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One thing, however, is much less equivocal, which
is, that out of the matters contained in those books, together with
the assistance of some old stories, the church has set up a system of
religion very contradictory to the character of the person whose name
it bears. It has set up a religion of pomp and of revenue in pretended
imitation of a person whose life was humility and poverty.

The invention of a purgatory, and of the releasing of souls therefrom,
by prayers, bought of the church with money; the selling of pardons,
dispensations, and indulgences, are revenue laws, without bearing that
name or carrying that appearance. But the case nevertheless is, that
those things derive their origin from the proxysm of the crucifixion,
and the theory deduced therefrom, which was, that one person could stand
in the place of another, and could perform meritorious services for him.
The probability, therefore, is, that the whole theory or doctrine of
what is called the redemption (which is said to have been accomplished
by the act of one person in the room of another) was originally
fabricated on purpose to bring forward and build all those secondary
and pecuniary redemptions upon; and that the passages in the books upon
which the idea of theory of redemption is built, have been manufactured
and fabricated for that purpose. Why are we to give this church credit,
when she tells us that those books are genuine in every part, any more
than we give her credit for everything else she has told us; or for the
miracles she says she has performed? That she could fabricate writings
is certain, because she could write; and the composition of the writings
in question, is of that kind that anybody might do it; and that she did
fabricate them is not more inconsistent with probability, than that she
should tell us, as she has done, that she could and did work miracles.

Since, then, no external evidence can, at this long distance of time,
be produced to prove whether the church fabricated the doctrine called
redemption or not, (for such evidence, whether for or against, would be
subject to the same suspicion of being fabricated,) the case can only be
referred to the internal evidence which the thing carries of itself; and
this affords a very strong presumption of its being a fabrication. For
the internal evidence is, that the theory or doctrine of redemption
has for its basis an idea of pecuniary justice, and not that of moral
justice.

If I owe a person money, and cannot pay him, and he threatens to put me
in prison, another person can take the debt upon himself, and pay it for
me. But if I have committed a crime, every circumstance of the case is
changed. Moral justice cannot take the innocent for the guilty even if
the innocent would offer itself. To suppose justice to do this, is to
destroy the principle of its existence, which is the thing itself. It is
then no longer justice. It is indiscriminate revenge.

This single reflection will show that the doctrine of redemption is
founded on a mere pecuniary idea corresponding to that of a debt which
another person might pay; and as this pecuniary idea corresponds again
with the system of second redemptions, obtained through the means of
money given to the church for pardons, the probability is that the same
persons fabricated both the one and the other of those theories;
and that, in truth, there is no such thing as redemption; that it is
fabulous; and that man stands in the same relative condition with his
Maker he ever did stand, since man existed; and that it is his greatest
consolation to think so.

Let him believe this, and he will live more consistently and morally,
than by any other system. It is by his being taught to contemplate
himself as an out-law, as an out-cast, as a beggar, as a mumper, as
one thrown as it were on a dunghill, at an immense distance from his
Creator, and who must make his approaches by creeping, and cringing to
intermediate beings, that he conceives either a contemptuous disregard
for everything under the name of religion, or becomes indifferent, or
turns what he calls devout. In the latter case, he consumes his life
in grief, or the affectation of it. His prayers are reproaches. His
humility is ingratitude. He calls himself a worm, and the fertile earth
a dunghill; and all the blessings of life by the thankless name of
vanities. He despises the choicest gift of God to man, the GIFT OF
REASON; and having endeavoured to force upon himself the belief of a
system against which reason revolts, he ungratefully calls it human
reason, as if man could give reason to himself.

Yet, with all this strange appearance of humility, and this contempt for
human reason, he ventures into the boldest presumptions. He finds fault
with everything. His selfishness is never satisfied; his ingratitude is
never at an end. He takes on himself to direct the Almighty what to do,
even in the govemment of the universe. He prays dictatorially. When
it is sunshine, he prays for rain, and when it is rain, he prays for
sunshine. He follows the same idea in everything that he prays for;
for what is the amount of all his prayers, but an attempt to make the
Almighty change his mind, and act otherwise than he does? It is as if he
were to say--thou knowest not so well as I.



CHAPTER IX - IN WHAT THE TRUE REVELATION CONSISTS.

BUT some perhaps will say--Are we to have no word of God--no revelation?
I answer yes. There is a Word of God; there is a revelation.

THE WORD OF GOD IS THE CREATION WE BEHOLD: And it is in this word,
which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh
universally to man.

Human language is local and changeable, and is therefore incapable of
being used as the means of unchangeable and universal information.
The idea that God sent Jesus Christ to publish, as they say, the glad
tidings to all nations, from one end of the earth unto the other, is
consistent only with the ignorance of those who know nothing of the
extent of the world, and who believed, as those world-saviours
believed, and continued to believe for several centuries, (and that in
contradiction to the discoveries of philosophers and the experience of
navigators,) that the earth was flat like a trencher; and that a man
might walk to the end of it.

But how was Jesus Christ to make anything known to all nations? He could
speak but one language, which was Hebrew; and there are in the world
several hundred languages. Scarcely any two nations speak the same
language, or understand each other; and as to translations, every
man who knows anything of languages, knows that it is impossible to
translate from one language into another, not only without losing a
great part of the original, but frequently of mistaking the sense; and
besides all this, the art of printing was wholly unknown at the time
Christ lived.

It is always necessary that the means that are to accomplish any end
be equal to the accomplishment of that end, or the end cannot be
accomplished. It is in this that the difference between finite and
infinite power and wisdom discovers itself. Man frequently fails in
accomplishing his end, from a natural inability of the power to the
purpose; and frequently from the want of wisdom to apply power properly.
But it is impossible for infinite power and wisdom to fail as man
faileth. The means it useth are always equal to the end: but human
language, more especially as there is not an universal language, is
incapable of being used as an universal means of unchangeable and
uniform information; and therefore it is not the means that God useth in
manifesting himself universally to man.

It is only in the CREATION that all our ideas and conceptions of a
word of God can unite. The Creation speaketh an universal language,
independently of human speech or human language, multiplied and various
as they be. It is an ever existing original, which every man can read.
It cannot be forged; it cannot be counterfeited; it cannot be lost; it
cannot be altered; it cannot be suppressed. It does not depend upon the
will of man whether it shall be published or not; it publishes itself
from one end of the earth to the other. It preaches to all nations and
to all worlds; and this word of God reveals to man all that is necessary
for man to know of God.

Do we want to contemplate his power? We see it in the immensity of
the creation. Do we want to contemplate his wisdom? We see it in the
unchangeable order by which the incomprehensible Whole is governed. Do
we want to contemplate his munificence? We see it in the abundance with
which he fills the earth. Do we want to contemplate his mercy? We see it
in his not withholding that abundance even from the unthankful. In
fine, do we want to know what God is? Search not the book called the
scripture, which any human hand might make, but the scripture called the
Creation.



CHAPTER X - CONCERNING GOD, AND THE LIGHTS CAST ON HIS EXISTENCE

AND ATTRIBUTES BY THE BIBLE.

THE only idea man can affix to the name of God, is that of a first
cause, the cause of all things. And, incomprehensibly difficult as it is
for a man to conceive what a first cause is, he arrives at the belief
of it, from the tenfold greater difficulty of disbelieving it. It is
difficult beyond description to conceive that space can have no end;
but it is more difficult to conceive an end. It is difficult beyond the
power of man to conceive an eternal duration of what we call time; but
it is more impossible to conceive a time when there shall be no time.

In like manner of reasoning, everything we behold carries in itself the
internal evidence that it did not make itself. Every man is an evidence
to himself, that he did not make himself; neither could his father make
himself, nor his grandfather, nor any of his race; neither could any
tree, plant, or animal make itself; and it is the conviction arising
from this evidence, that carries us on, as it were, by necessity, to
the belief of a first cause eternally existing, of a nature totally
different to any material existence we know of, and by the power of
which all things exist; and this first cause, man calls God.

It is only by the exercise of reason, that man can discover God.



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