5 page printout XI. A LETTER TO ANDREW DEAN. [NOTE: Mr. Dean, who rented Paine's farm at N

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5 page printout XI. A LETTER TO ANDREW DEAN. [NOTE: Mr. Dean, who rented Paine's farm at New Rochelle, had written: "I have read with good attention your manuscript on Dreams, and Examination on the Prophecies in the Bible., I am now searching the old prophecies and comparing the same to those said to be quoted in the New Testament. I confess the comparison is a matter worthy of our serious attention; I know not the result till I finish; then, if you be living, I shall communicate the same to you I hope to be with you soon." -- Editor.] A LETTER TO ANDREW DEAN. RESPECTED FRIEND, I received your friendly letter, for which I am obliged to you. It is three weeks ago to day (Sunday, Aug. 15,) that I was struck with a fit of an apoplexy, that deprived me of all sense and motion. I had neither pulse nor breathing, and the people about me supposed me dead. I had felt exceedingly well that day, and had just taken a slice of bread and butter for supper, and was going to bed. The fit took me on the stairs, as suddenly as if I had been shot through the head; and I got so very much hurt by the fall, that I have not been able to get in and out of bed since that day, otherwise than being lifted out in a blanket, by two persons; yet all this while my mental faculties have remained as perfect as I ever enjoyed them. I consider the scene I have passed through as an experiment on dying, and I find that death has no terrors for me. As to the people called Christians, they have no evidence that their religion is true. There is no more proof that the Bible is the word of God, than that the Koran of Mahomet is the word of God. It is education makes all the difference. Man, before he begins to think for himself, is as much the child of habit in Creeds as he is in ploughing and sowing. Yet creeds, like opinions, prove nothing. Where is the evidence that the person called Jesus Christ is the begotten Son of God? The case admits not of evidence either to our senses or our mental faculties: neither has God given to man any talent by which such a thing is comprehensible. It cannot therefore be an object for faith to act upon, for faith is nothing more than an assent the mind gives to something it sees cause to believe is fact. But priests, preachers, and fanatics, put imagination in the place of faith, and it is the nature of the imagination to believe without evidence. If Joseph the carpenter dreamed, (as the book of Matthew (i) says he did,) that his betrothed wife, Mary, was with child by the Holy Ghost, and that an angel told him so, I am not obliged to put faith in his dreams; nor do I put any, for I put no faith in my own dreams, and I should be weak and foolish indeed to put faith in the dreams of others. The Christian religion is derogatory to the Creator in all its articles. It puts the Creator in an inferior point of view, and places the Christian Devil above him. It is he, according to the absurd story in Genesis, that outwits the Creator in the garden of Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 1 PREDESTINATION. Eden, and steals from him his favorite creature, Man, and at last obliges him to beget a son, and put that son to death, to get Man back again; and this the priests of the Christian religion call redemption. Christian authors exclaim against the practice of offering up human sacrifices, which, they say, is done in some countries; and those authors make those exclamations without ever reflecting that their own doctrine of salvation is founded on a Human Sacrifice. They are saved, they say, by the blood of Christ. The Christian religion begins with a dream and ends with a murder. As I am now well enough to sit up some hours in the day, though not well enough to get up without help, I employ myself as I have always done, in endeavoring to bring man to the right use of the reason that God has given him, and to direct his mind immediately to his Creator, and not to fanciful secondary beings called mediators, as if God was superannuated or ferocious. As to the book called the Bible, it is blasphemy to call it the word of God. It is a book of lies and contradictions, and a history of bad times and bad men. There are but a few good characters in the whole book. The fable of Christ and his twelve apostles, which is a parody on the Sun and the twelve signs of the Zodiac, copied from the ancient religions of the Eastern world, is the least hurtful part. Every thing told of Christ has reference to the Sun. His reported resurrection is at sunrise, and that on the first day of the week; that is, on the day anciently dedicated to the Sun, and from thence called Sunday -- in Latin 'Dies Solis,' the day of the Sun; as the next day, Monday, is Moon-day. But there is no room in a letter to explain these things. While man keeps to the belief of one God, his reason unites with his creed. He is not shocked with contradictions and horrid stories. His bible is the heavens and the earth. He beholds his Creator in all his works, and everything he beholds inspires him with reverence and gratitude. From the goodness of God to all, he learns his duty to his fellow-man, and stands self-reproved when he transgresses it. Such a man is no persecutor. But when he multiplies his creed with imaginary things, of which he can have neither evidence nor conception, such as the tale of the garden of Eden, the Talking Serpent, the Fall of Man, the Dreams of Joseph the Carpenter, the pretended Resurrection and Ascension, of which there is even no historical relation, -- for no historian of those times mentions such a thing, -- he gets into the pathless region of confusion, and turns either fanatic or hypocrite. He forces his mind, and pretends to believe what he does not believe. This is in general the case with the Methodists. Their religion is all creed and no morals. I have now, my friend, given you a 'fac simile' of my mind on the subject of religion and creeds, and my wish is, that you make this letter as publicly known as you find opportunities of doing. Yours, in friendship, THOMAS PAINE. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 2 PREDESTINATION. XII. PREDESTINATION. [NOTE: Reprinted from an Appendix to Paine's Theological Works, published in London, by Mary Ann Carlile, in 1820. This I believe to be the last piece written by Paine. -- Editor.] REMARKS ON ROMANS IX. 18-21. Addressed to the Ministers of the Calvinistic Church. PAUL, in speaking of God, says, "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will be hardeneth. Thou wilt say, why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay, but who art thou, O man, that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed Say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor?" I shall leave it to Calvinists and Universalists to wrangle about these expressions, and to oppose or corroborate them by other passages from other books of the Old or New Testament. I shall go to the root at once, and say, that the whole passage is presumption and nonsense. Presumption, because it pretends to know the private mind of God: and nonsense, because the cases it states as parallel cases have no parallel in them, and are opposite cases. The first expression says, "Therefore hath he (God) mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." As this is ascribing to the attribute of God's power, at the expense of the attribute of his justice, I, as a believer in the justice of God, disbelieve the assertion of Paul. The Predestinarians, of which the loquacious Paul was one, appear to acknowledge but one attribute in God, that of power, which may not improperly be called the Physical attribute. The Deists, in addition to this, believe in his moral attributes, those of justice and goodness. In the next verses, Paul gets himself into what in vulgar life is called a hobble, and he tries to get out of it by nonsense and sophistry; for having committed himself by saying that "God hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth," he felt the difficulty he was in, and the objections that would be made, which he anticipates by saying, "Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he (God) yet find fault? for who hath resisted his will? Nay, but, O man, who art thou, that repliest against God! "This is neither answering the question, nor explaining the case. It is down right quibbling and shuffling off the question, and the proper retort upon him would have been, "Nay, but who art thou, presumptuous Paul, that puttest thyself in God's place!" Paul, however, goes on and says, "Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou, made me thus?" Yes, if the thing felt itself hurt, and could speak, it would say it. But as pots and pans have not the faculty of speech, the supposition of such things speaking is putting nonsense in the place of argument, and is too ridiculous even to admit of apology. It shows to what wretched shifts sophistry will resort. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 3 PREDESTINATION. Paul, however, dashes on, and the more he tries to reason the more he involves himself, and the more ridiculous he appears. "Hath not," says he, "the potter power over the clay of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor"? In this metaphor, and a most wretched one it is, Paul makes the potter to represent God; the lump of clay the whole human race; the vessels unto honor those souls "on whom he hath mercy because he will have mercy;" and the vessels unto dishonor, those souls "whom he hardeneth (for damnation) because be will harden them." The metaphor is false in every one of its points, and if it admits of any meaning or conclusion, it is the reverse of what Paul intended and the Calvinists understand. In the first place a potter doth not, because he cannot, make vessels of different qualities, from the same lump of clay; he cannot make a fine china bowl, intended to ornament a side-board, from the same lump of clay that he makes a coarse pan, intended for a close-stool. The potter selects his clays for different uses, according to their different qualities, and degrees of fineness and goodness. Paul might as well talk of making gun-flints from the same stick of wood of which the gun-stock is made, as of making china bowls from the same lump of clay of which are made common earthen pots and pans. Paul could not have hit upon a more unfortunate metaphor for his purpose, than this of the potter and the clay; for if any inference is to follow from it, it is that as the potter selects his clay for different kinds of vessels according to the different qualities and degrees of fineness and goodness in the clay, so God selects for future happiness those among mankind who excel in purity and good life, which is the reverse of predestination. In the second place there is no comparison between the souls of men, and vessels made of clay; and, therefore, to put one to represent the other is a false position. The vessels, or the clay they are made from, are insensible of honor or dishonor. They neither suffer nor enjoy. The clay is not punished that serves the purpose of a close-stool, nor is the finer sort rendered happy that is made up into a punch-bowl. The potter violates no principle of justice in the different uses to which he puts his different clays; for he selects as an artist, not as a moral judge; and the materials he works upon know nothing, and feel nothing, of his mercy or his wrath. Mercy or wrath would make a potter appear ridiculous, when bestowed upon his clay. He might kick some of his pots to pieces. But the case is quite different with man, either in this world or the next. He is a being sensible of misery as well as of happiness, and therefore Paul argues like an unfeeling idiot, when he compares man to clay on a potter's wheel, or to vessels made therefrom: and with respect to God, it is an offence to his attributes of justice, goodness, and wisdom, to suppose that he would treat the choicest work of creation like inanimate and insensible clay. If Paul believed that God made man after his own image, he dishonours it by making that image and a brick-bat to be alike. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 4 PREDESTINATION. The absurd and impious doctrine of predestination, a doctrine destructive of morals, would never have been thought of had it not been for some stupid passages in the Bible, which priestcraft at first, and ignorance since, have imposed upon mankind as revelation. Nonsense ought to be treated as nonsense, wherever it be found; and had this been done in the rational manner it ought to be done, instead of intimating and mincing the matter, as has been too much the case, the nonsense and false doctrine of the Bible, with all the aid that priestcraft can give, could never have stood their ground against the divine reason that God has given to man. Doctor Franklin gives a remarkable instance of the truth of this, in an account of his life, written by himself. He was in London at the time of which he speaks. "Some volumes," says he, "against Deism, fell into my hands. They were said to be the substance of Sermons preached at Boyle's Lectures. It happened that they produced on me an effect precisely the reverse of what was intended by the writers; for the arguments of the Deists, which were cited in order to be refuted, appeared to me more forcible than the refutation itself. In a word I soon became a perfect Deist." -- New York Edition of Franklin's Life, page 93. All America, and more than all America, knows Franklin. His life was devoted to the good and improvement of man. Let, then, those who profess a different creed, imitate his virtues, and excel him if they can. THOMAS PAINE. **** **** Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. **** **** This file, its printout, or copies of either are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold. **** **** Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 5


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