Page images

quibble, and that quibble built on falsehood. Surely we have actual objections to offer against the Bible; why should we use lies, or trust in them? But surely these two articles were written at an unguarded hour, or at some unthinking moment of levity. It cannot be that the gray-headed philosopher made use of wilful perversion, or false painting continually. If he did, I am in bad company. I must see further into this matter. I must read again.”

I read again; and what was my surprise to find every article of this description! I read on and on, and there was a seeming objection to the Scriptures, but to the un. learned only. That which was painful, was that these ob. jections were mostly built upon a statement really false; and if a half-read youth could see its fallacy, then the learned writer could of course. He must have known its falsity at the time of writing. I then continued to read on until I passed through the book; and, in the entire volume, there was not one solitary article which was not a kind of ridicule, which proved nothing for our side ; or a little castle erected on historic falsehoods, but of such a shape, that those who had never read a tolerable course of history, could not tell but they were truths. I knew that those who had made no more than one year's close perusal of ancient history, could detect these lies (of my champion; of the leader of the army of sceptics) as easily as a skilful judge of money can tell a counter. feit dollar from one that is genuine; yea, as readily as the naturalist can tell a goat from a sheep. The thought passed through my mind, that a good cause never did need a stream of falsehood to sustain it. I must ask myself, why resort to lies as weapons, if ours is the right side in this controversy? It seemed strange that, in the

Philosophical Dictionary, a book written by one so able and so famous, there should not be one fair

argument, one truth unmixed with a lie. I could have felt more like retaining my infidelity, if there had been only a few positions based on historic fact, a few fair truth. ful objections to the Bible, amidst the chapters of misrepresentation; but I could not find one.

I looked over it again, and I could not find one. I knew that a mask might be so painted, that a child of one year old might take it for a human visage, but one more grown, could not be thus deluded ; and the maker of the mask, especially, would know that it was not a human face. Thus I was forced to remember that the paintings of the great Voltaire would seem reality to the infants in history, whilst those more advanced could not be so de. ceived. But the most painful of all to the heart of the deist is, that the Philosopher himself was not deceived, but knew his productions would blind the ignorant alone. I found that I must read on. Was it so in other authors, or in other writings of the same author ? I continued to read; and I must give the reader other examples of what I found, that it may not appear either prejudice, exaggeration, or passion, when I state again, that I could find no seeming argument in any book advocating my system of unbelief, which any boy who had made a moderate research in history, could not see was a mixture of hatred and untruth.



After reading the Philosophical Dictionary, the in. quiry presented itself, “May not something more able be found in other productions of this author, whose fame has reached around the earth ? May he' not have reserved his strongest weapons for other volumes and other times ? I opened another book, and read. What was my surprise to find there the same spirit, the same manner, 'and the same texture of plausible falsehood and expert ridicule. I might present the reader with volumes of instances, but it is not expedient here. It is, however, necessary that a proper number of fair ex. amples should be presented to show what is meant by a mixture of untruth and irony. It is a matter of per. fect indifference from what page these examples are taken, or from what author. I shall continue for a time to notice items from the author already before us; and I shall take such articles as come first to my recollection.

I read from the pen of this prince of philosophers, the following declaration,"Men saw Isaiah walking, stark naked, in Jerusalem, in order to show that the King of Assyria would bring a crowd of captives out of Egypt and Ethiopia, who would not have any thing to cover their nakedness. Is it possible that a man could walk, stark naked, through Jerusalem, without being punish. ed by the civil power ?

What impression must this make on one who had

opened the book in search of support in his system of infidelity? I had read the Bible and heard it read of. ten, (through necessity,) when I was young. I knew that many who read this would think it true, and make their inferences without further examination ; but I knew it false, and I knew that the author must have known its untruth. He knew that the man without arms was and is called naked in a military sense. Armed troops, and naked troops, are terms in common use. Those who are not only despoiled of arms, but destitute of robes and upper garments, as slaves commonly are, were called naked. No one means by this stark naked. ness except those who choose so to understand ; and those who thus choose, have something in their hearts which so actuates them. I began to feel as though I was not to look for much support from those who had · received Europe's applause. I did think it strange that men of so great talent, could not offer some ar. gument of weight in their cause, and having truth for its basis.

I read again in another place, “How could God promise them that immense tract of land, the country between the Euphrates and the River of Egypt, which the Jew's never possessed ?”

I was under the necessity of making the following remarks, “ All that prevents this being argument is, that the Jews did possess il.

Joshua did not conquer it, but David did. If others should choose to swallow lies without investigation, and build their whole creed upon them, it cannot make the same course safe for me. The objections of the greatest man on earth must have a portion, at least, of truth in their composition, or I cannot receive them."

[ocr errors]

I read again, “How could God give them that little spot of Palestine forever and ever, from which they have been driven so long a time since ?”

I knew that the author of this question must have known that God had told the Israelites over and again, that if they disobeyed him, they should be driven away and scattered all over the earth. I knew that all who had read the Bible, had seen these promises were made conditionally; and I thought that my companions in unbelief ought to have honesty enough to confess that which they knew, even if it did favour the Bible.

I read again, “ Among the Jews a man might marry his sister.” All I could say to this was, “ Among the Jews a man was forbidden to marry his sister.” All the reason why my unbelief was not strengthened by this assertion was, that I felt there was some difference be. tween a falsehood and the truth, I knew that if an in. stance could be produced where a Jew, contrary to their law, had married his sister, it would prove

that this mar. riage was allowed among them, in the same way that a case of murder in America proves that murder is allowed

I began to feel startled for my creed, and for my religious views, but I did not yet renounce them. I was infidel still. The heart of man in these cases, receives error readily, and relinquishes it slowly and reluctantly.

I continued to read, “It is said in the book of Joshua, that the Jews were circumcised in the wilderness." All the difference between this and fact is, that it is said in the book of Joshua, that the Jews were not circumcised in the wilderness. It is true that


this false assertion and others like it, a very ingenious infidel argument is based, but what influence was that to have upon one

with us.

« PreviousContinue »