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And no wonder; for reason is a divine faculty ; it is the divinity operating within us; it is God incarnate ; and it is in the army of this Lord of Hosts, that we, the Free Enquirers, enter volunteers to encounter error and imposition, wherever they appear. The weapons of this warfare are not carnal, but spiritual ; and will prove mighty in pulling down their strong holds, and in treading Satan under our feet. The light of the Sun of Reason shall dispel all mists or mysteries that obscure its rays; the darkness of ignorance shall flee at its rising. All doctrines founded in error, or fraud, or nursed by fear, shall be confounded by that authority which we are determined to advance above all other authorities; for it is the authority of God. We will bring to light the hidden works of darkness, ransack all nature to find out truth, and drive falsity to the bottomless pit. The whole universe affords us materials. Our title intimates our attention of examining all subjects which can be brought within the cognizance of human reason; that alone can bound our field, and limit our inquiries. At the trumpet of Reason, the dead shall be raised. Before that bar, all shall come to judgment : and it shall be known who are, and who are not sinners and saints, infidels and true believers. The veil of the temple, the curtain, the covering of the Holy of Holies, shall be rent, and we will boldly look therein. Mystery, Babylon the great, shall be searched: the mother of harlots displayed, and the abominations of the earth exposed; as well those which are had in reverence, as those which are decestable to all men : the latter discover themselves, but it will be our province to detect the former, and drag the Cacus from his den to open day. We shall espouse the philosophy founded on nature, and such philosophy will be found to be the basis of true re ligion.
First follow Nature, and your judgment frame
Pope. Religion, however rebellious against Reason, however untractable it may have been made, shall be compelled to submit to the examination of common sense, and yield to the divine authority of Reason. Reason, which has heretofore been only permitted to speak what religion in authority thought fit to allow, seems now to be esteemed a friend to religion : at least religion courts her friendship, and is ashamed of being thought her enemy. All the errors that have crept into Christianity shall flee at her presence, and be silent when she utters her voice. By Reason, and by that alone, it can be purged of the corruptions which corrupt churches have brought forth and fostered. The tares which the enemy has sown among the wheat, in the nights of imposition and ignorance, shall be plucked up. The lovers of reason will embrace us, and their works shall meet a friend ly reception. Here let them impart their thoughts, and here let the diffident propose their doubts, and doubters their objections. Reason encourages, nay impels her subjects to scrutinize all things. All enquiries are proper and lawful which relieve, delight, and improve the mind ; and the answers of reasonable respondents to enquiries proposed, shall here find reception. But the productions of enemies to free enquiry, of the disguisers and subverters of truth, will find no shelter here, for the dominions of reason cannot harbour them. Thus we give the world fair warning of our intentions ; let all hypocrites, who have invaded and intrenched themselves in the strong holds of Zion, fear and tremble. We wage war against ecclesiastic fraud, priestly avarice, spiritual tyranny, obstinate bigotry, wild superstition, and presumptuous enthusiasm; and fight under the banner of truth. What if Ephesian Craftsmen bellow; the magistrate is wise. Truth wants no assistance from civil authority. Let the Gods be neuter, and the sword decide, said Achilles. The spiritual sword, not the carnal, is our weapon. Heavenly powers want not human help; and the power of Reason is a beavenly power, which conquers all opposition where it can exert itself.
As the best time to give instruction is when the scholar is disposed to learn, and desires to be taught; so this being an enquiring age, is the proper time for the lovers of truth to give and receive mutual instruction. To the well inclined it will be an acceptable offer. The proposal will be well received by all lovers of reason and virtue. They are sisters, let men say what they will to divide them. Such subjects as will exercise and improve the understanding, will be the materials for a Weekly Essay, dedicated to the amusement of the intelligent, on the day of retirement from the fatigues of business. The human mind, by being exercised in a profitable manner, is enlarged : as men inured to hard labour grow strong and hardy. By inquiry, truth is found, and by displaying it when known, it will be propagated, honoured, and maintained. Where reason is honoured, truth and virtue will be revered. As a wise man cannot be a fool, so neither will he be vicious. It is not in his power to be the one, nor in his will