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by submission to absolute power.” Persius and the other heathen poets, made use of the sentiment of the non-immortality of the soul, as an encouragement to give way to whatever lust prompted. " Indulge your inclination,” says Persius,“ let us enjoy plea

span of life that we enjoy is ours; you will soon become ashes, a shade, and a fable." I trust that the presentation of the foregoing view of atheism, will acquit me of having incurred the compliment inflicted on me by my opponent touching the needlessness of religious belief.

The proposition which I would first advance as a proper commencement of our present discussion is, that revelation is neces. sary. And one would suppose that enough had been presented in the preceding remarks, to establish this proposition. Nevertheless, I will give some further evidence on this point. Let me not, however, be misunderstood. I do not say that revelation is indispensable to a belief in God. I do not say that nature does not furnish evidences of his existence, or that those destitute of revelation need be ignorant thereof, or even ignorant of the duties which, under their circumstances, are required of them ; but that they are so.

În support of the latter idea, we have the testimony of the greatest heathen philosophers, even in relation to themselves, together with the histories of ancient heathen nations, and the condition of modern heathen ones, of which we are ourselves witnesses, Varro reckons up two hundred and eighty-eight opinions of philosophers, as to what constitutes the chief good. Many of those philosophers advocated suicide, and some of them committed it. Darkness brooded o’er their views of a future state; their ideas of God and of moral duties were unsettled and various; and while some real virtues were by them discarded as ignoble and debasing, absolute vices were placed on their list of excellencies. So much for the wisest of the heathen. But when we descend to the mass, either ancient or modern, and witness their adoration of gold, silver, wood, stone, reptiles, &c., and see them offering their children to Moloch, and themselves to Juggernaut, and even literally devouring one another like beasts of prey; what reason have we to thank God, that our lot is cast in a land of Bibles !--But we need not search the records of antiquity, or visit foreign clines, to prove the necessity of revelation. Take a case in our very midst--that of sceptics. Discarding the Bible, and professing to follow what they call the unerring light of nature, how widely do they differ in relation to the most obvious and important truths. On the great question of all, the existence of God, they are strangely at odds, one believing therein, another disbelieving, another“ suspending judgment,” &c., &c., &c. One would suppose that sceptics, so far from arguing that reve. lation is unnecessary, would contend for the necessity of more than has already been given. Let this suffice for the opening of our new discussion.




you credit.

June 18, 1831. In all discussions some one must have the last word, and it is quite as fair that you should have it as I: nay, fairer; you having (in my view of the subject) a very hopeless case to make out. I shall therefore trust the argument regarding the existence of a God to the justice and sagacity of our readers, without any aid from a rejoinder which would clog this second part of our discussion with arguments appertaining exclusively to the first.*

There is one argument, however, which belongs equally to the discussion on which we are entering, as to that which we have just closed : I mean the moral influence of religion on mankind. Its importance, too, entitles it to further consideration; particularly as I observe that you disclaim the liberality of sentiment for which your silence had inconsiderately induced me to give

Has revealed religion a moral influence on mankind? This is the question. Let us carefully examine it.

“ It is the fashion of those who patronize an abuse,” says some writer whose name has escaped me, “to ascribe to it all the good which exists in spite of it.” Deeply does it concern us to examine whether this has not been the case with regard to religion.

We find individuals religious and amiable. If I had ever been disposed to doubt this, the recollection of one who watched over me in infancy and guided me in youth, would suffice to remove my scepticism. My own mother, (whose death I learn by the last arrivals from Europe) was a Christian of strictest sect and most conscientious practice: and (I speak from the faithfulness of memory, not from a partial impulse springing out of sorrow for the recent loss of a loved parent) she was the kindest and most affectionate of mothers. But, shall I outrage her memory by the supposition, that in her creed was the only source of her domestic virtue ? that her goodness sprung, not from her heart, but from her theology ? that she cared for her children, cherished her husband, and fulfilled every social duty, because the fear of hell was before her eyes ?

Beautifully has the unworthy sentiment been exposed by an eloquent writer :

* I owe it to myself, to give chapter and verse (as I find them in a very handsome copy of the “Holy Bible," which was presented to me some years ago by an amiable quaker) for the text I quoted, and with which, it seems, you are unacquainted : 2 Esdras, chap. iv., ver. 21. If, as some Christians I believe do, you hold Esdras to be insufficiently canonical, I might furnish you with similar texts enough from which to choose: such as Romans, chap. xi., ver. 34; Jeremiah, chap. xxiii., ver. 18; Job, chap. xi., ver. 7, 8, 9; Ecclesiastes, chap. viii., ver. 16, 17; and a host of others.

6. Let us not mistake causes ! Let us not misconceive of effects! Let us not so wrong the heart of man, as when we see the turbaned follower of Mohammed invoking Allah, while he spreads the carpet for the weary traveller, and shares with him his bread-let us not, I say, so wrong the human heart, as to believe, that but for the written law of his Koran he would shut his door against the houseless, the friendless, and the hungry; or that when he opens it, he obeys not a law nobler and purer than that cried by his priest from the minaret-even that which is entwined and incorporated with his being, and which teaches him to pity in others the want which he feels within himself!"*.

So speaks the generous heart. So would every heart speak, if the lips were not taught to repeat that we are miserable sinners, until all noble self-respect sinks under the ordained repetition.

I put it to yourself, sir. Is there nothing' of virtue or kindli: ness within you that would survive your spiritual creed ? Will you indeed endorse Robert Hall's opinion, that where there is no religious belief there is “nothing around us to awaken tenderness ?” Have you friendship merely by faith ? and do you love at the bidding of theology ? Or again, is it your catechism alone that deters you from joining the drunken revel, that warns you from the brothel, that bids you avoid the gambling table ? Do you abstain from stealing, merely inasmuch as there is a hell? or from murder, only because a Ciud forbids it ?

Who would defend his creed, at expense of a confession so degrading as this ? Or who, if he heard the confession from the lips of his dearest friend, but would shrink in involuntary suspicion from this catechetical virtue ? For myself, I will trust my fortune and my life in the hands of him whose principles and affections I feel to be based on a generous and cultivated heart I will not trust a sixpence of my property or a hair of my head to the man who has no other restraint but an enjoined decalogue!?

Human creeds may say what they please; human feelings are stronger than creeds. Those who have witnessed the stirring representation of Indian character by the talented Forrest, may recollect the spontaneous burst of applause with which the audience ever greets Metamora's noble reply, when tempted by imminent danger, to falseliood : “Metamora CANNOT lie?The heart, even of the dullest, responds to the sentiment, and in

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* Frances Wright's Lectures, p. 114. + Let me not be understood to argue, that a decalogue is not, in indi. vidual cases, an occasional restraint. The fear of hell on believers, as of the birch on schoolboys, has frequently, no doubt, a passing influence : but this is a poor argument in favour either of the old school or the old church discipline. The question is not, whether an abject fear of punishment has some effect; but whether the same, and far more than the same, effect, may not be produced by worthier and more rational means; whether boys may not be instructed without being stripped for a flogging, and men be governed without being threatened with a hell. The gentle and civilized fpirit of modern improvement will soon decide, in both cases, that they can,

stinctively honours the source from whence it springs. How low, how grovelling, compared to this, is the so much vaunted restraint of orthodoxy! How would the generous enthusiasm of the audience have sunk, almost to contempt, had the child of the forest, fresh from some missionary sermon, have expressed it: “Metamora will tell the truth, for fear of hell fire !"

But far am I from resting the case here; far am I from contenting myself with the half-way argument, that the heart is a nobler and firmer basis of morality than the creed, and that the springs of virtue in man lie deeper than his belief. This is but trifling with the question. If revealed religion were useless oniy, its delusions might pass unchallenged by me. If its dreams were but related like other dreams, to kindle an innocuous, if an idle, imagination, it is not I, who would trouble myself about their refutation. But supernatural imaginations have ever been, and now are, far worse than superfluous-mischievous, frightfully mischievous. Unearthly dreams have been related in the thundering voice, and their reception enforced by the iron hand of tyranny. Religion's bitter jarrings have brought, not peace on earth but a sword. Its schisms have drenched the world with innocent blood, and raised to the honour of its God thousands of human hecatombs.

Melancholy and ungrateful is the task, to utter truths like these; and this the rather, because the milder religion of our own times often leaves to its professor virtues and charities, which, because it fails to annihilate them, it obtains the credit of producing. Painful is it to me, rudely to touch one venerated opinion, or startle one honest prejudice. But venerated opinions must be touched, and prejudices must be startled, ere mankind can be induced, freely to prove all things and hold fast that which is good.”

I speak here of revealed religion ; that is, of a belief in supernatural beings, one or many, to whom worship and obedience is rendered ; and not of ethical codes or moral precepts. I speak of religion, distinct from morality. And I pray your attention, sir, and our readers', to a condensed view of a few appalling facts, in illustration of religion's moral influence.*

I speak not of other religions than our own, because I am, in a measure, unacquainted with the details of their history. I know not how many thousands have perished under the wheels of the idol Juggernaut, nor how many millions were put to the sword to establish the religion of Islam. But, thanks to theological research, we do know something positive and definite regarding the history of our own church. .* I invite our readers to peruse with attention “Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History," from which many of the following particulars are drawn an orthodox account of the church history through seventeen hundred years. And what an account! One would think that credulity's self could hardly peruse the enormous catalogue of wars, murders, intrigues, persecutions, and wholesale massacres that are criwded into its five volumes, without turning sceptic.


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Yet even here I am compelled by the limits of this discussion, to curtail my illustrations. I shall not, therefore, run into an enumeration of the thousand and one forms of folly which devotion has assumed; I shall not allude to the countless individual dissensions and national jealousies to which it has given birth; I shall not recall the inhuman tortures which ecclesiastical in. genuity collected within the inquisitorial walls, nor the atrocious cunning with which the holy tribunal nourished human vipers to violate the privacy of families and outrage the confidence of friendship: I pass over all this, and shall speak of one item alone, the actual loss of life in religious persecutions and ecclesiastical wars. What the frightful total might be, may be faintly imagined by glancing at a few items.

Every one has heard of the famous dispute regarding the presence of Christ's body in the eucharist; but we are exceedingly apt to forget, that this transubstantiation controversy, which raged at intervals throughout Christendom for centuries, cost, according to the lowest computation, the lives of three hundred thousand human beings.

In like manner the quarrel of the econoclasts and econolaters, or in other words, the image-worship controversy (which by the way, produced a bloody civil war in the islands of the Archipelago, under Leo IV.; and was the cause, under the Roman pontiffs Gregory I. and II., that the Italian provinces were torn from the Grecian empire,) cost, as ecclesiastical historians calculate, fifty thousand lives.

Theodora, widow of Theophilus, was induced (it is said by her confessor,) to institute in the third year of her regency, a furious persecution against the sect of the Manicheans : and of these there are estimated thus to have fallen in Greece, about the year 845, upwards of one hundred thousand persons.

The famous schism which preceded the burning of John Huss and Jerome of Prague, and the subsequent war of the Hussites, are estimated to have cost one hundred and fifty thousand lives.

The lowest computation I have ever seen places the number of lives sacrificed by the holy inquisition throughout Europe, from the time of its first establishment by Innocent III., in Narbonne Gaul, at two hundred thousand souls.

The religious war of Japan, caused by the Jesuits in the seventeenth century, cost, so history informs us, from three to four hundred thousand lives.

Yet it is atheism, not revelation---so Robert Hall tells us on authority which we shail examine by and bye—that is “an inhuman, bloody, and ferocious system !"

But even these frightful massacres sink into insignificance before others still more apalling. What the loss of lives was during the “world's debate,” as Gibbon calls the Crusades, it is impossible to estimate. There were seven distinct expeditions. When the first of these was announced, six millions of

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