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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. Among the papers of Robespierre
that were examined and reported upon to the Convention by a Committee of
Deputies, is a note in the hand writing of Robespierre, in the following
words:

"Demander que Thomas Paine soit decrete d'accusation, pour l'interet de
l'Amerique autant que de la France."

[Demand that Thomas Paine be decreed of accusation, for the interest
of America, as well as of France.] From what cause it was that the
intention was not put in execution, I know not, and cannot inform
myself; and therefore I ascribe it to impossibility, on account of that
illness.

The Convention, to repair as much as lay in their power the injustice I
had sustained, invited me publickly and unanimously to return into the
Convention, and which I accepted, to shew I could bear an injury without
permitting it to injure my principles or my disposition. It is not
because right principles have been violated, that they are to be
abandoned.

I have seen, since I have been at liberty, several publications written,
some in America, and some in England, as answers to the former part of
"The Age of Reason." If the authors of these can amuse themselves by so
doing, I shall not interrupt them, They may write against the work, and
against me, as much as they please; they do me more service than they
intend, and I can have no objection that they write on. They will find,
however, by this Second Part, without its being written as an answer to
them, that they must return to their work, and spin their cobweb over
again. The first is brushed away by accident.

They will now find that I have furnished myself with a Bible and
Testament; and I can say also that I have found them to be much worse
books than I had conceived. If I have erred in any thing, in the former
part of the Age of Reason, it has been by speaking better of some parts
than they deserved.

I observe, that all my opponents resort, more or less, to what they call
Scripture Evidence and Bible authority, to help them out. They are
so little masters of the subject, as to confound a dispute about
authenticity with a dispute about doctrines; I will, however, put them
right, that if they should be disposed to write any more, they may know
how to begin.

THOMAS PAINE. October, 1795.




CHAPTER I - THE OLD TESTAMENT

IT has often been said that any thing may be proved from the Bible; but
before any thing can be admitted as proved by Bible, the Bible itself
must be proved to be true; for if the Bible be not true, or the truth of
it be doubtful, it ceases to have authority, and cannot be admitted as
proof of any thing.

It has been the practice of all Christian commentators on the Bible, and
of all Christian priests and preachers, to impose the Bible on the
world as a mass of truth, and as the word of God; they have disputed
and wrangled, and have anathematized each other about the supposeable
meaning of particular parts and passages therein; one has said and
insisted that such a passage meant such a thing, another that it meant
directly the contrary, and a third, that it meant neither one nor the
other, but something different from both; and this they have called
understanding the Bible.

It has happened, that all the answers that I have seen to the former
part of 'The Age of Reason' have been written by priests: and these
pious men, like their predecessors, contend and wrangle, and understand
the Bible; each understands it differently, but each understands it
best; and they have agreed in nothing but in telling their readers that
Thomas Paine understands it not.

Now instead of wasting their time, and heating themselves in fractious
disputations about doctrinal points drawn from the Bible, these men
ought to know, and if they do not it is civility to inform them,
that the first thing to be understood is, whether there is sufficient
authority for believing the Bible to be the word of God, or whether
there is not?

There are matters in that book, said to be done by the express command
of God, that are as shocking to humanity, and to every idea we have of
moral justice, as any thing done by Robespierre, by Carrier, by Joseph
le Bon, in France, by the English government in the East Indies, or by
any other assassin in modern times. When we read in the books ascribed
to Moses, Joshua, etc., that they (the Israelites) came by stealth upon
whole nations of people, who, as the history itself shews, had given
them no offence; that they put all those nations to the sword; that they
spared neither age nor infancy; that they utterly destroyed men, women
and children; that they left not a soul to breathe; expressions that are
repeated over and over again in those books, and that too with exulting
ferocity; are we sure these things are facts? are we sure that the
Creator of man commissioned those things to be done? Are we sure that
the books that tell us so were written by his authority?

It is not the antiquity of a tale that is an evidence of its truth;
on the contrary, it is a symptom of its being fabulous; for the more
ancient any history pretends to be, the more it has the resemblance of
a fable. The origin of every nation is buried in fabulous tradition, and
that of the Jews is as much to be suspected as any other.

To charger the commission of things upon the Almighty, which in their
own nature, and by every rule of moral justice, are crimes, as all
assassination is, and more especially the assassination of infants, is
matter of serious concern. The Bible tells us, that those assassinations
were done by the express command of God. To believe therefore the Bible
to be true, we must unbelieve all our belief in the moral justice of
God; for wherein could crying or smiling infants offend? And to read
the Bible without horror, we must undo every thing that is tender,
sympathising, and benevolent in the heart of man. Speaking for myself,
if I had no other evidence that the Bible is fabulous, than the
sacrifice I must make to believe it to be true, that alone would be
sufficient to determine my choice.

But in addition to all the moral evidence against the Bible, I will, in
the progress of this work, produce such other evidence as even a
priest cannot deny; and show, from that evidence, that the Bible is not
entitled to credit, as being the word of God.

But, before I proceed to this examination, I will show wherein the Bible
differs from all other ancient writings with respect to the nature of
the evidence necessary to establish its authenticity; and this is is
the more proper to be done, because the advocates of the Bible, in their
answers to the former part of 'The Age of Reason,' undertake to say, and
they put some stress thereon, that the authenticity of the Bible is as
well established as that of any other ancient book: as if our belief of
the one could become any rule for our belief of the other.

I know, however, but of one ancient book that authoritatively challenges
universal consent and belief, and that is Euclid's Elements of Geometry;
[Euclid, according to chronological history, lived three hundred years
before Christ, and about one hundred before Archimedes; he was of the
city of Alexandria, in Egypt.--Author.] and the reason is, because it
is a book of self-evident demonstration, entirely independent of its
author, and of every thing relating to time, place, and circumstance.
The matters contained in that book would have the same authority they
now have, had they been written by any other person, or had the work
been anonymous, or had the author never been known; for the identical
certainty of who was the author makes no part of our belief of the
matters contained in the book. But it is quite otherwise with respect to
the books ascribed to Moses, to Joshua, to Samuel, etc.: those are
books of testimony, and they testify of things naturally incredible;
and therefore the whole of our belief, as to the authenticity of those
books, rests, in the first place, upon the certainty that they were
written by Moses, Joshua, and Samuel; secondly, upon the credit we give
to their testimony. We may believe the first, that is, may believe the
certainty of the authorship, and yet not the testimony; in the same
manner that we may believe that a certain person gave evidence upon a
case, and yet not believe the evidence that he gave. But if it should
be found that the books ascribed to Moses, Joshua, and Samuel, were not
written by Moses, Joshua, and Samuel, every part of the authority and
authenticity of those books is gone at once; for there can be no such
thing as forged or invented testimony; neither can there be anonymous
testimony, more especially as to things naturally incredible; such
as that of talking with God face to face, or that of the sun and moon
standing still at the command of a man.

The greatest part of the other ancient books are works of genius; of
which kind are those ascribed to Homer, to Plato, to Aristotle, to
Demosthenes, to Cicero, etc. Here again the author is not an essential
in the credit we give to any of those works; for as works of genius they
would have the same merit they have now, were they anonymous. Nobody
believes the Trojan story, as related by Homer, to be true; for it is
the poet only that is admired, and the merit of the poet will remain,
though the story be fabulous. But if we disbelieve the matters related
by the Bible authors (Moses for instance) as we disbelieve the things
related by Homer, there remains nothing of Moses in our estimation, but
an imposter.



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