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tended to throw mortals into darkness, perplexity, a dimidence of themselves, and a continual embarrassment, obliging them to have recourse every moment to those infallible luminaries, their priests, and to remain for ever under the tutelage of the church. Her ministers, we know, claim the exclusive privilege of understanding and explaining the holy scriptures; and no mortal can expect to obtain future felicity, if he does not pay due submission to their decisions.

Thus, it belongs not to the vulgar to examine reli. gion. On mere inspection of the gospel every person must be convinced that the book is divine-that every word contained in it is inspired by the Holy Ghost* and that the explanations, given by the church, of that celestial work, in like manner emanate from the Most High. In the first ages of Christianity, those who embraced the religion of Jesus were only some dregs of the people; consequently, very simple, unacquainted with letters, and disposed to believe all the wonders any one chose to announce. Jesus, in his serions, addressed himself to the vulgar only; he would have intercourse with none but persons of that cast; he constantly refused to work miracles in presence of the most clear-sighted people of the nation; he joyeighed unceasingly against the learned, the doc. tors, and the rich; against all in whom he could not find the pliability necessary for adopting his maxims. We see him continually extolling poorness of spirit, simplicity, and faith*.

* The opinion of most theologists is, that the Holy Ghost has revealed to the sacred writers even the orthography of the words they have employed, yea, even the points and commas, But supposing the reality of this inspiration, still it would not be sufficient; it would be further necessary to guarantee, that all the copyists and monks, during the ages of ignorance, who have transmitted the revealed writings, have committed no faults in transcribing them. A point or a comma, inisplaced, are sufficient, we know, to alter completely the sense of a passage,

His disciples, and after them the ministers of the church, have faithfully followed his footsteps ; they have always represented faith, or blind submission, as, the first of virtues; as the disposition most agreeable to God, and most necessary to salvation. This principle serves for a basis to the Christian religion, and, above all, to the power of the clergy. The pastors, therefore, who succeeded the Apostles, employed the greatest care in secreting the Gospels from the inspection of all who were not initiated in the mysteries of religion. They exhibited these books to those only whose faith they had tried, and whom they found already disposed to regard them as divine. This mysterious spirit has been transmitted down even to our days. In several countries the commonalty among Christians are interdięted from perusing the Scriptures, especially in the Romish communion, whose clergy are best acquainted with the manner of governing mankind. The Council of Trent has decreed, in the most explicit manner, that “it belongs to the church alone to decide on the true meaning of the Scriptures, and give their interpreta, tiont."

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* We find Jesus inculcating faith in all his discourses, and especially in St. Matthew and St. Mark-- - He who hath faith shall remove mountains."--" Ile who shall believe, and is baptized, shall be saved,” &c. Several Christian sects believe, according to these passages, that faith itself, without works, is sufficient for salvation.

+ The Cardinal Pallavicini, in his History of the Council of Trent, (sess. IV.) removes every difficulty, by saying, that "all

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It is true, the reading of the sacred books is per. mitted, and even recommended to the Protestants, who are also enjoined to examine their religion. But fait la must always precede that reading, and follow that ex. amination ; so that before reading, a Protestant is bound to believe the gospel to be divine; and the examination which he makes of it, is allowable only, while he finds there what the ministers of his sect have resolved that he shall find; beyond this, he is regarded as an ungodly man, and often punished for the weakness of his intellects.

We must then conclude, that the salvation of Christians depends neither on the reading nor understanding of the sacred books, but in the firm belief that these books are divine. If, unfortunately, the reading or examination of any person does not coincide with the decisions, interpretations, and commentaries of the church, he is in danger of being ruined, and of incurring eternal damnation. To read the gospel, he must commence with being disposed blindly to believe all which that book contains; to examine the gospel, he must be previously resolved to find nothing there but the holy and the adorable ; in fine, to understand the gospel, he must entertain a fixed persuasion, that our priests can never either be themselves deceived, or wish to deceive others, in the manner they explain it. “ Believe (say they), believe on our words, that this book is the work of God himself; if you dare to doubt it, you shall be damned. Are you unable to comprehend any of what God reveals to you there? Believe evermore :-God has revealed himself that he may not

the faith of Christians is founded only on one single article, nainely, the infallible authority of the church.”

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be understood. The glory of God is to conceal his word ; or rather, by speaking in an unintelligible manner, does not God intimate that he wants every one to refer it to us, to whom he has confided his important secrets ?--A truth, of which you must not doubt, seeing that we persecute in this world, and damn in the other, whoever dares to question the testimony which we bear to ourselves.”

However erroneous this reasoning may appear to the pre fane, it is sufficient for the greater part of believers. Where, therefore, they do not read the gospel, or where they do read it, they do not examine it; where they examine, it is with prejudiced eyes, and with a fixed determination to find there only what shall be conformable to their own prejudices, and the intereste of their guides. In consistency with his fears and prepossessions, a Christian believes himself lost, should he find in the sacred books reason to doubt the vera, eity of his priests.

With such dispositions, it is not surprising to see men persisting in their ignorance, and making a merit of rejecting the lights which reason offers them. It is thus that error is perpetuated, and that nations, in con, cert with those who deceive them, bestow on interested cheats an unbounded confidence in what they re. gard as of the greatest importance to their own felici. ty. But the darkness, which for so many ages has enveloped the human mind, begins to dissipate. In spite of the tyranniccares of their jealous guides, mankind seein desirous to burst from the pupilage, wherein so many causes combine in attempting to retain them. The ignorance in which the priesthood fostered the credulous, has vanished from amongst many nations; the despotism of priests is enfeebled in several flourishing states; science has rendered the mind more liberal; and mankind begin to blush at the ignominious fetters, under which the clergy have so long made both kings and people groan. The human mind indeed seems struggling in every country to break in pieces its chains.

* Proverbs of Solomon, xxv. 2. It is on this odious maxim, 80 dishonourable to the divinity, that all mysteries are founded. What right had St. Justin to reproach the Pagans with the impiety of one of their poets, who had said that the gods, during the greater part of their time, “ amused themselves with de. ceiving men ?"--Is not the whole Bible a continual snare laid for the human understanding ? Is not the whole conduct of Christ, according to the gospel itself, a snare laid for the Jews; so that hearing they might not understand, and seeing they night not believe in the Messiah :")

Having premised this, we proceed to examine, without any prejudice, the life of Jesus Christ. We shall deduce our facts from the gospel only; memorials reverenced and acknowledged by the doctors of the Christian religion. To illustrate these facts, we shall employ the aid of criticism. We shall exhibit, in the simplest manner, the conduct, maxims, and policy of an obscure legislator, who, after his death, acquired a celebrity to which there is no reason for presuming that he pretended while alive. We shall contemplate in its cradle a religion which, at first destined solely for the vilest populace of a nation, the most abject, the most credulous, and the most stupid on earth, became, by little and little, mistress of the Romans; the tirebrand of nations, the absolute sovereign of Euro. pean monarchs ; arbiter of the destiny of kingdoms; the cause of their friendship, and of their hate; the cement which serves to strengthen their alliance or their discord; and the leaven always ready to put

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