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Such are the sacrifices required by this Idol, even from its speculative votaries. The zeal of its practical proselytes, carries them still farther.—I am told, that the female converts seldom fail to make an offering to Atheism of their peace, purity, and good fame; and that of its worshippers, among the lower orders of men, numbers every year suffer martyrdom at a place called Newgate; which I suppose to be a temple dedicated to this superstition.
What are the posthumous honours, which the martyrs of Atheism, receive from their brethren, the philosophers, I have not been able to discover, as it is a subject on which the philosophers modestly decline to expatiate.
From the conversations that I have overheard, between the nephew of Doctor Sceptick, and Mr. Vapour, who is one of the most renowned teachers of this faith; I find, that its adherents perform poojah to certain inferiour Dewtah, called Existing, or External, circumstances, energies, and powers, of whom, I am not yet sufficiently prepared to speak. Mr. Vapour is particularly tenacious of his faith, which is, indeed, of a very extraordinary nature. Rejecting all the received opinions that have hitherto prevailed in the world, and utterly discrediting the circumstances upon which they have been founded; he reserves his whole stock of credulity for futurity. Here his faith is so strong, as to bound over the barriers of probability, to unite all that is discordant in nature, and to believe in things impossible. The age of reason, is thought by Mr. Vapour, to be very near at hand. Nothing, he says, is so easy as to bring it about immediately. It is only to persuade the people in power to resign its exercise; the rich to part with their property; and with one consent, to abolish all laws, and put an end to all government: “Then,” says this credulous philosopher, “shall we see the perfection of virtue " Not such virtue, it is true, as has heretofore passed current in
the world. Benevolence will not then be heard of; gratitude will be considered as a crime, and punished with the contempt it so justly deserves. Filial affection would, no doubt, be treated as a crime of a still deeper dye, but that, to prevent the possibility of such a breach of virtue, no man, in the age of reason, shall be able to guess who his father is; nor any woman to say to her husband, behold your son. Chastity, shall then be considered as a weakness, and the virtue of a female estimated according as she has had sufficient energy to break its mean restraints. “To what sublime heights,” exclaims this sapient philosopher, “may we not expect that virtue will then be seen to soar —By destroying the domestick affections, what an addition will be made to human happiness And when man is no longer corrupted by the tender and endearing ties of brother, sister, wife, and child, how greatly will his dispositions be meliorated The fear of punishment too, that ignoble bondage, which, at present, restrains the WOL. II, 16 #
energies of so many great men, will no longer damp the noble ardour of the daring robber, or the midnight thief. Nor will any man then be degraded by working for another. The divine energies of the soul will not then be stifled by labouring for support. What is necessary, every individual may, without difficulty, do for himself. Every man shall then till his own field, and cultivate his own garden.”—“And pray how are the Ladies to be clothed in the age of reason 7" asked Miss Ardent.—“Any Lady,” replied the philosopher, “who chooses to wear clothes, which, in this cold climate, may by some be considered as a matter of necessity, must herself pluck the wool from the back of the sheep, and spin it on a distaff, of her own making.” “But, she cannot weave it,” rejoined Miss Ardent, “without a loom; a loom cannot well be made without iron tools, and iron tools can have no
existence without the aggregated labours of many individuals.” “True,” returned Mr.
Vapour; “and it is therefore probable, that
in the glorious aera I speak of, men will again have recourse to the skins of beasts for covering; and these will be procured according to the strength and capacity of the individual. A summer's dress, may be made of the skins of mice, and such animals; while those of sheep, hares, horses, dogs, &c. may be worn in winter. Such things may, for a time, take place. But as the human mind advances to that perfection, at which, when deprived of religion, laws, and government, it is destined to arrive, men will, no doubt, possess sufficient energy, to resist the effects of cold; and to exist, not only without clothing, but without food also. When reason is thus far advanced, an effort of the mind will be sufficient to prevent the approach of disease, and stop the progress of decay. People will not then be so foolish as to die.” “I can believe, that in the age of reason, women won't be troubled with the vapours,” replied Miss Ardent, “but, that they should be able to live without food and clothing, is another affair.” “Women t”