Author's Preface


1.         IN this age of revolutions, when RELIGION, that never-failing source of comfort to the good, and the sinner’s hope in repentance, is impiously represented as a chimera; when, under the shield of toleration, principles subversive of all social order, of all morality, are openly promulgated, and the Atheist, with unblushing front, stalks like a tyger from his covert, “seeking whom he may devour,” and daringly blasphemes aloud, any attempt, however feeble, to stem the torrent of irreligion, or at least to weaken its baneful consequences, is praise worthy, and entitled to an attentive and impartial consideration.

2.         That irreligion arises as much from corruption of manners, as from the reasonings of false philosophy, cannot be denied; and it is a melancholy fact, that in this country the conduct of many, whose duty it is to warn the unthinking, and point out the road to virtue, forms striking contrast with the morality they profess, and the mild Doctrines of Christianity.

3.         In countries, as in Switzerland, where professors of religion are compelled to undergo the ordeal of strict examination, ’ere they rank as Ministers of the Gospel and Expounders of the Word of GOD, the inhabitants are comparatively blameless, and vice, in its most hideous form, is seldom seen. {iv}

4.         But where INTEREST, without merit, suffices to qualify for the noblest of all professions, the glorious task of strengthening the good in virtue, and instilling morality into the rising generation, the manners of the people are necessarily endangered, and their respect for religion is diminished or increased by the conduct of the clergy; and how painful the task of reverting to events, which, to the eternal disgrace of the clerical character and to the morals of this country, have lately succeeded each other with almost breathless rapidity.

5.         The adage is here realized, that “good deeds are written on water, but evil deeds on brass;” accordingly, the circumstances alluded to, have been seized with avidity, and triumphantly blazoned forth by those, whose talents are perverted to the worst of purposes, – the overthrow of religion, and consequent destruction of all morality.

6.         And who are they, who, with demoniac joy, glut on the disgraceful opportunities afforded to ridicule all sacred institutions, and openly blaspheme JEHOVAH’S name?

7.         The Atheists!!, they, whose impious doctrines tend to disprove the existence of A GOD: “Chance (they say,) created all; the world to come is visionary, and immortality an empty sound.” Indeed! is chance the author, then, of light and life? did chance create the beauteous works of nature? the star-bespangled firmament? “the universal frame thus wondrous fair?” Is it by chance we live, and move, and have our being? If this be true, how horrible the thought that “the great globe,” instead of being under the guidance of an all-powerful, all-wise, all-merciful Providence, may, in one instant, “with all which it inhabits,” be overwhelmed, by chance, in indiscriminate ruin! The idea inevitably tends to render us indifferent to our fate, and justify the insanity of those who, wanting fortitude to brave misfortunes, and loathing life, seek refuge in the worst of crimes, self-immolation: for, according to the Atheist’s {v} Creed, “with life our sufferings end, nor is there bliss for virtue, nor punishment for vice, beyond the grave,” precepts, which have often instigated the profligate to robbery and murder, and let them expiate their misdeeds on the criminal altar of their indignant country.

8.         Come then, ye Atheists, shout your victory; proclaim your horrible exploits; but first, approach the dungeon’s cells; listen to the clank of chains; gaze on your victim’s haggard looks; then crown yourselves with wreaths, bathed in the blood of those, who by their fatal exit owe to Atheism the premature, but certain, proof that GOD EXISTS, and is alone OMNIPOTENT.

9.         But ends the evil here? Ah no! as the fell tyger, reeking with carnage, still thirsts for blood, so Atheism, unsatiated with its guilty triumph, now meditates a bolder flight, and marks the virtuous for its prey. Unable by artful sophistry to lure them down the flowery paths of vice, it attempts to avenge its defeat, by seizing the hour of approaching dissolution to infuse its poison, and cloud their last, their sweetest hope, the hope of IMMORTALITY. With satanic cruelty, it endeavours to insinuate into the bosom of the dying, the agonising thought, that, instead of “waking to the glorious morn, the second birth of man,” and being reunited in the realms of bliss, “where one unbounded spring encircles all,” – to the faithful friend – the fond parent – the beloved child – the tender wife – the affectionate husband, the soul will perish with its mortal tenement, sink into darkness, and cease to exist for EVER. O providence! guard us from that thought! — — —

10.         Thus, the principles of Atheism aggravate our miseries here, and preclude all hope of an HEREAFTER.

11.         But, do these unhappy beings, these Atheists, verily believe the doctrines, they profess? Impossible!! the anatomy of the human frame {vi} alone suffices to overturn their creed, and stamp indelibly on their hearts the assured conviction of the existence of a GOD.

12.         What demon, then, impels these men to prostitute their talents to the most nefarious purpose, the subversion of religion? affectation of singularity! thirst for celebrity! and above all, the vain, the presumptuous hope, that posterity will enrol their names with those exalted characters, those benefactors of mankind, whose morals and whose writings entitle them to immortality.

13.         These, these are the springs, which actuate the Atheists: but whilst gratifying their ruling passion in this world, they tremble for their fate in THAT TO COME; prostrate in the dust, they deprecate in secret the just vengeance of that GOD, whom they openly blaspheme; of that awful BEING, whose voice created, whose wisdom guides, from whose all-seeing eye no secrets are hid, and before whose dread tribunal these impious men well know they must inevitably appear to answer for their works.