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

Matthew Turner
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 66 pages of information about Answer to Dr. Priestley's Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever.
in such confusion and disorder, that, except a small number obedient servants, all his subjects were every instant despising his laws, defeating his will and insulting his person?  Let ecclesiastics then acknowledge, that their God is an assemblage of incompatible qualities, as incomprehensible to their understanding as to mine.  No:  they say, in reply to these difficulties, that wisdom and justice in God, are qualities so much above or so unlike those qualities in us, that they bear no relation or affinity towards human wisdom and justice.  But, pray how am I to form to myself an idea of the divine perfection, unless it has some resemblance to those virtues which I observe in my fellow creatures and feel in myself?  If the justice of God is not the same with human justice, why lastly do any men pretend to announce it, comprehend and explain it to others?”


Previous to this publication the editor sent the following Letter to Dr. Priestley.

“Reverend Sir,

Had you thought it impossible for man to hold different sentiments respecting Natural religion and the proof of the existence of a God than you do, the Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever would not have appeared, much less would you have invited an answer by promising a reply to every objection.  Differing from you in sentiment I am the man who enter with you in the lists; but I find myself upon consultation with my friends under more difficulties than you were, and more to stand in need of courage in taking up the glove, than you needed to have in throwing it down.  For this dispute is not like others in philosophy, where the vanquished can only dread ridicule, contempt and disappointment; here, whether victor or vanquished, your opponent has to dread, beside ecclesiastical censure, the scourges, chains and pillories of the courts of Law.

I accuse you not of laying a trap for an unguarded author, but I ask your friendly opinion, whether I can, with temporal safety at least, maintain the contrary of your arguments in proof of a Deity and his attributes.  If I cannot, no wonder the Theist cries Victoria! but then it is a little ungenerous to ask for objections.  Of you, I may certainly expect, that you will promise to use your influence, as well with lawyers as ecclesiastics, not to stir up a persecution against a poor atheist in case there should be one found in the kingdom, which people in general will not admit to be possible; or, if a persecution could ensue, that you and your friends, favourers of free enquiry, will at least bear the expences of it.

     I am,
     Reverend Sir,
     Your most humble obedient servant,

Oct. 23. 1781.

To the Reverend Dr. Priestley.

To this letter Dr. Priestley sent no answer; or no answer ever came to hand.


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