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The reader must from the foregoing pages be persuaded how unkindly teased and obtrusively tormented were the closing hours of Mr. Paine's life; hours that always should be soothed by tenderness, quietude, and every kind attention, and in which the mind generally loses all its strength and energy, and is as unlike its former self as its poor suffering companion the body.
Infirmity doth still neglect all office,
To a rational man it should seem that a deist, if he be so from principle, and he is as likely to be so as any other religionist, is no more to be expected to renounce his principles on his deathbed or to abandon his belief at that moment, than the Christian, the Jew, the Mahometan, or any other religionist.
It will be seen that Mr. Paine very early, when a mere child, was inspired as it were with the antichristian principles which he held religiously thro life. See page 36/ Age of Reason-'
"From the time I was capable of conceiving "an idea and acting upon it by reflection, I "either doubted the truth of the Christian sys"tem, or thought it to be a strange affair; I "scarcely knew which it was, but I well "remember, when about seven or eight years of "age, hearing a sermon read by a relation of "mine who was a great devotee of the church "upon the subject of what is called "redemp"tion, by the death of the son of God."
"After the sermon was ended I went into "the garden, and as I was going down the "garden-steps (for I perfectly recollect the spot) "I revolted at the recollection of what I had "heard: it was to me a serious reflection arising "from the idea I had, that God was too good to "do such an action, and also too almighty to "be under any necessity of doing it. I believe "in the same manner to this moment: and I "moreover believe that any system of religion "that has any thing in it that shocks the mind of "a child cannot be a true system."
could not but confirm him in the most exalted,
the most divine ideas of a supreme being, and in the purity and sublimity of deism.
A belief of millions of millions of inhabited worlds, millions of millions of miles apart, necessarily leads the mind to the worship of a God infinitely above the one described by those religionists who speak and write of him as they do, and as if only the maker of our earth, and as alone interested in what concerns it. In contemplating the immense works of God, 'the creation' is the only book of revelation in which the deist can believe; and his religion consists in contemplating the power, wisdom, and benignity of him in his glorious works, and endeavouring to imitate him in every thing moral, scientifical and mechanical. It cannot be urged too strongly, so much wrong headedness if not wrong heartedness is there on this subject, that the religion of the deist no more precludes the blessed hope of salvation than the christian or any other religion.
We see thro different mediums, and in our pursuits and experience are unlike. How others have felt after reading maturely the 'Age of Reason,' and the 'Rights of Man,' and pursuing fairly, coolly, and assiduously the subjects therein treated, I leave to them; but for myself I must say, these works carried perfect conviction with them to my mind, and the opinions they contain are fully confirmed by much reading, by long, honest, unwearied investigation and observation.
The best and wisest of human beings both male and female that I have known thro life have been deists, nor did any thing in the shape of their recantation either in life or death ever come to my knowledge, nor can I understand how a real, serious, and long-adopted belief can be recanted.
That Mr. Paine's religious belief had been long established and was with him a deep rooted principle, may be seen by his conduct when imprisoned and extremely ill in the Luxembourg in 1794.*
Mr. Bond, an English surgeon who was confined there at the same time, tho by no
See.' Age of Reason,' part I.
means a friend to Mr. Paine's political or theological doctrines, gave me the following testimony of Mr. Paine's sentiments:
"Mr. Paine, while hourly expecting to die, "read to me parts of his ' Age of Reason;' and "every night when I left him to be separately "locked up, and expected not to see him alive "in the morning, he always expressed his firm 'belief in the principles of that book, and "begged I would tell the world such were his "dying opinions. He often said that if he lived "he should prosecute further that work, and "print it." Mr. Bond's frequent observation when speaking of Mr. Paine was, that he was. the most conscientious man he ever knew.
While upon this subject, it will probably occur to the reader, as well as to the writer, how little belief from inquiry and principle there is in the world; and how much oftener religious profession is adopted from education, form, prudence, fear, and a variety of other motives, than from unprejudiced enquiry, a love truth, of free discussion,, and from entire conviction. Reasoning thus, it may fairly be inferred that men like Mr.