Inspiration and Wisdom
from the Writings of
by Joseph Lewis
Any person who has made observations on the state and progress of the human mind by observing his own cannot but have observed that there are two distinct classes of what are called thoughts -- those that we produce in ourselves by reflection and the act of thinking, and those that bolt into the mind of their own accord. I have always made it a rule to treat these voluntary visitors with civility, taking care to examine, as well as I was able, if they were worth entertaining, and it is from them I have acquired almost all the knowledge that I have. As to the learning that any person gains from school education, it serves only, like a small capital, to put him in a way of beginning learning for himself afterward.
Every person of learning is finally his own teacher, the reason of which is that principles, being a distinct quality to circumstances, cannot be impressed upon the memory; their place of mental residence is the understanding and they are never so lasting as when they begin by conception.
From the time I was capable of conceiving an idea and acting upon it by reflection, I either doubted the truth of the Christian system 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 redemption 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, and thought to myself that it was making God Almighty act like a passionate man who killed His son when He could not revenge Himself in any other way, and, as I was sure a man would be hanged who did such a thing, I could not see for what purpose they preached such sermons.
This was not one of that kind of thoughts that had anything in it of childish levity; 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 at this moment; and I moreover believe that any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child cannot be a true system.
It is in vain that we attempt to impose upon nature, for nature will have her course, and the religion that tortures all her social ties is a false religion.
This tale of the sun standing still upon mount Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, is one of those fables that detects itself. Such a circumstance could not have happened without being known all over the world. One half would have wondered why the sun did not rise, and the other why it did not set; and the tradition of it would be universal, whereas there is not a nation in the world that knows anything about it.
Mystery is the antagonist of truth. It is a fog of human invention, that obscures truth, and represents it in distortion. Truth never envelops itself in mystery, and the mystery in which it is at any time enveloped is the work of its antagonist, and never of itself.
Man does not learn religion as he learns the secrets and mysteries of a trade. He learns the theory of religion by reflection. It arises out of the action of his own mind upon the things which he sees, or upon what he may happen to hear or to read, and the practice joins itself thereto.
As mystery answered all general purposes, miracle followed as an occasional auxiliary.
In the same sense that everything may be said to be a mystery, so also may it be said that everything is a miracle, and that no one thing is a greater miracle than another. The elephant, though larger, is not a greater miracle than a mite, nor a mountain a greater miracle than an atom.
Everything, therefore, is a miracle in one sense, while in the other sense there is no such thing as a miracle. It is a miracle when compared to our power and to our comprehension, it is not a miracle compared to the power that performs it; but as nothing in this description conveys the idea that is affixed to the word miracle, it is necessary to carry the inquiry further.
Mankind have conceived to themselves certain laws by which what they call nature is supposed to act; and that a miracle is something contrary to the operation and effect of those laws; but unless we know the whole extent of those laws, and of what are commonly called the powers of nature, we are not able to judge whether anything that may appear to us wonderful or miraculous be within, or be beyond, or be contrary to, her natural power of acting.
The ascension of man several miles high in the air would have everything in it that constitutes the idea of a miracle if it were not known that a species of air can be generated several times lighter than the common atmospheric air and yet possess elasticity enough to prevent the balloon in which that light air is inclosed from being compressed into as many times less bulk by the common air that surrounds it.
In like manner, extracting flashes or sparks of fire from the human body, as visibly as from a steel struck with a flint, and causing iron or steel to move without any visible agent, would also give the idea of a miracle if we were not acquainted with electricity and magnetism. So also would many other experiments in natural philosophy, to those who are not acquainted with the subject.
The restoring of persons to life who are to appearance dead, as is practiced upon drowned persons, would also be a miracle if it were not known that animation is capable of being suspended without being extinct.
We have never seen, in our time, nature go out of her course; but we have good reason to believe that millions of lies have been told in the same time; it is, therefore, at least millions to one that the reporter of a miracle tells a lie.
The most extraordinary of all the things called miracles, related in the New Testament, is that of the devil flying away with Jesus Christ, and carrying him to the top of a high mountain, and to the top of the highest pinnacle of the temple, and showing him and promising to him all the kingdoms of the World. How happened it that he did not discover America, or is it only with kingdoms that his sooty highness has any interest?
False testimony is always good against itself.
The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related that it is difficult to class them separately. One step above the sublime makes the ridiculous, and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again.
Those who knew Benjamin Franklin will recollect that his mind was ever young, his temper ever serene; science, that never grows gray, was always his mistress. He was never without an object, for when we cease to have an object, we become like an invalid in a hospital waiting for death.
But it is with prophecy as it is with miracle; it could not answer the purpose even if it were real. Those to whom a prophecy should be told, could not tell whether the man prophesied or lied, or whether it had been revealed to him, or whether he conceited it; and if the thing that he prophesied, or intended to prophesy, should happen, or something like it, among the multitude of things that are daily happening, nobody could again know whether he foreknew it, or guessed at it, or whether it was accidental.
A prophet, therefore, is a character useless and unnecessary; and the safe side of the case is to guard against being imposed upon by not giving credit to such relations.
The Bible is a history of the times of which it speaks, and history is not revelation.
Statues of marble or brass will perish; and statues made in imitation of them are not the same statues, nor the same workmanship, any more than the copy of a picture is the same picture. But print and reprint a thought a thousand times over, and that with materials of any kind -- carve it into wood or engrave it in stone, the thought is eternally and identically the same thought in every case. It has a capacity of unimpaired existence, unaffected by change of matter, and is essentially distinct and of a nature different from everything else that we know or can conceive.
It has often been said, that anything may be proved from the Bible, but before anything can be admitted as proved by the Bible, the Bible itself must be proved to be true; for if the Bible be not true, or the truth of it be doubtful, it ceases to have authority, and cannot be admitted as proof of anything.
It is not the antiquity of a tale that is any evidence of its truth; on the contrary, it is a symptom of its being fabulous; for the more ancient any history pretends to be the more it has the resemblance of a fable.
I will show wherein the Bible differs from all other ancient writings with respect to the nature of the evidence necessary to establish its authenticity; and this is the more proper to be done, because the advocates of the Bible, ... undertake to say, and they put some stress thereon, that the authenticity of the Bible is as well established as that of any other ancient book; as if our belief of the one could become any rule for our belief of the other.
I know, however, but of one ancient book that authoritatively challenges universal consent and belief, and that is Euclid's "Elements of Geometry" and the reason is, because it is a book of self-evident demonstration, entirely independent of its author, and of everything relating to time, place and circumstance. The matters contained in that book would have the same authority they now have, had they been written by any other person, or had the work been anonymous, or had the author never been known; for the identical certainty of who was the author makes no part of our belief of the matters contained in the book.
But it is quite otherwise with respect to the books ascribed to Moses, to Joshua, to Samuel, etc.; those are books of testimony, and they testify of things naturally incredible; and, therefore, the whole of our belief as to the authenticity of those books rests, in the first place, upon the certainty that they were written by Moses, Joshua and Samuel; secondly, upon the credit we give to their testimony.
We may believe the first, that is, we may believe the certainty of the authorship, and yet not the testimony; in the same manner that we may believe that a certain person gave evidence upon a case and yet not believe the evidence that he gave.
Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the Word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies.
Priests and conjurors are of the same trade.
If the story of Jesus Christ be fabulous, all reasoning founded upon it as a supposed truth must fall with it.
I have now gone through all the books in the first part of the Bible to which the names of persons are affixed, as being the authors of those books, and which the Church, styling itself the Christian Church, has imposed upon the world as the writings of Moses, Joshua and Samuel, and I have detected and proved the falsehood of this imposition.
And now, ye priests of every description, who have preached and written against the former of "The Age of Reason," what have ye to say? Will ye, with all this mass of evidence against you, and staring you in the face, still have the assurance to march into your pulpits and continue to impose these books on your congregations as the works of inspired penmen, and the Word of God, when it is as evident as demonstration can make truth appear that the persons who ye say are the authors are not the authors, and that ye know not who the authors are?
What shadow of pretense have ye now to produce for continuing the blasphemous fraud?
Could we permit ourselves to suppose that the Almighty would distinguish any nation of people by the name of His chosen people, we must suppose that people to have been an example to all the rest of the world of the purest piety and humanity, and not such a nation of ruffians and cut-throats as the ancient Jews were; a people who, corrupted by and copying after such monsters and imposters as Moses and Aaron, Joshua, Samuel and David, had distinguished themselves above all others on the face of the known earth for barbarity and wickedness.
If we will not stubbornly shut our eyes and steel our hearts, it is impossible not to see, in spite of all that long-established superstition imposes upon the mind, that the flattering appellation of His chosen people is no other than a lie which the priests and leaders of the Jews had invented to cover the baseness of their own characters, and which Christian priests, sometimes as corrupt and often as cruel, have professed to believe.
Sometimes Paul affects to be a naturalist and to prove his system of resurrection from the principles of vegetation. "Thou fool [says he], that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die." To which one might reply in his own language and say, "Thou fool, Paul, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die not; for the grain that dies in the ground never does, and cannot vegetate. It is only the living grains that produce the next crop." But the metaphor, in any point of view, is no simile. It is succession, and not resurrection.
The progress of an animal from one state of being to another, as from a worm to a butterfly, applies to the case; but this of the grain does not, and shows Paul to have been what he says of others, a fool.
Nothing can present to us a more strange idea than that of decreeing the word of God by vote.
It is impossible to derive happiness from the company of those whom we deprive of happiness.
To be happy in old age, it is necessary that we accustom ourselves to objects that can accompany the mind all the way through life, and that we take the rest as good in their day. The mere man of pleasure is miserable in old age, and the mere drudge in business is but little better; whereas, natural philosophy, mathematical and mechanical science are a continual source of tranquil pleasure, and in spite of the gloomy dogmas of priests and of superstition, the study of those things is the study of the true theology.
The evidence I have produced to prove the Old Testament and the New forgeries is extracted from the books themselves, and acts, like a two-edged sword, either way. If the evidence be denied, the authenticity of the scriptures is denied with it, for it is scripture evidence; and if the evidence be admitted, the authenticity of the books is disproved.
Loving of enemies is another dogma of feigned morality, and has besides no meaning. It is incumbent on man, as a moralist, that he does not revenge an injury; and it is equally as good in a political sense, for there is no end to retaliation, each retaliates on the other, and calls it justice; but to love in proportion to the injury, if it could be done, would be to offer a premium for crime.
When we see the studied craft of the Scripture-makers, in making every part of this romantic book of schoolboy's eloquence bend to the monstrous idea of a Son of God begotten by a ghost on the body of a virgin, there is no imposition we are not justified in suspecting them of. Every phrase and circumstance is marked with the barbarous hand of superstitious torture, and forced into meanings it was impossible they could have. The head of every chapter and the top of every page are blazoned with the names of Christ and the Church, that the unwary reader might suck in the error before he began to read.
"Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son," Isaiah, chap. vii, ver. 14, has been interpreted to mean the person called Jesus Christ, and his mother Mary, and has been echoed through Christendom for more than a thousand years; and such has been the rage of this opinion that scarcely a spot in it but has been stained with blood, and marked with desolation in consequence of it. Though it is not my intention to enter into controversy on subjects of this kind, but to confine myself to show that the Bible is spurious, and thus, by taking away the foundation, to overthrow at once the whole structure of superstition raised thereon, I will, however, stop a moment to expose the fallacious application of this passage.
Whether Isaiah was playing a trick with Ahaz, king of Judah, to whom this passage is spoken, is no business of mine; I mean only to show the misapplication of the passage, and that it has no more reference to Christ and his mother than it has to me and my mother.
The story is simply this: The king of Syria and the king of Israel (I have already mentioned that the Jews were split into two nations, one of which was called Judah, the capital of which was Jerusalem, and the other Israel), made war jointly against Ahaz, king of Judah, and marched their armies toward Jerusalem. Ahaz and his people became alarmed, and the account says, ver. 2, "And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind."
In this situation of things, Isaiah addresses himself to Ahaz, and assures him in the name of the Lord (the cant phrase of all the prophets) that these two kings should not succeed against him; and to satisfy Ahaz that this should be the case, tells him to ask a sign. This, the account says, Ahaz declined doing, giving as reason that he would not tempt the Lord; upon which Isaiah, who is the speaker, says, ver. 14, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign, Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son"; and the 16th verse says, "For before this child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest [or dreadest, meaning Syria and the kingdom of Israel], shall be forsaken of both her kings." Here then was the sign, and the time limited for the completion of the assurance or promise, namely, before this child should know to refuse the evil and choose the good.
Isaiah having committed himself thus far, it became necessary to him, in order to avoid the imputation of being a false prophet and the consequence thereof, to take measures to make this sign appear. It certainly was not a difficult thing, in any time of the world, to find a girl with child, or to make her so, and perhaps Isaiah knew of one beforehand; for I do not suppose that the prophets of that day were any more to be trusted than the priests of this. Be that, however, as it may, he says in the next chapter, ver. 2, "And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah, and I went unto the prophetess, and she conceived and bare a son."
Here, then, is the whole story, foolish as it is, of this child and this virgin; and it is upon the barefaced perversion of this story, that the book of Matthew, and the impudence and sordid interests of priests in later times, have founded a theory which they call the Gospel; and have applied this story to signify the person they call Jesus Christ, begotten, they say, by a ghost, whom they call holy, on the body of a woman, engaged in marriage, and afterward married, whom they call a virgin, 700 years after this foolish story was told; a theory which, speaking for myself, I hesitate not to disbelieve, ...
But to show the imposition and falsehood of Isaiah, we have only to attend to the sequel of this story, which, though it is passed over in silence in the book of Isaiah, is related in the 28th chapter of the second Chronicles, and which is, that instead of these two kings failing in their attempt against Ahaz, king of Judah, as Isaiah had pretended to foretell in the name of the Lord, they succeeded; Ahaz was defeated and destroyed, a hundred and twenty thousand of his people were slaughtered, Jerusalem was plundered, and two hundred thousand women, and sons and daughters, carried into captivity. Thus much for this lying prophet and imposter, Isaiah, and the book of falsehoods that bears his name.
It is not the existence, or non-existence, of the persons that I trouble myself about; it is the fable of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament, and the wild and visionary doctrine raised thereon, against which I contend. The story, taking it as it is told, is blasphemously obscene.
Were any girl that is now with child to say, and even to swear it, that she was gotten with child by a ghost, and that an angel told her so, would she be believed? Certainly she would not. Why, then, are we to believe the same thing of another girl, whom we never saw, told by nobody knows who, nor when, nor where? How strange and inconsistent it is, that the same circumstance that would weaken the belief even of a probable story should be given as a motive for believing this one, that has upon the face of it every token of absolute impossibility and imposture!
I have spoken of Jonah, and of the story of him and the whale. A fit story for ridicule, if it was written to be believed; or of laughter, if it was intended to try what credulity could swallow; for if it could swallow Jonah and the whale, it could swallow anything.
For as certainly as a man predicts ill, he becomes inclined to wish it. The pride of having his judgment right hardens his heart, till at last he beholds with satisfaction, or sees with disappointment, the accomplishment or the failure of his predictions.
What is it the Bible teaches us? -- rapine, cruelty, and murder. What is it the Testament teaches us? -- to believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married, and the belief of this debauchery is called faith.
Those who preach this doctrine of loving their enemies are in general the greatest persecutors, and they act consistently by so doing; for the doctrine is hypocritical, and it is natural that hypocrisy should act the reverse of what it preaches.
As for morality, the knowledge of it exists in every man's conscience.
It is not our belief or our disbelief that can make or unmake the fact.
The history of Jesus Christ is contained in the four books ascribed to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The first chapter of Matthew begins with giving a genealogy of Jesus Christ; and in the third chapter of Luke there is also given a genealogy of Jesus Christ. Did those two agree, it would not prove the genealogy to be true, because it might, nevertheless, be a fabrication; but as they contradict each other in every particular, it proves falsehood absolutely.
If Matthew speaks truth, Luke speaks falsehood, and if Luke speaks truth, Matthew speaks falsehood; and as there is no authority for believing one more than the other, there is no authority for believing either; and if they cannot be believed even in the very first thing they say and set out to prove, they are not entitled to be believed in anything they say afterward.
Obscenity in matters of faith, however wrapped up, is always a token of fable and imposture.
Credulity, however, is not a crime, but it becomes criminal by resisting conviction. It is strangling in the womb of the conscience the efforts it makes to ascertain truth. We should never force belief upon ourselves in anything.
The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion.
Were a man to tender his evidence of something that he should say was done, and of the manner of doing it, and of the persons who did it, while he was asleep, and could know nothing of the matter, such evidence could not be received; it will do well enough for Testament evidence, but not for anything where truth is concerned.
The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion. Not any thing can be studied as a science, without our being in possession of the principles upon which it is founded; and as this is not the case with Christian theology, it is therefore the study of nothing.
Great objects inspire great thoughts; great munificence excites great gratitude; but the groveling tales and doctrines of the Bible and the Testament are fit only to excite contempt.
The eye accustomed to darkness can hardly bear at first the broad daylight. It is by usage the eye learns to see, and it is the same in passing from any situation to its opposite.
As we have not at one instant renounced all our errors, we cannot at one stroke acquire knowledge of all our rights.
Those who are not much acquainted with ecclesiastical history may suppose that the book called the New Testament has existed ever since the time of Jesus Christ, as they suppose that the books ascribed to Moses have existed ever since the time of Moses. But the fact is historically otherwise. There was no such book as the New Testament till more than three hundred years after the time that Christ is said to have lived.
When we consider the lapse of more than three hundred years intervening between the time that Christ is said to have lived and the time the New Testament was formed into a book, we must see, even without the assistance of historical evidence, the exceeding uncertainty there is of its authenticity.
Of all the tyrannies that afflict mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst. Every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in, but this attempts a stride beyond the grave and seeks to pursue us into eternity.
Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles; he can only discover them.
The first object for inquiry in all cases, more especially in matters of religious concern, is truth. We ought to inquire into the truth of whatever we are taught to believe.
The French Revolution has excommunicated the Church from the power of working miracles; she has not been able, with the assistance of all her saints, to work one miracle since the Revolution began; and as she never stood in greater need than now, we may, without the aid of divination, conclude that all her former miracles were tricks and lies.
Nothing, they say, is more certain than death, and nothing more uncertain than the time of dying; yet we can always fix a period beyond which man cannot live, and within some moment of which he will die. We are enabled to do this, not by any spirit of prophecy or foresight into the event, but by observation of what has happened in all cases of human or animal existence.
We talk of religion. Let us talk of truth; for that which is not truth is not worthy of the name of religion.
It is a want of feeling to talk of priests and bells while so many infants are perishing in the hospitals, and aged and infirm poor in the streets, from the want of necessaries.
Nothing is so easy as to deceive one's self.
It is cheaper to corrupt than to conquer.
Arrogance and meanness, though in appearance opposite, are vices of the same heart.
Who can say by what exceedingly fine action of fine matter it is that a thought is produced in what we call the mind? And yet that thought when produced, as I now produce the thought I am writing, is capable of becoming immortal, and is the only production of man that has that capacity.
As to bells, they are a public nuisance. If one profession is to have bells, and another has the right to use the instruments of the same kind, or any other noisy instrument, some may choose to meet at the sound of cannon, another at the beat of drum, another at the sound of trumpets, and so on, until the whole becomes a scene of general confusion. But if we permit ourselves to think of the state of the sick, and the many sleepless nights and days they undergo, we shall feel the impropriety of increasing their distress by the noise of bells, or any other noisy instruments.
It is applicable to the purpose to observe that the picturesque work, called Mosaic-work; spelled the same as you would say the Mosaic account of the Creation, is not derived from the word Moses but from Muses (the Muses), because of the variegated and picturesque pavement in the temple dedicated to the Muses. This carries a strong implication that the name Moses is drawn from the same source, and that he is not a real but an allegorical person, as Maimonides describes what is called the Mosaic account of the Creation to be.
The same principles by which we measure an inch, or an acre of ground, will measure to millions in extent. A circle of an inch diameter has the same geometrical properties as a circle that would circumscribe the universe.
The same properties of a triangle that will demonstrate upon paper the course of a ship, will do it on the ocean; and when applied to what are called the heavenly bodies, will ascertain to a minute the time of an eclipse, though these bodies are millions of miles from us. This knowledge is of divine origin, and it is from the Bible of the Creation that man has learned it, and not from the stupid Bible of the Church, that teacheth man nothing.
They might as well talk of the Lord's month, of the Lord's week, of the Lord's hour, as of the Lord's day. No part of it is more holy or more sacred than another. It is, however, necessary to the trade of a priest that he should preach up a distinction of days.
Nothing is more easy than to find abusive words.
One doubtful thing cannot be admitted as proof that another doubtful thing is true.
All the tales of miracles, with which the Old and New Testament are filled, are fit only for imposters to preach and fools to believe.
Blasphemy is a word of vast sound, but of equivocal and almost of indefinite signification.
Socrates, who lived more than four hundred years before the Christian era, was convicted of blasphemy for preaching against the belief of a plurality of gods, and for preaching the belief of one god, and was condemned to suffer death by poison.
Calling mahomet an imposter would be blasphemy in Turkey; and denying the infallibility of the Pope and the Church would be blasphemy at Rome. What then is to be understood by this word blasphemy? We see that in the case of Socrates truth was condemned as blasphemy. Are we sure that truth is not blasphemy in the present day? Woe however be to those who make it so, whoever they may be.
In all cases the prior fact must be proved before the subsequent facts can be admitted in evidence. In a prosecution for adultery, the fact of marriage, which is the prior fact, must be proved, before the facts to prove adultery can be received. If the fact of marriage cannot be proved, adultery cannot be proved; and if the prosecution cannot prove the Bible to be the Word of God, the charge of blasphemy is visionary and groundless.
If the Bible be the Word of God it needs not the wretched aid of prosecutions to support
The Bible is a book that has been read more, and examined less, than any book that ever existed.
Since religion has been made into a trade, the practical part has been made to consist of ceremonies performed by men called priests; and the people have been amused with ceremonial shows, processions and bells.
By devices of this kind true religion has been banished; and such means have been found out to extract money even from the pockets of the poor, instead of contributing to their relief.
No man ought to make a living by religion. It is dishonest so to do.
Religion is not an act that can be performed by proxy. One person cannot act religion for another. Every person must perform it for himself; and all that a priest can do is to take from him; he wants nothing but his money and then to riot in the spoil and laugh at his credulity.
Jesus never speaks of Adam himself, of the Garden of Eden, nor of what is called the fall of man.
As priestcraft was always the enemy of knowledge, because priestcraft supports itself by keeping people in delusion and ignorance, it was consistent with its policy to make the acquisition of knowledge a real sin.
Reason is the forbidden tree of priestcraft.
But there are times when men have serious thoughts, and it is at such times, when they begin to think, that they begin to doubt the truth of the Christian religion.
Instead, therefore, of consuming the substance of the nation upon priests, whose life at best is a life of idleness, let us think of providing for the education of those who have not the means of doing it themselves.
One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.
If we look back at what was the condition of France under the ancien régime, we cannot acquit the priests of corrupting the morals of the nation. Their pretended celibacy led them to carry debauchery and domestic infidelity into every family where they could gain admission; and their blasphemous pretensions to forgive sins encouraged the commission of them. Why has the Revolution of France been stained with crimes, which the Revolution of the United States of America was not? Men are physically the same in all countries; it is education that makes them different.
Accustom a people to believe that priests or any other class of men can forgive sins, and you will have sins in abundance.
He may believe that Jesus was crucified, because many others were crucified, but who is to prove he was crucified for the sins of the world?
Priests, we know, are not remarkable for doing anything gratis; they have in general some scheme in everything they do, either to impose on the ignorant, or derange the operations of government.
"O my colleagues! we are arrived at a glorious period -- a period that promises more than we could have expected, and all that we could have wished. Let us hasten to take into consideration the honors and rewards due to our brave defenders. Let us hasten to give encouragement to agriculture and manufactures, that commerce may reinstate itself, and our people have employment. Let us review the condition of the suffering poor, and wipe from our country the reproach of forgetting them.
"Let us devise means to establish schools of instruction, that we may banish the ignorance that the ancien régime of kings and priests had spread among the people. Let us propagate morality, unfettered by superstition. Let us cultivate justice and benevolence, that the God of our fathers may bless us. The helpless infant and the aged poor cry to us to remember them. Let not wretchedness be seen in our streets. Let France exhibit to the world the glorious example of expelling ignorance and misery together.
"Let these, my virtuous colleagues, be the subject of our care that, when we return among our fellow-citizens they may say, Worthy representatives! you have done well. You have done justice and honor to our brave defenders. You have encouraged agriculture, cherished our decayed manufactures, given new life to commerce, and employment to our people.
"You have removed from our country the reproach of forgetting the poor -- You have caused the cry of the orphan to cease -- You have wiped the tear from the eye of the suffering mother -- You have given comfort to the aged and infirm -- You have penetrated into the gloomy recesses of wretchedness, and have banished it.
"Welcome among us, ye brave and virtuous representatives, and may your example be followed by your successors!"
It is the duty of man to obtain all the knowledge he can, and then make the best use of it.
It is no wonder the Christian religion has been so bloody in its effects, for it began in blood, and many thousands of human sacrifices have since been offered on the altar of the Christian religion.
The Calvinist, who damns children of a span long to hell to burn forever for the glory of God (and this is called Christianity), and the Universalist who preaches that all shall be saved and none shall be damned (and this also is called Christianity), boast alike of their holy religion and their Christian faith.
It is not our calling a book holy that makes it so, any more than our calling a religion holy that entitles it to the name.
Ecclesiastical tyranny is not admissible in the United States.
When we see a certain mode of reckoning general among nations totally unconnected, differing from each other in religion and in government, and some of them unknown to each other, we may be certain that it arises from some natural and common cause, prevailing alike over all, and which strikes everyone in the same manner.
Thus all nations have reckoned arithmetically by tens, because the people of all nations have ten fingers. If they had more or less than ten, the mode of arithmetical reckoning would have followed that number, for the fingers are a natural numeration table to all the world. I now come to show why the period of seven days is so generally adopted.
Though the sun is the great luminary of the world, and the animating cause of all the fruits of the earth, the moon by renewing herself more than twelve times oftener than the sun, which does it but once a year, served the rustic world as a natural almanac, as the fingers served it for a numeration table.
All the world could see the moon, her changes, and her monthly revolutions; and their mode of reckoning time was accommodated, as nearly as could possibly be done in round numbers, to agree with the changes of that planet, their natural almanac. The moon performs her natural revolution round the earth in twenty-nine days and a half. She goes from a new moon to a half moon, to a full moon, to a half moon gibbous or convex, and then to a new moon again.
Each of these changes is performed in seven days and nine hours; but seven days is the nearest division in round numbers that could be taken; and this was sufficient to suggest the universal custom of reckoning by periods of seven days, since it is impossible to reckon time without some stated period.
On what slender cobweb evidence do the priests and professors of the Christian religion hang their faith? The same degree of hearsay evidence, and that at third and fourth hand, would not, in a court of justice, give a man title to a cottage, and yet the priests of this profession presumptuously promise their deluded followers the Kingdom of Heaven.
It sometimes happens, as well in writing as in conversation, that a person lets slip an expression that serves to unravel what he intends to conceal.
In the chapter on the origin of the Christian religion I have shown that the cosmogony, that is, the account of the Creation with which the book of Genesis opens, has been taken and mutilated from the Zend-Avesta of Zoroaster, and was fixed as a preface to the Bible after the Jews returned from captivity in Babylon, and that the rabbins of the Jews do not hold their account in Genesis to be a fact, but mere allegory. The six thousand years in the Zend-Avesta, is changed or interpolated into six days in the account of Genesis.
Imposters always work in this manner. They put fables for originals, and causes for effects.
There is scarcely any part of science, or anything in nature, which those imposters and blasphemers of science, called priests, as well Christians as Jews, have not, at some time or other, perverted, or sought to pervert to the purpose of superstition and falsehood.
Everything wonderful in appearance has been ascribed to angels, to devils, or to saints. Everything ancient has some legendary tale annexed to it. The common operations of nature have not escaped their practice of corrupting everything.
Customs will often outlive the remembrance of their origin.
With respect to the brain, no ocular observation can be made upon it. All is mystery; all is darkness in that womb of thought.
If there is any faculty in mental man that never sleeps it is that volatile thing the imagination. The case is different with the judgment and memory. The sedate and sober constitution of the judgment easily disposes it to rest; and as to the memory, it records in silence and is active only when it is called upon.
He knows not the cause of his own wit. His own brain conceals it from him.
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 apostles could not do this. They had not the means, and the want of means detects the pretended mission.
But the art of printing ... 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 everywhere and at the same instant; for wherever he is read he is mentally there.
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.
Yet this is trash that the Church imposes upon the world as the Word of God; this is the collection of lies and contradictions called the Holy Bible! this is the rubbish called Revealed Religion!
Is man ever to be the dupe of priestcraft, the slave of superstition?
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 these observations against this pretended Word of God, this manufactured book called Revealed Religion.... 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. That book says (Genesis i. 27), "So God created 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 book called the Word of God, tried by the same universal rule ... , proves itself to be a forgery.
One would think that a system loaded with such gross and vulgar absurdities as Scripture religion is could never have obtained credit; yet we have seen what priestcraft and fanaticism could do, and credulity believe.
Is it a fact that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, and how is it proved? If a God, he could not die, and as a man he could not redeem.
Priests should first prove facts, and deduce doctrines from them afterwards. But instead of this they assume everything and prove nothing.
The story of the redemption will not stand examination. That man should redeem himself from the sin of eating an apple by committing a murder on Jesus Christ, is the strangest system of religion ever set up.
The Christian system of religion is an outrage on common sense.
The belief of a god begotten and a god crucified, is a god blasphemed. It is making a profane use of reason.
It is the duty of every man, as far as his ability extends, to detect and expose delusion and error. But nature has not given to everyone a talent for the purpose; and among those to whom such a talent is given there is often a want of disposition or of courage to do it.
The prejudice of unfounded belief, often degenerates into the prejudice of custom, and becomes at last rank hypocrisy.
We admire the wisdom of the ancients, yet they had no Bibles nor books called "revelation." They cultivated reason and arose to eminence.
As for myself, as I believe ... not at all in Jesus Christ, nor in the books called the Scriptures.... I feel religiously happy in the total disbelief of it.
The prophecy-mongers were so inspired with falsehood, that they never speak truth.
There is no history written at the time Jesus Christ is said to have lived that speaks of the existence of such a person, even as a man.
No falsehood is so fatal as that which is made an article of faith.
They tell us that Jesus rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. It is very easy to say so; a great lie is as easily told as a little one.
It is necessary to be bold. Some people can be reasoned into sense, and others must be shocked into it. Say a bold thing that will stagger them, and they will begin to think.
Even error has a claim to indulgence, if not respect, when it is believed to be truth.
He may believe that such a person as is called Jesus (for Christ was not his name) was born and grew to be a man, because it is no more than a natural and probable case. But who is to prove he is the son of God, that he was begotten by the Holy Ghost?
If I do not believe as you believe, it proves that you do not believe as I believe, and this is all that it proves.
It is more generous to be wrong on the side of confidence than on the side of suspicion.
The Christian religion begins with a dream and ends with a murder.
The fable of Christ and his twelve apostles, which is a parody on the sun and the twelve signs of the zodiac, copied from the ancient religions of the eastern world, is the least hurtful part. Everything told of Christ has reference to the sun. His reported resurrection is at sunrise, and that on the first day of the week; that is, on the day anciently dedicated to the sun, and from thence called Sunday.
Had the Christian religion done any good in the world I would not have exposed it, however fabulous I might believe it to be. But the delusive idea of having a friend at court whom they call a redeemer, who pays all their scores, is an encouragement to wickedness.
The Jewish religion, according to the history of it, began in a wilderness, and the Christian religion in a stable. The Jewish books tell us of wonders exhibited upon Mount Sinai. It happened that nobody lived there to contradict the account.
The Christian books tell us of a star that hung over the stable at the birth of Jesus. There is no star there now, nor any person living that saw it.
Those who fled from persecution persecuted in their turn, and it is this confusion of creeds that has filled the world with persecution and deluged it with blood.
Cultivation is at least one of the greatest natural improvements ever made by human invention.
There are some cases so singularly reasonable, that the more they are considered, the more weight they obtain.
The most effectual method to keep men honest is to enable them to live so. The tenderness of conscience is too often overmatched by the sharpness of want; and principle, like chastity, yields with just reluctance enough to excuse itself.
There are habits of thinking peculiar to different conditions, and to find them out is truly to study mankind.
The Church was resolved to have a New Testament, and as, after the lapse of more than three hundred years, no handwriting could be proved or disproved, the Church, which like former impostors had then gotten possession of the State, had everything its own way. It invented creeds, such as that called the Apostle's Creed, the Nicean Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and out of the loads of rubbish that were presented it voted four to be Gospels, and others to be Epistles, as we now find them arranged.
A very little degree of that dangerous kind of philosophy, which is the almost certain effect of involuntary poverty, will teach men to believe that to starve is more criminal than to steal.
The bread of deceit is a bread of bitterness; but alas! how few in times of want and hardship are capable of thinking so: objects appear under new colors and in shapes not naturally their own; hunger sucks in the deception and necessity reconciles it to conscience.
Poverty and obligation tie up the hands of office and give a prejudicial bias to the mind.
There is a striking difference between dishonesty arising from want of food, and want of principle. The first is worthy of compassion, the other of punishment.
We often hear of a gang of thieves plotting to rob and murder a man, and laying a plan to entice him out that they may execute their design, and we always feel shocked at the wickedness of such wretches; but what must we think of a book that describes the Almighty acting in the same manner, and laying plans in heaven to entrap and ruin mankind? Our ideas of His justice and goodness forbid us to believe such stories, and therefore we say that a lying spirit has been in the mouth of the writers of the books of the Bible.
Poverty, in defiance of principle, begets a degree of meanness that will stoop to almost anything. A thousand refinements of argument may be brought to prove that the practice of honesty will be still the same, in the most trying and necessitous circumstances. He who never was an hungered may argue finely on the subjection of his appetite; and he who never was distressed, may harangue as beautifully on the power of principle. But poverty, like grief, has an incurable deafness, which never hears; the oration loses all its edge; and "To be, or not to be" becomes the only question.
A known thief may be trusted to gather stones; but a steward ought to be proof against the temptations of uncounted gold.
Punishment loses all its force where men expect and disregard it.
The natural source of secrecy is fear. When any new religion over-runs a former religion, the professors of the new become the persecutors of the old. We see this in all instances that history brings before us.
When the Christian religion over-ran the Jewish religion, the Jews were the continual subject of persecution in all Christian countries. When the Protestant religion in England over-ran the Roman Catholic religion, it was made death for a Catholic priest to be found in England.
Eloquence may strike the ear, but the language of poverty strikes the heart; the first may charm like music, but the second alarms like a knell.
No laws compel like nature -- no connections bind like blood.
Innovations are dangerous only as they shake the prejudices of a people.
This is my creed of politics. If I have any where expressed myself overwarmly, 'tis from a fixed, immovable hatred I have, and ever had, to cruel men and cruel measures.
Were a man to be totally deprived of memory, he would be incapable of forming any just opinion.
The three great faculties of the mind are imagination, judgment and memory. Every action of the mind comes under one or the other of these faculties.
The mind of a living public is quickly alarmed and easily tormented. It not only suffers by the stroke, but is frequently fretted by the cure, and ought therefore to be tenderly dealt with, and never ought to be trifled with. It feels first and reasons afterwards. Its jealousy keeps vibrating between the accused and the accuser, and on a failure of proof always fixes on the latter.
It is the business of a foreign minister to learn other men's secrets and keep his own.
Length of time is no guarantee when arms are to decide the fate of a nation.
Characters are tender and valuable things; they are more than life to a man of sensibility, and are not to be made the sport of interest, or the sacrifice of incendiary malice.
The principle of not investing too many honors in any one family is a very good one, and ought always to have its weight; but it is barbarous and cruel to attempt to make a crime of that which is a credit.
The most curious circumstance of the mind in a state of dream is the power it has to become the agent of every person, character and thing of which it dreams. It carries on conversation with several, asks questions, hears answers, gives and receives information, and it acts all these parts itself.
Yet however various and eccentric the imagination may be in the creating of images and ideas, it cannot supply the place of memory with respect to things that are forgotten when we are awake. For example, if we have forgotten the name of a person, and dream of seeing him and asking him his name, he cannot tell it; for it is ourselves asking ourselves the question.
But though the imagination cannot supply the place of real memory, it has the wild faculty of counterfeiting memory. It dreams of persons it never knew, and talks to them as if it remembered them as old acquaintance. It relates circumstances that never happened, and tells them as if they had happened. It goes to places that never existed, and knows where all the streets and houses are, as if we had been there before. The scenes it creates are often as scenes remembered. It will sometimes act a dream within a dream, and, in the delusion of dreaming, tell a dream it never dreamed, and tell it as if it was from memory.
... the imagination in a dream has no idea of time, as time. It counts only by circumstances; and if a succession of circumstances pass in a dream that would require a great length of time to accomplish them, it will appear to the dreamer that a length of time equal thereto has passed also.
As this is the state of the mind in a dream, it may rationally be said that every person is mad once in twenty-four hours, for were he to act in the day as he dreams in the night, he would be confined for a lunatic. In a state of wakefulness, those three faculties being all active, and acting in unison, constitute the rational man.
In dream it is otherwise, and, therefore, that state which is called insanity appears to be no other than a dismission of those faculties, and a cessation of the judgment during wakefulness that we so often experience during sleep; and idiocy, into which some persons have fallen, is that cessation of all the faculties of which we can be sensible when we happen to wake before our memory.
In this view of the mind, how absurd it is to place reliance upon dreams, and how much more absurd to make them a foundation for religion; yet the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, begotten by the Holy Ghost, a being never heard of before, stands on the foolish story of an old man's dream.
So wonderful and irrational is the faculty of the mind in dream that it acts the part of all the characters its imagination creates, and what it thinks it hears from any of them is no other than what the roving rapidity of its own imagination invents. It is therefore nothing to me what Joseph dreamed of; whether of the fidelity or infidelity of his wife. I pay no regard to my own dreams, and I should be weak indeed to put faith in the dreams of another.
Had it not been for the American Revolution, which, by establishing the universal right of conscience, first opened the way to free discussion, and for the French Revolution that followed, this Religion of Dreams had continued to be preached, and that after it had ceased to be believed. Those who preached it and did not believe it, still believe the delusion necessary. They were not bold enough to be honest, nor honest enough to be bold.
Public measures may be properly examined under anonymous signatures, but civility as well as justice demands that private reputation should not be stabbed in the dark.
The sun has risen and gone down upon their falsehoods in the multitude of which they have bewildered detection.
A report neither proved nor owned becomes a falsehood contradicted.
No character can stand, however fair, no reputation can survive, however honorable, if men unheard and in their absence are to be anonymously destroyed.
Had the news of salvation by Jesus Christ been inscribed on the face of the sun and the moon, in characters that all nations would have understood, the whole earth had known it in twenty-four hours, and all nations would have believed it; whereas, though it is now almost two thousand years since, as they tell us, Christ came upon earth, not a twentieth part of the people of the earth know anything of it, and among those who do, the wiser part do not believe it.
As character, like trade, is subject to bankruptcy, so nothing sooner discovers its approach than a frequent necessity of borrowing.
An anonymous detractor is the serpent of society.
There are men, in all countries, in whom both vice and virtue are kept subordinate by a kind of cowardice, which often forms a great part of that natural character stiled moderation.
An evil cured is better than an evil concealed and suffocated.
Truth, in every case, is the most reputable victory a man can gain.
There are instances in which a want of civility is want of principle.
You may have an opinion that a man is inspired, but you cannot prove it, nor can you have any proof of it yourself, because you cannot see into his mind in order to know how he comes by his thoughts; and the same is the case with the word revelation. There can be no evidence of such a thing, for you can no more prove revelation than you can prove what another man dreams of, neither can he prove it himself.
It is often said in the Bible that God spake unto Moses, but how do you know that God spake unto Moses? Because, you will say, the Bible says so. The Koran says that God spake unto Mahomet. Do you believe that too? No.
Why not? Because, you will say, you do not believe it; and so because you do, and because you don't is all the reason you can give for believing or disbelieving except that you will say that Mahomet was an impostor. And how do you know Moses was not an impostor?
For my own part, I believe that all are impostors who pretend to hold verbal communication with the Deity. It is the way by which the world has been imposed upon; but if you think otherwise you have the same right to your opinion that I have to mine, and must answer for it in the same manner. But all this does not settle the point, whether the Bible be the Word of God or not.
As I have now given you my reasons for believing that the Bible is not the Word of God, that it is a falsehood, I have a right to ask you your reasons for believing the contrary; but I know you can give me none, except that you were educated to believe the Bible; and as the Turks give the same reason for believing the Koran, it is evident that education makes all the difference, and that reason and truth have nothing to do in the case.
You believe in the Bible from the accident of birth, and the Turks believe in the Koran from the same accident, and each calls the other infidel. But leaving the prejudice of education out of the case, the unprejudiced truth is that all are infidels who believe falsely of God, whether they draw their creed from the Bible, or from the Koran, from the Old Testament, or from the New.
It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man.
Those who have no idea of stirring hand or foot without profit or reward, will assign such reasons for my conduct as influence their own; and as I can neither prevent their opinions or change their principles, I shall leave them to think as they please.
I lay myself open to the world; I neither secret my thoughts nor disown my publications; and if there is a man in America uninfluenced and independent, I think I may justly claim that character.
The word, religion, used as a word en masse has no application to a country like America. In Catholic countries it would mean exclusively the religion or the Romish church; with the Jews, the Jewish religion; in England, the Protestant religion; with the Deists it would mean Deism; with the Turks, Mahometism, etc., etc. As well as I recollect it is Lego, Relegio, Religion, that is to say, tied or bound by an oath or obligation. The French use the word properly; when a woman enters a convent, she is called a novitiate; when she takes the oath, she is a religieuse, that is she is bound by an oath. Now all that we have to do, as a Government with the word religion, in this country, is with the civil rights of it, and not at all with its creeds. Instead therefore of using the word religion, as a word en masse, as if it meant a creed, it would be better to speak only of its civil rights; that all denominations of religion are equally protected, that none are dominant, none inferior, that the rights of conscience are equal to every denomination and to every individual and that it is the duty of Government to preserve this equality of conscientious rights. A man cannot be called a hypocrite for defending the civil rights of religion, but he may be suspected of insincerity in defending its creeds.
It often happens that those who ought to be the first, are the last persons to hear circumstances respecting themselves.
It is a position not to be controverted that the earth, in its natural, uncultivated state was, and ever would have continued to be, the common property of the human race. In that state every man would have been born to property. He would have been a joint life proprietor with the rest in the property of the soil, and in all its natural productions, vegetable and animal.
But the earth in its natural state, as before said, is capable of supporting but a small number of inhabitants compared with what it is capable of doing in a cultivated state. And as it is impossible to separate the improvement made by cultivation from the earth itself, upon which that improvement is made, the idea of landed property arose from that inseparable connection; but it is nevertheless true, that it is the value of the improvement, only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property.
There could be no such thing as landed property originally. Man did not make the earth, and, though he had a natural right to occupy it, he had no right to locate as his property in perpetuity any part of it; neither did the Creator of the earth open a land-office, from whence the first title-deeds should issue. Whence then, arose the idea of landed property; I answer as before, that when cultivation began the idea of landed property began with it, from the impossibility of separating the improvement made by cultivation from the earth itself, upon which that improvement was made.
The value of the improvement so far exceeded the value of the natural earth, at that time, as to absorb it; till, in the end, the common right of all became confounded into the cultivated right of the individual. But there are, nevertheless, distinct species of rights, and will continue to be, so long as the earth endures.
The most affluent and the most miserable of the human race are to be found in the countries that are called civilized.
Poverty is a thing created by that which is called civilized life.
A man needs no pecuniary inducement to do that to which the two-fold powers of duty and disposition naturally lead him on.
Pardon the affront for the sake of the truth it contains.
I have a natural inflexible objection to any thing which may be construed into a private pension, because a man after that is no longer truly free.
Affectation of modesty is the dress of design.
I hate a prophesier of ill-luck, because the pride of being thought wise often carries him to the wrong side.
Taking it then for granted that no person ought to be in a worse condition when born under what called a state of civilization, than he would have been had he been born in a state of nature, and that civilization ought to have made, and ought still to make, provision for that purpose, it can only be done by subtracting from property a portion equal in value to the natural inheritance it has absorbed.
It is not charity but a right, not bounty but justice, that I am pleading for. The present state of civilization is as odious as it is unjust. It is absolutely the opposite of what it should be, and it is necessary that a revolution should be made in it. The contrast of affluence and wretchedness continually meeting and offending the eye, is like dead and living bodies chained together. Though I care as little about riches as any man, I am a friend to riches because they are capable of good.
I care not how affluent some may be, provided that none be miserable in consequence of it. But it is impossible to enjoy affluence with the felicity it is capable of being enjoyed, while so much misery is mingled in the scene. The sight of the misery, and the unpleasant sensations it suggests, which, though they may be suffocated cannot be extinguished, are a greater drawback upon the felicity of affluence than the proposed ten per cent upon property is worth. He that would not give the one to get rid of the other has no charity, even for himself.
It is justice, and not charity, that is the principle of the plan. In all great cases it is necessary to have a principle more universally active than charity; and, with respect to justice, it ought not to be left to the choice of detached individuals whether they will do justice or not. It is only by organizing civilization upon such principles as to act like a system of pulleys, that the whole weight of misery can be removed.
Though in a plan of which justice and humanity are the foundation-principles, interest ought not to be admitted into the calculation, yet it is always of advantage to the establishment of any plan to show that it is beneficial as a matter of interest.
Separate an individual from society, and give him an island or a continent to possess, and he cannot acquire personal property. He cannot be rich. So inseparably are the means connected with the end, in all cases, that where the former do not exist the latter cannot be obtained. All accumulation, therefore, of personal property, beyond what a man's own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came.
This is putting the matter on a general principle, and perhaps it is best to do so; for if we examine the case minutely it will be found that the accumulation of personal property is, in many instances, the effect of paying too little for the labor that produced it; the consequence of which is that the working hand perishes in old age, and the employer abounds in affluence.
It is, perhaps, impossible to proportion exactly the price of labor to the profits it produces; and it will also be said, as an apology for the injustice, that were a workman to receive an increase of wages daily he would not save it against old age, nor be much better for it in the interim. Make, then, society the treasurer to guard it for him in a common fund; for it is no reason that, because he might not make a good use of it for himself, another should take it.
The state of civilization that has prevailed throughout Europe, is as unjust in its principle, as it is horrid in its effects; and it is the consciousness of this, and the apprehension that such a state cannot continue when once investigation begins in any country, that makes the possessors of property dread every idea of a revolution. It is the hazard and not the principle of revolutions that retards their progress. This being the case, it is necessary as well for the protection of property as for the sake of justice and humanity, to form a system that, while it preserves one part of society from wretchedness, shall secure the other from depredation.
It is not every member of Congress who acts as if he felt the true importance of his character, or the dignity of the country he acts for.