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It appears by Mr. Paine's will that he died worth a considerable property. This will is in the latter part of the appendix.
Before I take leave of my reader I would press upon his mind the necessity of candour ; and if he be a christian I must tell him he will cease
to be so the moment he appeals to coercion and resorts to prosecution and to persecution in matters of belief and opinion: such conduct his own ‘New Testament' is decidedly against. It is better not to believe in a God than to believe unworthily of him, and the less we make him after our image the less we blaspheme him. Let enquiry supercede calumny and censure, and let it be ever remembered that those systems in government or religion which will not bear discussion and investigation are not worth solicitude. Ignorance is the only original sin: spread information and knowledge, and virtue and truth will follow. Read I beg you, reader, Lord Boling broke's 3rd and 4th chapters “concerning authority in matters of religion;" read the “ Letter of Gilbert Wakefield,” who was a violent christian, to Sir John
Scott, then attorney general, about the
about year 1798, from which this is an extract :
“ What right, I wish to be informed, can one man claim, distinct from power and
tyranny, and usurpation, to dictate creeds, " and to prescribe sentiments, for another?
“ Let us put an extreme case upon this question, which will abundantly elucidate, " and indubitably decide the controversy: I
mean the publication of " Paine's Age of “ Reason.'
“ But I would not forcibly suppress this “ book; much less would I punish (0! my “ God! be such wickedness far from me: or “ leave me destitute of thy favour in the “ midst of this perjured and sanguinary gene
ration !) much less would I punish, by fine
or imprisonment, from any possible consi“ deration, the publisher, or author, of those
“ PRUDENTIAL MOTIVES would prevent me; because such interdiction serves only to
“ excite the restless curiosity of mankind; “ and the restraints of law give fresh vigour
“ MOTIVES OF PHILOSOPHY would prevent me: because enquiry and discussion are
hereby provoked; and sparks of truth, which “ would otherwise have been concealed for
ever, are elicited by the collision of debate; “ to the unspeakable emolument and illumi“ nation of mankind, in the promotion of “ mutual forbearance and esteem, in the fur“ therance of valuable knowledge, and in " the consequent propagation of all happiness “ and virtue. Truth can never suffer from
argument and enquiry; but may be essen
tially injured by the tyrannous interference “ of her pretended advocates.
MOTIVES OF JUSTICE would deter me, " Why should I refuse another that privilege of
thinking and writing, which I claim and exercise myself?
“ MOTIVES OF HUMANITY would deter me.
“ I should think with horror on the punish
ment of any man for his belief; in “ which he has no discretionary power, but “ is necessarily swayed by the controlling
despotism of arguments and reasons; and at “ what licence or patent shop shall I purchase
a gag to silence him? Or, what shall hin“ der him from forming the same unfavour« able judgment of my opinions, and pur
suing in his turn the same measures of “ intimidation and coercion with myself?
“ Thus the fair and goodly creation of " the Almighty is to be converted into a
howling wilderness of savage beasts, alter“ nately hunting and worrying each other.
“ Lastly, MOTIVES RELIGION would “ deter me from molesting any writer for the “ publication of his sentiments."
Oppose argument to argument, reason to reason, opinion to opinion, book to book, truth must prevail; and that which is of divine origin will bring itself thro. Set not attorney generals and human laws at work, nor pay any religion which boasts an heavenly origin so bad a compliment, or libel its founders, by endeavouring to support it by such infamous means. Suffer me, while on this subject, to re-publish the following
MONSERRAT E in SPAIN,
With solemn step, this awful pile I tread,
Nor with indignant eye around me gaze ;
The bloody cross, and ever burning blaze.
No idle prejudice my soul conceives,
Nor horrid bigotry my bosom feels;
Nor care before what saint the good man krieels.