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without seeking to probe to the bottom.-Jesus, therefore, wisely contented himself with shewing, that the law was faulty in some places, and that he proposed to perfect it. Such is the language which all reformers employ.

Jesus accordingly expressly declared to the people, that he was not come to destroy, but to fulfil the law : and he also affirmed that, in heaven, ranks would be fixed according to the rigorous observance of all its articles. He insinuated, however, to his audience, that neither they, nor their doctors, understood any of that law which, they believed, they faithfully practised. He undertook therefore to explain it; and as all reformers pretend to puritanical austerity, and to a supernatural and more than human perfection, he went beyond the law. The following is the substance of his marvellous instructions :

“ You have (said he heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill ; and whosoever shall kill shall be punished with death ; but I say unto you, that it is necessary to extend this prohibition and punishment even to wrath, seeing it is wrath which pushes one on to put his fellow-creature to death.You would punish adultery, only when it is committed; but I tell you, that, in this article, desire alone renders one as culpable as fact. You perhaps will answer, that man is not the master of his passions and desires, and that he can hardly resist them; I

you on this ; you have not any power, even on the hairs of

The penances, sacrifices, and expiations, which your priests impose on you, are not capable of

agree with

* It appears that Jesus knew not enough of theology to reconcile free will with divine decrees. This has not been since too well supplied by teaching the odious dogmas of predestips

your head. *

procuring the remission of your sins ; behold, then, the only means of preventing them, or making reparation for them. Has your eye, or any other of your members, solicited you to commit iniquity ? Cut off that member, or pull out that eye, and throw it from you ; for it is more expedient, that one of your members should perish, than the whole body be thrown into hell fire. If Moses, inspired by the Divinity, had known this hell or place destined for your suffering eternal punishment, he would not have failed to menace you with it ; but he was absolutely ignorant of the important dogma of another life : he has therefore spoken only of the present, to which he has limited your misfortunes, or your felicity. Had it not been for this, he would not have neglected to acquaint you with a fact so well calculated to inspire you with fear, and render life insup

tion and effectual calling, which make God the most fanatical and cruel of tyrants, by supposing that he punishes to all eterpity those to whom he refuses the means or the will of saving themselves.

The doctrine of predestination was also a tenet of the Jews. In the writings of Moses a God is exbibited, who in his decrees is partially fond of a chosen people, and unjust to all others. The theology and history of the Greeks represent men as pypished for necessary crimes foretold by oracles. Of this Orestes, Edipus, Ajax, &c. are examples. Mankind have always described God as the most unjust of beings. According to some sects, God bestowshis grace on whom he pleases, without any regard to merit. This is much more conformable to the Christian, Pagan, and Jewish fatalism, than the doctrine of other sects, who say that God grants his grace to all who ask and deserve it. It is certain that Christians in general are true fatalists, They attempt to evade this accusation, by saying that the de. signs of God are mysteries. If so, why do they constantly disor pute about what it is impossible for them to understand?

portable. * You use too freely the permission of divorce ; the least disgust makes you repudiate your

* We are quite surprised at finding, that Moses and the ancient Hebrew writers have no where made mention of the dogma of a future life, which now-a-days forms one of the most important articles of the Christian religion. Solomon speaks of the death of men lay comparing it with that of brutes. See Ecclesiast. Some of the prophets, it is true, have spoken of a place called Cheol, which has been translated Hell (Enfer); yet it is evident, that this word implies merely sepulchre or tomb. They have in like manner translated the Hebrew word Topheth into Hell ; but on examining the term closely, we find that it designates a place of punisbment near Jerusalem, where malefactors were punished, and their carcases burned. It was only after the Babylonish captivity that the Jews knew the dogma of another life, and the resurrection, which they learned of the Persian disciples of Zoroaster. In the time of Jesus that dogma was not even generally received. The Pharisees admitted it, and the Sadducees rejected it. See a work under the title L'Enfer detruit ( Hell Destroyed) in 12mo. London, 1769.

Mahomet perceived, as well as Christian divines, the necessity of frightening mạnkind in order to govern them.

6. Those (say the Alcoran) who do not believe, shall be clothed in a garment of fire ; boiling water shall be poured on their heads ; their skins and their entrails shall be smitten with rods of iron, Whenever they shall strive to escape from hell, and avoid its torments, they shall be again thrust into it, and the devils shall say unto them, taste the pain of burning. Alcoran, c. 8.

On the other hand, the Christian represents bis God as pouring out unbounded vengeance to all eternily. His fanaticism feeds itself with the idea of a hell, where God, transforịned into a ferocious executioner, as unjust as implacable, shall bathe himself. in the tears of his wretched creatures, and perpetuate their existence to render them eternally miserable. There, cloathed with revenge, he shall mock at the torments of sinners, and Jisten with raptures to the groans with which they shall inake the brazen roofs of their prisons resound : not the smallest hope of some distant termination of their pains shall give them an interval even of imaginary relief!

wires ; but I tell

but I tell you, that you ought to repudiate them only, when you have surprized them in adultery. It is too cruel to stone one for this fault ; we ought to have respect for the weakness of the sex.”

Jesus, whose birth, as we have seen, was very equivocal, had particular reasons for wishing that adultery should be treated with more indulgence. Independently of Mary his mother, from whom Joseph was very probably separated, our preacher bad in his train dames, whose conduct had been every thing but irreproachable, anterior to their conversion. * Besides, the indulgence which he preached, must have gained him the hearts of all the ladies in his auditory.

The Messiah continued nearly in these terms :56 God has promised you of old times blessings, pros. perity, and glory; but he has changed bis intention, and revoked these promises ; as you were almost always, and still are, the most unhappy, the most foolish, and most despised people on earth, you ought to suspect, that these pompous promises were mere allegories. You ought, therefore, to have an abject and mortifying morality, conformable to your genius, your situation, and your misery. If it does not procure you welfare in this world, you ought to hope that it will render you more happy in the next. The humiliations you ought to make, are the certain means of attaining one day that glory, which hitherto neither you nor your fathers have ever been able to acquire. When therefore a person shall give you a blow on one cheek,

* Besides Mary Magdalene, who was a noted courtesan, Jesus had in his suite Joanna, wife of Chuza, Hered's steward, who, according to the tradition, robbed and forsook her husband to follow the Messiah, and assist him with her property-St. Luke viii. 3.

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offer instantly the other. Do not go to law-lawyers will ruin you; and besides, the poor are always in the wrong when opposed to the rich. Give to whoever asks of you, and refuse nothing you possess ; it is by relying on the punctual practice of this important precept, that I send iny disciples into the world without money or provisions.”

“ I do not give you any description of paradise - it is sufficient for you to know in gross, that you will be perfectly happy there. But to get there, it is necessary to be more than men-it is necessary to love your enemies ;* render good for evil; preserve no remembrance of the cruellest outrages ; bless the hand that strikes you; and not speak one silly word ; for one only will suffice to precipitate you into hell. Have a pleasant aspect when you fast; but especially

To love our enemies is impossible. A man may abstain from doing evil to the person by whom he is injured; but love is an affection which can only be excited in our hearts by an object which we suppose friendly towards us. Politic nations, who have enacted just and wise laws, have always forbidden individuals to revenge or do justice to themselves. A sentiment of generosity, of greatness of soul, or heroism, may inducc mankind to do good to those from whom they suffer injuries. By such means they exalt themselves above their enemies, and may even change the dispositions of their hearts. Thus, without have ing recourse to a supernatural morality, we feel that it is our interest to stifle the desire of revenge in our hearts. Christians maytherefore cease to boast the forgiveness of injuries, as a precept that could be given only by their God, or which proves the divine origin of their morality. Pythagoras, long before the time of Christ, said, “ Let men revenge themselves on their encmies only by labouring to convert them into friends ;” and Socrates taught, that it was not lawful for a man who had receive od an injury to revenge it by doing another injury."

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