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ever credulous and tricked Christians! I would ask Mr. Sumner to give me an authenticated case of a single Jew convert witbin the first three hundred years. I know that subsequent persecutions, the Inquisition for instance, bave made many Jews prefer the Baptism and the name of Christian, to torture and premature death; whilst others have re- '; sisted all menace, and bave died as stedfast as any Christian Martyrs; but this wil not now bear to be called conversion.
The very name of this Jesus Christ is enough to settle the question of its being a mere fable or allegory.
Jesus signifies Messiah or Saviour; and Christ signifies annointed, or the adopted as a leader, or wbo bas approved bimself as a liberator or saviour to a people : so that, in fact, the word Christ is but a mere repetition of the word Jesus, It may be correctly translated from the original as SaviourSaviour, or in modern phrase as General-General. The word Christ is wholly Greek, and is of itself, a proof, that the scheme of Christianity was not begun by Jews. Christ being a Greek word, its derivations Christian and Christianity must be the same; and we have the confession, in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, written by a Greek, and dedicated or addressed to Tbeophilus, the Greek Bishop of Antioch, about the middle of the second century, that the new sect received the denomination of Christians in Antioch. When Cicero travelled in Greece, he found inscriptions on monuments to many different Christs*.
This book, the Acts of the Apostles, forms another proof, that Christianity did not begin as soon as is now pretended. Taking the assertion, that it began before the year 40, we have evidence, that these Acts of the Apostles were not written until more than a huudred years after that time.
That evidence consists in the fact of its being addressed to Theopbilus, whom Lardner allows not to have been Bishop of Antioch ill after the middle of the second century. Considering the want of public records among a new sect of that kind, this circumstance affords a proof, that these pretended Acts of the Apostles are at best pothing more than a tradition, and, at least, more like fable, than any thing else.
A similar circumstance is educed from the consideration, that the writer of the Acts of the Apostles is the writer of the third, or Luke's Gospel, and that this Greek is the only
* A simname which the Jews would not have given to Jesus or to their Messiah.
one that gives us any date as to the birth and parentage of Jesus. For the two first chapters of Matthew's Gospel are proved by the Unitarians to be a spurious interpolation upon the original. Here then we have a proof, that out of all the existing Christian writings, the only one that gives any date to the birth of Jesus Christ, is this one wbich was evidently written at Antioch, a Greek City, about the middle of the second century: or more than one hundred years after the dates of the matters it relates, It was in the neighbourbood of this same Greek City, that Pliny first found the sect of Christians, in the early part of the second century. Coupling this circumstance with the fact, that Luke, writing some thirty or forty year's after, says, at the commencement of his Gospel, that he has “bad a perfect understanding of all things (concerning Christianity) from the first," I find all the proof, that my mind requires, that Christianity began with the second instead of the first century, and that Antioch, not Jerusalem, was the seat of its birth; that it is of Grecian, and not of Jewish origin. The septuagint translation of the Jewish Scriptures clearly accounts for the acquaintance of the Grecians with them.
Why was it dated at Jerusalem, it may be asked. Because, Jerusalem and Judea had just been so desolated by the Romans, as to leave no chance of authentic contradiction. No person about to impose a fable upon his neighbours would lay the scene of his plot on the spot on which they lived, as every one would be able to contradict him; but if laid a hundred miles off, in a foreign country desolated by war, so destructive as were the wars of Asia, and a hundred years after date, there was not the least fear of contradiction ; for who, among such an ignorant rabble, as first embraced Christianity, should contradict? The existence of Jesus never seems to have been disputed, by what we read in Origen Contra Celsus, and even the Jews scattered in the Roman Provinces, as appears by their Toldoth Jesu, or the Gospel of the Jews, never doubted the existence of a man, whose chief merit was made to consist in baving passed the most low of lives as a beggar, and the most igpominious of deaths as a malefactor pailed to the cross. These degradations, so common in that day, were not matters to be questioned; but ignorant and superstitious as were the people of that day, the pretended miracles, and Godhead, and Resurrection, of Jesus, were treated with the most ineffable contempt, by all but the mere dregs of the populace,
for near two centuries at least, for one century after their actual propagation.
There is another piece of internal evidence against Cbristianity to be found at the conclusion of the Epistle to the Romans, verses 25 and 26, as follows: “Now to bim that is of power to establish you according to my gospel*, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever, Amen."
I will couple with these verses the 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 of the 1st Chapter of the Epistle to the Galatians: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another Gospel: wbich is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that wbich we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye bave received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men ? for if I yet be pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after map. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Cbrist.”
Here is a statement that is wholly destructive of Christianity as now preached ! Here is an assertion by the chief of the Apostles, that, in his time, there was no written Gospel, and that if any should be written, the writer ought to be accursed! It is evident, that this Paul did not preach from a written Gospel, for, he says, that, " the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man; for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We are elsew bere told, and it is no where contradicted, that this Paul was not the first promulgator of Chris. tianity, not one of the pretended disciples of Jesus Christ, not a witness of his pretended life and actions. Here tben, we can well play off Paul against Peter. Paut rejects all that Peter or any other apostle preached of Jesus Christ! He would not warrant a word of it, and heaps curses on all
* Where is that Gospel? What is it?
who have a Gospel other than his and all who receive any other. Here is a dilemma for the conscientious Christian, and I do hope and believe there are, ignorantly, such.
This Epistle of Paul to the Galatians was not written immediately after his conversion, but we may see by dates in the first and second chapter, that it was full seventeen years after that alleged conversion : and for aught that appears to the contrary, it might have been twice seventeen years. Here is Paul after having preached upwards of seventeen years ignorant of any written Gospel; or if ignorant cursing them! Here is Paul declaring, that he knows notbing true of Jesus Christ, but that whicb Jesus Christ bas revealed to him whom he never saw! Here is Paul declaring, at the conclusion of his Epistle to the Romans, that his revelation has been a mystery kept secret since the world began, and now first preached by him! This is a robbing of Peter to pay Paul with a vengeance !
But whai mystery was it kept secret since the world began ? This has some meaning! We read of the Esoteric Doctrines of the Egyptian Priests; we read of the Eleusipian mysteries; we read of the Bachanal Orgies, and of the mysteries of almost every kind of religion, and though St. Paul here declares, that he reveals all these mysteries, our modero Priests have invented a new batch for us, and would persude us that they are something super-buman ! No! no! they are not super-human, I will reveal, I will humanize all these mysteries! I will beat St. Paul, even St. Jobn at revelation! You, Mr. Wollaston, will find this letter no very contemptible revelation; and I beg of you to reveal it to Dr. England and to the Bishop of London! I do not wish to give you a further opportunity to report to Mr. Peel ibat I seek to corrupt all your prisoners; but pray, reveal this letter to the Goaler and report it to Mr. Peel. I pray, I petition, you to do so.
I was some time back visited by a Mr. Trelevan, lately established in Dorchester as a Unitarian Preacher, and since that in Lynn, Norfolk. He has been both an able and a popular preacher in that sect; but, I believe, bas the misfortune for himself to have ruined his health by intoxicating liquors. In the course of conversation, and bearing me frankly avow my ignorance of God, of Jesus Christ, of the Holy Ghost, and of all such nonsense, he observed, that be had been certainly a preacher of Jesus Christ and Christianity; but that he believed in no other Christianity than that which was as old as the creation ; explaining it to be a sum
mary of moral duties. I told him, that I was a Christian of that kind, but that I had evidence against the existence of such a person as Jesus Christ. To my great astonishment, be answered with a great deal of Emphasis: “SIR! THERE IS INTERNAL EVIDENCE, IN THE EPISTLES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, THAT NO SUCH PERSON AS JESUS CHRIST EVER EXISTED!" I confessed, that I bad not detected it, nor did be explain ; but I now think, that I have detected it and reveal it to you, Mr. Wollaston. Mr. Treleven further assured me, tbat all the intelligent Unitarians are precisely of my opinions; and confessed wbat I have asserted and do still hold; that their pretended Christianity is a mere cloak against the penal laws for, what is ignorantly and vulgarly complained of as, blasphemy.
That is sermon enough about Jesus Christ, and Christianity, to prove the correctness of my text; so I will conclude with a few general observations on Mr. Sumner's book; first thanking you for giving me so good an excuse to address to you this letter.
The title of this book is the “Evidence of Christianity, derived from its nature and reception.”
As to its nature, I would observe, that though a new version of an old fable, it has nothing original, but is a mere copy from the fable of Prometheus crucified ; and if the memory of my school hours be correct, I rather think, that Ovid describes a sort of anniversary of the death of Bacchus, in a strain as nearly Christian, as any two versions of the same tale can be expected to be. Prometheus, Hercules, Bacchus, Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Osiris, Apollo, Tbamuz, Chreesbna and Jesus Christ, with fifty otber names, are but so many astronomical names of our solar planet, and the motions of the earth in relation to it, with their effects, allegorically personified. Different nations have worshipped the sun under different names, and with different mysteries, rites and ceremonies, verifying wbat St. Paul says in the conclusion of his Epistle to the Romans, that it has been a matter kept secret since the world began, which he to establish a new sect, pretends to reveal, and only pretends.
It is matter altogether rational, to suppose, that illiterate races of mankind should worship the sun, as the first and most powerful object that operated upon their senses; from which they evidently derived their being and their sustenance. It is rational, to suppose, that they should lament his apparent motions, and occasional absence from their view, and