« السابقةمتابعة »
them be encouraged by the thought that their efforts may, by the blessing of God, pour light upon some dark and desponding mind. Above all let them commend our labours to Him who is ever the friend of truth and of man; and who will ever bless the effort that is made with a sincere desire for the good of humanity and the glory of his name. Thus supported by the prayers, the contributions, and the efforts of Christians we shall reach a vantage ground for renewed, and more diligent efforts to enlighten and benefit those who have been ensnared by doubt, and degraded by sin.
SLANDER WHOLESALE AND RETAIL.
MR. BARKER AND CHRISTIAN BOOKS.
Northampton. You would, I think, be doing a service to the cause of truth by the insertion of the following facts, which appear to me to be most valuable, as evidences of straightforward integrity on the one side and transparent sophistry on the other.
In December last, Mr. Barker lectured here, and, in one of his orations, made the statement that Christian books on infidelity and infidels, including those of the Religious Tract Society, were “full of lies.” This assertion he was challenged to prove, and the next night quoted one, in which a man said Paine's principles did him harm, adding, “That's false ; for such principles could not do any man harm !” Not content with this sublime logic, the person who requested the proof communicated with the Tract Society, and elicited the following valuable letter* :
“We are most anxious to give every assistance to you in your laudable attempts to counteract the efforts of infidelity. You are quite correct in maintaining the truthfulness of the society's tracts, which narrate the lives and deaths of unbelievers. The incidents are taken either from well-known and accredited works, or are supplied by parties who have a knowledge of the particulars. The committee are at all times concerned to have sufficient testimony before them for any tract in the narrative series before it is issued. There are some tracts in the first series which are evidently fictions, and which cannot be confounded by the most casual reader with those recording real óccur
And to prevent the possibility of mistake, of late years all the true narratives are placed by themselves in the catalogue. We expect in all instances to be in possession of the names of the authors of all the narrative tracts. Nothing is published on anonymous authority; and often considerable correspondence takes place with a view to satisfy the committee of the truth of the statements contained in the proposed tract. As an illustration of our concern to have only such publications on our list of a narrative kind as we believe to be true in statement, it may be mentioned that some time since a suspicion arose in respect to the narrative of the death-bed remorse of an infidel, contained in a tract which has been before the public for a hundred years, and reprinted by the society, upon which much labour and care were bestowed in investigating into the real facts of the case; and, as soon as it happened that there were doubts as to the truthfulness of the account, the tract was immediately withdrawn, and the stock suppressed, although at a loss to the society. It may be safely affirmed that the particulars given of the last hours of infidels in the society's tracts are honest and faithful records of real events; and we shall be ready to give the best information in our power concerning any one which may be challenged.” It
appears, then, that not only are the assertions Mr. Barker has publicly and recklessly made untrue, but that actually no trouble or expense is spared by those who are thus maligned, that their assailants may have
*The italics are mine.
no ground to complain of the very injustice to which they are themselves so ruthlessly subjected. To this letter Mr. Barker's attention was called, and it was deemed only fair to call upon him, either, 1, To acknowledge that he made assertions into the grounds of which he took no pains to inquire, and which were, therefore, rash and gratuitous; or 2, to confess that having so inquired, he withheld the truth; or 3, to avail himself, with the patience and impartiality which become a candid inquirer, of the means of investigation offered, in any case he pleased, and to make known the result of his inquiry; or 4, to affirm (and prove) that the statements of the above letter were also false ; or 5, to affirm (and prove) that the public should accept everything he thinks proper to say with unquestioning submission. After some delay, Mr. Barker replied, and said (exclusive of some personalities unworthy of notice) :
"That letter acknowledges, 1. That some of their tracts are fictions, 2. That the fictions were till lately mingled with what they call their true narratives, even in the catalogue, not being distinguished even by a separate place. 3. That these acknowledged fictions are not yet called fictions, but are published as true stories, and allowed to impose on unwary readers. 4. That in one case one of these fictions imposed on the world a hundred years ; that the Tract Society reprinted this fiction without investigation; that when induced at last to investigate, the case was so bad that even they were obliged to suppress the work.”
The sophistries of this imaginary “reply" are easily disposed of. “The Tract Society acknowledges that some of its tracts are fictions." The
“evidently fictions,” and that which is "evidently” fictitious imposes on nobody. Macbeth is “ evidently” a fiction ; does any one, therefore, accuse Shakspeare of deceiving the public? But “they were till lately mingled,” &c. But the letter says they cannot be confounded by the most casual reader” with the true narratives. If Mr. Barker does not believe this clause of the same sentence, why the other; except on the “ eclectic" principle of doubting or believing as it may suit a purpose ? "The acknowledged fictions are not yet called fictions." An “evident” thing requires no “calling." Does every sketch in a magazine call itself a mere sketch ? “They are published as true stories.” This is an dent fiction.' “One” (unlike the destiny of Mr. Barker's writings) "imposed on the world a hundred years." This only proves the difficulty of collecting evidence, and the thorough honesty that preferred meeting the difficulty to evading it. Facilities, and not difficulties, are offered to Mr. Barker, but he refuses to "investigate." "The
“ The case was so bad, even they,” &c. There is no “even” in the matter. A falsehood is a falsehood; nor would it be worth a man's while who told a thousand lies to take great pains to prove one was a mistake. This argument only reveals that Christian agents are, what infidel agents are not, fastidiously scrupulous not to "impose on the world,” even where there is a doubt, (for this is all attached to the instance spoken of,) and even if loss be the consequence, will Mr. Barker suppress his Christianity Triumphant,” which he must think “imposed on the world;" or allow the stock to be sold out?
But the facts left behind are not so soon got rid of. They are simply these. That Mr. Barker has made public statements for which he has not offered a shadow of proof; and that he has not dared to avail himself of the facilities of inquiry so frankly offered. Until he and others do so the books
in question stand unimpeached, with all their solemn facts and warnings ; nor can any infidel lecturer, in the face of these circumstances, again impeach them, or evade the inferences they involve, without becoming obnoxious to charges it would be unpalatable to characterize.
I am, Sir, yours faithfully,
THE BIBLE THE FRIEND OF WOMAN.
The Bible is the friend of woman, and he who is familiar with his Bible, and with its effects upon our race, and willing to allow their legitimate influence on his judgment, must feel called upon at once to admit the fact. If it be the friend of the human famıily, as such, woman must come in for a share of its regards and influences. If it be the friend of man, as distinguished from woman, it must the friend of woman too; for it cannot have an effect for good on the one, without having a similar effect of good upon the
The two sexes are so inseparably connected, that what is of real advantage to either must be for good to both. Upon this position, we were about to say, we might take our stand, and defy all who alħrm that the Bible is the enemy of woman. Were we to ask for proof, we might have served up to us, perhaps, a collection of passages, taken from the Bible itself, quoted frequently without any reference to their connection, and with a meaning, taken for granted, which is just as far from the meaning as anything well can be; or, if rightly explained, having in them some fact, the inere statement of which can have no bearing upon the question whatsoever, and shows nothing, as to whether the Bible, in which the fact is recorded, be woman's friend or woman's foe. Very likely one thing would be specially dwelt upon, the position assigned to woman in the Bible ; and it would be triumphantly asked, could the Bible be the friend of woman, seeing it assigns to her such a position ?
In replying to such a question, we might, with all fairness, call for a definition of the position referred to, and proof from the Bible that it assigns such a place to woman. If what we sought were given, we should be told, probably, that, in spirit and statement, man is made the master and woman the servantman the superior and woman the inferior ; that the Bible takes away her individuality, and accords to her only the common right to suffer, while it withholds from her the common right to complain ; and we should have all passages in which obedience, subjection, and such like, on the part of wives to their husþands, are enjoined, Now, in answer to such, if we turn to the Bible itself, the very first passage in it that refers to woman, and the place assigned her, contradicts what is affirmed, and shows that the proofs advanced will not bear it out. The Creator of man said, " It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him an help meet for himn." 'Man, without woman, could not realize the full enjoyment of all his faculties, or serve the end of his being. Amongst all the creatures God had made, Adam could find no suitable help-mate. He must have some one who could he his companion and friend, with whom he could hold intercourse, in whose society and converse he could find pleasure. This companion God gave him in Eve--formed, not of dust of the ground directly, but from a portion of his organized body, intimating that she was part of himself. This he recognized when she was brought to him, and gave to her a name corresponding thereto. In connection with this, the duty of a man to his wife is laid down. He is to leave father and mother and cleave to her. Their union is so intimate as to approach to identity. They shall be one flesh." Nor must we omit to remember the general statement of the creation of man :- "So God created man in His own image ; in the image of God created He him ;
male and female created He them." The woman was made as certainly in the image of God as was the man. And all through the Bible, she is presented to us as on a level with man as to religious obligations, duties, and privileges. She has a soul as precious as the soul of man; and she needs a Saviour as certainly as he, she may have a share in the same salvation, and rise to the enjoyment of the same heaven. In Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female.
But is she not mentioned as having had addressed to her such words as these, Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee?" and if she was equal with man before the fall, is it not herein intimated, that after the fall she had ceased to have such a position ? Such a statement may be predictivepointing to what should be the result of sin, where the truth of God, as indí. cating man's duty, was not known or acted on. But supposing it intimates a general fact, applicable in every case, it by no means implies degradation on the part of woman, nor is there necessarily any sense of degradation ; for the woman's desire is to her husband-he is the centre of her earthly wishes. She is so constituted as to find herself happiest, and most certainly where she would wish to be, when she is queen of a home, the head of which is a husband in whose heart Christian principle reigns, and whose conduct to her is ever such as that God, who has given him and her their respective positions, requires him to display. She is the companion and the friend of man, not his inferior. She ministers to him, but she is not his slave. The same Bible which calls for her obedience, limits it by making it obedience “in the Lord,” that is, eo far only as her duty to the Lord admits. That same Bible which requires the submission of the wife says, with equal authority, “ Husbands love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it.
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself." The Bible that demands such of husbands cannot mean the degradation of the wife, and cannot surely, in fairness, be considered the enemy of woman. Her Creator has assigned her a place in which her duties are not so prominently public as those of man. While she acts the part of the wife, the mother, the daughter, the sister, the friend, man feels that she is a companion invaluablethe gift of God to him; and she feels that her sphere and satisfaction are in being such. Man could not do the duties to man she does. He has not the fitness for them. She has. And in his natural inability to perform the kind and gentle, the sweet and soothing offices which fall to woman, and in her fitness for them, we see that the Bible is not woman's foe, but woman's friend. And woman has a sense of that herself, for, as a general fact, all attempts on the part of her pretended friends to take her from it have found no sympathy with her.
Those who would have us believe that the Bible is the enemy of woman, by the position it assigns her, seem to forget that such a position gives her a greater influence than any other could. The characteristics of woman, so far as they have been developed in the world's history, both in regard to mind and body, intimate pretty plainly that her place is not amidst the rough labour of head or hand which man has to perform—the toil and turmoil, the stir and struggle for which he is specially fitted. Were she put in that place, she could not, from her very constitution, mental and physical, have the influence which she possesses in a sphere which is peculiarly her own. As the mother, she has an influence which no other has- not even the father. On her devolves the duty of drawing forth the faculties and feelings of those who shall influence, for good or for ill, the future. To her is in a great measure necessarily committed the moulding, and training, and instilling which shall issue in the character of the coming age. As the wife, the sister, the daughter, the friend, she has an influence less noticed than that of man, but as great, nay greater, on the age in which she lives. Man may be unconscious of it, or not be willing to allow the fact; but in his feelings and desires, his aims and efforts, he is, and cannot but
be, influenced by female loved ones he has at home. But such an influence is woman's, just because she has the place the Bible gives her. Those, then, who seek, as they profess, to give to woman such a place as shall afford her influence, had better leave her where the revelation of her Maker's will declares that Maker to have put her. And just for a moment look to what would be the effect upon woman in the future, were woman in the present taken from the place the Bible, backed by long experience and her aptness for it, says she ought to fill.
What would be the character of the daughters in our families, if their mothers were taken from a mother's duties? What place would they be fit to hold ? Would it be a place such as would exalt the sex ? And how would our sons, who had not felt a mother's influence, be disposed to treat these daughters? Would it be with greater kindness, honour, and regard, than if they themselves had ever associated with the female character a sacredness and love, the result of a mother's kind, affectionate, and tender care ? Ah! woman of the present would leave a legacy of woe for woman of the future, did she quit that sphere the Bible so appropriately assigns her. She would then prove that she herself, and not the Bible, was the enemy of woman.
In what we have said upon the subject of this paper, we have confined ourselves to one point; not because there are not many others, but because the enemies of the Bible (and, as we are disposed to style them, the enemies of woman) have given it a special prominence. We cannot close, however, without a few words on some other points. The Bible gives woman a prominent place—such a place as it would never give her in its pages were it her enemy. It does record cases of females, whose character is far from lovely, but it is not woman's enemy because it tells her the truth. A friend is no less a friend that he warns us against sins to which we may be tempted. And while the Bible is honest in this respect, it gives special prominence to female piety, and calls special attention to those by whom it was displayed, and the circumstances in which it was manifested. We are, indeed, informed that Eve yielded to the tempter, and thus brought sin into the world—acting, in her turn, the tempter to Adam. But while the statement of a fact is no evidence of enmity, the Bible records another fact, which more exalts her, that woman was the mother of the Saviour. “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman." We find in Old Testament history mention made of many a godly woman; and in the New Testament, woman is not only brought forward as having been to the Saviour the object of peculiar interest, but as waiting on him, showing self-denial, continuing faithful, abiding by him when others had forsaken, and taking no small part, in her appropriate sphere, in the advancement of the gospel. And as a tree is known by its fruit, so the effect of the Bible is a reasonable test by which to judge whether it be the friend of woman or her foe. And what has been that effect ? History, ancient and modern, and facts transpiring at the present day, combine to show, that wherever the Bible has been received, there woman's condition has been improved. The religion of the Bible has raised woman from being the drudge of man, to be his companion; from being his toy, to be his friend and help-mate; from being the instrument of gratification to the basest lusts, to be the wife of his bosom, the instructress of his children, and his second self. It requires but an examination of what woman was in heathen lands, before the gospel found its way thither, and what she is now, when its claims are admitted and its influence allowed, to see that the Bible is her friend. Even where civilization had made most progress, ere that gospel came, such has been evident. It was as striking in ancient Greece and Rome, as it has been in India, in the islands of the Pacific, or in any other modern missionary field. Nay, to come nearer home, it is sufficiently prominent in the difference of treatment received by woman in our own land, from those who live out the principles of the Bible, and those who reject its doc