DEISM or THEISM ABOUT PRINCIPLES OF PHYSIS (A)


I’d like to thank fellow Deists Steve Dowell and Jay Boswell for their hard work in transcribing this important Deist work by Deist pioneer and personal friend of Thomas Paine, Elihu Palmer, and allowing the WUD to use it! Elihu Palmer was a Presbyterian minister who became blind from the effects of yellow fever. As a Deist, Mr. Palmer did much to advance the cause! With the help of his wife, he gave talks on Deism, wrote and edited a Deist publication called The Prospect and wrote an outstanding book on God, Deism, “revealed” religions, etc. called Principles of Nature which we have below in its entirety. Elihu Palmer’s writing style is similar to Thomas Paine’s in that he pulled no punches and was very honest. Regarding Elihu Palmer’s writing Thomas Paine had this to say, “I received by Mr. Livingston the letter you wrote me, and the excellent work you have published. I see you have thought deeply on the subject, and expressed your thoughts in a strong and clear style. The hinting and intimating manner of writing that was formerly used on subjects of this kind produced skepticism, but not conviction. It is necessary to be bold.”

PRINCIPLES OF NATURE; OR, A DEVELOPMENT OF THE MORALS CAUSES OF HAPPINESS AND MISERY AMONG THE HUMAN SPECIES

by Elihu Palmer 1819

“I’ll not be made a soft and dull ey’d fool,
To shake the head, relent and sigh and yield
To Christian intercessors,” – Shakespeare

“Prove all things.” I Thess. v. 21.

PREFACE.
“God, to remove his ways from human sense,
Plac’d Heaven from earth so far, that earthly sight,
If it presume, might err in things too high,
And no advantage gain.” – Milton

The establishment of theological systems, claiming divine  origin, has been among the most destructive causes by which the life  of man has been afflicted. History furnishes an awful picture of the  sad and fatal effects of fanaticism among the nations of the earth;
but history furnishes only the exterior; there is a deeper internal
wound, which superstition has inflicted in the bosom of society,
subversive of all moral sympathy and the fairest traits in the  character of man. The sincerity with which many upright minds are attached to the Christian religion, can form no substantial objection against an unqualified investigation into its truth of falsehood. If
it be founded in truth, it will stand the test of every examination -it will stand the test of all future ages, and become immortal. It is  a point of justice to observe, that this work has been written under the misfortune and embarrassment of a total loss of sight. This, in
the estimation of candid minds, will form at least a partial apology for verbal incorrectness, or the want of better arrangement in the construction of sentences; but it is not offered as constituting any kind of apology for errors of opinion or principle. On this head the
fullest examination is invited; and, if any one can point out in what respect the principles herein advanced are inconsistent and  erroneous, the author will be among the first to reject and condemn them. But this must be done upon the ground of evidence, and not of
authority, as the latter bears no relation to truth. The great moral  and political questions which now agitate the world, cannot be settled by an appeal to the authority of law books, theological books, or the decisions of ecclesiastical councils; they rest upon
the broad basis of evidence, and by this principle alone they must be  determined. The circumstance that the author was once a public speaker in the cause of Christianity, which is here opposed, so far  from forming a reasonable objection against the perusal of this work,ought to become an additional motive of attention; for it was by a candid and attentive investigation into the character of revealed religion, that he became convinced that it was neither true nor divine. It was, therefore, a duty which he owed to the integrity of  his own mind, and what was deemed the best interests of human society, to abandon that system, and assume a higher and better  ground – that of Nature, and the immutability of her laws. If any one  should be disposed to censure on this account, let him remember that there is more honour and much more utility in the relinquishment than
in the retention of errors. The new chapters contained in this  edition are intended to awaken a spirit of philosophic inquiry in every description of adherents to the ancient regimen, and to induce them to pass once more in review the religious theories to which they have been so strongly attached. The principal design of the author,
through the whole of this work, has been to give to moral principle a  basis as durable as time, and as immortal as the specific succession of human existence; and to render the sentiment of virtue, as far as possible, independent of all the theological reveries of antiquity.

CHAPTER I.
THE POWER OF INTELLECT, ITS DUTY, AND THE OBSTACLES THAT OPPOSE ITS
PROGRESS.
The sources of hope and consolation to the human race are to be sought for in the energy of intellectual powers. To these, every specific amelioration must bear a constant and invariable reference; and whatever opposes the progress of such a power, is unquestionably  in most pointed opposition to the best and most important interests
of our species. The organic construction of man induces a strong conclusion that no limits can possibly be assigned to his moral and scientific improvements. The question relative to the nature and substance of the human mind, is of much less consequence than that
which relates to the extent of force and capacity, and the diversified modes of beneficial application. The strength of human understanding is incalculable, its keenness of discernment would ultimately penetrate into every part of nature, were it permitted to
operate with uncontrolled and unqualified freedom. It is because this sublime principle of man has been constantly the object of the most scurrilous abuse, and the most detestable invective from superstition, that his moral existence has been buried in the gulf of
ignorance, and his intellectual powers tarnished by the ferocious and impure hand of fanaticism. Although we are made capable of sublime reflections, it has hitherto been deemed a crime to think, and a still greater crime to speak our thoughts after they have been conceived. The despotism of the universe had waged war against the
power of the human understanding, and for many ages successfully combated its efforts, but the natural energy of this immortal  property of human existence was incapable of being controlled by such extraneous and degrading restraints. It burst the walls of its
prison, explored the earth, discovered the properties of its component parts, analyzed their natures, and gave to them specific classification and arrangement. Not content with terrestrial researches, intellect abandoned the earth, and travelled in quest of
science through the celestial regions. The heavens were explored, the stars were counted, and the revolutions of the planets subjected to mathematical calculation. All nature became the theatre of human action, and man in his unbounded and ardent desire attempted to
embrace the universe. Such was the nature of his powers, such their strength and fervour, that hopes and anticipations were unqualified and unlimited. The subordinate objects in the great mass of existence were decompounded, and the essential peculiarities of their different natures delineated with astonishing accuracy and wonderful precision.
Situated in the midst of a world of physical wonders, and having made  some progress in the analytical decomposition of material substances,and the relative position of revolving orbs, man began to turn his powers to the nice disquisitions of the subtle properties of his
mental existence. Here the force of his faculties was opposed by the  darkness and difficulties of the subject; and superstition, ever ready to arrest and destroy moral improvement, cast innumerable difficulties in the way, and the bewildered mind found this part of the system of nature less accessible than the physical universe,
whose prominent disparities struck the understanding and presented clear discrimination. The ignorance and barbarism of former ages, it is said, furnish an awful intimation of the imbecility of our mental powers, and the hopeless condition of the human race. If thought be reflected back for the purpose of recognizing through a long night of time, the miseries and ignorance of the species, there will be found,no doubt, powerful causes of lamentation; but courage will be resuscitated when the energy of intellect is displayed, and the
improvement of the world, which has been already made, shall be clearly exhibited to view. It is not sufficient that man acknowledge the possession of his intellectual powers, it is also necessary that these powers should be developed, and their force directed to the
discovery of direct principle, and the useful application of it to  social life; errors, evils, and vices, every where exist, and by these the world has been rendered continually wretched, and the history of mankind furnishes the dreadful lessons, and shocks the sensibility of every human being. The savage ferocity of despotism  has destroyed the harmony of society; the unrelenting cruelty of superstition has cut asunder the finest fibres that ever concreted the hearts of intelligent beings. It has buried beneath its gloomy  vale all the moral properties of our existence, and entombed in the grave of ignorance and terror, the most sublime energies, and the purest affections of the human mind. An important duty is therefore imposed upon intellect, and a departure from its faithful performance
should be ranked among the crimes which have most disgraced and injured the felicity of the world. If the few philanthropists who have embarked in the cause of humanity, have not been adequately rewarded, it is, nevertheless, true, that the principle and force of
duty remain the same, unbroken and incapable of being abrogated. It is the discovery and propagation of truth which ought to engage the attention of man, and call forth the powerful activity of his mind.
The nature of ancient institutions, instead of forming a reason  against the activity of mind, should be considered as constituting a double stimulus; these institutions are such a complete abandonment of every just and correct principle; they have been so destructive in their operation and effects, that nothing but the strong and  energetic movement of the human understanding will be capable of subverting them. The whole earth has been made the wretched abode of ignorance and misery; and to priests and tyrants these dreadful
effects are to be attributed. These are the privileged monsters who  have subjugated the earth, destroyed the peace and industry of society, and committed the most atrocious of all robberies; that which had robbed human nature of its intellectual property, leaving
all in a state of waste and barrenness. Moses, Zoroaster, Jesus, and  Mahomet, are names celebrated in history; but what are they celebrated for? Have their institutions softened the savage ferocity of man? Have they developed a clear system of principle, either
moral, scientific, or philosophical? Have they encouraged the free  and unqualified operation of intellect, or, rather, by their institutions, has not a gloom been thrown over the clearest subjects, and their examination prohibited under the severest penalties? The
successors and followers of these men have adhered to the destructive lessons of their masters with undeviating tenacity. This has formed one of the most powerful obstacles to the progress of improvement, and still threatens, with eternal “damnation”, that man who shall call in question the truth of their “dogmas”, or the divinity of
their systems.

The political tyranny of the earth coalesced with this phalanx   of religious despots, and the love of science and of virtue was nearly banished from the world. Twelve centuries of moral and political darkness, in which Europe was involved, had nearly completed the destruction of human dignity, and every thing valuable or ornamental in the character of man. During this long and doleful night of ignorance, slavery, and superstition, Christianity reigned  triumphant; its doctrines and divinity were not called in question.
The power of the Pope, the clergy, and the church, were omnipotent;
nothing could restrain their phrenzy, nothing could control the cruelty of their fanaticism; with mad enthusiasm they set on foot the most bloody and terrific crusades, the object of which was to recover from infidels the “Holy Land”. Seven hundred thousand men are said to have perished in the two first expeditions, which had been thus commenced and carried on by the pious zeal of the Christian church,and in the total amount, several millions were found numbered with the dead: the awful effects of religious fanaticism presuming upon
the aid of heaven. It was then that man lost all his dignity, and sunk to the condition of a brute; it was then that intellect received  a deadly blow, from which it did not recover till the fifteenth century. From that time to the present, the progress of knowledge has
been constantly accelerated; independence of mind has been asserted,
and opposing obstacles have been gradually diminished. The church has resigned a part of her power, the better to retain the remainder;
civil tyranny has been shaken to its centre in both hemispheres; the  malignity of superstition is abating, and every species of  “quackery”, imposture, and imposition, are yielding to the light and power of science. An awful contest has commenced, which must
terminate in the destruction of thrones and civil despotism; in the  annihilation of ecclesiastical pride and domination; or, on the other hand, intellect, science, and manly virtue, will be crushed in one general ruin, and the world will retrograde towards a state of
ignorance, barbarism, and misery. The latter however is an event  rendered almost impossible by the discovery of the art of printing,
by the expansion of mind, and the general augmentation of knowledge. Church and State may unite to form an insurmountable barrier against the extension of thought, the moral progress of nations and the felicity of nature; but let it be recollected, that the guarantee for the moral and political emancipation is already deposited in the  archives of every school and college, and in the mind of every  cultivated and enlightened man of all countries. It will henceforth  be a vain and fruitless attempt to reduce the earth to that state of  slavery of which the history of former ages has furnished such an awful picture. The crimes of ecclesiastical despots are still corroding upon the very vitals of human society; the severities of civil power will never be forgotten. The destructive influence of
ancient institutions will teach us to seek in nature and the  knowledge of her laws, for the discovery of those principles whose operation alone can emancipate the world from dreadful bondage. If in  the succeeding chapters we shall be able to destroy any considerable  portion of human errors, and establish some solid truths, our labours
will bear a relation to the progressive improvement of the human  race, which, to intelligent minds, is of all considerations the most beneficial and important.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

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About sooteris kyritsis

Job title: (f)PHELLOW OF SOPHIA Profession: RESEARCHER Company: ANTHROOPISMOS Favorite quote: "ITS TIME FOR KOSMOPOLITANS(=HELLINES) TO FLY IN SPACE." Interested in: Activity Partners, Friends Fashion: Classic Humor: Friendly Places lived: EN THE HIGHLANDS OF KOSMOS THROUGH THE DARKNESS OF AMENTHE
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