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ORACLE OF REASON;
"FAITH'S EMPIRE IS THE WORLD; ITS MONARCH, GOD; ITS MINISTER
ITS SLAVES, THE PEOPLE."
EDITED FOR CHARLES SOUTHWELL, DURING HIS IMPRISONMENT,
Gloucester, July 2.
ham as to threaten the total loss of his sight. On the first day of the sessions, I and a friend had to lead him to his lodgings, so painful THE trial that was to be is all of which I was it to him to endeavour to see his way. can speak. The judges of the sessions have Yet in this state had he to dance attendance postponed it until the assizes of August next. for three days on these lowly and humane So all the expenses, which have been neither servants of the most high. Still more disfew nor small, incurred on this occasion, will tressing was it to see Mrs. Adams, an interhave to be incurred again. By way of com- esting and intelligent woman and most affecpensation, I suppose, £1 9s. were extracted tionate mother, parading for hours the cold or extorted, I scarcely know which is proper, aisles of the court, with endeavours to quiet under the head of court-fees for discharging her little infant-until an order was sent performer bail and registering new recognizan-mitting her absence. The man who could ces for my appearance at the assizes. My friends, Messrs. Stevenson and Barnes had to proceed from Worcester to become my sure ties again. The amount now is only £100 -half the former.
look upon or hear of a scene like this, and not
behold an amiable and virtuous mother thus
The work of god goes bravely on, you would say were you here. Poor Mr. ADAMS, though still suffering most painfully from opthalmia, and Mrs. HARRIETT ADAMS, his wife, and infant child, were dragged over here too for trial. The cause of the lord must be woful indeed, if the miserable shifts The expences entailed upon Mr. Adams had recourse to, and the injustice and harba- are such already as would quite ruin him rity their case evidences, are necessary for were they not to be defrayed by the subscripits support. Their trials also are postponed tions made for the defence. Thus the enerto the assizes. Although no one was bound gies of an industrious family would be prosover to prosecute Mrs. Adams, yet was she trated for ever by this pious prosecution. compelled to appear, and £1 17s. 6d. charged How intensely sickening to talk of god being for discharging the bail for her and Mr. Adams good to all, and that his tender mercies are and entering new sureties of the same amount over all, after this! Had it not been for the as before, for their appearance at the assizes, subscriptions sent in they must have both inand the clerk of the sessions threatened in evitably gone to gaol until the assizes, for the open court to estreat their bail unless they court was prepared to award that sentence, immediately upon that notice appeared. He and, as it has been remarked, were even prewas told that they would rather take their pared to do it. Had this been done, Mrs. trials than endanger the property of the friends Adams's family and the pour orphan whom who had become sureties for them; then time they have kept, would have been consigned to was allowed to fetch them, Mr. H. Fry aud the poor-house, unless funds had been found Mr, H. Beckett, from Cheltenham, who for their support; and not knowing whether again became bail for their appearance. Mr. this would be done the parents expected this Adams, and Mrs. Adams, with her infant at fate for their poor children when they parted her breast, will have another time to leave from them to go to Gloucester. Conjure up, their home and family and present themselves if you can, the horrors of an English poorfor torture and punishment at the bar of this house to a fond mother's mind as the house Christian inquisition. The affection of the of her children whom she has for years nureyes under which Mr. Adams has been for tured with the tenderest care; see the desosometime suffering, was so much increased lation cast over the domestic hearth--all lone by the cold draughts to which he was sub- and forsaken-and fancy, if you can, the jected during his imprisonment n Chelten- | anguish of mind for both mother and father,
and say, if Christian malignity ever gloated upon a more torturing spectacle ! Collect all the misery that irreligion, according to To the Editor of the Oracle of Reason. the most rabid priest, ever produced, and I deny that, congregated together, it could "Who by searching can find out god; who can equal in cold-blooded barbarity this one scene find out the almighty to perfection."-JOB. prepared for and, if the preparers are to be THE above is, perhaps, the only sensible helieved, commanded by-a god of mercy-a passage upon this subject in the holy book. kind father! A mother made childless and a Much, very much has been said and written widow; children, orphans; and father, mother, and children shut up in so many living on both sides the question, " Is there a god?' tombs to suffer all the indignities a Christian And in their speculations upon the visionary ean so well heap upon the helpless in his and useless, men seem in accordance with power, and all the cruelties a priest can in- the subject to have forgotten all their philoflict-- how delectable the music of their sophy; they seem to have thrown experience groans for the ear of god! How sweet the to the winds, and to have built castles in the harmony of their sighs for the portals of hea-air to their hearts' delight; men or gods of ven!! What acceptable offerings their mise- straw have been continually set up, and like fies must be at the throne of mercy!!! punch's wife, they are no sooner up than
When will the time arrive for insulted reason and humanity to speak out;
F.very possible inconsistency with every personation of folly and abomination has been called by the name, until it has be come such a common-place thing with us to have, or to say we have, a god-that we know not how to speak without him, or her, or it.
The subject of deity is one which has grown into importance from the neglect of the first rule in philosophy; it has no importance in itself, and the speculations and prejudices, we can't call them beliefs, upon the matter, are the result of ignorance or of reason run wild.
When man shall proudly scorn to nurse Religion-earth's most direful curse? And it may be added, earth's most direful mockery too! Give us the gory wheels of Juggernaut to crush us at once out of consciousness and life; Moloch, with his swift and ready sacrifices, or catholicism, with her poisoned bowl, faggot, and rack! They are better than the mode in which the victims of Christ are now sacrificed; for it is done with us under the pretence of promoting virtue and The proper study of mankind is man; morality, and the glory of god, at a time when people see not and dream not of the if men had attended to the axiom, had fulfilinfernal demonism these pretensions alway's led its dictates, if the recommendation, know cover in the cause of religion. With catho- thyself, had been adopted, we had never been licism we had open undying detestation; we pestered with the thousands of fancies reprehad that glorious hate which hurled the firm-senting no tangible idea and called by the est, subtlest, greatest, most impregnable church the world ever saw, or ever will see, into the dust, and the recollection of her cruelties will ever keep her there, and send every other religion of the same revolting practice to the same long account. Let these Christian men but go on as they have begun, and we shall soon have this scorn, contempt, and detestation of their principles and pretension; let but a small band of men be called out with the nerve of the brave old martyrs; let but a few glorious, courageous, unbending women, like Mrs. Adams (from the spirit in which she has borne her persecution she well merits this character), and the fierce, tyrannical, intolerant, and mind-crushing spirit of christianity will no longer bestride our country like a colossus, and we petty men creep under its bloated legs to find ourselves dishonourable graves ! G. J. H.
Suppose the existence of the purest of men's is in a personal form, what is it? And what it to us? These questions for their proper solution involve others which every person engaged in the study had better put to himself. What am I? What can I know? And let us be sure that it is know. ledge we seek, remembering that the meaning of the term is "things known," not believed, supposed, or fancied.
What is all our experience? A series of excitements caused in the mind by passing events, and treasured up in the mind's store. house, memory, to be recalled at pleasure. Can we comprehend aught beyond the capacity of our own mind? The question itself is absurd! We are men, with men's thoughts, men's minds, men's capacities; and if the believers in and preachers about a god would only bestow a few minutes in analyzation of the idea, if they would only ask of what is it composed, they would find that in their highest aspirations and loftiest conceptions, in their noblest and purest ideas, they have just embodied their own conceptions of a
man, christened him afresh, and called him god!
If we could by any possibility comprehend and appreciate anything above ourselves, we must necessarily become the very image and counterpart of the being appreciated; by this means men learn; objects cause excitements, pleasurable or painful; and we endeavour to renew the pleasure and avoid the pain in future: the ignorant listens to the intelligent man and acquires his ideas, his knowledge, and thereby becomes in this re. spect the personation of his teacher.
Here, then (supposing the existence of god as a fact), there is an impassable barrier to our knowledge, it is far, far beyond the cireumference of our circle; and though we continually stretch forth into the darkness beyond, glean new facts and enlarge our capacity, yet we do not comprehend the infinite, and until we do that, or in other words, until we ourselves become gods, we cannot comprehend god.
It may be answered to this argument, that god could assist us to comprehend the subject of his existence; to this we answer, no, he could not! All that could be done by what is called divine inspiration would be to change the nature of the inspired, and to make him as useless to us as the supposed deity is; for, if a man's nature be changed he can no longer associate with or teach his fellow man, any more than we can teach arithmetic to a mouse, or logic to a bird. If man's nature be not changed by inspiration, then we, the mass of society, could only get a repetition of the tale told by an ancient one, that he had been into the seventh heaven, and had seen sights upon which mortal could not gaze and live, that he had heard
IS CHRISTIANITY FAVORABLE TO LIBERTY
To the Editor of the Oracle of Reason. YES, the Christian will answer, we are told in sacred writ to prove all things and hold fast that which is good, but this good precept like the few others that appear in the Jew Book, is forgotten in theological strife, One thing is certain, and that is, that if people had proved the goodness of the Christian religion by their practice, Infidelity, long ere this, would have been banished from the world. It Is said, that we have no right, nor is it sound logic to cast the failings of Christians upon christianity; we answer, that the characters of Christians have been formed for them by their system; that their characters and principles, stand in the same relation to each other, as effect to cause, and that which condemns the one will condemn the other, by their fruits shall ye know them, is the test laid down by the supposed founder of the system, and by this do we judge, from the time of Constantine, falsely called the great (for he was great only in crimes), down to the present moment. Christians, when they have had the power, have done the utmost to de stroy the right of free discussion; they pretend to believe that the gates of hell will not prevail against their system, and yet they are afraid of every wind that blows; if they had confidence in the truth of their doctrines they would not invoke the strong arm of the law to keep it in existence; the fact, that they do so, is a clear proof that they have no other effectual argument to use, and even this is effectual only for a time, it becomes effectual by silencing the objector by the dungeau's gloom, not by imparting conviction to his mind; a system that can be supported by no other means than these ought not to ̈èxist. Not one of the 40,000 priests in Britian who are pocketing £20,000,000 per annum; not one of this vast number with this immense revenue at command is bold enough to challenge a SOUTHWELL or a HOLYOAKE to public discussion, on a public platform, on the existence of a god and the truth of the bible; this, in my opinion, proves the dishonesty We have said that it is of no consequence and hypocrisy of the paid advocates of christo us whether there exist a god or not, and tianity, and yet these men, in the face of we are not afraid to repeat the assertion. wholesale prosecution and persecution have Our knowledge is made up of experience; the effrontery to declare that christianity we have to find out the things which make courts investigation-that the more it is crifor our good, and to pursue them; we know that "virtue is its own reward," and we shall ticised the brighter it will shine. There is one comfort for them, according to their own therefore, without any help from above, fol- doctrine, for they can wash away these fulselow its dictates. Admitting the existence of a deity, if he incline to good, we cannot then hoods in the blood of Christ, and sing suffer; and if the "old man in the clouds love "darkness rather than light," aud "evil rather than good," we have no depen-"Commit ten thousand crimes (says Richdence upon and nothing to hope from him. ardson), all of the blackest hue, all will be forgiven, for Christ has said, come to me;
words which it was unlawful for man to
I, the chief of sinners am;
verily, verily, there is no comforts like those of the gospel, for godliness is great gain and profitable for all things, especially for the priests.
It is the fashion of some Christians, when they are told of the wholesale intolerance of their "brethren in the world," to say, oh, I disapprove of that, christianity does not sanction that, and yet they will do nothing to prevent it; they forget that they who allow oppression share the crime, and in fact, they sanction the doctrine of persecution to the fullest extent, by advocating the doctrine, "he that believeth shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned." I deny the right of any power, divine, infernal, or human, to punish any one in this world, or "that which is to come," for his opinions; man cannot believe as he likes, he must believe according to the strongest conviction made upon his mind; no power, therefore, has any right to send a man to hell, any more than one man has a right to punish another for his convictions; in fact, the doctrine of damnation for belief is the foundation of all intolerance, and I therefore maintain that christianity is not a tolerant system, that it is not worth what it costs, that it has been proved a failure, if it ever was intended to do good, and that, in consequence, it ought to be destroyed, root and branch; its scraps of morality have been gathered from other sources; its theology nothing but reformed paganism; at best, in short, its place can be supplied very easily, by a much better systein, in every respect. If Christians wish it to retain any portion of respect-if they wish it not to be considered the greatest curse that ever afflicted humanity, they must oppose firmly and unitedly, both prosecution and persecution, in principle and detail, otherwise, their wishes will not be gratified.
If we were to inquire of the Prostestant, what he means by the principles of protestantism, he would say, the principles of unfettered thought and speech, and yet, the whole history of Protestant christianity, proves that Protestant Christians have done their utmost to fetter the one by supernatural fears, and the other by the strong arm of the law, such are the professed principles and real practice of the Protestant world. Professing to discard the authority of the church in religious matters, they have retained it in practice, and thus have they cheated the world into a belief that there has been a change for the better; the fact is, that Protestants have been as intolerant as they could, and dared. Catholics have been no more; previous to the revolution of 1688, the churchmen and dissenters were continually engaged in virulent contests with each other; as soon as these quarrels had, in part, subsided, they joined their forces for an Infidel crusade, and passed
the following disgraceful and atrocions law,
By the 9th & 10th of William the Third, educ. 32, it is enacted that "If any person cated in, or having made profession of, the Christian religion, shall, by writing, printing, teaching, or advised speaking, deny the Chris tian religion to be true, or the holy scriptures to be of divine authority, he shall, upon the first offence, be rendered incapable to hold any office or place of trust; and for the second be incapable of bringing any action, being guardian, executor, legatee, or pur chaser of lands, and suffer three years' impri sonment, Such disabilities may for ouce be avoided by a public recantation, within four months after."
There, Christians, what think you of that? Infidels, what think you of that law? Surely, the first will be ashamed of his own system; and the second redouble his exertions to destroy it. Oh, religion, what innumerable atrocities have been committed in thy name, what a curse hast thou been in all ages of the world. The Jew-Book sanctions these things; the truth-telling, faithful apostle, Peter, tells us, to "submit to every ordinance of man for the lord's sake," and of course this apostacy law among the number. Rare doctrine this! To be given by divine inspiration. Christianity favourable to Hiberty! Out upon such nonsense-it is scarce worth a refutation. Paul, another of the faithful, says, let every soul be subject to the higher powers; for there is no power but of god, the powers that be, are ordained of god; whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of god; and they that resist shall recieve to themselves damnation, so that the penalty of seeking liberty of speech and action, in this world, is to be, damnation in the next, according to the Jew-Book. Hence, it is evident, that that which promotes the best interests of humanity in this world, is heresy, infidelity, blasphemy, atheism; and yet, we have men declaring in the present day, what Lord Bacon ignorantly declared in his, namely, "there never was found in any age of the world either philosopher, or sect, or law, or discipline, which did so highly exalt the pub. lic good as the Christian faith." Of the ig norance of Christians, of the contents of their own book, we shall have something more to say in a future article. What is a Christian, measured by the orthodox standard? He must express no doubt of the truth of the extraordinary statements contained in the sacred books, he must implicitly believe the doctrines drawn from those statements by holy ghost
inspired priest; not daring to exercise his
Survey the varied globe, and mark the spot
The universality of its domains does not prove its impregnability or utility; it must, it shall be destroyed. The utility of fearless examinations, no one can doubt, who has thought upon the subject. Already, inquiry has buried the tomb of oblivion an immense number of those offsprings of human insanity, the religious of the world. May all those that remain soon experience the same fate, and man learn that he is destined for, and capable of happiness in this state of existence, and that, whether he is happy or miserable does not depend upon the influence or decrees of any supernatural power; but upon his own conduct. Trusting that each and all of your readers
will exert themselves individually to bring about this state of things, I am yours, in the cause, J. C. F.
[The following letter was received from Mr. CHAS. SOUTHWELL by a friend of his, and being of opinion that anything emanating from Mr. S. would be interesting to the readers of the Oracle, he has kindly forwarded it to the editor.]
Bristol Gaol, Friday, July 1, 1842. MY DEAR SIR,-I am sorry Mr. MACKINTOSH has been affronted; if possible he should have been soothed-not shocked. His excuse for abandoning the contest was paltry; but I presume he thought any excuse was better than none. It is, however, to be regretted that our friends furnished him with the ghost of one. The net was well thrown, but not well lined, so the big bird, the only Social philosopher, contrived to break away from it.
I have been visited by one Mr. BAIRSTOW, a crack Chartist leader. The coversation was spirited and miscellaneous. My tongue is growing too large for my mouth from sheer want of exercise; but please don't mean shorten it, but rather gain in length what god, as the folks say, I will reduce it by and by. I
But I have
I intend it should lose in thickness. not quite done about Mr. Bairstow. He is a Theist, and has gallantly undertaken to prove in the sight of all who have intellectual eyes to see, that there is at least one god. We agreed to have a single combat, a fair stand up fight, when I am out of the state's keeping, and am allowed to pay for my own lodging. The war is to be a paper one. I have agreed to allow him equal space, in whatever paper I have to do with. If he can convince me that there is one or many gods, I shall be greatly obliged to him. He will have nothing to do or say for the god of revelation, but undertakes to show a bright and shining god of nature. He is a clever young mantalks to admiration, and, I am told, writes as cleverly as he talks. Success to him! If he combine better for the cause of truth, whether that truth be the talents of Demosthenes and Cicero, so much the material or spiritual, polytheistical, pantheistical, theistical, or atheistical. I really long for a dicussion with some one who is competent for the task, and having appealed to reason, dares abide by it; such men are rare, almost as rare as flowers in December. Discussion is, as Tully well observed, the file which best polishes our intellectual weapons; but where are the men who profit by old opinions, however crazy, and are well pleased to wear the tottering, rich and respectable livery of cant; where are there, I say, such men, who dare discuss freely all questions, and hold fast only that which is good? Echo answers, where?
Give my love to H., the trial will not, I learn, come on till the assizes; well, so much the better. The 18th of August, I believe, the assizes commence, weeks to prepare his paper pellets, and maufacture some thunder. He should pay Bristol a visit on his way, or out of his way to Gloucester, when, as the advertising people say, he will undoubtedly hear of something to his advantage. The petition from Cheltenham, condemnatory of the conduct of
so that our friend will have more than seven clear