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protect the Christian religion if true, and can you not, from the very circumstance of the imprisonment of so many persons, plainly perceive, that persecution, without this exposition, will never stop the spirit of inquiry which has gone abroad, and which, like a word once spoken, cannot be re-called. In justifying the publication, I shall proceed in the order in which the different passages have been read to me. When apprehended, the Alderman desired to know from the witness which passage he considered libellous, and he read as follows: "Almost all the characters spoken of in the Bible were very immoral men, as Noah, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, Jesus, and Paul; a band of robbers, murderers, adulterers, drunkards, liars, impostors, and tyrants." This passage was read to me at Guildhall, and in this court it was again read to me on Monday last, with the addition however of another passage, of which more anon. At the present, I shall content myself with proving that they were, as was said in the Republican, murderers, drunkards, &c. &c.
(Here the defendant read the 9th chapter of Genesis, 2d of Exodus, 7th and 10th of Joshua, 11th and 12th of the Second of Samuel, 11th of the First of Kings, 8th and 9th of the Acts. While reading the 10th of Joshua,)
The Recorder intimated to the defendant, that he was reading to no purpose, as the paragraph containing Moses, &c. was not in the indictment.
Defendant-The passage was read to me at Guildhall and in this court, and I am determined to justify the passage in every particular.
Here Mr. Raven said, that if the defendant would hand him the Republican, he would mark the passages included in the indictment. He did so, and excluded the accusation against the scripture-worthies; but marked the sentence which, though not immediately following, is so connected with the excluded matter, as to be perfectly nonsensical without it, viz.: "I then told him that if it had been the Bible I had sold he would have been more justified in those means, for a more wicked and blasphemous book was not published."
Defendant-I assert most positively that the excluded part was read to me on both the occasions I have named: and as for this short, but expressive sentence, it was never till now noticed. If the object of my persecutors is to annoy or perplex me, they have failed. There is not one word contained in the Republican which I am not fully prepared to justify.
Now, Gentlemen of the Jury, let me ask you, if after what I have read, you can, as honest men, deny that the Bible-description of Moses, Joshua, &c. is the only means you have of judging of them? And can you deny, that as far as history can decide a man's character, they were a band of the most diabolical villains that ever existed. If the Bible, then, gives to us, the uninitiated, such an
impression of their characters, does it not behove the Reverend Fathers in God of Canterbury, Clogher, &c. to prove to us that the Bible account is untrue, or misunderstood. Were the acts ascribed to Moses, &c. never performed? Are they merely to be considered as typical of the course pursued by Christian Pastors in every age and of every sect? If these reverend gentlemen are in possession of the means of proving the innocence of their predecessors, they act with great injustice in one of two cases. If they can do so, they wrong the memory of their deceased friends; but if, on the other hand, they cannot disprove the scripture account, surely they are the most unreasonable fellows, to persecute us for asserting that black is black. Why do not some of our divines, instead of filling magisterial situations, which would be so much more beneficially filled by laymen; enter the field, and not merely assert, but prove the authenticity of divine revelation? If they can do it, they are manifestly unmindful of their duty. For they cannot surely imagine, that the people will hesitate in choosing between a creed compounded of mystery and contradiction, and works containing sound argument and tangible proof. But no: these reverend divines prefer the chase to the literary arena; and good living and flowing cups, to the "feast of reason and the flow of soul." I do not mean to insinuate that this propensity to good living is universal, or that their neglect of good works is universal. I know more than one divine, who is incessant in the execution of his duty as tutor, on a foundation inferior to none in this great city; and I know also that the same gentlemen would adorn any creed or any nation: but I know also, that their goodness does not arise from their clerical knowledge. No: had they been utterly destitute of knowledge, or even of language, they would have been the same. Had they been born 'midst the desarts of Arabia, they would have been foremost amongst the most hospitable of the Arabians.
Such able refutations have appeared of those passages of the New Testament, falsely called consummations of certain passages of the Old Testament, that it will appear superfluous in the present instance to notice them; but I cannot forbear telling you, that in many cases, the passages which Christians have so ingeniously tortured into prophecies, are merely directions for certain forms and ceremonies; and, indeed, in some cases, are actually histories of past transactions. Now, my Lord and Gentlemen, convincing as are these arguments, and highly as they have conduced to my perfect belief of the falsehood of the Christian religion, still if even these incongruities had not been pointed out and commented on by men of so much ability, as a Paine or a Carlile; if, I say, my Lord, I had never read one syllable of that which has been written by these able men, I should have ample grounds for disputing the authenticity of religion, as by "law established," deduced merely from my own humble observations. We are told that the angels
appeared to the Shepherds, to advise them of the birth of the saviour; yet, Joseph, who was so deeply interested in the miraculous conception of his wife, was allowed to learn the divinity of the child she had conceived, only in a dream; the most fallacious mode of revelation that could by possibility have been resorted to. (Here the defendant read Paine's Essay on dream, pointing out the particular points which bore on the question at issue.) And not merely is it fallacious in itself; for, on another occasion, it did. not very readily convince the dreamer himself. I allude to his conduct in the matter related in Matthew chap. 2, where a second dream was necessary to persuade the same Joseph to obey the command of God. Thus it will appear, that a second dream was necessary to induce Joseph to venture into Galilee, although from the previous history, we should be led, did we give credence to it, to believe that one dream was sufficient to set him at rest on the subject of his wife's chastity! Oh, monstrous! this same Joseph must have been a fellow of an accommodating temper, widely differing from that of the beef-discovering Vials*. It is notorious, that, although men make a great noise about what is called religion, though they outwardly profess great veneration for what are called religious exercises; that they do not in reality comply with the ordinances of their religion, where these ordinances interfere with their propensities or conveniences. The turbaned Turkman performs his required ablutions with exemplary fidelity, simply because the performance constitutes the greatest luxury in a climate so enervating and sultry. But the Koran also prohibits the use of wine, and mark how the cunning fellow complies with the law on this head; he abstains from wine, but renders himself as comfortably intoxicated with opium as ever a four bottle priest could desire to be. But it is not the disciple of Mahomet alone, who evades the real, while he complies with the seeming or partial obligations of his creed. No, Christians also, and in more important points of view, sin against the spirit, while they profess to comply with the letter of the law. For though they read, or hear read, or sleep during the reading of certain portions of scripture and forms of prayer; though in one of the principal of their prayers, they beg forgiveness of their own sins, as they forgive the sins of others; though they professs to believe in the divinity of him, by whom they are commanded to love their enemies---yet they do not scruple to imprison their fellow men for the love of God and the glory of the holy scriptures; though they profess to hope for salvation through the mediation of Christ, who reproved his follower for using his sword in his defence, they yet do not scruple to confine for a series of years, men who have injured neither themselves nor their religion. Out upon such hypocrisy. Were there a God, he would destroy all such hypocrites. My argu
*The Vicar of Twickenham.
ments are not directed exclusively against religion, as in England by law established; I protest against all formal, all revealed religion. It is productive of nothing but an excessive laxity of good actions, and an intolerance of spirit in more than an equal ratio. Nor is it merely in its divine character that I protest against it; but I protest also against the doctrine, that because the Christian religion or any thing else has been once by law established, that therefore all inquiry into its truth or falsehood, its useful or mischievous tendency, shall and ought to be met, not by fair and dispassionate argument, not by impartial comparison and industrious research; but by persecution and imprisonment, from the powers that be, aided by the foul scurrility of the servile part of the press. There is a part of this said press which has not merely abused those, who, from their station in society, have not the means of calling them to account; but they have also assailed with their prostituted pens, every one of the higher order who has stepped forward to advocate the cause of liberty: relying on the protection, not of the law, not of their own talents; but relying securely on their utter insignificance. Yes, my Lord and Gentlemen, we are slandered, and they endeavour to prejudice our juries. Blasphemy and sedition are their war-cries; and the ignorant and bigoted of every sect, respond their yell. But what opinion will you form of their zeal for public morality, when you reflect that in every number they outrage public decency? In the same columns in which they pretend to so much religious zeal, in columns too which they suppose to be laid on the breakfast table of every respectable family, they do not hesitate to insert, for a paltry remuneration, the beastly and disgusting advertisements of a Goss, a Sloane, or an Eady. But to return: would it not stagger the belief of any but an ignorant bigot, were it told, that although the allegations contained in the Bible are true, that although the established church draws an immense revenue, not only from its own adherents, but from that church likewise whence they have seceded, and which they now oppress, that notwithstanding all this, any one who has or says he has proofs of its falsehood, is not advised, is not argued with, is not answered; that the clergy who are so active in defence of small tithes, do not draw the pen in defence of their master, but resort to the abused power of the constituted authorities. Now, my Lord, so far from inquiry injuring religion, it will, if it be true, only tend to its promotion in the minds of the people. But, my Lord, the persons who are persecuted are not the enemies of the church. No, my Lord, she is cherishing within her breast the viper which is gradually but surely working her destruction. Methodism has long aimed at and will finally accomplish the destruction of the church. While we are persecuted and reviled for promoting free and fair discussion; the most inveterate and persevering enemies you have, are caressed. From the pulpit, in their magazines, and in their conversation, they load you with abuse.
Nay, in their prayers to that being whom they profess to worship, they introduce sarcastic and bitter reflections on your laxity; and in their hearts, they most sincerely consign you to the care and keeping of his most sable majesty. One of these hypocrites is an M. P.; and while he is ostensibly employed in the arduous task of legislating for the prevention of Sabbath-mackarel selling, and chin scraping; he is, in point of fact, aiming a deadly blow at your highly-vaunted, state-connected church. Nor is it on these considerations alone that I consider myself justified in opposing religion as by "law established." There are more:
1st. That, excepting the ipse dixit of Judge Hale, I have no proof that it is "a part and parcel of the law of the land."
2d. That inasmuch as no cognizance has been taken of the matter by the ecclesiastical court, I have no proof that it is an offence against the law of the land to question the authenticity of the Christian religion. For, if I have, in questioning its truth, rendered myself amenable to the laws, it is to the ecclesiastical court that the office of determining my offence appertains; and this opinion I am induced to form, from the report of the case of Caubrey, Coke vol. 5.
3d. Because I think that it is the right of every man to question the truth of an history so important as the Bible has become.
Now, Gentlemen of the Jury, as I cannot find any other authority for these persecutions, save the ipse dixit of the bigoted witch-burning Hale, I do not conceive that the court to which the decision of spiritual matters of right belongs-consider that there is any right vested in their hands that warrants an interference. To whom then do we owe these malevolent persecutions-I know but one man whose public acts will warrant me in attributing to him so gross an injustice. It is to that man who, for nearly a quarter of a century, has possessed a power more dangerous than that of the most despotic monarch, and an income infinitely greater than that of the real head of the wisest and most prosperous government in the world, and who has been as lavish in his exercise of the former, as he is notoriously unwilling to part with the latter. It is to this man who has uniformly set his face against every thing tending to the improvement of the mental or bodily condition of mankind. It is to him that we owe the zeal of the persons employed in the present persecutions. I grieve to see, that one testy, bigoted, and unrelenting individual, is allowed thus to render nugatory the liberal policy pursued by one of his coadjutors, whom he mortally detests; yet, on a late occasion did not scruple to employ, as his apologist, in the meeting of the collective wisdom. Why, his own conduct is amply sufficient to prove that he does not believe that which he endeavours to cram vi et armis down the throats of others. For surely he cannot doubt, that, worn out by old age and the spleen, he will shortly return to his mother earth: and can he, after mature deliberation, after looking over the