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Take
away that reason, and he would be incapable of understanding anything;
and in this case it would be just as consistent to read even the book
called the Bible to a horse as to a man. How then is it that those
people pretend to reject reason?

Almost the only parts in the book called the Bible, that convey to
us any idea of God, are some chapters in Job, and the 19th Psalm; I
recollect no other. Those parts are true deistical compositions;
for they treat of the Deity through his works. They take the book of
Creation as the word of God; they refer to no other book; and all the
inferences they make are drawn from that volume.

I insert in this place the 19th Psalm, as paraphrased into English verse
by Addison. I recollect not the prose, and where I write this I have not
the opportunity of seeing it:

The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue etherial sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great original proclaim.
The unwearied sun, from day to day,
Does his Creator's power display,
And publishes to every land
The work of an Almighty hand.
Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And nightly to the list'ning earth
Repeats the story of her birth;
Whilst all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets, in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What though in solemn silence all
Move round this dark terrestrial ball
What though no real voice, nor sound,
Amidst their radiant orbs be found,
In reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
Forever singing as they shine,
THE HAND THAT MADE US IS DIVINE.

What more does man want to know, than that the hand or power that made
these things is divine, is omnipotent? Let him believe this, with the
force it is impossible to repel if he permits his reason to act, and his
rule of moral life will follow of course.

The allusions in job have all of them the same tendency with this Psalm;
that of deducing or proving a truth that would be otherwise unknown,
from truths already known.

I recollect not enough of the passages in Job to insert them correctly;
but there is one that occurs to me that is applicable to the subject I
am speaking upon. "Canst thou by searching find out God; canst thou find
out the Almighty to perfection?"

I know not how the printers have pointed this passage, for I keep no
Bible; but it contains two distinct questions that admit of distinct
answers.

First, Canst thou by searching find out God? Yes. Because, in the first
place, I know I did not make myself, and yet I have existence; and by
searching into the nature of other things, I find that no other thing
could make itself; and yet millions of other things exist; therefore it
is, that I know, by positive conclusion resulting from this search, that
there is a power superior to all those things, and that power is God.

Secondly, Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection? No. Not only
because the power and wisdom He has manifested in the structure of the
Creation that I behold is to me incomprehensible; but because even this
manifestation, great as it is is probably but a small display of that
immensity of power and wisdom, by which millions of other worlds, to me
invisible by their distance, were created and continue to exist.

It is evident that both of these questions were put to the reason of the
person to whom they are supposed to have been addressed; and it is only
by admitting the first question to be answered affirmatively, that the
second could follow. It would have been unnecessary, and even absurd, to
have put a second question, more difficult than the first, if the first
question had been answered negatively. The two questions have different
objects; the first refers to the existence of God, the second to his
attributes. Reason can discover the one, but it falls infinitely short
in discovering the whole of the other.

I recollect not a single passage in all the writings ascribed to the men
called apostles, that conveys any idea of what God is. Those writings
are chiefly controversial; and the gloominess of the subject they dwell
upon, that of a man dying in agony on a cross, is better suited to the
gloomy genius of a monk in a cell, by whom it is not impossible they
were written, than to any man breathing the open air of the Creation.
The only passage that occurs to me, that has any reference to the works
of God, by which only his power and wisdom can be known, is related to
have been spoken by Jesus Christ, as a remedy against distrustful care.
"Behold the lilies of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin."
This, however, is far inferior to the allusions in Job and in the 19th
Psalm; but it is similar in idea, and the modesty of the imagery is
correspondent to the modesty of the man.



CHAPTER XI - OF THE THEOLOGY OF THE CHRISTIANS; AND THE TRUE THEOLOGY.

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 man-ism 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 of 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
inventions;' 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 almanack 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 an 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 an human invention.
Man cannot invent any thing that is eternal and immutable; and the
scientific principles he employs for this purpose must, 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 any thing else relating to the motion of the
heavenly bodies, are contained chiefly in that part of science that
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 a rule
and compass, it is called geometry; when applied to the construction
of plans of 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 are unknown.

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



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