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Where then was the just occasion for dread, whilst we possessed this fair model, and these pure precepts? And if there had been any occasion for such alarm, would it not have been more prudent, to have called men back to imitate this “virtuous and amiable example," and have taught them to respect the "morality, and benevolence, he preached and practised,” than to undermine the authority of both? Such arethe discrepancies and contradictions we meet with on the very threshold of Mr. Paine's work. He professes to dread the loss of morality and humanity, and yet confesses, that we have examples and precepts to enforce both which cannot be excelled; the fact is, he wanted an apology for making this “last offering,” he should have called it, a dread sacrifice to mankind; and eagerly grasped at any accidental circumstance that might justify his carrying the torch to the altar.
His dread was not the loss of morality or humanity. His mind had long been struggling with difficulties in religion; the period of gestation, if not complete, was hastened by the panic of rebellion; and he gladly seized the opportunity of unburdening himself upon the public. It must have been with the triumphant smile of satisfaction, that he witnessed the renunciation of Christianity in the Hall of Convention.
“As several of my colleagues, and others of my fellow-Citizeus of France, have given me the example of making their voluntary, and individual profession of faith, I also will make mine; and I do this with all that sincerity with which the mind of man communicates with itself.”
With Mr. Paine's affirmation of "sincerity” we have little concern. It merely intimates, that he believed what he declares, and by no means establishes the truth of the declaration, or belief itself. Too many, I fear, have surrendered their judgments into the hands of Mr. Paine. I once did so, and fancied myself secure. I'then wanted what I have now undertaken to supply; a confutation of every passage in this publication that impugns the authenticity of the Christian Religion. Whilst one bulwark remains the region of infidelity is unsubdued. Thither will the ignorant, the wanton, and the profligate, take refuge; and boast, that what is not destroyed, is invulnerable.
“ I believe in one God and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.”
Mr. Paine has forgotten, in this place, to make a due acknowledgment to the religion he contemns for this first, and fundamental article of his belief. That he owes it to that Religion, and would never have possessed it, independently of that Religion, is more than probable from the circumstance, that millions of men, to whom the pub. lication of that Religion was not made, never arrived at it; and millions of men now, to whom it has not been revealed, are equally without that article of belief. Such then, it is fair to infer, would have been the condition of Mr. Paine, if he had not had the good fortune to have lived in a Christian Country. He might have worshipped a graven image," or a "golden calf,” with the Egyptians; have immolated his victim, with Druidical apathy, in the woods of his native Country; or, with the uncivilized Indians, have performed the barbarous rites of Juggernaut: nay more, he might have bowed to an imaginary Jupiter with the refined Grecians, and offered a cock to Æsculapius with Socrates himself: that Socrates who, through a glass, darkly,” caught a faint glimpse of the one, only; true God:-unless he imagined, that his mind was endued with more penetration than that of any other individual that ever existed. For, if we except that dark glimpse of Socrates, and those still darker of Anax. agoras, where, from the period of the Trojan war, to the birth of our Saviour, do we find any thing like an approach to the Christians', or modern Deists? idea of God?
If Plato). Aristotle, and Zeno, adhered to the crude, and imperfect notions of Anaxagoras; on the side of Atheism were to be found, Leucippus, Democritus, Epicurus,
and Anaximander; and these were men of no ordinary kind. If their researches ended in abortion, it would be more than moderate presumption in any modern Deist to hope for better fruit from his own speculations. Much more does it become them to bow with humility, and confess, that if such men as those were ignorant of this great, and important truth, it was not because they were deficient in mind or observation; but, because it could not be attained, except by a revelation from heaven. Upon
this ground I dare take my stand in opposition to Deism: · (viz.) that “ the belief of one God and no more,” which is
the foundation of their morality and Religion, is not deriyable from nature; and, therefore, that it is a shoot, though an unproductive one, from the stem of revelation. As this is an important point, I will illustrate it a little farther; for when we destroy Deism, we leave its Disci. ples with no other refuge than Christianity, or Judaism on the one side, or Atheism on the other.
If a “belief of one God and no more" be a truth as obvious as the Deist represents it to be, and as it ought to be, since, according to their doctrine, it is the only sanction of religion and morality that mankind possess, how comes it, that no nation, in the long succession of ages, ever arrived at it? For, I apprehend, if I were to concede to Mr. Paine, that a Socrates, or an Anaxagoras reached it, yet he would allow that the multitude of Greece were ignorant of it; and, consequently, were ignorant of every rule of religion and morality that had a reference to one God. That they were ignorant of it, is proved by the circumstance, that the former suffered death, and the latter banishment, for professing such belief. Nor was Rome more enlightened than Greece; nor China than Rome. The former of which may be gathered from Cicero, and the latter from Confucius ;-Confucius taught the doctrine of an “anima mundi,” without once referring to the existence of a Supreme Being, as the Creator and Preserver of all things; much less as the moral Governor of the world. His immediate successor, Foe, improved upon his
system, and gave the people painted images to adore; and, to the present hour, there is more Idolatry than Deism prevailing among them. What will the Deist say to this? Was the discovery of “one God and no more” beyond the reach of Confucius; if it were, how will he answer his modesty, when it blushes to hear him declare that, to his mind, it is a truth as obtrusive as light itself? That every nation, from the rudest to the most refined, has some notion of Beings superior to man, I am ready to admit; but such notions, I am certain, Mr. Paine would not have accepted in exchange for that which he had (perhaps unconsciously) derived from education. It was not the fruit of his owni industry; nor the consequence of his own contemplation. He found his God in books before he found him in nature. What the material world would have failed to have taught him, he learnt in his nursery.
For the benefit of those who may not be accustomed to gather the certainty of a conclusion out of a diffusive argument, I shall here, however obnoxious to the charge of pedantry, draw out, in a syllogystic forrn, the premises and inference of the preceeding reasoning:
Where Idolatry, or Polytheisin universally prevail, there Deism, or the notion of one God, and of moral and religious relations referring to him, do not exist.
In Greece, in Rome, in China, and in all Pagan countries, Idolatry, or Polytheism did prevail before Christianity shed its light over them. Therefore, Deism, or the notion of one God, and of moral and religious relations, referring to him, did not exist in Greece, in Rome, in China, or in any Pagan Country before the promulgation of Christianity. Again, if religious and moral duties had depended on that evidence which God himself manifests in the material creation, it would have been equally obvious to all men, and all ages; because it would be alike obligatory upon all, alike interesting to all, and in itself iminutable. But is was not obvious to any nation (the Jews excepted) before the light of Christianity revealed it to them. Therefore religious and moral duties, do not depend on (and consequently are not derivable from) that evidence which God himself manifests in the material creation. The former conclusion was, substantially, admitted by Mr. Hume; for he called Idolatry and Polytheism superstitious Atheism. How he satisfied himself of the manner in which he acquired his knowledge of one God, and of moral relations referrable to him, I know not. It must; I think, bé evident, after what has been said above, that such knowledge, the experience of mankind, has uniformly proved, not to be within the reach of the unassisted human mind. Or, as Saint Paul correctly expresses it, « The world by wisdom, knew not God.”
If Mr. Paine owed his belief of one God to revealed religion, much more so does he his “hope of happiness beyond this life.” That the ancients had their Elysium is true; but such is, probably, not the kind of happiness beyond the grave that Mr. Paine expected. There is little in the visit of Ulysses, or Æneas to the shades below, to encourage human hope, much less to influence human conduct; and, rude as such pictures were, there existed no shadow of evidence to show that they contained even the faint outlines of reality. It is a considerable effort of reason (if it be at all within the reach of reason) to infer an existence after this life; few analogies of nature countenance such an opinion; and of those few, how little was understood by the ancients! and with respect to the manner of such existence, nothing but a flight of imagination could reach it. Why happiness beyond the grave? why a state of Being different from that we here experience? why one so happy? why, as we began to be at our birth, might we not cease to be at our death? The doctrine of metemsychosis, perhaps, affords some dark intimations of a belief of the soul's immortality; but then how barbarous ! it is even worse than the gross, semi-material shades of Homer. If it were calculated to make men more moral, which, perhaps, it might; it, assuredly, had no tendency to make them more religious: and, if true, Foe, one of the great founders of Chinese Idolatry, must have exhi