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You have without doubt, citizens, heard sufficient, and in extending my reflections I should only abuse your patience. I have removed the mysterious veil and discovered to you the origin of Sunday ; I have stripped it of those vain ornaments with which the priests of all sects have, from time to time, overburthened it. I have shown it to you in the august simplicity of its primitive institution; you have seen the Sabbath marching at the side of slavery, and following it through ages. I have presented the Sabbath to your view, overthrowing the barrier which formerly retained slavery, and stopping only in our days at the foot of the mountain.
In consulting history and reason, I have explained the mysterious fables—incited the civic spirit-urged personal interest What then at present remains for me to do? Perhaps I ought to discourse upon the Decadi, but what can I teach you respecto ing it? Originating in our day, it is well known to all of you.. One of the greatest abuses of the art of speech is, I believe, that of employing it to teach what every body knows. I will content myself, citizens, with exhorting you in the name of reason, by the love you bear to your country, by your personal interest, and by all that you hold most dear, to renounce for ever the superstitious observance of a festival, which, though truly sublime and necessary at the time of its origin, is now become of no use, and even dangerous.
CHARACTER OF JESUS CHRIST. MUCH as we esteem Mr. Volney, and highly as we prize his literary productions, we cannot agree with him in doubting the existence of Jesus Christ. Although much of mythological fable has been artfully interwoven into his biography, by his interested followers, yet we fully believe that such a person lived in Judea, about two thousand years ago. Tacitus, who, by the way, is the only historian that says any thing that can be supposed to relate to Jesus Christ (the passage in Josephus respecting him having been proved to be an interpolation) obseryes, that a sect disdain the crown and the mitre. But if there be still anongst us men, whose hearts, dried up by egotism and rendered insen- . sible to the general good, men whose degraded minds are not touched with the great interest of public affairs ;-ah! at least, would I say to them, remain not insensible to the welfare of your own families, suffer yourselves to be affected with your personal interests, the pivot upon which your actions turn.
The day in which your vigorous arms, enslaved by a frivolous prejudice, refuse to work, is for you a day of loss, of expense, ... and crime. On the other hand, idleness conducts you to a tavern, there it almost always happens that you deliver yourselves over to detestable excesses; and, as the Abbé St. Pierre said, you there spend, to the great prejudice of your families, a part of what you carned the preceding day; happy still, if quarrels, disputes, im- ** prudent conversations, effects 100 common of immoderate drink-ing, did not occasion wounds or punishments, which render you incapable, during some days, of earning your children bread.
• Do not bring for excuse, the pretended commandments of God, or those of the church. You are no longer permitted to remain ignorant that Moses, who had God at his disposal, as Numa had the nymph Egune, and Mahomet, the holy spirit, has. commanded the observance of Saturdays and not of Sundays.You cannot at this day be ignorant that the church, that pretended mother of whom we were the foster fathers, has made us drink na deep of the cup of error and falsehood. If the proofs already given were insufficient to open your eyes, I could yet add a reason, the force of which equals its simplicity. The action of providing food for our fellow-beings is, without dispute, much more noble and christian-like than that of killing them; notwithstanding, whilst the husbandman was forbid, under penalty of committing a mortal sin, to work in his fields on the holy Sundays, it was permitted to Catholic armies to give bloody battles without committing even a venial sin. But I wish to know by what strange overturning or metamorphosing of ideas, could the pretended infallible church tolerate on those days, the exercise of the cruel. trade of butchering mankind, and forbid the peaceful exercise of that profession which procures them bread?
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arose at this time, (the period in which Christ is supposed to have lived) which made some disturbance in Judea. The Jewish tradition, although no doubt interlarded with fable, is at least some evidence of the fact; which acknowledges that such a person actually sprang up amongst them, and after, as they say, deluding many, suffered an ignominious and cruel death. We therefore have no more doubt on our minds that there was sucb a man, than we have that there existed such legislators as Moses and Mahomet.
In that age it appears that the Mosaic superstition, which, from its commencement, was a grievous burthen on the Jewish nation, had been shamefully corrupted, and that the priests possessed unbounded power over the property and consciences of the people hence they increased the rituals of worship to such a pitch as to render them an intolerable tyranny. The Romans also, at that period, had partially subdued the Jewish nation, and left them but the shadow of their ancient independence.
At this important crisis, this obscure reformer, whose yourb had been spent in the mountainous parts of Palestine, daringly attacked their national prejudices, and attempted to uproot that corrupt system of religious mummery, with which they were oppressed.
His political principles were those of a republican, for he taught the lessons of political equality.
His religious dogmas were those of the Thcophilanthropist, for he inculcated reverence to the deity, and benevolence towards the whole human family. It is true that his tenets have since been veiled and enshrouded in the robes of impiety by the knavery and craft of some of his fanatical disciples ;—but we shall, in future numbers, endeavour to sift and separate the wheat from the chaff, and show that the morality which he preached to his followers was the same as that taught by Plato, Socrates and Epictetus, who lived before him.
In that rude and barbarous age, it was the practise of men who wished to govern the passions of the ignorant, to pretend to be messengers sent from heaven ; it is therefore probable that Jesus Christ, like many of his cotemporaries, made use of this stratagem, more powerfully to enforce his doctrines upon the minds of the vulgar. However that may be, we find that the Jewish Sanhedrim became alarmed at his growing popularity ; for, from his obscure retreat, we find him advancing into their very capital, and in their very temple bearding their authority; ridiculing their ridiculous superstitions, and assuming a controul over the pettifogging retailers of offerings in the porches, and also over the horde of usurers that infested the temple. After numerous expedients had failed, they at length hit upon one, which they hoped would be effectual, to take off their dangerous rival. They therefore denounced him as a traitor, and an enemy to Cæsar.
The Roman governor, to gratify the revenge of the infuriated priests, whose power he had shaken, delivered him over to their will, after a mock trial ; at the same time declaring that he found him guiltless. They therefore doomed him to suffer crucifixion, the common punishment for heinous offences.
Thus the man who had humanely endeavoured to ameliorate the condition of his countrymen, and to rescue them from civil despotism and religious tyranny, prematurely fell a victim to the bigotry and superstition of the age in which he lived, and became a martyr in the cause of philanthropy. His character was acorned with an assemblage of amiable virtues, and his ethics were calculated to render his fellow.creatures individually happy, and socially benevolent.
Such, in our opinion, are the true characteristics of Jesus Christ. But, several centuries after his death, interested and fanatical men founded a monstrous and impious system of religion in his name. It is not pretended that he wrote a single line of this himself. His expositors however, to suit their own purposes, taking the heathen mythology as their guide, first deified him, and then intermixed with his rational ethics the most abominable frauds that were ever imposed upon human cred'ility. i