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from the pulpit. To form a proper judgment of any religion, we are not to deduce its tenets from the books of its professors; we must go and learn it among the people. Each fe&t have their peculiar traditions, their customs, and modes of acceptation, which constitute the peculiar mode of their faith; all which should be taken into confideration when we form a judgment of their religion.
How many considerable nations are there, who print no books of their own, and read none of ours! How are they to judge of our opinions, or we of theirs? We laugh at them, they despite us; and though our travellers have turned them into riđicule, they need only to travel among us, to ridicule us in their turn. In what country are there not to be found men of sense and sincerity, friends of truth, who require only to know, in order to embrace it? And yet every one imagines truth confined to his own particular syslem, and thinks the religion of all o. ther nations in the world ablurd; thefe foreign modes, therefore, cannot be in reality so very absurd as they appear, or the apparent reasonableness of ours is less real..
We have three principal religions in Europe. One admits only of one revelation, another of two, and the third of three. Each holds the other in deteftation, anathematizes its professors, accuses them of ignorance, ob stinacy and falsehood. What impartial person will prefume to decide between them, without having first exam. ined their proofs, and heard their reasons? That which admits only of one revelation is the most ancient, and seems the least disputable; that which admits of three is the most modern, and seems to be the moft confiftent; that which admits of two, and rejects the third, may posli. bly be the best; but it hath certainly every prepossession against it: its inconsistency ftares one full in the face.
In all these three revelations, the facred books are written in languages unknown to the people who believe in them. The Jews no longer understand Hebrew; the christians neither Greek nor Hebrew ; the Turks and Perfians understand no Arabick; and even the modern Arabs themselves speak not the language of Mahomet. Is not this a very simple manner of instruct. ing mankind, by talking to them always in a language which they do not comprehend? But these books, it will be faid, are translated; a mighty pretty answer! Who can assure me they are translated faithfully, or that it is even possible they should be fo.? Who can give me a sufficient reason why God, when he hath a mind to speak to mankind, should stand in need of an interpreter?
" pensably obliged to know, can be shut up in these books;
e man is indisor that he who is incapaciated to understand them, or the persons who explain them, will be punished for involun. tary ignorance. But we are always plagueing ourselves with books. What a frenzy! Because Europe is full of books, the Europeans conceive them to be indispensable, without reflecting that three fourths of the world know nothing at all about them. Are not all books written by men? How greatly, therefore, must man have stood in need of them, to instruct him in his duty; and by what means did he come to the knowledge of such duties, before books were written ? Either he must have acquired Tuch knowledge himself, or it mult have been totally difpenfed with.
We, Roman Catholicks, make a great noise about the authority of the church : but what do we gain by it, if it requires as many proofs to establish this authority as other fects require immediately to establish their doctrines ? The church determines that the church hath a right to determine. Is not this a special proof of its authority ? And yet depart from this, and we enter into endless discuffions.
Do you know many Christians, who have taken the pains to examine carefully into what the Jews have alledged against us? If there are a few who know fome. thing of them, it is from what they have met with in the writings of Christians: a very pretty manner truly of instructiug themselves in the arguments of their opponents ! But, what can be done? If any one should dare to publish among us such books as openly espouse
the caufe of judaifm, we fhould punifh the author, the editor, and the bookseller*. This policy is very convenient, and very sure to make us always in the right. We can refute at pleasure those who are afraid to speak.
Those among us, also, who have an opportunity to converfe with the Jews, have but little advantage. These unhappy people know they lie at our mercy ; the ty ranny we exercise over them, renders them juftly timidt and reserved ; they know how far cruelty and injustice are compatible with Christian charity : What, therefore, can they venture to say to us, without running the risk of incurring the charge of blafphemy? Avarice inipires us with zeal, and they are too rich not to be ever in the wrong.
The most sensible and learned among them are the most circumspect and reserved. We make a convert, perhaps, of some wretched hireling; to calumniate his sect; fet a parcel of pitiful brokers disputing, who give up the point merely to gratify us; but while we triumph over the ignorance or meanness of such wretched opponents, the learned among them smile in contemptuous filence at our folly.
* Among a thousand known instances, the following stands in no need of comment. The Catholic divines of the sixteenth century having condemned all the Jewish books, without exception, to be burned, a learned and illustrious theologue, who was consulted on that occafion, had very nigh involved himself in ruin, by being simply of opinion that such of them might be preserved as did not relate to Christianity, or treated of matters foreign to religion.
To be continued.
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Prospect; or, View of the Moral World.
SATURDAY, November 10, 1804.
Comments upon the Sacred Writings of the fews and
Cbristians. Exodus Chapter 34.
IN this chapter it appears, that Mofes and his god, who
had so often fallen out about tries, become once more reconciled, and unite for re-supplying the tables which Moses had broken in his anger ; but this it seems must be done in secret. The people are to be kept in ignorance, and all the marvelous operations and conjutations of the Jewish god and Mofes, are to be vigilantly concealed from popular inspection. In yerse 3, it is thus written, " And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount.
It is very evident from the manner in which Mofes conducted himself that he was deceiving the people; that he did not fee God, and that he never had any conversation with him. If he really held an intimate conversation with Jehovah, why did not he and his god come out boldly and bear testimony before an apostate world to the truth of their operations! But no, they must always be by themselves upon the mountain ; this looks more like jugling and conjuring than like fair dealing. Impofture makes high pretentions and conceals much; but integrity is open bold and candid. As we proceed in this chap. ter we find other matters of a censurable nature, contradictory in themselves and inconsistent with the divine perfections. In the 6th verse, it is said, “The Lord God, merciful and gracivus long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth ;” and in the 7th verle, these mild attributes are placed in competition with the high charge of injustice brought against Jehovah. It is there faid. “ visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” This abo- . minable doctrine, on which we had occasion to make re. marks when passing over the celebrated Decalogue,' is here renewed with unblushing impudenice, as if the cha. racter of God might be traduced with impunity, and his conduet funk below liuman embecility and resentment. In the ti verse of this chapter the Jewish Jehovali ob. tains a new name made out of a quality which had formerly been ascribed to him, but now entered upon the vocabulary of his names. " For the Lord, whose name is jealous, is a jealous god."
Thebiole-makers have destroyed all rational confidence in the book by burdening the character of their god with a mass of detestable attributes which would disgrace even the human species. The Lord is a jealous God! And of whom or what was he jealous ? Had he any rival ? Was he alarmed for his success, or was he anxious for the ultimate destiny that awaited him? This was imporlible with the God of nature, and therefore the Jewith god inust hrve been a phantom. fabricated by ignorance and superstition.
FOR THE Prospect.
In or about the year of our Lord 1710, a Swedish Milfionary preached a fermon at an Indian treaty, in which fermon he set forth original fin, the necessity of a mediator, and endeavoured by certain arguments, to induce the Indians to embrace the Christian religion ; after he hail ended his discourse, one of the Indian Chiefs made a speech in reply to the fermon, the discourse, on both sides, was made known by interpreters. The Missionary on his return to Sweden, published his fermon and the Indian's answer, having written them in Latin, he dedicated them to the University at Upfal, and desired them to furnish him with arguments, to confute fuch' strong reafoning of the Indian. The Indians speech translated from the Latin, is as follows.
Since the subject of his errand is to persuade us to eiņbrace a new doStrine, perhaps it may not be amiss