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Suppose you could effecta resurrection-not of the Hoping you will give this explanation to call christianity. People would know no more of it your readers, I remain, yours truly, than of the ghosts of Ossian, and every man would

H. ROCHE. dispute its identity. Your " Christian Warrior": P.S. I should have given this expla. would be a most litting organ for the new view nation sooner, but I have only just received father will be against the son and the daughter [the extract from Mr. Roche's letter which come to pass the saying of christianity, that the Mo. 39, containing the articl e in question. against the mother." That is, old father theologue against his son, modern christianity, and Miss appear in No. 29, and which may have Evangelical Piety against gnomologue, her venerable misled the writer in No. 39, is verbatim as mother.

sent by himself. I state this to prevent the But to be more serious. To controvert the phases of your views in a manner suitable to your taste, is

suspicion of its being garbled.-W.C.] not within my power. I have neither your learning, your experience, nor your sagacity. Probably we

NOTICES. might begin to dispnte abont Hebrew, and there I Received, a letter signed « Thos. Instone, Long should be no equal antagonist, for I candidly confess Island, New York," containing a copy of one from that the character of god's chosen people, as given in his blessed book, has long relieved me from any intolerance on the part of the citizens of Jowa Terri.

"Abner Kneeland," describing an instance of gross anxiety to know much of their language. I learn that you remark, “ that nothing we say religions dissent. The case of Mr. Kneeland'a trial

tory, in burning the writer in effigy on account of leads to any settlement of the dispute we condnct.

at Boston, wonld be acceptable. Could Mr. Iustone How do you know? The dispute has been all on forward the particulars? one side eighteen centuries. And if we are not Publications received-Signs of the Times, part 2; settling christianity, we may be shaking the dry bones The Unknown, part 1. of reason, who, upon his resurrection, will civilly

W. R., Glasgow, writes that a cargo has been offer and help her to his grave. The “ warfare we are to indure” will be heartily half wooden deities."

reported composed of " half christian missionaries,"

What of it? * Birds of a welcome, since you are almost sure not to imprison feather" we know. A ship load of blockheads us. With regard to anything else, we can console

were best to go out on a blockish mission. The ourself as Dr. Johnson did Addison, when the doctor wooden-headed gods will be about as influential as said, “if contrariety of opinion could poison a man, the wooden-headed missionaries, if the latter make a politician would 'die in a day.” And as Addison lived after he was opposed, so may the Oracle.

no better progress than they have hitherto done.

Besides, why should the “nation of shop-keepers, I will conclnde with one more remark. If it be true, that“ I do regulate my amonnt of wisdom by christ-god, and ghost-god, and devil-god are at 3

deal in one sort of gods only? If Jehovah.god, and a critical contrast with other people's folly," I cer- discount, then our most christian leiges must deal tainly take a most melancholy standard of excel in Christna-god, and Vishnu-god, and Siva-god, lence. If I only advance in 'intelligence, as my and the rest, the transition is easy. R. W. sari neighbours recede in foolishness, allow me to say, that my progression will gratify my vanity less than

“they would sell the lord Jesus Christ, if they could

make anything by it, and give the holy ghost into it will mortify my love of mankind.

the bargain”--they must live by their trade, inual G. JACOB HOLYOAKE. n't they ?

“A Reforined Israelite" is requested to commt:

nicate with the editor-perhaps an interview would To the Editor of the Oracle of Reason.

clear up the difficulties. He should join the theolo.

gical association, DEAR SIR.-I have observed in No. 39

SUBSCRIPTIONS. of the Oracle, a mistake which I think it

For the Anti-Persecution Union.
necessary to correct. It is there stated that Holyoake, tailor, Leicester
Mr. Buchanan, in a public lecture room, con-

John Hoxton, Old Kent-road..
Collector 97, Bristol ..

0 3 3 tended that the being of a god was not a

0 1 0 legitimate subject for discussion, neither the Mr. Mackintosh, S.M., per card

0 5 7 negative nor the affirmative being susceptible Mr. Coltman, per Mr. Mackintosh

040 of proof. This is, I think, an allusion to a

London.

M. RYALL, Soc. letter of mine addressed to Mr. Nicholls of

ANTI-PERSECUTION UNION. Birmingham, and published without my previous knowledge. I stated in that letter, Persecution Union will take place at John-strez

The Public Meeting in connection with the Antithat on the occasion of Mr. Bi's visit to Institution, on Monday, Dec. 5, lalt past eight, p.m. Derby, I entered into conversation with him,

BENEFIT BALL FOR SOUTHWELL. with the view of inducing him to say some- A Benefit Ball for Mr. Southwell will take place thing at the close of his lectures in favour of on Monday, Dec, 12, at John-street. Southwell and Holyoake, aud if possible to obtain a subscription on their behalf. I stated that Mr. B. expressed himself with as On Dec. 17 will appear No. 1 of THE DEIST, much rancour and ill-feeling as could have conducted by T. S. MACKINTOSH, Author of the been expected from the most bigotted chris- Electrical Theory of the Universe. * The world i tian, he asserted that the being of a god was my conntry—to do good my religion." Sixteen 10not a legitimate subject for discussion, &c. lumns, price 10. This all passed in private, and not in a public lecture room, with only myself, Mr. B., Printed and Published by THOMAS PATERSON, and two others present. Finding Mr. B. no

No. 8, Holywell-street, Strand, London, to wbun

all Communications should be addressed. friend to blasphemers, I let the matter drop.

Saturday, December 3, 1812. 416

JEI 100

..

THE

DEIST!

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ORACLE OF REMASON,

LAR

Or, Philosophy Vindicated.

« FAITH'S EMPIRE IS THE WORLD; ITS MONARCH, GOD; ITS MINISTERS, THE PRIESTS;

ITS SLAVES, THE PEOPLE

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No. 51.)

EDITED BY THOMAS PATERSON.
Originally Edited by CHARLES SOUTHWELL, sentenced, on January 15, 1842,

18 Tuelve Months' Imprisonment in Bristol Gaol, and to pay a fine of 100, [Price ld.
for Blasphemy contained in No. 4.
Second Editor, G. J. HOLYOAKE, sentenced, on August 15, 1842, 19 Six Months'

Imprisonment in Gloucester Gaol, for Blasphemy, at Cheltenham.

cies. Miracles unconnected with prophecies MIRACLES,

there may have been, but every prophecy in

cludes the idea of a miracle. I NEED hardly remind my readers that the A friend asked me, the other day, to define christian religion, in whatever its essence or a miracle. “Oh,” I said, without pausing, peculiar character may be supposed to con- and somewhat at random, “a miracle is sist, is admitted to have no other than a mi. merely an unusual effect.” Upon reflection, raculous foundation. Take away the chris. I am persuaded that it would be difficult to tian proof of the miracles, or show that find a briefer or better definition. What is experience for the immutability of nature's usual, however inexplicable, always ceases operations is greater than any hitherto ad- to amaze, and is not ranked as miraculous. duced in proof of their suspension, christianity Why oaks spring from acorns, grapes from at once falls to the ground. When Woolston the vine, or children from the womb, none wrote his celebrated book on “ The Miracles can tell - all which phenomena are not of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he struck a heavy deemed miraculous, only because they are blow at the christian religion, perhaps the usual. A miracle oft repeated would cease heaviest it had every received. Collias at- to be a miracle. This may to some reasoners tacked the prophecies, but Woolston under- appear paradoxical, but let any one consider stood better where to begin the work of de- what is acknowledged by all writers upon struction, and brought his unrivalled powers this subject, viz., that those effects only are of wit and sarcasm to overthrow all belief in miraculous which are contrary to the general miracles. It is evident that prophecy cannot teachings of experience--and my paradox stand alone, but must share the fate of will seem a clear truth. Why should we miracles, be that fate what it may. No think it miraculous for a feather to float in a miracles, no prophecy that is certain. vacuum ? Surely for no other reason than Hume has very well said," all prophecies are that no man of science, or indeed man of any real miracles, and as such only can be ad- kind, ever had experience of such a phenomitted as proofs of any revelation. If it did menon. It would be as wonderful for a feather not exceed the capacity of human nature to to float where there is no air, that is in a perfect fortel future events, it would be absurd to vacuum, as for lead or bricks to ride unsupemploy any prophecy as an argument for a ported in the atmosphere. To make feathers divine mission or authority from heaven.” Hoat, or stones ride under such circumstances It seems undeniable, then, that a disproof of would be to perform a miracle, that is, a most miracles would be at the same time a virtual unusual thing. Again, it is not usual for disproof of prophecy. If we understand, with the dead to come to life. People thoroughly Rosser, that all men are prophets--the con- dead rarely walk about afterwards, as Lazavictions arising in the mind, no matter from rus is said to have done, by command of what cause produced, being the mind's pro- Jesus. Were we to see, in these times, a phecy-why in that sense a prophet is by foul and putrid carcass burst from a tomb or no means a miracle-worker, or we must admit scramble from its grave, and move about gay as many prophecies as convictions. But we as a lark, our astonishment would be great know that christians, Jews, and others do not indeed, but for no other reason, that I can and never did understand the word prophecy see, than the strong one, that no such effects in so little marvellous a sense. By the have been produced among enlightened " spirit of prophecy" they evidently mean a people for many centuries : in short, that it power in certain supernaturally gifted people is quite unusual for rotten bojies or dead to look into futurity, and tell to less privileged bodies to become living and sound all in a mortals “ the secrets of things to come.

I moment. Clearly then, according to this have said enough, I hope, to make the dullest view of the subject, he who should make reader clearly perceive that if there have light bodies float upon nothing, make heavy been po miracles there have been no prophe- scones stand in the light atmosphere, or make

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dead people alive again –he, I say, who | all human power!” Nay, Dr. Johnson and could do all or any of these strange things, philosophers of his stamp, proceed a step would be unguestionably considered a worker further, and cry a miracle before they know of miracles. Scientific men say that it is whether that at wbich they marvel is really impossible a feather should float in a vacuum, an effect or no. Thus the universe has been impossible a heavy substance should not sink called a miracle, that none but an almighty in a lighter, and quite impossible that a hand could work, yet no sort of evidence can human being once thoroughly dead, should be adduced to prove that the universe is an by any kind of art be restored to life : by effect--on the contrary, it is manifestly imwhich impossibles they must be understood possible tþat all could be the effect of any to mean effects very unusual, effects of which ihing or power external to itself. Men hare experience has furnished none beyond sus- been searching for a cause of all things, or picion, so that no rational intellect will credit first cause as they call it, from time immethat any one can produce such.

morial, and now, with all their science, they It will be seen, from the foregoing, that the are as wise about that grand secret" writer does not agree exactly either with the ever they were, aye, and as ever they will orthodox or the heterodox, in this miraculous be. But to return-if it were allowed that matter. David Hume defines a miracle, as our knowledge of natural power was so coma transgression of a law of nature by a par- plete, that we could decide what nature is, ticular volition of the deity, or by the inter- and what it is not, capable of effecting, still position of some invisible agent. Dr. John- a supernatural agency might, for aught any son says, a miracle is an effect above human one can know to the contrary, be performed or natural power, performed in attestation of in attestation of a falsehood as well as of a some truth. Now both these definitions are truth. A miracle, the doctor tells us, is an vagne, unsatisfactory, nay, absurd, at least, effect above human or natural power, perso to me they seem, and my reasons for so formed in attestation of some truth, but it is bold a rebellion against the highest literary difficult to understand how, if we grant the and philosophical authority I will briefly former, we can also grant the latter part of state. Johnson's definition is open to the his definition. If it be admitted that miraobvious objection, that what is an effect above cles are performed, I do not see why it human or natural power cannot safely be should follow, that they are performed only decided until we are acquainted with the in attestation of some truth. whole arcana of nature. We may know the Mr. R. Dale Owen remarked in his dispresent boundaries of human power, but he cussion with Mr. (. Bacheler, on the aumust be a wise or a bold man who would thenticity of the bible, that " If we imagine pretend to say how much nature is capable an occurrence clearly and distinctly out of of performing. That wonder is the child of nature, and above human agency, we may ignorance, has passed into a proverb, for ig- suppose it to attest to us supernatural norance, knowing not causes, takes refuge in agency--but how are we to decide whether the marvellous, and calls all effects miracu- that agency be divine or satanic ?" This lous the causes of which are a secret. This is undoubtedly a difficulty for miracle dearises in great part from the slothful and fenders to grapple with. I am at a loss to fearful character of uncivilised human intel- understand, how an effect above human or lect. Those called savage, and those, by natural power, supposing such an effect to themselves, styled civilised, display no essen- be produced, can be known to us as divine tial difference in this respect. From pole to or satanic, performed for a good or for a bad pole the great ontlines of human character purpose. Mr. R. D. Owen denies that a are the same, the moral as the physical miracle can prove to man the divine origin differences being by no means radical.' We of any precept, or the truth of any assertion, find ererywhere, to give an example in point, and so do I. Waiving, at present, the questhe same fatal mistake of explaining igno- tion, how are we to decide what is miracu. rance by the gratuitous hypothesis of super- lous? I deny, that if a miracle were actually natural powers.

This very Dr. Johnson, worked, the truth or falsehood of any asserthe leviathan of literature, renowned for his tion would be proved thereby-therefore Dr. learning and talents, always reasoned with Johnson's definition of a miracle is quite regard to effects the causes of which he could unsatisfactory. David Hume's is no less not dive into, upon precisely the same princi- so. In truth, to talk about the transgresple as a New Zealand savage, or moon-wor- sion of a law of nature is downright nonsense. shipping Hottentot. Not being able to de- It may be very consistent in those who have termine why plants grew, men were born and settled to their own satisfaction, that there died, our earth and other planets moved with is a god who governs the universe as a king regularity in their several orbits, why, in governs his kingdom, and prescribes law short, anything that is, is as it is, he cried, for each atom as an eastern despot does for “Oh most stupendous miracle, far, far above his slaves- it may be very consistent, I say, all natural, as we knew it infinitely exceeds for people who thus think, to tell us with

XXV.

great complacency about the laws of nature, be learned, and miracles, as already exbut there ought to be a wide difference be- plained, are those effects produced, or.said tween the language of philosophers and the to have been produced, by supernatural language of fanatics. I contend that we agency, which is quite unusual, and thereknow nothing whatever about laws of nature, fore cautiously believed in by wise men, bebut we do know a little about its phenomena cause, though not impossible, yet quite out of and general mode of operation. Experience all harmony with the general operations of teaches that water constantly tends to find nature. its level, that flame constantly consumes dry wood, that sparks constantly, when in contact, cause gunpowder to explode, and

IS THERE A GOD ? so with numberless other things, the conjuction of which constantly produces certain well known effects. People constantly die when their heads are off, and if people were

Benedict SPINOZA was an acute thinker,

Perto run or walk through our streets, as St. and in all respects a remarkable man. Dennis did (so we are told) in the good old haps no other philosopher, ancient or motimes, why we should conclude, and rightly dern, could be named, whose opinions have conclude, a miracle had been performed. Å been so thoroughly and grossly abused, miracle is, indeed, neither more nor less than without being at all understood. The an unusual phenomenon. Any effect con- christian clergy are everywhere a privileged trary to universal or even general experience class, and of course cannot be expected to is accounted miraculous. If the Thames, understand any opinions hostile to their some fine morning, were to throw itself into peculiar craft; or if they do understand, it heaps, and leave a dry path for foot passen- is not their interest or business to give any gers, from the Middlesex to the Surrey countenance to them. If philosophers themshore, the waters forming a wall on either selves, it is no part of their duty to make side, as we are told the waters of the Red others so. It is not wonderful, therefore, that Sea did, for the convenience of Moses and his they should either from ignorance or cunfugitive Israelites-if such a phenomenon ning have systematically misrepresented the were now seen, and at the same time it opinions of Spinoza. That philosophers, so were clearly seen there had been no sacer-called, such as Voltaire, Dugald Stewart, dotal or political maneuvring in the matter, Sir James Mackintosh, and others of the why all who saw would be convinced it was

deistical school, condescended to join the miraculous, that is to say, be convinced it common cry of clerical curs, is more surwas an effect such as they never had beheld prising and less pardonable. Even the before-but even then they could not be sure clever sceptic Bayle, describes the scheme of it was an effect above all natural power. Spinoza as “the most monstrous imaginable, That there are powers in nature none have and the most diametrically opposite to the yet had experience of, at all events, that clearest notions of the mind.” He also there

may be such powers, none can dispute, affirmed that“ it has been fully overthrown then what folly it is to measure nature's by the weakest of its adversaries.

But power by our puny and imperfect standard Bayle was more showy than solid, and far of experience. In justice to Hume I must from an infallible critic. Whether the most observe, that when he said a miracle might monstrous imaginable” scheme of Spinoza be accurately defined as a transgression of a has“ been fully overthrown ” by any of its law of nature, by a particular volition of the adversaries, the reader will presently have an deity, or by the interposition of invisible opportunity of fairly judging. All constant agents, he did not intend to convey the idea readers of the Oracle will need only to be that miracles are worthy of credit, or that told that the philosophy of Spinoza, and any evidence hitherto adduced in their sup- the philosophy of atbeism, are one and the port should shake our faith in the regularity same thing. "In no part of his work (says and uniformity of nature's operations. Î Dugald Stewart) has he (Spinoza) arowed quarrel with the definition, because I flatter himself an Atheist; but it will not be dismyself that I can furnish, or, rather, have puted, by those who comprehend the drift of furnished, a far better one. It is certain, his reasonings, that in point of practical that by experience we become acquainted tendency, atheism and Spinozism are one with what we call the laws of nature. By and the same.” I entirely agree with Mr. experience we learn that a certain degree of Stewart, nay, I go farther, and say that, coldness converts water into ice, which by without any regard whatever to practical a known quantity of heat may be reconverted tendency,' atheism and Spinozism are eninto water, and subsequently into steam. tirely the same. Shallow-pated squabblers By experience we learn that a stone thrown about words and phrases, may like better the into the air will return to the ground. By Spionzism than atheism, or find it more conexperience, in short, we learn all that can venient to call themselves Spionzists than Atheists ; but this I know, there is not a are one and the same. None who have read particle of difference betwixt them. Mr. Spinoza will venture to dispute this, but a Maclauriv, in his view of Newton's Dis- | very few have had that happiness, the folcoveries, said, "It does not appear possible to lowing summary, by Mr. Stewart, will both invent another system equally absurd (allu- justify him and I hope satisfy the reader, ding to Spinoza's), amounting as it does, in Spinoza (says he) supposes that there are fact, to this proposition, that there is but one in god two eterpal properties, thought and substance in the universe, endowed with extension ; and as be held with Descartes infinite attributes (particularly infinite exten- that extension is the essence of matter, he sion and cogitation), which produces all must necessarily have conceived materiality other things necessary, as its own modifica- to be an essential attribute of god. Per tions, and which alone is, in all events, both corpus intelligo modum, qui dei essentiam physical and moral, at once cause and effect, quatenus ut res extensa consideratur, certo agent and patient.” Now all this Atheists et determinato modo exprimit.' (Ethica “ do most powerfully and potently believe.” ordine Geometrico Demonstrata, pars. 2, DeLet the reader carefully and without preju- fin. See also Ethic, pars 1, prop. 14), dice consider, and I think he will allow, that With respect to the other attributes of god, the above quoted paragraph, so far from he held that god is the cause of all things; being “nonsense,” as Mr. Maclaurin would but that he acts not from choice but frora have us think, is most excellent sense, em necessity; and of consequence, that he is the bracing the only sound principle ever yet involuntary author of all the good and evil, taught upon the subjes I am aware virtue and vice, which are exhibited in human that none but capacious, common sense

life. • Res nullo alio modo, neque alio heads can find room for this principle, and ordine a deo produci poduerunt, quam prothat all others would split first-perertheless, ductæ sunt.'--(Ibid, pars. 1, prop. 33.) 'In truth remains the same, whatever may be one of his letters to Mr. Oldenburgh (Letter the size and calibre of human craniums. 21) he acknowledges that his ideas of god There can be but one substance in the uni. and of nature were very different from those verse, that that substance is necessarily en- entertained by modern christians ; adding by dowed with infinite attributes, as thought, way of explanation, 'Deum rerum omnium extension, &c., that it of necessity produces causam immanentem, non vero transeuntem all other things, as its own modification, and statuo ;' an expression to which I can annex is itself, in all events, both physical and

no other meaning but this, that god is insemoral, cause and effect, agent and patient; perably and essentially united with his that all these are truths which cannot be works, and that they form together but one overthrown or shaken by any manner of being The diversity of opinions (continues sophistry, I am fully satisfied. It may be Mr. Stewart) concerning the nature of Spiwell to remark here that Spinozists, or Åthe nozism has been chiefly owing to this, that ists, use the term infinite in the sense of some have formed their notions of it from the Hobbes, who observes in his “ Leviathan,” | life, and others from his posthumous remains.

books which Spinoza published during his that " whatsoever we inagine, is finite-no man can have in his mind an image of infi. It is in the last alone (particularly in his nite magnitude, nor conceive infinite swift: Ethics) that his system is to be seen comness, infinite time, or infinite force, or infi: former, and also in the letters addressed to

pletely unveiled and undisguised. In the nite power. When we say anything is infinit we signify only that we are not able

his friends, he occasionally accomodates himto conceive the ends and bounds of the thing he considered as the prejudices of the world.

self, with a very temporising spirit, to what named; having no conception of the thing, In proof of this, see his "Tractutus Theobut of our own inability." Now, if we receive logico Politicas, and his epistolary corresthe word infinite in this sepse, by infinite attributes of substance or matter, we shall pondence, passim ; above all

, his letter to a understand simply our own inability to con

young friend who had apostatised from proceive the ends or bounds of the thing named. is addressed, Noblissimo Juveni, Alberto

testantism to the catholic church. The letter An infinite thing is a thing we don't know Burgh' (Spins. Op. T. II., p. 695).” the size or extent of--and of course the thing having attributes, as colour, extension, urged, by way of apology for Spinoza, that if

These remarks are just, but it may be &c., their beginning or ending are equally he had not temporised and accomodated bis beyond our knowledge. But to return, I. language to “ the prejudices of the world," think, that if Mr. Maclaurin's account of he would infallibly have shared the melanSpinoza's prime opinion be admitted as cor- choly fate of Servetus, Brunano, and Vanini. rect, he Spinoza must have been a bona - It is rather too much to expect that pbilosofide Atheist, or there never was one.

phers should be honest at the expence of life. I have already quoted the opinion of Spinoza's god was a very substantial one in Dugald Stewart, that atheisin and Spiozzism the shape of matter, a sort of god I imagine

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