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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 48

Paine Struck The First Grand Blow

Paine Struck The First Grand Blow.

The "Age of Reason" did more to undermine the power of the Protestant Church than all other books then known. It furnished an immense amount of food for thought. It was written for the average mind, and is a straightforward honest investigation of the Bible and of the Christian system.

Paine did not falter from the first page to the last. He gives you his candid thought, and candid thoughts are always valuable.

The "Age of Reason" has liberalised us all. It put arguments in the mouths of the people; it put the Church on the defensive; it enabled somebody in every village to corner the parson; it made the world wiser, and the Church better; it took power from the pulpit, and divided it among the pews.

Just in proportion that the human race has advanced, the Church has lost its power. There is no exception to this rule. No nation over materially advanced that held strictly to the religion of its founders. No nation ever gave itself wholly to the control of the Church without losing its power, its honour, and existence.

Every church pretends to have found the page 10 exact truth. This is the end of progress. Why pursue that which you have? Why investigate when you know?

Every creed is a rock in running water; humanity sweeps by it. Every creed cries to the universe—Halt! A creed is the ignorant past bullying the enlightened present.

The ignorant are not satisfied with what can be demonstrated. Science is too slow for them, and so they invent creeds. They demand completeness. A sublime segment, a grand fragment, are of no value to them. They demand the complete circle—the entire structure.

In music they want a melody with a recurring accent at measured periods. In religion they insist upon immediate answers to the questions of creation and destiny. The alpha and omega of all things must be in the alphabet of their superstition. A religion that cannot answer every question and guess every conundrum is in their estimation, worse than worthless. They desire a kind of theological dictionary, a religious ready-reckoner, together with guide-boards at all crossings and turns. They mistake impudence for authority, solemnity for wisdom, and pathos for inspiration. The beginning and the end are what they demand. The grand flight of the eagle is nothing to them. They want the nest in which he was hatched, and especially the dry limb upon which he roosts. Anything that can be learned is hardly worth knowing. The present is considered of no value in itself. Happiness must not be expected this side of the clouds, and can only be attained by self-denial and faith; not self-denial for the good of others, but for the salvation of your own sweet self.

Paine denied the authority of Bibles and creeds. This was