« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
servant, who lost her place by his villany. Stealing he never abandoned, however abandoned himself. Late in life he said, "I have been a rogue, and am so still, for trifles which I had rather take than ask for." Of his intercourse with vile women; how he took advantage of the hospitality of friends to ruin the character of those who received him kindly; how he coldly committed, one by one, the offspring of his base connections to the charity of the public, that he might be spared their trouble and have room for more; how utterly devoid he was of all natural affection, as well as all decency, my lecture is too modest to relate. To use his own language, guilty without remorse, he soon became so without measure. Such was the man whom infidels have delighted to honor. The friends of Christ have reason to thank him for saying, "I cannot believe the gospel." "For what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial?"
Nothing but the circulation attempted of late to be given to the scurrilous writings of Paine, induces me to descend low enough amidst "the offscouring of all things," to speak of the life of that miserable man. His first wife is said to have died by ill usage. His second was rendered so miserable by neglect and unkindness, that they separated by mutual agreement. His third companion, not his wife, was the victim of his seduction while he lived upon the hospitality of her husband. Holding a place in the excise of England, he was dismissed for irregularity; restored, and dismissed again for fraud, without recovery.
Unable to get employment where he was known, he came to this country, commenced politician, and pretended to some faith in Christianity. Congress gave him an office, from which, being soon found guilty of a breach of trust, he resigned in disgrace.* The
* He resigned his office to escape being expelled from it. The author is much indebted to the Hon. William Jay for the following valuable extract from a document found among the papers of his father, the Hon. John Jay. The document was written while Mr. Jay was minister to Spain, about the year 1780, and was an introduction to an intended history of his Spanish negotiations. The annexed extract would make a valuable page in a history of Paine.
"It is proper to observe that Mr. Deane, in consequence of his recall, returned to America in 1778; and that on his arrival Congress went into an inquiry into his conduct. Mr. Deane published a paper in the Philadelphia Gazette, containing strictures on the delays of Congress respecting his affairs, and heavy accusations against Mr. Arthur Lee, to whose machinations he attributed the conduct of Congress towards him. This publication caused a ferment throughout America, and very great heats in Congress. The public papers teemed with publications for and against Mr. Deane and Mr. Lee. Among the writers for the latter was a Thomas Paine, an Englishman, who had been a hackney writer in London, and on his arrival in America was employed by Aikin in compiling and correcting papers for his magazine. In this capacity his attachment to the American cause became suspected. He struck out several passages in papers composed by Dr. Witherspoon, as being too free. He afterwards became attached to some leading men who were most zealous for American independence. He published a pamphlet on that subject, called Common Sense, and obtained much credit with the people for it. He was afterwards made Secretary to the Committee for Foreign Affairs; and when General Washington was retreating before the enemy in Jersey, and the minds of many were filled with apprehensions, he was again so suspected, as that Congress became uneasy lest the committee's papers in his custody should fall into the enemy's hands, and took their measures
French revolution allured him to France. Habits of intoxication made him a disagreeable inmate in the house of the American minister, where out of compassion he had been received as a guest. During all
accordingly. The success at Trenton gave things a new aspect, and new courage to Paine.
(6 On the present occasion, his zeal for his employers carried him too far. The official papers had brought him acquainted with the state of American affairs at Versailles, and in his paper of the 2d of January he very imprudently inserted the following paragraph: 'If Mr. Deane, or any other gentleman will procure an order from Congress to inspect an account in my office, or any of Mr. Deane's friends in Congress will take the trouble of coming themselves, I will give him or them my attendance, and show them in a handwriting which Mr. Deane is well acquainted with, that the supplies he so pompously plumes himself upon, were promised and engaged, and that as a present, before he even arrived in France,' etc.
"The minister of France, Mr. Gerard, being aware of the consequences which would result from these assertions, and feeling very sensibly how much the honor of France was wounded by a supposition of her having given gratuitous aid to America, contrary to her assurances to Britain, did on the 5th of January, 1779, present a memorial to Congress referring to this publication, denying the assertions they contained, and representing the propriety of their being disowned by Congress. The day following, the memorial was considered, and various debates not proper to be specified here, ensued. Paine and the printer were ordered to attend at the bar of the House. The former confessed himself the author, and the latter the publisher, of the paper in question. Many motions were made, debated, and rejected, before the House adopted the resolutions which finally took place. The subject was interesting to the public, to the House, and particularly to the friends of the parties in difference, as well as Mr. Paine's patrons, and, as is always the case on such occasions, more warmth than prudence took place. The majority, however, were of opinion that Paine had prostituted his office to party purposes, and therefore ought to be
this time, his life was a compound of ingratitude and perfidy, of hypocrisy and avarice, of lewdness and adultery. In June, 1809, the poor creature died in this country. The lady in whose house he lived relates that "he was daily drunk, and in his few moments of soberness was always quarrelling with her, and disturbing the peace of the family." At that time "he was deliberately and disgustingly filthy." He had an old black woman for his servant, as drunken as her master. He accused her of stealing his rum; she retaliated by accusing him of being an old drunkard. They would lie on the same floor, sprawling and swearing and threatening to fight, but too intoxicated to engage in battle. He removed afterwards to various families, continuing his habits, and paying for his board only when compelled. In his drunken fits, he was accustomed to talk about the immortality of the soul. Probably much of his book against the inspiration of the Scriptures was inspired by his cups. Such was the author of "the Age of Reason;" such the apostle of mob-infidelity. Unhappy man! Neither he, nor Rousseau, nor Voltaire is dead, except in the flesh. Their immortal souls are thinking as actively at least as ever. We and they will stand, on the same great day, before the bar of God. How awful, in reference to such despisers and scoffers, is that description, "Behold, he cometh with clouds; discharged. This did not long remain a secret to him, and to avoid that disgrace he resigned."
P. S. Mr. Jay was a member of Congress at the time of the above occurrences.
* Cheetham's Life of Paine.
and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him."
3. We proceed to speak, in the last place, of the fruits of Christianity, as displayed in the deaths of its genuine disciples, in contrast with those connected with infidelity.
There is no question to which the testimony of the death-bed is so legitimately applicable, as that between Infidelity and Christianity; not only because. the hour of death is specially to be relied on, as an hour of dispassionate and conscientious judgment, but particularly because it is one of the precious promises of the gospel, that true believers shall find the sting of death taken away, and experience rich consolation and support when heart and flesh are failing. Infidelity, also, has published her promises in relation to the trial of death, and her disciples are not a little disposed to boast how confidently and fearlessly they could meet the king of terrors. Let us consult experience on this head.
Have Christians experienced the fulfilment of the promises on which they trusted? Have infidels made good their boasts? With regard to Christians, it is a most impressive fact that such a thing has never been known as any one being sorry, in the hour of death, that he had embraced the gospel of Christ. We have often seen and heard of persons who had spent their days in the careless neglect of religion, most bitterly lamenting, when they found themselves near to eternity, that they had not been devoted Christians. It is invariably the case that genuine