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The autumnal sun, with melancholy ray
'Twas theirs to sing amid their household tasks;
ERSKINE, ON THE TRIAL OF THE PUBLISHER OF PAINE'S “AGE OF REASON.”
The publication appears to me to be as cruel and mischievous in its effects, as it is manifestly illegal in its principles; because it strikes at the best-sometimes, alas! the only refuge and consolation amidst the distresses and afflictions of the world. The poor and the humble, whom it affects to pity may be stabbed to the heart by it. They have more occasion for firm hopes beyond the grave, than the rich and the prosperous, who have other comforts to render life delightful. I can conceive a distressed but virtuous man, surrounded by his chlidren, looking up to him for bread, when he has none to give them sinking under the last day's labour, and unequal to the next, yet, still supported by confidence in the hour when all tears shall be wiped from the eyes of affliction, bearing the burden laid on him by a mysterious Providence whom he adores, and anticipating, with exultation the revealed promises of his Creator,'when he shall be greater than the greatest, and happier than the happiest of mankind. What a change in such a mind might be wrought by such a merciless publication ! How any man can rationally vindicate the publication of such a book, in a country where the christian religion is the very foundation of the law, I am at a loss to conceive. How is a tribunal, whose whole jurisdiction is founded upon the solemn belief and practice of what is here denied as falsehood, and reprobated as impiety, to deal with such an anomalous defence? If tlie religion proposed to be called in question, is not previously adopted in belief and solemnly acted upon, what authority has the Court to pass any judgment at all of acquittal or condemnation? Why am I now, or upon any other occasion, to submit to your Lordship’s authority? Under what sanction are the witnesses to give their evidence, without which their can be no trial? Under what obligations can I call upon you, the Jury representing your country, to administer justice ? Surely upon no other than that you Are Sworn To Administer It Under The Oaths You Have Taken. The whole judicial fabric, from the King's sovereign authority to the lowest office of the magistracy, has no other foundation. The whole is built, both in form and substance, upon the same oath of every one of its ministers to do justice, as God Shall Help Them Hereafter ? What God? and What Hereafter? That God, undoubtedly, who has commanded Kings to rule ; and Judges to decree justice; who has said to witnesses, not only by the voice of nature, but by revealed religion—Thou Shalt Not Bear False Testimony Against Thy Neighbour ;--and who has enforced obedience to them by the revelations of the unutterable blessings which shall attend their observance, and the awful punishments which shall await their transgressions.
Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee. Hide not thy face from me in the day when
I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call, answer me speedily. For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as a hearth. My head is smitten, and withered like grass ; so that I forget to eat my bread. By the reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin. . I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. I watch and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top. Mine enemies reproach me all the day, and they that are mad against me are sworn against me. For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping, because of thine indignation and thy wrath; for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down. My days are like a shadow that declineth ; and I am withered like grass. But thou, Ō Lord, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations. Thou shalt arise and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, is come. So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord : and all the Kings of the earth thy glory.When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in all his glory. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.
This shall be written for generations to come : and the people which shall be created, shall praise the