Thomas Paine's Remarks on R. Hall's Sermon

 

Remarks on R. Hall's Sermon

 

The preacher of the foregoing sermon speaks a great deal about infidelity, but does not define what he means by it.  His harangue is a general exclamation. Everything, I suppose that is not in his creed is infidelity with him, and his creed is infidelity with me. Infidelity is believing falsely. If what Christians believe is not true, it is the Christians that are the infidels. 

 The point between Deists and Christians is not about doctrine, but about fact -- for if the things believed by the Christians to be facts are not facts, the doctrine founded thereon falls of itself. There is such a book as the Bible, but is it a fact that the Bible is revealed religion?  The Christians cannot prove it is. They put tradition in place of evidence, and tradition is not proof. If it were, the reality of witches could be proved by the same kind of evidence. 

The Bible is a history of the times of which it speaks, and history is not revelation. The obscene and vulgar stories in the Bible are as repugnant to our ideas of the purity of a divine Being, as the horrid cruelties and murders it ascribes to Him are repugnant to our ideas of His justice.  It is the reverence of the Deists for the attributes of the DEITY, that causes them to reject the Bible. 

Is the account which the Christian church gives of the person called Jesus Christ a fact, or a fable?  Is it a fact that he was begotten by the Holy Ghost?  The Christians cannot prove it, for the case does not admit of proof. 

The things called miracles in the Bible, such for instance as raising the dead, admitted if true of occular demonstration, but the story of the conception of Jesus Christ in the womb is a case beyond miracle, for it did not admit of demonstration. 

Mary, the reputed mother of Jesus, who must be supposed to know best, never said so herself, and all the evidence of it is that the book of Matthew says that Joseph dreamed an angel told him so. Had an old maid two or three hundred years of age brought forth a child it would have been much better presumptive evidence of a supernatural conception, than Matthew's story of Joseph's dream about his young wife. 

Is it a fact that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, and how is it proved? If a God he could not die, and as a man he could not redeem. How then is this redemption proved to be fact? It is said that Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, commonly called an apple, and thereby subjected himself and all his posterity for ever to eternal damnation. 

This is worse than visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations. But how was the death of Jesus Christ to affect or alter the case?  Did God thirst for blood? If so, would it not have been better to have crucified Adam at once upon the forbidden tree, and made a new man? Would not this have been more creator-like than repairing the old one? 

Or did God, when He made Adam, supposing the story to be true, exclude Himself from the right of making another? or impose on Himself the necessity of breeding from the old stock? Priests should first prove facts, and deduce doctrines from them afterwards.  But instead of this they assume everything and prove nothing.  Authorities drawn from the Bible are no more than authorities drawn from other books, unless it can be proved that the Bible is revelation. 

The story of the redemption will not stand examination.  That man should redeem himself from the sin of eating an apple by committing a murder on Jesus Christ, is the strangest system of religion ever set up. Deism is perfect purity compared with this. 

It is an established principle with the Quakers not to shed blood: suppose then all Jerusalem had been Quakers when Christ lived, there would have been nobody to crucify him, and in that case, if man is redeemed by his blood, which is the belief of the Church, there could have been no redemption; and the people of Jerusalem must all have been damned because they were too good to commit murder. The Christian system of religion is an outrage on common sense. Why is man afraid to think? 

Why do not the Christians, to be consistent, make saints of Judas and Pontius Pilate? For they were the persons who accomplished the act of salvation. The merit of a sacrifice, if there can be any merit in it, was never in the thing sacrificed, but in the persons offering up the sacrifice -- and, therefore, Judas and Pontius Pilate ought to stand first on the calendar of saints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






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