Answer to Dr. Priestley's Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever eBook

Matthew Turner
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 55 pages of information about Answer to Dr. Priestley's Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever.
as will be his opponents may rather laugh at him than fear him.  They have a thousand ways of making their sentiments go down with the bulk of mankind, to one this poor writer has.  They are an army ready marshalled for the support of their own thesis; they are in the habit of controversy; pulpits are open to them as well as the press; and while the present author will be looked upon as a miracle of hardiness for daring to put his name to what he publishes, they can without fear or imputation lift up their heads; and should they even be known to transgress the bounds of good sense or politeness, they will only be esteemed as more zealous labourers in their own vocation.


Dr. Priestley,

Your Letters addressed to a Philosophical Unbeliever I perused, not because I was a Philosopher or an Unbeliever; it were presumption to give myself the former title, and at that time I certainly did not deserve the latter; but as I was acquainted with another, who in reality, as far as I and others who know him can judge, deserves the title of a Philosopher and is neither ashamed nor afraid of that of an Unbeliever, I conceived them apt to be sent to my friend, and when I presented them to him, he said he was the person whom he should suppose you meant to address, if you had a particular person in view; but he had too much understanding of the world, though much abstracted from the dregs of it, not to conceive it more probable that you meant your Letters to be perused by thinking men in general, Believers and Unbelievers, to confirm the former in their creed, and to convert the latter from their error.  You shall speedily know the effect they have had in both ways.  For myself I must inform you that I was brought up a Believer from my infancy; a Theist, if a Christian is such; for I suppose the word will be allowed, though the equivalent term of Deist is so generally reprobated by Christians; I had before my eyes the example of a most amiable parent; a moral man, a Christian undoubtedly; who, when I have been attending upon him, as much from affection as from duty upon a sick and nearly dying bed, has prayed I might be stedfast in the faith he held, in accents still sounding in my intellectual ear; a parent, whom for his virtues and love of his offspring, like a Chinese, I am tempted to worship, and I could exclaim with the first of poets,

          "Erit ille mihi semper Deus."

With such habits of education then, such fervent advice and such reverence for my instructor, what can have turned me from my belief; for I confess I am turned?  Immorallity it is not; that I assert has not preceded my unbelief, and I trust never will follow it; there has not indeed yet been time for it to follow; whether it is a probable consequence will presently be discussed; but it is thought, free thought upon the subject; when I began freely to think I proceeded boldly to doubt; your Letters gave me the cause for thinking, and my scepticism was exchanged for conviction; not entirely by the perusal of your Letters; for I do not think they would quite have made me an Atheist! but by attention to that answer from my friend, which I have his permission to subjoin.

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Answer to Dr. Priestley's Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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