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as promise me a kicking if I call at your door!) this is not demonstration: in your fancied demonstration you have demonstrated nothing. Demonstration is a very different thing. Your expression of an almighty power necessarily emanating from an almighty being is no more correct, than, if you had said, the power of a mighty army centers in the General. We speak of the power of an army; but we know that such power is congregated by a number of beings. When I speak of an Almighty Power, I speak of the congregated powers of the universe, and not of one supreme being-God. So I believe in an almighty power, but I do not believe in one supreme being-God: I am sensible of an almighty power; but, I am not sensible of one supreme being-God. Here is a clear explanation free from contradiction. This is demonstration. I know that every being has a certain degree of power; but I know of no one being with almighty power. I posed the Vicar of Cerne with this distinction between almighty power and almighty being within the first five minutes that he was in my company; the consequence was, that his watch reminded him of an urgent engagement to dine at that hour!
There was a time when you were told: "it's time to be solid, Carter!" This made an impression upon you which has been the cause of your being a "Wonder to many! With equal seriousness, I repeat, it's time to be more solid, Carter! It's time to rest upon nothing but what is solid. Since you first began to be solid, your mind from the taint of youthful incipient error, has been running in a God who rules the universe in the form of a human being, and upon the principle of an earthly absolute monarch. But, this is not being solid, Carter! It is all nonsense! You have not an atom of proof, you can find no demonstration of such a God! But if you will begin to reason about the chemical powers and mechanical forces of the conflicting varieties of matter, gas upon gas, dense bodies upon dense bodies, planet upon planet, and solar system upon solar system, then Carter, you will get upon solid ground in serious mood, and know upon what you are treading! This is what "I begin to discover:" and not altogether "from words spoken or written by Deists."
It is granted, that you and many thousands of preachers about the one supreme being-God preach from a sincerity of heart, and upon a conviction, according to the best of your knowledge, that you are preaching the most serious' truths; but such a preaching is no demonstration of truth. No. 23, Vol. VIII.
Others have as sincerely and as earnestly preached abont Ghosts, Witches, Fairies, and a thousand other fantasies, now generally viewed to have been as ridiculous as I view your present preaching to be.
You, Mr. Carter, are evidently unacquainted with the character of the discussions now carrying on about the one supreme being-God. The question is now reduced to the consideration, whether intelligence can exist separate from the animal organization. Powers can exist separate from that organization we know, but we do not know, that intelligence can any where be found beyond the human race. According to all existing knowledge, it is necessary, that you prove your God to be an animal, to give it the attributes of intelligence and design. There, Isaac Carter, is matter as solid as a bone for you to pick.
Upon another ground: you feel offended at being told that you do not believe in your one supreme being-God. You may hope that there is such an existence as your imagination has formed of a one supreme being-God: but hope and belief are two distinct things. Hope is a mere creature of the imagination: belief a conviction by the aid of the senses. You say, that you have that conviction; but you mistake au action of the imagination for an action of the senses. By which of your senses do you discover the exexistence of one supreme being-God-by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or feeling? Answer me that question Isaac Carter. If you attempt to do it, you will find, that you do not believe in the one supreme being-God; but that you have duped yourself by the powers of your imagination, as well as others. Belief is the result of comprehension, clear understanding, clear knowledge, founded either upon occular evidence or rational probability: can you apply either of these terms to your one supreme being-God-the creature of your imagination, and not your creator?
Had you printed the whole of my third letter, it would have been seen that I did not make any engagements with David Bogue's students about becoming a missionary to the heathen; that I did not then make any profession of religion; that I did not mix up the matter of marriage, employ, and want of employ, with that with which you mix it up. You have not been exactly scrupulous, in your constructions upon the contents of that letter. Had I a copy, it should be printed. I know there has long been a great deal of eninity between you and David Bogue and his students; but you are not justified in what you have said of me, or them, in your second letter, linvite you to print the whole of that letter.
As to what you say about my arrogance and insult, I can smile, knowing, that it has no foundation in any thing I have written to you. It is you who insult`me, when you say that your dwelling is too moral to welcome such an im-, moral step as mine over its threshold. Be easy, I will not disturb you farther, unless you can find something to say in answer to this letter. There are men in England whose company I desire as a matter of instruction; but the company of Isaac Carter, the Wonder, I can only seek as a matter of amusement, or for his instruction.
Your knowledge is made.up of the contents of the Bible. My Bible tells me this, my Bible tells me that, is the common cry of Jew or Christian; but you may be also told that your Bible is a book full of erroneous conclusions, and no where instructive beyond the few moral sentences it may contain: that is to say, it teaches you nothing true about the earth on which we dwell, nor about other planets, nor about the universe, nor about any thing relating to physics. Though there is much said in it about God and Lord God, of that much there is nothing true. It contains a mythology which the Jews borrowed from the Persians and others their neighbours. Where the word God is used, the original Hebrew has it Elohim, which all translators acknowledge to be plural, and to signify the Gods. Christians have attempted to make this an expression of their trinity, but it is a fallacious quibble: the expression is strictly correct, and was in common use among the ancients-the Gods, the immortal Gods. The words Lord God are meant to express the chief of the Gods, such as Jupiter was considered by both Grecians and Romans. Jehovah has no better foundation than Jupiter: the two words convey the same idea under a different expression, a mere variation in sound. There can be no religion distinct from idolatry and mythology; because there is no known intelligence superior to man. Think of that and be solid, Carter!
When I say, that I trace the whole of human misery to religion, it is to be explained upon the principle, that misery is the common result of ignorance, or where frauds are practised upon ignorance, and that religion is the chief, the parent cause of all those frauds, and the perpetuating cause of ignorance. Its tendency is universal degradation among mankind, and that degredation is the root of their misery.' It forms a system that is hostile to every change which improvement necessarily introduces.
I am about to address a letter to the Vicar of Cerne, who
is, like yourself, a high Calvinist, in which I shall combat your doctrines about election, fore-ordination, &c. It will better suit a separate letter than to become the tail end of this. I have been hesitating between you and the Vicar to consider which was the highest predestinarian of the two; but I can find no difference, and as I have answered with explanations every thing at which you have carped in my letters, I cannot devote more time and space to you, unless you will print my third letter with further animadversions.
In conclusion, I will take the liberty to offer you advice. Read your Bible as you would read another book, and do not foolishly take every sentence and assertion for truth, because ignorant men have called it a holy writing by inspired penmen. Compare its assertions with the existing state of knowledge, and you will find it erroneous wherever it makes any philosophical pretensions. Consider its moral tendency, when its best characters are depicted as grossly immoral! Consider its pernicious tendency when its upholders would make it a barrier to human knowledge, and pronounce that it alone is sufficient for all beneficial purposes. But above all, consider again, and be solid, Carter, whether such a God as it depicts could ever have had an actual existence. Ask yourself, what is intelligence, and from what it results. Try the merits of your ministry upon those who can analyze it-try it upon me. Ask your God to enable you to work a miracle, as a sign that you are a wonder, not by an action upon the imagination, but upon 'some natural process. Go out on Portsdown Hill for seven days and see whether the Ravens will bring you food. Unless you can do what the Ministers of your God's word were wont to do of old, what sign have we that your ministry is the inspiration of superhuman power?
TO MR. R. CARLILE, DORCHESTER GAOL,
DEAR SIR, Edinburgh, Oct. 31, 1823. I HAVE read in the 14th No. of your Republican some farther account of the vexatious, oppressive, and shuffling conduct of your persecutors and gaolers towards yourself and your family; your statements may convince every man of liberal mind, that the principles and practice of every one of them, from Judge to Gaoler, deserve the most thorough execration and abhorrence.
The manner in which they have harassed and abused you, is a proof (if others were wanting) of the utter wickedness of their re
ligious principle, and that their faith has no foundation on truth, but is altogether a castle in the air; and their declining your open challenge of a fair discussion has confirmed and exposed it. If their religion is founded on truth, examination by exhibiting that truth would be a benefit to it; if it were not built upon superstitious legends, they would not fear the most rigid examination of its foundation; if it were not a tissue of sophistry and imposition, they would not fear the strictest criticism of its tenets; if it were not supported by ignorance and superstition, they would not persecute and imprison men who only strove for freedom of discussion, and the liberation of the human mind from thraldom.
With this letter 1 have sent you a fragment of the second part of my critical remarks (containing chap. 1 and 2 of observation on the instruction given by Jesus Christ) for your examination and insertion in the Republican. The tyrannical manner in which Christians have persecuted and oppressed you, and the boundless praise which they bestow on the person who was the founder of their religion, and who is the object of their worship, for the purity of his doctrines, and the compassion and humanity of his exhortation, has induced me to engage in this enquiry; and in pursuing it, I find that this person has neglected every essential exhortation, or necessary instruction, for promoting the happiness of mankind, or supporting the exaltad character bestowed upon him.
The constant attention which my business requires has hitherto prevented me from preparing the work for the press, or even making the manuscript so perfect as I could wish, and may do so for some time; but if you think this fragment worthy of a place in the Republican you may insert it, and if suitable you shall have more at another opportunity.
With respects to your Sister and Mrs. Carlile,
OBSERVATIONS ON THE INSTRUCTIONS
Statement of some Crimes which Jesus ought to have forbidden and did not.
IN reviewing the life of Jesus Christ and estimating the value of his instruction to the world, we ought to consider, particularly, what crimes he forbade or threatened with punishment; what duties he commanded or exhorted men to perform: we ought to consider both what he taught, and what he omitted to teach, that we may thus be enabled to appreciate more earnestly the value of his mission, and his usefulness as a reformer.