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disgrace yourselves by an act a thousand times more criminal; and, incredible as it may seem, criminal to no purpose.
The other sacrifice, however horrible, would at least relieve you from your embarrassments. But do you think, that when you have declared yourselves bankrupt, you shall thereby be clear of debt? Will the thousands and millions, who lose in one moment, by this terrible blow and its consequences, all the comforts, perhaps the necessaries of life, allow you to enjoy quietly the advantages of your criine ? No, you must perish; and when you have lighted up this tremendous conflagration, you will find that you have sacrificed all your personal enjoyments, as well as your honor. This, then, is the point, to which you are advancing. I hear much said of patriotism, appeals to patriotism, transports of patriotism! Gentlemen, why prostitute this noble word? Is it so very magnanimous to give up a part of your income, in order to save your whole property ?
This is simple arithmetic ; and he that hesitates deserves contempt, rather than indignation. I exhort you, then, most earnestly to vote these extraordinary supplies, and God grant they may prove sufficient. Vote them I beseech you; vote them at once ; for the crisis does not. admit of delay; and if it occurs, we must be responsible for the consequences. Bankruptcy, national bankruptcy is before you ; it threatens to swallow up your persons, your property, your honor,--and YET YOU DELIBERATE.
MR. ERSKINE'S SPEECH ON PAINE'S AGE OF REASON.
Gentlemen of the jury–How any man can rationally vindicate the publication of such a book as Paine's Age of Reason, in a country where the christian religion is the very foundation of the law of the land, I am totally
at a loss to conceive, and have no wish to discuss. How is a tribunal, whose whole jurisdiction is founded upon the solemn belief and practice of what is here denied as falsehood, and reprobated as impiety, to deal with such an anomalous defense ? Upon what principle is it even offered to the court, whose authority is contemned and mocked at? If the religion proposed to be called in question, is not previously adopted in belief, and solemnly acted upon, what authority has the court to pass any judgment at all of acquittal or condemnation? Why am I now, or upon any other occasion, to submit to your lordship's authority? Why am I now, or at any time, to address twelve of my equals, as I am now addressing you, with reverence and submission ? Under what sanction are the witnesses to give their evidence, without which there can be no trial? Under what obligations can I call upon you, the jury, representing your country, to administer justice? Surely upon no other than that you are sworn to administer it under the oaths you have taken. The whole judicial fabric, from the king's sovereign authority to the lowest office of magistracy has no other foundation. The whole is built, both in form and substance, upon the same oath of every one of its ministers, to do justice, “as God shall help them hereafter.” What God? and what hereafter ? That God, undoubtedly, who has commanded kings to rule, and judges to decree with justice; who has said to witnesses, not by the voice of nature, but in revealed commandments, “ thou shalt not bear false testimony against thy neighbor ;" and who has inforced obedience to them by the revelation of the unutterable blessings which shall attend their observances, and the awful punishments which shall await upon their transgressions.
But it seems this is an age of reason, and the time and the person are at last arrived, that are to dissipate the errors that have overspread the past generations of ignorance! The believers in christianity are many, but it belongs to the few that are wise to correct their credulity! Belief is an act of reason; and superior reason may therefore dictate to the weak. In running the mind along the numerous list of sincere and devout christians, I cannot help lamenting that Newton had not lived to this day, to have had his shallowness filled up with this new flood of light. But the subject is too awful for irony. I will speak plainly and directly. Newton was a christian! Newton, whose mind burst forth from the fetters cast by nature upon our finite conceptions: Newton, whose science was truth, and the foundation of whose knowledge of it was philosophy. Not those visionary and arrogant assumptions which too often usurp its name, but philosophy resting upon the basis of mathematics, which, like figures, cannot lie. Newton, who carried the line and rule to the utmost barriers of creation, and explored the principles by which, no doubt, all created matter is held together and exists. But this extraordinary man, in the mighty reach of his mind, overlooked, perhaps, the errors which a minuter investigation of the created things on this earth might have taught him, of the essence of his Creator. What shall then be said of the great Mr. Boyle, who looked into the organic structure of all matter, even to the brute inanimate substances which the foot treads on. Such a man may be supposed to have been equally qualified with Mr. Paine, to “look through nature up to nature's God." Yet the result of all his contemplation was the most confirmed and devout belief in all which the other holds in contempt as despicable and driveling superstition. But this error might, perhaps, arise from a want of due attention to the foundations of human judgment, and the structure of that understanding which God has given us for the investigation of truth. Let that question be answered by Mr. Locke, who was to the highest pitch of devotion and adoration a christian. Mr. Locke, whose office was to detect the errors of thinking, by going up to the fountain of thought, and to direct into the proper track of
reasoning the devious mind of man, by showing him its whole process, from the first perceptions of sense, to the last conclusions of ratiocination ; putting a rein besides upon false opinion, by practical rules for the conduct of human judgment.
But these men were only deep thinkers, and lived in their closets, unaccustomed to the traffic of the world, and to the laws which partially regulate mankind. Gentlemen, in the place where you now sit to administer the justice of this great country, above a century ago the never to be forgotten Sir Matthew Hale presided, whose faith in christianity is an exalted commentary upon its truth and reason, and whose life was a glorious example of its fruits in man; administering human justice with a wisdom and purity drawn from the pure fountain of the christian dispensation, which has been, and will be, in all ages, a subject of the highest reverence and admiration. But it is said by Mr. Paine, that the christian fable is but the tale of the more ancient superstitions of the world, and may be easily detected by a proper understanding of the mythologies of the heathens. Did Milton understand those mythologies? Was he less versed than Mr. Paine in the superstitions of the world ? No: they were the subject of his immortal song; and though shut out from all recurrence to them, he poured them forth from the stores of a memory rich with all that man ever knew, and laid them in their order as the illustration of that real and exalted faith, the unquestionable source of that fervid genius, which cast a sort of shade upon all the other works of man. Thus you find all that is great, or wise, or splendid, or illustrious, amongst created beings,-all the minds gifted beyond ordinary nature, if not inspired by their universal Author for the advancement and dignity of the world, though divided by distant ages, and by the clashing opinions distinguishing them from one another, yet joining as it were, in one sublime chorus to celebrate the truths of christianity, and laying upon its holy altars the never fading offerings of their immortal wisdom.
Gentlemen, I cannot conclude without expressing the deepest regret at all attacks upon the christian religion by authors who profess to promote the civil liberties of the world. For, under what other auspices than christianity have the lost and subverted liberties of mankind in former ages been re-asserted ? By what zeal, but the warm zeal of devoted christians, have English liberties been redeemed and consecrated ? Under what other sanctions, even in our own days, have liberty and happiness been extending and spreading to the utmost corners of the earth? What work of civilization, what commonwealth of greatness has the bald religion of nature ever established? We see, on the contrary, the nations that have no other light than that of nature to direct them, sunk in barbarism, or slaves to arbitrary governments; whilst, since the christian era, the great career of the world has been slowly, but clearly advancing, lighter at every step, from the awful prophecies of the gospel, and leading, I trust, in the end, to universal and eternal happiness. Each generation of mankind can see but a few revolving links of this mighty and mysterious chain ; but, by doing our several duties in our allotted stations, we are sure that we are fulblling the purposes of our existence. You, I trust, will fulfil yours this day?
LORD CHATHAM'S SPEECH IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS, ON
THE ADDRESS TO THE THRONE AT THE OPENING OF PARLIAMENT, ON THE 18th OF NOVEMBER, 1777.
I rise, my lords, to declare my sentiments on this most solemn and serious subject. It has imposed a load upon my mind, which, I fear, nothing can remove; but which impels me to endeavor its alleviation, by a free and unreserved communication of my sentiments.
In the first part of the address, I have the honor of heartily concurring with the noble earl who moved it.