will have a bad opinion of the Bible.
The Bible represents God to be a changeable, paffionate, vindictive Being; making a world and then drown. ing it, and afterwards repenting of what he had done and promising not to do fo again. Setting one nation to cut the throats of another, and stopping the course of the sun till the butchery should be done. But the works of God . in the creation preaches to us another doctrine. In that vast volume we see nothing to give us the idea of a changeable, passionate, vindi&tive God, every thing we there behold impresses us with a contrary idea ; that of unchangeableness, and of eternal order, harmony, and goodness. The fun and the seasons return at their appointed time, and every thing in the creation proclaims that God is unchangeable. Now, which am I to believe, a book that any impostor might make and call the word of God, or the creation itself which none but an Almighty power could make, for the Bible says one thing and the creation fays the contrary. The Bible represents God with all the passions of a mortal, and the creation proclaims him with all the attributes of a God.
It is from the bible that man has learned cruelty, ra
pine, and murder ; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man. That bloodthirsty man, called the prophet Samuel, makes God to fay, (1 Sam. chap. 15, v. 3,) “ now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."
That Samuel, or some other impostor, might say, this is what, at this distance of time, can neither be proved nor disproved, but in my opinion it is blasphemy to say, or to believe, that God said it. All our ideas of the justice and goodness of God revolts at the impious cruelty of the Bible. It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the bible describes.
What makes this pretended order to destroy the Amalekites appear the worfe, is the reason given for it. The Amalekites four hundred years before, according to the account in Exodus, chap. 17, (but which has the appearance of fable from the magical account it gives of Moses holding up his hands) had opposed the Israelites coming into their country, and this the Amalekites had a right to do, because the Ifraelites were the invaders as the Spaniards were the invaders of Mexico ; and this opposition by the. Amalekites at that time is given as a reason that the men, women, infants, and fucklings, sheep and oxen, camels and affes that were born four hundred years afterwards should be put to death; and to compleat the horror Samuel hewed Agag, the chief of the Amalekites, in pieces as you would hew a stick of wood. I will bestow a few observations on this case.
In the first place, nobody knows who the author, or writer, of the book of Samuel was, and therefore the fact itself has no other proof than anonymous or hear-fay evidence, which is no evidence at all. In the fecond place, this anonymous book says that this slaughter was done by the express command of God; but all our ideas of the justice and goodness of God give the lie to the book, and as I never will believe any book that afcribes cruelty and injustice to God, I therefore reject the bible as unworthy of credit.
As I have now given you my reasons for believing that. the bible is not the word of God, and that it is a falfhood, I have a right to ask you your reasons for believing the contrary ; but I know you can give me none, except that you were educated to believe the Bible, and as the Turks give the fame reason for believing the Koran it is evident that education makes all the difference, and that reason and truth have nothing to do in the case. You believe in the bible from the accident of birth, and the Turks believe in the Koran from the same accident, and each call the other Infidel. But leaving the prejudice of Education out of the case, the unprejudice truth is, that all are infidels who believe falsely of God, whether they draw their Creed from the Bible or from the Koron, from the Old Testament or from the New.
When you have examined the bible with the attention that I have done, (for I do not think you know much a. bout it,) and permit yourself to have just ideas of God, you will most probably believe as I do. But I wish you to know that this anfwer to your letter is not written for the purpose of changing your opinion. It is written to fatisfy you, and some other friends whom I esteem, that my disbelief of the bible is founded on a pure and religious belief in God; for in my opinion the bible is a gross libel against the justice and goodness of God in almost every part of it.
Profession of faith of a Savoyard Curate, from
Rousseau, continued from our last. It is not in my power to believe that paflive inanimate matter could ever have produced living and fenfible creatures ; that a blind fatality should be productive of intelligent beings; or, that a cause, incapable itfelf of thinking, thould produce the faculty of thinking in its effect.
I believe, therefore, that the world is governed by a wife and powerful Will. I see it, or rather I feel it; and this is of importance for me to know. But is the
world eternal or is it created? Are things derived from one felf-existent principle ? or are there two, or more ? and what is their effence ? Of all this I know nothing, nor do I see that it is of any confequence I should. In proportion as such knowledge may become interesting, I will endeavour to acquire it: but, farther than this, I give up all such idle disquisitions, which serve only to make me discontented with myself, are useless in practice, and above my understanding.
You will remember, however, that I am not dictating my sentiments to you ; but only displaying what they
Whether matter be eternal or only created, whether it have a passive principle or not, certain it is that the whole universe is one design, and fufficiently dif. plays one intelligent agent: for I see no part of this sys. tem that is not under regulation, or that does not concur to one and the fame end ; viz. that of preserving the prefent established order of things. The Beng, whose will is his deed, whose principle of action is in himself, that Being, in a word, whatever it be, that gives motion to all the parts of the universe and governs all things, I call God.
To this term I annex the ideas of intelligence, pow. er and will, which I have collected from the order of things; and to these I add that of goodness, which is a necessary consequence of their union : but I am not at all the wifer concerning the essence of the Being to which I give these attributes : he remains at an equal distance from my senses and my understanding : the more I think of him, the more I am confounded; I know of a certain. ty that he exists, and that his existence is independent of
any of his creatures : I know also that my existence is dependent on his, and that every thing I know is in the same situation with myself. (To be continued.)
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Comments upon the Sacred Writings of the Jews and
Christians. Exodus Chapter 5th.
HIS chapter is as strange a piece of revelation as
ever was seen ; the greater part of it is taken up with a trifling and contemptible altercation between Pharaoh and the Children of Israel about making brick. The latter makes most grievous complaints for want of straw, and what the straw had to do with the making of bricks it is hard to say. If they made use of it for fuel to burn the bricks, they might almost as well have been without it; if they incorporated it with the bricks, it was a strange method of doing the business, and quite different from that of modern times. But all such enquiries and objections aside, the question naturally arises in every enquiring mind, where is the religion or revelation of this part of the book ? This long conversation be. tween Pharaoh and those he held in bondage about the manner and the materials of their work is wholly uninteresting to us, and Mofes and whoever wrote the book of Exodus could surely tell such a story as this without being inspired. It is ignorance or something worse that induces the christian world to call such stuff the word of God. But there is another reflection arises upon read. ing this chapter, of a more serious and impressive nature. The God of Moses, it seems, was not very popular either with the Egyptians or his chosen people. Pharaoh rejects the idea of any acquaintance with him he does not know him at all, for he says in verse 2d, of this chap: ter," who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to