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About Thomas Paine



Thomas Paine (1737 – 1809) was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary. Wikipedia

References:   Encyclopaedia Britannica   |   Biography.com

  

Quotes by Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine (quotes)

  • Virtue is not hereditary.
  • My mind is my own church.
  • Science is the true theology.
  • Government is a necessary evil
  • War ought to be no man’s wish.
  • Kill the king but spare the man.
  • Public credit is suspicion asleep.
  • Wisdom is not the purchase of a day
  • Titles do not count with posterity.
  • Prophesying is lying professionally.
  • My country is wherever liberty lives.
  • Wrong cannot have a legal descendant.
  • Time makes more converts than reason.
  • Government is best which governs least
  • Liberty cannot be purchased by a wish.
  • Human nature is not of itself vicious.
  • The greatest remedy for anger is delay.
  • The birthday of a new world is at hand.
  • Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
  • The more we bestow the richer we become.
  • These are the days that try man’s heart.
  • He who dares not offend cannot be honest.
  • These are the times that try men’s souls.
  • I disbelieve all holy men and holy books.
  • Nothing but heaven is impregnable to vice.
  • Man must go back to nature for information.
  • The balance of power is the scale of peace.
  • Priests and conjurors are of the same trade.
  • A government of our own is our natural right
  • Character is much easier kept than recovered.
  • Tears may soothe the wounds they cannot heal.
  • The Vatican is a dagger in the heart of Italy.
  • Prejudice will fall in a combat with interest.
  • Compassion, the fairest associate of the heart.
  • Where knowledge is a duty, ignorance is a crime.
  • The slavery of fear had made men afraid to think.
  • Men should not petition for rights, but take them
  • The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.
  • The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.
  • I die content, I die for the liberty of my country.
  • To take away (voting) is to reduce a man to slavery.
  • Every person of learning is finally his own teacher.
  • It is unpleasant to see character throw itself away.
  • It is the object only of war that makes it honorable.
  • A share in two revolutions is living to some purpose.
  • We have it in our power to begin the world over again.
  • It is an affront to treat falsehood with complaisance.
  • Better fare hard with good men than feast it with bad.
  • From the errors of other nations, let us learn wisdom.
  • In Deism our reason and our belief are happily united.
  • The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
  • My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.
  • That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly.
  • Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence.
  • Aristocracy is kept up by family tyranny and injustice.
  • I detest the Bible as I detest everything that is cruel.
  • Titles are but nicknames, and every nickname is a title.
  • To be nobly wrong is more manly than to be meanly right.
  • The age of ignorance commenced with the Christian system.
  • … a thirst for power is the natural disease of monarchy.
  • The NT, compared with the Old, is like a farce of one act.
  • The guilt of a government is the crime of a whole country.
  • It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.
  • Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself.
  • Aristocracy has a tendency to degenerate the human species.
  • Customs will often outlive the remembrance of their origin.
  • One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.
  • A bad cause will ever be supported by bad means and bad men.
  • Mutual fear is a principal link in the chain of mutual love.
  • What at first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue.
  • Government without a constitution, is a power without a right.
  • Governments arise either out of the people or over the people.
  • It is only by the exercise of reason that man can discover God.
  • The Christian system of religion is an outrage on common sense.
  • Let them call me rebel, and welcome, I feel no concern from it.
  • What is it the Bible teaches us? — rapine, cruelty, and murder.
  • The more men have to lose, the less willing are they to venture.
  • It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies.
  • Wisdom degenerates in governments as governments increase in age.
  • The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason.
  • Society is produced by our wants and government by our wickedness.
  • The Christian religion begins with a dream and ends with a murder.
  • There is no greater tyranny than that of the dead over the living.
  • The cause of America is in great measure the cause of all mankind.
  • Ye that dare oppose, not only tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth!
  • The cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf.
  • No falsehood is so fatal as that which is made an article of faith.
  • Our greatest enemies, the ones we must fight most often, are within.
  • It is easy to see that when republican virtue fails, slavery ensues.
  • A man may write himself out of reputation when nobody else can do it.
  • An army of principles will penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.
  • It is painful to behold a man employing his talents to corrupt himself.
  • …the true greatness of a nation is founded on principles of humanity.
  • Commerce diminishes the spirit, both of patriotism and military defence.
  • Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
  • I die in perfect composure and resignation to the will of my Creator, God.
  • You cannot undermine police authority and then complain about rising crime.
  • Some people can be reasoned into sense, and others must be shocked into it.
  • Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.
  • Suspicion is the companion of mean souls, and the bane of all good society.
  • He who takes nature for his guide, is not easily beaten out of his argument
  • If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.
  • Youth is the seed time of good habits, as well in nations as in individuals.
  • When all other rights are taken away, the right of rebellion is made perfect.
  • Oppression is often the consequence, but seldom or never the means of riches.
  • War is the gambling table of governments, and citizens the dupes of the game.
  • I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.
  • The strength and power of despotism consists wholly in the fear of resistance.
  • Those who expect to reap the blessing of freedom must undertake to support it.
  • … in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other.
  • A man does not serve God when he prays, for it is himself he is trying to serve
  • The greatest tyrannies are always perpetuated in the name of the noblest causes.
  • It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself.
  • Public money ought to be touched with the most scrupulous consciousness of honor.
  • Every proprietor owes to the community a ground-rent for the land which he holds.
  • It is a general idea, that when taxes are once laid on, they are never taken off.
  • The people of America are a people of property; almost every man is a freeholder.
  • The period of debate is closed. Arms, as a last resource, must decide the contest.
  • It is the direction and not the magnitude which is to be taken into consideration.
  • I would not dare so dishonor my Creator’s name by attaching it to this filthy book.
  • The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.
  • The Bible: a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalise mankind.
  • Taxes were not raised to carry on wars, but that wars were raised to carry on taxes.
  • The protection of a man’s person is more sacred than the protection of his property.
  • Suspicion and persecution are weeds of the same dunghill, and flourish best together.
  • Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.
  • A little matter will move a party, but it must be something great that moves a nation.
  • For the fate of Charles the first, hath only made kings more subtle ‚Äî not more just.
  • The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing.
  • When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.
  • “Government,” says Swift, “is a plain thing, and fitted to the capacity of many heads.”
  • We can only reason from what is; we can reason on actualities, but not on possibilities.
  • Arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe and preserve order.
  • A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.
  • Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.
  • When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.
  • I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.
  • …for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.
  • The final event to himself has been, that as he rose like a rocket, he fell like the stick.
  • There is something absurd in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island.
  • A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.
  • It is with a pious fraud as with a bad action; it begets a calamitous necessity of going on.
  • It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the Bible describes.
  • The first was a government of priestcraft, the second of conquerors, and the third of reason.
  • Evils, like poisons, have their uses, and there are diseases which no other remedy can reach.
  • The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.
  • The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed.
  • I know not whether taxes are raised to fight wars, or wars are fought in order to raise taxes.
  • Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true.
  • Mingling religion with politics may be disavowed and reprobated by every inhabitant of America.
  • Nothing, they say is more certain than death, and nothing more uncertain than the time of dying
  • If there was ever a just war since the world began, it is this in which America is now engaged.
  • Beware the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry.
  • The more acquisitions the government makes abroad, the more taxes the people have to pay at home.
  • Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow into oppressions.
  • The art of publicity is a black art; but it has come to stay, and every year adds to its potency.
  • The right of voting for representatives , is the primary right by which other rights are protected.
  • If those to whom power is delegated do well, they will be respected; if not, they will be despised.
  • When authors and critics talk of the sublime, they see not how nearly it borders on the ridiculous.
  • It is the duty of every man, as far as his ability extends, to detect and expose delusion and error.
  • Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.
  • Every religion is good that teaches man to be good; and I know of none that instructs him to be bad.
  • Therefore we say that a lying Spirit has been in the mouth of the writers of the books of the Bible.
  • Where there are no distinctions there can be no superiority; perfect equality affords no temptation.
  • What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.
  • Wisdom is not the purchase of a day, and it is no wonder that we should err at the first setting off.
  • To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.
  • There are two distinct classes of men – those who pay taxes and those who receive and live upon taxes.
  • Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.
  • It is a faculty of the human mind to become what it contemplates, and to act in unison with its object.
  • I prefer peace. But if trouble must come, let it come in my time, so that my children can live in peace.
  • He, who survives his reputation, lives out of despite himself, like a man listening to his own reproach.
  • It is the duty of every true Deist to vindicate the moral justice of God against the evils of the Bible.
  • From such beginnings of governments, what could be expected, but a continual system of war and extortion?
  • It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all.
  • To possess ourselves of a clear idea of what government is, or ought to be, we must trace it to its origin.
  • The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.
  • The state of a king shuts him from the world, yet the business of a king requires him to know it thoroughly.
  • Peace, which costs nothing, is attended with infinitely more advantage than any victory with all its expence.
  • But such is the irresistable nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants is the liberty of appearing.
  • Death is not the monarch for the dead, but of the dying. The moment he obtains a conquest he loses a subject.
  • We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in.
  • Titles are like a magicians wand which circumscribe human facility and prevent us from living the lives of man.
  • …the Bible is such a book of lies and contradictions there is no knowing which part to believe or whether any.
  • The United States of America will sound as pompously in the world or in history as The Kingdom of Great Britain.
  • When it becomes necessary to do a thing, the whole heart and soul should go into the measure, or not attempt it.
  • Man did not enter society to be worse off, or to have fewer rights, but rather to have those rights better secured
  • But if objects for gratitude and admiration are our desire, do they not present themselves every hour to our eyes?
  • If I do not believe as you believe, it proves that you do not believe as I believe, and that is all that it proves.
  • Of more worth is one honest man to society, and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.
  • Action and care will in time wear down the strongest frame, but guilt and melancholy are poisons of quick dispatch.
  • He who is the author of a war lets loose the whole contagion of hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death.
  • The trade of governing has always been monopolized by the most ignorant and the most rascally individuals of mankind.
  • It has been the political career of this man to begin with hypocrisy, proceed with arrogance, and finish with contempt
  • Whatever is my right as a man is also the right of another; and it becomes my duty to guarantee as well as to possess.
  • It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man.
  • The Allwise Creator hath been dishonored by being made the author of fable and the human mind degraded by believing it.
  • It is from our enemies that we often gain excellent maxims, and are frequently surprised into reason by their mistakes.
  • All men can understand what representation is; and that it must necessarily include a variety of knowledge and talents.
  • Lay then the axe to the root, and teach governments humanity. It is their sanguinary punishments which corrupt mankind.
  • For freemen like brothers agree; With one spirit endured, they one friendship pursued, And their temple was Liberty Tree
  • Mystery is the antagonist of truth. It is a fog of human invention, that obscures truth, and represents it in distortion.
  • Accustom a people to believe that priests, or any other class of men can forgive sins and you will have sins in abundance.
  • The graceful pride of truth knows no extremes, and preserves, in every latitude of life, the right-angled character of man.
  • When the tongue or the pen is let loose in a frenzy of passion, it is the man, and not the subject, that becomes exhausted.
  • How necessary it is at all times to watch against the attempted encroachment of power, and to prevent its running to excess.
  • It is important that we should never lose sight of this distinction. We must not confuse the peoples with their governments.
  • The New Testament, they tell us, is founded upon the prophecies of the Old; if so, it must follow the fate of its foundation.
  • The representative system of government is calculated to produce the wisest laws, by collecting wisdom where it can be found.
  • It is a fraud of the Christian system to call the sciences human invention; it is only the application of them that is human.
  • And to read the Bible without horror, we must undo everything that is tender, sympathizing and benevolent in the heart of man.
  • The stupid texts of the Bible – from which, be the talents of the preacher what they may, only stupid sermons can be preached.
  • Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise.
  • That God cannot lie, is no advantage to your argument, because it is no proof that priests can not, or that the Bible does not.
  • Calumny is a vice of curious constitution; trying to kill it keeps it alive; leave it to itself and it will die a natural death.
  • Common sense will tell us, that the power which hath endeavoured to subdue us, is of all others, the most improper to defend us.
  • It will be proper to take a review of the several sources from which governments have arisen, and on which they have been founded.
  • No nation ought to be without a debt. A national debt is a national bond; and when it bears no interest, is in no case a grievance.
  • Is it not a species of blasphemy to call the New Testament revealed religion, when we see in it such contradictions and absurdities.
  • And this manner of speaking of the Almighty, as one would speak of a man, is consistent with nothing but the stupidity of the Bible.
  • All Of Us Might Wish At Times That We Lived In A More Tranquil World….(yet) Our Times Are Challenging And Filled With Opportunity.
  • The declaration which says that God visits the sins of the fathers upon the children is contrary to every principle of moral justice.
  • An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws.
  • All the tales of miracles, with which the Old and New Testament are filled, are fit only for impostors to preach and fools to believe.
  • The Christian church has set up a religion of pomp and revenue in pretended imitation of a person (Jesus) who lived a life of poverty.
  • Human language is local and changeable, and is therefore incapable of being used as the means of unchangeable and universal information.
  • That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of Nations is as shocking as it is true.
  • Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles; he can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.
  • Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law.
  • When my country, into which I had just set my foot, was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir. It was time for every man to stir.
  • To say that any people are not fit for freedom, is to make poverty their choice, and to say they had rather be loaded with taxes than not.
  • The moral duty of man consists of imitatingthe moral goodness and beneficence of God,manifested in the creation, toward all His creatures.
  • It is always to be taken for granted, that those who oppose an equality of rights never mean the exclusion should take place on themselves.
  • I would give worlds, if I had them, if The Age of Reason had never been published. O Lord, help! Stay with me! It is hell to be left alone.
  • It is a position not to be controverted, that the earth … was and ever would have continued to be, the COMMON PROPERTY OF THE HUMAN RACE.
  • Everything that is right or reasonable pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ’tis time to part.
  • There is a natural firmness in some minds, which cannot be unlocked by trifles, but which, when unlocked, discovers a cabinet of fortitude.
  • The times that tried men’s souls are over-and the greatest and completest revolution the world ever knew, gloriously and happily accomplished.
  • 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.
  • The intimacy which is contracted in infancy, and friendship which is formed in misfortune, are, of all others, the most lasting and unalterable.
  • Let the world see that this nation can bear prosperity; and that her honest virtue in time of peace is equal to her bravest valor in time of war.
  • The error of those who reason by precedents drawn from antiquity, respecting the rights of man, is that they do not go far enough into antiquity.
  • They may be all comprehended under three heads – 1st, Superstition; 2d, Power; 3d, the common interests of society, and the common rights of man.
  • What is called a republic, is not any particular form of government … it is naturally opposed to the word monarchy, which means arbitrary power.
  • The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.
  • Before anything can be reasoned upon to a conclusion, certain facts, principles, or data, to reason from, must be established, admitted, or denied.
  • The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act. A general association takes place, and common interest produces common security.
  • Whatever has a tendency to promote the civil intercourse of nations by an exchange of benefits is a subject as worthy of philosophy as of politics.
  • Christianity is the strangest religion ever set up, for it committed a murder upon Jesus in order to redeem mankind from the sin of eating an apple.
  • Could the straggling thoughts of individuals be collected, they would frequently form materials for wise and able men to improve into useful matter.
  • 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.
  • Virtues are acquired through endeavor, Which rests wholly upon yourself. So, to praise others for their virtues Can but encourage one’s own efforts.
  • To reason with goverments, as they have existed for ages, is to argue with brutes. It is only from the nations themselves that reforms can be expected
  • The American constitutions were to liberty, what a grammar is to language: they define its parts of speech, and practically construct them into syntax
  • Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.
  • [A]ll churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, are simply human inventions. They use fear to enslave us. They are a monopoly for power and profit.
  • But where, says some, is the King of America? I’ll tell you. Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain.
  • ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.
  • We must be compelled to hold this doctrine to be false, and the old and new law called the Old and New Testament, to be impositions, fables and forgeries.
  • The greatest characters the world has known, have rose on the democratic floor. Aristocracy has not been able to keep a proportionate pace with democracy.
  • A Constitution is not the act of a Government, but of a people constituting a government, and a government without a constitution is a power without right.
  • THE WORD OF GOD IS THE CREATION WE BEHOLD: And it is in this word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man.
  • As to the book called the bible, it is blasphemy to call it the Word of God. It is a book of lies and contradictions and a history of bad times and bad men.
  • To establish any mode to abolish war, however advantageous it might be to Nations, would be to take from such Government the most lucrative of its branches.
  • There are matters in the Bible, said to be done by the express commandment of God, that are shocking to humanity and to every idea we have of moral justice.
  • Not a place upon earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them.
  • Politics and self-interest have been so uniformly connected, that the world, from being so often deceived, has a right to be suspicious of public characters.
  • It is from the power of taxation being in the hands of those who can throw so great a part of it from their own shoulders, that it has raged without a check.
  • There is something in corruption which, like a jaundiced eye, transfers the color of itself to the object it looks upon, and sees everything stained and impure.
  • I do not believe that any two men, on what are called doctrinal points, think alike who think at all. It is only those who have not thought that appear to agree.
  • In a chariot of light from the region of the day, the Goddess of Liberty came. She brought in her hand as a pledge of her love, the plant she named Liberty Tree.
  • We repose an unwise confidence in any government, or in any men, when we invest them officially with too much, or an unnecessary quantity of, discretionary power.
  • I do not believe in the creed professed by any church that I know of. Each of these churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my part, I disbelieve them all.
  • Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance.
  • I fear not, I see not reason for fear. In the end we will be the victors. For though at times the flame of liberty may cease to shine, the ember will never expire.
  • Religion is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize humankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it as I detest everything that is cruel.
  • We hold the moral obligation of providing for old age, helpless infancy, and poverty is far superior to that of supplying the invented wants of courtly extravagance.
  • There exists in man a mass of sense lying in a dormant state, and which, unless something excites it to action, will descend with him, in that condition,to the grave.
  • The Deist needs none of those tricks and shows called miracles to confirm his faith, for what can be a greater miracle than the creation itself, and his own existence?
  • The animals to whom nature has given the faculty we call cunning know always when to use it, and use it wisely; but when man descends to cunning he blunders and betrays.
  • He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
  • He that rebels against reason is a real rebel, but he that in defence of reason rebels against tyranny has a better title to Defender of the Faith, than George the Third.
  • Every Tory is a coward; for servile, slavish, self-interested fear is the foundation of Toryism; and a man under such influence, though he may be cruel, never can be brave.
  • Titles are but nicknames, and every nickname is a title. The thing is perfectly harmless in itself, but it marks a sort of foppery in the human character, which degrades it.
  • If the present generation, or any other, are disposed to be slaves, it does not lessen the right of the succeeding generation to be free: wrongs cannot have a legal descent.
  • War involves in its progress such a train of unforeseen circumstances that no human wisdom can calculate the end; it has but one thing certain, and that is to increase taxes.
  • When extraordinary power and extraordinary pay are allotted to any individual in a government, he becomes the center, round which every kind of corruption generates and forms.
  • How strangely is antiquity treated! To answer some purposes it is spoken of as the times of darkness and ignorance, and to answer others, it is put for the light of the world.
  • A man will pass better through the world with a thousand open errors upon his back than in being detected in one sly falsehood. When one is detected, a thousand are suspected.
  • From the east to the west blow the trumpet to arms! Through the land let the sound of it flee; Let the far and the near all unite, with a cheer, In defense of our Liberty Tree.
  • It was needless, after this, to say that all was vanity and vexation of spirit; for it is impossible to derive happiness from the company of those whom we deprive of happiness.
  • It is not a field of a few acres of ground, but a cause, that we are defending, and whether we defeat the enemy in one battle, or by degrees, the consequences will be the same.
  • …It would be more consistent that we call [the Bible] the work of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind.
  • Ah, reader, put thy trust in thy creator, and thou wilt be safe; but if thou trustest to the book called the scriptures thou trustest to the rotten staff of fable and falsehood.
  • We feel something like respect for consistency even in error. We lament the virtue that is debauched into a vice; but the vice that affects a virtue becomes the more detestable.
  • He is not affected by the reality of distress touching his heart, but by the showy resemblance of it striking his imagination. He pities the plumage, but forgets the dying bird.
  • There is something in meanness which excites a species of resentment that never subsides, and something in cruelty which stirs up the heart to the highest agony of human hatred.
  • Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe.
  • The Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the sun, in which they put a man called Christ in the place of the sun, and pay him the adoration originally payed to the sun.
  • No man is prejudiced in favor of a thing, knowing it to be wrong. He is attached to it on the belief of its being right; and when he sees it is not so, the prejudice will be gone.
  • A nation under a well regulated government, should permit none to remain uninstructed. It is monarchical and aristocratical government only that requires ignorance for its support.
  • To live with our enemies as if they may some time become our friends, and to live with our friends as if they may some time become our enemies, is not a moral but a political maxim
  • We have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest truest constitution on the face of the earth. We have it in our power to begin the world over again.
  • When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to [profess] things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.
  • Commerce is no other than the traffic of two individuals, multiplied on a scale of number; and, by the same rule that Nature intended the intercourse of two, she intended that of all!
  • The end of all political associations is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man; and these rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance of oppression.
  • 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.
  • Our present condition is, Legislation without law; wisdom without a plan; a constitution without a name; and, what is strangely astonishing, perfect independence contending for dependence.
  • Thus commerce, though in itself a moral nullity, has had a considerable influence in tempering the human mind….he trades with the same countries …(that he) would have gone to war with.
  • In the progress of politics, as in the common occurrences of life, we are not only apt to forget the ground we have travelled over, but frequently neglect to gather up experiences as we go.
  • On this question of war, three things are to be considered. First, the right of declaring it: secondly, the expense of supporting it: thirdly, the mode of conducting it after it is declared.
  • Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property… Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.
  • The Almighty implanted in us these inextinguishable feelings for good and wise purposes. They are the guardians of His image in our heart. They distinguish us from the herd of common animals.
  • It may perhaps be said that it signifies nothing to a man what is done to him after he is dead; but it signifies much to the living; it either tortures their feelings or hardens their hearts.
  • Every science has for its basis a system of principles as fixed and unalterable as those by which the universe is regulated and governed. Man cannot make principles; he can only discover them.
  • When an objection cannot be made formidable, there is some policy in trying to make it frightful; and to substitute the yell and the war-whoop, in the place of reason, argument and good order.
  • As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of all government to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith.
  • All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.
  • 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!
  • Oppression is often the consequence, but seldom or never the means of riches; and tho’ avarice will preserve a man from being necessitously poor, it generally makes him too timorous to be wealthy.
  • A single legislature, on account of the superabundance of its power, and the uncontrolled rabidity of its execution, becomes as dangerous to the principles of liberty as that of a despotic monarch.
  • Civilization, or that which is so called, has operated two ways to make one part of society more affluent and the other part more wretched than would have been the lot of either in a natural state.
  • The nearer any disease approaches to a crisis, the nearer it is to a cure. Danger and deliverance make their advances together; and it is only in the last push that one or the other takes the lead.
  • 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.
  • Is it because you are sunk in the cruelty of superstition, or feel no interest in the honor of your Creator, that you listen to the horrid tales of the Bible, or hear them with callous indifference?
  • Practical religion consists in doing good: and the only way of serving God is that of endeavoring to make His creation happy. All preaching that has not this for its object is nonsense and hypocrisy.
  • There is existing in man, a mass of sense lying in a dormant state. The construction of government ought to be such as to bring forward, by a quiet and regular operation, all that extent of capacity.
  • All this [Paul’s writing] is nothing better than the jargon of a conjurer who picks up phrases he does not understand to confound the credulous people who come to have their fortune told. Age of Reason
  • 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.
  • In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology, there were no kings; the consequence of which was there were no wars; it is the pride of kings which throws mankind into confusion.
  • And as a man, who is attached to a prostitute, is unfitted to choose or judge of a wife, so any prepossession in favour of a rotten constitution of government will disable us from discerning a good one.
  • His [Jesus’] historians, having brought him into the world in a supernatural manner, were obliged to take him out again in the same manner, or the first part of the story must have fallen to the ground.
  • The reformation was preceded by the discovery of America, as if the Almighty graciously meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in future years, when home should afford neither friendship nor safety.
  • The obscene and vulgar stories in the Bible are as repugnant to our ideas of the purity of a Divine Being, as the horrid cruelties and murders it ascribes to Him are repugnant to our ideas of His justice.
  • It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.
  • Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it.
  • To believe that God created a plurality of worlds, at least as numerous as what we call stars, renders the Christian faith at once little and ridiculous; and scatters it in the mind like feathers in the air.
  • 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.
  • One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings, is, that nature disapproves it, otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ass for a lion.
  • Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world; here too is the design and end of government, viz. Freedom and security.
  • The story of the whale swallowing Jonah, though a whale is large enough to do it, borders greatly on the marvelous; but it would have approached nearer to the idea of a miracle if Jonah had swallowed the whale.
  • Small islands, not capable of protecting themselves, are the proper objects for kingdoms to take under their care; but there is something absurd, in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island.
  • No country can be called free which is governed by an absolute power; and it matters not whether it be an absolute royal power or an absolute legislative power, as the consequences will be the same to the people.
  • Men did not make the earth… It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. … Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds.
  • 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.
  • The danger to which the success of revolutions is most exposed, is that of attempting them before the principles on which they proceed, and the advantages to result from them, are sufficiently seen and understood.
  • 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 can do, and credulity believe.
  • 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.
  • I consider the war of America against Britain as the country’s war, the public’s war, or the war of the people in their own behalf, for the security of their natural rights, and the protection of their own property.
  • I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.
  • When I see throughout this book, called the Bible, a history of the grossest vices and a collection of the most paltry and contemptible tales and stories, I could not so dishonor my Creator by calling it by His name.
  • I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature, which no art can overturn, viz. that the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered; and the easier repaired when disordered.
  • The artificial noble shrinks into a dwarf before the noble of nature; and in the few instances (for there are some in all countries) in whom nature, as by a miracle, has survived in aristocracy, those men despise it.
  • The Grecians and Romans were strongly possessed of the spirit of liberty but not the principle, for at the time they were determined not to be slaves themselves, they employed their power to enslave the rest of mankind.
  • I call not upon a few, but upon all: not on this state or that state, but on every state; up and help us; lay your shoulders to the wheel; better have too much force than too little, when so great an object is at stake.
  • These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it NOW, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
  • Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifiying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity.
  • The creation is the Bible of the Deist. He there reads, in the handwriting of the Creator himself, the certainty of His existence and the immutability of His power, and all other Bibles and Testaments are to him forgeries.
  • A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.
  • It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf.
  • I am sensible that he who means to do mankind a real service must set down with the determination of putting up, and bearing with all their faults, follies, prejudices and mistakes until he can convince them that he is right.
  • Of all the tyrannies that effect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst; every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in; but this attempts to stride beyond the grave, and seeks to pursue us into eternity.
  • The idea of hereditary legislators is as inconsistent as that of hereditary judges, or hereditary juries; and as absurd as an hereditary mathematician, or an hereditary wise man; and as ridiculous as an hereditary poet-laureat.
  • To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.
  • Our citizenship in the United States is our national character. Our citizenship in any particular state is only our local distinction. By the latter we are known at home, by the former to the world. Our great title is AMERICANS.
  • The accumulation of great wealth is, in many instances, the effect of paying too little for the labor that produced it, the consequence of which is that the working people perish in old age and the employer abounds in affluence.
  • Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself in all cases as the ages and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies.
  • Ignorance is of a peculiar nature; once dispelled, it is impossible to reestablish it. It is not originally a thing of itself, but is only the absence of knowledge; and though man may be kept ignorant, he cannot be made ignorant.
  • Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.
  • The choicest gift of God to man, the gift of reason; and having endeavoured to force upon himself the belief of a system against which reason revolts, he ungratefully calls it human reason; as if man could give reason to himself.
  • The mind, in discovering truths, acts in the same manner as it acts through the eye in discovering objects; when once any object has been seen, it is impossible to put the mind back to the same condition it was in before it saw it.
  • The Bill of Rights should contain the general principles of natural and civil liberty. It should be to a community what the eternal laws and obligations of morality are to the conscience. It should be unalterable by any human power.
  • The abilities of man must fall short on one side or the other, like too scanty a blanket when you are abed. If you pull it upon your shoulders, your feet are left bare; if you thrust it down to your feet, your shoulders are uncovered.
  • The Book of Job and the 19th Psalm, which even the Church admits to be more ancient than the chronological order in which they stand in the book called the Bible, are theological orations conformable to the original system of theology.
  • It is far better that we admitted a thousand devils to roam at large than that we permitted one such imposter and monster as Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and the Bible prophets, to come with the pretended word of God and have credit among us.
  • 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.
  • That which is now called natural philosophy, embracing the whole circle of science, of which astronomy occupies the chief place, is the study of the works of God, and of the power and wisdom of God in his works, and is the true theology.
  • The story of Jesus Christ appearing after he was dead is the story of an apparition, such as timid imaginations can always create in vision, and credulity believe. Stories of this kind had been told of the assassination of Julius Caesar.
  • And when we view a flag, which to the eye is beautiful, and to contemplate its rise and origin inspires a sensation of sublime delight, our national honor must unite with our interests to prevent injury to the one, or insult to the other.
  • And as to you, Sir, treacherous in private friendship and a hypocrite in public life, the world will be puzzled to decide whether you are an apostate or an impostor; whether you have abandoned good principles, or whether you ever had any.
  • Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.
  • In reviewing the history of the English Government, its wars and its taxes, a bystander, not blinded by prejudice nor warped by interest, would declare that taxes were not raised to carry on wars, but that wars were raised to carry on taxes.
  • I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life. I believe in the equality of humans; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow creatures happy.
  • What is it the Bible teaches us? – raping, cruelty, and murder. What is it the New 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.
  • 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.
  • Is it more probable that nature should go out of her course, or that a man should tell a lie? 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.
  • The New Testament rests itself for credulity and testimony on what are called prophecies in the Old Testament, of the person called Jesus Christ; and if there are no such things as prophecies of any such person in the Old Testament, the New Testament.
  • …Thomas did not believe the resurrection [John 20:25], and, as they say, would not believe without having ocular and manual demonstration himself. So neither will I, and the reason is equally as good for me, and for every other person, as for Thomas.
  • The countries the most famous and the most respected of antiquity are those which distinguished themselves by promoting and patronizing science, and on the contrary those which neglected or discouraged it are universally denominated rude and barbarous.
  • We do not admit the authority of the church with respect to its pretended infallibility, its manufactured miracles, its setting itself up to forgive sins. It was by propagating that belief and supporting it with fire that she kept up her temporal power.
  • What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.
  • But in addition to all the moral evidence against the Bible, I will, in the progress of this work, produce such other evidence as even a priest cannot deny; and show, from that evidence, that the Bible is not entitled to credit, as being the word of God.
  • What more does man want to know than that the hand or power that made these things is divine, is omnipotent? Let him believe this with the force it is impossible to repel, if he permits his reason to act, and his rule of moral life will follow of course.
  • Each government accuses the other of perfidy, intrigue and ambition, as a means of heating the imagination of their respective nations, and incensing them to hostilities. Man is not the enemy of man, but through the medium of a false system of government.

 

  • Let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarcy, that in America the law is King. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other.
  • Now is the seedtime of continental union, faith and honor. The least fracture now, will be like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; the wound would enlarge with the tree, and posterity read in it full grown characters.
  • Those words, temperate and moderate, are words either of political cowardice, or of cunning, or seduction. A thing, moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper, is always a virtue; but moderation in principle, is a species of vice.
  • A constitution defines and limits the powers of the government it creates. It therefore follows, as a natural and also a logical result, that the governmental exercise of any power not authorized by the constitution is an assumed power, and therefore illegal.
  • A world of little cares is continually arising, which busy or affluent life knows nothing of, to open the first door to distress. Hunger is not among the postponable wants; and a day, even a few hours, in such a condition is often the crisis of a life of ruin.
  • If anything had or could have a value equal to gold and silver, it would require no tender law; and if it had not that value it ought not to have such a law; and, therefore, all tender laws are tyrannical and unjust and calculated to support fraud and oppression.
  • The moral duty of man consists of imitating the moral goodness and beneficence of God, manifested in the creation towards all his creatures. Everything of persecution and revenge between man and man, and everything of cruelty to animals is a violation of moral duty
  • It is not the nature of avarice to be satisfied with anything but money. Every passion that acts upon mankind has a peculiar mode of operation. Many of them are temporary and fluctuating; they admit of cessation and variety. But avarice is a fixed, uniform passion.
  • All the religions known in the world are founded, so far as they relate to man or the unity of man, as being all of one degree. Whether in heaven or in hell, or in whatever state man may be supposed to exist hereafter, the good and the bad are the only distinctions.
  • The essential psychological requirement of a free society is the willingness on the part of the individual to accept responsibility for his life. – Edith Packer When the government fears the people, it is liberty. When the people fear the government, it is tyranny.
  • In Deism our reason and our belief become happily united. The wonderful structure of the universe, and everything we behold in the system of the creation, prove to us, far better than books can do, the existence of a God, and at the same time proclaim His attributes.
  • We ought therefore to suspect that a great mass of information respecting the Bible, and the introduction of it into the world, has been suppressed by the united tyranny of Church and State, for the purpose of keeping people in ignorance, and which ought to be known.
  • I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.
  • …the individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a compact with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.
  • Call to mind the sentiments which nature has engraved on the heart of every citizen, and which take a new force when they are solemnly recognised by all:-For a nation to love liberty, it is sufficient that she knows it; and to be free, it is sufficient that she wills it.
  • Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange believe 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.
  • From whence, then, could arise the solitary and strange conceit that the Almighty, who had millions of worlds equally dependant on His protection, should quit the care of all the rest, and come to die in our world, because, they say, one man and one woman had eaten an apple?
  • Reason and Ignorance, the opposites of each other, influence the great bulk of mankind. If either of these can be rendered sufficiently extensive in a country, the machinery of Government goes easily on. Reason obeys itself; and Ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
  • If any generation of men ever possessed the right of dictating the mode by which the world should be governed for ever, it was the first generation that existed; and if that generation did it not, no succeeding generation can show any authority for doing it, nor can set any up.
  • The duty of man is not a wilderness of turnpike gates, through which he is to pass by tickets from one to the other. It is plain and simple, and consists but of two points–his duty God, which every man must feel; and, with respect to his neighbor, to do as he would be done by.
  • The aristocracy are not the farmers who work the land, and raise the produce, but are the mere consumers of the rent; and when compared with the active world, are the drones, a seraglio of males, who neither collect the honey nor form the hive, but exist only for lazy enjoyment.
  • The case, however, is, that the Bible will not bear examination in any part of it, which it would do if it was the Word of God. Those who most believe it are those who know least about it, and priests always take care to keep the inconsistent and contradictory parts out of sight.
  • Prejudice, like the spider, makes everywhere its home. It has neither taste nor choice of place, and all that it requires is room. If the one prepares her food by poisoning it to her palate and her use, the other does the same. Prejudice may be denominated the spider of the mind.
  • It is not because a part of the government is elective, that makes it less a despotism, if the persons so elected, possess afterwards, as a parliament, unlimited powers. Election, in this case, becomes separated from representation, and the candidates are candidates for despotism.
  • Government is not a trade which any man or body of men has a right to set up and exercise for his own emolument, but is altogether a trust, in right of those by whom that trust is delegated, and by whom it is always resumable. It has of itself no rights; they are altogether duties.
  • Government has no right to make itself a party in any debates respecting the principles or mode of forming or of changing, constitutions. It is not for the benefit of those who exercise the powers of government, that constitutions, and the governments issuing from them, are established.
  • Natural rights are those which always appertain to man in right of his existence. Of this kind are all the intellectual rights, or rights of the mind, and also all those rights of acting as an individual for his own comfort and happiness, which are not injurious to the rights of others.
  • Universal empire is the prerogative of a writer. His concerns are with all mankind, and though he cannot command their obedience,he can assign them their duty. The Republic of Letters is more ancient than monarchy, and of far higher character in the world than the vassal court of Britain.
  • If, to expose the fraud and imposition of monarchy . . . to promote universal peace, civilization, and commerce, and to break the chains of political superstition, and raise degraded man to his proper rank; if these things be libellous . . . let the name of libeller be engraved on my tomb
  • Those who knew Benjamin Franklin will recollect that his mind was forever 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.
  • Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.
  • For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have the right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others forever, and tho’ himself might deserve some decent degree of honours of his cotemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them.
  • As my object was not myself, I set out with the determination, and happily with the disposition, of not being moved by praise or censure, friendship or calumny, nor of being drawn from my purpose by any personal altercation; and the man who cannot do this, is not fit for a public character.
  • Rights are not gifts from one man to another, nor from one class of men to another. It is impossible to discover any origin of rights otherwise than in the origin of man; it consequently follows that rights appertain to man in right of his existence, and must therefore be equal to every man.
  • A government on the principles on which constitutional governments arising out of society are established, cannot have the right of altering itself. If it had, it would be arbitrary. It might make itself what it pleased; and wherever such a right is set up, it shows there is no constitution.
  • The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case.
  • It has been the scheme of the Christian Church, and of all the other invented systems of religion, to hold 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.
  • There now remain only a few books, which they call books of the lesser prophets; and as I have already shown that the greater are impostors, it would be cowardice to disturb the repose of the little ones. Let them sleep, then, in the arms of their nurses, the priests, and both be forgotten together.
  • There is a happiness in Deism, when rightly understood, that is not to be found inany other system of religion. All other systems have something in them that either shock our reason, or are repugnant to it, and man, if he thinks at all, must stifle his reason in order to force himself to believe them.
  • It is, I believe, impossible to find in any story upon record so many and such glaring absurdities, contradictions, and falsehoods, as are in the books [The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John]. They are more numerous and striking than I had any expectation of finding, when I began this examination.
  • They took care to represent government as a thing made up of mysteries, which only themselves understood, and they hid from the understanding of the nation, the only thing that was beneficial to know, namely, that government is nothing more than a national association acting on the principles of society.
  • Public money ought to be touched with the most scrupulous conscientiousness of honor. It is not the produce of riches only, but of the hard earnings of labor and poverty. It is drawn even from the bitterness of want and misery. Not a beggar passes, or perishes in the streets, whose mite is not in that mass.
  • EVERY national church or religion has established itself by pretending some special mission from God, communicated to certain individuals. The Jews have their Moses; the Christians their Jesus Christ, their apostles and saints; and the Turks their Mahomet; as if the way to God was not open to every man alike.
  • A constitution, therefore, is to a government what the laws made afterwards by that government are to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make the laws, neither can it alter them; it only acts in conformity to the laws made: and the government is in like manner governed by the constitution.
  • It can only be by blinding the understanding of man, and making him believe that government is some wonderful mysterious thing, that excessive revenues are obtained. Monarchy is well calculated to ensure this end. It is the popery of government; a thing kept up to amuse the ignorant, and quiet them into taxes.
  • We still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry and grasping at the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised to furnish new pretenses for revenue and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without a tribute.
  • Toleration is not the opposite of intoleration, but it is the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms. The one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, and the other of granting it. The one is the pope, armed with fire and fagot, and the other is the pope selling or granting indulgences.
  • I have never made it a consideration whether the subject was popular or unpopular, but whether it was right or wrong; for that which is right will become popular, and that which is wrong, though by mistake it may obtain the cry or fashion of the day, will soon lose the power of delusion, and sink into disesteem.
  • The burden of the national debt consists not in its being so many millions, or so many hundred millions, but in the quantity of taxes collected every year to pay the interest. If this quantity continue the same, the burden of the national debt is the same to all intents and purposes, be the capital more or less.
  • That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of nations, is as shocking as it is true; but when those who are concerned in the government of a country, make it their study to sow discord and cultivate predjudices between nations, it becomes the more unpardonable.
  • Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins … Society is in every state a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.
  • Change of ministers amounts to nothing. One goes out, another comes in, and still the same measures, vices, and extravagances are pursued. It signifies not who is minister. The defect lies in the system. The foundation and superstructure of the government is bad. Prop it as you please, it continually sinks and ever will.
  • The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world not destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside … Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them … the weak will become prey to the strong.
  • As property, honestly obtained, is best secured by an equality of rights, so ill-gotten property depends for protection on a monopoly of rights. He who has robbed another of his property, will next endeavor to disarm him of his rights, to secure that property; for when the robber becomes the legislator he believes himself secure.
  • A government of our own is our natural right; and when a man seriously reflects on the precariousness of human affairs, he will become convinced, that it is infinitely wiser and safer, to form a constitution of our own in a cool deliberate manner, while we have it in our power, than to trust such an interesting event to time and chance.
  • Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to “bind me in all cases whatsoever” to his absolute will, am I to suffer it?
  • Man is not the enemy of man, but through the medium of a false system of Government. Instead, therefore, of exclaiming against the ambition of kings, the exclamation should be directed against the principle of such governments; and instead of seeking to reform the individual, the wisdom of a nation should apply itself to reform the system.
  • Civil rights are those which appertain to man in right of his being a member of society. Every civil right has for its foundation some natural right pre-existing in the individual, but to the enjoyment of which his individual power is not, in all cases, sufficiently competent. Of this kind are all those which relate to security and protection.
  • When I contemplate the natural dignity of man; when I feel (for Nature has not been kind enough to me to blunt my feelings) for the honor and happiness of its character, I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were all knaves and fools, and can scarcely avoid disgust at those who are thus imposed upon.
  • Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize humankind.
  • Now, which am I to believe, a book that any impostor might make and call the Word of God, or the creation itself which none but an Almighty Power could make? For the Bible says one thing; and the creation says the contrary. The Bible represents God with all the passions of a mortal, and the creation proclaims him with all the attributes of a God.
  • Panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstone of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might have lain forever undiscovered.
  • Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.
  • This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.
  • The Christian religion and Masonry have one and the same common origin: Both are derived from the worship of the Sun. The difference between their origin is, that the Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the Sun, in which they put a man whom they call Christ, in the place of the Sun, and pay him the same adoration which was originally paid to the Sun.
  • Whence arose all the horrid assassinations of whole nations of men, women, and infants, with which the Bible is filled; and the bloody persecutions, and tortures unto death, and religiosu wars, that since that time have laid Europe in blood and ashes; whence arose they, but from this impious thing called religion, and this monstrous belief that God has spoken to man?
  • It is a fool only, and not the philosopher, nor even the prudent man, that will live as if there were no God… Were a man impressed as fully and strongly as he ought to be with the belief of a God, his moral life would be regulated by the force of belief; he would stand in awe of God and of himself, and would not do the thing that could not be concealed from either.
  • The continual whine of lamenting the burden of taxes, however successfully it may be practiced in mixed governments, is inconsistent with the sense and spirit of a republic. If taxes are necessary, they are of course advantageous, but if they require an apology, the apology itself implies an impeachment. Why, then, is man imposed upon, or why does he impose upon himself?
  • The fable of Christ and his twelve apostles is a parody of the sun and the twelve signs of the Zodiac, copied from the ancient religions of the Eastern world. Every thing 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.
  • Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication- after that it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it can not be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to ME, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.
  • Money, when considered as the fruit of many years’ industry, as the reward of labor, sweat and toil, as the widow’s dowry and children’s portion, and as the means of procuring the necessaries and alleviating the afflictions of life, and making old age a scene of rest, has something in it sacred that is not to be sported with, or trusted to the airy bubble of paper currency.
  • The circumstances of the world are continually changing, and the opinions of men change also; and as government is for the living, and not for the dead, it is the living only that has any right in it. That which may be thought right and found convenient in one age, may be thought wrong and found inconvenient in another. In such cases, who is to decide, the living, or the dead?
  • To bring the matter to one point, Is the power who is jealous of our prosperity, a proper power to govern us? Whoever says, No, to this question, is an independent, for independency means no more than this, whether we shall make our own law, or, whether the king, the greatest enemy which this continent hath, or can have, shall tell us there shall be no laws but such as I like.
  • Government ought to be as much open to improvement as anything which appertains to man, instead of which it has been monopolized from age to age, by the most ignorant and vicious of the human race. Need we any other proof of their wretched management, than the excess of debts and taxes with which every nation groans, and the quarrels into which they have precipitated the world?”
  • It requires but a very small glance of thought to perceive, that although laws made in one generation often continue in force through succeeding generations, yet that they continue to derive their force from the consent of the living. A law not repealed continues in force, not because it cannot be repealed, but because it is not repealed; and the non repealing passes for consent.
  • ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have long expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.
  • In the first part of ‘Rights of Man’ I have endeavoured to show…that there does not exist a right to establish hereditary government…because hereditary government always means a government yet to come, and the case always is, that the people who are to live afterwards, have always the same right to choose a government for themselves, as the people had who have lived before them.
  • It is not a 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
  • A constitution is not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government; and government without a constitution is power without a right. All power exercised over a nation, must have some beginning. It must be either delegated, or assumed. There are not other sources. All delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation. Time does not alter the nature and quality of either.
  • The continually progressive change to which the meaning of words is subject, the want of a universal language which renders translation necessary, the errors to which translations are again subject, the mistakes of copyists and printers, together with the possibility of willful alteration, are themselves evidences that human language, whether in speech or print, cannot be the vehicle of the Word of God.
  • When it shall be said in any country in the world my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want; the taxes are not oppressive; the rational world is my friend, because I am a friend of its happiness: When these things can be said, there may that country boast its Constitution and its Government
  • In a general view, there are few conquests that repay the charge of making them, and mankind are pretty well convinced that it can never be worth their while to go to war for profit’s sake. If they are made war upon, their country invaded, or their existence at stake, it is their duty to defend and preserve themselves, but in every other light, and from every other cause, is war inglorious and detestable.
  • I had come to realize the importance of the Nation, and of shared, communal, social responsibility, to be held as equally important as individual concerns. The elderly, the widowed, newly married couples, the poor, the unemployed, disbanded soldiers and children, who would be required to attend school, must be provided for from state funds. And all this support is not the nature of charity, but of a right.
  • Could the peaceable principle of the Quakers be universally established, arms and the art of war would be wholly extirpated: But we live not in a world of angels…I am thus far a Quaker, that I would gladly agree with all the world to lay aside the use of arms, and settle matters by negotiation: but unless the whole will, the matter ends, and I take up my musket and thank Heaven He has put it in my power.
  • I wish most anxiously to see my much loved America – it is the Country from whence all reformations must originally spring – I despair of seeing an Abolition of the infernal trafic in Negroes – we must push that matter further on your side the water – I wish that a few well instructed Negroes could be sent among their Brethren in Bondage, for until they are enabled to take their own part nothing will be done.
  • The prejudice of unfounded belief often degenerates into the prejudice of custom, and becomes at last rank hypocrisy. When men, from custom or fashion or any worldly motive, profess or pretend to believe what they do not believe, nor can give any reason for believing, they unship the helm of their morality, and being no longer honest to their own minds they feel no moral difficulty in being unjust to others.
  • Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.
  • The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.
  • It is for the good of nations, and not for the emolument or aggrandizement of particular individuals, that government ought to be established, and that mankind are at the expense of supporting it. The defects of every government and constitution both as to principle and form, must, on a parity of reasoning, be as open to discussion as the defects of a law, and it is a duty which every man owes to society to point them out.
  • Each of those churches shows certain books, which they call revelation, or the Word of God. The Jews say that their Word of God was given by God to Moses face to face; the Christians say, that their Word of God came by divine inspiration; and the Turks say, that their Word of God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from heaven. Each of those churches accuses the other of unbelief; and, for my own part, I disbelieve them all.
  • In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense; and have no other preliminaries to settle with the reader, than that he will divest himself of prejudice and repossession, and suffer his reason and feelings to determine for themselves; and that he will put on, or rather that he will not put off, the true character of man, and generously enlarge his view beyond the present day.
  • 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; and well they may, for it is too fanciful and too full of conjecture, inconsistency, improbability and irrationality, to afford consolation to the thoughtful man. His reason revolts against his creed. He sees that none of its articles are proved, or can be proved.
  • 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.
  • But though every created thing is, in this sense, a mystery, the word mystery cannot be applied to moral truth, any more than obscurity can be applied to light. … 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.
  • It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences, and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles: he can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.
  • There never did, there never will, and there never can exist a parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any country, possessed of the right or the power of binding and controlling posterity to the ‘end of time,’ or of commanding for ever how the world shall be governed, or who shall govern it. Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself, in all cases, as the ages and generations which preceded it.
  • Uncritical reverence for the Founding Fathers was less ubiquitous while they actually lived. . . . “The Reign of Terror that raged in America during the latter end of the Washington Administration, and the whole of that of Adams, is enveloped in mystery to me. That there were men in the Government hostile to the representative system, was once their toast, though it is now their overthrow, and therefore the fact is established against them.”
  • The Almighty Lecturer, by displaying the principles of science in the structure of the universe, has invited man to study and to imitation. It is as if He has said to the inhabitants of this globe that we call ours, “I have made an earth for man to dwell upon, and I have rendered the starry heavens visible, to teach him science and the arts. He can now provide for his own comfort, and learn from my munificence to all to be kind to each other.
  • These proceedings may at first seem strange and difficult, but like all other steps which we have already passed over, will in a little time become familiar and agreeable: and until an independence is declared, the Continent will feel itself like a man who continues putting off some unpleasant business from day to day, yet knows it must be done, hates to set about it, wishes it over, and is continually haunted with the thoughts of its necessity.
  • Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe. It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.
  • Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It has its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished. The mutual dependence and reciprocal interest which man has upon man, and all the parts of civilised community upon each other, create that great chain of connection which holds it together.
  • But there is another and greater distinction for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned, and that is the distinction of men into kings and subjects. Male and female are the distinctions of nature, good and bad the distinctions of heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind.
  • The Christian religion is derogatory to the Creator in all its articles. It puts the Creator in an inferior point of view, and places the Christian devil above him. It is he, according to the absurd story in Genesis, that outwits the Creator in the Garden Eden, and steals from Him His favorite creature, man, and at last obliges Him to beget a son, and put that son to death, to get man back again; and this the priests of the Christian religion call redemption.
  • 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.
  • 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 these things is the true theology; it teaches man to know and admire the Creator, for the principles of science are in the creation, and are unchangeable and of divine origin.
  • Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods. It would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to tax) but “to bind us in all cases whatsoever,” and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious, for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.
  • Men who are sincere in defending their freedom, will always feel concern at every circumstance which seems to make against them; it is the natural and honest consequence of all affectionate attachments, and the want of it is a vice. But the dejection lasts only for a moment; they soon rise out of it with additional vigor; the glow of hope, courage and fortitude, will, in a little time, supply the place of every inferior passion, and kindle the whole heart into heroism.
  • One of the evils of paper money is that it turns the whole country into stock jobbers. The precariousness of its value and the uncertainty of its fate continually operate, night and day, to produce this destructive effect. Having no real value in itself it depends for support upon accident, caprice, and party; and as it is the interest of some to depreciate and of others to raise its value, there is a continual invention going on that destroys the morals of the country.
  • People in general know not what wickedness there is in this pretended word of God. Brought up in habits of superstition, they take it for granted that the Bible is true, and that it is good; they permit themselves not to doubt of it, and they carry the ideas they form of the benevolence of the Almighty to the book which they have been taught to believe was written by his authority. Good heavens! It is quite another thing; it is a book of lies, wickedness, and blasphemy.
  • Paper money is like dram-drinking, it relieves for a moment by deceitful sensation, but gradually diminishes the natural heat, and leaves the body worse than it found it. Were not this the case, and could money be made of paper at pleasure, every sovereign in Europe would be as rich as he pleased. But the truth is, that it is a bubble and the attempt vanity. Nature has provided the proper materials for money: gold and silver, and any attempt of ours to rival her is ridiculous.
  • 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?
  • Cultivation is at least one of the greatest natural improvements ever made by human invention. It has given to created earth a tenfold value. But the landed monopoly that began with it has produced the greatest evil. It has dispossessed more than half the inhabitants of every nation of their natural inheritance, without providing for them, as ought to have been done, an indemnification for that loss, and has thereby created a species of poverty and wretchedness that did not exist before.
  • I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent. Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils.
  • Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it. Say not that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands; throw not the burden of the day upon Providence, but “show your faith by your works,” that God may bless you. It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all.
  • The most horrible wickedness and cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have troubled the human race began with this thing called revelation, or revealed religion. … It would be far, far better for us to let a thousand devils roam the world, and publicly preach the doctrine of devils (if there were such a thing, which there isn’t), than to let one impostor and monster such a Moses, Joshua, Samuel or the Bible prophets come speaking the so-called word of God, and causing men to believe it.
  • It is unnatural that a pure stream should flow from a foul fountain its vices are but a continuation of the vices of its origin. A man of moral honor and good political principles, cannot submit to the mean drudgery and disgraceful arts, by which such elections are carried. To be a successful candidate, he must be destitute of the qualities that constitute a just legislator: and being thus disciplined to corruption it is not to be expected that the representative should be better than the man.
  • 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.
  • It is never to be expected in a revolution that every man is to change his opinion at the same moment. There never yet was any truth or any principle so irresistibly obvious that all men believed it at once. Time and reason must cooperate with each other to the final establishment of any principle; and therefore those who may happen to be first convinced have not a right to persecute others, on whom conviction operates more slowly. The moral principle of revolutions is to instruct, not to destroy.
  • Never, I say, had a country so many openings to happiness as this…. Her cause was good. Her principles just and liberal. Her temper serene and firm…. The remembrance then of what is past, if it operates rightly must inspire her with the most laudable of an ambition, that of adding to the fair fame she began with. The world has seen her great adversity…. Let then, the world see that she can bear prosperity; and that her honest virtue in time of peace is equal to the bravest virtue in time of war.
  • The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools, in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only, has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of his existence. They labour with studied ingenuity to ascribe every thing they behold to innate properties of matter, and jump over all the rest by saying, that matter is eternal.
  • There are a set of men who go about making purchases upon credit, and buying estates they have not wherewithal to pay for; and having done this, their next step is to fill the newspapers with paragraphs of the scarcity of money and the necessity of a paper emission, then to have a legal tender under the pretense of supporting its credit, and when out, to depreciate it as fast as they can, get a deal of it for a little price, and cheat their creditors; and this is the concise history of paper money schemes.
  • The intellectual part of religion is a private affair between every man and his Maker, and in which no third party has any right to interfere. The practical part consists in our doing good to each other. But since religion has been made into a trade, the practical part has been made to consist of ceremonies performed by men called priests … 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.
  • When the rich plunder the poor of his rights, it becomes an example for the poor to plunder the rich of his property, for the rights of the one are as much property to him as wealth is property to the other, and the little all is as dear as the much. It is only by setting out on just principles that men are trained to be just to each other; and it will always be found, that when the rich protect the rights of the poor, the poor will protect the property of the rich. But the guarantee, to be effectual, must be parliamentarily reciprocal.
  • America could carry on a two years’ war by the confiscation of the property of disaffected persons, and be made happy by their expulsion. Say not that this is revenge, call it rather the soft resentment of a suffering people, who, having no object in view but the good of all, have staked their own all upon a seemingly doubtful event. Yet it is folly to argue against determined hardness; eloquence may strike the ear, and the language of sorrow draw forth the tear of compassion, but nothing can reach the heart that is steeled with prejudice.
  • The earth, in its natural, uncultivated state was, and ever would have continued to be, the common property of the human race.” As the land gets cultivated, “it is the value of the improvement, only, and not the earth itself, that is in individual property. Every proprietor, therefore, of cultivated lands, owes to the community a ground-rent..to every person, rich or poor…because it is in lieu of the natural inheritance, which, as a right, belongs to every man, over and above the property he may have created, or inherited from those who did
  • As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting to ensure any thing which we may bequeath to posterity: And by a plain method of argument, as we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully. In order to discover the line of our duty rightly, we should take our children in our hand, and fix our station a few years farther into life; that eminence will present a prospect, which a few present fears and prejudices conceal from our sight.
  • The only idea man can affix to the name of God, is that of a first cause, the cause of all things. And, incomprehensibly difficult as it is for a man to conceive what a first cause is, he arrives at the belief of it, from the tenfold greater difficulty of disbelieving it. It is difficult beyond description to conceive that space can have no end; but it is more difficult to conceive an end. It is difficult beyond the power of man to conceive an eternal duration of what we call time; but it is more impossible to conceive a time when there shall be no time.
  • The Creation speaks a universal language, independent of human speech or human language, multiplied and various as they be. It is an ever-existing original, which every man can read. It cannot be forged; it cannot be counterfeited; it cannot be lost; it cannot be altered; it cannot be suppressed. It does not depend upon the will of man whether it shall be published or not; it publishes itself from one end of the earth to the other. It preaches to all nations and to all worlds; and this Word of God reveals to man all that is necessary for man to know of God.
  • It appears to general observation, that revolutions create genius and talents; but those events do no more than bring them forward. There is existing in man, a mass of sense lying in a dormant state, and which, unless something excites it to action, will descend with him, in that condition, to the grave. As it is to the advantage of society that the whole of its faculties should be employed, the construction of government ought to be such as to bring forward, by a quiet and regular operation, all that extent of capacity which never fails to appear in revolutions.
  • Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists or fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism, and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests, but so far as respects the good of man in general it leads to nothing here or hereafter.
  • As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species of Atheism ‚Äî a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to believe in a man rather than in God. It is a compound made up chiefly of Manism with but little Deism, and is as near to Atheism as twilight is to darkness. It introduces between man and his Maker an opaque body, which it calls a Redeemer, as the moon introduces her opaque self between the earth and the sun, and it produces by this means a religious, or an irreligious, eclipse of light. It has put the whole orbit of reason into shade.
  • If men will permit themselves to think, as rational beings ought to think, nothing can appear more ridiculous and absurd, exclusive of all moral reflections, than to be at the expence of building navies, filling them with men, and then hauling them into the ocean, to try which can sink each other fastester. Peace, which costs nothing, is attended with infintely more advantage than any victory with all its expence. But this, though it best answers the purpose of Nations, does not that of Court Governments, whose habited policy is pretence for taxation, places, and offices.