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The distinguishing characteristic of the present age, is the freedom of inquiry and discussion which prevails upon all subjects; and most particularly upon religious subjects. Intelligent and thinking men of every class, are beginning to investigate and discuss questions of the latter kind with considerable closeness, fearlessness and determination. They are now resolved no longer to be hoodwinked with the veil of prejudice, enchained with the trammels of superstition, or deluded by the impositions, or intimidated by the denunciations of a crafty and intolerant priesthood; but to examine for themselves to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.” And long have the priesthood dreaded, and anxiously have they endeavored to procrastinaté, the arrival of this period. Long have they been apprehensive of the development of intellect, and the enlightenment of mind. Long have they feared the advent of that era which will hail the dawn of rationality and ad
And why? Because they knep full well, ignorant and superstitious as many of them may appear, that when intellect and rationality be. come the main-springs of society-when men begin dispassionately and philosophically to examine into the mysteries and workings of religion, that all their impositions will be discovered, all their craftiness
detected, and all their designs and practices fully exposed. And, when once this is done, they are conscious that their influence over the people, would immediately decline, and ultimately fall. This has already in some measure proved true. For by the many bold and daring innovations, which have been made by a Paine, a Voltaire, a Mirabaud, a Volney, a Taylor, a Howitt, and an Owen, upon what is arrogantly called the consecrated ground of religion, their influence has materially declined, and has every prospect of still continuing to do so. And this they know—this they feel. Hence, the terrific thunderbolts of indignation and anathema which they have hurled at the characters of those distinguisheri
And hence, that malicious and vindictive spirit which they have manifested toward all those who have had the integrity or boldness to acknowledge themselves their disciples. Hence, too, their present discreditable opposition to every educational, political and social measure, which would conduce to the elevation and improvement of society. But poor deluded mortals ! how vain will they find all their attempts to impede the mighty progress of truththe glorious advancement of thought and enlightenment! As well, indeed, might they attempt to overthrow the pyramids of Egypt with the waft of a feather, as to endeavor to demolish the temple of reason and intellect which is now erecting in society; a temple which, while it will be a glorious emblem of the progression of man, will be a lasting monument of their final downfall! So considerably, in fact, is the power of the priesthood already diminished, that they are now beginning to be looked upon by the leading minds of all classes, with feelings of indifference and compassion, rather than those of reverence and admiration.
It was the desire to endeavor to hasten the annihilation of the influence of these men that induced me
to publish the following work-a work which, I trust, will serve somewhat to expose one of the greatest impositions ever palmed upon mankind in any age, or in any country. I allude, as may be supposed, to the Bible. Yes, the Christian priesthood dare so outrageously to blaspheme the character of the Supreme Governor of the Universe as to say, that book is his word ; that he either wrote or inspired men to write it. O shame, shame upon such blasphemy! What! a munificent and omniscient Deity the author of a book replete with more contradictions, containing more immoralities, and inculcating more absurdities, than any book extant; contradictions, too, of the grossest character, immoralities of the most pernicious tendency, and absurdities of the most extravagant nature? Audacious impiety! Such an opinion perhaps might be entertained in the dark ages of ignorance and superstition, but in this the boasted era of reason and science, it must be repudiated by all who dare openly and frankly avow their sentiments. This may be deemed by those who have always read the Bible with their eyes closed, or who are interested in teaching its doctrines and mysteries, as very bold and presumptuous; but let the reader refer to the extracts contained in this little book, (and which are only a few to what may be adduced) and I am persuaded that he will at once acknowledge that I am perfectly justified in making these statements. Indeed, so extremely immoral and disgustingly obscene, are many passages in this book, that I feel almost ashamed to publish them, and I am sure that any one who has the least sense of delicacy or chastity, will blush to read them. A book which had really originated from an Omniscient and Munificent Divinity-a book which was the word, or organ of such a being, must inculcate in every chapter and in every verse, the strictest, the purest, and most exalted morality; must constantly exhort mankind to every thing that was just, rational and charitable; and must contain no language but that which was exquisitely beautiful and elevating; and no expres. sions but those which were irresistibly persuasive and convincing. But the Bible is a book, as may be seen on a reference to these extracts, quite the reverse of this. We are compelled, therefore, to conclude against the established opinions of society, that it cannot be of Divine origin, and that consequently it cannot be the word of God.
My humble, but decided opinion is, as I have previously observed, that it was nothing more than a mere imposition; an imposition which was palmed upon mankind by the Christian priesthood, for the purpose of deluding or enslaving them; for the purpose of leading them from the open and cheering paths of knowledge and improvement, into the nauseous and gloomy quagmires of ignorance and superstition. The priesthood of every sect of religion, in every country of the habitable globe, have instituted and perpetuated certain impositions, by means of which they have conceived they would be enabled to maintain and increase their influence over the minds of their followers; so that thereby they might still continue to luxuriate in ease and enjoyment, while their poor deluded victims repined in ignorance and woe.
And this is such an imposition now established and supported by the Christian priesthood -- an imposition which is the corner stone of all their power, the fountain of all their influence. It has been the tool which they have invariably used in the accomplishment of their objects, however selfish; and in the consummation of their machinations, however odious. Whenever they have massacred, immolated, or incarcerated those who have dared to dispute their vicegerency, or who have presumed to expose their doctrines, or denounce their practices, they have quoted this imposition as their authority. Whenever they have de
fended, or connived at the extortions of the tyrants who have flattered or supported them, they have quoted this imposition as their authority. Whenever they have opposed any system or any measure, which they considered would be inimical to their interests, or subversive of their power, they have quoted this imposition as their authority. And the sooner this imposition is removed—the sooner the few good seeds which it may contain are extracted from it, and the immense mass of chaff is cast into oblivion, the better will it be for the amelioration and progression of man. Perhaps the expression of such opinions as these may be painful to the feelings of many excellent individuals. For this I am truly sorry, as my object is, not to cause pain or uneasiness, but to expose error and imposture. The time has now arrived when truth must come out, when truth must be spoken, " without mystery, mixture of error, or fear of man. Too long, indeed, has this precious jewel been sacrificed to the paltry predilections of interest and prejudice. Too long have we been tossed in the dark and unfathomable gulf of bigotry and intolerance; we must now make our way to the expansive and unruffled ocean of reason and inquiry, and there, free from the storms of persecution, and the squalls of denunciation, proceed, on our onward course, in security and felicity.