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The Mathematical Board sent up the result of their learned researches on he subet, but declined to express any opinion of their own. If it had continued a whole y it would have indicated some disagreement between the Emperor and his Minists; also a great drought and scarcity of grain. If but for an hour, pestilence in ce south-west, and half the population diseased in the south-east. If the wind had wn the sand, and moved stones with a loud noise, inundations, &c.
The Gazette of the same date contains a paper in which the Emperor expresses much grief at a long drought at Pe-che-le province. He had sent his sons to fast, pray dsacrifice to heaven, earth, and the god of the wind, but this had obtained only a ght shower. His Majesty wrote a prayer himself, and appointed a day to go with brother, and two more persons, to sacrifice; the Emperor to heaven, his brother to the earth, the first of their companions to the divinity that rules the passing year, d the second to the god of the winds. A day was also appointed for a general fast nd sacrifice, on which the kings, nobles, ministers of state, attending officers, solers, and servants, were to appear in a peculiar cap and garinent as a mark of enitence. The two sons of his Majesty were to sacrifice at the same time in two other places.
Such idle vagaries ought to be eradicated from the mind of man, that he may conmplate his true predicament in nature, provide for his wants and ward off approachg danger. It is to be hoped that time is not far distant when this happy event will realized, especially in that portion of the globe where science is generally diffused. requires only the honest and bold co-operation of men of learning to effect it. As the opinions of great and good men, provided they have no interest to uphold superstition, ought to have weight on the minds of those less informed, I shall here bjoin the brief sentiments of a few celebrated characters, in support of Mr. Paine's fidelity.
Letter from Dr. Franklin to the Rev. George Whitefield.
DEAR SIF I received your kind letter of the 2d inst. and am glad to hear that you mcrease in Strength-I hope you will continue mending until you recover your former health and rmness. Let me know whether you still use the cold bath, and what effect it has. s to the kindness you mention, I wish it could have been of more serious service to you; but if it had, the only thanks that I should desire, are, that you would always readly to serve any other person that may need your assistance; and so let good fices go round; for mankind are all of a family. For my own part, when mployed in serving others, I do not look upon myself as conferring favors, but as aying debts. In my travels and since my settlement, I have received much kindness. com men, to whom I shall never have an opportunity of making the least direct return; and numberless mercies from God, who is infinitely above being benefited by our services. These kindnesses from men, I can, therefore, only return to their felow men; and I can only show my gratitude to God by a readiness to help his other children, and my brethren, for I do not think that thanks and compliinents, though repeated weekly, can discharge our real obligations to each other, and much less, to our Creator.
You will see, in this, my notion of good works, that I am far from expecting to merit eaven by them. By heaven, we understand a state of happiness, infinite in degree and eternak in duration. I can do nothing to deserve such a reward. He that, for iving a draught of water to a thirsty person, should expect to be paid with a good plantation, would be modest in his demands compared with those who think they deserve heaven for the little good they do on earth. Even the mixed imperfect pleas ares we enjoy in this world, are rather from God's goodness than our merit; how much more so the happiness of heaven? for my part, I have not the vanity to think I deserve it, the folly to expect or the ambition to desire it, but content myself in submitting to the disposal of that God who made me, who has hitherto preserved and blessed me, and in whose fatherly goodness I may well confide, that he never will. make me miserable, and that the affliction I may at any time suffer, may tend to my benefit.
The faith you mention has, doubtless, its use in the world. I do not desire to see it diminished, nor would I desire to lessen it in any man, but I wish it were more productive of good works than I have generally seen it. I mean real good works, works of kindness, charity, mercy and public spirit; not holy day-keeping, sermonhearing or reading; performing churcli ceremonies, or making long prayers, filled
with flatteries and compliments, despised even by wise men, ana much less capable of pleasing the Deity.
The worship of God is a duty-the hearing and reading may be useful; but if me rest in hearing and praying, as too many do, it is as if the tree should value itself on being watered and putting forth leaves though it never produced any fruit.
Your good master thought much less of these outward appearances than many of h modern disciples. He preferred the doers of the word to the hearers; the son that seemingly refused to obey his father and yet performed his commands, to him that professed his readiness but neglected the work; the heretical but charitable Samar tan, to the uncharitable but orthodox priest and sanctified Levite, and those who gav food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, and raiment to the naked, entertainment to the stranger, and never heard of his name, he declares shall, in the last day, be a cepted; when those who cry, Lord, Lord, who value themselves on their faith, though great enough to perform miracles, but have neglected good works, shall be rejected He professed that he came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance, which implied his modest opinion that there were some in his time so good that they nerd not hear him even for improvement, but now-a-days we have scarcely a little parsor that does not think it the duty of every man within his reach to sit under his petry ministration, and that whoever omits this offends God-I wish to such more humility and to you, health and happiness.
Being your friend and servant,
Extract of a letter from the same to Ezra Stiles, President of Yale College
REV. AND DEAR SIR,
PHILADELPHIA, MARCH 9, 1790.
You desire to know something of my religion. It is the first time I have been quee
With great and sincere esteem and affection, I am, &c.
As Dr. Franklin evidently disbelieves in any benefit to be gained in a future sta by faith in the mysteries of the christian religion, and as the little influence it m
*The Doctor had indeed deferred an examination into the divinity of Jesus to very late hour; for he says in the same letter, "I am now in my 85th year, and very infirm." He died the 17th of April following.
† Supposed to refer to the foregoing letter to George Whitefield.
ve in producing good works, are evidently over-balanced by the evils produced by no good reasons can be urged for its cultivation. The objections to this faith are, at it creates pride, uncharitableness and persecution. Whoever believes that he ows perfectly the will of God, naturally despises all others not favored with the ke divine grace. He becomes a contemptible despot, prepared to commit any act outrage against unbelievers in his creed, in order the more effectually to ingratiate mself with the divinity he worships. He takes up the cause of God as his own afir, and acts accordingly.
Those who call themselves orthodox believers of the present day, would do well to itate the example of the Roman Emperor, Titus, who, in his edict, occasioned by e importunities of the orthodox of that time for the punishment of christians for belier, observed, "I am very well assured, that the Gods themselves will take care, at this kind of men shall not escape, it being much more their concern, than it can yours, to punish those that refuse to worship them." To show Dr. Franklin's opinions more fully upon this subject, I shall make a few re extracts from his writings. In a letter to B. Vaughan, (1788) he says, "Reember me affectionately to good Dr. Price and to the honest heretic Dr. Priestley. I d not call him honest by way of distinction; for I think all the heretics I have own have been virtuous men. They have the virtue of fortitude, or they would not ature to own their heresy; and they cannot afford to be deficient in any of the other tues, as that wouldve advantage to their many enemies; and they have not, like thodox sinners, such a number of friends to excuse or justify them. Do not hower mistake me. It is not to my good friend's heresy that I impute his honesty. On the contrary, 'tis his honesty that has brought upon him the character of heretic." Again, in a letter to Mrs. Partridge, (1788) he observes, "You tell me our poor end, Ban Kent is gone, I hope to the regions of the blessed; or at least to some Pace where souls are prepared for those regions! I found my hope on this, that hough not so orthodox as you and I, he was an honest man, and had his virtues. If he had any hypocrisy, it was of that inverted kind, with which a man is not so ed as he seems to be. And with regard to future bliss, I cannot help imagining that baltitudes of the zealously orthodox of different sects, who at the last day may flock gether, in hopes of seeing each other damned, will be disappointed, and obliged to st content with their own salvation."
In another letter, addressed to Mrs. Mecom, his sister, (1758) he says, ""Tis pity at good works, among some sorts of people, are so little valued, and good words mired in their stead. I mean seemingly pious discourses, instead of humane beevolent actions. Those they almost put out of countenance, by calling morality rotten orality-righteousness ragged righteousness, and even filthy rags-and when you vention virtue, pucker up their noses; at the same time that they eagerly snuff up an opty canting harangue, as if it was a posey of the choicest flowers."
In a letter to *** (1784) he observes, "There are several things in the Old Testament impossible to be given by divine inspiration; such as the approbation ascribelto the angel of the Lord, of that abombinably wicked and detestable action of Jael, the wife of Heber, the Kenite."
xtract of a letter from THOMAS JEFFERSON, President of the United States, o DR. PRIESTLEY, upon his " Comparative View of SOCRATES and JESUS."
WASHINGTON, APRIL 9, 1803.
While on a short visit lately to Monticello, I received from you a copy of your Comrative View of Socrates and Jesus, and I avail myself of the first moment of leisure ter my return to acknowledge the pleasure I had in the perusal, and the desire excited to see you take up the subject on a more extensive scale.-In consequence some conversations with Dr. Rush in the years 1798-99, 1 had promised some day write him a letter, giving him my view of the Christian system. I have reflected ten on it since, and even sketched the outlines in my own mind. I should first take general view of the moral doctrines of the most remarkable of the ancient philosoers, of whose ethics we have sufficient information to make an estimate: say, of ythagoras, Epicurus, Epictetus, Socrates, Cicero, Seneca, Antoninus. I should
do justice to the branches of morality they have treated well, but point out the im portance of those in which they are deficient. I should then take a view of the deism and ethics of the Jews, and show in what a degraded state they were, and the necessity they presented of a reformation. I should proceed to a view of the life, character, and doctrines of Jesus, who, sensible of the incorrectuess of their ideas of the Deity, and of morality, endeavored to bring them to the principles of a pure deism, and juster notions of the attributes of God, to reform their moral doctrines to the standard of reason, justice, and philanthropy, and to inculcate the belief of a future state. This view would purposely omit the question of his divinity, and even of his inspiration. To do him justice, it would be necessary to remark the disadvantages his doctrines have to encounter, not having been committed to writing by himself, but by the most unlettered of men, by memory, long after they had heard them from him, when much was forgotten, much misunderstood, and presented in very paradoxical shapes. Yet such are the fragments remaining, as to show a master workman, and that his system of morality was the most benevolent and sublime probably that has been ever taught, and more perfect than those of any of the ancient philosophers. His character and doctrines have received still greater injury from those who pretend to be his spiritual disciples, and who have disfigured and sophisticated his actions and precepts from views of personal interest, so as to induce the unthinking part of mankind to throw off the whole system in disgust, and to pass sentence as an impostor on the most innocent, the most benevolent, the most eloquent and sublime character that has ever been exhibited to man. This is the outline; but I have not the time, and still less the information which the subject needs. It will therefore rest with me in contemplation only.
Letter from the same to William Canby.
I have duly received your favor of August 27th; am sensible of the kind intentions from which it flows, and truly thankful for them, the more so, as they could only be the result of a favorable estimate of my public course. During a long life, as much devoted to study as a faithful transaction of the trusts committed to me would permit, no object has occupied more of my consideration than our relations with all the beings around us, our duties to them and our future prospects. After hearing and reading every thing which probably can be suggested concerning them, I have formed the best judgment I could, as to the course they prescribe; and in the due observance of that course, I have no recollections which give me uneasiness. An eloquent preacher of your religious society, Richard Mott, in a discourse of much unction and pathos, is said to have exclaimed aloud to his congregation, that he did not believe there was a Quaker, Presbyterian, Methodist or Baptist in Heaven-having paused to give hi audience time to stare and to wonder-(he said) that in Heaven, God knew no distinc tion, but considered all good men, as his children and as brethren of the same family. I believe with the Quaker preacher, that he who steadily observes those mora precepts in which all religions concur, will never be questioned at the gates of Heav en, as to the dogmas in which they differ; that on entering there, all these are left be hind us the Aristideses and Catos, Penns, and Tillotsons, Presbyterians and Papists will find themselves united in all principles which are in concert with the reason of the supreme mind. Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus. He who follow this steadily, need not, I think, be uneasy, although he cannot comprehend the subtle ties and mysteries erected on his doctrines, by those who calling themselves his spe cial followers and favourites, would make him come into the world to lay saares for all understandings but theirs; these metaphysical heads, usurping the judgment sea of God, denounce as his enemies, all who cannot perceive the geometrical logic of Euclid in the demonstrations of St. Athanasius, that three are one, and one is three and yet that three are not one, nor the one three. In all essential points, you and i are of the same religion, and I am too old to go into inquiries and changes as to the unessentials. Repeating therefore my thankfulness for the kind concern you hav been so good as to express, I salute you with friendship and brotherly love. THOMAS JEFFERSON
Monticello, September 17th, 1813.
By the Report of Las Casas, the authenticity of which is not doubted, Bonaparte, whatever may be thought of his goodness, is allowed by all to be a great man, roadle the following remarks on religion. "Every thing proclaims the existence of a 1; that cannot be questioned; but all religions are evidently the work of men. y are there so many? Why has not ours always existed? Why does it consider fexclusively the right one? What becomes, in that case, of all the virtuous men who have gone before us? Why does these religions oppose and exterminate one Banther? Why has this been the case ever and every where? Because men are ever m; because priests have ever and every where introduced fraud and falsehood." He said, "that his incredulity did not proceed from perverseness or from licentiousness find, but from the strength of his reason. Yet," added he, "no man can anwwer for what will happen, particularly in his last moments. At present, I certainly beve that I shall die without a confessor. I am assuredly very far from being an teist, but I cannot believe all that I am taught in spite of my reason, without being fee and a hypocrite."
he bare mention of the possibility that he might, before he died, confess his sins, a view of obtaining pardon from a frail mortal like himself, was unworthy of character of Bonaparte. But it exemplifies in the strongest manner the almost Conquerable power of habits and prejudices acquired in early life. If, at the time Babove expressions were made, there still remained in the great mind of Bonaparte sce lingering vestiges of the contemptible prejudices which he had imbibed from his hare and father confessor in childhood, what can be expected from the multitude who never think? How important then is it, that the minds of youth should be propdirected that they should be taught their true condition in nature;-that their ent and future happiness depends, not on confessions to a priest, but on uniform tice of moral virtue. If confessions are depended on, we may be assured, that als will be neglected.
he following opinion of the manner in which mankind will be judged in a future must be concurred in by every rational being, not under clerical influence. It is extracted from the speech of the famous Irish barrister, Erskine, on the liberty of the fees, in the trial of Stockdale for an alleged libel against the parliament.
Every human tribunal ought to take care to administer justice, as we look hereto have justice administered to ourselves. Upon the principles on which the Borney-General prays sentence upon my client-God have mercy upon us!-For wich of us can present, for omniscient examination, a pure, unspotted, and faultless But I humbly expect that the benevolent author of our being will judge us have been pointing out for your example. Holding up the great volume of our in his hands, and regarding the general scope of them. If he discovers benevocharity and good will to man beating in the heart, where he alone can look finds that our conduct, though often forced out of the path by our infirmities, has been in general well directed; liis all-searching eye will assuredly never pursue us into those little corners of our lives, much less will his justice select them for punish, without the general context of our existence, by which faults may be sometimes Had to have grown out of virtues, and very many of our heaviest offences to have grafted by human imperfection upon the best and kindest of our affections. No, re me, this is not the course of divine justice. If the general tenor of a man's Saduct be such as I have represented it, he may walk through the shadow of death, all his faults about him, with as much cheerfulness as in the common paths of because he knows, that instead of a stern accuser to expose before the Author € nature those frail passages, which like the scored matter in the book before chequers the volume of the brightest and best spent life, his mercy will obscure Wp from the eye of his purity, and our repentance blot them out for ever."
This gentleman is not so universally known as to render his opinions so imposing mose already quoted, but he has acquired such celebrity for philanthropy in