THOMAS PAINE, AGE OF REASON

thelivyjr
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Re: THOMAS PAINE, AGE OF REASON

Post by thelivyjr » Thu Nov 07, 2019 1:40 p

Age of Reason, Part III, Section 4, continued …

As to the New Testament, if it be brought and tried by that standard which, as Middleton wisely says, God has revealed to our senses of his Almighty power and wisdom in the creation and government of the visible universe, it will be found equally as false, paltry, and absurd, as the Old.

Without entering, in this place, into any other argument, that the story of Christ is of human invention, and not of divine origin, I will confine myself to show that it is derogatory to God, by the contrivance of it; because the means it supposes God to use, are not adequate to the end to be obtained; and, therefore, are derogatory to the Almightiness of his power, and the eternity of his wisdom.

The New Testament supposes that God sent his Son upon earth to make a new covenant with man; which the church calls the covenant of Grace, and to instruct mankind in a new doctrine, which it calls Faith, meaning thereby, not faith in God, for Cicero and all true Deists always had and always will have this; but faith in the person called Jesus Christ, and that whoever had not this faith should, to use the words of the New Testament, be DAMNED.

Now, if this were a fact, it is consistent with that attribute of God, called his Goodness, that no time should be lost in letting poor unfortunate man know it; and as that goodness was united to Almighty power, and that power to Almighty wisdom, all the means existed in the hand of the Creator to make it known immediately over the whole earth, in a manner suitable to the Almightiness of his divine nature, and with evidence that would not leave man in doubt; for it is always incumbent upon us, in all cases, to believe that the Almighty always acts, not by imperfect means as imperfect man acts, but consistently with his Almightiness.

It is this only that can become the infallible criterion by which we can possibly distinguish the works of God from the works of man.

Observe now, reader, how the comparison between this supposed mission of Christ, on the belief or disbelief of which they say man was to be saved or damned — observe, I say, how the comparison between this and the Almighty power and wisdom of God demonstrated to our senses in the visible creation, goes on.

The Old Testament tells us that God created the heavens and the earth, and every thing therein, in six days.

The term six days is ridiculous enough when applied to God; but leaving out that absurdity, it contains the idea of Almighty power acting unitedly with Almighty wisdom, to produce an immense work, that of the creation of the universe and every thing therein, in a short time.

Now as the eternal salvation of man is of much greater importance than his creation, and as that salvation depends, as the New Testament tells us, on man's knowledge of, and belief in the person called Jesus Christ, it necessarily follows from our belief in the goodness and justice of God, and our knowledge of his almighty power and wisdom, as demonstrated in the creation, that ALL THIS, if true, would be made known to all parts of the world, in as little time at least, as was employed in making the world.

To suppose the Almighty would pay greater regard and attention to the creation and organization of inanimate matter, than he would to the salvation of innumerable millions of souls, which himself had created, "as the image of himself," is to offer an insult to his goodness and his justice.

Now observe, reader, how the promulgation of this pretended salvation by a knowledge of, and a belief in Jesus Christ went on, compared with the work of creation.

In the first place, it took longer time to make a child than to make the world, for nine months were passed away and totally lost in a state of pregnancy: which is more than forty times longer time than God employed in making the world, according to the Bible account.

Secondly; several years of Christ's life were lost in a state of human infancy.

But the universe was in maturity the moment it existed.

Thirdly; Christ, as Luke asserts, was thirty years old before he began to preach what they call his mission.

Millions of souls died in the mean time without knowing it.

Fourthly; it was above three hundred years from that time before the book called the New Testament was compiled into a written copy, before which time there was no such book.

Fifthly; it was above a thousand years after that, before it could be circulated; because neither Jesus nor his apostles had knowledge of, or were inspired with the art of printing: and, consequently, as the means for making it universally known did not exist, the means were not equal to the end, and, therefore, it is not the work of God.

I will here subjoin the nineteenth Psalm, which is truly deistical, to show how universally and instantaneously the works of God make themselves known, compared with this pretended salvation by Jesus Christ.

Psalm 19th. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy work — Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge — There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard — Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world."

"In them hath he set a chamber for the sun."

"Which is a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race — his going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it, and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof."

Now, had the news of salvation by Jesus Christ been inscribed on the face of the Sun and the Moon, in characters that all nations would have understood, the whole earth had known it in twenty-four hours, and all nations would have believed it; whereas, though it is now almost two thousand years since, as they tell us, Christ came upon earth, not a twentieth part of the people of the earth know any thing of it, and among those who do, the wiser part do not believe it.

I have now reader gone through all the passages called prophecies of Jesus Christ, and shown there is no such thing.

I have examined the story told of Jesus Christ, and compared the several circumstances of it with that revelation, which, as Middleton wisely says, God has made to us of his Power and Wisdom in the structure of the universe, and by which every thing ascribed to him is to be tried.

The result is, that the story of Christ has not one trait, either in its character, or in the means employed, that bears the least resemblance to the power and wisdom of God, as demonstrated in the creation of the universe.

All the means are human means, slow, uncertain, and inadequate to the accomplishment of the end proposed, and, therefore, the whole is a fabulous invention, and undeserving of credit.

The priests of the present day, profess to believe it.

They gain their living by it, and they exclaim against something they call infidelity.

I will define what it is.

HE THAT BELIEVES IN THE STORY OF CHRIST IS AN INFIDEL TO GOD.

THOMAS PAINE.

TO BE CONTINUED ...

thelivyjr
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Re: THOMAS PAINE, AGE OF REASON

Post by thelivyjr » Fri Nov 08, 2019 1:40 p

Age of Reason, Part III, Section 5

Appendix.

Contradictory Doctrines in the New Testament, Between Matthew And Mark.


In the New Testament, Mark, chap. xvi. ver. 16, it is said "He that believelh and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned."

This is making salvation, or, in other words, the happiness of man after this life, to depend entirely on believing, or on what Christians call faith.

But the 25th chapter of The Gospel according to Matthew makes Jesus Christ to preach a direct contrary doctrine to The Gospel according to Mark; for it makes salvation, or the future happiness of man, to depend entirely on good works; and those good works are not works done to God, for he needs them not, but good works done to man.

The passage referred to in Matthew is the account there given of what is called the last day, or the day of judgment, where the whole world is represented to be divided into two parts, the righteous and the unrighteous, metaphorically called the sheep and the goats.

To the one part called the righteous, or the sheep, it says, "Come ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world — for I was an hungered and ye gave me meat — I was thirsty and ye gave me drink — I was a stranger and ye took me in — Naked and ye clothed me — I was sick and ye visited me — I was in prison and ye came unto me."

"Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered and fed thee, or thirsty and gave thee drink?"

"When saw we thee a stranger and took thee in, or naked and clothed thee?"

"Or when saw we thee sick and in prison, and came unto thee?"

"And the king shall answer and say unto them, verily I say unto you in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Here is nothing about believing in Christ — nothing about that phantom of the imagination called Faith.

The works here spoken of, are works of humanity and benevolence, or, in other words, an endeavour to make God's creation happy.

Here is nothing about preaching and making long prayers, as if God must be dictated to by man; nor about building churches and meetings, nor hiring priests to pray and preach in them.

Here is nothing about predestination, that lust which some men have for damning one another.

Here is nothing about baptism, whether by sprinkling or plunging, nor about any of those ceremonies for which the Christian church has been fighting, persecuting, and burning each other, ever since the Christian church began.

If it be asked, why do not priests preach the doctrine contained in this chapter?

The answer is easy; they are not fond of practicing it themselves. It does not answer for their trade.

They had rather get than give.

Charity with them begins and ends at home.

Had it been said, Come ye blessed, ye have been liberal in paying the preachers of the word, ye have contributed largely towards building churches and meeting-houses, there is not a hired priest in Christendom but would have thundered it continually in the ears of his congregation.

But as it is altogether on good works done to men, the priests pass over it in silence, and they will abuse me for bringing it into notice.

Thomas Paine

TO BE CONTINUED ...

thelivyjr
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Re: THOMAS PAINE, AGE OF REASON

Post by thelivyjr » Sat Nov 09, 2019 1:40 p

Age of Reason, Part III, Section 6

My Private Thoughts on a Future State.


I have said, in the first part of the Age of Reason, that "I hope for happiness after this life."

This hope is comfortable to me, and I presume not to go beyond the comfortable idea of hope, with respect to a future state.

I consider myself in the hands of my Creator, and that he will dispose of me after this life consistently with his justice and goodness.

I leave all these matters to him, as my Creator and friend, and I hold it to be presumption in man to make an article of faith as to what the Creator will do with us hereafter.

I do not believe because a man and a woman make a child, that it imposes on the Creator the unavoidable obligation of keeping the being so made, in eternal existence hereafter.

It is in his power to do so, or not to do so, and it is not in our power to decide which he will do.

The book called the New Testament, which I hold to be fabulous and have shown to be false, gives an account in the 25th chapter of Matthew, of what is there called the last day, or the day of judgment.

The whole world, according to that account, is divided into two parts, the righteous and the unrighteous, figuratively called the sheep and the goats.

They are then to receive their sentence.

To the one, figuratively called the sheep, it says, "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

To the other, figuratively called the goats, it says, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."

Now the case is, the world cannot be thus divided — the moral world, like the physical world, is composed of numerous degrees of character, running imperceptibly one into the other, in such a manner that no fixed point of division can be found in either.

That point is no where, or is every where.

The whole world might be divided into two parts numerically, but not as to moral character; and, therefore, the metaphor of dividing them, as sheep and goats can be divided, whose difference is marked by their external figure, is absurd.

All sheep are still sheep; all goats are still goats; it is their physical nature to be so.

But one part of the world are not all good alike, nor the other part all wicked alike.

There are some exceedingly good; others exceedingly wicked.

There is another description of men who cannot be ranked with either the one or the other — they belong neither to the sheep nor the goats.

My own opinion is, that those whose lives have been spent in doing good, and endeavouring to make their fellow-mortals happy, for this is the only way in which we can serve God, will be happy hereafter: and that the very wicked will meet with some punishment.

This is my opinion.

It is consistent with my idea of God's justice, and with the reason that God has given me.

http://www.ushistory.org/paine/reason/index.htm

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