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reasonable prospect of being consigned to the company of the Newgate beetles, for some five or six and thirty moons yet no title in the gift of the proud sovereign of these realms is more eagerly sought, than a situation of so honourable a nature; thus much for others: for myself I shall feel obliged to the reporter to the forementioned Journal, if present, to be particular in his report, that he does not accuse me as he has done one person, who deserves it no more than myself, of ignorance of the contents of my papers. For though I am not an editor of a “leading Journal, I would not be thought a perfect dunce. I shall only remark that whether
defence is calculated to serve or to prejudice me, it is my own composition, and I beg that the reporter of the leading Journal will observe that I am not “ bothered,” (1 quote his own language) by the hard words: thus much for the leading journalof the day.
Í shall now, Gentlemen of the Jury, 'proceed to defend myself against the accusation of George Maule, Esq. I am indicted for having published a false, malicious, and scandalous libel, tending to bring into contempt the Christian religion as by law established. Now, Gentlemen of the Jury, I contend, that the publication in question is not calculated to bring into contempt the Christian religion as by law established-neither Moses nor Joshua were divine. The Mosaic law, yourselves have abolished, you
have substituted the less severe, but not less ridiculous law of faith for that of works. I contend farther, my Lord, that your religion has been established by power, not by general consent. Protestantism is the offspring of an adulterous monarch, established by persecution, and perpetuated by ignorance and prejudice. I am aware that in arguing against Protestantism I have to contend against prejudices deeply rooted and industriously cultivated. But I have a duty to perform which neither the frowns of a Judge nor the sneer of an advocate, shall induce me to neglect. intention to enter so deeply into the theological merits of the case, as has been done by some of those who have preceded me in defending their priuciples; because I have not so much ability as those persons, neither do I conceive, that by so doing, I should materially serve either myself or the cause in which I have embarked, and with which I will stand or fall.
Under this impression, I shall, in a great measure, confine myself to a justification of the particular passages set forth in the indictment, and a defence of my right to sell any book I please. And first, Gentlemen of the Jury, you will observe by the witness's own confession, that with the Republican he purchased the current number of the “Moralist,” a work, which, unlike the Bible, may be read by any father to his family, by any brother to his sister, not in part, not requiring perverted explanations; but, may be read wholly to youth of either sex, and he must be possessed of a miraculously thick head, or perverted and contemptible heart, who, in reading the “Moralist" to another,
It is not my
does not increase his own happiness and enlarge his understanding. You have been told, and correctly so, that I sold the Republican for the 21st of May. That number contains a letter from Mr. John Clarke to the Editor of the Republican, giving an account of the proceedings at Guildhall during his examination, and an extract read from the work for publishing which he was then in custody. Now, I contend, that I or any other man have an undoubted right to publish an authentic account of the proceedings of a court of justice, or of a police office. It has been laid down as law, in many cases, and acted upon in the case of Wedderburn; that reading, or speaking, is sufficient to constitute publication. Therefore, the magistrate having read and commented upon the passage in question, surely Mr. Clark had a right to let his friends and the public know the particular words that were deemed offensive by so profound a judge, as George Maule, Esq. I cannot but feel that I had a right to act as I have done; and though my foes, and the foes to all that tends to enlighten man, may for a time so far triumph as to succeed in casting me into prison-I shall even in a dungeon's gloom have the cheering knowledge, that the act which caused my imprisonment was honourable in itself; and caused by the previous tyranny of those who should protect, not oppress the subject. But though I am conscious that in the sale of that work I was actuated by the best motives, consequently do not deny that I published it, yet as my Christian persecutors have thought fit to charge the work as blasphemous, false, and malicious, I not only confess that I published the work, but I deny that it is false and malicious—I assert that it is true in every respectI undertake to prove it true and I defy the chicanery of the bar to disprove my assertions, and the frowns of the Bench to daunt me in my course. I cannot perceive how persons such as Moses, Joshua, and Co., can be coupled with the safety or danger of the Christian religion. The law of Moses, you assert, as superseded by that of your alleged saviour, and the character of Joshua, if he ever existed, has been egregiously mistaken, or shamefully misrepresented. Joshua, the chosen successor of the man who had seen God face to face-Joshua, the friend of Moses, is made in the 10th chapter of the book of Joshua
“Sun stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou moon in the valley of Ajalon.” This circumstance might have been believed in the absence of astronomical knowledge, but how does it read now that the earth is known to revolve round the sun? I should not have troubled you with the slightest hint of my opinions on religious matters, but as the Protestant religion is asserted to be part and parcel of the law of the land; and as on that point, rests whether it is, oris not, lawful to question the truth of that religion, I feel compelled to lay the case before you in all its bearings. It was on a former trial asserted by the then Attorney General—that, ss to say religion was a cheat, was not an offence merely against religion but against law also,” and this he asserted on the authority of Sir Matthew Hale. Now admitting that this were indeed correct, admitting that it was illegal to avow our disbelief of a religion whose claim to authenticity rests wholly on the truth or falsehood of certain relations, which are clearly proved to be collectively false, and which are also inconsistent and contradictory in their details: even admitting this to be correct, you will manifestly convict yourselves of sedition and blasphemy, and of having substituted forms and dogmas, agreeable to human wishes and your own views, for a religion whose primitive forms were totally at variance with those which you have established by the strong arm of power. But, my Lord, 'ere we take the ipse dixit of a Judge in a matter of so much importance, it behoves us to inquire whether his decisions were usually reasonable and just. And I think, Gentlemen of the Jury, you will allow that Judge Hale was both unwise and unjust; when I inform you, that this legal mainstay of all unjust and impolitic persecution for matters of opinion, was so brutally ignorant as to believe in the existence of, and to burn two old women for the practice of that nondescript crime, witchcraft!!! Yes, Gentlemen of the Jury, it is now laughed at, but was then punished, but a few more years and the authors of these persecutions will be viewed in a much more contemptible light than we now view witchcraft, inasmuch as the bigots of the present day are not ignorant. They know we are right, but they are interested in opposing truth. As to the common law of the land, it had no connection with a state religion. The religion of this country was, I believe, druidical, at any rate it was not protestantism. As for that imposture, that encroachment on our liberties, the common law, or at least that part of it which is composed of the decisions of judges as equally fallible with other men; I have no hesitation in saying, that he who delivers it to you without modification, and without allowance, for the difference existing between the present and the former times, is guilty of gross abuse of his authority, and a violation of his oath! You may perhaps not be aware that till within a very few years past, any person denying the divinity of Christ was liable to punishment? It was so, but in the present day of cant and sophistry, a man under the name of Unitarian, may deny the divinity of Christ, while a Materialist (I glory in the title) is liable to be imprisoned for such time, as to a mild, unprejudiced, and church-frequenting Judge may seem fit? And yet I cannot but think that the Materialist is the more candid, inasmuch, as he asserts what the Unitarian insinuates, for it must be quite evident to any sensible man, that to say that Christ was not divine, is tantamount to saying that he was an impostor, and though his intentions might be good in the first instance, still he was an impostor. Although in the progress of my Defence I shall touch upon matters apparently foreign to the case, still I beg, Gentlemen of the Jury, that you will listen attentively, inas
much, as I design to shew, that my Christian persecutors have not only over-stepped their authority on the one hand, but neglected it on the other. The creed of St. Athanasius is still preserved in your ritual, yet even your own divines impugn its authenticity, nor can one of them, however highly talented, or however zealous in the cause of an institution to which they owe every thing; explain that creed. You call on all to receive the Protestant religion as true: you ought, therefore, to strip it of all mystery, and make it so intelligible to the lowest capacity, that, to use your own words, “ he who runs may read.” But such is not the case, for there are some very important articles of your faith, to which not even your own divines, can agree in assigning the same meaning. I think it right, at this period, to intimate to your Lordship, that I do not wish to enter upon a course of defence likely to subject me to interruption; but, my Lord, as I am about to comment upon certain articles of your faith, I wish to point out to your Lordship, that, as the Christian religion has been lauded with all the bombast of hired eloquence, that as the “ beautiful structure,” as it has been called, is pronounced so perfect in all its parts, that but to question it, is “ misdemeanour of the blackest dye;" it is at once my duty and my right to shew that I have not falsely aspersed it. I make this observation, because former defendants having been interrupted vexatiously, I wish to advise the court, that so long as my defence o'ersteps not the modesty of nature, brute force alone shall cause me to desist. And first let us look at the first article of the thirty-nine of your faith. We must believe, that there is one God of infinite power, though without body, parts, or passions; and that this one God without body, contains three persons in the same substance. Substance is body, and we in the first of the thirty-nine articles are called on to believe in a God, with and without body, and that three distinct persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are one God without body. Now we must believe these contradictions and say that such physical as well as moral impossibilities are consistent with truth. We must also believe, that the second part of this God, without parts, was separated from the joint stock company of the Godhead, or the one substance, and that a divided part of an indivisible Trinity, was made man, by passing through a natural process for that purpose, and was both God and man at the same time; that this immortal God was crucified by his own consent, and that he died and was buried, for no other purpose than to reconcile himself to himself, and to be a sacrifice for us to appease himself:
And we must believe that God, without body, parts, or passions, took a fourth part to itself, or added manhood to the Godhead by taking flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to man's nature, still remaining one and indivisible; also, that one part of a bodiless, partless God went down to hell, a fictitious place of torment now proved to have no existence, another part into paradise, a place
of rest, along with a criminal executed with him. Astronomy has annihilated 'the heavens by teaching us, that the immensity of of space is occupied by planets similar to our own.
We are required to believe both the Old and the New Testament, and yet different persons interpret the same passages
in a different sense; sometimes not merely differently, but diametrically opposite. The first artiele requires us to believe, that there is but one God without body, parts, or passions, while the Old Testament uniformly represents the God of the Jews with body, parts, and passions, and constantly located either in their ark of Shittim wood, their tabernacle, or their temple. We must believe, that the Old Testament is not contrary to the New; that the Old as well as the New holds out the way to everlasting happiness. But we cannot find any reference to any such promises, without perverting the true and obvious meaning of the words. We must believe that we can do nothing by our works towards our salvation from that place of torment called hell; and at the same time we are to believe, that every thing depends upon ourselves. One sect argues that infant baptism, by sprinkling, is sufficient; another asserts, that the immersion of adults, as a baptism, is essential to salvation. One argues, that man can work out his own salvation; another that every thing is predestinated, and all that man can do is vain, One sect holds that Christ was part of the Godhead, another that he was nothing more than a prophet of the highest order, and the natural son of Joseph the carpenter. One sect believes the miracles he is said to have wrought; another, believes them not. The belief that Jesus's blood was shed as an atonement for the sins of his followers, is an encouragement to all kinds of vice. Believing that he died to save them from the unrelenting vengeance of his vindictive father, they may commit any crime satisfied with this belief, that a little repentance will save the murderer, or the most hardened and tyrannical villain. And not merely save from punishment, but serve as a passport to conduct and entitle him to eternal happiness and felicity. But if God's infinite justice was to be satisfied by the death of his son and by that alone, for the apple-eating sin of man, how is his infinite justice to be satisfied by the murder of his only son? Will not the murder of his innocent son require another sacrifice to his infinite justice? Must not the Holy Ghost next be sacrificed to satisfy infinite justice? And the Holy Ghost having suffered, who else must suffer to satisfy infinite justice for the murder of the Holy Ghost? Surely he must next sacrifice infinite justice which is himself; and then we may expect to have peace on earth, as mankind will be left to manage their own affairs without the interference of a capricious God, whose love is always manifested by cruelty and savage behaviour. Now, my Lord and Gentlemen of the Jury, even from this rapid and imperfect shetch, can you not see that exposition, not persecution, will best serve to establish and