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THE CHRISTIAN MYTHOLOGY.
GOD, by an inconceivable act of his omnipotence, created the universe out of nothing *. He made the earth for the residence of man, whom he created in his own image. Scarcely had this man, the prime object of the labours of the Almighty, seen the light, when his Creator set a snare for him, into which God undoubtedly knew that he must fall. A serpent which speaks, seduces a woman, who is no way surprised at this phenomenon. Being persuaded by the serpent, she solicits her husband to eat of a fruit forbidden by God himself. Adam, the father of the human race, by this light fault draws upon himself and his innocent posterity innumerable evils, which are followed but not terminated by death. By the offence of only one man the whole human race incurs the wrath of God; and they are at length punished for involuntary faults with an universal deluge. God repents having peopled the earth, and he finds it easier to
• Ex nibilo nihil fit, was considered as an axiom by ancient philosophers. The creation, as admitted by Christians of the present day, 1.6. the eduction of all things from nothing, is a theological invention not ndeed of very remote date. 'The word Barab, which is used in Ge. seris, signifies to compose, arrange, to dispose matter already existing.
drown and destroy the human race, than to change their hearts.
A small number of the just, however, escaped this destructive flood; but the delugel earth and the destruction of mankind, did not satiate the implacable vengeance of their Creator: a new generation appeared. These, though descended from the friends of God whom he had preserved in the general shipwreck of the world, incense him by new crimes. The Almighty is represented as having been incapable of rendering his creatures such as he desired them : a new torrent of corruption carries away mankind, and wrathi is again excited in the bosom of Jehovah!
Partial in his affections and preferences, God at length casts his eyes on an idolatrous Assyrian *. He enters into an alliance with this man, and covenants that his posterity shall be multiplied to the number of the stars of Heaven, or the sands of the sea, and that they shall for ever enjoy the favour of God. To this chosen race he reveals his will : for them, regardless of his justice, he destroys whole nations. Nevertheless this favoured race is not the more happy, or more attached to their God. They fly to strange gods, from whom they seek succours which are denied to them by their own. They frequently insult the God who is able to exterminate them. Sometimes he punishes, sometimes consoles them; at one period be hates them without a cause; and at another he caresses them with as little reason. At last, Ando ing it impossible to reclaim this perverse people, for whom he continues to feel the warmest tenderness,
* The Arabians believe that Abraham, soon after he was born, was hid by his father in a certain cave under a mountain, for fear of the Chaldeans, who sought to lay hands on him, because the astrologers had foretold that he would prove the destruction of their gods. In process of time, Abraham, when he was grown to years of maturity, one evening came out of the cave, and began with grcat admiration to contemplate the Heavens, with their innumerable stars, and, by chance, seeing the planet Venus arise, which greatly exceed the rest in beauty and brightness, he said, “ This is my God and my Creator.' But a little after, when the moon appeared, he changed his opinion, and said, “ This is my God and my Creator.” At length when the sun arost,
being astonished, he cried out, “ This is really my God and my Creator, than whom nothing can be imagined more splendid, lofty or beautiful.' But when he had spoken these words, the angel Gabriel appeared and stood before him, and taught him the true God and the true religion. Abr. Ecc. Hist. Arab, c. vi.
he sends amongst them his own son. To this son they will not listen. What do I say ?--this beloved son, equal to God his father, is put to an ignominious death by his favourite nation! His father at the same time finds it impossible to save the human race without the sacrifice of his own son.
Thus an innocent God becomes the victim of a just God, by whom he is beloved : both consent to this strange sacrifice, judged necessary by a God who knows that it will be useless to an hardened nation which nothing can reclaim.
We should expect that the death of this God, being 118€ less to Israel, must serve at least to expiate the sins of the rest of the human race. Notwithstanding the eternal alliance with the Hebrews, solemnly sworn to by the Most. High, and so many times renewed, that favourite nation find themselves at last deserted by their God who could not. reduce them to obedience. The merits of the sufferings and death of his son, are applied to the nations before excluded from his bounty. These are recovciled to Heaven, now become more just in regard to them, and return to grace. Yet in spite of all the efforts of God, his favours are lavished in vain : mankind continue to sin, to eukindle the divine wrath, and to render themselves worthy of the eternal punishment previously prepared and destined for the greater part of the human race.
Such is the faithful history of the God on whom the foundation of the Cliristian religion is lail. His conduct being so strange, cruel, and opposite to all reason, is it surprising to see the worshippers of this God ignorant of their duties, destitute of humanity and justice, and striving to assimilate themselves to the model of that barbarous din vinity which they adore? What indulgenc have mankind a right to expect from a God who spared not even his own
What indulgence can the Christian who believes this fable shew to his fellow man? Ought he not to imagine that the surest means of pleasing his God, is to imitate his ferosity and cruelty ?
But this God is not always unjust and cruel; his conduct varies. Sometimes he appears to have created all nature for man alone : at others he seems to have created man only as an object whereon to exercise his arbitrary rage. Sometimes they are cherished by him, notwithstanding all their faults : at others the whole species is condemned to eternal misery for an apple.- This unchangeable God is alternately agi. tated by anger and love, revenge and pity, benevolence and fury. His conduct is continually destitute of that uni. formity which characterises wisdom. Partial in his affections, he makes it the duty of his favourite people deliberately to commit the most atrocious crimes. He commands them to violate good faith and contemn the rights of nations : he enjoins upon them the commission of robbery and murder. On other occasions we see him forbidding the same crimes, ordaining justice, and prescribing to mankind ab. stinence from whatever disturbs the good order of society. This God, who in turn is styled the God of Vengeance, the God of Mercies, the God of Arms, and the God of Peace, is constantly at variance with himself. His subjects are consequently, each for himself, at liberty to imitate that part of his conduct which he finds most congenial to his humour. Hence their morality becomes arbitrary, which renders it no way surprising that they have never yet been able to agree among themselves, whether it would be most pleasing to their God to tolerate the various opinions of mankind, or to exterminate all who differ from themselves ? It is in fact a problem with most Christians, whether it would be more expedient to persecute and assassinate those who think not as they do, or to treat them with humanity and suffer them to live in peace?
Christianity Unveiled, by Boulanger, Chap. ir.
Were we to believe Christians, there could have been nó true morality on earth until the coming of the founder of their sect. They represent the world as having been plunged in darkness and vice at all times and places where Christ was unknown. Yet morality was always necessary to mankind; for, without it, no society can exist. We find, that before the time of Christ, there were flourishing and virtuous nations, and enlightened philosophers, who continually reminded mankind of their duties. The precepts of Socrates, Confucius, and the Gymnosophists of India, are by no means inferior to those of the Messiah of the Christians *. We find amongst heathens, innumerable instances of equity, humanity, temperance, disinterested. ness, patience, and meekness, which flatly contradict the pretensions of the Christians, and prove that, before Christ
* The purest part of the system of morals taught in the New Testament, and which is so much boasted of by Christians, appears to be nothing more than a literal copy of the Morals of Confucius, who wrote near 600 years before the birth of Christ. This will appear evident from the following extracts :
“ Do to another what you would they should do unto you; and do not unto another what you would should not be done unto you : thoù only needest this law alone; it is the foundation and principle of all the rest.” 24th Moral.
“Desire not the death of thine enemy; thou wouldst desire it in vain : his life is in the hands of Heaven.” sist Moral.
“ Acknowledge thy benefits by the return of other benefits, but never revenge injuries.” 53rd Moral.
“ We may have an aversion for an enemy without desiring revenge. The motions of nature are not always criminal.” 63rd Moral
Confucius instructed as well by his example as by his precepts; and it would be well if his morals were taught in all the schools and colo , leges of Europe, instead of those christian creeds and dogmas which the student can never comprchend.