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Every thing unintelligible was prophetical, and every
thing 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 might happen afterwards. It is
conceiving very irreverently of the Almighty, to suppose 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 pretended to prophesy, should happen, or some thing
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 impostor gave
encouragement to another, and the quieting salvo of doing some good by
keeping up a pious fraud protected them from remorse.

RECAPITULATION.

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 the reasons already
assigned. These reasons, among many others, are the want of an 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 proclaimeth 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 towards 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 practise the same towards
each other; and, consequently, that every thing of persecution and
revenge between man and man, and every thing 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 nations of the earth and all
religions agree. All believe in a God. The things in which they disgrace
are the redundancies annexed to that belief; and therefore, if ever an
universal religion should prevail, it will not be believing any thing
new, but in getting rid of redundancies, and believing as man believed
at first. ["In the childhood of the world," according to the first
(French) version; and the strict translation of the final sentence is:
"Deism was the religion of Adam, supposing him not an imaginary being;
but none the less must it be left to all men to follow, as is their
right, the religion and worship they prefer."--Editor.] Adam, if ever
there was such a man, was created a Deist; but in the mean time, let
every man follow, as he has a right to do, the religion and worship he
prefers.


END OF PART I





THE AGE OF REASON - PART II


Contents

* Preface
* Chapter I - The Old Testament
* Chapter II - The New Testament
* Chapter III - Conclusion




PREFACE

I HAVE mentioned in the former part of The Age of Reason that it had
long been my intention to publish my thoughts upon Religion; but that I
had originally reserved it to a later period in life, intending it to
be the last work I should undertake. The circumstances, however, which
existed in France in the latter end of the year 1793, determined me to
delay it no longer. The just and humane principles of the Revolution
which Philosophy had first diffused, had been departed from. The Idea,
always dangerous to Society as it is derogatory to the Almighty,--that
priests could forgive sins,--though it seemed to exist no longer, had
blunted the feelings of humanity, and callously prepared men for the
commission of all crimes. The intolerant spirit of church persecution
had transferred itself into politics; the tribunals, stiled
Revolutionary, supplied the place of an Inquisition; and the Guillotine
of the Stake. I saw many of my most intimate friends destroyed; others
daily carried to prison; and I had reason to believe, and had also
intimations given me, that the same danger was approaching myself.

Under these disadvantages, I began the former part of the Age of Reason;
I had, besides, neither Bible nor Testament [It must be borne in mind
that throughout this work Paine generally means by "Bible" only the Old
Testament, and speaks of the New as the "Testament."--Editor.] to
refer to, though I was writing against both; nor could I procure any;
notwithstanding which I have produced a work that no Bible Believer,
though writing at his ease and with a Library of Church Books about him,
can refute. Towards the latter end of December of that year, a motion
was made and carried, to exclude foreigners from the Convention. There
were but two, Anacharsis Cloots and myself; and I saw I was particularly
pointed at by Bourdon de l'Oise, in his speech on that motion.

Conceiving, after this, that I had but a few days of liberty, I sat down
and brought the work to a close as speedily as possible; and I had not
finished it more than six hours, in the state it has since appeared,
[This is an allusion to the essay which Paine wrote at an earlier part
of 1793. See Introduction.--Editor.] before a guard came there, about
three in the morning, with an order signed by the two Committees of
Public Safety and Surety General, for putting me in arrestation as
a foreigner, and conveying me to the prison of the Luxembourg. I
contrived, in my way there, to call on Joel Barlow, and I put the
Manuscript of the work into his hands, as more safe than in my
possession in prison; and not knowing what might be the fate in France
either of the writer or the work, I addressed it to the protection of
the citizens of the United States.

It is justice that I say, that the guard who executed this order, and
the interpreter to the Committee of General Surety, who accompanied
them to examine my papers, treated me not only with civility, but with
respect. The keeper of the 'Luxembourg, Benoit, a man of good heart,
shewed to me every friendship in his power, as did also all his family,
while he continued in that station. He was removed from it, put
into arrestation, and carried before the tribunal upon a malignant
accusation, but acquitted.

After I had been in Luxembourg about three weeks, the Americans then in
Paris went in a body to the Convention to reclaim me as their countryman
and friend; but were answered by the President, Vadier, who was also
President of the Committee of Surety General, and had signed the order
for my arrestation, that I was born in England. [These excited Americans
do not seem to have understood or reported the most important item in
Vadeer's reply, namely that their application was "unofficial," i.e. not
made through or sanctioned by Gouverneur Morris, American Minister.
For the detailed history of all this see vol. iii.--Editor.] I heard no
more, after this, from any person out of the walls of the prison, till
the fall of Robespierre, on the 9th of Thermidor--July 27, 1794.

About two months before this event, I was seized with a fever that in
its progress had every symptom of becoming mortal, and from the effects
of which I am not recovered. It was then that I remembered with renewed
satisfaction, and congratulated myself most sincerely, on having written
the former part of The Age of Reason. I had then but little expectation
of surviving, and those about me had less. I know therefore by
experience the conscientious trial of my own principles.

I was then with three chamber comrades: Joseph Vanheule of Bruges,
Charles Bastfni, and Michael Robyns of Louvain. The unceasing and
anxious attention of these three friends to me, by night and day, I
remember with gratitude and mention with pleasure. It happened that a
physician (Dr. Graham) and a surgeon, (Mr. Bond,) part of the suite of
General O'Hara, [The officer who at Yorktown, Virginia, carried out
the sword of Cornwallis for surrender, and satirically offered it to
Rochambeau instead of Washington. Paine loaned him 300 pounds when he
(O'Hara) left the prison, the money he had concealed in the lock of
his cell-door.--Editor.] were then in the Luxembourg: I ask not myself
whether it be convenient to them, as men under the English Government,
that I express to them my thanks; but I should reproach myself if I did
not; and also to the physician of the Luxembourg, Dr. Markoski.

I have some reason to believe, because I cannot discover any other, that
this illness preserved me in existence.



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