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lordship at the beginning of his incumbency, have thought fit to run his life against the tenants, he would now, at the expiration of twenty years, possess a larger rent roll than any subjes in the world. Yet it was this very see which begged assistance towards repairing its own cathedral !
By the Almanach du clergy du France for 1823, it appears that there are fifty-fou bishops and archbishops, already consecrated, out of the eighty France is to have. There are, also, already, 35,676 priests in activity, exclusive of missionaries, and 50,934 is the number the bishops judge necessary to complete the Army of the Church—2,031 are, moreover, pensioned. Then, in the schools and at their different colleges, there are 29,379 youths preparing for clerical duties. The revenue of the priests even now amounts to 28,000,000 francs, exclusive of sums destined to repair the churches, and other ecclesiastical services, which, amounting to 1,500,000 francs, will also pass through their hands, and exclusive of the sums collected by the missionaries, and contributed by the communes, both of which are very considerable. From the same book, it appears that since 1802, the legacies and gifts received by the church, and held in Mortmain, amount to 13,388,554 francs, giving an annual revenue, after abstracting from this sum many church ornaments, of 450,000 francs. Of this sum, no less than 2,332,554 francs were contributed within the last year.
There are in Rome, 19 cardinals, 27 bishops, 1450 priests, 1532 monks, 146-1 friars, and 332 seminarists. The population of Rome, in 1821, without reckoning the Jews, amounted to 146,000 souls.
Among the evils entailed upon mankind by establishing a religion that requires the renunciation of reason, hypocrisy holds a conspicuous place, as the most pernicious in its effects on society. It lowers the dignity of man; it checks the progress of the human mind, by smothering that frank and liberal communication of thought, which leads to improvement; in short, it destroys all confidence among friends the most intimate. “If,” says La Bruyere, “I marry an avaricious woman, she will take care of my money ; if a gambler, she may win; if a learned woman, she
may if a vixen, she will teach me patience; if a coquette, she will take pains to please ; but if t marry a hypocrite that affects to be religious, (une devote) what can I expect from her who tries to deceive even her God, and who almost deceives herself.”
The clergy are fond of attributing all the calamities, incident to human nature, to supernatural influence. Not, it is presumed, because they believe what they pretend but on account of the reputation it gives them for extraordinary piety. Thus in the sea-port towns even of the United States, which have been afflicted with yellow fever, I have observed, that some of their clergy considered it as a special judgment of God, arising from the passion of the people for threatrical exhibitions, &c. And fastings and prayers were resorted to, to appease the wrath of the Almighty. But these doctors of divinity, it is said, when attacked with yellow fever, or any other serious complaint, immediately employ a physical doctor to cure them; which is sufficient evidence that they do not believe their own doctrine ; for it would be vain, and impious, to attempt to cure those whom God intended to destroy. Incalculable evils may result from the promulgation of this doctrine: Because those who have faith in it, may, as is the fact in some countries, refuse to take medicine in case of sickness, and thereby sacrifice their own lives to folly and superstition.
The Emperor of China, however, fully agrees with these christian doctors in his conceptions of supernatural interference in passing events; and takes the same means to assuage the wrath of the Gods, as appears by the following statement of what took place in consequence of a hurricane and drought at Peking and Pe-che-le province.
On the 13th of May, 1818, there was a violent hurricane at Peking, which produced much alarm among all sorts of people. The Emperor published an edict on the subject, in which he declares he was extremely frightened. He says " it rained dust," and produced such profound darkness that nothing could be seen without a candle. It was not so violent however as to produce any serious injury, and the apprehensions of the people, and particularly of the Emperor, proceeded from the belief that such phenomena are punishments for some mismanagement among the rulers of the country. The Emperor gives a long list of the evil effects of improper measures in governing, and exhorts his officers to join him in self-examination to find out the true cause of this calamity. In another document he blames the imperial astronomers for not foreseeing and foretelling the hurricane, instead of flattering him as they had formerly done, with the hope of tranquillity; and to calculate with accuracy the intentions of heaven. He also despatched a messenger towards the south-east, where the storm arose, as he is confident there must have been some act of oppression committed in that direction.
The Mathematical Board sent up the result of their learned researcnes on the subject, but declined to express any opinion of their own. If it had continued a whole day it would have indicated some disagreement between the Emperor and his Ministers; also a great drought and scarcity of grain. If but for an hour, pestilence in the south-west, and half the population diseased in the south-east. If the wind had blown 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 and sacrifice to heaven, earth, and the god of the wind, but this had obtained only a slight shower. His Majesty wrote a prayer himself, and appointed a day to go with his 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, and the second to the god of the winds. A day was also appointed for a general fast and sacrifice, on which the kings, nobles, ministers of state, attending officers, soldiers, and servants, were to appear in a peculiar cap and garment as a mark of penitence. 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 contemplate his true predicament in nature, provide for his wants and ward off approaching danger. It is to be hoped that time is not far distant when this happy event will be realized, especially in that portion of the globe where science is generally diffused. It 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 subjoin the brief sentiments of a few celebrated characters, in support of Mr. Paine's infidelity.
PHILADELPHIA, JUNE 6th, 1753. REAR SIR,
T received your kind letter of the 2d inst. and am glad to hear that you increase in strength—I hope you will continue mending until you recover your former health and firmness. Let me know whether you still use the cold bath, and what effect it has. As to the kindness you mention, I wish it could bave been of more serious service to you; but if it had, the only thanks that I should desire, are, that you would always be ready to serve any other person that may need your assistance ; and so let good offices go round; for mankind are all of a family. For my own part, when I am employed in ,serving others, I do not look upon myself as conferring favors, but as paying debts. In my travels and since my settlement, I bave received much kindness frond 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 fel. low 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 compliments, 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 heaven by them. By. heaven, we understand a state of happiness, infinite in degree and eternal in duration. I can do nothing to deserve such a reward. He that, for giving 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 pleasures 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, sermon hearing or reading ; performing church cereinonies, or making long prayers, filled
with flatteries and compliments, despised even by wise men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity.
The worship of God is a duty-the hearing and reading may be useful; but if men 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 his 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 Samaritan, to the uncharitable but orthodox priest and sanctified Levite, and those who gave 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 accepted; 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 need r.ot hear him even for improvement, but now-a-days we have scarcely a little parson that does not think it the duty of every man within his reach to sit under his petty 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.
PHILADELPHIA, MARCH 9, 1790. REV. AND DEAR SIR,
You desire to know something of my religion. It is the first time I have been ques tioned upon it. But I cannot take your curiosity amiss, and shall endeavor in a few words to gratify it. Here is my creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render him is doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is inmortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them. Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals, and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw, or is like to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity ; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble.* I see no harm however in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as probably it has, of making his doctrines more respected, and more observed, especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the believers in his government of the world with any particular marks of his displeasure. I shall only add, respecting myself, that having experienced the goodness of that Being, in conducting me prosperously through a long life, I have no doubt of its continuance in the next, though without the smallest conceit of meriting such goodness. My sentiments on this head you will see in the copy of an old letter inclosed, t which I wrote in answer to one from an old religionist, whom I had relieved in a paralytic case by electricity, and who being afraid I should grow proud upon it, sent me l-is serious, though rather impertinent caution. With great and sincere esteem and affection, I am, &c.
REMARKS. As Dr. Franklin evidently disbelieves in any benefit to be gained in a future state by faith in the mysteries of the christian religion, and as the little influence it may
* The Doctor had indeed deferred an examination into the divinity of Jesus to a 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.
have in producing good works, are evidently over-balanced by the evils produced by it, no good reasons can be urged for its cultivation. The objections to this faith are, that it creates pride,
uncharitableness and persecution. Whoever believes that he knows perfectly the will of God, naturally despises all others not favored with the like divine grace. He becomes a contemptible despot, prepared to commit any act of outrage against unbelievers in his creed, in order the inore effectually to irgratiate himself with the divinity he worships. He takes up the cause of God as his own affair, and acts accordingly.
Those who call themselves orthodox believers of the present day, would do well to imitate the example of the Roman Emperor, Titus, who, in his edict, occasioned by the importunities of the orthodox of that time for the punishment of christians for unbelief, observed, “ I am very well assured, that the Gods themselves will take caro, that this kind of men shall not escape, it being much more their concern, than it can be 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. more exti acts from his writings. In a letter to B. Vaughan, (1788) he says, “ Remember nie affectionately to good Dr. Price and to the honest heretic Dr. Priestley. I do not call him honest by way of distinction ; for I think all the heretics I have known have been virtuous men. They have the virtue of fortitude, or they would not venture to own their heresy; and they cannot afford to be deficient in any of the other virtues, as that would give advantage to their many enemies; and they have not, like orthodox sinners, such a number of friends to excuse or justify them. Do not however mistake me. It is not to my good friend's heresy that I impute his honesty. On the contrary, 'tis Jus 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 friend, Ben Kent is gone, I hope to the regions of the blessed; or at least to some place where souls are prepared for those regions! I found my hope on this, that though not so orthodox as you and I, he was an Ionest man, and had his virtues. If he had any hypocrisy, it was of that inverted kind, with which a man is not so bad as he seems to be. And with regard to future bliss, I cannot help imagining that multitudes of the zealously orthodox of different sects, who at the last day may flock together, in hopes of seeing each other damned, will be disappointed, and obliged to rest content with their own salvation."
In another letter, addressed to Mrs. Mecom, his sister, (1758) he says, “ 'Tis pity that good works, among some sorts of people, are so little valued, and good words admired in their stead. I mean seemingly pions discourses, instead of humane benevolent actions. Those they almost put out of countenance, by calling morality rotten morality-righteousness ragged righteousness, and even filthy rags—and when you mention virtue, pucker up their noses ; at the same time that they eagerly snuff up an empty 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 ascribed to the angel of the Lord, of that abominably wicked and detestable action of Jael, the wife of Heber, the Kenite."
Extract of a letter from Thomas JEFFERSON, President of the United States, to DR. PRIESTLEY, upon his “ Comparative View of SUCRATES and Jesus.”
WASHINGT N, APRIL 9, 1803. DEAR SIR, While on a short visit lately to Monticello, I received from you a copy of
Comparative View of Socrates and Jesus, and I avail myself of the first moment of leisure after my return to acknowledge the pleasure I had in the perusal, and the desire it excited to see you take up the subject on a more extensive scale.- In consequence of some conversations with Dr. Rush in the years 179899, I had promised some day to write bim a letter, giving him nay view of the Christian system. I have reflected often on it since, and even sketched the outlines in my own mind. I should first take a general view of the moral doctrines of the most nemarkable of the ancient philosophers, of whose ethics we have sufficient information to make an estimate : say, of Pythagoras, Epicurus, Epictetus, Socrates, Cicero, Seneca, Antoninus. I should
do justice to the branches of morality they have treated well, but point out the importance 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 incorrectness of their ideas of the Deity, and of morality, endeavored 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 pbilanthropy, 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 bave 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 forgottert; much misunderstood, and presented in very paradoxical shapes. Yet such are the fragments remaining, as to show a master workran, 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 inan. kind to throw off the wh system in disgust, 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. SIR,
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 his 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 moral precepts in which all religions concur, will never be questioned at the gates of Heaven, as to the dogmas in which they differ; that on entering there, all these are left he 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 follows this steadily, need not, I think, be uneasy, although he cannot comprehend the subtleties and mysteries erected on his doctrines, by those who calling themselves his special followers and favourites, would make him come into the world to lay snares for all understandings but theirs; these metaphysical heads, usurping the judgment seat 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 have been so good as to express, I salute you with friendship and brotherly love.
THOMAS JEFFERSON Monticello, September 17th, 1813.