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« Cruel tortures (says Mr. Mallet) were considered by the Scandinavians, as awaiting those who despised the precepts of morality, and joys without number, and without end, were prepared for every man that was religious, just, and valiant.” To the Edda we are again referred, and from that book I must confess it would appear that, in some respects, there is much foundation for the assertion. The “religious," and the “just,” indeed, we find most shamefully neglected, no mention at all being made of them-a future state of bliss being confined to the 6 valiant” alone; for none but “ the Monoheroes, or those whose blood had been shed in battle, might aspire to the pleasures which Odin prepared for theru in Valhalla."'* _ There
" In Odin's field
Cottle's Edda, p. 18. From another passage of the Edda we discover, that Sæhrimner is the name of a wild boar, which (says the poem)
always suffices to sustain the gods, be they ever so numerous, as, though dressed every morning, it becomes entire again every night.” But though thus confined in their diet to one sort of meat, the cellar appears to afford a greater variety-not only are there “ a great many virgins, whose sole business it is to pour out beer and ale for the heroes,” but they have also a “ remarkable she-goat, who, instead of milk, produces hydromel, or mead, in such abundance, that it every day compleatly fills a pitcher large enough to inebriate all the heroes. Truly'! (exclaims one of the by-standers in the poem) this is a very useful and very surprizing she-goat !” +
With such enlightened notions as to the Deity, and such rational expectations as to the enjoyments of a future state of existence, already diffused over the earth, your readers will decide, in the first place, whether a revelation was, or was not, superfluous and unnecessary; and, in the second, whether Jesus did, or did not, borrow his ideas and doctrines on the subject, from the pious and enlightened inhabitants of “ Iceland, Scandinavia, and Scythia ;" for my own part, 1 am ashamed to have taken up so many of your pages, in discussa
* Cottle's Notes.' + The fable “ On the Food of the Gods."-Mallet's Edda.
ing so trifling and ridiculous a subject; but as the most abgurd and unfounded assertions become dangerous, unless they are immediately, by an exposition of facts, and an examination of arguments, exposed and confuted, you may, perhaps, see reason for inserting this in your magazine. Should you do 80, and nothing of more importance intervene in the mean time, I may probably, at some future period, attempt to establish the following points, in contradiction to, I must say, in some instances, the borrowed assertions, and in others the original misrepresentations, of your correspondent “ the Deist." First, that Tacitus no where says the ancient Germans worshipped one supreme God, that writer asserting in express terms the direct contrary; secondly, that we do not learn, from unquestionable authority, that the temples of an. cient Egypt were without idols; thirdly, that is absurd to speak of the religious institutions of Greece, before the time of Cecrops; and fourthly, that all these points, certainly the two latter of them, have nothing to do with the question under consideration. In the mean time, I remain, your's, &c. Paddington, July, 1812.
ON PULPIT PREACHING.
To the Editor of the Freethinking Christians Magazine,
I , ,
prefer seeing your pages filled with communications more interesting, “ more argumentative, and less doubtful,” than those of Juvenis, but I am induced, by way of correcting mistakes, once more to intrude on your patience, and the indulgence of
The weakness of a cause is not always ascertained by the weakness of its supporter. The most serious concerns and even the records of divine communication, are not unfrequently made the plaything of wit and ridicule (see page 305); and that my attempt to vindicate the propriety of Pulpit Preaching should give “ ample room” for wits to display. their talents for ridicule, is not more surprising to me than Timotheus's introductory flourish is vain and trifling. His witticisms will have no more weight in my mind than his insinuations of my unwillingness to submit to correction, and my inclination to compromise the difference between truth and falsehood.”
It was an error of the press, I believe, Sir, and not my language (unless by mistake in the hurry of writing) that furnished Timotheus with the opportunity of introducing his Hibernian friend to the peaceful cottage of the son of gavelkiud.
Stability” should have been “ suitability” (which may be a home-made term); and I trust therefore Timotheus will not blame me, if I remonstrate with his dear Dublin friend, should be visit me, that such means were not suited to express his respect.
Timotheus, in stating " the incongruity that seems to reign between the preacher and his practice," has expressed his meaning too obscurely. I trust he does not mean to say that I declare Pulpit Preaching to be anti-christian, but that the Freethinking Christians' mode directly opposes pulpit preaching, and in his opinion proves pulpit preaching to be antichristian; yet many of your readers would suppose that I declared it to be anti-christian, which would be contradictory to what I said elsewhere.
To my question respecting the directions given to the s church of God at Corinth," Timotheus proposes another, “why are they not suitable for us?” I might reply to his question by the statement of cases. Paul
66 doth not even nature itself teach you, that if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him ?” Nature or custom might teach them so,
but not me; again, " every woman that prayeth or prophesieth (“teacheth,” if Timotheus please) with her head uncovered, dishonoreth her head; for that is even all one as if she were shayen. Such a direction I must think “ not suitable to us, until Timotheus informs me better. It
to me that the principal cause of Paul's writing was their request of his ada vice (1 Cor. vii. 1), but having heard of their contentions and unworthy conduct, he embraced the opportunity to rebuke and to correct them. Such I conceive to be the purport of his letter, and not the formation of a “plan;" had the latter been bis object, is it not probable he would have stated it perspicuously? I assume this ground, and ask, is it reasonable to suppose that important directions for general observance owe their record to the temporary animosities of the Corinthian church? Had it been necessary to the proper organization of the church, surely we might expect to find such rules laid down in the most clear and distinct manner; which I have not found to be the case.
As to the meaning of the term “prophecy,” I have no objection, but shall be obliged to Timotheus to inform me at some future time, how I should read the 28th and 29th verses of the 12th chapter of Corinthians" and God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, &c.
The question, " did you ever find a bad man in the habit of doing that which was good !”-I still think was sufficiently
met in my last; but“ legal” power, should, Mr. Editor, have been “regal;" and if Timotheus requires an instance, let him turn to 2 Chron. xxv. 1, 2.
The wide difference which appears to Timotheus in the sense of the expressions, “if we doubted whether such directions were applicable to all Christians, then the whole system, &c.” and those which I used, is so very extensive, that really, Mr. Editor, my" short-sightedness” is not able to survey it.
Timotheus has fully met my remarks respecting the publica- . tion of the Freethinking Christians' Magazine ; but permit me to say, Sir, if he acknowledges that there is a plan laid down in the New Testament for the Christian church to act upon”– he must acknowledge the publication of the Magazine is no part of that plan. He says, " if Jesus or his messengers have appointed the method by which Christianity shall be taught, then all methods contrarý to that which they have laid down are anti-christian.” If Jesus or his messengers have appointed the method by which the truths of Christianity are to be propagated, and that method is by“ teaching one by one,”. I contend that the propagating the truths of Christianity by printing and publishing is a departure from that appointment, and equally anti-christian with pulpit preaching.
I am at a loss whether to understand Timotheus as agreeing with me in opinion respecting the moral tendency of pulpit preaching, when he says, “ Here you will rejoice to hear that, with all due deference, I fully acquiesce in your opinion ;" cr whether it be merely a specimen of Freethinking wit, in allusion to my acknowledgment that my opinion is not proof. If the latter be his meaning, I wish him pleasure in his witty turns; if the former, I think by his confession (page 152) I have“ at least one good plea in favour of the system.” Is there not sufficient demonstration to any one who looks at the increase of the Methodists, for instance, the greater part of whom, I may say, were once among the disturbers of society, and the enemies of religion? Do not they owe their deliverance from the love of vice to the love and pursuit of virtue, principally if not solely to pulpit preaching? Is it any thing but obstinacy that would question it? 1 can give no other kind of demonstration in writing ; geometrical or algebraical are out of the question ; but if Timotheus, instead of his Hibernian friend, will favour Juvenis with his company, he shall have ocular if he desires.
While I have facts to prove that pulpit preaching has excited and does excite the mind into action (as must be the case with the denomination just mentioned, or there would be no change of character in many persons forming it), I must deny the truth of his inferences, when he says, “ instead of being calcula.
ted to call the mind into action,” it positively debars it from exercise, and must of course be injurious to society.
I knew not, Sir, that I was bound in duty to notice his arguments on the intention not justifying the means : I do not differ from him; and as truth, not victory, is my aim, I think it would have answered no purpose. His arguments to shew that " if the plan contained in the New Testament is consonant to the will of God, then we ought not to deviate from it, are undoubtedly just; but it remains for him to point out in what part of the New Testament this plan is laid down, before such inference is made, and before it becomes my duty to notice his reasoning
To the questions he proposes I can give no farther reply, than that I conceive those persons who embraced the Christian faith, were united in love and fellowship under the direction of the apostles, having all things common, and that some were appointed elders, and deacons, and deaconesses, to regulate and conduct the affairs of the church, and to watch over its spiritual welfare.
I know of no direction which relates to the mode of teaching, the chapter in question (Cor. xiv) excepted. If Timotheus can prove to me that there are such directions for the organization of the church, and specific laws for their rule of church action, as were designed to be perpetual, I would contend that no man has authority to act differently.
Wishing that we may be all free from the dominion of priestcraft and church craft, and be the true members of the church of God, and of the royal priesthood, I remain, your's, &c. Cranbrook, July 1812.
JUVENIS. warnar ON THE EXISTENCE OF THE DEVIL.
“ Farewel hope, and with hope farewel fear..
As man ere long, and this new world shall know.”--Paradise Lost.
SIR, OF F all the opinions floating in what is called the Christian
world, none is more calculated to chain the mind of man in the grossest ignorance-to damp the ardour of intellectual enquiry-to support the dogmatizing spirit of an overbearing priestcraft-and to make the man unconscious of moral guilt, wbile pursuing iniquity and breaking through every barrier of morality and virtue-than a belief in the existence of an evil