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It has been the scheme of the Christian church, and of all the other invented systems of religion, to bold man in ignorance of the Creator, as it is of government to hold man in ignorance of his rights. The systems of the one are as false as those of the other, and are calculated for mutual support. 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.
Instead then of studying theology, as is now done, out of the Bible and Testament, the meanings of which books are always controverted, and the authenticity of which is disproved, it is necessary that we refer to the Bible of the creation. The principles we discover there are eternal, and of divine origin : they are the foundation of all the science that exists in the world, and must be the foundation of theology.
We can know God only through his works. We cannot have a conception of any one attribute, but by following some principle that leads to it. We have only a confused idea of his power, if we bave not the means of comprehending something of its immensity. We can have no idea of his wisdom, but by knowing the order and manner in which it acts. The principles of science lead to this knowledge ; for the Creator of man is the creator of science, and it is through that medium that man can see God, as it were, face to face.
Could a man be placed in a situation, and endowed with the power of vision, to behold at one view, and to contemplate deliberately, the structure of the universe; to mark the movements of the several planets, the cause of their varying appearances, the unerring order in which they revolve, even to the remotest comet : their connections and dependence on each other, and to know the system of laws established by the Creator, that governs and regulates the whole ; he would then conceive far beyond what any church theology can teach him, the power, the wisdom, the vastness, the munificence of the Creator; he would then see, that all the know. ledge man has of science, and that all the mechanical arts, by which he renders his situation comfortable here, are derived from that source ; his mind, exalted by the scene, and convinced by the fact, would increase in gratitude as it increased in knowledge : his religion or his worship would become united with his improvement as a man ; any employment he followed, that had connection with the principles of the creation, as every thing of agriculture, of science, and of the mechanical arts, has, would teach him more of God, and of the gratitude he owes to him, than any theological Christian sermon he now hears. Great objects inspire great
thoughts ; great munificence excites great gratitude ; but the grovelling tales and doctrines of the Bible and the Testament are fit only to excite contempt.
Though a man cannot arrive, at least in this life, at the actual acene I have described, he can demonstrate it ; because he has a knowledge of the principles upon which the creation is constructed. We know that the greatest works can be represented in model, and the universe can be represented by the same means. 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 those bodies are millions of miles distant 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*.
All the knowledge man has of science and machinery, by the aid of which his existence is rendered comfortable upon earth, and without which he would be scarcely distinguishable in appearance and condition from a common animal, comes from the great machine and structure of the universe. The constant and unwearied observations of our ancestors, upon the movements and revolutions of the heavenly bodies, in what are supposed to have been the early ages of the world, have brought this knowledge upon earth. It is not Moses and the prophets, nor Jesus Christ, nür his apostles, that have done it. The Almighty is the great mechanic of the creation; the first philosopher, and original teacher of all science. Let us then learn to reverence our master, and let us not forget the labours of our ancestors.
Had we at this day no knowledge of machinery, and were it possible that man could have a view, as I have before described, of
• The Bible-makers have undertaken to give us, in the first chapter of Genesis, an account of the creation; and, in doing this, they have demonstrated nothing but their ignorance. They make there to have been three days and three nights, evenings and mornings, before there was a sun; when it is the presence or absence of the sun that is the cause of day and night, and what is called his rising and setting that of morning and evening. Besides, it is a puerile and pitiful idea, to suppose the Almighty to say, Let there be light. It is the imperative manner of speaking that a conjuror uses, when he says to his cups and balls, Presto, begone, and most probably has been taken from it; as Moses and his rod are a conjuror and his wand. Longinus calls this expression the sublime; and, by the same rule, the conjuror is sublime too, for the manner of speaking is expressively and grammatically the same. When authors and critics talk of the sublime, they see not how nearly it borders on the ridiculous. The sublime of the critics, like some parts of Edmund Burke's Sublime and Beautiful, is like a windmill just visible in a fog, which imagination might distort into a flying mountain, or an archangel, or a flock of wild geese.
the structure and machinery of the universe, he would soon con. ceive the idea of constructing some at least of the mechanical works we now have ; and the idea so conceived would progressively advance in practice. Or could a model of the universe, such as is called an orrery, be presented before him, and put in motion, his mind would arrive at the same idea. Such an object, and such a subject would, whilst it improved him in knowledge, useful to himself, as a man and a member of society, as well as entertaining, afford far better matter for impressing him with a knowledge of, and a belief in the Creator, and of the reverence and gratitude that man owes to him, than the stupid texts of the Bible and the Testament, from which, be the talents of the preacher what they may, only stupid sermons can be preached. If man must preach, let him preach something that is edifying, and from texts that are known to be true.
The Bible of the creation is inexhaustible in texts. Every part of science, whether connected with the geometry of the universe, with the systems of animal and vegetable life, or with the properties of inanimate matter, is a text as well for devotion as for philosophy ; for gratitude as for human improvement. It will, perhaps, be said, that if such a revolution in the system of religion take place, every preacher ought to be a philosopher. Most certainly; and every house of devotion a school of science.
It has been by wandering from the immutable laws of science, and the right use of reason, and setting up an invented thing called revealed religion, that so many wild and blasphemous conceits have been formed of the Almighty. The Jews have made him the assassin of the human species, to make room for the religion of the Jews. The Christians have made him the murderer of himself, and the founder of a new religion, to supersede and expel the Jewish religion. And to find pretence and admission for these things, they must have supposed his power or his wisdom imperfect, or his will changeable; and the changeableness of the will is the imperfection of the judgment. The philosopher knows that the laws of the Creator have never changed, with respect either to the principles of science, or the properties of matter. Why then is it to be supposed they have changed with respect to man?
I here close the subject. I have shown in all the foregoing parts of this work, that the Bible and Testament are impositions and forgeries ; and I leave the evidence I have produced in proof of it, to be refuted, if any one can do it: and I leave the ideas that are suggested in the conclusion of the work, to rest on the mind of the reader ; certain as I am, that when opinions are free, either in matters of government or religion, truth will finally and powerfully prevail.
END OF PART II.