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Christ, therefore, like every other person, was neither in the fulness of one nor the other.

But though we cannot conceive the idea of fulness of time, because we cannot have conception of a time when there shall be no time; nor of fulness of circumstances, because we cannot con ceive a state of existence to be without circumstances; we can often see, after a thing is past, if any circumstance, necessary to give the utmost activity and success to that thing, was wanting at the time that thing took place. If such a circumstance was wanting, we may be certain that the thing which took place, was not a thing of God's ordaining; whose work is always perfect, and his means perfect means. They tell us that Christ was the Son of God; in that case, he would have known every thing; and he came upon earth to make known the will of God to man throughout the whole earth. If this had been true, Christ would have known and would have been furnished with all the possible means of doing it; and would have instructed mankind, or at least his apostles, in the use of such of the means as they could use themselves to facilitate the accomplishment of the mission; consequently he would have instructed them in the art of printing, for the press is the tongue of the world; and without which, his or their preaching was less than a whistle compared to thunder. Since, then, he did not do this, he had not the means necessary to the mission; and consequently had not the mission.

They tell us in the book of Acts, chap. ii, a very stupid story of the Apostles' having the gift of tongues; and cloven tongues of fire descended and sat upon each of them. Perhaps it was this story of cloven tongues that gave rise to the notion of slitting Jackdaws tongues to make them talk. Be that however as it may, the gift of tongues, even if it were true, would be but of little use without the art of printing. I can sit in my chamber, as I do while writing this, and by the aid of printing, can send the thoughts I am writing through the greatest part of Europe, to the East Indies, and over all North America, in a few months. Jesus Christ and his apos tles could not do this. They had not the means, and the want of means detects the pretended mission.

There are three modes of communication. Speaking, writing and printing. The first is exceedingly limited. A man's voice can be heard but a few yards of distance: and his person can be but in one place.

Writing is much more extensive; but the thing written cannot be multiplied but at great expense, and the multiplication will be slow and incorrect. Were there no other means of circulating what priests call the word of God (the Old and New Testament) than by writing copies, those copies could not be purchased at less than forty pounds sterling each; consequently, but few people could purchase them, while the writers could scarcely obtain a livelihood by it. But the art of printing changes all the cases, and opens a scene as vast as the world. It gives to man a sort of divine attribute. It gives to him mental omnipresence. He can be every where and at the same instant; for wherever he is read he is mentally there.

The case applies not only against the pretended mission of Christ and his apostles, but against every thing that priests call the word of God, and against all those who pretend to deliver it; for had God ever delivered any verbal word, he would have taught the means of communicating it. The one without the other is inconsistent with the wisdom we conceive of the Creator.

The third chapter of Genesis, verse 21, tells us that God made coats of skins and cloathed Adam and Eve. It was infinitely more important that man should be taught the art of printing, than that Adam should be taught to make a pair of leather breeches, or his wife a petticoat.

There is another matter, equally striking and important, that connects itself with those observations against this pretended word of God, this manufactured book, called Revealed Religion.

We know that whatever is of God's doing is unalterable by man beyond the laws which the Creator has ordained. We cannot make a tree grow with the root in the air and the fruit in the ground; we cannot make iron into gold nor gold into iron; we cannot make rays of light shine forth rays of darkness, nor darkness shine forth light. If there were such a thing, as a word of God, it would possess the same properties which all his other works do. It would resist destructive alteration. But we see that the book which they call the word of God has not this property. Genesis chap. 1, verse 27, " So God created

That book says, man in his own

image;" but the printer can make it say, So man created God in his own image. The words are passive to every transposition of them, or can be annihilated and others put in their places. This is not the case with any thing that is of God's doing; and, there

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fore, this book, called the word of God, tried by the same universal rule which every other of God's works within our reach can be tried by, proves itself to be a forgery.

The bishop says, that "miracles are proper proofs of a divine mission." Admitted. But we know that men, and especially priests, can tell lies and call them miracles. It is therefore necessary, that the thing called a miracle be proved to be true, and also to be miraculous; before it can be admitted as proof of the thing called revelation.

The bishop must be a bad logician not to know that one doubtful thing cannot be admitted as proof that another doubtful thing is true. It would be like attempting to prove a liar not to be a liar, by the evidence of another, who is as great a liar as himself.

Though Jesus Christ, by being ignorant of the art of printing, shows he had not the means necessary to a divine mission, and consequently had no such mission; it does not follow that if he had known that art, the divinity of what they call his mission would be proved thereby, any more than it proved the divinity of the man who invented printing. Something, therefore, beyond printing, even if he had known it, was necessary as a miracle, to have proved that what he delivered was the word of God; and this was that the book in which that word should be contained, which is now called the Old and New Testament, should possess the miraculous property, distinct from all human books, of resisting alteration. This would be not only a miracle, but an ever existing and universal miracle; whereas, those which they tell us of, even if they had been true, were momentary and local; they would leave no trace behind, after the lapse of a few years, of having ever existed; but this would prove, in all ages and in all places, the book to be divine and not human; as effectually, and as conveniently, as aquafortis proves gold to be gold by not being capable of acting upon it; and detects all other metals and all counterfeit composition, by dissolving them. Since then the only miracle capable of every proof is wanting, and which every thing that is of a divine origin possesses; all the tales of miracles with which the Old and New Testament are filled, are fit only for impostors to preach and fools to believe.



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This tract is a chapter belonging to the third part of the Age of Reason, as will be seen by the references made in it to precedag articles, as forming a part of the same work. It was culled from the writings of Mr. Paine, after his death, and published in a mutilated state, by Mrs. Bonneville, his executrix. Passages having a reference to the Christian religion she erased, with a view, no doubt, of accommodating the work to the prejudices of bigotry, These, however, have been restored from the original manuscript, excepting a few lines which were rendered illegible.

The masonic society had committed nothing to print until the year 1722, when Doctor Anderson's book of constitutions, &c. was ordered by the Grand Lodge to be printed. Since that time the masons have published many works respecting the fraternity, all of which, through design or want of information, tend to obscure and embarrass the subject; and as the society had adopted the custom of the priests of the ancient Britons, called Druids, to keep their proceedings an entire secret, mankind in general, including the greater portion of the brethren themselves, have remained in utter ignorance in regard to its establishment and original intention. Various speculations therefore continue to be made respecting the origin of the society, and its views at the time of its formation; and Mr. Paine among the rest, with all his sagacity, has suffered himself to be most egregiously deceived by such writings of the masons as had fallen into his hands. These writers, in giving an account of the society, take up the history of architecture as far back as any record of it has survived the wreck of time. Whereever they can trace in history, whether true or fabulous, any account of noble and grand structures, they presumptuously pronounce them to have been raised by their society. The pyramids of Egypt, the tower of Babel, whose existence is doubted, and Solomon's temple, about which there has probably been much lying,


are all claimed by them. For what is this ridiculous parade, but to make the uninitiated, as well as their own members, few of whom know any thing about it, wonder at the astonishing antiquity of the institution? Would not the advice of Pope apply in this case?

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"Go! and pretend your family is young,

Nor own your fathers have been fools so long."

If the antiquity of a sect or society proved its utility, or that it was founded in correct principles; the religion taught by the ancient Egptians priests, or judaism, ought to be preferred to Christianity.

There is no possible use to be derived from deception upon this subject. The masonic society is undoubtedly very ancient; having commenced, in the city of York, in England, in the early part of the tenth century of the Christian era; and from thence it spread into other parts of Europe. It was formed by men who had some knowledge of rude architecture, such as it was at that day, and working masons; and had no other view than improvement in the art or craft of masonry. Which their writers dignify with the title of royal craft, because some of their Kings have condescended to become members of the society, for the purpose, no doubt, of flattering their subjects to persevere in improvements in the art of building; which was useful to them, as they always stand in need of palaces, castles, and churches. The society is composed of free men, none others are admitted, hence the term, free masons. At first there were but three degrees, apprentice; fellow-craft, that is, one who had served an apprenticeship, and was entitled to wages as a journeyman; and master-mason. The latter degree entitled its possessor to contract for building on his own account. It was not until the beginning of the eighteenth century, that any one, according to the regulations of the society, could be admitted a member, who did not labour at the trade of masonry, or knew something of architecture; although, perhaps, through favour, some were smuggled in who had very little or no knowledge of that art.*

The author of this Preface, although he has thrown considerable light upon the subject, has been himself deceived by masonic writers in respect to the origin of the existing society of Freemasons; which is entirely speculative, and was instituted at the time when, he says, persons not being masons by trade were first admitted as members, viz. in the early part of the eighteenth century. Late writers have shown, that the first Lodge ever established upon the exist

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