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DOCTOR TO THE PRIEST.
January 27, 1824. The observations with which you favoured me the other evening, have been considered with attention. They have, I believe, been dictated by that spirit of candour which you express; although the warmth of them would almost persuade a stranger; that you felt all that enthusiasm, which, you know, should never be the companion of a dispassionate enquirer.
The task that Richard Carlile has imposed upon himself, in proving the non-existence of Jesus, is, I believe, a very arduous one, and though he has brought forward a chain of evidence to me quite conclusive, that Christianity cannot be supported by regular historical documents till the beginning of the second century, yet I have no doubt, that it will be very difficult for him to unsettle the minds of many upon this particular point. He is, however, quite correct in demanding from his opponent, upon this subject, the same chain of proof, which belongs to other historical facts. None ever doubted the existence of Julius Cæsar, and why? Because we find in the history of the Romans, a chain of events recorded by several authors, that are exactly of the same, import, conveying to us the actions and manners of a people, free from any supernatural agency, and who in being carried down the stream of time, present to us nothing that requires more than the efforts of human reason to imagine,-on the contrary, the subject which forms the basis of our present correspondence, is involved in the deepest obscurity, whereby the minds of men have become bewildered, and so agitated, as to lead to the most bitter animosities. If the deity had it really in view to reform mankind, by the coming of Jesus, his mission should have been more universally known, and not confined to an insignificant spot, which was said to be favoured beyond all others, the inhabitants of which or their race, continue to this day, notwithstanding the liberal advantages that were bestowed upon them, to reject with scorn his proffered services. To have dealt fairly, all mankind should have had the benefit of this mission. Jesus seems not to have known, that in the extensive re. gions of the,“ then undiscovered globe,” there existed myriads of human beings, who were to perish without the possibility of ever hearing bis name. The vast continents of America should have been visited either by him or his disciples. But it is evident that he was totally ignorant of their existence, and abandoned these fair and beautiful provinces, to the preferable task of endeavouring to teach
system, the effects of which he must have known, were to be of no avail upon the stubborn rebellious hearts of his countrymen.
Another circumstance which I may relate is, even granting that Jesus preached and was crucified, his death produced no revolution, that tended to improve the condition of mankind. Sixteen long centuries rolled on, in which Christianity did no good. The followers of it who were invested with power, converted the tenets of their religion into a system of avarice and cruelty; and those horrid massacres, those dreadful tragedies, that are found in the history of the Christian world, continued to deluge Europe with blood, till the dawn of philosophy in some degree banished them from the earth. If Jesus, therefore, acted under the influence of Deity, the Deity must have foreseen what were to be the results of this important mission, which was said to be solely for the amelioration of the human race; yet mankind underwent no great change, the same mass of evil continuing to plunge millions into that deep abyss of misery, at which the heart sickens when we contemplate the history of what is called the dark ages. It is not however upon these views that I rest my authority in rejecting Christianity as a religion of divine influence: overlooking entirely the basis upon which it is founded, with the petty doctrinal points that still, and will always, perplex the various sectarians that belong to it, I am guided in my views by what I see in the vast operations of nature. In the arrangement of the Universe, I behold an order of things grand and beautiful in the extreme; I witness the effects of nature produced by laws, that experience and obserservation tell me are unchangeable; and when I contemplate those innumerable worlds, rolling in the immensity of space, apparently governed with the same regularity, my mind leads me to adopt opinions regarding the nature of a first cause, in a very different light, from the picture which the writings of the Jews have exhibited, of him, whom they recognise as their Deity. In short, I cannot see in the whole story of the Jews, any thing beyond what other barbarous nations have brought forward to support the credit of their different creeds. With the framers of the Chris. tian religion, the same plans have been resorted to, that characterize theology in general, viz. miracles and prophecies; the first only astonishing the ignorant, and the last involving events in so much ambiguity that nothing certain can be drawn from them. To convince mankind of the divinity of Jehovah, the order of the universe is reversed. The eternal principles of justice are violated, and all that is connected with superstition, held out as the influence by which we are to know, that the God of the Jews was omnipotent--the miracle of the sun standing still in the valley of Jordan-the butcheries committed upon the Canaanites, by the express command of the Lord, the silly and contemptible story of the walls of Jericho, falling by the sound of ram's horns, with innumerable other absurdities, are sufficient to shock any one, who is not carried away from the simple maxims of truth, by the mighty influence, which early education generally produces. The system
which Jesus upholds being intimately allied to these supposed events, carries along with it, in my mind, its own internal evidence, that it cannot be sanctioned by a being, who either possesses power or wisdom. Let the morality of the system even be unquestionable, which is by no means the case, still the history of Jesus is so interwoven with stories of so incredible a nature, that without you surrender your reason, you can never give implicit belief to them. Who can entertain high or dignified ideas of a man, who is constantly resorting to the same means of convincing mankind, that were adopted by Mahomet, and other impostors? What admiration can be excited by a man who is continually talking of devils and evil spirits, and all those imaginary beings, that now only exist in the brains of those who are engulphed in the deepest superstition? Who can listen with any degree of decorum to the story of Jesus being led by Satan to the top of a high mountain, and there shewn all the nations of the world, for the purpose of circumventing him? In truth, such stories are too contemtible to need serious remark. The story about the birth of Jesus, exceeds any thing that is known in heathen mythology. The idea of the Holy Ghost's, shedding his influence over Mary, is so very palpable, that I think nothing however gross, is too much for the minds of those who are disposed to receive without free enquiry, the strange dogmas of theology. The resurrection cannot be supported upon rational grounds. Indeed, except the bare assertion of the Gospels themselves, we have not a jot of collateral evidence to confirm all the strange events, that took place when Jesus left this world Darkness at noon-day, and dreadful earthquakes, were occurences which the Roman naturalists and historians, could never pass over in silence. I will not, however, expatiate more upon this subject at present. I have, perhaps, intruded my ideas too freely upon you; but they are given merely with the view of replying to the observations which you offered me, in which I find only round assertion, stalking boldly and confidently forth, in place of sound logic. When you tell me, that you believe in many of the miraculous events, connected with the history of Jesus, and that you do so, in spite of early prejudices, in spite of the contempt of the world, in spite of every sacrifice, not excepting that of life itself, you do no more than the followers of Mahomet, and a multitude of others have done, in situations of a similar nature, to support their own favourite dogmas. Sacrifices of any kind never destroy the real existence of things. Truth is eternally the same; and I believe, that it is more probable, for the whole human race, to fall into error, than that the great operations of the universe can ever undergo in their nature any obvious change. The comparison you have made about Buonaparte, is, I conceive, not in point. Every impartial observer, must consign his name to the grave of eternal infamy. As an eminent murderer, the friends of humanity shudder at the recollection of his deeds; and however keen his
intellect may have been, he can never be allowed to stand as a judge of what constitutes sound morality. For my part, I would prefer the opinion of Richard Carlile, upon such topics, in preference to the combined intelligence of all the bloody warriors that ever existed.
I remain, yours, &c., (To be continued.)
TO MR. R. CARLILE, DORCHESTER GAOL.
Sir, Arlington Square, Stockport, August 11, 1824. I BEG leave to return my sincere and hearty thanks for five pounds, which I received from Mr. Wheeler; and at the same time, through your publication, for different sums from the friends to free discussion of Oldham and its vicinity, as follow:
Printed and Published by R. CARLILE, 84, Fleet Street.-All Correspon
dences for “ The Republican” to be left at the place of publication.
No. 8, Vol. 10.) London, Friday, Aug. 27, 1824. [Price 6d.
TO THE REVEREND DOCTOR COTTON,
CHAPLAIN OF NEWGATE.
Newgate, August 10, 1824. Before I resume my remarks on archbishop Secker's Lectures, it may not be amiss to state my opinion of the person I am addressing; for should the impressions I have received be erroneous,you will then have an opportunity of removing them. Now, Sir, in the first place, I consider you to be a hypocrite. These are my reasons. Every man who is a conscientious believer in the opinions he professeth, will say something in their defence when he hears them impugned; and will endeavour to prove by argument, that wbat he professeth is true. You, Sir, have often heard me and my fellow-prisoners impugn your professed belief, in open and unequivocal language, and you have hitherto contented your. self with saying, that you had no doubt but we were com· plete masters of the subject, and that, consequently, you should not enter into any argument, thus clearly proving, that you considered us to be on the rigbt side of the question. You have brought us Bibles, &c. but you have never bad the boldness to say before us, that you believed them to be true. You may perhaps ask wbat motives you could have had in sending us these Bibles, had you not considered them to be true--to be founded on truth; or arguments in their favour, had you not considered them to be convincing ? Why? let me see: to make up the character of a hypocrite, you must pretend to a great zeal for religion, and the sending these books may serve you as a good pretence, I cannot help thinking, but that a conversation something like the following must bave taken place with (we'll suppose) one of your female idolators:
Printed and Published by R. Carlile, 84, Fleet Street.