Thomas Paine Reprimands Clergyman Mason

 

 TO JOHN MASON, ONE OF THE MINISTERS OF THE SCOTCH PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF NEW YORK, WITH REMARKS ON HIS ACCOUNT OF THE VISIT HE MADE TO THE LATE GENERAL HAMILTON

 

"Come now, let us REASON together saith the Lord."  This is one of the passages you quoted from your Bible, in your conversation with General Hamilton[1], as given in your letter, signed with your name, and published in the Commercial Advertiser, and other New York papers, and I requote the passage to show that your text and your religion contradict each other. 

It is impossible to reason upon things not comprehensible by reason; and therefore, if you keep to your text, which priests seldom do, (for they are generally either above it, or below it, or forget it,) you must admit a religion to which reason can apply, and this certainly is not the Christian religion. 

There is not an article in the Christian religion that is cognizable by reason.  The Deistical article of your religion, the belief of a God, is no more a Christian article than it is a Mahometan article. It is an universal article, common to all religions, and which is held in greater purity by Turks than by Christians; but the Deistical church is the only one which holds it in real purity; because that church acknowledges no co-partnership with God.  It believes in Him solely; and knows nothing of sons, married virgins, nor ghosts. It holds all these things to be the fables of priestcraft. 

Why then do you talk of reason, or refer to it, since your religion has nothing to do with reason, nor reason with that?  You tell people as you told Hamilton, that they must have faith!  Faith in what?  You ought to know that before the mind can have faith in anything, it must either know it as a fact, or see cause to believe it on the probability of that kind of evidence that is cognizable by reason. 

But your religion is not within either of these cases; for, in the first place, you cannot prove it to be fact; and in the second place, you cannot support it by reason, not only because it is not cognizable by reason, but because it is contrary to reason. 

What reason can there be in supposing, or believing that God put Himself to death to satisfy Himself, and be revenged on the Devil on account of Adam?  For, tell the story which way you will it comes to this at last. 

As you can make no appeal to reason in support of an unreasonable religion, you then (and others of your profession) bring yourselves off by telling people they must not believe in reason but in revelation. 

This is the artifice of habit without reflection.  It is putting words in the place of things; for do you not see that when you tell people to believe in revelation, you must first prove that what you call revelation, is revelation; and as you cannot do this, you put the word, which is easily spoken, in the place of the thing you cannot prove. 

You have no more evidence that your Gospel is revelation than the Turks have that their Koran is revelation, and the only difference between them and you is, that they preach their delusion and you preach yours. 

In your conversation with General Hamilton, you say to him, "The simple truths of the Gospel which require no abstruse investigation, but faith in the veracity of God who cannot lie, are best suited to your present condition." 

If those matters you call "simple truths" are what you call them, and require no abstruse investigation, they would be so obvious that reason would easily comprehend them; yet the doctrine you preach at other times is, that the mysteries of the Gospel are beyond the reach of reason. 

If your first position be true, that they are simple truths, priests are unnecessary, for we do not want preachers to tell us the sun shines; and if your second be true, the case, as to effect, is the same, for it is waste of money to pay a man to explain unexplainable things, and loss of time to listen to him. 

That God cannot lie, is no advantage to your argument, because it is no proof that priests cannot, or, that the Bible does not.  Did not Paul lie when he told the Thessalonians that the general resurrection of the dead would be in his life- time, and that he should go up alive along with them into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air? I Thes. iv. 17. 

You spoke of what you call, "the precious blood of Christ."  This savage style of language belongs to the priests of the Christian religion. The professors of this religion say they are shocked at the accounts of human sacrifices of which they read in the histories of some countries. Do they not see that their own religion is founded on a human sacrifice, the blood of man, of which their priests talk like so many butchers? 

It is no wonder the Christian religion has been so bloody in its effects, for it began in blood, and many thousands of human sacrifices have since been offered on the altar of the Christian religion. 

It is necessary to the character of a religion, as being true, and immutable as God Himself is, that the evidence of it be equally the same through all periods of time and circumstance. 

This is not the case with the Christian religion, nor with that of the Jews that preceded it, (for there was a time and that within the knowledge of history, when these religions did not exist,) nor is it the case with any religion we know of but the religion of Deism.  In this the evidences are eternal and universal.  "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto nigh showeth knowledge."[2] But all other religions are made to arise from some local circumstance, and are introduced by some temporary trifle which its partisans call a miracle, but of which there is no proof but the story of it. 

The Jewish religion, according to the history of it, began in a wilderness, and the Christian religion in a stable. The Jewish books tell us of wonders exhibited upon Mount Sinai. It happened that nobody lived there to contradict the account. 

The Christian books tell us of a star that hung over the stable at the birth of Jesus. There is no star there now, nor any person living that saw it. But all the stars in the heavens bear eternal evidence to the truth of Deism. It did not begin in a stable, nor in a wilderness. It began everywhere. The theater of the universe is the place of its birth. 

As adoration paid to any being but GOD Himself is idolatry: the Christian religion by paying adoration to a man, born of a woman called Mary, belongs to the idolatrous class of religions; consequently the consolation drawn from it is delusion. 

Between you and your rival in communion ceremonies, Dr. Moore of the Episcopal Church, you have, in order to make yourselves appear of some importance, reduced General Hamilton's character to that of a feeble minded man, who in going out of the world wanted a passport from a priest. Which of you was first or last applied to for this purpose is a matter of no consequence. 

The man, Sir, who puts his trust and confidence in God, that leads a just and moral life, and endeavors to do good, does not trouble himself about priests when his hour of departure comes, nor permit priests to trouble themselves about him. They are in general mischievous beings where character is concerned; a consultation of priests is worse than a consultation of physicians.

 



[1] Alexander Hamilton who was dying from a gunshot he received in a duel. Editor.

[2] This Psalm (19) which is a Deistical Psalm, is so much in the manner of some parts of the book of Job (which is not a book of the Jews, and does not belong to the Bible), that it has the appearance of having been translated into Hebrew from the same language in which the book of Job was originally written, and brought by the Jews from Chaldea or Persia, when they returned from captivity. The contemplation of the heavens made a great part of the religious devotion of the Chaldeans and Persians, and their religious festivals were regulated by the progress of the sun through the twelve signs of the zodiac. But the Jews knew nothing about the heavens, or they would not have told the foolish story of the sun’s standing still upon a hill, and the moon in a valley. What could they want the moon for in the day time?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






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