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have been corrupted by European commerce. Yet we take the word of a restless bloody-minded people, as the Jews of Palestine were, when we would reject the same authority from a better people. We ought to see it is habit and prejudice that have prevented people from examining the Bible. Those of the church of England call it holy, because the Jews called it so, and because custom and cer. tain acts of parliament call it so; and they read it from custom. Dissenters read it for the purpose of doctrinal controversy, and are very fertile in discoveries and inventions. But none of them read it for the pure purpose of information, and of rendering justice to the Creator, by examining if the evidence it contains warrants the belief of its being what it is called. Instead of doing this, they take it blindfolded, and will have it to be the word of God, whether it be so or not. For my own part, my belief in the perfection of the Deity will not permit me to believe, that a book so manifestly obscure, disorderly, and contradictory, can be his work. I can write a better book myself. This disbelief in me proceeds from my belief in the Creator.' I cannot pin my faith upon the say so of Hilkiah the priest, who said he found it, or any part of it ; nor upon Shaphan the scribe; nor upon any priest, nor any scribe or man of the law of the present day:

As to acts of parliament, there are some that say there are witches and wizards; and the persons who made those acts (it was in the time of James the First), made also some acts which call the Bible the Holy Scriptures, or Word of God. But acts of parliament decide nothing with respect to God; and as these acts of parliament makers were wrong with respect to witches and wizards, they

may also be wrong with respect to the book in question. It is therefore necessary that the book be examined; it is our duty to examine it; and to suppress the right of examination is sinful in any government, or in any judge or jury, The Bible makes God to say to Moses, Deut. chap. vii. ver. 2, “And when the Lord thy God sball deliver them before thee, thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them.Not all the priests, nor scribes, nor tribunals in the world, nor all the authority of man, shall make me believe that God ever gave such a Robesperrian precept as that of shewing no mercy; and consequently it is impossible that I, or any person who believes as reverentially of the Creator as I do, can believe such a book to be the word of God.

There have been, and still are, those, who, whilst they profess to believe the Bible to be the word of God, affect to turn it into ridicule. Taking their profession and conduct together, they act blasphemously ; because they act as if God himself was not to be believed. The case is exceedingly different with respect to the Age of Reason. That book is written to shew from the Bible itself, that there is abundant matter to suspect it is not the word


of God, and that we have been imposed upon, first by Jews, and afterwards by priests and commentators.

Not one of those who have attempted to write answers to the Age of Reason, have taken the ground upon which only an answer could be written. The case

in question is not upon any point of doctrine, but altogether upon a matter of fact. "Is the book called the Bible the word of God, or is it not? If it can be proved to be so, it ought to be believed as such ; if not, it ought not to be believed as such. This is the true state of the case.

The Age of Reason produces evidence to shew, and I have in this letter produced additional evidence, that it is not the word of God. Those who take the contrary side, should prove that it is. But this they have not done, nor attempted to do, and consequently they have done nothing to the purpose.

The prosecutors of Williams have shrunk from the point, as the answerers have done. They have availed themselves of prejudice instead of proof. If a writing was produced in a court of judicature, said to be the writing of a certain person, and upon the reality or non-reality of which some matter at issue depended, the point to be proved would be, that such writing was the writing of such person. Or if the issue depended upon certain words, which some certain person was said to have spoken, the point to be proved would be, that such words were spoken by such person ; and Mr. Erskine would contend the case upon this ground. A certain book is said to be the word of God. What is the proof that it is so ? for upon this the whole depends; and if it cannot be proved to be so, the prosecution fails for want of evidence.

The prosecution against Williams charges him with publishing a book, entitled The Age of Reason, which, it says, is an impious, blasphemous pamphlet, tending to ridicule and bring into contempt the Holy Scriptures. Nothing is more easy than to find abusive words, and English prosecutions are famous for this species of vulgarity. The charge, however, is sophistical ; for the charge, as growing out of the pamphlet, should have stated, not as it now states, to ridicule and bring into contempt the Holy Scriptures, but to shew that the books called the Holy Scriptures are not the Holy Scriptures. It is one thing if I ridicule a work as being written by a certain person; but it is quite a different thing if I write to prove that such work was not written by such person. In the first case. I attack the person through the work; in the other case, I defend the honour of the person against the work. This is what the Age of Reason does, and consequently the charge in the indictmert is sophistically stated. Every one will admit, that if the Bible be not the word of God, we err in believing it to be his word, and ought not to believe it. Certainly, then the ground the prosecution should take, would be to prove that the Bible is in fact what it is called. But this the prosecution has not done, and canDot do.

In all cases the prior fact must be proved, before the subsequent facts can be admitted in evidence. In a prosecution for adultery, the fact of marriage, which is the prior fact, must be proved, before the facts to prove adultery can be received. If the fact of marriage cannot be proved, adultery cannot be proved; and if the prosecution cannot prove the Bible to be the word of God, the charge of blasphemy is visionary and groundless.

In Turkey they might prove, if the case happened, that a certain book was bought of a certain bookseller, and that the said book was written against the Koran. In Spain and Portugal they might prove, that a certain book was bought of a certain bookseller, and that the said book was written against the infallibility of the Pope. Under the ancient mythology they might have proved, that a certain writing was bought of a certain person, and that the said writing was written against the belief of a plurality of gods, and in the support of the belief of one God. Socrates was condemned for a work of this kind.

All these are but subsequent facts, and amount to nothing, unless the prior facts be proved. The prior fact, with respect to the first case, is,—Is the Koran the word of God ? with respect to the second, -Is the infallibility of the Pope a truth? with respect to the third, — Is the belief of a plurality of gods a true belief? and in like manner with respect to the present prosecution,

- Is the book called the Bible the word of God? prosecution prove no more than could be proved in any or all of these cases, it proves only as they do, or as an inquisition would prove; and, in this view of the case, the prosecutors ought at least to leave off reviling that infernal institution, the inquisition. The prosecution, however, though it may injure the individual, may promote the cause of truth; because the manner in which it has been conducted appears a confession to the world, that there is no evidence to prove that the Bible is the word of God. On what authority then do we believe the many strange stories that the Bible tells of God?

This prosecution has been carried on through the medium of what is called a special jury, and the whole of a special jury is nominated by the master of the crown office. Mr. Erskine vaunts himself upon the bill he brought into parliament with respect to trials for what the government-party calls libels. But if in crown prosecutions the master of the crown office is to continue to appoint the whole special jury, wbich he does by nominating the forty-eight persons from which the solicitor of each party is to strike out twelve, Mr. Erskine's bill is only vapour and smoke. The root of the grievance lies in the manner of forming the jury, and to this Mr. Erskine's bill applies no remedy.

When the trial of Williams came on, only eleven of the special jurymen appeared, and the trial was adjourned. In cases where

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the whole numbər do not appear, it is customary to make up the deficiency by taking jurymen from persons present in court. This, in the law term, is called a tales. Why was not this done in this case ? Reason will suggest, that they did not choose to depend on a man accidentally taken. When the trial re-commenced, the whole of the special jury appeared, and Williams was convicted ; it is folly to contend a cause where the whole jury is nominated by one of the parties. I will relate a recent case that explains a great deal with respect to special juries in crown prosecutions.

On the trial of Lambert and others, printers and proprietors of the Morning Chronicle, for a libel, a special jury was struck, on the prayer of the attorney-general, who used to be called, Diabolus Regis, or King's Devil.

Only seven or eight of the special jury appeared, and the attorney-general not praying a tales, the trial stood over to a future day: when it was to be brought on a second time, the attorneygeneral prayed for a new special jury, but as this was not admissible, the original special jury was summoned. Only eight of them appeared, on which the attorney-general said, “Aš I cannot on a second trial have a special jury, I will pray a tales.Four persons were then taken from the persons present in court, and added to the eight special jurymen. The jury went out at two o'clock to consult on their verdict, and the judge (Kenyon) understanding they were divided, and likely to be some time in making up their minds, retired from the bench and went home. At seven the jury went, attended by an officer of the court, to the judge's bouse and delivered a verdict : “Guilty of publishing, but with no malicious intention.” The judge said, I cannot record this verdict; it is no verdict at all." The jury withdrew, and, after sitting in consultation till five in the morning, brought in a verdict, NOT GUILTY. Would this have been the case, had they been all special jurymen nominated by the master of the crown-office? This is one of the cases that ought to open the eyes of the people with respect to the manner of forming special juries.

On the trial of Williams, the judge prevented the counsel for the defendant proceeding in the defence. The prosecution had selected a number of passages from the Age of Reason, and inserted them in the indictment. The defending counsel was selecting other passages to show that the passages in the indictment were conclusions drawn from premises, and unfairly separated therefrom in the indictment. The judge said, he did not know how to act; meaning, thereby, whether to let the counsel proceed in the defence or not, and asked the jury if they wished to hear the passages read which the defending counsel had selected. The jury said no, and the defending counsel was in consequence silent, Mr. Erskine then, Falstaff-like, having all the field to bimself, and no enemy at band, laid about him most heroically, and the jury found the defendant guilty. I know not if Mr. Erskine ran

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out of court and hallooed, Huzza for the Bible and the trial by jury!

Robespierre caused a decree to be passed during the trial of Brissot and others, that after a trial had lasted three days, (the whole of which time, in the case of Brissot, was taken up by the prosecuting party) the judge should ask the jury (who were then a packed jury) if they were satisfied. If the jury said, Yes, the trial ended, and the jury proceeded to give their verdict, without hearing the defence of the accused party. It needs no depth of wisdom to make an application of this case.

I will now state a case to shew that the trial of Williams is not a trial, according to Kenyon's own explanation of law.

On a late trial in London (Selthens versus Hoossman) on a policy of insurance, one of the jurymen, Mr. Dunnage, after hearing one side of the case, and without hearing the other side, got up and said, it was as legal å policy of insurance as ever was written. The judge, who was the same as presided at the trial of Williams, replied, that it was a great misfortune when any gentleman of the jury makes up his mind on a cause before it was finished. Mr. Erskine, who in that place was counsel for the defendant (in this he was against the defendant), cried out, It is worse than a misfortune—it is a fault. The judge, in his address to the jury, in summing up the evidence, expatiated upon and explained the parts which the law assigned to the counsel on each side, to the witnesses, and to the judge, and said, “ When all this was done, AND NOT UNTIL THEN, it was the business of the jury to declare what the justice of the case was ; and that it was extremely rash and imprudent in any man to draw a conclusion before all the premises were laid before them upon which that conclusion was to be grounded.According then to Kenyon's own doctrine, the trial of Williams is an irregular trial, the verdict is an irregular verdict, and as such is not recordable.

As to special juries, they are but modern, and were instituted for the purpose of determining cases at law between merchants ; because, as the method of keeping merchants’accounts differs from that of common tradesmen, and their business, by lying much in foreign bills of exchange, insurance, &c., is of a different description to that of common tradesmen, it might happen that a common jury might not be competent to form a judgment. The law that instituted special juries makes it necessary that the jurors be merchants, or of the degree of squires. A special jury in London is generally composed of merchants ; and in the country of men called country squires, that is, fox-hunters, or men qualified to hunt foxes. The one may decide very well upon a case of pounds, shillings, and pence, or of the counting-house ; and the other, of the jockey-club or the chase. But who would not laugh, that because such men can decide such cases, they can also be jurors upon theology? Talk with some London merchants

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