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Prospect; or, View of the Moral World.

SATURDAY, November 2, 1804.

No. 48.

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Comments upon the Sacred Writings of the Jews and

Christians. Exodus Chapter 33.

OSES and his god contradict themselves; for in ME

verse is of this chapter it is thus written; “ And the Lord spake unto Mofes, face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend;" and in verse 20; thus, '" And he said, thou canst not fee my face ; for there fhall no man see me and live. And the Lord said, behold, there is a place by me, and thou shall stand upon a rock; And it shall come to pafs, while my glory pafseth by, that I will

thee in the cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by ; And I will take away my hand and thou shalt fee my back parts; but my face shall not be seen.” What a strange contradiction is here? according to the 11th verse, Mofes is talking with God, face to face; and according to the 20th verse, this was impossible without producing instant death. How are thefe inconsistencies to be reconciled? If God revealed this book he certainly could have made it free from such gross and palpable errors; and if Mofes or any other man wrote it he ought to have been ashamed of committing such egregious blunders. To call such a chapter as this divine revelation, is a departure from every thing which common fenfe and the reason of man confider correct. This chapter closes with a childish, curious, kind of hide and feek account of God and Mofes among the rocks. Formerly Moses had the honour of looking God fuil in the face; but now it feems he is reduced to the degraded condition of being permitted to view only the polterior parts of the Jewilh divinity! What stuff and nonfenfe is all this! Have Chriftian believers no better idea of the Supreme Being than to suppose he is creeping about among the rocks and mountains with Moles, and that he exhibits all the parts, form and appearance of a man? Absurd as this is, yet such is the fact, and therefore their book and their opinions predicated upon such a miserable relinquishment of genuine Theism are false and merit not the attention of a reasonable being. The only attention which ought to be paid to the book is, an exposition of its fallacies, and a refutation of its destructive errors.

Theological Enquiries concluded.

When a man fees his wife worship (to use the language of the church of England) another man with as much de. votion as himself he has reafon to be jealous ; but if the were only adicted to fondling a favourite parrot or lapdog how filly and ridiculous he would make himself were he to be jealous.of the animal, and in his wrath dash out the poor creature's brains ; yet such is the conduct of the god of Mofes, who delights in distinguishing himself by the title of jealous god, and under these circumstances it is peculiarly unfortunate for him that he is wedded to a people who are constantly going a whoreing after other gods. Indeed if I must take the liberty of deciding betwixt the Hebrews and their god, I should say that if he defired they fhould cleave to him, and him

only, he should

; bove all not to have led them so often into temptation.

Quitting for a moment the character of the god, and :confidering the subject as purely political, we shall then fee it in its true light. It was Moses that was jealous. If he had suffered the people of Israel to intermarry with the Mideanites, they would insensibly have melted into the mass of that nation, and his power been reduced to a fiadow---and more especially if he had suffered a prince of Israel and a princess of Midian to form an alliance. ? Therefore it was the political craft of Moses to afcribe

his own bo?. - burned, to this imaginary god. This explanation is fur

ther elucidated by the subsequent conduct of Moses with e regard to the Midianites, for we read in Numb chap. 31

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that he armed a 1000 of every tribe and sent to war ? gainst the Midianites, under the conduct of this fame: Phinehas, the fon of Eleazor the priest.

When we look upon these actions as the work of Moses we cannot help considering him as a profound politician, equal even to Pitt himfelf; but if they are to be ascribed to the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, it is evident, that. he was not the true God, for he tells Moses to avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites. Now the children : of Israel had no caufe to feek revenge of the Midianites, who had done them no injury, but on the contrary had treated them with hospitality, and it is probable that a majority of the Hebrews bore no animosity, or cherished a spirit of revenge against the Midianites any more than the people of the United States do at this moment against the French. But Mofes as a political general has cause : of revenge ; for that reason, and for no other, were the ignorant and eggregiously duped Ifraelites led into a war against their best friends, a war that is marked with every attrocity that can possibly be conceived by the most diabolical mind; and all under the direction of the Lord;. the wonder-working god of the Hebrews; for it is expressly said that they warred against the Midianites as the Lord commanded Mofes, and flew all the males ! gave no quarter! what barbarians! Even Eri; Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba, five Kings of Midian, Balaam also the son of Beor they flew with the sword: Balaam, their good friend, the incorruptible Balaam; 'who could not even be bribed to do them the smallest injury, they few. with the sword! He who said bleffed is he who blesseth thee, and curfed is he thai curseth thee, they flew with the Tword. What foul ingratitude ! Balaam falls by the fword of the Hebrews for blelling them and obeying their god, contrary to his own intereft.

But what follows has no parallel in the history of any nation, nor has its cruelty been equalled by the most fanguinary tyrant. After the battle-in cool blood every male among the little ones, and every woman that had known man, were ordered to be flain, and what ream

son is afligned ?-Some woman had caused the children of lsrael to commit trespass against the Lord, and there. fore all this wanton cruelty is to be exercised, and the innocent and guilty made to fall indiscriminately together.

Profession of Faith from Rousseau, continued.

R. “ Because, to give them such weight, requires three things; the concurrence of which is impoflible. Thefe are, that I should, in the first place, be a witness to the delivery of the prophecy; next, that I should be witness also to the event; lastly, that it should be clearly demon. firated to me that such event could not have followed by accident: For though a prophecy were as precise, clear, and peterminate as an anxiom of geometry; yet as the perspicuity of a prediction, made at random, does not render the accomplishment of it impoffible, that accomplishment, when it happens, proves nothing in fact con cerning the fore-knowledge of him who predicted it.".

“ You see, therefore, to what your pretended fupernatural proofs, your miracles and your prophecies reduce Us :-to the folly of believing them ali on the credit of others, and of submitting the authority of God, speaking to our reason, as to that of man. If those eternal truths of which my understanding forms the strongest conceptions, can possibly be false, I can have no hope of ever arriving at certitude, and so far from being capable of be. ing assured that you speak to me from God, I cannot even be assured of his existence."

You see, my child, how many difficulties must be removed before our disputants can agree'; nor are these all. {"Among so many different religions, each of which proferibes and excludes the other, one only must be true,

if indeed there be such a one among them all. Now to discover which this is, it is not enough to examine that one ; it is necessary to examine them all, as we should not, on any occafion whatever, condemn without a hear ing. It is necessary to compare objections with proofs, and to know what each object to in the rest, as well as what the others have to offer in their defence. The more clearly any sentiment or opinion appears demon. strated, the more narrowly it behoves us to enquire, what are the reasons which prevent its opponents from fubfcribing to it. We must be very simple, indeed, to think an attention to the theologists of our own party fufficient to instruct us in what our adversaries have to offer. Where shall we find divines, of any persuasion, perfectly candid and honest? Do they not all begin to weaken the arguments of their opponents, before they proceed to refute them? Each is the oracle of his party, and makes a great figure among his partizans, with such proofs as would expose him to ridicule among those of a different perfuafion. Are you desirous of gaining information from books? What a fund of erudition will not this require! How many languages must you learn! How many libraries must you turn over! And who is to direct you in the choice of the books? There are hardly to be found in any one country the best books on the contrary fide of the question, and still less is it to be expected we should find books on all fides. The writings of the adverse and abfent party, were they found, would be very easily refuted. The abfent are always in the wrong; and the most weak and insufficient arguments, laid down with a .confident assurance, easily efface the most sensible and valid, when exposed with contempt. Add to all this, that nothing is more fallacious than books, nor exhibit lefs faithfully the sentiments of their writers. The judgment which you formed, for instance, of the Roman Catholic religion, from the the treatise of Rossuet, was very different from that which you acquired by residing among us. You have seen that the doctrines we maintain in our controverfies with the protestants, are not those which are taught the common people, and that Roffuet's book by no means resembles the instructions delivered

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