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TO THE BISHOP OF EXETER:
WHETHER OR NOT
BY C. J. HASLAM.
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR,
79 ST. STEPHEN-STREET, SALFORD.
Price one Penny.
In relation to my Letters to the Clergy of all Denominations I have to say, that so far as I have used language in relation to the Bible which has occasioned parties to suffer, so far I lament it; but so far as my language has taken effect, so far as it has taken root, as gardeners would say, or so far as I have made myself heard in the world, so far I rejoice at it. I rejoice at it, because I have now an opportunity of making known to my fellow-creatures, all that I know in relation to the Bible. I have said some strong things in relation to the Bible. I have used some outrageous language, as some may call it. But strong and outrageous as my language is, I felt myself justified in using it; first, because the mass of information which I possess in relation to the Bible, and which had cost me years of labour to acquire, had produced such a strong conviction in my
mind that the Bible was
but I must here stop or I shall commit blasphemy; and second, because it was necessary to excite, by some means or other, the people's attention to a subject so important in relation to their welfare, and in order to do this, it was necessary to use the language, and adopt the manner that I have done.
But, my Lord, the facts alone which I am in possession of, in relation to the Bible, are amply sufficient to justify the language I have made use of. To accuse a man of robbery or murder, is using strong language towards him, but is that language not justified as soon as the man is proved to be either the one or the other? So is it with respect to me and the Bible. I have proved certain things in relation to the Bible, and instead of my proof being attended to, the deduction alone from the proof is taken notice of. The whole of my evidence is passed over, and the conclusion, arising out of the evidence, is made the subject of prosecution. Can any
of you call this rational ? Or is such a proceeding becoming men at this age of the world? If, my Lord, this principle be a good one, why not adopt it in our courts of law? If a robber or a murderer is placed at the bar, why not indite the accuser of a scandalous libel? Is he not guilty of a “ ribald attack” upon the character of the accused? as my attacks upon the Bible were described to be, by a member of the Government. Why enquire into evidence ? Why examine witnesses ?
And why convict the man who is scandalously libelled? Here you are, my Lord, both you and the Government, guilty of the grossest inconsistency. Here you are acting upon two opposite principles, one of which must be false. In one case where a charge is made, (such for instance as that against the Bible ) you not only reject all evidence in support of that charge, but you convict the man of a crime for making it; and in another case you
accept the evidence, examine the witnesses, and decide according to the evidence adduced. If, my Lord, it be right to convict me of a scandalous libel because I have made certain charges against the Bible, and to pass over the whole of my evidence unnoticed, in support of that charge, it is also right, in every case of robbery or murder, or any other crime, to convict the accuser and acquit the accused, and to send the witnesses about their business. This is a specimen of your Lordship's rationality, and also the rationality of the British Government in the nineteenth century.
Having made this explanation, and these remarks, with regard to my Letters to the Clergy, I shall now proceed to my MATERIALS for deciding the question, Whether or not the Bible is the word of God? The following passage I submit to your lordship's attention:
“Mr. Le Clerc has asserted, That the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses) was a great deal more modern than Moses, and that it may be conjectured to have been composed by a Jewish Priest, sent from Babylon to instruct the new inhabitants of Palestine, about the 18th year of the reign of Josiah, and that this work was afterwards approved of by the priests who were at Jerusalem, who found nothing in it but what was pious, and conformable to the law of God, and to the truth of history.”
This extract, my Lord, is from Du Pin, and here we have the opinion of a Christian writer, that the five first books of the Bible, commonly ascribed to Moses, were written by a Jewish Priest about the 18th year of the reign of Josiah, and therefore no more the word of God than a Jewish Priest could make them. Is this not of service in deciding the question before us?
“St. Chrysostom observes, The Jews having been at some times careless and negligent, and at other times profane, they suffered some of the sacred books to be lost through their carelessness, and have burnt and destroyed others."
This is from Simon's Critical History of the Versions of the New Testament. So that here we are told by an eminent Christian Theologian, that the Jews actually BURNT some of the word of God. They who believed in the word of God, and had such reverence and respect for it, actually burnt and destroyed some of it. Can it be believed that the Deity would write books for the benefit of His creatures, and owing to some vagabond Jews, those books get destroyed, and the whole human race ever afterwards to be deprived of that blessing which God designed to bestow upon them? Are the blessings of God, as to whether they reach his creatures or not, depending upon such precarious circumstances ? Does it depend upon a few careless Jews, as to whether those blessings are intercepted or not? Can mortals, in short, neutralize, and render of no avail, the power and designs of the Deity? And who can believe that the Deity has no more regard for his creatures, than to allow them to suffer, because of the negligence and profaneness of some Jews two or three thousand years back! The word of God, we are told, is necessary to our salvation, yet here is some of the word of God, and some of the most essential parts for any thing we know, got burnt and destroyed thousands of years back; so that • according to this doctrine none of us can be saved, for that which is necessary to our salvation we have not: we have only a piece of it, and a very small piece according to a quotation in Letter I. page 9. Measuring our salvation by the quantity of word of God, we shall be about a quarter saved at the very most, and three quarters damned. The whole idea is preposterous; and insufferable for a moment.
· Du Pin, in speaking of St. Justin's account of the Greek version of the Old Testament by the 72 interpreters, mentioned in Letter II. page 18, and also upon the gross deception practised upon St. Justin with regard to a statue at Rome, an account of which I shall give by-and-by, and which will serve to illustrate the
readiness with which the Fathers believed any thing that was told them; Du Pin, in speaking of these matters, says:
“ It's well known how frivolous and uncertain their pretended popular traditions are, and especially amony the Jews, who have always been much addicted to believe and talk of wonderful and surprising things, as may be seen by the Talmud.
The Jews, my Lord, are the parties out of whose hands we have received the Old Testament, it is they who tell us that it is the word of God; yet, says Du Pin, it is well known HOW FRIVOLOUS AND UNCERTAIN THEIR PRETENDED TRADITIONS ARE, and they have always been much addicted to believe and talk of wonderful and surprising things. I leave it to my readers to draw conclusions.
“ The Council of Trent, (says Du Pin, held in the year 1540) when it declared the vulgar version authentic, did not thereby declare it as done by divine inspiration, neither as a piece conformable in all respects to the original text, or free from all errors.
This was the vulgar version of St. Jerome of the Old Testament. And I might ask, if this is the character of the Bible given by priests themselves, what must be its character in reality? They confess that it is not free from errors. Again Du Pin says:
“Notwithstanding the care and precautions of the Massorites and Jews, who have wrote or printed the Hebrew Bibles, there are still a great many differences between the manuscripts and printed Bibles, as Buxtorfe hath observed in his Rabinnical Library, and Cappelle after him.
There are differences in the punctuation, about the consonants, and whole words and
Which shows, That let them be never so diligent, it is impossible but some faults will slip in, either in the copying or printing of a work.