Common Sense

“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” James 1:8

     On January 29, 1737, Thomas Paine was born in England. By the age of 12, Thomas had quit school. The young Thomas began apprenticing for his father, but again, he failed. At the age of 19, Thomas went to sea. This adventure didn't last too long, and by 1768 he found himself as an excise (tax) officer in England. Thomas didn't exactly excel at the role, getting discharged from his post twice in four years. In 1774, by chance, he met Benjamin Franklin in London, who helped him to move to Philadelphia.

      His career turned to journalism while in Philadelphia, and suddenly, Thomas Paine became very important. In 1776, he published Common Sense, a strong defense of American Independence from England. He joined the Continental Army, but wasn’t a success as a soldier. Paine later returned to Europe and pursued other ventures, including working on a smokeless candle and an iron bridge. In 1791-92, he wrote The Rights of Man in response to criticism of the French Revolution. This work caused Paine to be labeled an outlaw in England for his anti-monarchist views. He would have been arrested, but he fled for France to join the National Convention.

     In 1793, he was imprisoned in France for not endorsing the execution of Louis XVI. During his imprisonment, he wrote and distributed the first part of what was to become his most famous work at the time, the deist-atheist text, The Age of Reason (1794-96). He was freed in 1794 (narrowly escaping execution) thanks to the efforts of James Monroe, then U.S. Minister to France. Paine remained in France until 1802 when he returned to America on an invitation from Thomas Jefferson. Paine discovered that his contributions to the American Revolution had been all but eradicated due to his religious views. Abandoned by the public and rejected by his friends, he died on June 8, 1809 at the age of 72 in New York City, and was buried in a farm field because no American cemetery would accept his remains.

     Years before Paine published his “Age of Reason” he sent Benjamin Franklin a manuscript that advocated against the concept of a providential God. Franklin’s response was classic due to the fact that he too was considered the least religious.

Dear Sir, I have read your manuscript with some attention. By the argument it contains against a particular Providence, though you allow a general Providence, you strike at the foundations of all religion … You yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous life, without the assistance afforded by religion; you having a clear perception of the advantages of virtue, and the disadvantages of vice, and possessing a strength of resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common temptations. But think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women, and of inexperienced, youth of both sexes, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great point for its security. And perhaps you are indebted to her originally, that is, to your religious education, for the habits of virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. I would advise you, … to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person; whereby you will save yourself a great deal of mortification by the enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it. I intend this letter itself as a proof of my friendship, and therefore add no professions to it; but subscribe simply yours, B. Franklin

     Unfortunately, Paine did not listen to the wise Franklin, but published it years later. Many of our founding fathers were shocked by his book consider the following:

* John Adams wrote, “The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity, let the Blackguard [scoundrel, rogue] Paine say what he will.”

* Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration, wrote to his friend and signer of the Constitution John Dickinson that Paine's Age of Reason was “absurd and impious”;

* Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration, described Paine's work as “blasphemous writings against the Christian religion”

* John Witherspoon said that Paine was “ignorant of human nature as well as an enemy to the Christian faith”

* John Quincy Adams declared that “Mr. Paine has departed altogether from the principles of the Revolution"

     The conclusion of Paine’s work is that he had no use for Christianity in the realm of a personal relationship in God. What is amazing is the speech he gave in Paris after he wrote “The Age of Reasoning” concerning what the French schools were teaching, which is what is being taught in public schools across America (Science without a Creator)

     The following is part of his speech Delivered on January 16, 1797

“It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of Divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles. He can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author. When we examine an extraordinary piece of machinery, an astonishing pile of architecture, a well executed statue or a highly finished painting where life and action are imitated, and habit only prevents our mistaking a surface of light and shade for cubical solidity, our ideas are naturally led to think of the extensive genius and talents of the artist. When we study the elements of geometry, we think of Euclid. When we speak of gravitation, we think of Newton. How then is it, that when we study the works of God in the creation, we stop short, and do not think of God? It is from the error of the schools in having taught those subjects as accomplishments only, and thereby separated the study of them form the Being who is the author of them. . . . The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of the creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of His existence. They labor with studied ingenuity to ascribe everything they behold to innate properties of matter; and jump over all the rest, by saying that matter is eternal.

Conclusion

     When I work in the schools each year and see the drug problems, young girls with child and the standard of dress becoming more and more of an issue. The school board in our county passed a dress code in which boys are not allowed to show their underwear in public (the present fad is exposing more than half of your underwear and wearing your belt above your knees) the sad thing of this is there were parents complaining of the code. When there are no absolutes of right and wrong a society will degrade lower and lower until they reach a point where they will cry for help. The only solution is the teachings of the Judea-Christian ethics which at one time flourished in our schools years ago.

     Like Thomas Paine the same Supreme Court that ordered Prayer, Bible reading, and Creation out of the class had the benefit of moral teachings of right and wrong something they denied the kids today to experience.

...and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel Judges 2:10

     You may be reading this and you have never answered the most important question in your life and that is …

How does anyone get to heaven?

     First realize that they cannot get to heaven on their own merits. The Bible says that “For all have sinned and come short (that means everybody can’t get to Heaven on their own) of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)

     Jesus Christ (who is the Son of the living God) came to earth and was born of a virgin woman (therefore he was not born of the curse of mankind) he lived a sinless life and died on a cross for all the sins in the world. Three days later, God the Father raised Him from the dead. He was seen of 500 witnesses and returned to heaven. God’s word says that if we believe these things and call upon the Lord, we will be saved. Romans 10:9 - 13