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“Let us speak plain; there is more force in names
Than most men dream of! and a lie may keep
Its throne a whole age longer, if it skulk
Behind the shield of some fair seeming name ;
Let us call tyrants, TYRANTS, and maintain
That only freedom comes by grace of God,
And all that comes not by his grace must fall ;
For men in earnest have no time to waste
In patching fig-leaves for the naked truth."
J. R. LOWELL.
The following pages consist mainly of editorial articles written for the +
" Essex COUNTY WASHINGTONIAN,” and “THE PIONEER," * interspersed,
for sake of variety, and to give the book a redeeming trait in the minds
of those who have a strong aversion to its leading principles,—with some
thirty or forty of the first poems of the age, and two or three of less pre-
tensions, which may well congratulate themselves on having an opportunity
to appear in so good company.
The sentiments which characterise the work, as will be seen at a glance,
are at open war with our popular Religion, and nearly all its “Institutions."
The writer sees no beauty in its rites, and no comeliness in its temples.
They seem to him cold, barbarous, repulsive, and degrading. Seeing its
priesthood enlisted against every radical movement for the removal of
human misery, and its places of worship closed hermetically against nearly
all the advocates of human progress,—he fails to perceive in that Religion
any elements of moral beauty or spiritual life. Its faith is a gloomy, inhu-
man, sepulchral principle which may, as its partisans contend, do very well
" to die by," but which is utterly unfit for any intelligent being to live by
-either here or hereafter.—Its God is a haughty, despotic, revengeful king,
glorying chiefly in the abasement of his subjects, and of so low a character
as to take delight in the softest adulation, and the grossest flattery. The
cold and far off Heavens are fitly represented as his home, the fitful light-
ning as the flash of his eye, the hoarse thunder as his voice, and this earth,
with its myriad of human hearts struggling for life and light, as his foot-
stool. Not a frightful event takes place in the concerns of man which is
not attributed to his revengeful “ Providence”: and there is not a wild
passion in the human breast,—not jealousy, not envy, not pride, not ambi-
tion, not vengeance,—which has not been represented as a component part
of his divine character.
The priesthood of this baneful Religion are, for the most part, the relent-
less enemies of all innovation, and the swift defenders of all popular sin.
Only entrench a system of iniquity, however great, behind the walls of the
statute book,—throw before it the broad shield of popular opinion,—and you
may be sure that thenceforth, (unless those protections are withdrawn,) that
priesthood will extend it the right hand of fellowship to the end of time.
The highest standard of right which that order of men practically acknow-
ledge is the popular will,—whose shifting vane they watch with the restless
eye of the mariner, anxious to trim his sails to the uncertain wind.
How different the Religion, the God, and the Priesthood in question are
from the Religion, the God, and the Priesthood of the New Testament, there
is no room here to inquire. Let each one,-lifting the thick film of pre-
judice, and drawing the deceptive veil of early association from his eye,-
judge for himself. For one, the writer is free to say, that if the Religion of
this nation were the Religion of the New Testament, that book instead of
being the blessing it now is to the human race, would be an unmitigated
curse, and the Saviour it reveals, the greatest tyrant who ever lent the
sanction of a charmed name to bigotry and crime. But let not this thought
(that the popular Religion is one with that of the New Testament,) be
expressed or intimated, even by way of hypothesis ; for surely every person
whose soul has not become petrified by the hardening elements of a false
society, must know that a Religion whose protecting arms embrace every
species of legalized iniquity in the world, is as different from the Religion
of the New Testament as darkness from light, as Christ from Belial.
But why lengthen this preface into an essay. It needs only to add that
the author of these desultory papers believes that Christianity contains the only system of ethics from which the human race has anything to hope, and that in proportion as its benign influences take possession of the human heart, crime will disappear from the face of the earth, and Bigotry and Superstition-those twin Goddesses of crime-will fold their black wings in the embrace of death.
It may be too much to hope, that the following “articles "-(composed, as they were, amid the conflicting labors and wearing responsibilities of more than one employment)—will do anything to shake the faith of the people in their unrighteous God, nevertheless the writer entertains and indulges that hope, and was strengthened by it in preparing them for the public eye.
If the writer has been fortunate enough to escape to any extent from the meshes of politics and sect, and to adopt a philosophy unlimited by sectional lines and unwarped by sectarian prejudices : if he has learned to consider the claims of Humanity as paramount to all others, and to repudiate and trample under foot whatever conflicts with those claims, however hallowed by age or consecrated by association : if he has been enabled to see with tolerable clearness the intrinsic evils of all political or religious corporation, and to protest with any power against cumbering the reforms of the day with a particle of its destructive machinery : if he has come to appreciate the sublime character and inconceivable power of unrestricted and unorganized speech as a reform instrumentality: if, in one word, his eyes have been opened to the infinite beauty and entire practicability of the distinctive principles of the New Testament :- he is mainly indebted for such wisdom to the brilliant pen, and heroic life of NATHANIEL PEABODY ROGERS, to whom, therefore, this little book is affectionately inscribed, as the most significant token the author can offer of his profound admiration and esteem.
H. C. JR. LYNN, Jan'y 1st, 1846.