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are any Gods: he denies the immortality of the soul, and says, there can be nothing after death.

And because the priests have the impudence to quote Cicero, in their pulpits and pamphlets, against freethinking, I am resolved to disarm them of his authority. You must know, his philosophical works are generally in dialogues, where people are brought in disputing against one another. Now the priests, when they see an argument to prove a God, offered perhaps by a stoic, are such knaves or blockheads, to quote it as if it were Cicero's own : whereas Cicero was so noble a freethinker, that he believed nothing at all of the matter, nor ever shows the least inclination to favour superstition, or the belief of God, and the immortality of the soul; unless what he throws out sometimes to save himself from danger, in his speeches to the Roman mob; whose religion was, however, much more innocent, and less absurd, than that of popery at least: and I could say more-but you understand me.

Seneca was a great freethinker, and had a noble notion of the worship of the Gods, for which our priests would call any man an atheist: he laughs at morning devotions, or worshipping upon sabbath days; he says, God has no need of ministers and servants, because he himself serves mankind. This religious man, like his religious brethren the stoics, denies the immortality of the soul; and says, all that is feigned to be so terrible in hell is but a fable: death puts an end to all our misery, &c. Yet the priests were anciently so fond of Seneca, that they forged

a correspondence of letters between him and St Paul.

Solomon himself, whose writings are called " the word of God,” was such a freethinker, that if he were now alive, nothing but his building of churches could have kept our priests from calling


him an atheist. He affirms the eternity of the world almost in the same manner with Manilius the heathen philosophical poet, which opinion entirely overthrows the history of the creation by Moses, and all the New Testament: he denies the immortality of the soul, assures us "that men die like beasts,” and “ that both go to one place.”

The prophets of the Old Testament were generally freethinkers. You must understand, that their way of learning to prophecy was by music and drinking* These prophets wrote against the established religion of the Jews (which those people looked upon as the institution of God himself), as if they believed it was all a cheat: that is to say, with as great liberty against the priests and prophets of Israel, as Dr Tindal did lately against the priests and prophets of our Israel, who has clearly shown them and their religion to be cheats. To prove this, you may read several passages in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Jeremiah, &c. wherein you will find such instances of freethinking, that, if any Englishman had talked so in our days, their opinions would have been registered in Dr Sacheverell's trial, and in the representation of the lower house of convocation, and produced as so many proofs of the prophaneness, blasphemy, and atheism of the nation; there being nothing more prophane, blasphemous, or

* Collins, after making the charge, which has been repeated by all infidels down to Thomas Paine, that the prophets acquired their fervour of spirit by the aid of music and wine, allows, nevertheless, that they were great freethinkers, and writ with as great liberty against the established religion of the Jews, which the people looked on as the institution of God himself, as if they looked upon it all to be imposture." -Discourse, p. 153, et sequen: VOL. VIII.


atheistical, in those representations, than what these prophets have spoken, whose writings are yet called by our priests, “ the word of God.” And therefore these prophets are as much atheists as myself, or as any of my freethinking brethren whom I lately named to you.

Josephus was a great freethinker. I wish he had chosen a better subject to write on, than those ignorant, barbarous, ridiculous scoundrels the Jews, whom God (if we may believe the priests) thought fit to choose for his own people. I will give you some instances of his freethinking. He says, Cain travelled through several countries, and kept company with rakes and profligate fellows; he corrupted the simplicities of former times, &c. which plainly supposes men before Adam, and consequently that the priests' history of the creation by Moses, is an imposture. He says, the Israelites passing through the Red Sea, was no more than Alexander's passing at the Pamphilian sea; that as for the appearance of God at Mount Sinai, the reader may believe it as he pleases; that Moses persuaded the Jews, he had God for his guide, just as the Greeks pretended they had their laws from Apollo. These are noble strains of freethinking, which the priests know not how to solve, but by thinking as freely: for one of them says, that Josephus wrote this, to make his work acceptable to the heathens, by striking out every thing that was incredible.

Origen, who was the first Christian that had any learning, has left a noble tes imony of his freethinking; for a general council has determined him to be damned ; which plainly shows he was a freethinker, and was no saint: for, people were only sainted because of their want of learning and excess of zeal : so that all the fathers who are called saints by the priests, were worse than atheists.

Minutius Felix seems to be a true modern latitudinarian, freethinking Christian : for he is against altars, churches, public preaching, and public assemblies; and likewise against priests ; for, he says, there were several great flourishing empires before there were any orders of priests in the world.

Synesius, who had too much learning and too little zeal for a saint, was for some time a great freethinker; he could not believe the resurrection till he was made a bishop, and then pretended to be convinced by a lying miracle.

To come to our own country! My lord Bacon was a great freethinker, when he tells us, “ that whatever has the least relation to religion is particularly liable to suspicion;" by which he seems to suspect all the facts whereon most of the superstitions (that is to say, what the priests call the religions) of the world are grounded. He also prefers atheism before superstition.

Mr Hobbes was a person of great learning, virțue, and freethinking, except in the high church politics.

But archbishop Tillotson is the person whom all English freethinkers own as their head; and his virtue is indisputable for this manifest reason, that Dr Hickes, à priest, calls him an atheist; says, he caused several to turn atheists, and to ridicule the priesthood and religion. These must be allowed to be noble effects of freethinking. This great prelate assures us, that all the duties of the Christian religion, with respect to God, are no other but what natural light prompts men to, except the two sacraments, and praying to God in the name and mediation of Christ. As a priest and prelate, he was obliged to say something of Christianity; but pray observe, sir, how he brings himself off. He justly affirms, that even these things are of less moment than natural duties; and, because mothers nursing their children is à natural duty, it is of more moment than the two sacraments, or than praying to God in the name, and by the mediation, of Christ. This freethinking archbishop could not allow a miracle sufficient to give credit to a prophet, who taught any thing contrary to our natural notions : by which, it is plain, he rejected at once all the mysteries of Christianity.

I could name one and twenty more great men, who were all freethinkers; but that I fear to be tedious: for it is certain that all men of sense depart from the opinions commonly received; and are consequently more or less men of sense, according as they depart more or less from the opinions commonly received: neither can you name an enemy to freethinking, however he be dignified or distinguished, whether archbishop, bishop, priest, or deacon, who has not been either

a crackbrained enthusiast, a diabolical villain, or a most profound ignorant brute."

Thus, sir, I have endeavoured to execute your commands, and you may print this Letter if you please: but I would have you conceal your name. For my opinion of virtue is, that we ought not to venture doing ourselves harm, by endeavouring to do good.

I am, yours, &c.

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