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No. 185 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

I love to see a Man zealous in a good Matter, and especially when his Zeal shews it self for advancing Morality, and promoting the Happiness of Mankind: But when I find the Instruments he works with are Racks and Gibbets, Gallies and Dungeons; when he imprisons Mens Persons, confiscates their Estates, ruins their Families, and burns the Body to save the Soul, I cannot stick to pronounce of such a one, that (whatever he may think of his Faith and Religion) his Faith is vain, and his Religion unprofitable.

After having treated of these false Zealots in Religion, I cannot forbear mentioning a monstrous Species of Men, who one would not think had any Existence in Nature, were they not to be met with in ordinary Conversation, I mean the Zealots in Atheism. One would fancy that these Men, tho’ they fall short, in every other Respect, of those who make a Profession of Religion, would at least outshine them in this Particular, and be exempt from that single Fault which seems to grow out of the imprudent Fervours of Religion: But so it is, that Infidelity is propagated with as much Fierceness and Contention, Wrath and Indignation, as if the Safety of Mankind depended upon it. There is something so ridiculous and perverse in this kind of Zealots, that one does not know how to set them out in their proper Colours. They are a Sort of Gamesters [who [6]] are eternally upon the Fret, though they play for nothing. They are perpetually teizing their Friends to come over to them, though at the same time they allow that neither of them shall get any thing by the Bargain. In short, the Zeal of spreading Atheism is, if possible, more absurd than Atheism it self.

Since I have mentioned this unaccountable Zeal which appears in Atheists and Infidels, I must further observe that they are likewise in a most particular manner possessed with the Spirit of Bigotry. They are wedded to Opinions full of Contradiction and Impossibility, and at the same time look upon the smallest Difficulty in an Article of Faith as a sufficient Reason for rejecting it. Notions that fall in with the common Reason of Mankind, that are conformable to the Sense of all Ages and all Nations, not to mention their Tendency for promoting the Happiness of Societies, or of particular Persons, are exploded as Errors and Prejudices; and Schemes erected in their stead that are altogether monstrous and irrational, and require the most extravagant Credulity to embrace them. I would fain ask one of these bigotted Infidels, supposing all the great Points of Atheism, as the casual or eternal Formation of the World, the Materiality of a thinking Substance, the Mortality of the Soul, the fortuitous Organization of the Body, the Motions and Gravitation of Matter, with the like Particulars, were laid together and formed [into [7]] a kind of Creed, according to the Opinions of the most celebrated Atheists; I say, supposing such a Creed as this were formed, and imposed upon any one People in the World, whether it would not require an infinitely greater Measure of Faith, than any Set of Articles which they so violently oppose. Let me therefore advise this Generation of Wranglers, for their own and for the publick Good, to act at least so consistently with themselves, as not to burn with Zeal for Irreligion, and with Bigotry for Nonsense.


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