Saturday, March 31, 2012

The deism of Paine and Dr. Franklin was more robust than today’s spirituality

Tom Paine (d. 1809) contended in The Age of Reason that Deism is the one religion that was not invented by man:

"I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life…

The Word of God is the creation we behold… Do we want to contemplate his power?  We see it in the immensity of the creation.  Do we want to contemplate his wisdom?  We see it in the unchangeable order by which the incomprehensible Whole is governed.  Do we want to contemplate his munificence?  We see it in the abundance with which he fills the earth.  Do we want to contemplate his mercy?  We see it in his not withholding that abundance even from the unthankful…

The religion that approaches the nearest of all others to true Deism, in the moral and benign part thereof, is that professed by the Quakers [the faith of Paine's father]…

...[T]he moral duty of man consists in imitating the moral goodness and beneficence of God manifested in the creation towards all his creatures…

[T]he Creator of man is the Creator of science, and it is through that medium that man can see God, as it were, face to face… The Almighty is the great mechanic of the creation, the first philosopher, and original teacher of all science.  Let us then learn to reverence our master…"

Ben Franklin (d. 1790), from his autobiography:

"[Now that] I speak of thanking God, I desire with all humility to acknowledge that I owe the mentioned happiness of my past life to His kind providence… [T]he complexion of my future fortune [is] known to Him only in whose power it is to bless to us even our afflictions.

... I never was without some religious principles… Tho’ I seldom attended any public worship, I had still an opinion of its propriety, and of its utility when rightly conducted…

I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and govern’d it by his Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter."

Take a look at this cautionary letter from Mr. Franklin to Paine: “If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it.”

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