The Doubts Of Infidels online

. (page 2 of 3)
Online LibraryAnonymousThe Doubts Of Infidels → online text (page 2 of 3)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

any such exist! pity the wretch who admires your virtues, but whose
pen trembles, and whose eye overflows at the recital of your deeds! And
thou, O mighty and benevolent Power, forgive the heart that, shocked
at the tortures inflicted on thy creatures, is unwilling to acknowledge
thee as the author of them!

* Johua vi. 21.

** Joshua x. 10.

*** Joshua xi. 20.

**** 2 Sam. xii. 29, 31.

19. The most rational men reject the science of magic or witchcraft, as
a silly imposition on the credulity of mankind; but we believers,
who have nothing to do with reason, but are guided by the indefinable
faculty called _faith_, are perfectly ready to admit it, and deplore the
infidelity of that parliament, which repealed the acts by which so many
of that profession lost their lives.

The witch of Endor,** and the Jewish law, both prove by divine argument,
the existence of such professors, though, like miracles, they have now
ceased to appear. But notwithstanding this, we should be glad of an
argument or two from you, our spiritual directors, which might establish
this important point of doctrine, as well in the minds of reasonable
men, as in the minds of men, who, by means of the additional faculty
_faith_, are above reason.

** Sam. xxviii.

20. In the last battle of Saul with the Philistines* near Gilboa, Saul
being sorely wounded, requested his armour-bearer to draw his sword, and
run him through, but his armour-bearer would not; therefore Saul took
a sword and fell upon it; and when his armour-bearer saw that Saul was
dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.** David was
at this time returned from the pursuit of the Amalekites, when, on the
third day after Saul's death, a young man came out of the camp from
Saul, with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head. He brought the
news of Saul's death, the circumstances of which, upon David's enquiry,
he reported to be, that coming by chance upon Mount Gilboa, he beheld
that Saul leaned on his spear, and that the chariots and horsemen
followed hard after him. Saul looking behind him, called the young man,
and requested him to slay him: so I stood upon him, said the young man,
and slew him, because I was sure he could not live after he was fallen;
and I took the crown that was on his head, and the bracelet that was on
his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord. David rewarded the
mistaken compassion of this young man, by commanding him to be put to

* 1 Sam. xxxi.

** 2 Sam. i.

How do our adversaries, the infidels, exclaim against the barbarity of
David, when they read this melancholy history! What! say they, is this
the mild, the merciful David? Is this the man after God's own heart? Is
he not rather the tyrant - the inhuman despot? What effort of holy zeal
could stimulate him to murder the young man, who had performed the last
offices of humanity to Saul; who, in the agonies of death, had himself
besought him to put an end to his lingering miseries? Why should this
idol of the Christians, this man after God's own heart, embrue his hands
in the blood of the youth, who supposed he had done a charitable office
to the deserted and expiring monarch, whom this David pretended to
lament, and who, at the same time, gave such endearing proofs of loyalty
to him himself, by presenting him with the regal ornaments? But we,
the faithful, who can easily explain all scripture mysteries, say, that
though David was really one of the greatest of sinners, yet he truly
repented him before he died. Our enemies, the unbelievers, say no; that
it is false, and they quote the very Book of Books* against us for their

* 1 Kings ii. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

They say if David ever repented, or was ever truly pious, we shall
certainly perceive it, in his behaviour during his last moments, on
his death bed. There, say they, it is to be hoped, we shall find him
forgiving his enemies, and dying in charity with all mankind. This is
what all mankind in general make a point of doing, from the saint to the
malefactor. David, therefore, must certainly give us an extraordinary
instance of his attention to this important evidence of contrition.

But what shall we think, say these enemies of our holy religion, when we
see this Nero of the Hebrews, this man after God's own heart, this idol
of the Christians, die in a manner uniform and consistent with the whole
course of his life? What will be our reflections, when we find him, with
his last accents, delivering two cruel and inhuman murders in charge to
his son Solomon? Murders still farther aggravated by the included crimes
of ingratitude and perjury! One of them to be executed on his old and
faithful general, Joab, who powerfully assisted him on all occasions,
and who adhered to him in all his extremities; till at the last, when
he had justifiable cause of chagrin, but who, notwithstanding, had not
appeared in actual hostility against him, but only drank a glass of wine
with the malcontents. His other charge was against Shimea, who reviled
David at his retreat from Jerusalem, during his son Absalom's rebellion;
but who made his submission to him when he returned victorious, and
whose pardon David had sealed with a solemn oath. All these commands,
say the infidels, were executed in a manner truly worthy the son of such
a father! These, Christians, say our enemies, are the outlines of the
life of a Jew, whom, according to the Book of Books, or, more properly
speaking, priestcraft, you are not ashamed' to continue extolling as a
man after _God's own heart!_ What an impiety, say the infidels, to the
Majesty of Heaven!

Wherefore we, the true believers, pray that your Lordships will
satisfactorily answer and explain all those doubts and objections
brought forward against us by infidel philosophers and writers; and
if unanswerable, that your Lordships will, with true Christian zeal,
procure an act of parliament to be passed, in order to prevent any more
doubts whatever being entertained by the enemies of our holy faith and
religion, as by law established.

None but infidels, it is true, would utter impieties like the above;
but, alas, 'the infidels of our days have become formidable to the true
believers, by an attention to morality, and the mild and gentle offices
of pity, and by warning their fellow-citizens to avoid and detest the
cruelties of religious persecution: how egregiously they mistake! Your
Lordships will rectify their notions, it is to be hoped, in these as
well as in other respects.

They have an argument still more formidable against the truth of the
foregoing accounts, concerning the death of Saul, which is, that they
are so very different, that one of them must be false. To this we can
only answer, as it becomes the faithful in all such cases of seeming
contradiction; namely, that they were both written by the pen of
inspiration, consequently must both be true, however contradictory or
absurd they may seem to mere human reason.

21. David commanded that the children of Judah should be taught the
use of the bow: behold, it is written in the Book of Jasher.* Many
difficulties arise here about the Book of Jasher. It was extant previous
to the writing the Book of Joshua,** the author of that book quoting it,
and by the foregoing text it appears, it was not finished till after
the accession of David to the throne of Israel. Now, if Joshua wrote the
account of his own transactions, as is generally believed, the author of
Jasher must have lived upwards of four hundred years; and if the Book of
Joshua was not written till after the time of David, and by an unknown
author, the infidels will affirm, that it comes under the description
which is at the beginning of the second of these questions. And the
misfortune is, we do not know how to confute them, but we hope
your Lordships will easily remove this, among many Other very great
difficulties, now your long dormant seal is at length awakened. Our
enemies have reproached us with the examples of the primitive church;
they observe, that the priests were poor and indefatigable, but are now
pampered and lazy. Fat benefices and lordly bishoprics, they say, cause
a total eclipse of the light of religion, by obtruding, their opake
substances between the eye of the priest and the kingdom of Heaven. But,
alas, how palpably they mistake!

* 2 Sara. i. 18.

** Josh. x. 13.

The ancient priests were ignorant of their business; they despised
riches, because they knew no better, or, perhaps, because they could not
get them. But how are the understandings of men enlightened! how great
the wisdom of the modern times! how are the sciences improved! Has it
not been for many centuries discovered, that pain and mortification are
fit companions for the devil, and therefore totally improper for
saints? Can a poor wretch, inured to penury and the scourge, be suddenly
reconciled to happiness and Heaven? Instead of enjoying the manna of the
promised land, would he not be prescribing himself a fast; and when it
became him to sleep recumbent on his couch of blessedness, would he
not envy the damned their whips and scorpions? So difficult it is to
eradicate long confirmed habits. But wherefore dwell on so unprofitable
a subject? The wisdom of our divines has taught them to avoid such
absurdities, to detest such errors. They will not lose their relish for
pleasure, for want of practice.

29. David, by the instigation of the Lord, numbered the people-of
Israel and Judah;* but afterwards, being probably ignorant by whose
instigation he had acted, he repented of the deed. This repentance
did not excuse him in the sight of the Lord, who offered him to chuse
either, "seven years" famine, three months defeat before his enemies, or
three days pestilence.

David chose the latter, and seventy thousand men died. This memorable
event has not escaped the inspired penman of the Book of Chronicles,**
who affirms, "that Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked
David to number them;" but God was displeased with this thing, and
therefore smote Israel. David repenting, was offered from God his
choice, either "three years famine, three months destruction before
his enemies, or three days pestilence the latter of which he chose, and
there died of Israel seventy thousand men.

Our too curious and inquisitive opposers, who are unwilling to believe
"cunningly devised fables,"*** enquire how it could be a crime in David
to number the people, especially as it was by the instigation of the
Lord. They beg to be informed, whether the Lord, and Satan, be one and
the same person; and if not, which of the two was the instigator of
this unhappy, business, and likewise which of the two "infallible" and
"inspired" writers tells the lie? Lastly, they cannot conceive how the
seven years famine in the Book of Samuel is dwindled into three in the
Chronicles. To all these questions we answer, that it was sufficient to
make this action of David's criminal, that the Lord disliked it after it
was done; and as to its being done by his instigation, we must observe,
that it is no uncommon thing for the Lord to be angry with his servants
for obeying his commands.

* 2 Sam. xxiv.

**1 Chron. xxi.

*** 2 Pet. i. 10.

23. The instance of Balaam is a case in point.* Hence we infer, that,
in the commands of the Lord, there is always a clause implied or
understood, which leaves it to the discretion of the faithful to act as
they think proper. It is true, that this position leads immediately to
the doctrines of the Jesuits, which have been so universally abhorred:
but why need we regard the abhorrence of the world, while we are
convinced that our tenets are scriptural? With regard to the affairs
of Satan and the Lord, we leave it to your Lordships' management; but
cannot help observing with derision, the futility of the objections
respecting the three and seven years' famine. They have little skill
in divine arithmetic, if this affords them any embarrassment. They know
nothing of the sublime logic by which divines prove three to be one, and
one to be three. For example, if it were affirmed that Eldon is a Lord,
Castlereagh is a Lord, and Sidmouth is a Lord, and yet they are not
three Lords, but one Lord, this would be termed absolute and ridiculous
nonsense, notwithstanding their close Ministerial union. But in holy
matters it is quite otherwise,** as might easily be elucidated
by instances too sacred to be commented upon by any unconsecrated

* Qu. 16.

** See an excellent specimen of this in the Creed commonly
ascribed to St. Athanasius.

94. Another instance of the imperfection of the art of arithmetic, as it
is erroneously taught in our schools, appears in its affording no rule
by which the two genealogies of Jesus Christ may be reconciled to each
other. Matthew reckons twenty-seven generations from David to Christ.
Luke reckons forty-two; and the names totally disagree. Matthew traces
the descent from Solomon, and Luke from Nathan, both sons of David.
According to our feeble notions, twenty-seven cannot be equal to
forty-two, neither can Nathan, &c. be imagined to be Solomon, &c. The
infidels suppose, that the two evangelists, rather than the church
should be without the genealogy of its founder, chose to invent them;
but we good Christians, who know that both writers were infallible and
inspired, are ready to reject the clearest axioms of mere human science,
and allow that, in sacred matters, the greater number may be equal to
the less. These cavillers and infidels also demand how these genealogies
of Joseph prove, that Jesus was the son of David, when it is avowed that
Joseph was not his father? But they do not consider, that a married man
is obliged to father all the children his wife may produce; and if this
answer does not satisfy them, they must at all events confess, that
Joseph was father-in-law to Jesus, by being married to his mother;
consequently Jesus was son (in-law) to Joseph, Q. E. D. As there is no
answering for the perverseness of men, there may perhaps be some, whom
even this demonstration will not satisfy. To these we offer an argument
discovered by the truly profound Mr. Pascal.* He justly observes, that
when two witnesses disagree in the circumstances of a fact, we ought to
believe them so much the more readily on that account, as it shews that
they did not contrive the story in concert. This remark, it is to be
hoped, will likewise put an end to the absurd custom which prevails in
our courts of justice, of discrediting evidences, which, contradict each
other, such contradictions being in reality a mark of truth, "_a ceux
qui prennent bien les choses_."

* Les "faiblesses" les plus apparentes sont des "forces" à
ceux qui prennent bien les choses, Par example les deux
geneo logies de St. Matthieu, et de St. Luc, il est visible,
que cela n'a pasetè fait de concept. Voyes remarques sur les
Pensees de Pastal Ed. Geneve, 1773.

25. It is mouch to be wished, that some of our spiritual directors, who
have leisure time and large incomes, would be at the pains to rectify
and adjust to the standard of holy writ, the many errors and omissions
of profane historians.

When Christ was baptized by John, the heavens were, opened, and a
voice was heard, declaring his divine origin. Such a prodigy must have
awakened the attention of all Judea; yet we find the historians totally
silent on the matter. It is strange, that the horrid massacre of
the children by the command of Herod should be totally unnoticed by
Josephus, and even by the evangelists, Mark, Luke, and John.* Matthew
alone mentions it; but his authority is fully sufficient to justify
an interpolation (like many others) into the text of the other three
evangelists, who are defective in that particular.

* If such an act of cruelty had been committed, it could not
by any contrivance have been concealed, and Josephus, the
inveterate enemy of Herod, and many of the most impartial
historians of the Romans, living at that period, would have
taken care to record such a public act of barbarity on the
part of Herod.


It is well known with what success the primitive Christians began the
holy work of interpolating, suppressing, forging, and altering profane
histories; but as we believe their piety always prevented their meddling
with the sacred text, notwithstanding the arguments of infidels, who
attempt to prove the contrary, these holy frauds have been found of
infinite service in establishing the cause of Christianity. Why do we
forbear to pursue their great and laudable example? The modesty or the
mistaken candour of these antients* have allowed them to interpolate
no more than one paragraph concerning Jesus into the text of Josephus.
Would it not shew our superior zeal, and be of infinite service to
posterity, if some divine of the present age would incorporate the whole
narrative of Matthew into the same text? But, alas, the sneers of our
adversaries, the unbelievers, have prevailed too much, and good works,
like these, are now no more!

26. About eighteen centuries ago, (according to the prophecy of Christ
and his apostle Paul,** the sun was darkened, the moon ceased to give
light, and the stars fell from heaven; the sign of the Son of Man was
seen, the Lord himself descended from heaven with a shout, the trumpets
of the archangels were heard, the dead in Christ arose, St. Paul and
others of the elect, who were then living, were caught up in the clouds,
went to meet the Lord in the air, and have been with him ever since. It
is truly astonishing, that a phenomenon so awful as the destruction of
the system of nature should have made no interruption in the state of
nations and affairs at that time, that all the historians should omit to
record so dreadful an event, nay, that they should survive it; and that
the primitive fathers should forbear to mention a circumstance which was
so well calculated to establish the Christian religion, and confute
all the arguments of the Jews, heathens, and unbelievers. When your
Lordships set about the great work of rectifying antient histories,
you will doubtless be careful to insert an account of this tremendous
occurrence; for Christians can have no doubt but that it really
happened, since it was so directly foretold both in time and
circumstances, by Christ and his apostle Paul.

* Josephus, de Antiq. Jud. lib. xviii. cap. 4.

** Matt. xvi. 27, 28. - Matt. xxiv. 29, 34. - Mark xiii. 24,
31. - Lukexxi. 25, 33. - 1 Thess. iv. 16, 17.

27. The oracles of Delphos were obscure and capable of various
interpretations, but the prophecies of sacred writ are all so clear and
obvious, they shine so bright by their own native lustre, that no one
has ever pretended to doubt their divine origin, except those infidels
who are unfortunately blinded by the too great suffusion of light, which
the Scriptures so continually emit. If the gift of curing the blind
be not entirely lost among the apostles of the present day, it must be
Christian charity to describe the symptoms of their disorder, that your
Lordships may attempt the cure. These unfortunate people observe, that
God said to Adam concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil,*
"In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die;" he
transgressed, and, nevertheless, lived at least eight hundred years
afterwards. They observe, that the great evangelical prophet Isaiah,*
could foresee the downfall of Babylon by Cyrus, but could not tell
the name of the Messiah, though his coming was an event of infinitely
greater consequence; nay, they even charge him with a blunder, if
we admit the opinion, that Christ was intended by the names,
Mahershalal-hash-baz and Immanuel,** since he was never called by them.
But they impiously solve this, difficulty, by affirming, that Isaiah
might take the advantage of writing his prophecy concerning Cyrus after
the events took place, but could not avail himself of the same pious
cunning in the affair of the Messiah. And, in fact, we, the true
believers, are in great want of evidence to overthrow their supposition.
They demand, if the prophecies be so evident and clear, so different
from those of the Heathens, how happened it that the whole Jewish
nation, then living, together with the angel Gabriel, should mistake,
and suppose the kingdom of the Messiah to be temporal; and that it
should not be discovered that his kingdom was not of this world, until
his enemies, the unbelievers, had prevailed and sent him out of it? They
ask, whether those inspired writers who prophesied concerning things of
no consequence, as the thirty pieces of silver, and the casting lots for
his garments, could not, with equal certainty, have predicted the more
important circumstances of his death and resurrection? In short, they
beg to be shewn a single prophecy concerning which divines are agreed,
and desire to know why, in the days of gospel light, the great prophecy
of John the Divine should be more obscure and enigmatical than any which
was written during the typical and shadowy dispensation of Moses? All
which absurd questions your Lordships will, no doubt, answer, overthrow,
and expose in the most palpable manner, to the great joy of us weak

* Isaiah xiv. and xlv.

** Iaiah

*** Luke i. 32.

28. How came it to pass, say our enemies, the cavillers and unbelievers,
that Jesus, the Son of God, should curse a fig-tree* for being without
fruit in March; was he, by whom the world was made,** ignorant that it
was not the season for figs? They likewise demand, whether it was by
design or mistake that he affirmed*** that wheat does not produce
fruit unless it first die? If Scripture was not meant to instruct
philosophers, yet why should it mislead them? But though these infidels
may please to assert, that wheat in our days is governed by laws
directly contrary to these, as all naturalists indeed acknowledge,
yet who can affirm that it was so eighteen hundred years ago? On the
contrary, since these things are recorded in the sacred writings, we
ought to submit and believe that the system of Nature is changed from
what it was in ancient times. This event probably came to pass when
the sun was darkened, and the stars fell from Heaven, as mentioned in a
former question.

* Matt. xxi. 18. Mark xi. 13, 20.

** John i. 3.

*** John xii. 24. |

**** Quest. 26.

29. Your Lordships, no doubt, will readily explain and settle the
mysterious disagreement between John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.* John
being asked if he was Elias, answered, I am not; but Jesus** affirms,
the contrary. As few even of the Christians have faith enough to believe
that John was and was not Elias at the same time, a word or two of
explanation would afford them infinite satisfaction. Commentators in
divinity can do miracles in the way of explaining; but, unfortunately
for us, all other miracles have long ceased, though at no time so much
wanted as at present.

30. Out of forty Gospels we receive four as canonical; the rest are the
fruitful produce of that spirit of forgery which the Christian world has
always been celebrated for. Their piety was indefatigable in burning
the books of the heretics and unbelievers, and the same piety was not
sparing in furnishing apocryphal books. It is for the salvation of
mankind that Christianity should prevail; and how can its propagation
be advanced, and its dominion confirmed, more than by preventing
the arguments against it from being exposed to view? Some may indeed
pretend, that this mode of proceeding is tyrannical, and destructive of
the rights of mankind; but we, the faithful, insist that it is zealous
and politic. How can a man be said to be injured, even if we allow
that he is cheated, since he is cheated into salvation, though perhaps
against his will? Yet it will be doing a singular service to us
weaker Christians, if your Lordships will point out by what particular
emanation of the Holy Spirit the Church was enabled to select the divine
out of such a number of apocryphal writings.

* John i. 21.

** Matt. xi. 14.

Our enemies, the infidels, say, that time has obliterated the primitive
disputes on this subject, and that the sanction of custom has confirmed
the authority of the four Gospels, which, so far from external and
historical, have not even the internal evidence of truth. They observe,
that the gospel of Mark, though evidently an abridgement of that of


Online LibraryAnonymousThe Doubts Of Infidels → online text (page 2 of 3)