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The Age of Reason (segment two and conclusion)

As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species

of Atheism- a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to

believe in a man rather than in God. It is a compound made up

chiefly of Manism with but little Deism, and is as near to Atheism

as twilight is to darkness. It introduces between man and his Maker an

opaque body, which it calls a Redeemer, as the moon introduces her

opaque self between the earth and the sun, and it produces by this

means a religious, or an irreligious, eclipse of light. It has put the

whole orbit of reason into shade.

The effect of this obscurity has been that of turning everything

upside down, and representing it in reverse, and among the revolutions

it has thus magically produced, it has made a revolution in theology.

That which is now called natural philosophy, embracing the whole

circle of science, of which astronomy occupies the chief place, is the

study of the works of God, and of the power and wisdom of God in his

works, and is the true theology.

As to the theology that is now studied in its place, it is the

study of human opinions and of human fancies concerning God. It is

not the study of God himself in the works that he has made, but in the

works or writings that man has made; and it is not among the least

of the mischiefs that the Christian system has done to the world, that

it has abandoned the original and beautiful system of theology, like a

beautiful innocent, to distress and reproach, to make room for the hag

of superstition.

The Book of Job and the 19th Psalm, which even the Church admits

to be more ancient than the chronological order in which they stand in

the book called the Bible, are theological orations conformable to the

original system of theology. The internal evidence of those orations

proves to a demonstration that the study and contemplation of the

works of creation, and of the power and wisdom of God, revealed and

manifested in those works, made a great part in the religious devotion

of the times in which they were written; and it was this devotional

study and contemplation that led to the discovery of the principles

upon which what are now called sciences are established; and it is

to the discovery of these principles that almost all the arts that

contribute to the convenience of human life owe their existence. Every

principal art has some science for its parent, though the person who

mechanically performs the work does not always, and but very seldom,

perceive the connection.

It is a fraud of the Christian system to call the sciences human

invention; it is only the application of them that is human. Every

science has for its basis a system of principles as fixed and

unalterable as those by which the universe is regulated and

governed. Man cannot make principles, he can only discover them.

For example: Every person who looks at an almanac sees an

account when an eclipse will take place, and he sees also that it

never fails to take place according to the account there given. This

shows that man is acquainted with the laws by which the heavenly

bodies move. But it would be something worse than ignorance, were

any Church on earth to say that those laws are a human invention. It

would also be ignorance, or something worse, to say that the

scientific principles by the aid of which man is enabled to

calculate and foreknow when an eclipse will take place, are a human

invention. Man cannot invent a thing that is eternal and immutable;

and the scientific principles he employs for this purpose must be, and

are of necessity, as eternal and immutable as the laws by which the

heavenly bodies move, or they could not be used as they are to

ascertain the time when, and the manner how, an eclipse will take

place.

The scientific principles that man employs to obtain the

foreknowledge of an eclipse, or of anything else relating to the

motion of the heavenly bodies, are contained chiefly in that part of

science which is called trigonometry, or the properties of a triangle,

which, when applied to the study of the heavenly bodies, is called

astronomy; when applied to direct the course of a ship on the ocean,

it is called navigation; when applied to the construction of figures

drawn by rule and compass, it is called geometry; when applied to

the construction of plans or edifices, it is called architecture; when

applied to the measurement of any portion of the surface of the earth,

it is called land surveying. In fine, it is the soul of science; it is

an eternal truth; it contains the mathematical demonstration of

which man speaks, and the extent of its uses is unknown.

It may be said that man can make or draw a triangle, and therefore

a triangle is a human invention.

But the triangle, when drawn, is no other than the image of the

principle; it is a delineation to the eye, and from thence to the

mind, of a principle that would otherwise be imperceptible. The

triangle does not make the principle, any more than a candle taken

into a room that was dark makes the chairs and tables that before were

invisible. All the properties of a triangle exist independently of the figure,

and existed before any triangle was drawn or thought of by

man. Man had no more to do in the formation of these properties or

principles, than he had to do in making the laws by which the heavenly

bodies move; and therefore the one must have the same Divine origin

as the other.

In the same manner, as it may be said, that man can make a

triangle, so also, may it be said, he can make the mechanical

instrument called a lever; but the principle by which the lever acts

is a thing distinct from the instrument, and would exist if the

instrument did not; it attaches itself to the instrument after it is

made; the instrument, therefore, cannot act otherwise than it does

act; neither can all the efforts of human invention make it act

otherwise- that which, in all such cases, man calls the effect is no

other than the principle itself rendered perceptible to the senses.

Since, then, man cannot make principles, from whence did he gain

a knowledge of them, so as to be able to apply them, not only to

things on earth, but to ascertain the motion of bodies so immensely

distant from him as all the heavenly bodies are? From whence, I ask,

could he gain that knowledge, but from the study of the true theology?

It is the structure of the universe that has taught this knowledge

to man. That structure is an ever-existing exhibition of every

principle upon which every part of mathematical science is founded.

The offspring of this science is mechanics; for mechanics is no

other than the principles of science applied practically. The man

who proportions the several parts of a mill, uses the same

scientific principles as if he had the power of constructing a

universe; but as he cannot give to matter that invisible agency by

which all the component parts of the immense machine of the universe

have influence upon each other, and act in motional unison together,

without any apparent contact, and to which man has given the name

of attraction, gravitation, and repulsion, he supplies the place of

that agency by the humble imitation of teeth and cogs. All the parts

of man's microcosm must visibly touch; but could he gain a knowledge

of that agency, so as to be able to apply it in practice, we might

then say that another canonical book of the Word of God had been

discovered.

If man could alter the properties of the lever, so also could he

alter the properties of the triangle, for a lever (taking that sort of

lever which is called a steelyard, for the sake of explanation) forms,

when in motion, a triangle. The line it descends from (one point of

that line being in the fulcrum), the line it descends to, and the cord

of the arc which the end of the lever describes in the air, are the

three sides of a triangle. The other arm of the lever describes also a

triangle; and the corresponding sides of those two triangles,

calculated scientifically, or measured geometrically, and also the

sines, tangents, and secants generated from the angles, and

geometrically measured, have the same proportions to each other, as

the different weights have that will balance each other on the

lever, leaving the weight of the lever out of the case.

It may also be said, that man can make a wheel and axis; that he

can put wheels of different magnitudes together, and produce a mill.

Still the case comes back to the same point, which is, that he did not

make the principle that gives the wheels those powers. That

principle is as unalterable as in the former case, or rather it is the

same principle under a different appearance to the eye.

The power that two wheels of different magnitudes have upon each

other, is in the same proportion as if the semi-diameter of the two

wheels were joined together and made into that kind of lever I have

described, suspended at the part where the semi-diameters join; for

the two wheels, scientifically considered, are no other than the two

circles generated by the motion of the compound lever.

It is from the study of the true theology that all out knowledge

of science is derived, and it is from that knowledge that all the arts

have originated.

The Almighty Lecturer, by displaying the principles of science

in the structure of the universe, has invited man to study and to

imitation. It is as if He had said to the inhabitants of this globe,

that we call ours, "I have made an earth for man to dwell upon, and

I have rendered the starry heavens visible, to teach him science and

the arts. He can now provide for his own comfort, AND LEARN

FROM MY MUNIFICENCE TO ALL, TO BE KIND TO EACH OTHER."

Of what use is it, unless it be to teach man something, that his

eye is endowed with the power of beholding to an incomprehensible

distance, an immensity of worlds revolving in the ocean of space? Or

of what use is it that this immensity of worlds is visible to man?

What has man to do with the Pleiades, with Orion, with Sirius, with

the star he calls the North Star, with the moving orbs he has named

Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury, if no uses are to follow

from their being visible? A less power of vision would have been

sufficient for man, if the immensity he now possesses were given

only to waste itself, as it were, on an immense desert of space

glittering with shows.

It is only by contemplating what he calls the starry heavens, as

the book and school of science, that he discovers any use in their

being visible to him, or any advantage resulting from his immensity of

vision. But when he contemplates the subject in this light he sees

an additional motive for saying, that nothing was made in vain; for in

vain would be this power of vision if it taught man nothing.

As the Christian system of faith has made a revolution in

theology, so also has it made a revolution in the state of learning.

That which is now called learning, was not learning originally.

Learning does not consist, as the schools now make it consist, in

the knowledge of languages, but in the knowledge of things to which

language gives names.

The Greeks were a learned people, but learning with them did not

consist in speaking Greek, any more than in a Roman's speaking

Latin, or a Frenchman's speaking French, or an Englishman's speaking

English. From what we know of the Greeks, it does not appear that

they knew or studied any language but their own, and this was one

cause of their becoming so learned: it afforded them more time to

apply themselves to better studies. The schools of the Greeks were

schools of science and philosophy, and not of languages; and it is in

the knowledge of the things that science and philosophy teach, that

learning consists.

Almost all the scientific learning that now exists came to us from

the Greeks, or the people who spoke the Greek language. It, therefore,

became necessary for the people of other nations who spoke a different

language that some among them should learn the Greek language, in order

that the learning the Greeks had, might be made known in those nations,

by translating the Greek books of science and philosophy into the mother

tongue of each nation.

The study, therefore, of the Greek language (and in the same

manner for the Latin) was no other than the drudgery business of a

linguist; and the language thus obtained, was no other than the means,

as it were the tools, employed to obtain the learning the Greeks had. It

made no part of the learning itself, and was so distinct

from it, as to make it exceedingly probable that the persons who had

studied Greek sufficiently to translate those works, such, for

instance, as Euclid's Elements, did not understand any of the learning

the works contained.

As there is now nothing new to be learned from the dead languages,

all the useful books being already translated, the languages are become

useless, and the time expended in teaching and learning them is wasted.

So far as the study of languages may contribute to the progress and

communication of knowledge, (for it has nothing to do with the creation

of knowledge), it is only in the living languages that new knowledge

is to be found; and certain it is that, in general,

a youth will learn more of a living language in one year, than of a

dead language in seven, and it is but seldom that the teacher knows

much of it himself. The difficulty of learning the dead languages does

not arise from any superior abstruseness in the languages

themselves, but in their being dead, and the pronunciation entirely

lost. It would be the same thing with any other language when it

becomes dead. The best Greek linguist that now exists does not

understand Greek so well as a Grecian plowman did, or a Grecian

milkmaid; and the same for the Latin, compared with a plowman or

milkmaid of the Romans; it would therefore be advantageous to the

state of learning to abolish the study of the dead languages, and to

make learning consist, as it originally did, in scientific knowledge.

The apology that is sometimes made for continuing to teach the

dead languages is, that they are taught at a time when a child is

not capable of exerting any other mental faculty than that of

memory; but that is altogether erroneous. The human mind has a

natural disposition to scientific knowledge, and to the things

connected with it. The first and favorite amusement of a child,

even before it begins to play, is that of imitating the works of

man. It builds houses with cards or sticks; it navigates the little

ocean of a bowl of water with a paper boat, or dams the stream

of a gutter and contrives something which it calls a mill; and it

interests itself in the fate of its works with a care that resembles

affection. It afterwards goes to school, where its genius is killed

by the barren study of a dead language, and the philosopher is

lost in the linguist.

But the apology that is now made for continuing to teach the

dead languages, could not be the cause, at first, of cutting down

learning to the narrow and humble sphere of linguistry; the cause,

therefore, must be sought for elsewhere. In all researches of this

kind, the best evidence that can be produced, is the internal evidence

the thing carries with itself, and the evidence of circumstances

that unite with it; both of which, in this case, are not difficult

to be discovered.

Putting then aside, as a matter of distinct consideration, the

outrage offered to the moral justice of God by supposing him to make

the innocent suffer for the guilty, and also the loose morality and

low contrivance of supposing him to change himself into the shape of a

man, in order to make an excuse to himself for not executing his

supposed sentence upon Adam- putting, I say, those things aside as

matter of distinct consideration, it is certain that what is called

the Christian system of faith, including in it the whimsical account

of the creation- the strange story of Eve- the snake and the apple-

the ambiguous idea of a man-god- the corporeal idea of the death of a

god- the mythological idea of a family of gods, and the Christian

system of arithmetic, that three are one, and one is three, are all

irreconcilable, not only to the divine gift of reason that God hath

given to man, but to the knowledge that man gains of the power and

wisdom of God, by the aid of the sciences and by studying the

structure of the universe that God has made.

The setters-up, therefore, and the advocates of the Christian

system of faith could not but foresee that the continually progressive

knowledge that man would gain, by the aid of science, of the power

and wisdom of God, manifested in the structure of the universe and in

all the works of Creation, would militate against, and call into

question, the truth of their system of faith; and therefore it

became necessary to their purpose to cut learning down to a size

less dangerous to their project, and this they effected by restricting

the idea of learning to the dead study of dead languages.

They not only rejected the study of science out of the Christian

schools, but they persecuted it, and it is only within about the

last two centuries that the study has been revived. So late as 1610,

Galileo, a Florentine, discovered and introduced the use of

telescopes, and by applying them to observe the motions and

appearances of the heavenly bodies, afforded additional means for

ascertaining the true structure of the universe. Instead of being

esteemed for those discoveries, he was sentenced to renounce them,

or the opinions resulting from them, as a damnable heresy. And,

prior to that time, Vigilius was condemned to be burned for

asserting the antipodes, or in other words that the earth was a globe,

and habitable in every part where there was land; yet the truth of

this is now too well known even to be told.

If the belief of errors not morally bad did no mischief, it

would make no part of the moral duty of man to oppose and remove

them. There was no moral ill in believing the earth was flat like a

trencher, any more than there was moral virtue in believing that it

was round like a globe; neither was there any moral ill in believing

that the Creator made no other world than this, any more than there

was moral virtue in believing that he made millions, and that the

infinity of space is filled with worlds. But when a system of religion

is made to grow out of a supposed system of creation that is not true,

and to unite itself therewith in a manner almost inseparable

therefrom, the case assumes an entirely different ground. It is then

that errors not morally bad become fraught with the same mischiefs

as if they were. It is then that the truth, though otherwise

indifferent itself, becomes an essential by becoming the criterion

that either confirms by corresponding evidence, or denies by

contradictory evidence, the reality of the religion itself. In this

view of the case, it is the moral duty of man to obtain every possible

evidence that the structure of the heavens, or any other part of

creation affords, with respect to systems of religion. But this, the

supporters or partisans of the Christian system, as if dreading the

result, incessantly opposed, and not only rejected the sciences, but

persecuted the professors. Had Newton or Descartes lived three or

four hundred years ago, and pursued their studies as they did, it is

most probable they would not have lived to finish them; and had

Franklin drawn lightning from the clouds at the same time, it would

have been at the hazard of expiring for it in the flames.

Later times have laid all the blame upon the Goths and Vandals;

but, however unwilling the partisans of the Christian system may be to

believe or to acknowledge it, it is nevertheless true that the age

of ignorance commenced with the Christian system. There was more

knowledge in the world before that period than for many centuries

afterwards; and as to religious knowledge, the Christian system, as

already said was only another species of mythology, and the

mythology to which it succeeded was a corruption of an ancient

system of theism.*

*It is impossible for us now to know at what time the heathen

mythology began; but it is certain, from the internal evidence that it

carries, that it did not begin in the same state or condition in which

it ended. All the gods of that mythology, except Saturn, were of

modern invention. The supposed reign of Saturn was prior to that

which is called the heathen mythology, and was so far a species

of theism, that it admitted the belief of only one God. Saturn is

supposed to have abdicated the government in favor of his three

sons and one daughter, Jupiter, Pluto, Neptune, and Juno; after

this, thousands of other Gods and demi-gods were imaginarily

created, and the calendar of gods increased as fast as the

calendar of saints and the calendars of courts have increased since.

All the corruptions that have taken place in theology and in

religion, have been produced by admitting of what man calls revealed

religion. The Mythologists pretended to more revealed religion than

the Christians do. They had their oracles and their priests, who

were supposed to receive and deliver the word of God verbally, on

almost all occasions.

Since, then, all corruptions, down from Moloch to modern

predestinarianism, and the human sacrifices of the heathens to the

Christian sacrifice of the Creator, have been produced by admitting of

what is called revealed religion, the most effectual means to

prevent all such evils and impositions is not to admit of any other

revelation than that which is manifested in the book of creation,

and to contemplate the creation as the only true and real word of

God that ever did or ever will exist; and that everything else, called

the word of God, is fable and imposition.

It is owing to this long interregnum of science, and to no other

cause, that we have now to look through a vast chasm of many

hundred years to the respectable characters we call the ancients.

Had the progression of knowledge gone on proportionably with that

stock that before existed, that chasm would have been filled up

with characters rising superior in knowledge to each other; and

those ancients we now so much admire would have appeared

respectably in the background of the scene. But the Christian

system laid all waste; and if we take our stand about the

beginning of the sixteenth century, we look back through that

long chasm to the times of the ancients, as over a vast sandy

desert, in which not a shrub appears to intercept the

vision to the fertile hills beyond.

It is an inconsistency scarcely possible to be credited, that

anything should exist, under the name of a religion, that held it to

be irreligious to study and contemplate the structure of the

universe that God has made. But the fact is too well established to be

denied. The event that served more than any other to break the first

link in this long chain of despotic ignorance is that known by the

name of the Reformation by Luther. From that time, though it does

not appear to have made any part of the intention of Luther, or of

those who are called reformers, the sciences began to revive, and

liberality, their natural associate, began to appear. This was the

only public good the Reformation did; for with respect to religious

good, it might as well not have taken place. The mythology still

continued the same, and a multiplicity of National Popes grew out of

the downfall of the Pope of Christendom.

Having thus shown from the internal evidence of things the cause

that produced a change in the state of learning, and the motive for

substituting the study of the dead languages in the place of the

sciences, I proceed, in addition to several observations already

made in the former part of this work, to compare, or rather to

confront, the evidence that the structure of the universe affords with

the Christian system of religion; but, as I cannot begin this part

better than by referring to the ideas that occurred to me at an

early part of life, and which I doubt not have occurred in some degree

to almost every person at one time or other, I shall state what

those ideas were, and add thereto such other matter as shall arise out

of the subject, giving to the whole, by way of preface, a short

introduction.

My father being of the Quaker profession, it was my good fortune

to have an exceedingly good moral education, and a tolerable stock

of useful learning. Though I went to the grammar school,* I did not

learn Latin, not only because I had no inclination to learn languages,

but because of the objection the Quakers have against the books in

which the language is taught. But this did not prevent me from being

acquainted with the subject of all the Latin books used in the school.

*The same school, Thetford In Norfolk that the present

Counsellor Mingay went to and under the same master.

The natural bent of my mind was to science. I had some turn, and I

believe some talent, for poetry; but this I rather repressed than

encouraged, as leading too much into the field of imagination. As soon

as I was able I purchased a pair of globes, and attended the

philosophical lectures of Martin and Ferguson, and became afterward

acquainted with Dr. Bevis, of the society called the Royal Society,

then living in the Temple, and an excellent astronomer.

I had no disposition for what is called politics. It presented

to my mind no other idea than as contained in the word Jockeyship.

When therefore I turned my thoughts toward matter of government,

I had to form a system for myself that accorded with the moral and

philosophic principles in which I have been educated. I saw, or at

least I thought I saw, a vast scene opening itself to the world in the

affairs of America, and it appeared to me that unless the Americans

changed the plan they were pursuing with respect to the government

of England, and declared themselves independent, they would not only

involve themselves in a multiplicity of new difficulties, but shut out

the prospect that was then offering itself to mankind through their

means. It was from these motives that I published the work known by

the name of Common Sense, which was the first work I ever did publish;

and so far as I can judge of myself, I believe I should never have been

known in the world as an author, on any subject whatever, had it not

been for the affairs of America. I wrote Common Sense the

latter end of the year 1775, and published it the first of January,

1776. Independence was declared the fourth of July following.

Any person who has made observations on the state and progress

of the human mind, by observing his own, cannot but have observed

that there are two distinct classes of what are called thoughts - those

that we produce in ourselves by reflection and the act of thinking,

and those that bolt into the mind of their own accord. I have always

made it a rule to treat those voluntary visitors with civility, taking

care to examine, as well as I was able, if they were worth

entertaining, and it is from them I have acquired almost all the

knowledge that I have. As to the learning that any person gains from

school education, it serves only, like a small capital, to put him

in a way of beginning learning for himself afterward. Every person

of learning is finally his own teacher, the reason of which is that

principles, being a distinct quality to circumstances, cannot be

impressed upon the memory; their place of mental residence is the

understanding and they are never so lasting as when they begin by

conception. Thus much for the introductory part.

From the time I was capable of conceiving an idea and acting

upon it by reflection, I either doubted the truth of the Christian

system or thought it to be a strange affair; I scarcely knew which

it was, but I well remember, when about seven or eight years of age,

hearing a sermon read by a relation of mine, who was a great devotee

of the Church, upon the subject of what is called redemption by the

death of the Son of God. After the sermon was ended, I went into the

garden, and as I was going down the garden steps (for I perfectly

recollect the spot) I revolted at the recollection of what I had

heard, and thought to myself that it was making God Almighty act

like a passionate man, that killed his son when he could not revenge

himself in any other way, and as I was sure a man would be hanged

that did such a thing, I could not see for what purpose they preached

such sermons. This was not one of that kind of thoughts that had

anything in it of childish levity; it was to me a serious

reflection, arising from the idea I had that God was too good to do

such an action, and also too almighty to be under any necessity of

doing it. I believe in the same manner at this moment; and I

moreover believe, that any system of religion that has anything in

it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system.

It seems as if parents of the Christian profession were ashamed to

tell their children anything about the principles of their religion.

They sometimes instruct them in morals, and talk to them of the

goodness of what they call Providence, for the Christian mythology has

five deities- there is God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy

Ghost, the God Providence, and the Goddess Nature. But the Christian

story of God the Father putting his son to death, or employing people

to do it (for that is the plain language of the story) cannot be told

by a parent to a child; and to tell him that it was done to make

mankind happier and better is making the story still worse- as if

mankind could be improved by the example of murder; and to tell him

that all this is a mystery is only making an excuse for the

incredibility of it.

How different is this to the pure and simple profession of

Deism! The true Deist has but one Deity, and his religion consists

in contemplating the power, wisdom, and benignity of the Deity in

his works, and in endeavoring to imitate him in everything moral,

scientifical, and mechanical.

The religion that approaches the nearest of all others to true

Deism, in the moral and benign part thereof, is that professed by

the Quakers; but they have contracted themselves too much, by

leaving the works of God out of their system. Though I reverence their

philanthropy, I cannot help smiling at the conceit, that if the

taste of a Quaker could have been consulted at the creation, what a

silent and drab-colored creation it would have been! Not a flower

would have blossomed its gayeties, nor a bird been permitted to sing.

Quitting these reflections, I proceed to other matters. After I

had made myself master of the use of the globes and of the orrery,*

and conceived an idea of the infinity of space, and the eternal

divisibility of matter, and obtained at least a general knowledge of

what is called natural philosophy, I began to compare, or, as I have

before said, to confront the eternal evidence those things afford with

the Christian system of faith.

*As this book may fall into the hands of persons who do not know

what an orrery is, it is for their information I add this note, as the

name gives no idea of the uses of thing. The orrery has its name

from the person who invented it. It is a machinery of clock-work,

representing the universe in miniature, and in which the revolution of

the earth round itself and round the sun, the revolution of the moon

round the earth, the revolution of the planets round the sun, their

relative distances from the sun, as the centre of the whole system,

their relative distances from each other, and their different

magnitudes, are represented as they really exist in what we call the

heavens.

Though it is not a direct article of the Christian system, that

this world that we inhabit is the whole of the habitable creation, yet

it is so worked up therewith, from what is called the Mosaic account

of the Creation, the story of Eve and the apple, and the counterpart

of that story, the death of the Son of God, that to believe otherwise,

that is, to believe that God created a plurality of worlds, at least

as numerous as what we call stars, renders the Christian system of

faith at once little and ridiculous, and scatters it in the mind

like feathers in the air. The two beliefs cannot be held together in

the same mind, and he who thinks that he believes both, has thought

but little of either.

Though the belief of a plurality of worlds was familiar to the

ancients, it’s only within the last three centuries that the extent

and dimensions of this globe that we inhabit have been ascertained.

Several vessels, following the tract of the ocean, have sailed

entirely round the world, as a man may march in a circle, and come

round by the contrary side of the circle to the spot he set out

from. The circular dimensions of our world, in the widest part, as a

man would measure the widest round of an apple or ball, is only

twenty-five thousand and twenty English miles, reckoning sixty-nine

miles and a half to an equatorial degree, and may be sailed round in

the space of about three years.*

*Allowing a ship to sail, on an average, three miles in an hour,

she would sail entirely round the world in less than one year, if

she could sail in a direct circle; but she is obliged to follow the

course of the ocean.

A world of this extent may, at first thought, appear to us to be

great; but if we compare it with the immensity of space in which it is

suspended, like a bubble or balloon in the air, it is infinitely

less in proportion than the smallest grain of sand is to the size of

the world, or the finest particle of dew to the whole ocean, and is

therefore but small; and, as will be hereafter shown, is only one of a

system of worlds of which the universal creation is composed.

It is not difficult to gain some faint idea of the immensity of

space in which this and all the other worlds are suspended, if we

follow a progression of ideas. When we think of the size or dimensions

of a room, our ideas limit themselves to the walls, and there they

stop; but when our eye or our imagination darts into space, that is,

when it looks upward into what we call the open air, we cannot

conceive any walls or boundaries it can have, and if for the sake of

resting our ideas, we suppose a boundary, the question immediately

renews itself, and asks, what is beyond that boundary? and in the

same manner, what is beyond the next boundary? and so on till the

fatigued imagination returns and says, There is no end. Certainly,

then, the Creator was not pent for room when he made this world no

larger than it is, and we have to seek the reason in something else.

If we take a survey of our own world, or rather of this, of

which the Creator has given us the use as our portion in the immense

system of creation, we find every part of it- the earth, the waters,

and the air that surrounds it- filled and, as it were, crowded with

life, down from the largest animals that we know of to the smallest

insects the naked eye can behold, and from thence to others still

smaller, and totally invisible without the assistance of the

microscope. Every tree, every plant, every leaf, serves not only as

a habitation but as a world to some numerous race, till animal

existence becomes so exceedingly refined that the effluvia of a

blade of grass would be food for thousands.

Since, then, no part of our earth is left unoccupied, why is it to

be supposed that the immensity of space is a naked void, lying in

eternal waste? There is room for millions of worlds as large or larger

than ours, and each of them millions of miles apart from each other.

Having now arrived at this point, if we carry our ideas only one

thought further, we shall see, perhaps, the true reason, at least a

very good reason, for our happiness, why the Creator, instead of

making one immense world extending over an immense quantity of

space, has preferred dividing that quantity of matter into several

distinct and separate worlds, which we call planets, of which our

earth is one. But before I explain my ideas upon this subject, it is

necessary (not for the sake of those who already know, but for those

who do not) to show what the system of the universe is.

That part of the universe that is called the solar system (meaning

the system of worlds to which our earth belongs, and of which Sol,

or in English language, the Sun, is the centre) consists, besides

the Sun, of six distinct orbs, or planets, or worlds, besides the

secondary called the satellites or moons, of which our earth has one

that attends her in her annual revolution around the Sun, in like

manner as the other satellites or moons attend the planets or worlds

to which they severally belong, as may be seen by the assistance of

the telescope.

The Sun is the centre, round which those six worlds or planets

revolve at different distances therefrom, and in circles concentrate

to each other. Each world keeps constantly in nearly the same track

round the Sun, and continues, at the same time, turning round itself

in nearly an upright position, as a top turns round itself when it

is spinning on the ground, and leans a little sideways.

It is this leaning of the earth (23.5 degrees) that occasions

summer and winter, and the different length of days and nights.

If the earth turned round itself in a position perpendicular to the

plane or level of the circle it moves in around the Sun, as a top turns

round when it stands erect on the ground, the days and nights would

be always of the same length, twelve hours day and twelve hours

night, and the seasons would be uniformly the same throughout the year.

Every time that a planet (our earth for example) turns round

itself, it makes what we call day and night; and every time it goes

entirely round the Sun it makes what we call a year; consequently

our world turns three hundred and sixty-five times round itself, in

going once round the Sun.*

*Those who supposed that the Sun went round the earth every 24

hours made the same mistake in idea that a cook would do in fact,

that should make the fire go round the meat, instead of the meat

turning round itself toward the fire.

The names that the ancients gave to those six worlds, and which

are still called by the same names, are Mercury, Venus, this world

that we call ours, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. They appear larger to

the eye than the stars, being many million miles nearer to our earth

than any of the stars are. The planet Venus is that which is called

the evening star, and sometimes the morning star, as she happens to

set after or rise before the Sun, which in either case is never more

than three hours.

The Sun, as before said, being the centre, the planet or world

nearest the Sun is Mercury; his distance from the Sun is thirty-four

million miles, and he moves round in a circle always at that

distance from the Sun, as a top may be supposed to spin round in the

track in which a horse goes in a mill. The second world is Venus;

she is fifty-seven million miles distant from the Sun, and

consequently moves round in a circle much greater than that of

Mercury. The third world is this that we inhabit, and which is

eighty-eight million miles distant from the Sun, and consequently

moves round in a circle greater than that of Venus. The fourth world

is Mars; he is distant from the Sun one hundred and thirty-four

million miles, and consequently moves round in a circle greater than

that of our earth. The fifth is Jupiter; he is distant from the Sun

five hundred and fifty-seven million miles, and consequently moves

round in a circle greater than that of Mars. The sixth world is

Saturn; he is distant from the Sun seven hundred and sixty-three

million miles, and consequently moves round in a circle that surrounds

the circles, or orbits, of all the other worlds or planets.

The space, therefore, in the air, or in the immensity of space,

that our solar system takes up for the several worlds to perform their

revolutions in round the Sun, is of the extent in a straight line of

the whole diameter of the orbit or circle, in which Saturn moves round

the Sun, which being double his distance from the Sun, is fifteen

hundred and twenty-six million miles and its circular extent is nearly

five thousand million, and its globular contents is almost three

thousand five hundred million times three thousand five hundred

million square miles.*

*If it should be asked, how can man know these things? I have

one plain answer to give, which is, that man knows how to calculate an

eclipse, and also how to calculate to a minute of time when the planet

Venus, in making her revolutions around the sun will come in a

straight line between our earth and the sun, and will appear to us

about the size of a large pea passing across the face of the sun. This

happens but twice in about a hundred years, at the distance of about

eight years from each other, and has happened twice in our time,

both of which were foreknown by calculation. It can also be known when

they will happen again for a thousand years to come, or to any other

portion of time. As, therefore, man could not be able to do these

things if he did not understand the solar system, and the manner in

which the revolutions of the several planets or worlds are

performed, the fact of calculating an eclipse, or a transit of

Venus, is a proof in point that the knowledge exists; and as to a

few thousand, or even a few million miles, more or less, it makes

scarcely any sensible difference in such immense distances.

But this, immense as it is, is only one system of worlds. Beyond

this, at a vast distance into space, far beyond all power of

calculation, are the stars called the fixed stars. They are called

fixed, because they have no revolutionary motion, as the six worlds or

planets have that I have been describing. Those fixed stars continue

always at the same distance from each other, and always in the same

place, as the Sun does in the centre of our system. The probability,

therefore, is, that each of these fixed stars is also a Sun, round

which another system of worlds or planets, though too remote for

us to discover, performs its revolutions, as our system of worlds does

round our central Sun.

By this easy progression of ideas, the immensity of space will

appear to us to be filled with systems of worlds, and that no part

of space lies at waste, any more than any part of the globe of earth

and water is left unoccupied.

Having thus endeavored to convey, in a familiar and easy manner,

some idea of the structure of the universe, I return to explain what

I before alluded to, namely, the great benefits arising to man in

consequence of the Creator having made a plurality of worlds, such

as our system is, consisting of a central Sun and six worlds,

besides satellites, in preference to that of creating one world only

of a vast extent.

It is an idea I have never lost sight of, that all our knowledge

of science is derived from the revolutions (exhibited to our eye and

from thence to our understanding) which those several planets or

worlds of which our system is composed make in their circuit round

the Sun.

Had, then, the quantity of matter which these six worlds contain

been blended into one solitary globe, the consequence to us would

have been, that either no revolutionary motion would have existed,

or not a sufficiency of it to give to us the idea and the knowledge of

science we now have; and it is from the sciences that all the

mechanical arts that contribute so much to our earthly felicity and

comfort are derived.

As, therefore, the Creator made nothing in vain, so also must it

be believed that he organized the structure of the universe in the

most advantageous manner for the benefit of man; and as we see,

and from experience feel, the benefits we derive from the structure

of the universe formed as it is, which benefits we should not have had

the opportunity of enjoying, if the structure, so far as relates to our

system, had been a solitary globe- we can discover at least one reason

why a plurality of worlds has been made, and that reason calls forth

the devotional gratitude of man, as well as his admiration.

But it is not to us, the inhabitants of this globe, only, that the

benefits arising from a plurality of worlds are limited. The

inhabitants of each of the worlds of which our system is composed

enjoy the same opportunities of knowledge as we do. They behold the

revolutionary motions of our earth, as we behold theirs. All the

planets revolve in sight of each other, and, therefore, the same

universal school of science presents itself to all.

Neither does the knowledge stop here. The system of worlds next to

us exhibits, in its revolutions, the same principles and school of

science to the inhabitants of their system, as our system does to

us, and in like manner throughout the immensity of space.

Our ideas, not only of the almightiness of the Creator, but of his

wisdom and his beneficence, become enlarged in proportion as we

contemplate the extent and the structure of the universe. The solitary

idea of a solitary world, rolling or at rest in the immense ocean of

space, gives place to the cheerful idea of a society of worlds, so

happily contrived as to administer, even by their motion,

instruction to man. We see our own earth filled with abundance, but

we forget to consider how much of that abundance is owing to the

scientific knowledge the vast machinery of the universe has unfolded.

But, in the midst of those reflections, what are we to think of

the Christian system of faith, that forms itself upon the idea of only

one world, and that of no greater extent, as is before shown, than

twenty-five thousand miles? An extent which a man walking at the

rate of three miles an hour, for twelve hours in the day, could he

keep on in a circular direction, would walk entirely round in less

than two years. Alas! what is this to the mighty ocean of space, and

the almighty power of the Creator?

From whence, then, could arise the solitary and strange conceit

that the Almighty, who had millions of worlds equally dependent on his

protection, should quit the care of all the rest, and come to die in

our world, because, they say, one man and one woman had eaten an

apple? And, on the other hand, are we to suppose that every world in

the boundless creation had an Eve, an apple, a serpent, and a

redeemer? In this case, the person who is irreverently called the

Son of God, and sometimes God himself, would have nothing else to

do than to travel from world to world, in an endless succession of

deaths, with scarcely a momentary interval of life.

It has been by rejecting the evidence that the word or works of

God in the creation afford to our senses, and the action of our reason

upon that evidence, that so many wild and whimsical systems of faith

and of religion have been fabricated and set up. There may be many

systems of religion that, so far from being morally bad, are in many

respects morally good; but there can be but ONE that is true; and that

one necessarily must, as it ever will, be in all things consistent

with the ever-existing word of God that we behold in his works. But

such is the strange construction of the Christian system of faith that

every evidence the Heavens afford to man either directly contradicts

it or renders it absurd.

It is possible to believe, and I always feel pleasure in

encouraging myself to believe it, that there have been men in the

world who persuade themselves that what is called a pious fraud might,

at least under particular circumstances, be productive of some good.

But the fraud being once established, could not afterward be

explained, for it is with a pious fraud as with a bad action, it

begets a calamitous necessity of going on.

The persons who first preached the Christian system of faith,

and in some measure combined it with the morality preached by Jesus

Christ, might persuade themselves that it was better than the

heathen mythology that then prevailed. From the first preachers the

fraud went on to the second, and to the third, till the idea of its

being a pious fraud became lost in the belief of its being true; and

that belief became again encouraged by the interests of those who

made a livelihood by preaching it.

But though such a belief might by such means be rendered almost

general among the laity, it is next to impossible to account for the

continual persecution carried on by the Church, for several hundred

years, against the sciences and against the professors of science,

if the Church had not some record or tradition that it was

originally no other than a pious fraud, or did not foresee that it

could not be maintained against the evidence that the structure of the

universe afforded.

Having thus shown the irreconcilable inconsistencies between the

real word of God existing in the universe, and that which is called

the Word of God, as shown to us in a printed book that any man might

make, I proceed to speak of the three principal means that have been

employed in all ages, and perhaps in all countries, to impose upon

mankind.

Those three means are Mystery, Miracle, and Prophecy. The two

first are incompatible with true religion, and the third ought

always to be suspected.

With respect to mystery, everything we behold is, in one sense,

a mystery to us. Our own existence is a mystery; the whole vegetable

world is a mystery. We cannot account how it is that an acorn, when

put into the ground, is made to develop itself, and become an oak.

We know not how it is that the seed we sow unfolds and multiplies

itself, and returns to us such an abundant interest for so small a

capital.

The fact, however, as distinct from the operating cause, is not

a mystery, because we see it, and we know also the means we are to

use, which is no other than putting the seed into the ground. We know,

therefore, as much as is necessary for us to know; and that part of the

operation that we do not know, and which, if we did, we could

not perform, the Creator takes upon himself and performs it for us. We

are, therefore, better off than if we had been let into the secret,

and left to do it for ourselves.

But though every created thing is, in this sense, a mystery, the

word mystery cannot be applied to moral truth, any more than obscurity

can be applied to light. The God in whom we believe is a God of moral

truth, and not a God of mystery or obscurity. Mystery is the

antagonist of truth. It is a fog of human invention, that obscures

truth, and represents it in distortion. Truth never envelops itself in

mystery, and the mystery in which it is at any time enveloped is the

work of its antagonist, and never of itself.

Religion, therefore, being the belief of a God and the practice of

moral truth, cannot have connection with mystery. The belief of a God,

so far from having anything of mystery in it, is of all beliefs the

most easy, because it arises to us, as is before observed, out of

necessity. And the practice of moral truth, or, in other words, a

practical imitation of the moral goodness of God, is no other than our

acting toward each other as he acts benignly toward all. We cannot

serve God in the manner we serve those who cannot do without such

service; and, therefore, the only idea we can have of serving God,

is that of contributing to the happiness of the living creation that

God has made. This cannot be done by retiring ourselves from the

society of the world and spending a recluse life in selfish devotion.

The very nature and design of religion, if I may so express it,

prove even to demonstration that it must be free from everything of

mystery, and unencumbered with everything that is mysterious.

Religion, considered as a duty, is incumbent upon every living soul

alike, and, therefore, must be on a level with the understanding and

comprehension of all. Man does not learn religion as he learns the

secrets and mysteries of a trade. He learns the theory of religion

by reflection. It arises out of the action of his own mind upon the

things which he sees, or upon what he may happen to hear or to read,

and the practice joins itself thereto.

When men, whether from policy or pious fraud, set up systems of

religion incompatible with the word or works of God in the creation,

and not only above, but repugnant to human comprehension, they

were under the necessity of inventing or adopting a word that should

serve as a bar to all questions, inquiries and speculation. The word

mystery answered this purpose, and thus it has happened that religion,

which is in itself without mystery, has been corrupted into a fog

of mysteries.

As mystery answered all general purposes, miracle followed as an

occasional auxiliary. The former served to bewilder the mind, the

latter to puzzle the senses. The one was the lingo, the other the

legerdemain.

But before going further into this subject, it will be proper to

inquire what is to be understood by a miracle.

In the same sense that everything may be said to be a mystery,

so also may it be said that everything is a miracle, and that no one

thing is a greater miracle than another. The elephant, though

larger, is not a greater miracle than a mite, nor a mountain a greater

miracle than an atom. To an almighty power, it is no more difficult to

make the one than the other, and no more difficult to make millions of

worlds than to make one. Everything, therefore, is a miracle, in one

sense, whilst in the other sense, there is no such thing as a miracle.

It is a miracle when compared to our power and to our comprehension,

if not a miracle compared to the power that performs it; but as nothing

in this description conveys the idea that is affixed to the word miracle,

it is necessary to carry the inquiry further.

Mankind have conceived to themselves certain laws, by which what

they call nature is supposed to act; and that miracle is something

contrary to the operation and effect of those laws; but unless we know

the whole extent of those laws, and of what are commonly called the

powers of nature, we are not able to judge whether anything that may

appear to us wonderful or miraculous be within, or be beyond, or be

contrary to, her natural power of acting.

The ascension of a man several miles high in the air would have

everything in it that constitutes the idea of a miracle, if it were

not known that a species of air can be generated, several times

lighter than the common atmospheric air, and yet possess elasticity

enough to prevent the balloon in which that light air is enclosed from

being compressed into as many times less bulk by the common air that

surrounds it. In like manner, extracting flames or sparks of fire from the

human body, as visible as from a steel struck with a flint, and

causing iron or steel to move without any visible agent, would also

give the idea of a miracle, if we were not acquainted with electricity

and magnetism. So also would many other experiments in natural

philosophy, to those who are not acquainted with the subject. The

restoring persons to life who are to appearance dead, as is

practised upon drowned persons, would also be a miracle, if it were

not known that animation is capable of being suspended without being

extinct.

Besides these, there are performances by sleight-of-hand, and by

persons acting in concert, that have a miraculous appearance, which

when known are thought nothing of. And besides these, there are

mechanical and optical deceptions. There is now an exhibition in Paris

of ghosts or spectres, which, though it is not imposed upon the

spectators as a fact, has an astonishing appearance. As, therefore, we

know not the extent to which either nature or art can go, there is

no positive criterion to determine what a miracle is, and mankind,

in giving credit to appearances, under the idea of there being

miracles, are subject to be continually imposed upon.

Since, then, appearances are so capable of deceiving, and things

not real have a strong resemblance to things that are, nothing can

be more inconsistent than to suppose that the Almighty would make

use of means such as are called miracles, that would subject the

person who performed them to the suspicion of being an impostor, and

the person who related them to be suspected of lying, and the doctrine

intended to be supported thereby to be suspected as a fabulous

invention.

Of all the modes of evidence that ever were invented to obtain

belief to any system or opinion to which the name of religion has been

given, that of miracle, however successful the imposition may have

been, is the most inconsistent. For, in the first place, whenever

recourse is had to show, for the purpose of procuring that belief,

(for a miracle, under any idea of the word, is a show), it implies a

lameness or weakness in the doctrine that is preached. And, in the

second place, it is degrading the Almighty into the character of a

showman, playing tricks to amuse and make the people stare and

wonder. It is also the most equivocal sort of evidence that can be

set up; for the belief is not to depend upon the thing called a miracle,

but upon the credit of the reporter who says that he saw it; and,

therefore, the thing, were it true, would have no better chance of

being believed than if it were a lie.

Suppose I were to say, that when I sat down to write this book,

a hand presented itself in the air, took up the pen, and wrote every

word that is herein written; would anybody believe me? Certainly

they would not. Would they believe me a whit the more if the thing had

been a fact? Certainly they would not. Since, then, a real miracle,

were it to happen, would be subject to the same fate as the falsehood,

the inconsistency becomes the greater of supposing the Almighty

would make use of means that would not answer the purpose for

which they were intended, even if they were real.

If we are to suppose a miracle to be something so entirely out

of the course of what is called nature, that she must go out of that

course to accomplish it, and we see an account given of such miracle

by the person who said he saw it, it raises a question in the mind

very easily decided, which is, is it more probable that nature

should go out of her course, or that a man should tell a lie? We

have never seen, in our time, nature go out of her course; but we have

good reason to believe that millions of lies have been told in the

same time; it is therefore, at least millions to one, that the

reporter of a miracle tells a lie.

The story of the whale swallowing Jonah, though a whale is large

enough to do it, borders greatly on the marvelous; but it would have

approached nearer to the idea of a miracle, if Jonah had swallowed the

whale. In this, which may serve for all cases of miracles, the

matter would decide itself, as before stated, namely, is it more

that a man should have swallowed a whale or told a lie?

But suppose that Jonah had really swallowed the whale, and gone

with it in his belly to Nineveh, and, to convince the people that it

was true, had cast it up in their sight, of the full length and size

of a whale, would they not have believed him to be the devil,

instead of a prophet? Or, if the whale had carried Jonah to Ninevah,

and cast him up in the same public manner, would they not have

believed the whale to have been the devil, and Jonah one of his imps?

The most extraordinary of all the things called miracles,

related in the New Testament, is that of the devil flying away with

Jesus Christ, and carrying him to the top of a high mountain, and to

the top of the highest pinnacle of the temple, and showing him and

promising to him all the kingdoms of the World. How happened it that

he did not discover America, or is it only with kingdoms that his

sooty highness has any interest?

I have too much respect for the moral character of Christ to

believe that he told this whale of a miracle himself; neither is it

easy to account for what purpose it could have been fabricated, unless

it were to impose upon the connoisseurs of Queen Anne's farthings

and collectors of relics and antiquities; or to render the belief of

miracles ridiculous, by outdoing miracles, as Don Quixote outdid

chivalry; or to embarrass the belief of miracles, by making it

doubtful by what power, whether of God or of the devil, anything

called a miracle was performed. It requires, however, a great deal

of faith in the devil to believe this miracle.

In every point of view in which those things called miracles can

be placed and considered, the reality of them is improbable and

their existence unnecessary. They would not, as before observed,

answer any useful purpose, even if they were true; for it is more

difficult to obtain belief to a miracle, than to a principle evidently

moral without any miracle. Moral principle speaks universally for

itself. Miracle could be but a thing of the moment, and seen but by

a few; after this it requires a transfer of faith from God to man to

believe a miracle upon man's report. Instead, therefore, of

admitting the recitals of miracles as evidence of any system of

religion being true, they ought to be considered as symptoms of its

being fabulous. It is necessary to the full and upright character of

truth that it rejects the crutch, and it is consistent with the

character of fable to seek the aid that truth rejects. Thus much for

mystery and miracle.

As mystery and miracle took charge of the past and the present,

prophecy took charge of the future and rounded the tenses of faith. It

was not sufficient to know what had been done, but what would be done.

The supposed prophet was the supposed historian of times to come; and

if he happened, in shooting with a long bow of a thousand years, to

strike within a thousand miles of a mark, the ingenuity of posterity

could make it point-blank; and if he happened to be directly

wrong, it was only to suppose, as in the case of Jonah and Nineveh,

that God had repented himself and changed his mind. What a fool do

fabulous systems make of man!

It has been shown, in a former part of this work, that the

original meaning of the words prophet and prophesying has been

changed, and that a prophet, in the sense of the word as now used,

is a creature of modern invention; and it is owing to this change in

the meaning of the words, that the flights and metaphors of the Jewish

poets, and phrases and expressions now rendered obscure by our not

being acquainted with the local circumstances to which they applied at

the time they were used, have been erected into prophecies, and made

to bend to explanations at the will and whimsical conceits of

sectaries, expounders, and commentators. Everything unintelligible

was prophetical, and everything insignificant was typical. A blunder

would have served for a prophecy, and a dish-clout for a type.

If by a prophet we are to suppose a man to whom the Almighty

communicated some event that would take place in future, either

there were such men or there were not. If there were, it is consistent

to believe that the event so communicated would be told in terms

that could be understood, and not related in such a loose and

obscure manner as to be out of the comprehension of those that heard

it, and so equivocal as to fit almost any circumstance that may happen

afterward. It is conceiving very irreverently of the Almighty, to

suppose that he would deal in this jesting manner with mankind, yet

all the things called prophecies in the book called the Bible come

under this description.

But it is with prophecy as it is with miracle; it could not answer

the purpose even if it were real. Those to whom a prophecy should be

told, could not tell whether the man prophesied or lied, or whether it

had been revealed to him, or whether he conceited it; and if the thing

that he prophesied, or intended to prophesy, should happen, or

something like it, among the multitude of things that are daily

happening, nobody could again know whether he foreknew it, or

guessed at it, or whether it was accidental. A prophet, therefore,

is a character useless and unnecessary; and the safe side of the

case is to guard against being imposed upon by not giving credit to

such relations.

Upon the whole, mystery, miracle, and prophecy are appendages

that belong to fabulous and not to true religion. They are the means

by which so many Lo, heres! and Lo, theres! have been spread about

the world, and religion been made into a trade. The success of one

imposter gave encouragement to another, and the quieting salvo of

doing some good by keeping up a pious fraud protected them from

remorse.

Having now extended the subject to a greater length than I first

intended, I shall bring it to a close by abstracting a summary from

the whole.

First- That the idea or belief of a word of God existing in

print, or in writing, or in speech, is inconsistent in itself for

reasons already assigned. These reasons, among many others, are the

want of a universal language; the mutability of language; the errors

to which translations are subject: the possibility of totally

suppressing such a word; the probability of altering it, or of

fabricating the whole, and imposing it upon the world.

Secondly- That the Creation we behold is the real and

ever-existing word of God, in which we cannot be deceived. It

proclaims his power, it demonstrates his wisdom, it manifests his

goodness and beneficence.

Thirdly- That the moral duty of man consists in imitating the

moral goodness and beneficence of God, manifested in the creation

toward all his creatures. That seeing, as we daily do, the goodness

of God to all men, it is an example calling upon all men to practice

the same toward each other; and, consequently, that everything of

persecution and revenge between man and man, and everything of

cruelty to animals, is a violation of moral duty.

I trouble not myself about the manner of future existence. I

content myself with believing, even to positive conviction, that the

Power that gave me existence is able to continue it, in any form and

manner he pleases, either with or without this body; and it appears

more probable to me that I shall continue to exist hereafter, than

that I should have had existence, as I now have, before that existence

began.

It is certain that, in one point, all the nations of the earth and

all religions agree- all believe in a God; the things in which they

disagree, are the redundancies annexed to that belief; and, therefore,

if ever a universal religion should prevail, it will not be by

believing anything new, but in getting rid of redundancies, and

believing as man believed at first. Adam, if ever there were such a

man, was created a Deist; but in the meantime, let every man follow,

as he has a right to do, the religion and the worship he prefers.

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