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can flatter themselves that they have been in any way serviceable to the canse of truth, and the interests of religion and virtue—if any have been freed from prejudice by theirarguments--if any have been convinced of the truth of Christianity by their discussions—if any have dismissed the priest in consequence of their animadversions—they are indifferent to the wayward opinions of men, and invulnerable to the attacks of the ignorant, the bigota ted, and the venal : and even if they have not been thus successful, the sincerity of the heart, and the integrity of the intention, affords a solace to the mind, which renders disappointment unpainful, and détraction almost enviable.
At présent, men are too much attached to creeds and systems—the priest has still too great influence over the consciences of Christians, not excepting the most enlightened, to justify the expectation of any important success to an undertaking like the present; and considering the obstacles opposed to its progress, the completion of its second volume is matter of proud exultation, to which the projectors in their fondest expectations had hardly looked. Thus encouraged, the Conductors of the Freethinking Christians Magazine are determined to go on as long as they have reason to believe their exertions are attended with any adequate good, and the expence of publication continues unburthensome to themselves.
Of the merits of this volume it would be impertinent for those who have contributed so largely to its pages to speak. That it has many of the defects peculiar to miscellaneous composition, and incident to the liberality of its discussions, they are convinced. In determining the fitness of the communications of correspondents to ineet the public eye, they have aimed at rigid impartiality, and consulted, as they hope, the good of the reader, and not their own feelings and sentiments. Whether in this determination they have acted free from the bias of opinion must be for others to judge; and as they form to themselves no lax rule of duty in this respect, they care not how severe the scrutiny may be into their conduct. With their principles and professions, the august image of truth should be ever present in their ininds, and its divine influence govern all their decisious.
The great objects of the Freethinking Christians' Magazine have been to promote fair and manly controversy on matters of acknowledged impor-a tance ; to bring into investigation systems and establishments, however remote their origin, and popular their support; to banish ignorance, and dissipate prejudice; to assert the rights of conscience, and emancipate the huinan mind from its degraded vassalage to spiritual oppression ; to encou“ rage the study of man, and dotect the sources of mental error; to teach cors rect habits of thinking, and lay the foundation of sound principles of judgment: to lower the vain assumptions of scepticism, and correct the excursive wanderings of a specious and delusive philosophy; to give lofty and profound conceptions of the Deity, and cherish a love of his goodness; to demonstrate the advantages of virtue, and set forth the beauties of holiness; to refine, exalt, and perfect, the human character, and raise the colidition of humanity! In the furtherance of these important purposes, it is humbly presumed, and ardently hoped, the contents of this volume may
become useful; and as the grand aim and ultimate end of this work is to teach what Jesus taught, its friends and supporters feel a satisfaction in believing that their principles shall operate, though silently and unseen, and that in the fulness of time MEN SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH, AND THE TRUTH SHALL WAKE THEM FREE.
ON THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD; SHEWING THAT IT.
IS CONTRARY TO NATURE.
To the Editor of the Freethinking Christians' Magazine.
I MPRESSED) with an idea that the subject is of the high
est importance, and a conviction of mind, that, through the medium of your publication, the promotion of religious truth is greatly facilitated, I obtrude myself on your notice : without apology, and without preface, I bumbly solicit the favour of baving the following observations inserted in your repository.
Previous, however, to propounding any question of my own, I intend to notice an article which appeared in your last number (page 540), under the signature of T. ; for therein an attempt is made to support a doctrine which I verily do not believe; uamely, that there are occurrences in nature which support the belief in a future state of existence.
This writer chooses to commence his observations, by an attack upon a set of people whom he calls Deists. He notices first their presumptive claims to reason, and then declares that " they of all men in religious matters, shew the least exercise of reason, and exhibit the most immature judgment.” This may be true; but, strange to relate, in his attempt to prove that " the resurrection of Jesus was not unnatural; and that a new creation, arising out of an old one is accordant with nature,” he employs the very same trite and futile arguments, which many of these people have, at various times, made use of, in their attempts to establish at the same time, a scheme to support the idea of a future life and dispense with Christianity. But to attend to some of his observations :
“ I know not (says he) by what power I write these lines, or think these thoughts." Probably he inay not; he may not know by what power animals, of tlie brute creation think, or determine to stretch out their limbs, and do it; he may not be able to discover the immediate cause of this action is matter; but he may convince himself that it is an harinonious combination of its principles, and the action produced by this combination that gives both to hiin and then the powers that
each respectively possesses. “What particular part of ine (he asks) must I preserve to retain my consciousness, when all other parts are destroyed ?" This is a curious question ; but he in some measure answers it, when he tells us what parts we may dispense with, and still retain life and consciousness ; that life seems to exist in the organization, and though not dependent on the entire of organization, it is on its primary parts. He goes on, “ If this is the case, there is not occasion to preserve this body to preserve conscious identity;" and, after speaking of the changes which man inay possibly undergo, he says,
6 All this demonstrates that flesh and blood are distinct from conscious identity." What does he mean by this? Does he mean to say that man in his present state possesses an immaterial and immortal spirit? does he mean to say, that all his powers, whether of the body or mind, have not their origin in matter, and that they are not absolutely dependent upon it? If he does, I give it as my opinion that his conelusions are false, and bumbly invite to adduce any thing that will prove the contrary,
The untaught hewer of wood knows, of trees or plants, that the seat of life lies not in their remote branches; that a tree may have any or the principal part of its branches taken off, and it will continue to grow with increased vigor ; but if by any means the primary part is injured, then in proportion to the injury sustained so will the health be affected, and the growth impeded. Similarly so the case is with man. A person of a strong constitution may have all his limbs amputated ; his external parts may be so mutilitated that no one can recognize him, and yet the emporium of life remains the same : but should his vital parts be injured (I will not insult the reader's understanding by telling him what constitutes these parts), then will the health of his body and the vigor of his mind be affected, whether organization is entire or not.
Again, should any very serious accident happen to the brain (and this is only flesh and blood), conscious identity is iinmediately suspended. All his thoughts are extravagant dreams -the workings of a disordered imagination; he knows not who he is, or what he is; where he has been, or what he has done ; whether he has lived a day only, or existed a thou
Speaking of vegetation, he says, " the grasses shoot out to maturity and die; from new roots, &c. they rise again (not the withered grasses of course) in annual verdure. The organic plant was put into the ground; it is dead, &c. but it has left in its place a new root, which produces a similar flower." Very true ; but what has all this to do with the resurrection of the dead, or what analogy does it bear to the re-animation of Christ's dead body? It is true there is exhibited a succession
of the same things, and in that succession there is similarity; but there is no identity : the offspring plant no more possesses the identity of its parent, than I am the identical person of
“ The tulip, &c. (continues he) bear their tese timony to the possibility of a resurrection of apparent identity from a notoriously dead plant.” It is my opinion they bear no such testimony. The means of succession is produced By the plant during its existence, and not FROM it when it is notoriously dead. The parent plant, if I may be allowed the figure, conceives its offspring ; imparts to it its nuo tritive properties ; nurtures it up, and commits it to the care of its foster parent; and then, whether the old plant live or die, if accident interpose not, the young plant shoots forth.
“It is part of my chain of argument (says this writer) To shew that it is perfectly accordant to nature, that beings distinct in their nature, &c. are the constant productions even of present nature from dead bodies of animals." Well, let us see how he shews it. “ The little newt, and alınost every insect change their skins; the lobster renews its claws; the salamander and lizard reproduce their lost legs and tails." The stale story about the butterfly is introduced too. “All
quadrupeds change their external covering; the aerial birds their plumage ; serpents their skins; and crustaceous animals lose their shells.” Can he have the hardihood to say that any of these things are produced from the dead bodies of animals, when upon the very face of what he asserts, there is the fullest demonstration that they are all produced BY organic matter, in full possession of its animal properties?
If my prolixity has not already caused disgust, I will notice one more observation, and dismiss the subject. “ Leta box-tree (says he) he planted in the city of London, &c. in a few revolving years it finds life recede, till at last it lingers about the root, and the whole plant dies ; but just before this has taken place" (Now this is the sub!)-just before this has taken place -yes, but let that take place ; let every vestige of circulation be destroyed, and then if he can restore the plant to life-the point he has aimed at will be established. He tells us, “ Organic life in vegetation lays in the bark, and may be lost by destroying the circulation," and asks, “ Is not such a destruction death? Yes, as sure-as two and two make four; but if the circulation is only reduced (no matter how low), and not absolutely extinct, then I will not admit that it is death ; neither will I admit that the reviving of that circulation is a resurrection from the dead.
It appears evident, that “ T.”, amongst other things, has been contending for a possibility of the resurrection, and has taken great pains to prove that the author of nature has power
to raise the dead. Now many people would readily grant that Deity has this power ; but there is a great difference between believing that he has it, and that he employs it in the way it is asserted.
After what I have said, there is little occasion for me to repeat, that I deduce nothing from nature's laws, which sub. stantiates the fact, or even favours the idea of the resurrection of the dead. If, therefore, I do hold this faith; if I do enter. tain this cheering idea, I must have other foundation whereon to rest my confidence and establish my hope : and nothing, in my opinion, seems calculated to form this basis, except Christianity, fairly and fully established on rational principles. Would I were convinced that this is the case !-I do not, by expressing this doubt, mean to detract any thing from the merit of Christianity; for I assert, that the vioral doctrine which it displays and enforces, and the sentiments it inculcates, are admirable and sublime, and worthy the support of the most exalted in society; that the hope which it inspires, and the promises it exbibits, have the greatest tendency to promote emulation in the paths of' virtue ; but, on the other hand, 1 must say, that its consumination, that which seals the whole, the re. surrection of its author-is dark, equivocal, mysterious. With the Deists, 1 contend, that the resurrection of Christ's dead hody is incompatible with all I know of nature. But admitting the fact, and that the testimony we have of it, renders its veracity incontrovertible, still there are circunstances connected with it, which in iny opinion require explanation. We might reasonably expect that the body, after it was re-animated, would again possess all the faculties and power which it previously enjoyed, and would be able to exercise itself in all the functions of its former state ; but how it could, with these, combine all the supernatural powers it possessed-how it could perforin all those ghost-like actions which are recorded, and could become incorruptible-in what manner this corporeal substance could appear or vanisl instantly, or transform itself, or enter a room, the doors beivy shut”-and how it could, finally, be carried up into heaven" and enjoy immortalityhow all or any of these things could be, I have not power to conceive ; and how they can be reconciled to reason, I have yet to learn..
These circumstances, Sir, operate with me, at present, against admitting the efficacy of Christianity ; and if any of your enlightened correspondents will attempt to remove the cause, they will have the unaffected thanks of a person, who is ever willing to believe the truth.
I remain, &c. Stepney, Nor. 19, ISIT.