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a new leaf” for the future, they would not so frequently be annoyed by quotations from the works they have given us for "reference” but as long as they profess a willingness, and even an anxiety, to be judged of by the past, they can expect nothing less, from those who are familiar with it, than an exposure of its reckless "temerity" and two-faced“ licy.”. They may try to throw dust in people's eyes, by charging their opponent with being "unconverted,” but thinking men will see that this is only to distract attention from their own defencelessness. Capable as they seem to be of heartlessly sacrificing an opponent's character on the altar of expediency, they may find that it has a vitality and a vigour, which bid defiance equally to the assassin's dagger, and to the sword of open war; and should their machinations succeed, they would only furnish a silent, but eloquent tribute to the inviolability of Christianity, which they seek to wound through its disciples, because they have not even a “forlorn hope” of piercing its divine panoply, in a "fair and open encounter.".
On Secularists, and other one-side thinking, or unthinking persons, the mere reiteration of charges may produce an impression ; but despite the desperate effort, made during the Glasgow debate, and renewed in this week's “Reasoner, by one who professes to be an “honourable" opponent, to produce distrust of Mr. Grant as a Christian advocate, I have little fear that his character will suffer in the estimation of any man of just and independent thought. For my own part, ten thousand of such testimonies would not shake my confidence, but rather convince me that he was doing considerable execution against the anti-christian batteries, and that they attempted a sortie in order to spike his cannon. The substance of the charge is that somebody said to somebody that Mr. Grant is an "unconverted man.” And if A did say it to B does that prove the fact ? Or if A denying having said it to B, and B denying having heard A say it, it is discovered that C and D said it, what then? Is that proof? If it is, then, what cannot be proved, and where is justice? On this flimsy foundation an attempt is made to destroy tbe confidence of the public in Mr. Grant as a Christian advocate. Supposing for a moment, what is by no means clearly proved, that two men, professing Christianity, have alleged that Mr. Grant is “not converted,” is such an unsupported allegation admissible as evidence on the point? Who are those men ? What have been their opportunities of judging? On what grounds have they come to such a conclusion? Are they men of judgment, and free from all bias, jealousy, and party feeling? All these questions need to be satisfactorily answered, ere any importance can be attached to their statements. The whole affair seems to me an illustration of the vindictiveness, and bitterness with which Infidels have too often assailed the character of those whom they could not refute in argument.
But there is another charge needing proof. At the Stockport anti-christian conference it was reported that “Mr. Grant's lecturing at Todmorden had been the means of making additions to the Secularists there." Mr. Dan Mitchell, Shuttle Maker, volunteers evidence on this head. His remarks deserve a place in a Museum of original specimens of infidel reasoning, which Mr. Holyoake is forming! On the 393rd page of the gazette of Secularism we findhim sa ying. “Now for the second part of the statement—that is, of the additions to the Secular Society. I for one am proof of the truth of this, for I was not connected with any of tha Secularists at all; in fact, I was not a reader of “the Reasoner," nor any other work of the kind ; neither was I at all conversant with any of the Secularists previous to Mr. Grant's lectures. I attended them and heard him denounce Mr. Carlile, yourself, and others so very unfairly, and in so unbecoming a manner, so very much different from what I had expected from one who was the declared champion of Christianity, that I went away thoroughly disgusted with
and farther than that he so confirır.ed my total disbelief in Christianity and in the Bible Ciod, that I at once declared myself a Secularist.”
Mr. Dan Mitchell may be an accomplished shuttle maker, but he is certainly no
logician, and it inust have been a case of urgent necessity that led “ the Reasoner" to insert such testimony, unless indeed we believe, what he so emphátically denies, that infidelity has perverted his logical-faculty, and that secularists reason back wards.
Mr. Dan Mitchell has to prove additions to the Secular Society as the result of Mr. Grant's lécturing at Todmorden, and he gives himself as evidence. Does he wish us, then, to believe that he is PLURAL and not singular; or that the Secularists are so pleased with him, that they take him for '"a host in himself," and in utter contempt of the rules of grammár call him “an additions” to their Society. How proud they must be of such recruits! He heard Mr. Grant, he tells us, "denounce Mr. Holyoake and others unfairly," that is not in accord! ance with facts; now how could he know that there was unfairness, if, as he tells 19, he was not a reader of the “Reasoner," which contains the facts on which Mr Grant rests his charges ? Mr. Grant's manner was "so unbecoming"! Unbecoming what? Is the strong denunciation of duplicity, unbecoming one whol holie vers. does Mitchell mean “unbecoming" Christianity? Then why reject Christianity for that which does not BECOME it? "So very much different from what I had expected from one who was the declared champion of Christianity”! He did not expect anything unfair or unbecoming in manner from a Christian, because the religion of Jesus sanctions nothing unfair or improper ; and yet the alleged unfairness of the advocate "confirms his total disbelief in Christianity, and in the Bible God"! His disbelief in Christianity is strengthened by evidence that proves it to be better than one of its advocates ? A Temperance lecturer gets drunk, therefore Mr. Mitchell will not become a total abstainer! An anti-slavery lecturer holds slaves, therefore our friend the shuttle maker of Newton Green, will not uphold the cause of emancipation! How a “total disbelief in Christian ity was confirmed” by conduct opposed to Christianity is a problem, which I must leave for the solution of our friend' of Newton Green. My total disbelief in Christianity and the Bible God,” he says, “was so confirmed, that I at once declared myself a Secularist." The alleged inconsistency of the Christian advocate with his principles “disgusted” Mr. Dan Mitchell, brought him up to the stick: ing point,” and led him, with heroic resolve, to declare himself a Secularist !
A few more such discoveries, Mr. Editor, and we sha’l be able to form a "nat-i ural history of Secularism," which will convince the working classes, that it is not by logic and good sense that men become identified with this ever-varying IŞM, but by casting both to the winds.
Yours in truth,
Dec. 20th, 1854.
NOTICES TO CORRESPONDENTS. A great'amount of correspondence has been accumulating upon our hands, to which we shall give attention as soon as possible.
J. B. Manchester.--Received with thanks, and will appear in our second number.
“Observer,”: Liverpool.-We highly approve of your suggestion to form a Christian Defence Association.” We shall insert it in our next.
We are thankful for the expressions of sympathy which we have received. Communications and works for review' to be addressed to the Editor, 50, Grainger Street, Newcastle-on-Tyne, either direct, or through the publishers.
London : HOULD & STONEMAN, 65, Paternoster Row.
a Werkly Magazine,
EIGHT OF THE ARTICLES.
THE BIBLE THE FRIEND OF THE POOR.
The enemies of revelation have often charged the Bible with being the friend
No. 2, Vol. 1,
cruelty brought distress upon their fellow.men, therefore, the Bible is not the friend of the poor : this is a specimen of their logic, and a proof of their conscientiousness, and because we consent not, for such reasons, to cast away from us the “good old book," they call us bigots.
We do not assert that the Mosaic economy was perfect. " It was the shadow of good things to come;" the dawning morn ushering in the effulgent day ;a dispensation preparatory and typical; not the best that the world had to see, but the best for which the world was then prepared. To prove this, which is no task, is sufficient justification of the divine arrangement. But the law of Moses in reference to the poor is not only infinitely superior to any that obtained among ancient peoples, but will bear favourable comparison with the poor laws of the most enlightened and civilized nations of the nineteenth century; and the adoption of its spirit, if not of its letter, would go far towards the solution of one of the most difficult problems of political economy, and heal those Marah fountains which not unfrequently embitter the different orders of society against each other, and which more than once in our own day, have threatened commerce with paralysis, and the nation with ruin.
The friendless and the poor had the protection of the Mosaic law, as in all ages they have had the sympathy of the divine Lawgiver. Mutual dependence and relationship, so necessary to social existence, happiness, and progress, involved the possibility of the evils which flow from selfishness and tyranny when they have power. But God cannot be blamed for those evils, unless it is shown that the social constitution of man is not the best possible, and the most conducive to the general good. He has made it the imperative duty of every one, according to his ability, to seek the happiness and well-being of those around. On almost every page of the law, there are abundant proofs that the poor are his special care, and that with the tenderest interest he has sought to protect them from want, and injury, and oppression.
" Thou shalt not vex à stranger nor oppress him; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”' Here is not only explicit direction, but powerful aspiration. They once themselves groaned under the yoke of the oppressör. By a strong hand that yoke had been broken, and their tyrants had been overwhelmed with a sudden destruction. Pharoah and his proud host sunk in the mighty waters. By the misery of their servi tude, by the glory of their deliverance, by the preciousness of liberty, by the despot's doom and the honour of God, they were called upon to respect the rights of strangers and to treat them with kindness.
The master's duty was most clearly indicated. and he was solemnly forbidden to deprive the hireling of his wages, or to cause him the slightest inconvenience by neglecting to pay him at the proper time. And the law was as stringent in the case of an alien, as in that of a Jew.
Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren or of the strangers that are in tby land, within thy gates.” At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee." Deut. 24. 14, 15. Were this law carried out in spirit at the present day, how many unpleasant bickerings, disputes, and contentions between employers and employed! how many irritating and misery-making strikes would be prevented, and how justly and honourably would the labourer be treated by the capitalist. Poverty has its rights as well as riches; and in the Bible these rights are not only recognised but defended. If trampled upon, it is a sin not merely against the individual and society, but against God.
Judges were required to deal out even-handed justice to those brought before them for trial. The rights of the poor were to be respected as much as those of the rich. “ Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless. Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of the poor in his canse. Keep thee from a false matter ; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not : for I will not justify the wicked.” All the solemn sanctions of a future retribution are presented to the judge as reasons why he should deal rightly by the poor. God set his face against all favoritism. With Himself, there is no respect of persons; and he would not tolerate any in the judge. Too often in the history of the world have the bribes of the rich stayed the hand of justice; but the judges of the people were solemnly forbidden to receive any money from any one in the performance of their duty. “Thou shalt take no gift; for the gift blindeth the eyes of the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.” “Thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift; that which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live."
In what moral code can you find laws more conservative of the rights of the poor? In what way could they be more carefully defended from injustice and oppression. Can the civil magistrate in this age of enlightenment and civilization find higher and safer laws for his guidance in the dispensing of justice to the poor, than those which were promulgated among the Jews more than three thousand years ago? And where will the judge who refuses to hear the case of suffering and injured poverty, meet with severer and more withering rebuke than what is found in the Old Testament? From Ebal sounded forth from the lips of the Levites under the command of God, a denunciation which may well make the tyrant quake; “ Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.” And to this sentence of the Supreme Lawgiver all the people had to say, "Amen”. No such concern was manifested für the interests of the poor among any of the legislators of antiquity. The judges could be guilty of venality and corruption without a word of remonstrance or reproof being addressed to them. In many cases they could fatten upon the spoile of crushed and injured innocence and retain their places in society. In