THE ONLY MEANS TO THAT END,
STATED IN A LETTER TO Sir ROBERT PEEL, Bart.
FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY, &c.
By Richard Carlile.
TO WHICH IS PREFACED A CORRESPONDENCE
WITH THE BISHOP OF LONDON ON THE SAME SUBJECT.
CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE BISHOP OF LONDON,
IN 1833, ON THE SUBJECT OF A REFORM IN THE CHURCH.
"To the Right Reverend Father in God, the Lord Bishop of London.
"62, Fleet Street, November 18,1833.
"I have long and deliberately thought, that the state of the Country, the state of the Church, and the state of the Public Mind in relation to the Church, calls upon me to offer myself for an interview with your Lordship, as my Diocesan, that your Lordship may hear from me what I have to advance against the present state and condition of the Church, and what I have to propose as an immediately necessary and proper Reform.
"I offer to wait on your Lordship, with your Lordship's consent; and promise, that my conversation shall be altogether courteous and reasonable.
"I am one of your Lordship's scattered sheep, wishing for the fold of a good shepherd,—(which is Christ Jesus),—
"P. S.—I may add, my Lord Bishop, that I am altogether a Christian; save the mark at which superstition has been planted upon Christianity."
"Fulham, November 20,1833.
"I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, in which you propose an interview with me, for the purpose of making known to me your opinions respecting the present state of the Church.
"I beg to say, that I shall be ready to receive, and to give all due consideration to any communication which you may think proper to make me in writing; as being, on many accounts, a more convenient method than that of personal conference.
"I remain, Sir,
"Your obedient Servant,
"C. J. LONDON."
"To the Right Reverend Father in God, the Lord Bishop of London.
"62, Fleet Street, November 24,1833.
"My Lord Bishop,
"In answer to my proposal to meet your Lordship in conversation, on the state of the Country, the state of the Church, and the state of the Public Mind with relation to the Church, your Lordship has encouraged me to write what I have to say, and has promised to receive it and to give it due consideration. I write as early as my circumstances have afforded me the necessary leisure and composure of mind.
"The first point to which I beg leave to call your Lordship's attention is—that there is a very numerous degree of dissent from the Established Church among the people of this country.
"The second point is, that this spirit of dissent has led to a very extended opposition to the support of the Church in its fiscal claims.
"The third point is, that there is a preparation of a public mind going forward for the putting of the present Established Church on the same footing as the present Establishments of the Dissenters—the footing of voluntary rather than legal support; and that the preparation of this state of mind is accelerated by the embarrassed state of the country.
"The evidence of these three points in prospect is, that the present state of the Church will be entirely overthrown in the course of two or three Sessions of Parliament.
"On the principle of dissent from the Established Church, I have to observe, that it is desirable there should be no dissent; but then the Church should be invulnerable. There can be no popular dissent from any Institution that can be defended as good and best; and though I am instructed to allow that the general body of dissenters from the Church have dissented on very frivolous, even on indefensible grounds, (inasmuch as the Dissenters have not corrected in themselves the errors of the Church), there still remains the proof that where the Church has been assailed or dissented from, it has not been in a condition to defend and justify itself.
"This incapability of the Church to defend and justify itself, where assailed, must have arisen from a defective state of its doctrine and discipline.
"This doctrine and discipline is founded upon the literal reading of the Sacred Scriptures, or the books of the Old and New Testament.
"I impugn the literal as an erroneous reading: it claims to be local and temporal history, and is not. Not one of its apparent historical subjects can be verified. Every one of them can be falsified, upon the principle that other things were being done at the time, and that other people dwelt in the places; and that nothing of contemporary character, purporting to be history, has corroborated the historical claims of the Old and New Testament.
"It is said of the writings of the Old and New Testament, that they are allegorical, and that they contain the moral of human salvation from evil. Under this view, they may be true, and may be important as a matter of instruction. I so believe them to be true, and to be important as a matter of instruction; but as your Lordship may put me on the task of mentioning some particular facts and grounds on which I impugn the literal reading of the Sacred Scriptures, and may properly suggest that it is necessary this ground should be first cleared before we try them on the other ground, I submit, as two well-weighed and conclusive propositions:—
"1st. That the person of Jesus Christ, or the name, is not in mention by any author of the first century, if the passage in Josephus be excepted as an interpolation; and that this defect in the evidence is fatal to the historical claim.
"2nd. That the people called Jews, or Israelites, neither formed colony nor nation in that part of the earth which is now called Judea, or Holy Land, before the time of Alexander of Macedon; consequently all that is said of their dwelling in and going out of Egypt, their sojourn in the Wilderness, their warfare with the Canaanites and Philistines, their occupation of that country, their subsequent conquest, captivity, and restoration, is entirely fiction or allegory.
"I read it as political and moral instruction veiled in allegory \ and as it is to be desired, that, in the removal of a system, all its defects be made apparent, so it becomes a desideratum, that we account for the origin of the sects named Jews and Christians.
"This may be done in two ways—-one, that they were public philosophical sects; the other, that they were degrees of order in the ancient mysteries.
"The moral of the allegory belonging to each is throughout the same, and is an encouragement to the resistance and overthrow of the tyranny of man, when it appears in the open authority of a King, or in the covert authority of a Priest; and the preparing of a people to do this, and the doing it, is precisely what is meant by human salvation,—which is a sure and certain salvation from earthly evils.
"The absence of a proof of personal identity in the characters sketched in the Old and New Testament, is the presence of proof (if utility of any kind there be in the form of the allegory), that the persons mentioned are like what all the gods and goddesses of ancient religion were—personifications of principles, either physical or moral, or both.
"In so receiving