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"He [Dr. Priestley] dared not give a comparison of
the Old Testament with that of the New; he would have been eaten alive by the cannibal priests."
"While I have classed these [priests] with necromancers and soothsayers, I place him [Jesus] among the greatest reformers of morals, and scourges of priestcraft, that have ever existed."
To Rev. Jared Sparks: "The metaphysical inanities of Athanasius, of Loyola, and of Calvin, are, to my understanding, mere relapses into polytheism, differing from paganism only by being more unintelligible. Verily, I say, these are the false shepherds-they are the mere usurpers of the Christian name, teaching a counter religion, made up of the deliria of crazy imaginations, as foreign from Christianity as is that of Mahomet. Their blasphemies have driven thinking men into infidelity."
To Dr. Waterhouse: "I would as soon think of bringing the crazy skulls of bedlam to sound understanding, as inculcate reason into that of an Athanasian.”
In our Richmond
To Dr. Cooper: "This must be owing to the growth of Presbyterianism. The blasphemies and absurdities of the five points of Calvin, and the impossibility of defending them, renders their advocates impatient of reasoning, irritable, and prone to denunciation. In Boston, however, and its neighborhood, Unitarianism has advanced to such great strength as now to humble the haughtiest of all religious sects. there is much fanaticism, but chiefly among the women. They have their night meetings and praying parties, where, attended by their priests, and sometimes by a henpecked husband, they pour forth the effusions of their love to Jesus in terms as amatory and carnal as their modesty would permit them to use to a more earthly lover."
To James Smith: "Nor was the Unity of the Supreme Being ousted from the Christian creed by the force of reason, but by the sword of civil government, wielded by the fanatic Athanasius. The hocus pocus fanaticism of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands of martyrs.". "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus
by the Supreme Being in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."
We conclude, without comment, these "elegant extracts," with a sketch of a distinguished clergyman, from a letter to a political friend :
"I do not know
personally; but by character, well. He is the most red hot federalist, famous, or rather infamous, for the lying and slandering which he vomited from the pulpit, in the political harangues with which he polluted the place."
The attempt has frequently been made to give respectability to Jefferson's skepticism by linking it to Unitarianism. His granddaughter says, according to the North American, that "his sympathies were much stronger with the Unitarians than any other of the religious denominations," and that "he had known and esteemed Dr. Priestley." Dr. Randall gives countenance to the same idea in the assertion that "Jefferson dissented from some of Priestley's leading views," as if the opinions of the first were nearer the evangelical standard than those of the author of "the corruptions of Christianity." Jefferson, it is certain, regarded with favor the expansion of Unitarianism, and declared, "I confidently expect that the present generation will see that faith become the general religion of the United States"-a preference and a false prophecy to be accounted for by his desire to see the opponents of Unitarianism "humbled in the dust," and those doctrines discarded which he viewed with the greatest aversion. His "creed upon paper," however, is now before us, and it has been in some shape for more than thirty years. If our friends of any denomination would palliate its offenses. against evangelical truth, or incorporate it with their own, while we denounce the imposition, it is not our business to forbid the bands. But we are concerned for the reputation of Dr. Priestley, and are not willing to see even his "scanty creed," as Gibbon called it, shrunk into the "comparative estimate," or the codification of the morals of Jesus, with exceptions on the score of "sophisms" and "misconstructions." Priestley never wrote a book on the "corruptions of Chris
tianity" by the Apostle Paul, or "misapplications of scraps of the prophets" by Jesus of Nazareth. Whatever may have been the vagaries of Priestley concerning "matter and spirit," the Atonement, and the Divinity of Christ, he believed in the genuineness and authenticity of the Books of the Old and New Testament, and that the Saviour was at least "a man approved of God by signs and wonders which God did by him," and his "Institutes of Revealed Religion" are among our best treatises on the external evidences of Christianity. Why couple such a name with that of Thomas Jefferson? Let him stand by himself, on his own platform, consisting of a "counterpoise of good works," Deism, the "social utilities," and "philosophy of Jesus," an octavo of forty-six pages of pure gospel, and do his own singing in the use of the twenty-third Psalm with that impressive manner for which, it is said, he was distinguished. If he must have a compeer and prototype, let him stand up by the side of his old associate, Thomas Paine, who was as much a Christian, and no more an infidel. We must be excused for using the last term, since it is applicable to nobody in particular. Every one now may set up for himself in a religious way, pitch his tabernacle inside or out side the sacred inclosures, deny the Divinity and authority of the Bible, reduce the largest part to legends, myths, fumes of a disordered imagination, hyperbolism, &c.; and if, after patient inquiry, "a life of study and reflection," he is convinced of the sublimity of portions of the Old Testament, and the morality of parts of the New, can cry God is God, and reason is his prophet, he will never lose a place in the saints' calendar. If some old people still think that Paine was an infidel they are mistaken, if his own declarations and those of his friends and biographers are to be credited! "What," said Paine, in a letter to one who accused him of being an infidel, “What, my good Sir, do you call believing in God infidelity, for this is the essence of my Age of Reason!" Paine included in his "creed upon paper," morality, "theophilanthopism" and the excellency of the teachings of Jesus. "He was," says Paine, "a virtuous and amiable man. The
morality which he preached and practiced was of the most benevolent kind, and though similar systems of morality have been preached, it was not exceeded by any." His biographer remarks, "I make use of the word superstition because Mr. Paine was strictly a Christian in the proper sense of the term, which, as before observed, is pure deism." Dr. Watson, in his reply to the Age of Reason, compliments the author on the "philosophical sublimity of some of his ideas when speaking of the Creator of the Universe." Paine's "most confidential writings," like Jefferson's, advance into a belief of a future state of rewards and punishments. "My own opinion is," he says, "that those whose lives have been spent in doing good and in endeavoring to make others happy, for this is the only way in which we can serve God, will be happy hereafter, and that the wicked will receive some punishment." What more is required to prove that the author of the Age of Reason was a Christian in the "proper sense of the term?" By parity of reasoning Mr. Jefferson was a Christian in what he understood to be "the right sense of the word." The striking coinci
dence of their religious views led us to prepare, which we are obliged to omit, a "comparative estimate" of "Paine's Theological Works," and Jefferson's Body of Divinity.
Whatever may have been the speculations of this "public professor of Christianity," he cherished them, apparently, without misgiving, to the close of his life, and passed away uncheered by the presence of a Divine Saviour, and as insensible to the gathering gloom of a new and awful world as Hume or Gibbon. "With one foot in the grave," he writes to a skeptical friend, "my business is to beguile the wearysomeness of declining life by the delights of classical learning and of mathematical truth, and by the consolation of a sound philosophy, equally indifferent to hope and to fear." "However his thoughts were occupied in his last moments," says his friend, Professor Tucker, "it does not appear that his conversation turned at all upon religion. When the name of Mr. Hatch, an Episcopal clergyman of Charlottesville, was announced, 'Is that Mr. Hatch?' he said. 'He is a good man, and I am glad to see him as a neighbor, but. The impres
sion upon the bystanders was, that he did not wish to avail himself of Mr. Hatch's clerical functions."
In connection with Mr. Jefferson's religious creed we are constrained to notice the latest version of his moral character. Dr. Randall, laboring to express his exalted conceptions of the pure life of his hero, laments the "absence of those little faults, foibles, blunders, and even serious errors," which give point and piquancy to personal narrative. "On the score," he says, "of character we will not say we regret Mr. Jefferson's scrupulousness of demeanor down to trifles-but we regret it as a serious misfortune to a writer of his life." Such praise, by its excess, loses in part its intended significance and betrays a lurking belief that the subject of this eulogy greatly needed it for the concealment of some moral deformity, such as has been attributed to him by tradition and history.
We have already alluded to the belief which showed itself in popular speech and periodical literature, and which has lost none of its credit through the lapse of time. In the region where he lived, the traveler now can hardly fail to hear the most unfavorable reports touching his private history, narrated in detail, and specifically as to persons and circumstances. And as truth bounds and sometimes invades the region of romance, we are not surprised if the representations go beyond the reality, at least in the surrounding scenery of the principal figure, when his residence is fitted up with chambers, casements, and passages of mysterious import, with all the inventions of sensual art to hide itself from intrusion or indulge its desires in pictures, statuary, and
"The lascivious tinklings
Of lulling instruments, the softening voices
The palace of Sardanapalus could not have contained more incentives to unlawful gratifications than the dwelling which fancy has built for the voluptuary of Monticello. All these tales cannot pass for fables springing out of the brains of his political enemies. If some of them are embellished, they show the current of public opinion and furnish presumptive proof of the impurity of the person to whom they relate. It is a new turn of events if this man should be "so held in