A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
What is it that we have learned from this pretended thing
called revealed religion? Nothing that is useful to man, and every
thing that is dishonourable to his Maker. What is it the Bible teaches
us?--repine, cruelty, and murder. What is it the Testament teaches
us?--to believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman
engaged to be married; and the belief of this debauchery is called
faith.

As to the fragments of morality that are irregularly and thinly
scattered in those books, they make no part of this pretended thing,
revealed religion. They are the natural dictates of conscience, and the
bonds by which society is held together, and without which it cannot
exist; and are nearly the same in all religions, and in all societies.
The Testament teaches nothing new upon this subject, and where it
attempts to exceed, it becomes mean and ridiculous. The doctrine of not
retaliating injuries is much better expressed in Proverbs, which is
a collection as well from the Gentiles as the Jews, than it is in the
Testament. It is there said, (Xxv. 2 I) "If thine enemy be hungry,
give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:"
[According to what is called Christ's sermon on the mount, in the book
of Matthew, where, among some other [and] good things, a great deal of
this feigned morality is introduced, it is there expressly said, that
the doctrine of forbearance, or of not retaliating injuries, was not
any part of the doctrine of the Jews; but as this doctrine is found in
"Proverbs," it must, according to that statement, have been copied from
the Gentiles, from whom Christ had learned it. Those men whom Jewish and
Christian idolators have abusively called heathen, had much better and
clearer ideas of justice and morality than are to be found in the Old
Testament, so far as it is Jewish, or in the New. The answer of Solon on
the question, "Which is the most perfect popular govemment," has never
been exceeded by any man since his time, as containing a maxim of
political morality, "That," says he, "where the least injury done to
the meanest individual, is considered as an insult on the whole
constitution." Solon lived about 500 years before Christ.--Author.] but
when it is said, as in the Testament, "If a man smite thee on the right
cheek, turn to him the other also," it is assassinating the dignity of
forbearance, and sinking man into a spaniel.

Loving, of enemies is another dogma of feigned morality, and has besides
no meaning. It is incumbent on man, as a moralist, that he does not
revenge an injury; and it is equally as good in a political sense, for
there is no end to retaliation; each retaliates on the other, and calls
it justice: but to love in proportion to the injury, if it could be
done, would be to offer a premium for a crime. Besides, the word enemies
is too vague and general to be used in a moral maxim, which ought
always to be clear and defined, like a proverb. If a man be the enemy
of another from mistake and prejudice, as in the case of religious
opinions, and sometimes in politics, that man is different to an enemy
at heart with a criminal intention; and it is incumbent upon us, and
it contributes also to our own tranquillity, that we put the best
construction upon a thing that it will bear. But even this erroneous
motive in him makes no motive for love on the other part; and to say
that we can love voluntarily, and without a motive, is morally and
physically impossible.

Morality is injured by prescribing to it duties that, in the first
place, are impossible to be performed, and if they could be would be
productive of evil; or, as before said, be premiums for crime. The maxim
of doing as we would be done unto does not include this strange doctrine
of loving enemies; for no man expects to be loved himself for his crime
or for his enmity.

Those who preach this doctrine of loving their enemies, are in general
the greatest persecutors, and they act consistently by so doing; for the
doctrine is hypocritical, and it is natural that hypocrisy should act
the reverse of what it preaches. For my own part, I disown the doctrine,
and consider it as a feigned or fabulous morality; yet the man does not
exist that can say I have persecuted him, or any man, or any set of men,
either in the American Revolution, or in the French Revolution; or that
I have, in any case, returned evil for evil. But it is not incumbent on
man to reward a bad action with a good one, or to return good for evil;
and wherever it is done, it is a voluntary act, and not a duty. It
is also absurd to suppose that such doctrine can make any part of a
revealed religion. We imitate the moral character of the Creator by
forbearing with each other, for he forbears with all; but this doctrine
would imply that he loved man, not in proportion as he was good, but as
he was bad.

If we consider the nature of our condition here, we must see there is
no occasion for such a thing as revealed religion. What is it we want
to know? Does not the creation, the universe we behold, preach to us the
existence of an Almighty power, that governs and regulates the whole?
And is not the evidence that this creation holds out to our senses
infinitely stronger than any thing we can read in a book, that any
imposter might make and call the word of God? As for morality, the
knowledge of it exists in every man's conscience.

Here we are. The existence of an Almighty power is sufficiently
demonstrated to us, though we cannot conceive, as it is impossible we
should, the nature and manner of its existence. We cannot conceive how
we came here ourselves, and yet we know for a fact that we are here.
We must know also, that the power that called us into being, can if he
please, and when he pleases, call us to account for the manner in which
we have lived here; and therefore without seeking any other motive
for the belief, it is rational to believe that he will, for we know
beforehand that he can. The probability or even possibility of the thing
is all that we ought to know; for if we knew it as a fact, we should be
the mere slaves of terror; our belief would have no merit, and our best
actions no virtue.

Deism then teaches us, without the possibility of being deceived, all
that is necessary or proper to be known. The creation is the Bible of
the deist. He there reads, in the hand-writing of the Creator himself,
the certainty of his existence, and the immutability of his power; and
all other Bibles and Testaments are to him forgeries. The probability
that we may be called to account hereafter, will, to reflecting minds,
have the influence of belief; for it is not our belief or disbelief that
can make or unmake the fact. As this is the state we are in, and which
it is proper we should be in, as free agents, it is the fool only, and
not the philosopher, nor even the prudent man, that will live as if
there were no God.

But the belief of a God is so weakened by being mixed with the strange
fable of the Christian creed, and with the wild adventures related in
the Bible, and the obscurity and obscene nonsense of the Testament, that
the mind of man is bewildered as in a fog. Viewing all these things in
a confused mass, he confounds fact with fable; and as he cannot believe
all, he feels a disposition to reject all. But the belief of a God is
a belief distinct from all other things, and ought not to be confounded
with any. The notion of a Trinity of Gods has enfeebled the belief of
one God. A multiplication of beliefs acts as a division of belief; and
in proportion as anything is divided, it is weakened.

Religion, by such means, becomes a thing of form instead of fact; of
notion instead of principle: morality is banished to make room for
an imaginary thing called faith, and this faith has its origin in a
supposed debauchery; a man is preached instead of a God; an execution is
an object for gratitude; the preachers daub themselves with the blood,
like a troop of assassins, and pretend to admire the brilliancy it gives
them; they preach a humdrum sermon on the merits of the execution; then
praise Jesus Christ for being executed, and condemn the Jews for doing
it.

A man, by hearing all this nonsense lumped and preached together,
confounds the God of the Creation with the imagined God of the
Christians, and lives as if there were none.

Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none
more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant
to reason, and more contradictory in itself, than this thing called
Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too
inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid, or produces only
atheists and fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of
despotism; and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests; but so
far as respects the good of man in general, it leads to nothing here or
hereafter.

The only religion that has not been invented, and that has in it every
evidence of divine originality, is pure and simple deism. It must have
been the first and will probably be the last that man believes. But pure
and simple deism does not answer the purpose of despotic governments.
They cannot lay hold of religion as an engine but by mixing it with
human inventions, and making their own authority a part; neither does it
answer the avarice of priests, but by incorporating themselves and their
functions with it, and becoming, like the government, a party in the
system. It is this that forms the otherwise mysterious connection of
church and state; the church human, and the state tyrannic.

Were a man impressed as fully and strongly as he ought to be with the
belief of a God, his moral life would be regulated by the force of
belief; he would stand in awe of God, and of himself, and would not do
the thing that could not be concealed from either. To give this belief
the full opportunity of force, it is necessary that it acts alone. This
is deism.

But when, according to the Christian Trinitarian scheme, one part of God
is represented by a dying man, and another part, called the Holy Ghost,
by a flying pigeon, it is impossible that belief can attach itself to
such wild conceits.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | 143 | | 144 | | 145 | | 146 | | 147 | | 148 | | 149 | | 150 | | 151 | | 152 | | 153 | | 154 | | 155 | | 156 | | 157 | | 158 | | 159 | | 160 | | 161 | | 162 | | 163 | | 164 | | 165 | | 166 | | 167 | | 168 | | 169 | | 170 | | 171 | | 172 | | 173 | | 174 | | 175 | | 176 | | 177 | | 178 | | 179 | | 180 | | 181 | | 182 | | 183 | | 184 | | 185 | | 186 | | 187 | | 188 | | 189 | | 190 | | 191 | | 192 | | 193 | | 194 | | 195 | | 196 | | 197 | | 198 | | 199 | | 200 | | 201 | | 202 | | 203 | | 204 | | 205 | | 206 | | 207 | | 208 | | 209 | | 210 | | 211 | | 212 | | 213 | | 214 | | 215 | | 216 | | 217 | | 218 | | 219 | | 220 | | 221 | | 222 | | 223 | | 224 | | 225 | | 226 | | 227 | | 228 | | 229 | | 230 | | 231 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.