Skip to main content

Full text of "The gods [microform] and other lectures"

See other formats

BL -- * 

Z7Z5 f 

G i 


Div. Lib. 



Give me th 1 storm and tempos of Thbugh and Action- 
father than me dead calm of Ignorance and Faith. 
isjti ms 'from Eden whea you will, but first let me eat 
f 1 lowledge. ^ 


' r &./WI. BENNETT, 

%- , SCIENCE- HALL, 141 Ercprrn STKHST. 
... ~ ^' - 1876. 


University of Chicago Library 


Besides the main topic this book also treats of 
Subject No. On page Subject No. On page 

3 J 3 3 O 


>.'~> 03 

J 3 -j 330) 3 3 3 :> J 3^ 3 .3 

3 3 J O j; 3 

' ' J '^ '>' ,330 O 3,3 ? ^ .33 > > ^ T 



4 4 

Give me the storm and tempest of Thought and Action 
rather than the dead calm of Ignorance and Faith. Ban- 
ish me from Eden when you will, but first let me eat of 
the tree of knowledge. - 



1876. . - 




THE following are the original Orations as deliv- 
ered by COL. ROBERT G. INQEBSOLL, and which 
were published separately in pamphlet form. They 
are here, also, as they appeared in the columns of 
The Truth Seeker. V 



No. <>f Pages. 

An honest God is the noblest work of man. 


With his name left out' the history of Liberty cannot be 

ITY. 22 

His soul was like a star and dwelt apart. 


Liberty, a word without which all other words are vain. 


The Universe is governed by law. 



"An Honest Ood is the Noblest Work of Man." 

"EARLY every people have created a god> and 
the god has always resembled his creators. He 
hated and loved what they hated and loved, and he 
was invariably found on the side of those in power: 
Each god was intensely patriotic, and detested all 
nations but his own. All these gods demanded praise, 
flattery, and worship. Most of them were pleased 
with sacrifice, and the smell of innocent blood has 
ever been considered a divine perfume. All these gods 
have insisted upon having a vast number of priests, 
and the priests have always insisted upon being 
supported by the people, and the principal business of 
of these priests has been to boast about their god, 
and to insist that he could easily vanquish all the 
other gods put together. 

These gods have been manufactured after number- 
less models, and according to the most grotesque 
fashions. Some have a thousand arms, some a hun- 
dred heads, some are adorned with necklaces of lir 


ing snakes, some are armed with clubs, some with 
sword and shield, some with bucklers and some have 
wings as a cherub ; some were invisible, some would 
show themselves entire and some would only show 
their hacks ; some/ were jealous, ^m ^rfrej f 6oljsh, 
some turned themselves into : men, some into swans, 
some into bulls, some into doves, and some into Holy 
Ghosts, and made love to the beautiful daughters of 
men. Some were married all ought to have been 
and some were considered as old bachelors from all 
eternity. Some had children, and. the children were 
turned into gods and worshipped as their fathers had 
been. Most of these gods were revengeful; savage, 
lustful and ignorant. As they generally depended 
upon their priests for information, their ignorance can 
hardly excite our astonishment. ........... 

These gods did not even know the shape of the 
worlds they had. created, but supposed them perfectly 
flat. Some thought the day could be lengthened by 
stopping the sun, that the blowing of horns could 
throw ilown the walls of a city, and all knew so little 
of the real nature of the people they had created, thaj. 
they command^ the people to love them. Spine were 
so ignorant as to suppose that man could,belieye just 
as he ; might desire, or. as they ; mighV;Cpm^and, and 
that to be governed by observationj. rejasQn, and expe- 
rience is a most foul and damning sin. > ; Nonc of these 
gods could give a true account; of the, creation of this 
little earth. All were wpfully Deficient ;in geology 
and astronomy. Asa rule, they. were.most miserable 
legislators, and as executives, they u wciie 4 f|ir infeirior 
io tfce average of American presidents. 


These deities have demanded the most ,abject and 
.degrading obedience. In order to please them, man 
'must lay his very face in the dust. Of course; they 
have always been partial to the people who created 
them, and have generally shown their partiality by 
assisting those people to rob and destroy others, knd 
to ravish their wives and daughters. 

Nothing is so pleasing to these Gbds^ as the butchery 
of unbelievers. Nothing so enrages them, even now, 
as to have some one deny their existence. 

Few 'nations have been so poor as to have but one 
god. Gods were made so easily, and the raw materi- 
al cost so- little, that generally, the god-market was 
fairly glutted, and heaven crammed with these phan- 
toms. These gods not only attended to the skies, "but 
were supposed to interfere in all the affairs .of men./ 
They presided /over everybody and everything. They 
attended to every department. Ail was supposed to 
toe under their immediate-control. Nothing^was too 
smallr nothing too large : the falling of sparrows, the 
flatulence of the people, and the motions of the plan- 
ets were alike attended to by these industrious and 
observing deities. ' From their starry thrones they fre- 
quently came to the earth fOr the purpose of imparting 
information to man. It is related of one, that he 
came amid thunderings and lightnings, in order to tell 
the people that they should not cook a kid in its 
mother's milk. Some left their shining abodes to tell 
women that they should, or -should not, have children 
to inform a priest how to cut and wear his apron, 
and to "give directions : as to the proper manner of 
cleaning the intestines of - a bird. : 


When the people failed to worship one of these 
gods, or failed to feed and clothe his priests, (which 
was much the same thing) he generally visited them 
with pestilence and famine. Sometimes he allowed 
gome other nation to drag them into slavery- to sell 
their wives and children ; but generally he glutted his 
vengeance hy murdering their first-born. The priests 
always did their whole duty, not only in predicting 
these calamities, but in proving, when they did hap- 
pen, that they were brought upon the people because 
they had not given quite enough to them. 
/ These gods differed just as the nations differed-: 
''the greatest and most powerful had the most power- 
ful god, while the weaker ones were obliged to con- 
tent themselves with the very off-scourings of the 
heavens. Each of these gods promised happiness 
here and hereafter to all his slaves, and threatened to 
eternally punish all who either disbelieved in his exis- 
tence, or suspected that some other god might be his 
superior; but to deny the existence of all gods was, 
and is, the crime of crimes. Redden your hands with 
human blood ; blast by slander the fair fame of the 
innocent ; strangle the smiling child upon its mother's 
knees : deceive, ruin and desert the beautiful girl 
who loves and trusts you and your case is not hope- 
less. For all this, and for all these* you may be for- 
given. For all this, and for all these, that bankrupt 
court established by the gospel will give you a dis- 
charge ; but deny the existence of these divine 
ghosts, of these gods, and the sweet and tearful face 
of Mercy becomes livid with eternal hate. Heaven's 
golden gates are shut, and you, with an infinite curse 


ringing in your ears, with the brand of infamy upon 
your brow, commence your endless wanderings in the 
lurid gloom of hell an immortal vagrant an eternal 
outcast a deathless convict. 

One of these gods, and one who demands our love 
our admiration and our worship, and one who is wor- 
shipped, if mere heartless ceremony is worship, gave 
to his chosen people, for their guidance, the following 
laws of war : "When thou comest nigh unto a city 
to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it 
shall be if it make thee answer of peace, and open 
unto thee, then it shall be that all the people that is 
found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they 
shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with 
thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt 
beseige it. And when the Lord .thy God hath deliv- 
ered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male 
thereof with the edge of the sword. But the women, 
and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in 
the city, even all 'the spoil thereof shalt. thou take unto 
thyself, and thou shalt .eat the spoil of thine enemies 
which the Lord thy God hath given thee. Thus shalt 
thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from 
thee, which are not of the cities of these nations. 
But of the cities of these people which the Lord thy 
God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shall sate 
alive nothing that breatheth" 

Is it possible for man to conceive of anything more 
perfectly infamous ? Can you believe that such direc- 
tions were given by any. being except an infinite 
fiend f Remember that the army receiving these in- 
structions was one of invasion. Peace was offered 


upon condition that the people submitting should be 
the slaves of the invader ;:but if any should have the 
courage, to defend their homes, to fight for the love of 
wife and child, then the sword was to spare none not 
even the prattling, dimpled babe. ^. - 

And we are called, upon to worship such a god ; to 
get upon our knees and' tell him that he is good, that 
he is merciful, that he is just, that he is love. iWVe are 
asked to stifle every noble sentiment of the soul> and 
to trample under foot all the sweet charities of the 
heart. Because we refuse to stultify ourselves refuse 
to become liars we are denounced, hated, traduced 
and ostracised here ; and this same god threatens to 
torment us in eternal fire the moment death allows 
him to fiercely clutch our naked, helpless souls. Let 
the people hate let the god threaten; we will educate 
them, and we will despise and defy him. 

The book, called the bible, is filled with passages 
equally horrible, unjust and atrocious. This is the 
book to be read in schools in order to make our chil- 
dren loving, kind and gentle 5 1 This is the book to be 
recognized in our Constitution as the source of all 
authority and justice! 

Strange ! that no one has ever been persecutad by 
the church for believing God bad, while -hundreds of 
millions have been destroyed for thinking him good. 
The orthodox church never will forgive, the TJniver- 
salist for .saying, "God is love.": -i It lias; always been 
considered as one of the very highest evidences of 
true and undented religion, to insist :that - all men, 
women "-and children deserve eternal damnation.' It has 
always been heresy to say ** God will at last save all." 


'.- We" are asked to justify these frightful passages 
thes'e infamous laws of war because the bible is the 
word of God. As a matter of faet there never was 
and there never can be, an argument^eyen tending 
to iprove the inspiration of any book whatever. In 
the absence of positive evidence, analogy and experi- 
ence, argument is simply impossible, and at the very 
best, can amount only to a useless agitation of the 
air. The instant we admit that a book is too sacred 
to be doubted, or even reasoned about, we are mefital 
serfs. It is infinitely absurd to suppose that a god 
would^address a comrminication to intelligent beings, 
and yet make it a crime, to be punished in eternal 
flames, for them to use their intelligence for the pur- 
pose of understanding his communication. If we 
have the right to use our, reason, we certainly have the 
right to act in accordance with it, and no god can. 
have the right to punish us for -such action. 

The doctrine that future happiness depends upon 
belief is monstrous. It is the infamy of infamies. 
The idea that faith in Christ is to be rewarded by an 
eternity of bliss, while a dependence upon reason, 
observation and experience merits everlasting pain, is 
too absurd- lor ref utatiorij arid can be believed only by 
that unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance, call- 
ed " faith." What man, who ever thinks, can believe 
that blood cari appease God ? Arid yet, our entire 
systerii ff religion is based upon that belief. The 
Jews pacified Jehovah with the blood of animals, arid 
according to the Christian system, the blood of Jesus 
softened the heart of God a little, and rendered possi- 
ble the salvation of a fortunate few. It is hard to 


conceive how the human mind can give its assent to 
such terrible ideas, or how any sane man can read the 
bible, and still believe in the doctrine of inspiration. 

Whether the bible is true or false, is of no consequence 
in comparison with the mental freedom of the race. 

Salvation through slavery is worthless. Salvation 
from slavery is inestimable. 

As long as man believes the bible to be infallible, 
that book is his master. The civilization of this cen- 


tury is not the child of faith, but of unbelief the 
result of free thought. 

All that is necessary, as it seems to me, to convince 
any reasonable person that the bible is simply : and 
purely of human invention of barbarian invention- 
is to read it. Bead it as you would any other book ; 
think of it as you would of any other; get the bandage of 
reverence from your eyes ; drive from your heart the 
phantom of fear ; push from the throne of your brain 
Uie cowled form of superstition then read the holy 
jible, and you will be amazed that you ever, ibr one 
moment, supposed a being of infinite wisdom, good- 
jtiese and purity, to be the author of such ignorance 
and of such atrocity. 

Our ancestors not only had their god-factories, but 
they made devils as well. These devils were generally 
disgraced and fallen gods. Some had headed unsuc- 
cessful revolts ; some had been caught sweetly reclin- 
ing in the shadowy folds of some fleecy cloud, kissing 
the wife of the god of gods. These devils generally 
sympathized with man. There is in regard to them 
a most wonderful fact j in nearly all the theologies, 
mythologies and religions, the devils have been much 


moire humane and merciful than the gods* No devil 
ever gave one of his generals an order to kill children 
and to rip open the bodies of pregnant women. Such 
barbarities were always ordered by .the good gods. 
The pestilences were sent by the most merciful gods. 
The frightful famine, during which the dying child 
with pallid lips sucked the withered bosom of a dead 
mother, was sent by the loving gods. , No devil was 
ever charged with such fiendish brutality. 

One of these gods, according to the account, 
drowned an entire world, with the exception of eight 
persons. The old, the young, the beautiful and the 
helpless were remorselessly devoured by the shoreless 
sea. This, the most fearful tragedy that the imagina- 
tion of ignorant priests ever conceived, was the act, 
not of a devil, but of a god, so-called, whom men 
ignorantly worship unto this day. What a stain such 
an act would leave upon the character of a devil ! 
One of the prophets of one of these gods, having in 
his power a captured king, hewed him in pieces in the 
sight of all the people. Was ever any imp of any 
devil guilty of such savagery ? 

One of these gods is reported to have given the fol- 
lowing directions concerning human slavery : "If 
thoit buy a Hebrew servant, six years shall he. serve, 
and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. 
If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself, 
if he were married then his wife shall go out with him. 
If his master have given him a nife, nnd she have 
borne hirn, sons or daughters, thewife-aud her ehil- 
dren shall be her master's, and he shall go out -by 
himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love 


my master, my wife and my children ; I will not go 
out free. .Then his master shall bring him unto the 
judges ; he shall also bring him unto the door, or unto 
the door-post; and his master shall bore his ear 
through with an awl ; and he shall serve him forever. " 

According to this, a man was given liberty upon 
condition that he would desert forever his wife and 
children. , Did any devil ever force upon a husband, 
upon a father, so cruel and so heartless an alterna- 
tive? Who can worship such a god ? Who \can 
bend; the knee to .such a monster ? Who can pray to 
such a fiend ? 

; All these gods threatened to torment forever the 

. souls of their enemies. Bid any devil ever make so 

infamous a threat ? The basest thing recorded of the 

.devil, is what he did concerning Job and his family, 

and that was done by the express permission of one 

of these gods, and to decide a little difference of 

opinion between their "serene highnesses" as to the 

character of "my servant job." ; 

-The first account we have of the devil, is found in 
that purely scientific book called Genesis, and is as 
: follows : "Now the serpent was more subtile tfran 
any beast of the field which the Lord God had made, 
and he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye 
shall not eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden' ? 
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of 
the fruit of the trees of the garden ; but of the fruit 
of the tree which is in the midst of the garden God 
.hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye Vmch 
it, lest ye die. And the serpent sdd unto the woman, 
; Ye shall not surely die. For God doth know that in 


the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened 
and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And 
when the woman saw that the tree was good for 'food; 
and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree-, to be 
desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit there- 
of -and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with 
her, and he did eat. * * * * And 
the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become a's one 
.of us, to know good and evil; and new lest he put 
forth his hand, and take also ,of the tree of life and 
eat, and live forever. Therefore the Lord God sent 
him forth from the garden of Eden to till the ground 
from whence he was taken. So he drove out the 
man, and he placed at the east x>f the garden of Eden 
cherubims and a flaming" sword, which turned every 
way to keep the way of the tree of life." 

According to this account, the promise of the devil 

was fulfilled to the very letter. Adam and Eve did 

"not: die, and they did become as gods, knowing good 

.,.--,_ - ' /" U t * ~f 

and evil. .--:> 

The account shows, however, that the gods dreaded . 
education and knowledge then just .as they da now 
The, church still faithfully guards the dangerous tree 
,. of knowledge, and has exerted in all ages her utmost 
power to keep mankind from eating the fruit thereof . 
.The priests have never ceased repeating the old -false- 
hood and the old threat: "Ye shall .-not eat of it, 
neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die*" From every 
pulpit comes tlm same cry, born of the same fear : 
4 'Lest. they eat and become as gods, knowing good 
and;ev;U.": For this reason, religion hates science, 
faith detests reason, theology is the sworn enemy ol 


philosophy, and the church with its flaming gvrord 
still guards the hated tree, and like its supposed 
founder, curses to the lowest depths the brave thinkers 
who eat and become as gods. V 

If the account given in Genesis is really true, ought 
we not after all to thank this serpent ? He was the 
first schoolmaster, the first advocate of learning, the 
IfTst enemy of ignorance, the first to whisper in human 
jsars the sacred word liberty, the creator of ambition, 
the author of modesty, of inquiry, of doubt, of inves- 
tigation, of progress and of civilization. 

Give me the storm and tempest of thought and 
action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and 
faith ! Banish me from Eden when you will ; but 
first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of know- 
ledge ! 

Some nations have borrowed their gods ; of this 
number, we are compelled to say, is our own. The 
Jews having ceased to exist as a nation, and having 
no further use for a god, our ancestors appropriated 
him, and adopted their devil at the same time. This 
borrowed god is still an object of some adoration, 
and this adopted devil still excites the apprehensions 
of out people. He is still supposed to be setting hia 
traps and snares for the purpose of catching our un- 
wary souls, and is still, with reasonable success, wa- 
ging the old war against our god. 

To me, it seems easy to account for these ideas con- 
cerning gods and devils. They are a perfectly natur- 
al production. Man has created them all, and tinder 
the same circumstances would create them again. 
Man has not only created all these gods, but he hag 


created them out of the materials by which he has 
been surrounded. Generally he has modeled them 
after himself, and has given them hands, feet, eyes, 
ears, and organs of speech. Each nation made its 
gods and devils speak its language not only, but put 
in their mouths the same mistakes in history, geogra- 
phy, astronomy, and in all matters of fact, generally 
made by the people. No god was ever in advance of 
the nation that created him. The negroes represented 
their deities with black skins and curly hair. The 
Mongolian gave to his a yellow complexion and dark 
almond-shaped eyes. The Jews were hot allowed to 
paint theirs, or we should have 'seen Jehovah with a 
lull beard, an oval face, and an aquiline nose. Jove 
was a perfect Greek, and Jupiter looked as though a 
a member of the Roman senate. The gods of Egypt 
had the patient face and placid look of the loving 
people who made them. The gods of northern coun- 
tries were represented warmly clad in robes of fur; 
those of the tropics were naked. The gods of India 
were often mounted upon elephants; those of some 
islanders were great swimmers, and the deities of the 
Arctic zone were passionately, fond of whale's blub- 
ber. Nearly all people have carved or painted repre- 
sentations of their, gods, and these representations 
were, .by the lower classes, generally treated as the 
real gods, and to these images and idols they addressed 
prayers and offered sacrifice. 

In some countries j even at this day, if the people 
after long praying do not obtain their desires, they 
turn their images off as impotent gods, or upbraid 
them in a most reproachful manner, loading them 


with blows and curses. "How now, dog of a spir- 
it," they say, "we give vou lodging m a magnificent 
temple, we gild you with gold, feed you with the 
choicest food, and offer incense to you, yet after all 
this care you are so ungrateful as to refuse us what 
we ask." Hereupon they will pull the god down and 
drag him through the filth of the street; If in the 
meantime it happens that they obtain their request, 
then with a great deal of ceremony, they wash him 
clean, carry him back and place him in his temple 
again, where they fall down and make excuses for 
what they have done. "Of a truth," say they, "we 
were a little too hasty, and you were a little too long 
in your grant. Why should you bring this beating 
on yourself. Rut what is done cannot be undone. 
Let us not think of it any more. If you will forget 
what is past we will gild you over again brighter than 

Man has never been at a loss for gods. He has 
worshipped almost everything, including the vilest 
and most disgusting beasts. He has worshipped fire, 
earth, air, water, light, stars, and for hundreds of 
ages prostrated himself before enormous snakes. 
Savage tribes often make gods of articles they get 
from civilized people. The Todas worship a cow- 
bell. The Kotas worship 'two silver plates, .which 
they regard as husband and wife, and another tribe 
manufactured a god out of a king of hearts. 

Man having always been the physical superior of 
woman, accounts for the fact that most of the high 
gods have been males. Had woman been the physi- 
cal superior, the powers supposed to be the rulers ol 


Nature would have been women, and instead of being 
represented in the apparel of man, they would have 
luxuriated in trains, low-necked r dresses, laces and 
back-hair. . 

Nothing can be plainer than that each nation gives 
to its god its peculiar characteristics, and that every , 
individual gives to his god his personal peculiarities. 

Man has no ideas, and can have none, except those 
suggested by his surroundings. He cannot conceive 
of anything utterly unlike what he has seen or felt. 
He can exaggerate, diminish, combine, separate, de- 
form, beautify, improve,_multiply and compare what 
he sees, what he feels, what he hears, and all of 
which he takes cognizance thpiagiuthe medium of 
the senses ; but he cannot create. Having seen .exhib- 
itions of power, he can say, omnipotent. Having lived, 
he can say, immortality. Knowing something of time, 
he can say, eternity. Conceiving something of intelli- 
gence, he can say, God. Having seen exhibitions of 
malice, -he can say, devil. A few gleams of happiness 
having fallen athwart the sjloom of his life, he .can 
say, heaven. Pain, in its numberless forms, having 
been experienced, he can say, hell. Yet all these 
ideas have a foundation in fact, and only a founda- 
tion. The superstructure has been reared by exagger- 
ating, .diminishing, combining, separating, deforming, 
beautifying, improving or multiplying realities, so 
that the .edifice, or fabric, is but the incongruous 
grouping of what man has perceived through the 
medium of the senses. It is as though we should give 
to a lion the wings of an eagle, the hoofs of a bison, 
the tail of a horse, the pouch of a kangaroo, and the 



trunk of an elephant. We have in imagination 
created an impossible monster. And yet the various 
parts of tliis .monster really exist. So it is with all the 
gods that man has made. 

Beyond nature man can not go, even In thought, above 
nature he can not rise below nature he cannot fall. 

Man, in his ignorance, supposed that all phenomena 
were produced by some intelligent powers, and with 
direct reference to him. To preserve friendly rela- 
tions with these powers was, and still is, the object of 
all religions. Han knelt through fear and to implore 
assistance, or through gratitude for some favor which 
he supposed had been rendered. He endeavored by 
supplication to appease some being who, for some 
reason, had, as he believed, become enraged. The 
lightning and thunder terrified him. In the presence 
of the volcano he sank upon his knees. The great 
forests filled with wild and ferocious beasts ; the 
monstrous serpents crawling in mysterious depths ; 
the boundless sea; the flaming comets ; the -sinister 
eclipses ; the awful calmness of the stars, and more 
than all, the perpetual presence of death, convinced 
him that he was the sport and prey of unseen and 
malignant powers. The strange and frightful diseases 
to which he was subject ; the freezings and. burnings 
of fever ; the contortions of epilepsy ; the sudden 
palsies ; the darkness of night, and the wild, terrible 
and fantastic dreams that filled his brain, satisfied 
him that he was haunted and pursued by countless 
spirits of evil. For some reason he supposed that 
these spirits differed hi power that they were not 
all alike malevolent that the higher controlled the 


lower, and that his very existence depended upon 
gaining the assistance of the more powerful. For 
this purpose he resorted to prayer, to flattery, to wor- 
ship and to sacrifice. These ideas appear to have been 
almost universal in savage man. 

For ages, all nations supposed that the sick and 
insane were possessed by evil spirits. For thousands 
of years the practice of medicine consisted in fright- 
ening these spirits away. Usually the priests would 
make the loudest and most discordant noises possible. / 
They would blow horns, beat upon rude drums, clash 
cymbals, and in the meantime utter the most unearth- 
ly yells. If the noise- remedy failed, they would im- 
plore the aid of some more powerful spirit. 

To pacify these spirits was. considered of infinite 
importance. The poor barbarian, knowing that men 
could be softened by gifts, gave to these spirits that 
whjen to him seemed of the most value. With burst- 
ing heart he would offer the blood of his dearest 
child. It was impossible for him to conceive of a god 
utterly unlike himself, and he naturally supposed that 
these powers of the air would be effected a little at the 
sight of so great and so deep a sorrow. It was with 
the barbarians then as with the civilized now : one 
class lived upon and made merchandise of the fears 
of another. Certain persons took it upon themselves 
to appease the gods, and to instruct the people in their 
duties to these unseen powers. This was the origin 
of the priesthood. The priest pretended to stand be 
tween the wrath of the gods and the helplessness of 
man. He was man's attorney at the court of heaven. 
He carried to the invisible world a flag of truce, a 


protest and a request. He came back With a com- 
mand, with authority and 'with power. Man fell Upon 
Ms knees before his own servant, arid the priest, taking 
advantage of the awe inspired by his supposed influ- 
ence with the gods, made of his fellow-man a cringing 
hypocrite and slave. Even Christ, the supposed son 
of God, taught that persons were possessed of evil 
spirits, and frequently, according to the account, gave 
proof of his divine origin and mission by frightening 
droves of devils but' of his unfortunate countrymen. 
Casting out devils was his principal employment, and 
the devils thus banished generally took occasion to 
acknowledge him as the true Messiah ; which was not 
only very kind of them, but quite fortunate for him. 
The religious people have always regarded the testi- 
mony of these devils as perfectly conclusive, and the 
writers of the Hew Testament quote the words of 
these imps of darkness with great satisfaction. 

The iact that Christ could withstand the tempta- 
tions* of the devil, was considered as conclusive evi- 
dence that he was assisted by some god, or at least 
by some being superior to man. St. Matthew gives 
an account of an attempt made by the devil to tempt 
the -supposed son of God ; and it has always excited 
ihe wonder of Christians' that the temptation was so 
nobly and r heroically withstood. The account to 
which I refer- is as follows : ; ' ; : . 

" Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wil- 
derness to :be tempted' of the devil. And when the " 
tempter came to him, he said, * If thou be the son of 
God 'command that these stones be made bread? But 
he answered and said^ 'It is written : niah shall Vot 


. , 

live by bread alone, but by every word that proceed- 
eth out of the mouth of God.' Then die devil taketh 
him up into the holy city and setteth him upon a pin- 
nacle of the temple, and saith unto him, 'If 
the'> son of God, cast -thyself down ; fo^it is written, 
*He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, lest 
at ary time th ou shalt dash thy foot against -a stone. ' 
, Jesus 'said '< unto him, * It is written again thou shalt 
not tempt the Lord thy God. 1 Again the devil taketh 
him up into an exceedmg high mountain and sheweth 
, him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of 
them, and saith unto to him, * All these will I give 
thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 1 " 

The Christians now claim that Jesus was God. If 

he was God, of course the devil knew that fact, and 

yet, -according to this account, the devil took the 

omnipo|ent God and placed him. upon a pinnacle of 

-they temple, and endeavored to induce him to dash 

; himself: against the earth. Failing in that, he took 

,the creator, owner and governor of the universe up 

into an exceeding high mountain, and offered him 

this world 1 this grain of sand, if he, the God of all 

the worlds, would fall down and worsnip him, a poor 

devilj without even a tax title to one foot of dirt! 

Is it -possible the. devil was such an idiot? Should 

any great credit be^given to this deity for not being 

caught with such chaff ? Think of -it! The devil 

the prince of 'sharpers the -king of cunning the 

master of finesse, trying to bribe God with a grain of 

sand that belonged to God I 

Is there hi all the religious literature of the world 
"anything more grossly absurd than this ? , ^ 


These devils, according to the bible, were of vari. 
ous kinds, some could speak and hear, others tirere 
deaf and dumb. All could not be cast out in the same 
way. The deaf and dumb spirits were quite difficult 
to deal with. St. Mark tells of - a gentleman who 
brought his son to Christ. The boy, it seems, was 
possessed of a dumb spirit, over which'the disciples 
had no control. " Jesus said unto the spirit, * Thou 
dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee come out of him, 
and enter no more into him. 1 " Whereupon, the deaf 
spirit (having heard what was said) cried out (being 
dumh) and immediately vacated the premises. The 
ease with which Christ controlled this deaf and dumb 
spirit, excited the wonder of his disciples, and they 
asked him privately why they could not cast that 
spirit out. To whom he replied : "This kind can 
come forth by nothing but prayer and fasting." Is 
there a Christian 'in the whole world who would be- 
lieve such a story if found in any other book ? The 
trouble is, these pious people shut up their reason, 
and then open their bibles. 

In the olden times, the existence of devils was 
universally admitted. The people had no doubt upon 
that subject, and from .such belief it followed as a 
matter of course, that a person, in order to vanquish 
these devils, had either to be a god, or assisted by 
one. All founders of religions have established their 
claims to divine origin by controlling evil spirits and 
suspending the laws of nature. Casting out devils 
was a certificate of divinity. A prophet, unable to 
with the powers of darkness, was regarded with 
The utterance of the highest and noblest 


sentiments ; the most blameless and holy life, com- 
manded but little respect, unless accompanied by pow- 
er to work miracles and command spirits. 

This belief in go6d and evil powers had its origin in 
the fact that man was surrounded, by what he was 
pleased to call, good and evil phenomena. Phenom- 
ena affecting man pleasantly were ascribed to good 
spirits, while those affecting him unpleasantly or 
injuriously, were ascribed to evil spirits. It being 
admitted that all phenomena were produced by spir- 
its, the spirits were divided according to the pheno- 
mena, and the phenomena were good or bad as they 
affected man. Good spirits were supposed to be the 
authors of good phenomena, and evil spirits of the 
evil : so that the idea of a devil has been as universal 
as the idea of a god. 

Many writers maintain that an idea to become 
universal must be true ; that all universal ideas 
are innate ; and that innate ideas can not be false. 
If the fact, that an idea has been universal, proves 
that it is innate, and if the fact, that an idea is innate, 
proves that it is correct, then, the believers in innate 
ideas must admit that the evidence of a god superior 
to nature, and of a devil superior to nature, is exactly 
the same, and that the existence of such a devil must 
be as self-evident as the existence of such a god. The 
truth is, a god was inferred from good, and a devil 
from bad phenomena. And it is just as natural and 
logical to suppose that a devil would cause happiness, 
as to suppose that a god would produce misery. Con- 
sequently, if an intelligence, infinite and supreme, ia 
the immediate author of all phenomena, it is difficult 


to determine whether such intelligence is the friend 
or enemy of man. If phenomena were all good, we 
might say they were all produced by a perfectly ben- 
eficent being. If they were all bad, we might say 
they were produced by a perfectly malevolent power; 
but as phenomena are, as they affect man, both good 
and bad j they must be produced by different and an- 
tagonistic spirits; by one who is sometimes actuated 
by kindness, and sometimes by malice; or all must 
be. produced of necessity, and without reference to 
their consequences upon man. - 

The foolish doctrine,- that all jphenomena can be. 
traced to the interference of good and evil spirits, has 
been, and still is almost universal. That most people* 
still believe : in some spirit that can change the natural 
order of events, is proven by the fact, that nearly all 
resOrt .to prayer, ThbusaDds, at this very moment, 
are probably imploring soine supposed power to inter- 
fere in their behalf. Some want health restored; 
some ask that the loved and absent be Watched over 
and protected; some pray for riches ; some for rain; 
some want diseases stayed; some vainly ask for food; 
some ask for revivals ; a few ask for more wisdom, 
and now and then one tells the Lord to do as he may* 
think best. -Thousands ask to ! be protected froih th& 
devil ; some, like David, pray for revenge, and some 
implore, even God, not to lead them intb temptation. 
All these prayers rest upon, and are produced by the 
idea that some power riot only can, but probabijrwill, 
change the order of the universe: This belief has 
been among the great majority of tribes and nations. 
All sacred booksVare filled witn the -accounts -of'isuclr 


interferences, and our own bible irf no exception to. 
this rule." ^ 

If" we believe in a power superior to irature, it is 
perfectly natural to suppose that such power can and 
will interfere in the affairs of this world. ' If there is 
no interference, of what y practical use can such power 
. be ? The scriptures jjive us the most wonderful ac- 
counts of divuie interferen-ce : "Animals talk like 
men ; springs gurgle from dry bones ; the sun and 
moon stop in the heavens in order that General Joshua 

.."'' -- J - " 

may have more time to mui'der ; the shadow on a dial 
goes back ten degrees to convince a petty king of a 
barbarous people that he u not going to die of a boil ; 
fire refuses to burn; water positively declines to seek 
its level,- but stands up ^iike a wall ; grains of sand 
become lice ; common walking sticks, to gratify a 
mere freak, twist themselves into serpents, and then 
swallow each other by way Of exercise ; murmuring 
streams, laughing at the attraction of gravitation, run 
up hill for 'years, following Wandering tribes from* a 
pure love of frolic ; pi ophecy becomes altogether 
easier than history ; the sons of God becoine enam- 
ored of the- world's girls ; women are changed into 
salt for the purpose of keeping a great event fresh in 
the minds of men ; dn excellent article of brimstone 
is imported from heaven free of diity; clothes refuse 
to wear out for forty years ; birds keep restaurants 
and feed wandering prophets free of expense ; "bears 
tear children in pieces*fbr laughing at old men with- 
out wigs ; muscular development depends upon the 
length of one's hair ; dead people come to lif?., sim- 
ply to get a joke'on'iheir enemics'ahd heirs ; witches 


and wizards converse freely with the souls of the de- 
parted, and God himself becomes a stone-cutter and 
engraver, after having been a tailor and dress-maker. 

The.veil between heaven and earth was always ren; 
or lifted. The shadows of this world, the radiano 
of heaven, and the glare of hell mixed and minglet 
until man became uncertain as to which country h. 
really inhabited. Man dwelt hi an unreal world 
He mistook his ideas, his dreams, for real thing* 
His fears became terrible and malicious monster- 
He lived in the midst of furies and fairies, nympl>. 
and naiads, goblins and ghosts, witches and wizards, 
sprites and spooks, deities and devils. The obscure 
and gloomy depths Were filled with claw and wing 
with beak and hoof with leering looks and sneering 
mouths with the malice of deformity with -the cun- 
ning of hatred, and with all the slimy forms that fear 
can draw and paint upon the shadowy canvass of the 

It is enough to make one almost insane with pity to' 
think what man in the long night has suffered ; of the 
tortures he has endured, surrounded, as he supposed, 
by malignant powers and clutched by the fierce phan- 
toms of the air. No wonder that he fell upon his 
trembling knees that he built altars and reddened 
them even with his own blood. No wonder that he 
implored ignorant priests and impudent magicians for 
aid. No wonder that he crawled groveling in the 
dust to the temple's door, and* there, in the insanity 
of despair, besought the deaf gods to bear his bitter 
cry of agony and fear. 

The savage, as he emerges from a state of barbar- 


ism, gradually loses faith in his idols of wood and 
stone, and in their place puts a multitude of spirits. 
As he advances in knowledge, he generally discards 
the petty spirits and .in their stead believes in one, 
whom he supposes to be infinite and supreme. Sup- 
posing this great spirit to be superior to nature, he 
offers worship or flattery in exchange for assistance. 
At last, finding that he obtains no aid from this sup- 
posed deity finding that every search after the abso- 
lute must of necessity end in failure finding that 
man cannot by any possibility conceive of the condi- 
tionless he begins to investigate the facts by which 
he is surrounded, and to depend upon himself . 

The people are beginning to -think*,' to reason, and 
to investigate. Slowly, painfully, but surely, the 
gods are being driven from the earth. Only upon 
rare occasions are they, even by the most religious, 
supposed to interfere in the affairs of men. In most 
matters we are at last supposed to be free. Since the 
invention of steamships and railways, so that the 
products of all countries can be easily interchanged, 
the gods have quit the business of producing famine. 
Now and then they kill a child because it is idolized 
by its parents. * As a rule they have given lip causing 
accidents on railroads, exploding boilers, and burst- 
ing kerosene lamps. Cholera, yellow fever, and 
small-pox are still considered heavenly weapons ; but 
measles, itch and ague are now attributed to natural 
causes. As a general" thing, the gods have stopped 
drowning children, except as a punishment for viola- 
ting the Sabbath. They still pay some attention to 
the affairs of kings, men of genius and persons of 


groat wealth ; but ordinary people are left to shirk 
for themsjBlyes as best they may. In wars between 
great nations, the gods still interfere ; but in prize 
figBts, the best man, with an honest referee, is almost 
sure to win. -'' r 

The church cannot abandon the idea of; special 
providence. To give up that doctrine, is to give up all. 
The church must insist that prayer is answered-r-that 
some power superior to nature hears and grants the re- 
quest of the sincere and humble Christian, and that this 
same power in some mysterious way provides for all. 

A devout clergyman sought every opportunity to 
impress upon the mind of his son the fact, that God 
takes care of all his creatures ; that the falling spar- 
row attracts his attention, and that his loving kind- 
ness is over all his works. Happening, one day, to 
see a crane wading in quest of food, the good man 
pointed out to his son the perfect adaptation of the 
crane to get his living in that manner. "See," said 
he, ''how his legs are formed for wading) What 
a long slender bill he has! Observe how nicely he 
folds his feet wlien putting them in or drawing them 
out of the water I He does not cause the slightest 
ripple. He is thus enabled to approach the fish with- 
out giving, them any notice of his arrival." * *My son," 
said he, "it is impossible to look at that bird without 
recognizing the design, as well as the goodness of 
God, in thus providing the means of subsistence." 
"Yes," replied the boy, "I think I see the goodness 
of God, at least so far as the crane is concerned ..; but 
after all, father, don't you think the arrangement a 
little tough on the fish ?" , . , 


Even the advanced religionist, although disbelieving 
in any great amount of interference by the gods in 
this age -of- the "world, still thinks, that in the begin- 
ning, some god made the laws governing the universe 
He believes that in consequence of these laws a man 
can lift a greater weight with, than without, a lever ; 
that this god so made matter, and so established the 
order of things, that two bodies cannot occupy the 
same space at the same time ; so that a body once put 
in motion -will keep moving until it is stopped; so 
that it is a greater distance around, than across a cir- 
cle ; so that a perfect square has four equal sides, 
in stead of five or seven. He insists that it took a 
direct interposition of providence to make the whole 
greater than. a 'part, and that had it not been for this 
- power superior to nature, twice one might have been 
more, than twice two, and sticks and strings might 
have had only one.end apiece. Like the old Scotch 
divine, he thanks God that Sunday conies at the end 
instead of in the middle of the week, and that death 
comes at the close instead of at the commencement of 
life, thereby giving us time to prepare for that holy 
day and that most solemn event. These religious 
people see nothing But design everywhere, and per- 
sonal, intelligent interference in everything. They 
insist that the universe has been created, and that- the 
adaptation of means to ends is perfectly apparent. 
They. point us to the sunshine, to the flowers, to the 
April rain, and to all there is of beauty and of use 
in the world. Did it ever occur to them that a cancel 
is as beautiful in its developement as is the reddest 
rose ? That what they are pleased to call the adapta- 


tion of means to ends, is as apparent in the cancer aa 
in the April rain? How beautiful the process of 
digestion ! By what ingenious methods the blood is 
poisoned so that the cancer shall have food ! By 
what wonderful contrivances the entire system of 
man is made to pay tribute to this divine and 
charming cancer 1 See by what admirable instru- 
mentalities it feeds itself from the surrounding quiv- 
ering, dainty flesh ! See how it gradually but surely 
expands and grows ! By what marvelous mechan- 
ism it is supplied with long and slender roots that 
reach out to the most secret nerves of pain for sus- 
tenance and life 1 "What beautiful" colors it pre- 
sents ! Seen through the microscope, it is a miracle 
of order and beauty. jll the ingenuity of man can- 
not stop its growth. Think of the amount of thought 
it, must have required to invent a way by which the 
life of one man might be given to produce one can- 
cer ? Is it possible to look upon it and doubt that 
there is design in the universe, and thaf the inven- 
tor of this wonderful cancer must be infinitely power- 
ful, ingenious and good ? 

"We are told that the universe was designed' and 
created, and that it is absurd to suppose that matter 
has existed from eternity, but that it is perfectly self- 
evident that a god has. 

If a god created the universe, then, there must 
have been a time when he commenced to create. 
.Back of that time there must have been an eternity, 
during which there had. existed nothing absolutely 
nothing except thjg supposed god. According to 
this theory, this god spent an eternity, so to speak, in 


an infinite vacuum, and in perfect idleness. 

Admitting that a god did create the universe, the 
question then arises, of- what did he create it ? It 
certainly was not made of nothing. Nothing, con- 
sidered in the light of a raw material, is a most de- 
cided failure. It follows then, that the god must 
have made the universe out of himself, he being the 
only existence. The universe is material, and if it 
was made of god, the god must have been material. 
With this very thought in his mind, Anaximander of 
Miletus said : " Creation is the decomposition of the 
infinite." - 

It has been demonstrated, that the earth would fall 
to the sun, only for the fact, that it is attracted by 
other worlds, and those worlds must be attracted by 
other worlds still beyond them, and so on, without 
end. "This proves the material universe to be infinite. 
If an' infinite universe has been made out of an infi- 
nite god, how much of the god is left ? 

The idea of a creative deity is gradually being 
abandoned, and nearly all truly scientific minds ad- 
mit that matter must have existed from eternity. It 
is indestructible, "and the indestructible cannot be 
created. It is the crowning glory of our century to 
have demonstrated the indestructibility and the eter- 
nal persistence of force. Neither matter nor force 
can be increased nor diminished. Force cannot exist 
apart from matter. Matter exists only in connection 
with force, and consequently, a force apart from mat- 
ter, and superior tp nature, is a demonstrated impos- 

Force then must bave also existed from eternity. 


and could not have been created. Matter, in its 
cpuntless forms, from dead earth to the eyes of thosa 
we love, and force in all its manifestations, from sim- 
ple motion to the grandest thought, deny creation and 
dofy control. 

Thought is a form of force. "We walk with the 
same force with which we think. Man is ,an organ- 
ism, that changes several forms of force into thought- 
force. Man is a machine into which we put what we 
call food, and produce what we call thought. Think 
of that wonderful chemistry by which bread was 
changed into the divine tragedy of Hamlet ! 

A god must not only be material, but he must be an 
organism, capable of changing other forms of force 
into thought-force. This is what we call eating. 
Therefore, if the god thinks, he must eat, that is to 
say, he must of necessity have some means of supply- 
ing the force with which to think. It is impossible to 
conceive of a being who can eternally impart force 
to matter, and yet have no means of supplying the 
force thus imparted. 

If neither matter nor force were created, what 
evidence have we then, of the existence of a power 
superior to nature ? The theologian will probably 
reply, " We have law and order, cause and effect, and 
besides all this, matter could not have put itself in 

Suppose, for the sake of the argument, that there is 
no being superior to nature, and that matter and force 
have existed from eternity. Now .suppose that two 
atoms should ceme together, would there be an effect,? 
Yes. Suppose they came in exactly opposite direc- 


tions with equal force, they would be stopped, to say 
the least. This would be an effect. If this is so, 
then you have matter, force and effect without a being 
superior to nature. Now suppose that two other 
atoms, just like the first two, should come together 
under precisely the same "circumstances, would not 
the effect be exactly the same ? Yes. Like causes, 
producing like effects, is what we mean by law and 
order. Then we have matter, force, effect, law and 
order without a being superior to nature. Now, we 
know that every effect must also be a cause, and that 
every cause must be an effect. The atoms coming 
together did produce an effect, and as every effect 
must also be a cause, the effect produced by the col- 
lision of the atoms, must as to something else have 
been a cause. Then we have matter, force, law, order, 
cause and effect without a being superior to nature. 
Nothing is left for the supernatural but empty space. 
Bis throne is a void, and his boasted realm is' without 
matter, without force, without law, without cause, 
and without effect. . 

But what put all this matter in motion ? If mattei 
and force have existed from eternity, then matter 
must have always been in motion. There can be no 
force without motion. Force is forever active, and 
there is, and there can be no cessation. If, therefore, 
matter and force have existed from eternity, so haa 
motion. In the whole universe there is not even one 
atom in a state of rest. 

A deity outside of nature exists in nothing, and is 
nothing. Nature embraces with infinite arms all mat- 
ter and all force. That which is beyond her grasp is 


destitute of both, and can hardly be worth the worship 
and adoration even of a man. 

There is but one way to demonstrate the existence 
of a power independent of and superior to nature, 
and that is by breaking, if only for one moment, the 
continuity of cause and effect. Pluck from the end- 
less chain of existence one little link ; stop for one 
instant the grand procession, and you have shown 
beyond all contradiction that nature -has a master. 
Change the fact, just for one second, that matter 
attracts matter, and a god appears. 

The rudest savage has always known this fact, and 
for that reason always demanded the evidence of 
miracle, The founder of a religion must be able to 
turn water into wine cure with a word the blind and 
lame, and raise with a simple touch the dead to life. 
It^was necessary for him to demonstrate to the satis- 
faction of his barbarian disciple, that he was superior 
to nature. In times of ignorance, this was easy to 
do. The credulity of the savage was almost bound- 
less. To him, the marvelous was the beautiful, the 
mysterious was the sublime. Consequently, every 
religion has for its foundation a miracle that is to 
say, a violation of nature that is to say, a falsehood. 

IS'o one, in the world's whole history, ever attempted 
to substantiate a truth by .a miracle. Truth scorns 
the assistance of miracle. Nothing but falsehood ever 
attested itself by signs and wonders. No miracle 
ever was performed, and no sane man ever thought 
he had performed one, and until one is performed, 
there can be no evidence of the existence of 
power superior to, and independent of nature. 




The church wishes us to believe. Let the church, 
or one of its intellectual saints, perform a miracle, 
and we will believe. We are told that nature has a 
superior. Let this superior, for one single instant, 
control nature, and we will admit the truth of your 
assertions. . 

We have heard talk enough. We have listened to 
to' all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we 
wish to hear. We have read your bible, and the 
works of your best minds. We have heard your 
prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential 
amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We 
want one fact. We beg at Ihe doors of your churches 
for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your 
pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just 
one fact. We know all about your mouldy wonders 
and your stale miracles. We want a this year's fact. 
We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. 
Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have 
been dead for nearly two thousand years. Their 
reputation for " truth and veracity." in the neighbor- 
hood where they resided is wholly unknown to us. 
Give us a new miracle, and substantiate it by wit- 
nesses who still have the cheerful habit of living in 
this world. Do not send us to Jerichp to hear the 
winding horns, nor put us in the fire with Meshech, 
Shadrach and Abednego. Do not compel us to navi- 
gate the sea with Captain Jonah, nor dine with Mr. 
. Ezekiel. There is no sort of use in sending us fox 
hunting with Samson. We have positively lost all 
interest in that little speech so eloquently delivered by 
Balaam's inspired donkey. It is worse than useless to 


show us fishes with money in their months, and call 
our attention to vast multitudes stuffing themselves 
with, five crackers and two sardines. We demand a 
new miraclej and we demand it now. Let the church 
furnish at least one, or forever after hold her peace, 

In the olden time, the church, by violating the 
order of nature, proved the existence of her God. 
At that time miracles were performed with the most 
astonishing ease. They became so common that the 
church ordered her priests to desist And now this 
same church the people having found some little 
sense admits,- not only, that she cannot perform a 
miracle, but insists that the absence of miracle the 
steady, unbroken march of cause and effect, prove the 
existence of a povrer superior to nature. The fact is, 
however, that the indissoluble chain of cause and. 
efiect proves exactly the. contrary. 

Sir William Hamilton, one of the pillars of modern 
theology, in discussing this very subject, uses the fol- 
lowing language : " The phenomena of matter taken 
by themselves, so -far from warranting any inference 
to the existence of a god, would on the contrary 
ground even an argument to his negation. The phen 
omena of the material world are subjected to immuta- 
ble laws ; are produced and reproduced in the same 
invariable succession, and manifest only the blind 
force of a mechanical necessity." 

Nature is but an endless series of efficient causes. 
She cannot create, but she eternally transforms. 
There was no beginning, and there can be no end. 

The best minds, even in the religious world, admit 
that hi material nature there is no evidence of what 


. they are pleased to call a god. They find their evi- 
^dence in the phenomena of intelligence, and very 
innocently assert that intelUgence-is. above, and in 
fact, opposed to nature.' They insist that man, at 
least, is a special creation ; 4hat he has somewhere in 
his brain a divine spark, a little portion of the "Great 
First Cause." They say that matter cannot produce 
thought ; but that thought can produce matter. They 
tell us that man has intelligence, and therefore there 
must be an intelligence greater than his. Why not 
say : God has intelligence, therefore there must be 
an intelligence greater than his ? So far as we know 
there is .no intelligence apart from matter. We can- 
not conceive of thought, except as produced within a 
Tarain. ...''.- 

The science, by means of which they demonstrate 
the existence of an impossible intelligence, and ail 
incomprehensible power, is called, metaphysics or 
theology. The theologians admit .that the phenomena 
of matter tend, at least, to disprove the existence of 
any power superior to nature, because in such phe- 
nomena we see nothing but an endless chain of effi- 
cient causes nothing but the force of a mechanical 
necessity. They therefore appeal to what they denom- 
. inate the phenomena of mind to establish this supe- 
rior power. 

The k trouble is, that in the phenomena of mind we 
find the same endless chain of efficient causes ; the 
same mechanical necessity. Every thought must 
have had an efficient cause. Every motive, every 
desire, every fear, hope t and dream must have been 
necessarily produced. There is no room in the mind 


of man for providence or chance. The facts and 
forces governing thought are as absolute as those gov- 
erning the motions of the planets. A poem is pro- 
duced by the forces of nature, and is as necessarily 
and naturally produced as mountains and seas. You 
will seek in vain for a thought in man's brain without 
its efficient cause. Every mental operation is the 
necessary result of certain facts and conditions. 
Mental phenomena are considered more complicated 
than those of matter, and consequently more mysteri- 
ous. Being more mysterious they are considered bet- 
ter evidence of the existence of a god. No one infers 
a god from the simple, from the known, from what 
is understood, but from the complex, from the un- 
known, and incomprehensible. Our ignorance is God-, 
what we know is science. 

When we abandon the doctrine that some infinite 
being created matter and force, and enacted a code 
of laws for their government, the idea of interference 
will be lost. The real priest will then be, not the 
mouth-piece of some pretended deity, but the inter- 
preter of nature. From that moment the church 
ceases to exist. The tapers will die out upon the 
dusty altar ; the moths will eat the fading velvet of 
pulpit and pew ; Ahe Bible will take its place with the 
Shastras, Puranas, Vedas, Eddas, Sagas and Korans, 
and the fetters of a degrading faith will fall frjom the 
minds of men. - 

"But," says the religionist, "you cannot explain 
everything ; you cannot understand everything ; and 
that which you cannot explain, that which you do nc 
comprehend, is my God." 


We are explaining more every day. We are under- 
standing more every day ; consequently your God is 
growing smaller every day. 

Nothing daunted, the religionist then insists, that 
nothing can exist without a cause, except cause, and 
that- this uncaused cause, is God. 

-To this we again reply : Every cause must produce 
an effect, because until it does produce an effect, it is 
not a cause. Every effect must in its turn become a 
cause.. Therefore, in the nature of things, there can- 
not be a last cause, for, the reason that a so-called lust 
cause would necessarily produce an effect, and that 
effect must of necessity become a cause. The con- 
verse of these propositions must be true. Every 
" effect must have had a cause, and every cause must 
have -been an effect. Therefore, there could have 
been no first cause. A first cause is just as impossible 
as a last effect. 

Beyond the universe there is nothing, and within 
the universe the supernatural does not and can not 
exist. ' 

The moment these great truths are understood and 
admitted, a belief in general or special providence 
becomes impossible. From that instant men will 
cease their vain efiorts to please an imaginary being, 
and will give their time and attention to the affairs of 
this world. They will abandon the idea of attaining 
any object by prayer and supplication. The element 
of uncertainty will, in a great measure, be removed 
from the domain of the future, and man, gathering 
cowrage from a succession of victories over the ob- 
structions of nature, will attain a serene grandeur un- 


known to the disciples of any superstition. The plans ' 
of mankind will no longer be interfered with by the 
finger of a supposed omnipotence, and no one will 
believe that nations or individuals are protected or 
destroyed by any deity whatever. Science, freed from 
the chains of pious custom and eYangelical prejudice, 
will, within her sphere, be supreme. The mind will 
investigate without reverence, and publish its conclu- 
sions without fear. Agassiz will no longer hesitate to 
declare the Mosaic cosmogony utterly inconsistent 
with the demonstrated truths of geology, and will 
cease pretending any reverence for the Jewish scrip- 
tures. The moment science succeeds in rendering 
the church powerless for evil, "the real thinkers will 
be outspoken. The little flags of truce carried by 
timid philosophers, will disappear, and the cowardly 
parley will give place to victory lasting and univer- 

If we admit that some infinite being has controlled 
the destinies of persons and peoples, history becomes 
a most cruel and bloody farce. Age after age, the 
strong have trampled upon the weak ; the crafty and 
heartless have ensnared and enslaved the simple and 
innocent, and nowhere, in all the annals of mankind, 
has any god succored the oppressed. 

Man should cease to expect aid from on high. By 
this time he should know that heaven has no ear to 
hear, and no hand to help. The present is the neces- 
sary child of all the past. There has been no chance, 
and there can be no interference. 
' .. If abuses are destroyed, man must destroy them. 
If slaves are freed, man must free them. If new 


truths are discovered, man must discover them. Tf 
tin naked are clothed ; if the hungry are fed ; if jus- 
tict is done ; if labor is rewarded ; if superstition is 
driven from the mind ; if the defenceless are protect- 
ed, ai'd if the right finally triumphs, nil must be the 1 
work cf man. The grand victories of the future must ; 
be won by man, and by man alone. 
< Nature, so far as we can discern, without passion 
and without intention, forms, transforms, and re-trans- 
forms forever. She neither weeps nor rejoices. She 
produces imm without. purpose, and obliterates him 
without regret. She knows no distinction between 
the beneficial and the hurtful. Poison and nutrition, 
pain and joy, life and death, smiles and tears are alike 
to her. She is neither merciful nor cruel. She can 
not be flattered by worship nor melted by tears. She 
does- not know even the attitude of prayer. She 
appreciates no difference between poison in the fangs 
of snakes and mercy in the hearts of men. Only 
through man does nature take cognizance of the good, 
1ue true, and the beautiful ; and, so far as we know, 
man is the highest intelligence. 

And yet man continues to believe that there is some 
power independent of and superior to nature, and still 
endeavors, by form, ceremony, supplication, hypo- 
crisy and sacrifice, to obtain its aid. His best ener- 
gies have been wasted in the service of this phantom. 
The horrors of witchcraft were all born of an ignor- 
ant belief in the existence of a totally depraved being 
superior to nature, acting in perfect independence of 
her laws , and all religious superstition has had for its 
\>asis a belief, in at least. two beings, one good and the 


other bad, both of whom could arbitrarily change the 
order of the universe. The history' of religion is 
simply the story of man's efforts in all ages to avoid . 
one of these powers, and to pacify the other. Both 
powers have inspired little else than abject fear. The 
cold, calculating sneer of the devil, and the frown of 
God, were equally terrible. In any event, man's fate 
was to be arbitrarily fixed forever by an unknown 
power superior to all law, and to all fact. Until this 
belief is thrown aside, man must consider himself the 
slave of phantom masters neither of whom promise 
liberty in this world nor the next. 

Man must learn to rely upon himself. Reading 
bibles will not protect him from the blasts of winter, 
but houses, fires, and clothing will. To prevent 
famine, one plow is worth a million sermons, and 
eyeu patent medicines will cure more diseases than 
all the prayers uttered since the beginning of the 

Although many eminent men have endeavored to 
harmonize necessity and free will, the existence of 
evil, and the infinite power and goodness of God, 
they have only succeeded in producing learned and 
ingenious failures. Immense efforts have been made 
to reconcile ideas utterly inconsistent with the facts 
by which we are surrounded, and all persons who 
have failed to perceive the pretended reconciliation, 
have been denounced as infidels, atheists and scoffers. 
The whole power of the chu*rch has been brought to 
bear against philosophers and scientists in order to 
compel a denial of the authority of demonstration, 
and to induce some Judas to betray Reason, one of the 


saviours of mankind. 

During that frightful period known as the "Dark 
Ages," Faith reigned, with scarcely a rebellious sub- 
ject. Her temples were " carpeted with knees," and 
the wealth of nations adorned her countless shrines. 
The great painters prostituted their genius to immor- 
talize her vagaries, while the poets enshrined them in 
song". At her bidding, man covered *the earth with 
blood. The scales of Justice were turned with her 
gold, and for her use were invented all the cunning 
instruments of pain. She built cathedrals for God, 
and dungeons for men. , She peopled the clouds with 
angels and the earth with slaves. For centuries the 
world was retracing its steps going steadily back 
towards barbaric night. A few infidels a few here- 
tics cried, " Halt I " to the great rabble of ignorant 
devotion, and made it possible for the genius of the 
nineteenth century to revolutionize the cruel creeds 
and superstitions of mankind. 

The thoughts of man, in order to be of any real 
worth, must be free. Under the influence of fear, 
the brain is paralyzed, and instead of bravely solving 
a problem for itself, tremblingly adopts the solution 
of another. As long as a majority of men will cringe 
to the very earth before some petty prince or king, 
what must be the infinite abjectness of their little 
souls in the presence of their supposed creator ant? 
God ? Under, such circumstances, what can thei" 
thoughts be worth ? 

The originality of repetition, and the mental vigor of 
acquiescence, are all that we have any right to expect 
from the Christian world. As long as every question 


is answered by the word, " god," scientific inquiry i. 
simply impossible. As fast as phenomena are satis- 
factorily explained, the domain of the power, sup- 
posed to be superior to nature, must decrease, while 
the horizon of the known must as constantly continue 
to enlarge. 

It is no longer satisfactoiy to account for the fall 
and rise of nations by saying: "It is the will of 
God." Such an explanation puts ignorance and edu- 
cation upon an exact equality, and does away with the 
idea of really accounting for anything whatever. 

"Will the religionist pretend that the real end "of 
science is, to ascertain how, and why God acts? 
Science, from such a stand-point would consist h? 
investigating the law of arbitrary action, and in a 
grand endeavor to ascertain the rules necessarily 
obeyed by infinite caprice. 

From a philosophic point of view, science is a 
knowledge of the laws of life ; of the conditions of 
happiness ; of the facts by which we are surrounded, 
and the relations we sustain to men and things by 
means of which, man, so to speak, subjugates nature, 
and bends the elemental powers to his will, making 
blind force the servant of his brain. 

A belief in special providence does away with the 
spirit of investigation, and is inconsistent with per- 
sonal effort. "Why should man endeavor to thwart 
the designs of God ? " Which of you, by taking 
thought, can add one cubit to his stature? " Under the 
influence of this belief, man, basking in the sunshine 
of a delusion, considers the lilies of the field and 
refuses to take any thought for the morrow. Believ- 


ing himself in the power of an infinite being, who 
can, at any moment, dash him to the lowest hell or 
raise' him to the highest heaven, he necessarily aban- 
dons the idea of accomplishing anything by his own 
efforts. As long as this belief was general, the world 
was filled with ignorance, superstition and misery. 
The energies of man were wasted in a. vain effort to 
obtain the aid of this power, supposed to be superioi 
to nature. For countless ages, even men were sacri- 
ficed upon the altar of this impossible god. To please 
him, mothers have shed the blood of their own babes; 
martyrs have chanted triumphant songs in the midst 
of flame ; priests have gorged themselves with blood; 
nuns have fore-sworn the ecstacies of love ; old men 
have tremblingly implored ; women have sobbed and 
entreated; every pain has been endured, and every hor- 
ror lias been perpetrated. 

Through the dim, long years that have fled, human- 
. ity has suffered more than can be conceived. Most 
of -the misery has been endured by the weak, the lov- 
ing and the Innocent. Women have been treated like 
poisonous beasts, and little children -trampled upon as 
though they had been vermin. Numberless altars 
have been reddened, even with. the blood of babes; 
beautiful girls have been given to slimy serpents ; 
whole races of men doomed to centuries of slavery, 
. and everywhere there has been outrage beyond tho 
power of genius to express. During all these years, 
the suffering have supplicated ; the withered lips of 
. famine have prayed ; the pale victims have implored, 
and Heaven has been deaf and blind. 

Of what use have the gods been to man ? 


It is no answer to say that some god created the 
world, established certain laws, and then turned his 
attention to other matters, leaving his children weak, 
ignorant and unaided, to fight the battle of life alone. 
It is no solution to declare that in some other world 
this god will render a few, or even all, his subjects 
happy. What right have we to expect that a perfectly 
wise, good, and powerful being will ever do better 
than he has done, and is doing ? The world is filled 
with imperfections. If it was made by an infinite 
being what reason have we for saying that he will 
render it nearer perfect than it now is ? If the infin- 
ite "Father" allows a majority of his children to live 
in ignorance and wretchedness now, what evidence is 
there that he will ever improve their condition ? Will 
God have more power ? Will he become more merci- 
ful ? Will his love for his poor creatures increase ? 
Can the conduct of infinite wisdom, power and love 
ever change ? Is the infinite capable of any improve- 
ment whatever ? , 

We are informed by the clergy that this world is a 
kind of school ; that the evils by which we are sur- 
rounded are for the purpose of developing our souls, 
and that only by siifiering can men become pure, 
strong, virtuous and grand. 

Supposing this to be true, what is to become of 
those who die in infancy ? The little children, accord- 
ing to this philosophy, can nevor be developed. They 
were so fortunate as to escape the ennobling influ- 
ences of pain and misery, and as a consequence, are 
doomed to an eternity of mental inferiority. If the 
clergy are right on this question, none are so unfor- 


tunate as the happy, and we should envy only the 
suffering and distressed. If evil is necessary to the 
development of man, in this life, how it is possible 
for the soul to improve in the perfect joy of para- 
dise ? 

Since Paley found his watch, the argument of " de- 
sign " has been relied upon a unanswerable. The 
Church, teaches that this world, and all it contains, 
was created substantially as we now see it; that the 
grasses, the flowers, the trees, and all animals, in- 
cluding man,, were special creations, and that they 
sustain no necessary relation to each other. The most 
orthodox will admit that some earth has been washed 
into the sea ; that the sea has encroached a little upon 
the land, and that some mountains may be a trifle 
lower than in the morning of creation. The theory 
of gradua.1 development was unknown to our fathers ; 
the idea of evolution did not occur to them. That 
most wonderful observer, Charles Darwin, had not 
then" given to the world his wonderful philosophy. 
Our fathers looked upon the then arrangement of 
things as the primal arrangement. The earth appear- 
ed to them fresh from the hands of a deity. They nothing of the slow evolutions of countless 
years, but supposed that the almost infinite variety of 
vegetable and animal forms had existed from the 

Suppose that upon some island we should find a man 
a million years of age, and suppose that we should find 
him in the possession of a most beautiful carriage, 
constructed upon the most' perfect model. And sup- 
pose further, that he should tell us that it was the re- 


suit of several hundred thousand years of labor and of 
thought; that for fifty thousand years he used as 
fiat a log as he could find, before it occurred to him 
that, by splitting the log, he could have the same sur- 
face with only half the weight ; that it took him many 
thousand years to invent wheels for this log ; that the 
wheels he first used were .solid, and that fifty thou- 
sand years of thought suggested the use of spokes and 
tire ; that for many centuries he used the wheels with- 
out linen-pins ; that it took a hundred thousand years 
more to think of using four wheels instead of two; that 
for ages he walked behind the carriage when going 
down hill, in order to hold it back, and that only by a 
lucky chance he invented the tongue, wonld we con- 
clude that this man, from the very first, had been an 
- infinitely ingenious and perfect mechanic ? Suppose ' 
we found him living in an elesjant mansion, and he 
should inform us that he lived in that house for five 
hundred thousand years before he thought of putting 
on a roof, and that he had but recently invented win- 
dows and doors, would we say that from the begin- 
ning, he had been an infinitely accomplished and sci- 
entific architect ? 

Does not an improvement in the things created, 
show a corresponding improvement in the creator ? 

Would an infinitely wise, good and powerful God, 
intending to produce man, commence with the lowest 
possible forms of life; with the simplest organism 
that can be imagined, and during immeasurable peri- 
ods of time, slowly and almost imperceptibly improve 
upon the rude beginning, until man was evolved ? 
"Would countless ages thus be wasted in the produc- 


tion of awkward forms, afterwards abandoned ? Can 
the intelligence of man discover the least wisdom in 
covering. the earth, with 'crawling, creeping horrors, 
that live only upon the agonies and pangs of others ? 
Can we see the propriety of so constructing the earth, 
* that only an insignificant portion of its surface is ca- 
pable of producing an intelligent man? Who can 
appreciate 1 the mercy of so making the world that all 
animals devour animals ; so that every mouth is a 
slaughter-house, and every stomach a tomb ? Is it 
possible to discover infinite intelligence and love in 
universal and eternal carnage ? 

What would we think of a father, wlio should give 
a farm to his children, and before giving them pos- 
fiession should plant upon it thousands of deadly 
shrubs and vines; should stock it with ferocious 
beasts and poisonous reptiles ; should take pains to 
put a few swamps in the neighborhood to breed ma- 
laria ;. should so arrange matters, that the ground 
would occasionally open and swallow a few of his 
darlings, and besides all this, should establish a few 
volcanoes in the immediate vicinity, that might at any 
moment overwhelm his children with rivers of fire ? 
Suppose that this father ne"glected to tell his children 
which of the plants were deadly ; that the reptiles 
were poisonous; failed, to say anything about the 
earthquakes, and kept the volcano business a profound 
secret, would we pronounce him angel or fiend ? 

And yet this is exactly what the orthodox God has 

According to the theologians, God prepared this 
globe expressly for the habitation, of his loved cbil- 


dren, and yet he filled the forests with ferocious 
beasts ; placed serpents in every path ; stuffed the 
world with earthquakes, and adorned its surface with 
mountains of flame. 

Notwithstanding all this, we are told that the world 
is perfect ; that it was created by a perfect being, and 
is therefore necessarily perfect. The next moment, 
the same persons will tell us that the world was 
cursed; covered with brambles, thistles and thorns, 
and that man was doomed to disease and death, sim- 
ply because our poor, dear mother ate an apple con- 
trary to the command of an arbitrary God. 

A very pious friend of mine, having heard that I 
had said the world was full of imperfections, asked 
me if the report was true. Upon being informed that 
it was, he expressed great surprise that any one could 
be guilty of such presumption. He said that, in his 
judgment, it was impossible to point out an imperfec- 
tion. "Be kind enough," said he, "to name even 
one improvement that you could make, if you had the 
power." " Well," said I, c * I would make good health 
catching, instead of disease." The truth is, it is im- 
possible to harmonize all the ills, and pains, and ago- 
nies of this world with the idea that we were created 
by, and are watched over and protected by an infinite- 
ly wise, powerful and beneficent God, who is superior 
to, and independent of nature. 

The clergy, however, balance all the real ills of this 
life with the expected joys of the next. We are as- 
sured that all is perfection in heaven there the skies 
are cloudless there all is serenity and peace. Here 
empires may be overthrown ; dynasties may be extin- 


guished in blood ; millions of slaves may toil beneath 
the fierce rays of the sun, and the cruel strokes of the 
lash, yet all is happiness in heaven. Pestilence may 
strew the earth with corpses of the loved ; tho surviv- 
ors may bend above them in agony yet the placid 

bosom of heaven is unruffled. Children may expire 
vainly asking for bread ; babes may be devoured by 
serpents,' while the gods sit smiling in the clouds. 
The innocent may languish unto death in the obscur- 
ity of dungeons"; brave onen and heroic women may 
be changed to ashes at the bigot's stake, while heaven 
is filled with song and joy. Out on the wide sea, in 
darkness and in storm, the shipwrecked struggle with 
the cruel waves; while the angels play upon their 
golden harps. The streets of the world are filled with 
the diseased, the deformed and the helpless ; the 
chambers of pain are crowded with the pale forms of 
the suffering, while the angels float and fly in the 
happy realms of day. In heaven they are too happy 
to have sympathy ; too busy singing to aid the implor- 
ing and distressed. Their eyes are blinded ; their 
ears are stopped and their hearts are turned to stone 
by the infinite selfishness of joy. "The saved mariner 
is too happy when he touches the shore to give a mo- 
ment's thought to hi& drowning brothers. With the 
indifference of happiness, with the contempt of bliss, 
heaven barely glances at the miseries of earth. , Cities 
Hre devoured by the rushing lava; the earth opens 
ttnd thousands perish ; women raise their clasped 
hands toward heaven, but the gods are too happy to 
aid their children. The smiles of the deities are on- 


acquainted with the tears of men. The shouts of 
heaven drown the sobs of earth. 

In all ages, man has prayed for help, and then help- 
ed himself. 

Having shown how man created gods, and. how he 
became the trembling slave of his own creation, the 
question naturally arises : How did he free himself, 
even a little, from these monarchs of the sky ; from 
these despots of the clouds ; from this aristocracy oi 
the air ? How did he, even to the extent that he has, 
outgrow his ignorant,, abject terror, and throw off the 
yoke of superstition ? 

Probably, the first thing that tended to disabuse his 
mind was the discovery of order, of regularity, .of 
periodicity in the universe. From this, he began to 
suspect that everything did not happen purely with 
reference to him. He noticed that, whatever he 
might do, the motions of the planets were always the 
same ; that eclipses were periodical, and that even 
comets came at certain intervals. This convinced 
him that eclipses and comets had nothing to do with 
him, and that his conduct had nothing to do with 
them. He perceived that they .were not caused for 
his benefit nor injury. He thus learned to regard them 
with admiration instead of fear. He began to suspect 
that famine was not sent by some enraged and re- 
vengeful deity, but resulted often from the neglect 
and ignorance of man. He learned that diseases were 
not produced by evil spirits. He found that sickness 
was occasioned by natural causes, and could be cured 
by natural means. He demonstrated, to his own sat- 
isfaction at least, that prayer. is not a medicine. He 


found. .by sad experience that his gods were of no 
practical' use, as they never assisted him, except when 
he was perfectly able to help- himself. At last, he be- 
gaii to discover that his individual action had nothing 
whatever to do with strange appearances in the heav- 
ens ; that it was impossible for him to be bad enough 
to cause a whirlwind, or .good enough to stop one. 
After many centuries of thouglit, he about half con- 
cluded that making mouths at a priest would not nec- 
essarily cause an earthquake. He noticed, and no 
doubt with considerable astonishment, that very good 
men were occasionally struck by lightning, while very- 
bad ones escaped. He was frequently forced to the 
painful conclusion (and it is the most painful to which 
any human being ever was forced,) that the right did 
not always prevail. He noticed that the gods did not 
interfere in behalf of the weak and innocent. He was 
now. and .then astonished by seeing an unbeliever in 
the enjoyment of most excellent health. He finally 
ascertained that there could be no possible connection 
between an unusually severe winter and his failure to 
give a sheep to a priest. He began to suspect that the 
order of the universe was not constantly being 
changed to assist him because he repeated a creed. He 
observed that some children would steal after having 
been regularly baptized. He noticed a vast difference 
between religion and justice, and that the worship- 
ers of the same god toolr delight in cutting each 
others throats. He saw that these religious disputes 
'filled the world with hatred and slavery. At last he 
ha,d the courage to suspect that no- god at any time 
interferes with the" order of events. He learned a few 


facts, and these facts positively refused to harmonize 
with the ignorant superstitions of his fathers. Find- 
ing his sacred books incorrect and false in some par- 
ticulars, his faith in their authenticity began to be 
shaken; finding his priests ignorant upon some 
points, he began to lose respect for the cloth ; this 
was the commencement of intellectual freedom. 

The civilization of man has increased just to the 
same extent that religious power has decreased. The 
intellectual advancement of man depends upon how 
often he can exchange an old superstition for a new 
truth. The Church never enabled a human being to 
make even one of these exchanges; on the contrary, all 
her power has been used to prevent them. In spite, 
however, of the Church, man found that some of his 
religious conceptions were wrong. By reading his 
Bible, he found that the ideas of his God- were more 
cruel and brutal than those of the most depraved sav- 
age. He also discovered that this holy book was filled 
with ignorance, and that it fnust have been written by 
persons wholly unacquainted with the nature of the 
phenomena by which we are surrounded, and now 
and then, some man had the goodness and courage to 
speak his honest thoughts. In every age some think- 
er, some doubter, some investigator, some hater of 
hypocrisy, some despiser of sham, some brave lover 
of the right, has gladly, proudly and heroically 
braved the ignorant fury of superstition for the sake 
of man and truth. These divine men were generally 
torn in pieces by the worshipers of the gods. Soc- 
rates was poisoned because he lacked reverence for 
some of the deities. Christ was crucified by a relig 


lous rabble for the crime of blasphemy. Nothing ig 
more gratifying to a religionist than to destroy his en- 
emies at the command of God. Religious persecu- 
tion springs from a due admixture of love towards 
God and hatred towards man. 

The 'terrible religious wars that inundated the 
world with blood, tended at least, to bring all relig- 
ion into disgrace and hatred. Thoughtful people be- 
gan to question the divine origin of a religion that 
made its believers hold the rights of others in abso- 
lute contempt. A few began .to compare Christianity 
with the religions of heathen people, and were forced 
to admit that the difference was hardly worth ying 
for. They also found that other nations were even 
happier and more prosperous than their own. They 
began to suspect that their religion, after ail, was not 
of much real Y4ilue. 

For three hundred years the Christian world en- 
deavored, to rescue from the "Infidel" the empty sep- 
ulchre of Christ. For three hundred years the ar- 
mies of the Cross were baffled and beaten by the vic- 
torious hosts .of an impudent imposter. This im- 
mense fact sowed the. seeds of distrust throughout ah 1 
Christendom, and millions began to lose confidence in 
a God who had been vanquished by Mohammed. The 
people also found that commerce made friends where 
religion made enemies, and that religious zeal was 
utterly incompatible with peace between nations or 
individuals. They discovered that those who loved 
.the gods most were apt to love men least; that the 
arrogance of universal forgiveness was amazing; that 
the most malicious had the effrontery to pray for their 


enemies, and that humility and tyranny were the fruit 
of the same tree. 

For ages, a deadly conflict has been waged between 
a few brave men and women ,of thought and genius 
on the one side, and the great ignorant religious mass 

on the other. This is tht> war between Science and 
Faith. The few have appealed to reason, to honor, to 
law, to freedom, to the known, and to happiness here 
in this world. The many have appealed to prejudice, 
to fear, to miracle, to slavery, to the unknown, and to 
misery hereafter. The few have said, " Think !" 
The many have said, '* Believe!" 

The first doubt was the womb and cradle of progress, 
and from the first doubt man has continued to ad- 
vance. Men began to investigate and the Church 
? began to oppose. The astronomer scanned the 
heavens, while .the Church branded his grand forehead 
with the word, "Infidel/* and now not a . glittering 
* star in all the vast expanse bears a Christian name. 
'In spite of all religion, the geologist penetrated the 
earth, read her history in books of stone, and- found 
hidden within her bosom, souvenirs of all ages. Old 
ideas perished in the retort of the chemist, and useful 
truths took their places. One by one religious con- 
ceptions have been placed in the crucibles of science, 
and thus far, nothing but dross has been found. A 
new world has been discovered by the microscope: 
everywhere has been found the infinite; in every 
direction, man has investigated and explored, and 
nowhere, in earth nor stars, has been found the foot- 
step of any being superior to, or independent of 


nature. Nowhere has been discovered the slightest 
evidence of any interference from without. 

These are the sublime truths that enabled man to 
throw off the yoke of superstition. These . are the 
splendid facts that snatched the sceptre of authority 
from the hands of priests. 

In that vast- cemetery, called the past, are most of 
the religions of men, and there, too, are nearly all 
their gods. The sacred temples of India were ruins 
long a$o. Over column and cornice; over the painted 
and pictured walls, cling and creep the trailing vines. 
Brahma, the golden, with four heads, and four arms; 
Vishnu, the sombre, the punisher of the wicked with 
his thj<oe eyes, his crescent and his necklace of skulls; 
Siva, the destroyer, red with seas of blood; Kali, the 
godd^s, Draupadi, the white-armed, and Chrishna, 
the OJurist, all -passed away and left the thrones of 
heaToa desolate. Along the hanks of the sacred Nile, 
Isis no longer wandering weeps, searching for the 
dead Osiris. The shadow of Typhon's scowl falls no 
more irpon the waves. The sun rises as of yore, and 
his golden beams still smite the lips of Memnon, but 
Memndn is as voiceless as the Sphinx. The sacred 
fanes are lost in desert sands; the dusty mummies are 
still waiting for the resurrection promised by their 
priests, and the old beliefs, wrought in curiously 
sculptured stone, sleep in the mystery of a language 
lost and dead. Odin, the author of life and'soul, Vili 
and Ye, and the mighty giant Yamir, strode long ago 
, from the icy halls of the North; and Thor t with iron 
jglove and glittering hammer, , dashes mountains to the 
earth no more. -Broken are the circles and cromlechs 


of the ancient Druids; fallen utjon the summits of the 
hills and covered with the centuries' moss, are the sa- 
cred cairns. The divine fires of Persia and of the 
Aztecs, have died out in the ashes of the past, and 
there is none to rekindle, and none to feed the holy 
flames. The harp of Orpheus is still; the drained cup 
of Bacchus has been thrown aside; .Venus lies dead in 
stone, and her white bosom heaves no more with love. 
The streams still murmur, but no naiads bathe; the 
trees still wave, but in the forest aisles no dryads 
dance. The gods have flown from high Olympus. 
Not even the beautiful women can lure them back, 
and even Danae lies unnoticed, naked to the stars. 
Hushed forever are the thunders of Sinai ; lost are the 
voices of the prophets, and the land, once flowing 
with milk and honey, is but a desert waste. One by 
one the myths, have faded from the clouds; one by 
one the phantom host has disappeared, and one by 
one, facts, truths and realities have taken their places. 
The supernatural has almost gone, but the natural 
remains. The gods have fled, but man is here. 

''Nations, like individuals, have their periods of 
youth, of manhood and decay." Religions are the 
same. The same inexorable destiny awaits them all. 
The gods, created by the nations, must perish with 
their creators. They were created by men and like 
men, they must pass away. The deities of one age 
are the by-words of the next. The religion of our 
day, and country, is no more exempt from the sneer 
of the future than the others have been. When India 
was supreme, Brahma sat upon the world's throne. 
When the sceptre passed to Egypt, Isis and Osiris 


received the homage of mankind. Greece, with her 
fierce valor, swept to empire, and Jove put on the 
purple of authority. The earth trembled with the 
tread of Rome's intrepid sons, and Jupiter grasped 
with mailed hand the thunderbolts of heaven. Rome 
fell, and .Christians from her territory,, with the red 
sword of . war carved out the ruling nations of the 
world, and now, Christ sits upon the old throne. Who 
will be his successor? 

Day by day, religious conceptions grow less and 
less intense. Day by day, the old spirit dies out of 
book and creed. The burning enthusiasm, the 
quenchless-zeal of the early Cburch have gone, never, 
never to return. The ceremonies remain, but the 
ancient faith- is fading r-it of the human heart. The 
worn-out argument? ^il to convince, and denunciations 
that once blanched the. faces of a race, excite in us 
only derision and' d'Sgust. As time rolls on, the mir- 
acles grow mean and small, and the evidences our 
fathers thought conclusive, utterly fail to saMsfy us. 
There is an " irrepressible conflict" between religion 
and science, and they cannot peaceably occupy the 
same brain nor the same world. 

. While utterly 'discarding all creeds, and denying 
the truth of all religions, there is neither in my heart 
nor upon my lips a sneer for the hopeful, loving and 
tender souls who believe-that from all this discord 
will result. a perfect harmony; that every evil will in 
some mysterious way become a good, and that above 
and over all there is a being who, in some way, will 
reclaim and glorify every one of the children of men; 
but for the creeds of those who glibly prove that sal- 


vation is almost impossible; that damnation is al- 
most certain ; that the highway of the universe leads 
to hell ; who fill life with fear, and death with horror; 
who curse the cradle and mock the tomb, it is im- 
possible to entertain other than feelings of pity, con- 
tempt and scorn. N 

Reason, Observation and Experience the Holy 
Trinity of Science have taught us that happiness is 
the only good ; that the time to be happy is now, and 
the way to be happy is to make others so. This is 
enough for us. In this belief we are content to live 
and die. If, by any possibility, the existence of a 
power superior to, and independent of nature shall be 
demonstrated, there will then be time enough to kneel. 
Until then, let us stand erect. 

Notwithstanding the fact that Infidels in all ages 
hnve battled for the rights of, man, and have at all 
times been the fearless advocates of liberty and justice, 
we are constantly charged by the Church with tearing 
down without building again. The Church should by 
this time know that it is utterly impossible to rob men 
of their opinions. The history of religious persecu- 
tion fully establishes the fact that the mind necessarily 
resists and defies every attempt to control it by vio- 
lence. The mind necessarily clingsjio old ideas until 
prepared for the new. The moment we comprehend 
the truth all erroneous ideas are of necessity cast 

A surgeon once called ' upon a poor cripple and 
kindly offered to render him any assistance in his 
power. The surgeon began to discourse very learn- 
edly upon the nature and origin of disease ; of the 


curative ptopcrties of certain medicines ; of the ad- 
vantages of exercise, air and light, and of the various 
ways in which health and strength couid be restored. 
These remarks were so full of good sense, and discov- 
ered so much profound thought and accurate knowl- 
edge, that the cripple, becoming thoroughly alarmed, 
cried out; "Do not, I pray you, take away my 
crutches. They are rny only support, and without 
them I should be miserable indeed !" "1 am not 
going," said the surgeon, "to take away your crutches ; 
I am going to cure you, and then, you will throw the 
crutches away yourself." . 

For the vagaries of the clouds the Inndels propose 
to substitute the realities of earth ; for superstition, 
the splendid demonstrations and achievements or Sci- 
ence ; and for theological tyranny, the chainless libi 
erty of thought. ' . 

We do not say that we have discovered all; that 
our doctrines are the all in all of truth. "We know of 
no end to the development of man. We cannot un- 
ravel the infinite complications of matter and force. 
The history of one monad is as unknown as the uni- 
ver?/, , one drop of water is as wonderful as all the 
sefcd ; one leaf as all the forests; and one grain, of 
gaud as all the stars. , 

We ate not endeavoring to chain the future, but to 
free, the present. We are not forging .fetters for 
our children, but we are breaking those our fathers for us. We are the advocates of inquiry, of in- 
vestigation and thought. This of itself is an admis- 
sion that we are not perfectly, satisfied with all our 
conclusions. Philosophy has not the egotism of faith. 


"While superstition "builds walls and creates obstruc- 
tions, science opens all the high ways of thought. We 
do not pretend to have circumnavigated everything, 
and to have solved all difficulties, but we do .believb 
that it is better to love men than to fear gods ; that it 
is grander and nobler to think and investigate for 
vourself than to repeat a creed, or quote scripture 
vike a religious parrot, with the countenance of -a dys- 
peptic owl. We are satisfied that there can be but lit- 
tle liberty on earth while men worship a tyrant in 
heaven. We no not expect to accomplish ev^y thing 
in our day; but we want to do what good we can, and 
to render all the service possible in the holy, cause of 
human progress. We know that doing away with 
gods and supernatural persons and powers is not an 
end. It is a means to an end : the real end being the 
happiness of man. 

Felling forests is not the end of agriculture. Driv- 
ing pirates from tfre sea is not all there is of com- 

We are laying the foundations of the grand temple 
of the future not the temple of all the gods, but of all 
the people wherein, with appropriate rites, will be 
celebrated the religion of Humanity. We are doing 
what little we can to hasten the coming of the day 
when society shall cease producing millionaires and 
mendicants gorged indolence and famished industry 
truth in rags, and superstition robed and crowned. 
We are looking for the time when the useful shall be 
the honorable ; when the true shall be the beautiful, 
am? when REASON, throned upon the world's bni in, 
shall be the King of Kings and God of Gods. 

Oration on Thomas Paine, 


[Delivered at Fairbury, 111.] 

. To speak the praises of the brave and thoughtful 
dead, is to me a labor of gratitude and love. 

Through all the centuries gone, the mind of man 
has been Leleaguered by the mailed hosts of supersti- 
tion. Slowly and painfully has advanced the army of 
deliverance. Hated by "those they wished to rescue, 
despised by those they were dying to save, thesr 
grand soldiera, iiiese immortal deliverers, have foughV 
without thanks, labored without applause, sufiered 
without pity, and they have "died execrated and abhor- 
red. For the good of mankind they accepted isola- 
tion, poverty and calumny. The gave up all, sacr fic- 
ed all, lost- all but truth and self-respect. 
One of the bravest soldiers in this armv was Thos. 


Paine; and for one, I feel indebted to him for the 


liberty we are enjoying this day. Born among the 
poor, where children are burdens ; in a country where 
real liberty was unknown; where the privileges of 
class were guarded with infinite jealousy, and the 
rights of the individual trampled beneath the feet of 
priests and nobles ; where to advocate justice was 
treason ; where intellectual freedom was infidelity, it 
is wonderful tnat the idea of true liberty ever entered 
his brain. 

Poverty was his mother necessity his master. 

He had more brains than books ; more sense than 
education ; more courage than politeness ; -more strength 
than polish. He had no veneration for old mistakes 
no ad miration jf or ancient lies. He loved the truth 
for the truth's sake, and for man's sake. He saw op- 
pression on every hand ; injustice everywhere hypo- 
crisy at the altar, venality on the bench, tyranny on 
the throne ; and with a splendid courage he espoused 
the -cause of the weak against the strong of the en- 
slaved many against the titled few. 

In England he was nothing. He belonged to the 
lower classes. There was no avenue open for him. 
The people hugged their chains, and the whole power 
of the government was reaJy to crush any man who 
endeavored to strike a blow foi the right. 

At the age of thirty-seven, Thomas Paine left Eng- 
land for America with the high hope of being instru- 
mental in the establishment of a free government. In 
his own country he could accomplish nothing. Those 
two vultures Church and State were ready to tear 
in pieces and devour the heart of any one who might, 
deny their divine right to enslave the world. 

Upon his arrival in -this country, he found himself 
oossessed of a letter of introduction, signed by an- 


other Infidel, the illustrious Franklin. This, and hi3 
native genius, constituted his entire capital ; and he 
needed no more.. He found the colonies clamoring 
for justice ; whining about their grievances ; upon 
their knees at the foot of the thrcne, imploring that 
mixture of idiocy and insanity, George the III. by 
the grace of God, for a restoration of their ancient 
privileges. They were not endeavoring to become 
free men, but were trying to soften the heart of their 
master. They were perfectly willing to make brick 
if Pharaoh would furnish the straw. The colonists 
wished for, hoped for, and prayed for reconciliation. 
They did not dream of independence. 

Paine gave to the world his " Common Sense." It 
was the first argument for separation, the first assault 
upon the British form of government, the first blow 
for a republic, and it aroused our fathers like a trum- 
pet's blast. 

He was the first to perceive the destiny of the New 

No other pamphlet ever accomplished such won- 
derful results. It was filled with argument, reason, 
persuasion and unanswerable logic. It opened a 
new world. It filled the present with hope and 
the future with honor. Everywhere the people re- 
sponded, and in a few months the Continental Con- 
gress declared the colonies free and independent 
States. . 

A new nation was born. 

. It is simple justice to say that Paine did more to 
cause the Declaration of Independence than any other 
man. Neither should it. be torgotten that his attacks 
upon Great Britain were also attacks upon monarchy; 
and while he convinced the people that the colonies 


ought to separate from the mother country, he also 
proved to them that a free government is the best 
that can be instituted among men. ' .. . 

In my judgment,, Thomas Paine was the best politi- 
cal writer that ever lived. " What he wrote was purr 
nature, and his soul and his pen ever went together.* 
Ceremony, pageantry and all the paraphernalia 01 
power, had no effect upon him. He examined into 
the why and wherefore of things. He was perfectly- 
radical in his mode of thought. Nothing short of the 
bed-rock satisfied him. His enthusiasm for what he 
believed to be right knew no bounds. During all the 
dark scenes of the .Revolution, never for one moment 
did he despair. Year after year hi& brave words were 
ringing through the land, and by the bivouac fires 
the weary soldiers read the inspiring words of 
" Common Sense," filled with ideas sharper than their 
swords, and consecrated themselves anew to the cause 
of freedom. 

Paine was not content with having aroused the spirit 
of independence, but he gave every energy of his 
soul to keep that spirit alive. He was with the army. 
He shared its defeats, its dangers, and its glory. When 
the' situation became desperate, when gloom settled 
upon all, he gave them the ''Crisis." It was a- cloud 
by day and a pillar of fire by night, leading the way 
to freedom, honor and glory. He shouted to them, 
11 These are the times that try men's souls. The Sum- 
mer soldier, and the sunshine patriot, will, in this 
crisi^ shrink from the service of his country ; but he 
that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of 
man and woman." 

To those who wished to put the war off to some 
future day, with a lofty and touching spirit of self- 


sacrifice lie said : " Every generous parent should say, 
'If there must be war, let it be in my day, that my 
child may have peace.' " To the cry that Americana 
were rebels, he replied : *' He that rebels against rea- 
son is a real rebel ; but he that, in defence of reason, 
rebels against tyranny, has a better title to ' Defender 
of the Faith' than George the Third." 

Some said it was not to the interest of the colonies 
to be free. Paine answered this by saying: "To 
know whether it be the interest of the continent to be 
independent, we need ask only this simple, easy ques- 
tion : ' Is it the interest of a man to be a boy all hia 
life ?' " He found many who would listen to .nothing, 
and to them he said, "That to argue with a man who 
has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to 
the dead." This sentiment ought to adorn the walls 
of every orthodox church. 

There is a world of political wisdom in this : "Eng- 
land lost her liberty in a long chain of right reason- 
ing from wrong principles ;" and there is real discrim- 
ination in saying, " The Greeks and Romans were 
strongly possessed of the spirit of liberty, but not the 
principles, for at the time that they were determined 


not to be slaves themselves, they employed their pow- 
er to enslave the rest of mankind." 

In his letter to the British people, in which he tried 
to convince them that war was not to their interest, 
occurs the following passage brimful of common 
sense: "War never can be the interest of a trading 
nation any more than quarreling can be profitable to 
a man in business. But to make war with those who 
trade with us, is like setting a bull-dog upon a cus- 
tomer at the shop door." 

The writings of Paine fairly glitter with simple, 


compact, logical statements, that carry conviction to 
the dullest and most prejudiced. He had the happiest 
possible way of putting the case ; in asking questions 
in such a way that they answer themselves, and in 
stating his premises so clearly that the deduction could 
not be avoided. 

Day and night he labored for America ; month after 
month, year after year he gave himself to the greal 
cause, until there was "a government of the people 
and for the people," and until the banner of the stars 
floated over a continent redeemed and consecrated to 
the happiness of mankind. 

At the close of the Revolution, no one stood higher 
in America than Thomas Paine. The best, the wisest, 
the most patriotic were his friends and admirers ; and 
had he been thinking only of his own good, he might 
have rested from his toils and spent the remainder of 
his life in comfort and in ease. He could have been 
what the world is pleased to call ** respectable." He 
could have died surrounded by clergymen, warriors 
and statesmen. At his death there would have been 
an imposing funeral, miles of carriages, civic socie- 
ties, salvos of artillery, a nation in mourning, and 
above all, a splendid monument covered with lies. 

He chose rather to benefit mankind. 

At that time the seeds sown by the great Infidels 
were beginning to bear fruit in France. The people 
were beginning to think. 

The Eighteenth Century was crowning its gray 
hairs with the wreath of progress. 

On every hand Science was bearing testimony 
against the Church. Voltaire had filled Europe with 
light ; D'Holbach was giving to the elite of Paris the 
principle* contained in his "System of Nature?" Thi* 


Encyclopaedists had attacked superstition with infor- 
mation for the masses. The foundation of things be- 
gan to be examined. A lew had the courage to keep 
their shoes on and let the bush burn. Miracles began 
to get scarce. Everywhere the people began 'to in- 
qviire. America had set an example to the world. 
The word liberty began to be in the mouths of men, 
and they began to wipe the dust from their knees. 

The dawn of a new day had appeared. 

Thomas Paine went to France. Into the new 
movement he threw all *his energies*. His fame had 
gone before him, and he was welcomed as a friend of 
the human race, and as a champion of free govern- 

He had never relinquished his intention of pointing 
out to his countrymen the defects, absurdities and 
abuses of the English government. For this purpose 
he composed and published his greatest political work, 
" The Bights of Man." Jhis work should be read by 
erery man an d woman. It is concise, accurate, nat- 
aral, convincing and unanswerable. It shows great 
thought ; an intimate knowledge of the various forms 
of government ; deep insight into the very springs of 
human action, and a courage "that compels respect 
and admiration. The most difficult political problems 
are solved in a few sentences. The venerable argu- 
ments in favor of wrong are refuted with a question 
answered with a word. For -forcible illustration, apt 
comparison, accuracy and clearness of statement, and 
absolute thoroughness, it has never been excelled. 

The fears of the administration were aroused, and 
Paine was prosecuted for libel and found guilty ; and 
yet there is not a sentiment" in the entire work that 
wiU not challenge the admiration of every civilized 


man. - It is a magazine of political wisdom, an arsen- 
al of ideas, and an honor, not only to Thomas Paine, 
but to human nature itself. It could have been writ- 
ten only by the man who had the generosity, the ex- 
alted patriotism, the goodness to say, " The world is 
my country, and to do*good my religion.'' 

There is in all the utterances of the world no 
grander, no sublimer senf \ment. There is no creed 
that can be compared with /' for a moment. It should 
be wrought in gold, adori.e:l with jewels, and im- 
pressed upon every human lieart : " The world is my 
country, and to do good my religion." 

In 1792 Paine was elected by the department of 
Calais as their representative in the National Assem- 
bly. So great was his popularity in France, that he 
was selected about the same time by the people of no 
less than four departments. 

Upon taking his place in the Assembly he was ap- 
pointed as one of a committee to draft a constitution 
for France. Had the French peopie taken the advice 
of Thomas Paine, there would have been no "Reign 
of Terror." The streets of Paris would not have 
been filled with blood. The revolution would have 
been the grandest success of the world. The truth is 
that Paine was too conservative to suit the leaders of 
the French Revolution. They, to a great extent, were 
carried away by hatred, and a desire to destroy. They 
had suffered so long, they had borne so much, that it 
was impossible for them to be moderate in the hour 
of victory. 

Besides all this, the French people had been so rob- 
bed by the government, so degraded by the Church, 
that they were not lit 'material with which to con- 
struct a republic. Many of the leaders longed to 


establish a beneficent and just government, but the 
people asked for revenge. 

Paine was filled with a real love for mankind. His 
philanthrophy was boundless. He washed to destroy 
monarchy not the monarch. He voted for the de- 
struction of tyranny, and against the death of the 
king. He wished to establish a government on a new 
basis ; one that would forget the past ; on^i that would 
give privileges to none, and protection try all. 

In the "Assembly, where nearly all we/e demanding 
the execution of the king where to t/iffer from ihe 
majority was to be suspected, and \v/iere to be sus- 
pected was almost certain death, Tnomas Paine nad 
the. courage, the goodness and ti/K justice to vote 
against death. To vote against tb* execution of tne 
king was a vote against his owb. rife. This wts the 
sublimity of devotion to For tnla he was 
arrested, imprisoned and doom.,d to deatn. 

Search the records of the world, and you will find 
but few sublimer acts than zhat of Thomas Paine 
voting against the king's deai/i. He, Ine hater of des- 
potism, the abhorrer of monarchy, t'ue champion of 
the rights of man, the republican, accepting death to 
save the life of a -dep'osed tj r rant of a throneless 
king. This was the last grand act of his political life 
-the sublime conclusion of his political career. 

All his life he had been the disinterested friend of 
man. He had labored not for money, not for fame, 
but for the general good. He had aspired to no 
office ; had asked no recognition ol his services, but 
liad ever been content to labor as a common soldier in 
the army of progress. Confining his efforts to no 
country, looking upon the world as his field of action, 
filled with a genuine love for the right, he found him- 


self imprisoned by the very people lie had striven to 

Had his enemies succeeded in bringing him to the 
block, he would have escaped the calumnies and the 
hatred of the Christian world. In this country, at 
least, he would have ranked with the proudest names. 
On the anniversary of the Declaration his name would 
have been upon the lips of all the orators, and hia 
memory in the hearts ol all of the people. 

Thomas Paine had not finished his career,. 

He had spent his life thus far in destroying the 
power of kings; and now he turned his attention to 
the priests. He knew that every abuse had been em 
balmed in Scripture that every outrage was in part- 
nership with some holy text. He knew that the 
throne skulked behind the altar, and both behind a 
pretended revelation from God. By this time he had 
found that it was 01 little use to free the body and 
leave the mind in chains. He had explored the found- 
ations of despotism, and had found them infinitely 
rotten. He had dug under the throne and it occurred 
to him that he would take a look behind the altar. 

rfhe result of his investigations was given to the 
world in the ''Age of Reason." From the monies) of 
its publication he became infamous. He was calum- 
niated beyond measure. To slander him was to secure 
the thanks Of the Church., All his services were in- 
stantly forgotten, disparaged or denied. He was 
shunned as though he had been a pestilence. Most of 
his old friends forsook him. He was regarded as a 
moral plague, and at the bare mention of his name 
the bloody hands of the Church were raised in hor- 
ror. He was denounced as the most despicable of 
men - 


Kot content with following him to the grave, they 
pursued him with redoubled fury, and recounted with 
infinite gusto and satisfaction. the supposed horrors of 
his deathbed ; gloried in the fact that he was forlorn 
ruid f men- '"-ess, and gloated like fiends over what 
they supposed to be the agonizing remorse \jf his lonely 

It is wonderful that all his services were tins for- 
gotten. It is amazing that one kind word did not fall 
from some pulpit ; that some one did not accord to 
him, at least honesty. Strange, that in the general 
denunciation some one did not remember his labor 
for liberty; his devotion to principle, his zeal for the 
rights of his f e]low-men. He had, by brave and splen- 
did effort, associated his name with the cause of prog- 
ress. He had made it impossible to write the history 
of political freedom with his name left out. He was 
one of the creators of light ; one of the heralds of the 
dawn. He hated tyranny in -the name of kings, and 
in the name of God with every drop of his noble 
blood. He believed in liberty and justice, and in the 
sacred doctrine of human equality. Under these 
divine banners he fought the battle of his life. In 
both worlds he offered his blood for the good of man. 
. In the wilderness of America, in the French Assem- 
bly, in the sombre cell waiting for death, he was the 
same unflinching, unwavering friend of his race ; the 
same undaunted champion of universal freedom. And 
for this he has been hated ; for this the Church haa 
violated even his grave. 

- This is enough to make one believe that nothing is 
more natural than for men to devour their benefac- 
tors. The people in all ages have crucified and glori- 
fied. Whoever lifts his voice against abuses, who* 


ever arraigns the past at the bar of the present, 
ever asks the king to show his commission, or ques- 
tions the authority of the priest, -will be denounced as 
the enemy of man and God. In all ages reason has 
been regarded as the enemy of religion. Nothing has 
been considered so pleasing to the Deity as a total de- 
nial of the authority of your own mind. Self-reliance 
has been thought a deadly sin ; and the idea of living 
and dying without the aid and consolation of super- 
stition has always horrified the Church. By some un- 
accountable infatuation belief has been, and still is 
considered of immense importance. All religions 
have been based upon the idea that God will f orevei 
reward the true believer, and eternally damn the man 
who doubts or denies. Belief is regarded as the one 
essential thing. To practice justice, to love mercy, is 
not enough. You must believe in some incomprehen- 
sible creed. You must say, " Once one is three, an 
three times one is one." The man who practiced 
every virtue, but failed to believe, was execrated. 
Nothing so outrages the feelings of the Church as a 
moral unbeliever nothing so horrible as a charitable 

When Paine was born, the world was religious. 
The pulpit was the real throne, and the churches were 
making every effort to crush out of the brain the idea 
that it had the right to think. 

The splendid saying of Lord Bacon, that 4t the in- 
quiry of truth, which is the love-making or wooing 
of it, the knowledge of truth, which is the presence 
of it, and the belief of truth, which is the enjoying of 
it, are the sovereign good of human nature," has been, 
and ever will be, rejected by religionists. Intellectual 
liberty, as a matter of necessity, forever destroys the 


idea that belief is either praise or blame-worthy, and 
i& } wholly inconsistent with every creed in Christen- 
dom. Paine recognized this truth. He also saw that 
as^long as" the Bible was considered inspired, this in- 
faiious doctrine of the virtue of belief would be be- 
lieved and preached. He examined the Scriptures 
foi'Mmself , and found them filled with cruelty, ab- 
surdity and immorality. 

jle again made lip his mind to sacrifice himself for 
thj good of his fellow-men. . 

j He commenced with the assertion, " That. any sys- 
feai-jof religion that has anything in it that shocks the 
tiind of a child cannot be a true system." What a 
Isautiful, what a tender sentiment ! No wonder .that 
t e 'Church began to hate him. He believed in one 
(ad, and no more After this life he hoped for. hap- 
jness. He believed that true religion consisted in 
ci>ing justice, loving mercy, in endeavoring to make 
<ar fellow-creatures happy, and in offering to God the 
iuit of the heart. He denied the inspiration of the 
Scriptures. This was his crime. 
He contended that it is a contradiction in terms to 
all anything a revelation that comes to us at second- 
and, either verbally or. in writing. He asserted that 
evelation is necessarily limited to the first conimuni- 

and that after-' that it is only an account of 
Something wilich another person says was a revelation 
to him. We have only .his word for it, as it was never 
jmude to us. This argument never has been, and 
^'probably never will be answered. He denied the 
/divine origin of Christ, and showed conclusively that 
/ the pretended prophecies of the -Old Testament had 
/ uo reference to him 'whatever ; and yet he believed 
/ that Christ was a virtuous and amiable man ; that the 


morality he taught and practiced was of the most be 
nevolent and elevated character, and that it had not 
been exceeded by any. Upon this point he entertain- 
ed the same sentiments now held by the Unitarians, 
and in fact by the most enlightened Christians. 

In his time the Church believed and taught /hat 
every word in the Bible was absolutely true. p ce 
his day it has been proven false in its cosmogbiy, 
false in its astronomy, false in its chronology, false in 
its hisiory, and, so far as the Old Testament is con- 
cerned,, false in almost everything. There are out 
few, if any, scientific men who apprehend that tt^ 
Bible is literally true. Who on earth at this day woufl 
pretend to settle any scientific question by a text froa 
the Bible ? The old belief is confined to the iguorajt 
and zealous. The Church itself will before long 
driven to occupy the position of Thomas Paine. 
best minds of the orthodox world, to-day, are endeaj- 
oring to prove the existence of a personal Deity. .AI 
other questions occupy a minor place. You are ij 
longer asked to swallow the Bible whole, whale, J.1 
nah and all. You are simply required to believe il 
God and pay your pew-rent. There is not now ai 
enlightened minister in the world who will seriousn 
contend that Samson's strength was in his hair, noi 
that the necromancers of Egypt could turn water intc| 
blood, and pieces of wood into serpents. These f ol-j 
lies have passed away, and the only reason that the! 
religious world can now have for disliking Paine is< 
that they have been forced to adopt so many of his ;' 
opinions. ' 

Paine thought the barbarities of the Old Testament 
inconsistent with what he deemed the real character 
of God. He believed that' murder, massacre and in- 


discriminate slaughter had never been commanded by 
the Deity. He regarded much of the Bible as child- 
ish, unimportant, and foolish. The scientific world 
entertains the same opinion. . Paine attacked the 
Bible precisely in the same spirit in which he had at- . 
tacked the pretensions of kings. He used the same 
weapons. All the pomp in the world could not make 
him cower. His reason knew no "holy of holies," 
except the abode of truth. The sciences were then 
in their infancy. The attention of the really learned 
had not been directed to an impartial examination of 
our pretended revelation. It was accepted by most as 
a matter of course. The Church was all-powerful; 
and no one, unless thoroughly imbued with the spirit 
of self-sacrifice, thought for a moment cf disputing 
the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. The infa- 
mous doctrine that salvation depends upon belief 
upon a mere intellectual conviction was then believ- 
ed and preached; To doubt was to secure the dam- 
nation of your soul. This absurd and devilish doc- 
trine shocked the common sense of Thomas Paine, 
and he denounced it with the fervor. of honest indig- 
nation. This doctrine, although, infinitely ridiculous, 
has been nearly universal, and has been as hurtful as 
senseless, For the overthrow of the infamous tene., 
Paine exerted all his strength. He left few argument* 
to be used by those who should come after him, and 
he used none that have been refuted. The combined 
wisdom and genius of all mankind cannot possibly 
conceive" of an argument against liberty of thought. 
Neither can they show why any one should be pun- 
ished, either in this world or another, for acting hon- 
estly in accordance with reason ;- and yet, a doctrine 
with every possible argument against it has been, and 


still is, believed and defended by the entire orthodox 
world. Can it be possible that we have been endow- 
ed with reason simply that our souls may be caught in 
its toils and snares, that we may be led by its false 
, and delusive glare out of the narrow path that leads 
to joy into the broad way of everlasting death ? Is 
it possible that we have been given reason simply that 
we may through faith ignore its deductions, and avoid 
its conclusions ? Ought the sailor to throw away his 
compass and depend entirely upon the fog ? If rea- 
son is not to be depended upon in matters of religion, 
that is to say, in respect to our duties to the Deity, 
why should it be relied upon in matters respecting the 
rights of our fellows ? Why should we throw away 
the laws given to Moses by God himself, and have the 
audacity to make some of our own ? How dare we 
drown the thunders of Sinai by calling; the ayes and 
noes in a petty legislature ? If reason can determine 
what is merciful, what is just, the duties of man to 
man, what more do we want either in time or eter- 

Down, forever dovrn, with any religion that requires 
upon its ignorant altar the sacrifice of the goddess 
Reason; that compels her to abdicate forever the shin- 
ing throne of the soul, strips from her form the im- 
perial purple, snatches from her hand the sceptre of 
thought and makes her the bond- woman of a sense- 
less faith 1 

If a man should tell you that he had the most beau- 
tiful painting in the world, and after taking you where 
it was, should insist upon having your eyes shut, you 
would likely suspect, either that he had no painting 
or that it was some pitiable daub. Should he tell you 
that he was a most excellent performer on the violin. 


and yet refuse to play unless your ears were stopped, 
you would think, to say the least of it, tlat he had 
an odd w.ay of convincing you of his musical ability. 
But would his conduct be any more wonderful than 

that of a religionist who asks that, before examining 
his creed, you will have the kindness to throw away 
your reason ? The first gentleman says, " Keep your 
eyes shut; my picture will bear everything but being 
seen ;" " keep your ears stopped, my music objects to 
nothing but being heard." The last says, "Away 
with your reason, my religion dreads nothing but be- 
ing understood." 

So far as I am concerned, I most cheerfully admit 
that most Christians are honest, and most ministers 
sincere. "We do not attack them; we attack their 
creed. "We accord to them the same rights that we 
ask for ourselves.- We believe that their doctrines, 
are hurtful. We believe that the frightful text, " He 
that believes shall be saved, and he that believeth not 
shall be damned," has covered the earth with blood. 
It has filled the world with arrogance, cruelty and 
murder. It has caused the religious wars; bound 
hundreds of thousands to .the stake*; founded inquisi- 
tions; filled dungeons ; invented instruments of tor- 
ture; taught the mother to hate her child ; imprison- 
ed the mind ; filled the earth with ignorance ; perse- 
cuted the lovers of wisdom,; built the monasteries 
and convents ; made happiness a crime, investigation 
a sin, and self-reliance a blasphemy. It has poisoned 
the. springs of learning; misdirected the energies of 
the world ; filled all countries with want ; housed the 
people in hovels ; fed them.with famine*, and, but for 
the efforts of a few brave infidels,' it would have taken 


the world back to the midnight of barbarism, and 
left the heavens without a star. 

The maligners of Paine say that he had DO right to 
attack this doctrine because he was unacquainted 
with the dead languages ; and for this reason, it was 
a piece of pure impudence in him to investigate the 

Is it necessary to understand Hebrew in order to 
know that cruelty is not a virtue, and that murder is 
inconsistent with infinite goodness, and that eternal 
punishment can be inflicted upon man only by an 
eternal fiend ? Is it really essential to conjugate the 
Greek verbs before you can make up your mind as to 
the probability of dead people getting out of their 
graves ? Must one be versed in Latin before he is 
entitled to express his opinion as to the genuineness 
of a pretended revelation from God ? Common sense 
belongs exclusively to no tongue. Logic is not con- 
fined to, nor has it been buried with the dead lan- 
guages. Paine attacked the Bible as it is translated. 
If the translation is wrong, let its defenders cor- 
rect it. 

The Christianity of Paine's day is not the Chris- 
tianity of our time. There has been a great improve- 
ment since then. One hundred and fifty years ago 
the foremost preachers of our time would have per- 
ished at the stake. A Universalist would have been 
torn in pieces in England, Scotland and America, 
Unitarians would have found themselves, in the stocks, 
pelted by the rabble with dead cats, after which their 
ears \FOld have been cut off, their tongues bored and 
their foreheads branded. Less than one hundred and 
fifty ]wra ago the following law was in force ia 


"Be it enacted by the Right Honorable, the Lord Pro- 
prietor, by and with the advise and consent of his lord- 
ship's governor, and the upper ana lower houses of th 
Assembly; and the authority of the same: 

" That if any person shall hereafter, within this pro- 
vince, wittingly, maliciously, and -advisedly, by writins 
or speaking, blaspheme or curse God, or deny, our Sa- 
viour, Jesus Christ to be the son of God, or shall deny the 
Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, ana Holy Ghost, or the 
God-head of any of the three persons, or the unity of the 
the God-head, or shall utter any profane words concern- 
ing the Holy Trinity, or any of the persons thereof, and 
shall thereof be convict by verdict, shall/for the first of- 
fence be bored through the tongue, and be fined twenty 
pounds' to be levied off his body. And for the second of- 
fence, the offender shall be stigmatized by burning in the 
forehead with the lettur B, and fined forty pounds. And 
that for the third offence, the offender shall suffer death ~ 
without the benefit of clergy." 

The strange 'thing about the law is, that it has never 
been repealed, and is still in force in the District of 
Columbia. Laws like this were in force in most of 
the colonies, and' in all countries where the Church 
had power. 

In the Old Testament, the death penalty was attach- 
ed to hundreds of offenses. It has been the same in 
all Christian countries. To-day, in ciyilized govern- 
ments, the death penalty is attached only to murder 
and treason ; and in some, it has been entirely abol- 
ish'ed. What a commentary upon the divine hum- 
buigs of the world ! 

In the day of Thomas Paine the Church was igno- 
rant, bloody and relentless. In Scotland the " Kirk " 
was at the summit of its power. It was a full sister 
of the Spanish Inquisition. It waged war upon hu- 
man nature. It was the, enemy of happiness, the 
hater of joy, and ;he despiser of religious liberty. It 


taught parents to murder their children rather than tc 
allow them to propagate error. If the mother held 
opinions of which the infamous "Kirk" disapproved, 
her children were taken from her arms, her bahe from 

her very bosom, and she was not allowed to see them, 
or to write them a word. It would not allow ship- 
wrecked sailors to be rescued on Sunday. It sought 
to annihilate pleasure, to pollute the heart by filling it 
with religious cruelty and gloom, and to change man- 
kind into a vast horde of pious, heartless fiends. One 
of the most famous Scotch divines said : " The Kirk 
holds that religious toleration is not far from blasphe- 
my." And. this same Scotch Kirk denounced, beyond 
measure, the man who had the moral grandeur to 
gay, ** The world is my country, and to do good my 
religion." And this same Kirk abhorred the man who 
said, "Any system of religion that shocks the mind 
of a child cannot be a true system." 

At that time nothing so delighted the Church as the 
beauties of endless torment, and listening to the weak 
wailings of infants struggling in the slimy coils and 
poisonous folds of the worm that never dies. 

About the beginning of the nineteenth century, a 
boy by the name of Thomas Aikenhead, was indited 
and tried at Edinburgh for having denied the inspira- 
tion of the Scriptures, and for having, on several oc- 
casions, when cold, wished himself in hell that he 
might get warm. Notwithstanding the poor boy re 
canted and begged for mercy,- he was found guilty 
and hanged. His body was thrown in a hole at the 
foot of the scaffold and covered with stones. 

Prosecutions and executions like this were common 
in every Christian country, and all of them were basea 


upon the belief that an intellectual conviction is a 

No wonder the Church hated and traduced the au- 
thor of the "Age of Iteason." 

England was filled with Puritan gloom and Episco- 
pal ceremony. All religious conceptions were of the 
grossest nature. The ideas of crazy fanatics and ex- 
travagant poets were 'taken as sober facts. Mil ton 
had clothed Christianity in the soiled and faded finery 
of the gods had added to the story of Christ the fa- 
bles of s Mythology. He gave to the Protestant 
Church the most outrageously material ideas of the 
Deity. He turned all the angels into soldiers made 
Heaven a battlefield, put Christ in uniform, and de- 
scribed God as a militia general. His works were 
considered by the Protestants nearly as sacred as the 
Bible itself, and the -imagination of the people was 
thoroughly polluted by the horrible imagery, the sub- 
lime absurdity of the blind Milton. 

Heaven and hell were realities the judgment-day 
was expected books of account would be opened. 
Every man would hear the charges against him read. 
God was supposed to sit. on a golden . throne, sur- 
rounded by the tallest angels, with harps in their 
hands and crowns on their heads. The goats would 
be thrust into eternal tire on the left, while the ortho- 
dox sheep on the right wer.e to gambol on sunny 
slopes forever and forever. 

The nation was profoundly ignorant, and conse- 
quently extremely religious, so far as belief was con- 

In Europe, Liberty was lying chained in the Inquis- 
ity her white bosom stained with blood. In the new 
world the Puritans had been hanging and burning in 


the name of God, and selling white Quaker children 
into slavery in the name of Christ, who said, " Sufltc* 
little children to coine unto me." 

Under such conditions prpgress was impossible. 
Some one had to lead the way. The Church is, ana 
always has been, incapable of a forward movement. 
Religion always looks back. The Church has already 
reduced Spain to a guitar, Italy to a hand-organ, and 
Ireland to exile. 

Some one not connected with the Church had to 
attack the monster that was eating out the heart of 
the" 1 world. Some one had to sacrifice himself for the 
good of all. The people were in the most abject slav- 
ery ; their manhood had been taken from them by 
pomp; by pageantry and power. Progress is born of 
doubt and inquiry. The Church never doubts never 
inquires. To doubt is heresy to inquire is to admit 
that you do not know the Church does neither. 

More than a century ago Catholicism, wrapped in 
robes red with the innocent blood of millions, hold* 
ing in her frantic clutch crowns and sceptres, honors 
and gold, the keys of heaven and hell, trampling be- 
neath her feet the liberties of nations, in the proud 
moment of almost universal dominion, felt within 
her heartless breast the deadly dagger of Voltaire. 
From that blow the Church never can recover. Livid 
M'ith hatred she launched her eternal anathema at the 
great destroyer, and ignorant Protestants have echoed 
the curse of Rome. - 

In our country the Church was all-powerful, and 
although divided into many sects, would instantly 
unite to repel a common foe. 

Paine struck the first grand blow. 

The "Age of Reason " did more to undermine the 


power of the Protestant Church than all other books 
then known. It furnished an immense amount of 
food forethought. It was written for the average 
mind, and is a straight-forward, honest investigation., 
of the Bible, and of the Christian system. 

Paine did not falter from the first page to the last. 
He gives-you his eandid> thought, and candid thoughts 
are always valuable. 

The "Age of Reason " has liberalized us all. It put 
arguments in the mouths of the people; it put the 
Church- on the defensive ; it enabled somebody in 
every village to corner the parson ; it made tne world 
wiser, and the Church better ; it took power from the 
pulpit and divided it among the pews. 

Just in proportion that the human race has advanc- 
ed, the Church has lost power. There is no exception 
to this rule. - 

No nation ever materially advanced that held strict- 
ly to the religion of its founders. 

No nation ever gave itself wholly to the control of 
the Church without losing its power, its honor and 

Every Church pretends to have found the exact 
trutiu This is the end of progress. Why pursue 
that; which you have? Why investigate when you 
know ? 

Every creed is a rock in running water : humanity 
sweeps by it. Every creed cries to the Universe, 
" Halt !" A creed is the ignorant past bullying the 
enlightened present. 

The ignorant are not-satisfied with what, can be 
demonstrated. Science is too slow for them, and so 
they invent creeds. They demand completeness. A 
sublime segment, a grand fragment, are of no value 


to them. They demand the complete circle the en- 
tire structure. 

In music they want a melody with a recurring ac- 
cent at measured periods. In religion they insist 
upon immediate answers to the questions of creation 
and destiny. The alpha and omega of all things must 
be in the alphabet of their superstition. A religion 
that cannot answer every question, and guess every 
conundrum is, in their estimation, worse than worth- 
less. They desire a kind of theological dictionary 
a religious ready reckoner, together with guide- 
boards at. all crossings and turns. They mistake im- 
pudence for authority, solemnity for wisdom, and 
pathos for inspiration. The beginning and the end 
are what they demand. The grand flight of the eagle 
is nothing to them. They want the nest in which 
he was hatched, and especially the dry limb upon 
which he roosts. Anything that can be learned is 
hardly worth knowing. The present is considered of 
no value in itself. Happiness must not be expected 
this side of the clouds, and can only be attained by 
self-denial and faith ; not self-denial for the good of 
others, but for the salvation of your own sweet self. 

Paine denied the authority of bibles and creeds 
this was his crime and for this the world shut the 
door in his face, and emptied its slops upon him from 
the windows. 

I challenge the world to show that Thomas Paine 
ever wrote one line, one word in favor of tyranny in 
favor of immorality; one line, one word against 
what he believed to be for the highest and best inter- 
ests of mankind ; one line, one word against justice, 
charity, or liberty, and yet he has been pursued as 
though he had been a fiend from hell.. His memory 


has been execrated as though he had murdered some 
Uriah for his wife ; driven some Hagar into the desert 
to starve -with his child upon her bosom ; defiled his 
own daughters ; ripped open with" the sword the sweet 
bodies of loving and innocent women; advised one 
brother to assassinate another ; kept a harem with 
seven hundred wives, and three hundred concubines, 
or had persecuted Christians even unto strange cities. 

The Church has pursued Paine to deter others. No 
effort has N beenin any age of the world spared to crush 
out opposition. The Church used painting, music 
and architecture, simply -to degrade mankind. But 
there are men that nothing can awe. There have been 
at all times brave spirits that dared even the gods. 
Some proud head' has always been above the waves. 
In every age some Diogenes has sacrificed to all the 
gods. True genius never cowers, and there is always 
some Samson feeling for the pillars of authority. 

Cathedrals and domes, and chimes and chants 
temples frescoed and groined and carved, and gilded 
with gold altars and -tapers, and paintings of virgin 
and babe censer and chalice, chasuble, paten and 
alb organs and anthems and incense rising to the 
winged and blest maniple, amice and stole crosses 
and- crosiers, tiaras and crowns mitres and missals 
and masses rosaries, relics and robes martyrs and 
saints, and .windows stainecf as with the blood of 
Christ, never for one moment awed the brave, proud 
spirit of the Infidel. He knew that all the pomp and 
glitter had been purchased with liberty that priceless 
jewel of the soul. In looking at the cathedral he re- 
membered the dungeon. The music of the organ waa 
not loud enough to drown the clank of fetters. He 
could not forget that the taper had lighted -the fagut 


He knew that the cross adorned the hilt of the sword, 
and so where others worshiped, he wept and scorned. 

The doubtor, the investigator, the Infidel, have been 
the saviors of liberty. This truth is beginning to be 
realized, and the intellectual are beginning to honor 
the brave thinkers of the past, 

But the Church is as unforgiving as ever, and still 
wonders why any Infidel should be wicked fcnough to 
endeavor to destroy her power. 

I will tell the Church why. 

You have imprisoned the human mind ; you have 
been the enemy of liberty ; you have burned us at 
the stake wasted us upon slow fires torn our flesh 
with iron ; you have covered us with chains treated 
us as outcasts ; you have filled the world with fear ; 
you have taken our wives and children from our arms* 
you have confiscated our property ; you have denied 
us the right to testify in courts of justice ; you have 
branded us with infamy ; you have torn out our 
tongues ; you have refused us burial. In the name of 
your religion, you have robbed us of every right; 
arid after having inflicted upon us every evil that can 
be inflicted in this world, you have fallen upon your 
knees, and with clasped hands, implored your God to 
torment us forever. 

Can you wonder that we hate your doctrines that 
we despise your creeds that we feel proud to know 
that we are beyond your power that we are free in 
spite of you that we can express our honest thought, 
and that the whole world is sjrandly rising into the 
blessed light ? 

Can you wonder that we point with pride to the 
fact, that Infidelity has ever bcei found battling foi 


the rights of man, for the liberty of conscience, and 
for the happiness of all ? 

Can you- wonder that we are proud to know, that 
we have always been disciples of Reason, and soldiers 
of Freedom ; that we have denounced tyranny and 
superstition, and have kept our hands unstained with 
human blood ?. 

We den^y that religion is the end or object of this 
life. When it is so considered it becomes destructive 
of happiness the real end of life. It becomes a hy- 
dra-headed monster, reaching in terrible coils from 
the heavens, and thrusting, its thousand fangs into the 
bleeding, quivering hearts of men. It devours their 
substance, builds palaces for God (who dwells not in 
temples made with hands), and allows bis children to 
die in huts and novels: It fills the earth with mourn- 
ing, heaven with hatred, the present with fear, and 
all the future with despair. - 

Virtue is a subordination of the passions to the in- 
tellect. It is to act in accordance with your highest 
convictions. It does not consist in believing, but in 

This is the sublime truth that the Infidels in all ages 
have uttered. They have handed the torch from one 
to the other through all the years that have fled. 
Upon the altar of Reason they have kept the sacred 
fire, and through the long midnight of faith, they fed 
the divine flame. 

Infidelity is liberty; all religion is slavery. In 
every creed, man is the slave of God woman is the 
slave Of man, and the sweet children are the slaves of 


We do not want creeds ; we want knowledge we 
want happiness. 


And yet we are told by the Church that we have 
accomplished nothing ; that we are simply destroy-; 
ers ; that we tear down without building again. 

Is it nothing to free the mind ? Is it nothing to 
civilize mankind ? Is it nothing to fill the world with 
light, with discovery, with science ? Is it nothing to 
dignify man and exalt the intellect ? Is it nothing to 
grope your way into the dreary prisons, the damp and 
dropping dungeons, the dark and silent cells, where 
the souls of men are chained to the floors of stone, to 
greet them like a ray of light, like the song of a bird, 
the murmur of a stream, to see the dull eyes open and 
grow slowly bright, to feel yourself grasped by the 
shrunken and unused hands, and hear yourself thanked 
by a strange and hollow voice ? 

Is it nothing- to conduct these, souls gradually into 
the blessed light of day to let them see again the 
happy fields, the sweet, green earth, and hear the 
everlasting music of the waves ? Js it nothing to 
make men wipe the dust from their swollen knees, 
the tears from their blanched and furrowed cheeks ? 
Is it a small thing to reave the heavens of an insatiate 
monster and write upon the eternal dome, glittering 
with stars, the grand word FIIJEEDOM ? 

Is it a small thing to quench the fianies of hell with 
the holy tears of pity to unbind the martyr from the 
stake break all the chains put out the fires of civil 
war stay the sword of the fanatic, and tear the 
bloody hands of the Church from the white throat of 
Science ? 

js it a small thing to make men truly free to de- 
stroy the dogmas of ignorance, prejudice and power 
the poisoned fables of superstition, and drive from 
the beautiful face of the earth the fiend of Fear ? 


It does seem as though the most zealous Christian 
must at times entertain some doubt as to the divine 
origin of his religion. For eighteen hundred years 
the doctrine has been preached. -For more than a 
thousand years the Church had, to a great extent, 
control of the civilized world, and what has been the 
result ? Are the Christian nations patterns of charity 
and forbearance ? 

On-. the contrary, their principal business is to de- 
stroy each other. More than five millions of Chris- 
tions are trained, educated, and drilled to murder 
their fellow-christians. Every nation is groaning 
under a vast debt incurred in carrying on war against 
other Christians, or defending themselves from Chris- 
tian assault. The world is covered with forts to pro- 
tect Christians from Christians ; and every sea is 
covered with iron monsters ready to blow Christian 
brains into eternal froth. Millions upon millions are 
annually expended in the effort to construct still more 
deadly and. terrible engines of death. Industry is 
crippled, honest toil is robbed, and even beggary is 
taxed to defray the expenses of Christian warfare. 
There must be some other way to reform this world. 
We have tried creed,, and dogma and fable, and they 
have .failed ; and they have failed in all the nations 
dead. * . 

The people perish for the lack of knowledge. 

Nothing but education scientific education can 
benefit mankind: We must find out the laws of nature 
and conform to them. ' 

We need free bodies and free minds free labor and 
free thought chainless hands, and fetterless brains. 
Free labor will give us wealth. Free thought will 
us truth. 


We need men with moral courage to speak and 
write their real thoughts, and to stand by their con- . 
victions, even to the very death. -We D*}ed have no 
fear of being too radical. The future will verify all 
grand and brave predictions. Paine was splendidly 
in advance of his time ; but he was orthodox compared 
with the Infidels of to-day. 

Science, the great Iconoclast, has been busy since . 
1809, and by the highway of Progress are the broken 
images of the past. 

On every hand the people advance. The Vicar of 
God has been pushed from the throne of the Csesars, 
and upon the roofs of the Eternal City falls once more 
the shadow of the Eagle. 

All has been accomplished by the heroic few. The 
men of science nave explored heaven and earth, and 
with infinite patience have furnished the facts. The 
brave thinkers have used them. The gloomy caverns 
of superstition nave been transformed into temples of 
thought, and the demons of the past are the angels of 

Science took a handful of sand, constructed a tele- 
scope, and with it explored the starry depths of 
heaven. Science wrested from the gods their thunder- 
bolts ; and now the electric spark freighted with 
thought and love, flashes under all thg waves of the 
eea. Science took a tear from the cheek of unpaid' 
labor, converted it into steam, created a giant that 
turns Tith tireless, arm, the countless wheels of toil. 

Thr saas Paine was one of the intellectual heroes 
one of the men to whom we are indebted. His name 
is associated forever with the Great Republic. .&a 
lon as free government exists he will b* remembered, 
ad iied and honored. 


He lived a long, laborious and useful life. The 
world is better for bis having lived. For the sake of 
truth, be accepted hatred and reproacb for his portion. 
He ate tbe bitter bread of sorrow* - His friends were 
untrue to him because be was true to himself, and true 
to them; He lost tbe respect of what is called society, 
but kept bis own. His life is what the world caH* 
failure, and what 'history calls success. 

If to love your fellow men more than self is good- 
ness, Thomas Paine was good. 

If to be in s advance of your time, to be a pioneer in 
tbe direction of light, is greatness, Thomas Paine was 
great, . 

If to avow your principles and discharge your duty 
in tbe presence of deatb is heroic, Thomas Paine was 
a hero. 

At the age of seventy-three death touched bis tired 
heart. He died in the land his genius defended under x 
the flag he gave to the skies. Slander cannot touch 
him now hatred cannot reach him more. He sleeps 
in tbe sanctuary of the tomb, beneath the quiet of the 

A few more years a few more brave men a few 
more rays of light, and mankind will venerate the ; 
memory of. him who said : 

"Any system of religion that shocks the mind of a 
dhild cannot be a true system ;"- 

"The world is my country, and to do good my 



A Lecture delivered before the Free Religious Society oj 
Chicago, December 21, 1873. 


BY way of introduction, Col. Ingersoll stated that 
he had been invited by the Free Religious Soci- 
ety and supposed he could speak his thoughts freely^ 
He had accepted the invitation in that sense, and 
would speak under no other conditions. 

The speaker chose for his text . 

**. -His soul was like a star and dwelt apart" 

On every hand, he began, are the enemies of indi- 
viduality and mental freedom. Custom meets us at 
the cradle, and leaves us only at the tomb. Our first 
questions are answered by ignorance, and our last by 
superstition. We are pushed and dragged by count- 
less hands along the beaten track,, wad our entire train- 


ing can be summed up in the word " suppression. 1 * 
Our desire to have a thing or to do a thing is consider- 
ed as conclusive evidence that we ought not to have it, 
and ought not to do it. At every turn we run against 
a cherubim and a flaming sword guarding some en- 
trance to the Eden of our desire. We are allowed to 
investigate all subjects in which we feel no particulai 
interest, and to express the opinions of the majority 
with the utmost freedom. We are taught that liberty 
of Speech should never be carried to the extent of 
contradicting the dead witnessess of a popular super- 
stition. Society offers continual rewards for self-be- 
trayal, and they are nearly all earned and claimed, 
and some are paid. . 

We have all read accounts of Christian gentlemen 
remarking when about to be hanged, how much better 
it would have been for them if they had only followed 
a mother's advice 1 But, after all, how fortunate it is 
for the world that the maternal advice has not been 
followed I How lucky it is for us all that it is some- 
what unnatural for a human being to obey ! Universal 
obedience is universal stagnation; disobedience is 
one of the conditions of progress. Select any age of 
the world and tell me what would have been the effect 
of implicit obedience. Suppose the church had had 
absolute control of the human mind, at any time, would 
not^he words liberty and progress have been blotted 
from human speech? In defiance of advice the world 
has advanced. (Applause.) 

Suppose the astronomers had controlled the science 
of astronomy ; suppose the doctors had controlled the 
science of medicine ; suppose kings had been left to 
fix the forms of government ; suppose our fathers had 
taken the advice of Paul, whi subject to 


the powers that be, because they are ordained of God;" 
suppose the church could control the world to-day, 
we would go back to chaos and old night. Philosophy 
would be branded as infamous , science would again 
press its pale and thoughtful face against the prison 
bars; and round the liinbs of liberty would climb the 
bigot's flume., ' 

. It is a blessed thing that in every age some one has 
had individuality enough and courage enough to stand 
by his own convictions (Applause), some one who 
had the grit to say his say ; I believe it was Magellan 
who said, " the church -says the earth is flat ; but I 
have seen its shadow on the moon, and I have more 
confidence even in. a shadow than in the church." On 
the prow of his ship were disobedience, defiance, 
scorn and success. . 

The trouble yrith most people is thai they bow to 
what is called authority; they have a certain reverence 
for the old because iti& old. They think a man is 
better for being dead, especially if he has been dead a 
long time, and that the forefathers of their nation 
were the greatest and best of all mankind. All these 
things they iinplicity believe because it is popular and 
patriotic, and because they were told so when very 
small, and remember distinctly of hearing mother 
read it out of a book, and they are all willing to 
swear that mother was a good woman. It is hard to 
overestimate the influence of early training in the di- 
rection of superstition. You first teach children, that 
a certain book is true that it was written by God him- 
selfthat to question its truth is a sin, that to deny it 
is a crime, and that should they die without believing 
that book they will be forever damned without benefit 
of clergy; the consequence is that long before they 


read that book they believe it to be true. When they 
do read their minds are wholly unfitted to investigate 
its claim. They accept it as a matter of course. 

In this way the reason is overcome, the sweet in- 
stincts of humanity are blotted from the heart, and 
while reading its infamous pages even justice throws 
aside her scales, shrieking for revenge, and charity, 
with bloody hands, applauds a deed of murder. In 
this way we are taught that the revenge of -man is the 
justice of God, that mercy is not the same everywhere. 
In this way the ideas of our race have been subverted. 
In this way we have made tyrants, bigots, and inquisi- 
tors. In this way the brain of man has become a kind 
of palimpsest upon which, and over .the writings of Na- 
ture, superstition has scribbled her countless lies. Our 
great trouble is that most teachers are dishonest. They 
teach as certainties those things concerning which 
they entertain donbts. They do not say, " We think 
this is so " but "Wfe. know this is so." They do not ap- 
peal to the reason of the pupil, but they command, his 
faith. . They keep all doubts to themselves ; they, do, not 
explain, they assert. All this is infamous. ' In this way 
you may make Christians, but you cannot make men ; 
you cannot make women. You can.make followers but 
no leaders ; disciples, but no Christs. You may .prom- 
ise power, honor, and happiness to all .those who 
will blindly follow, but you cannot keep your promise. 

An eastern monarch said to a hermit, '* Come with 
me and I will give you power." "I have all the pow- 
er that I know, how to use," replied the .. hermit. 
*' Come," said the king, " I will give you wealth." 4 * I 
have no wants that money can supply. V "I will give 
you honor." " AM Hmior cannot be given, it must be 


earned." '* "Come," said the king, making a last ap- 
peal, ** and I will give you happiness." " Nb,',' r said 
thermairpf solitude, "there is no happiness without 
liberty r and he who follows cannot be free." "You 
shall have liberty too.*' "Then I will stay." And 
all the king's courtiers thought the hermit a fool. 

Xow and then somebody examines, and, in spite oi 
all, keeps his, manhood, .and has courage to follow 
where his reason leads. Then the pious get together and 
repeat wise saws and exchange knowing nods and most 
prophetic winks. The stupidly wise sit owl-like on the 
dead limbs of the tree of knowledge, and solemnly 
hoot.- Wealth sneers, and fashion laughs, and re- 
spectability passes on the other side, and scorn points 
with all her skinny fingers, and like the snakes of 
superstition writhe and hiss, and slander lends her 
tongue, and infamy, her brand, and. perjury her oath, 
and the law its power, and bigotry tortures and the 
church kills. (Applause.) 

The church hates a thinker precisely for the same 
reaspn that a robber dislikes a sheriff, or that a 
despises "the prosecuting witness. Tyranny ' 
courtiers;, flatterers, followers, fawners, and; supersfi- 
tion wants believers, disciples, zealots, hypocrites^ aijd 
subscribers. The church demands worship, the very 
thing that man should give to no being human, or 
divine. To worship another ig to degrade yourself. 
Worship is :awe and dread and vague fear and "blind 
hope. It is the spirit oi worship that elevates the one 
and degrades the many; that builds palaces for robbers, 
erects monuments to crime, and forges manacles even 
for its own hands. The spirit of worship is the spirit 
of tyranny. The worshiper always regrets that he 
is not the worshiped. "We should all remember that 


the intellect lias no knees, nnd that whatever the at- 
titude of the body may be, the brave soul is always 
found erect. Whoever worships, abdicates. Who- 
ever believes at the command of power tramples his 
own. individuality beneath his feet, and voluntarily 
robs himself of all that renders man superior to a 
brute. . 

The despotism of faith is justified upon the ground 
that Christian countries are the grandest and most 
prosperous of the world. At one time the same thing 
could have been truly said in India, in Egypt, in 
Greece, in Rome, and in every other country that has 
in the history of the world, swept to empire. This 
argument proves too much not only, but the assump- 
tion upon which it is based is utterly false. Number- 
less circumstances aud countless conditions have pro- 
duced the prosperity of the Christian world. The 
truth is that we have advanced in spite of religious 
zeal, ignorance, and opposition. The church has won 
no victories for the rights of man. Over every fort- 
ress of tyranny has waved, and still waves, the banner 
of the church. Wherever brave blood has been shed 
the sword of the church has been wet. On every 
chain has been the sign of the cross. The altar aud 
the throne have Ieane4 against and supported each 
other. W ho can appreciate the infinite impudence of 
one man assuming to think for others? Who can im- 
agine the impudence of a church that threatens to 
inflict eternal punishment upon those who honestly 
reject its claims and scorn its pretensions ? In the 
presence of the unknown we all have an equal right 
to guess, 

Over the vast plain called life we are all travelers, 
and not one traveler is perfectly certain that he is 


going in the right direction. True it is, that no other 
plain is so well supplied "with guide-boards. At every 
: tum and crossing you find them, and upon each one 
is written the exact direction and distance. One great 
trouble is, however, that these boards are all different, 
and the result is that most travelers are confused in 
proportion to the number they read. Thousands of 
people are around each of these signs, and each one 
is doing his best to convince the traveler that his 
particular board is the only one upon which the least 
reliance can be placed, and that if his road is taken 
the reward for so doing will be infinite and eternal, 
while all the other roads are said to lead to hell, and 
all the makers of the other guide-boards are declared 
to be heretics; hypocrites, and liars. "Well," says a 
traveler " you maybe right in what you say, but allow 
me at least to read some of the other directions and 
examine a little into their claims. I wish to rely a 
little upon my own judgment in a matter of so great 
importance." -'No sir 1" shouts the zealot, "that is 
the very thing you are not allowed to do. You must 
go my way without investigation or you are as good 
as damned already." .'-'Well," says the traveler, "if 
that is so, I believe I had better go your way.** And 
BO most of them go along, taking the word of those 
who know as little as themselves. Now and then 
comes one who, in spite 'of all threats, calmly ex- 
amines the claims of all, and as calmly rejects them 
all. These travelers take roads of their own, and are 
denounced by all the others as Infidels and Atheists. 

In my judgment every human being should take a 
road of his own. (Applause.) Every mind should bo 
true to itself; should think, investigate, and conclude 
for itself. This is a duty alike incumbent upon paup- 


cr and prince. Every soul should repel dictation and 
tyranny, no matter from what source they come-r-from 
earth or heaven, from men or gods. Besides, .every 
traveler upon this vast plain should give to every 
other traveler his best idea as to the road that should 
be taken. Each is entitled to the honest opinon of .all. 
And there is but one way to get an honest opinion up- 
on any subject whatever. The person giving the 
opinion must be free from fear. The merchant must 
not fear to lose his custom, the doctor his practice, 
nor the preacher his pulpit. There can be no .advance 
without liberty. Suppression of honest inquiry is ret- 
rogression, and must end in intellectual night. The 
tendency of Orthodox religion to-day is toward mental 
slavery and barbarism. Not one of. the Orthodox 
ministers dare preach what he thinks if he knows 
that a majority of his congregation think otherwise. 
He knows that every member of his church stands 
guard over, his brain with a creed like .a club in his 
hand. He knpwsthat he is not expected to search 
after the truth; but that he is employed to defencl the 
creed. Every, pulpit is a pillory in which stands a 
hired culprit, defending the justice of his own impris- 
onment. ; J 

Is it desirable that a^l should be exactly .alike in 
their religious convictions? Is any such thing .possi- 
ble? Do we not know that there are no two persons 
alike in the whole world? No two trees, no two leaves, 
no two anythings that are alike? Infinite diversity is 
the law. Religion tries to force all minds into one 
mould. Knowing that all cannot believe, the, church 
endeavors to make all say that they believe.. She.lopgs 
for the unity, of hypocrisy, and detests the splencjid 
diversity of individuality and freedom. (Applause.) 


Nearly all people stand in great horror of annihila- 
tion, and yet to give up your individuality is to an- 
nihilate ypurself. Mental slavery is'inental death and 
every man who has given up his intellectual freedom 
is the living coffin of his dead soul. In this sense 
every church is a cemetery and every creed an epitaph. 

We should all remember that to be like other fo'ks 
Is to be unlike ourselves, and that nothing can be 
more detestible in character than servile imitation. 
The great trouble with imitation is that we arc apt to ape 
those who are in reality far below us. After all, the 
poorest bargain that a Human being can make is to 
trade off his individuality for what is called respect- 
ability. " 

There is no saying more degrading than this : *' It 
is better to be the tail of a lion than the head of a 
dog." It is a responsibility to think and act for 
yourself. Most people hate responsibility f therefore 
they join something and become the tail of some lion. 
They say,-"My 'party can act formemy church can do 
my thinking. It is enough for me to pay taxes and 
obey >the lion to which I belong, without troubling 
myself about the right, tlie wrong, or the why or the 
wherefore of anything whatever. " These people are 
respectable. They hate reformers, and dislike exceed- 
ingly to have their mind disturbed. They regard con- 
victions as very disagreeable things to have. They 
love forms, and enjoy, beyond everything else, telling 
what a splendid tail their lion has, and what a trouble- 
some dog their neighbor is. Besides this natural in- 
clination to avoid personal responsibility is and al- 
ways has been the fact, that every religionist has 
warned nien against the presumption and wickedness 


of thinking for themselves. The reason has been 
denounced by all Christendom as the only unsafe 
guide. The church has left nothing undone to prevent 
man following the logic of his brain. The plainest 
facts have been covered with the mantle bf mystery. 
The grossest absurdities have been declared to be 
self-evident facts. The order of nature, has been as it 
were, reversed, in order that the hypocritical few might 
govern the honest many. The man who stood by the 
conclusion of his reason was denounced as a scorner 
and hater of God and his holy church. From the or- 
ganization of the first church until this moment, to 
think your own thoughts has been inconsistent with 
the duties of membership. Every member has borne 
the marks of collar, and chain, and whip. No man 
ever seriously attempted to reform a church without 
being cast out and hunted down by the hounds of 
hypocrisy. (Applause.) The highest crime against a 
creed is to change it. Reformation is treason. 

Thounands of young men are being educated at this 
moment by the various churches. What for? In 
order that they may be prepared to investigate the 
phenomena by which we are surrounded? No| The 
object, and the only object, is that they may be pre- 
pared to defend a creed. That they may learn the 
arguments of their respective churches and repeat 
them in the dull ears of a thoughtless congregation. 
If one after being thus trained at the expense of the 
Methodists turns Presbyterian or Baptist, he is de- 
nounced as an ungrateful wretch. Honest investiga- 
tion is utterly impossible within the pale of any 
church, for the reason that if you think the church is 
right you will not investigate, and if you think it 
wrong, the church will investigate you. The conse- 


quence of this is, that most of the theological literature 
is the result of suppression, of fear, of tyranny, ancl 

Every Orthodox writer necessarily said to himself, 
" If 1 write that, my wife and children may want for 
bread. I will be covered with shame and branded 
with infamy, but if I write this, I will gain position, 
power, and honor. My church rewards defenders, 
and burns reformers, (Applause.) 

Under these conditions, all your Scotts, Henrys, 
and McKnights have written ; and weighed in these 
scales what are their commentaries worth? They are 
not the ideas and decisions of honest judges, but the 
sophisms of the paid attorneys of superstition. Who 
can tell what the world has lost by this infamous sys- 
tem of suppression? How many grand thinkers have 
died with the mailed hand of superstition on their lips? 
How many splentiid ideas have perished in the cradle 
of the brain, strangled in the poison coils of that 
Python, the church I 

For thousands of years a thinker was hunted down 
like an escaped convict. To him who had braved 
the church eveiy door was shut, every knife was; open. 
To shelter him from the wild storm, to give him a 
crust of bread when dying, to put a cup of water tc 
his cracked and bleeding lips; these were all crimes, 
'not one of which the church ever did forgive ; and 
with the justice taught pf God his helpless children 
were exterminated as scorpions and vipers. 

Who at the present day can imagine the courage, 
the devotion to principle, the intellectual and moral 
grandeur it once required to be an Infidel, to brave 
the church, her racks, her fagots, her dungeons, her 
tongues of fire to defy and scorn her heaven and 


her devil and her God ? They were the noblest sons 
of -earth. They were the real saviors of our race, the 
destroyers of superstition and the creators of science. 
They were the real Titans who bared their grand fore- 
heads to all .the thunderbolts of all the gods. 

The ^urch_ha^een > _and L still is^ the great robber. 
She has rifled not only the po^ve^s_but~Th^T)fains"of 
the woiicL^ She is the stone at the sepulchre of liber- 
ty ; the upas tree in whose shade the intellect of man 
has withered ; the Gorgon beneath whose gaze the 
human heart has turned to stone. 

Under her influence even the Protestant mother ex- 
pects to be in heaven, while her brave boy. who fell 
fighting for the rights of man shall writhe in hell. 

It is said .that some of the Indian tribes place the 
heads of their children between pieces of bark until 
the form of the skull is permanently changed. To us 
this seems a most shocking custom, and yet, after all, 
is it as bad as to put the souls of our children in the 
straight jacket of a creed ; to so utterly deform their 
minds that they regard the God of the Bible, as a 
Being of infinite mercy, and really consider it a virtue 
to believe a thing just because it seems unreasonable ? 
Every child in the Christian world has uttered its 
wondering protest against this outrage. All the, 
machinery of thechj^ch_isjec^stantlyeniplpyed in 
thus corrupting the reason of Children. In every pos- 
sible'way they are robbed of their own thoughts ^nd 
forced^ to accept the statements of others. Every 
Sunday Schooj__hai f or~Tts~oDject the crughing out of 
every germ of individuality. The poor childreSnaTe- 
taught that nothing can be more acceptable to God 
than unreasoning obedience and eyeless faith, and 
that to believe that God did an impossible act is fat 


better than to do a good one yourself." They are told 
that all the religions have been simply the Joim the 
Baptist of ours; that all the gods of antiquity have 
Tethered' and shrunken into the Jehovah of the Jews ; 
that all the longings and aspirations of the race are 
realized in the motto of the Evangelical Alliance, 
"Liberty in non-essentials;" that all there is, or ever wa^ 
of j religion can be found in the Apostle's creed ; that 
t^ere is nothing left to be discovered; that all the 
thinkers are dead, and all the living should simply be 
believers ; that we have- only to repeat the epitaph 
f oijnd on the grave of wisdom ; that grave-yards are 
the best possible universities, and that the children 
must be forever beaten with the bones of the fathers.; 
It has always seemed absurd to suppose that a. God 
would choose for his companions during all eternity 
| the dear souls whose highest and only ambition is to; 
obey. He certainly would noT? and then be tempted 
to make the same remark made by an English gentle- 
man to his poor guest. This gentleman had invited a 
man in humble circumstances to dine with him. The 
man was so overcome with honor that to everything 
the gentleman said he replied, <k Yes." Tired at laa 
with the monotony of acquiesence the gentleman,cried 
out, " For God's .sake, my good man, say * No 'just 
once, ,so there will ; be two of us." 
- Is it possible that an infinite God created this world 
simply to be the dwelling-place of slaves and serfs ? 
Simply for the purpose of raising Orthodox Christians, 
that he did a few miracles to astonish them; that all 
the evils of life are simply his punishments, and that 
he is finally going to turn heaven into a kind of relig- 
ious museum tilled with. Baptist barnacles, petrified 
Presbyterians, and Methodist mummies? I want no 


heaven for which I must give my reason ; no happi- 
ness in exchange for my liberty, and no immortality 
that demands the surrender of my individuality. 
Better rot in the windowless tomb, to which there is 
no door ,but the red mouth of the pallid worm, tlian 
wear the jeweled collar even of a God. 

Religion does not and cannot contemplate man/as 
free. She accepts only the homage of the prostrate, 
'and scorns the offerings of those who stand ere</t. 
She cannot tolerate the liberty of thought. The W7<3e 
and sunny fields beldng not to her domain. The sjar- 
lit heights of genius and individuality are atjbve 
and beyond her appreciation and power. Her Sub- 
jects cringe at her feet covered with the dust of obedi- 
ence. They are not athletes standing posed by rich 
life and brave endeavor like the antique statues, but, 
shriveled deformities studying with furtive glance 
the cruel face of power. 

No religionist seems capabl-o of comprehending this 
plain truth. There is this difference between thought 
and action : For our actions we are responsible to 
ourselves and to those injuriously affected ; for 
thoughts there can, in the nature ^f things, be no re- 
sponsibility to gods or men, here or hereafter. And yet 
the Protestant has vied with the Catholic in denouncing 
freedom of thought, and while I was taught to hate 
Catholicism with every drop of my b*ood, it is only 
justice to say that in all essential particulars, it is pre- 
cisely the same as every other religion. . Luther de- 
nounced mental liberty with all the coarse and brutal 
vigor of his nature, Calvin despised from the very 
bottom of his petrified heart anything that even look- 
ed like religious toleration, and solemnly declared 
that to advocate U was to crucifiy Christ afresh. AH 


the founders of all the orthodox churches have advo- 
cated the same infamous tenet. The truth is that 
what is called religion is necessarily inconsistent 
with Free Thought. 

A believer is a songless bird in a cage, a Freethinker 
is an eagle parting the clouds with tireless wings. 

At present, owing to the inroads that have been 
made by Liberals and Infidels, most of the churches 
pretend to be in favor of religious liberty. Of 
these churches, we will ask this question : "How 
can a man who conscientiously believes in religious 
liberty worship a God who does not?" They say to 
us: 4t We will not imprison you on account of your 
belief, but our God will. We will not burn you be- 
cause you throw away the sacred Scriptures; but their 
Author will." '* We think it an infamous crime to 
persecute our brethernfor opinion's sake; but the God 
whom we ignorantly worship will on that account 
damn Ms own children forever." Why is it that these 
Christians do not only detest the Infidels, but so 
cordially despise each other? Why do they refuse to 
worship in the temples of each other? Why do they 
care so little for the damnation of men, and so much 
for the baptism of children? Why will they adorn 
their churches with the money of thieves, and natter 
vice for the sake of subscription? ' Why will they 
attempt to bribe science to certify to the writings of 
God? Why do they torture the words of the great 
into an acknowledgement of the truth of Christianity? 
Why do they stand with hat in hand before Presidents, 
Kings, Emperors, and Scientists, begging like Lazarus 
for a few crumbs of religious comfort ? Why are they 
so delighted to find an allusion to Providence in the 

Why are they so afraid tLal 


some one will find out that Paley wrote an essay in 
favor of the Epicurean Philosophy, and that Sir -Isaac 
Newton was once an Infidel? Why are .they so 
anxious to show that Voltaire recanted? that ; Paine 
died palsied with fear; that the Emperor Julian cried 
out, " Galilean thou hast conquered ;" that Gibbon 
dieci a Catholic; that Agassiz had a little confidence in 
Moses; that the old Napoleon was onr.e compliment- 
ary enough to say that he thought Christ greater than 
himself or Caesar; that Washington was caught on. his 
knees at Valley Forge; that blunt old Ethan Allen told 
his child to believe the religion of her mother ; that - 
Franklin said, "Don't unchain the tiger;" that 
Volney got frightened in a storm at sea, and that Oakes 
Ames was a wholesale liar? 

Is it because the foundation of their .temple is crumb-, 
ling, because the walls are cracked, the pillars lean- 
ing, the great dome swaying to its fall, and because 
science has written over the high altar its mene,mene, 
tekd, upharsin t the old words destined to be the epitaph 
of all religions? 

Every assertion ef individual independence has been 
a step toward Infidelity. Luther started toward Hura- 
boldt, Wesley toward Bradlaugh. To really reform 
the church is to destroy it. Every new religion has a 
little less superstition than the oh}, so .that the relig- 
ion of science is but a question of time. I will not 
say the church has been an unmitigated evil in all re- 
spects; Its history is infamous and glorious. It hiis 
delighted in the production of extremes. It has fur- 
nishedi 'murderers for its own martyrs. It has some- 
times .fed the body, but has always starved the soul. 
It has b'een a charitable highwayman, a generous pi- 
rate. It has produced some angels anid a multitude of 


devils. It lias built more prisons than asylums. It 
made a hundred orphans while it cared for one. In 
one hand it carried the alms-dish, and in the other a 
sword; It lias founded schools and endowed universi- 
ties for the purpose of destroying true learning. It 
filled the world with hypocrites and zealots, and upon, 
the cross of its own Christ it crucified the individuality 
of man. It has sought to destroy the independence 
of the soul, and put the world upon its knees. This is 
its' crime. The commission of this crime was necessary 
to its existence. In order to compel obedience it 
declared that it had the truth and all the truth; 
that God had made it the keeper of all his secrets; 
his agent and his vicegerent. It declared that 
all other religions were false and infamous. It 
rendered all compromises impossible, and all thought 
superfluous. Thought was its enemy, obedience 
was its friend. Investigation was fraught with 
dagger ; therefore investigation was suppressed. The 
Jibly of holies was behind the curtain. All this was 
upon the principle that forgers hate to have the 
signature an expert, and that imposture 
detests curiosity. 

"He that hath ears to hear let him hear," has al- 
ways been one of the favorite texts of the church. 

In short, Christianity has always opposed every 
forward movement of the human race. Across the 
highway of progress it has always been building 
breastworks of bibles, tracts, commentaries, prayer- 
books, creeds, dogmas, and platforms, and at every 
advance the Christians have gathered behind these 
heaps of rubbish and shot the poisoned arrows of 
malice at the soldiers of freedom. 

And even the liberal Christian of to-day has fcif holy 


of holies, and in the niche of the temple of his heart 
has his idol. He still clings to a part of the old super- 
stition, and all the pleasant memories of the old belief 
linger in the horizon of his thoughts like a sunset. We 
associate the memory of those we love with the relig- 
ion of our childhood. It seems almost a sacrilege to 
rudely destroy the' idols that our fathers worshiped, 
and. turn their sacred and beautiful truths into the 
silly fables of barbarism. Some throw away the 
Old Testament and cling to the New, while others give 
tip everything except the idea that there is a personal 
God, and that in some wonderful way we are the ob- 
jects of His care. 

Even this, in my opinion, as science, the great icon- 
oclast, marches onward, will have to be abandoned 
with the rest. The great ghost will surely share the 
fate of the little ones. They fled at the first appear- 
ance of the dawn, and the other will vanish with the 
perfect day. Until then, the independence of man is 
little more than a dream. Overshadowed by an im- 
mense personality in the presence of the irresponsible- 
and the infinite, the individuality of man is lost, and 
he falls prostrate in the very dust of fear. Beneath 
the frOwn of the Absolute, man stands a wretched, 
trembling slave beneath his sinile he is at best 
only a fortunate serf. Governed by a being whose 
arbitrary will is law, chained to the chariot of power, 
his destiny rests in the pleasure of the Unknown. 
Under these circumstances what wretched object can 
he have in lengthening out his aimless life ? 

And yet,. in most minds, there is a vague fear of 
what the gods may do, and the safe side is con- 
sidered the best side. 

A gentleman walking among the ruins of Athena 


came upon a fallen statue of Jupiter. Making an ex* 
ceedingly low bow, he said: *'O, Jupiter, I salute 
thee." He then added : * 'Should you ever get up in the 
world again, do not forget, I pray you, that I treated 
you politely while you were prostrate. " 

We have all been taught by the church that nothing 
is so well calculated to excite the ire of the Deity as to 
express a doubt as to his existence, and that to deny it 
is an unpardonable sin. Numerous well-attested in- 
stances were referred to, of Atheists being struck dead 
for denying the existence of God. According. :to 
these religious people, God is infinitely above us in 
every respect, infinitely merciful, and yet He cannot 
bear to hear a poor finite man honestly question His 
existence. Knowing as He does that His children 
are groping in darkness and struggling with doubt 
and fear; knowing that He could enlighten them if He 
would, He still holds the expression of a sincere doubt 
AS to His existence, the most infamous of crimes. 

According to the orthodox logic, God Jiaving fur- 
nished us with imperfect minds has a right to demand 
, perfect result Suppose Mr. Smith should overhear 
a couple of small bugs holding a discussion as to the 
existence of Mr. Smith, and suppose one should 
the temerity to declare upon the honor of a bug that 
he had examined the whole question to the best of liis 
ability, including the argument based upon design, 
and had come to the conclusion that no man by the 
name of Smith had ever lived. Think then of Mr. 
Smith flying into an ecstasy of rage, crushing the 
atheist bug beneath his iron heel, while he exclaimed, 
*' I will teach you, blasphemous wretch, that Smith is 
a diabolical fact I" What then can we think of a God 
who would open the artillery of heaven upon one of 


His own children for simply expressing his honest 
thought? And what man who really thinks can help 
repeating the words of ./Eneas," " If there are gods they 
certainly pay no attention to the afl'airs of man." 

In religious ideas and conceptions there has 
been for ages a slow and steady development. Ait the 
bottom, of the ladder (speaking of modern times) ; is 
Catholicism, and at the top are Atheism and Science, 
The intermediate rounds of this ladder are occupied 
by the various sects, whose name is legion. . 

But whatever may be the truth on any subject has 
nothing to do with our right to investigate that subject, 
and express any opinion we may form. All that I ask 
is the right I freely accord to all others. 

A few years ago a Methodist clergyman took it upon 
himself to give me a piece of friendly advice. "Al- 
though you may disbelieve the bible," said he, " you 
ought not to say so. That you should keep to your- 
self." "Do you believe the bible?" said I. He re- 
plied, " Most assuredly." To which I retorted, 
"Your answer conveys no information to me. 'You 
may be following your own advice. You told me to 
suppress my opinions. Of course a man who will ad- 
vise others to dissimulate will not always be particular 
about telling the truth himself." 

It is the duty of each and every one to maintain his 
individuality. " This above all, to thine own self be 
true; and it must follow as the night the daj r , thou 
, canst not then be false to any man.' - It is a magnifi- 
cent thing to be the sole proprietor of yourself. It is 
a terrible thing to wake up at night and say : ** There 
is nobody in this bed I" It is humiliating to know 
that your ideas are all borrowed, and that your are in- 
debted-to .your memory for your principles, that you! 


religion is simply one of your habits, and that you 
would have convictions if they were only contagious. 
It is mortifying to feel that you belong to a mental 
mob and cry * crucify him," because the others do. 
That you reap what the great and brave have sown 
and that you can benefit the world only by leaving it. 
Surely every human being ought to attain to the 
dignity of the -unit. Surely it is worth something to be 
one and to feel that the census of the universe would 
not be complete without counting you. 

Surely^ there is grandeur in knowing that in the 
realm of thought, at least, you are without a chain ; 
that you have the right to explore all heights and all 
depths ; that there are no walls, nor fences, nor pro- 
hibited places, nor sacred corners in all the vast expanse 
of thought; that your intellect owes no allegiance to 
any being human or divine ; that you hold all in fee 
and upon no condition and by no tenure whatever ; 
that in the world of mind you are relieved from all 
personal dictation, and from the ignorant tyranny of 
majorities. ; 

Surely it is worth something to feel that there are 
no priests, no popes, no parties, no governments, no 
kings, no gods to whom your intellect can be com* 
pelled to pay a reluctant homage. 

Surely it is a joy to know that all t"ae cruel ingenuity 
of bigotry can devise no -prison, no look, no cell, in 
which for one instant to confine a thought; that ideas 
cannot be dislocated by racks, nor crushed in iron 
boots, nor burned with fire. 

Surely it is sublime to think that the brain is a 
castle, and that within its' curious bastions and wind- 
ing halls the soul in spite of all worlds and all beings 
Is the supreme spvereign of itself. 



(Delivered at Klngsbury Hall. Chicago. HI.. May 4th. 1874.1 

" Liberty \ a word without which aU ether words are 

Whoever .has an opinion of his own, and honestly 
expresses it, will be guilty of heresy. Heresy is 
what the minority believe ; it is a name given by the 
powerful to the doctrine of the weak. This word 
was born of the hatred, arrogance, and cruelty of 
those who love their enemies, and who, when smitten 
on one cheek, turn tle other. This word was born 
of intellectual slavery in the feudal ages of thought. 
It was an epithet i.sed in the place of argument. 
From the commenc* ment of the Christian era, every 
art has been exhausted, and every conceivable pun- 
ishment inflicted to force all people to hold the same 
religious opinions. This effort was born of the idea 


that a certain belief was necessary to the salvation of 
the soul. Christ taught, and the Church still teaches, 
that unbelief is the blackest of crimes. God is sup- 
posed to hate with an infinite and implacable hatred, 
every heretic upon the earth, and the heretics who 
have died are supposed, at this moment, to be suffer, 
ing t&e agonies of the damned. The- Church :; perse- 
cutes "tfie living, and her G6d burns the dead; ~ "^ 

It is claimed that God wrote a book called the 
Bible, and it is^generally admitted that this book is 
somewhat .difficult to understand. As long .as the 
Church had all'the copies of this book, and the people, 
were not allowed to read it, there was comparatively 
little heresy in the world ; but when it was printed 
and read, people -began honestly to differ as toits mean- 
ing. A few were independent and brave enough to 
give the world their real thoughts, and for the exterm- 
ination of these men the Church used all her power. 
Protestants and Catholics vied with each other in the 
work of enslaving the human mind. For ages they 
weref rivals in the infamous effort to rid' the earth of 

__ ', *'* . % ~ 

honest people. They infested every country, every 
city; tdwnj namlet, and familyi They appcaleW ; 'to 
the worst passions of thelhuman hearts' -They sowed 
the seeds of discord and hatred in every land. 
Brother denounced brother, wives informed' against 
their husbands, mothers accused their 'children; dun- 
geons were crowded with the innocent 1 ; the flesh of 
the good and the true rotted -in the clasp of chains, 
the flames- devoured the heroic, and in; the n&me< of 
tlitf iriost merciful G6d, ; his children were * extermin- 
ated with' r famiiie, sword and fire. Over 
waves oi'TBat tie rose and fell the -banner 
Christ 'For sixte r eii Hundred years the - 


Church ;were red with innocent blood. .The ingenuity 
of Christians was exhausted in devising punishment 
severe enough to be inflicted; upon other Christians 
who" honestly and sincerely differed with them, upon 
any point whatever. ; 

Give any orthodox Church the power, and to-day 
they would punish- 'heresy with whip, and chain* ; and 
fire. As long as a Church deems a certain belief essen- 
tial to salvation, just so long it will kill and burn if it 
has the power. Why should the Church prtyaaiman 
whom her God kates ? Why: should she show mercy 
to a kind and noble heretic whom her, .God 'will burn 
in eternal fire ? Why should a Christian; /be better*, 
than iiis God ? It is impossible for the. imagination 
to conceive of a greater atrocity than has : been per- 
petrated : by the Church. : .... :.,,-. 

Let it be remembered that all Churches hav.e perse- 
cuted heretics to the extent of their power. . Every 
nerve in the human body capable of pain has .hejen 
sought out and touched by the Church. . Toleration, 
has 1 -increased only when and where the power r.-qf 
the X3hurcli : has diminished; ; From Augustine until 

^j ' ~ 

ntow the spirit of the Christian, has remained thg 
sanie. c -There has been the same intolerance^ tjiejsame 
undying hatred of; all who , think. . for , Ihemselv^Sji 
the same determination..uto .crush . o,ut of. the 'human; 
brain all knowledge inconsistent, with, j the ignorant^ 
creeds' ' .: : . ./..; .->.. ;--;-. ;; : --;, -.-j. 

-Every Church pretends:that it has a revelation from 
Gnclj and that- this revelation must be i given :to.^th,e 
peoplei through x the Church ;' that the Church: acts 
through its,pr>iests, and that ;ordina:ry r,mf trtals must jje 
content- with a revelation-r^-uot : from Qodr-^liut ftianv 
the Church. Had the people submitted to this pru- 


posterous claim, of course there could have been but 
one Church, and that Church never could have ad- 
vanced. It might have retrograded, because it is not 
necessary to think, or investigate, in order to forget. 
Without heresy there could have been no progress. 
.The highest type of the orthodox Christian does 
not forget. Neither does he learn. He neither ad- 
vances nor recedes. He is a living fossil, imbedded 
in that rock called faith. He makes no effort to 
better his condition, because all his strength is ex- 
hausted in keeping other people from improving 
theirs. The supreme desire of his heart is to force 
ail others to adopt his creed, and in order to accom- 
plish this object, he denounces all kinds of Preethiuk- 
ingas a crime, and this crime he calls heresy. When 
he had the power, heresy was the most terrible and 
formidable of words. It meant confiscation, exile, 
imprisonment, torture, and death. 
' In those days the cross and rack were inseparable 
companions. Across the open Bible lay the sword 
and fagot. Not content with burning such heretics 
as were alive, they even tried .the dead, in order that 
the Church might rob their wives and children. The 
property of all heretics was confiscated, and on this 
account they charged the dead with being heretical: 
indicted, as it were, their, dust, to the end that the 
Church might clutch the bread of orphans. Learned 
divines discussed the propriety of tearing out the 
tongues of heretics before they were burned, ar -1 the 
general opinion was that this ought to be clone, so 
that the heretics should not be able, by uttering bias- 
phemies,to shock the Christians who were burning 
them. With a mixture of ferocity and Christianity, 
the priests insisted that heretics ought to be burned 


at a slow fire, giving as a reason, that more time was 
given them for repentance. 

No wonder that Jesus Christ said, "I came not to 
bring peace but a sword !'* 

Every priest regarded himself as the agent of God. 
He answered all questions by authority, and to treat 
him with disrespect was an insult offered to God* 
No one was asked to think, but all were commanded 
to obey. 

In 1208 the Inquisition was established. Seven 
years afterward, the fourth council of the Lateran 
enjoined all kings and rulers to swear an oath that 
they would exterminate heretics from their -domin- 
ions. The sword of the Church was unsheathed, and 
the world was at the mercy of ignorant and infuria- 
ted priests, whose eyes feasted upon the agonies they 
inflicted. Acting as they believed, or pretended to 
believe, under the command of God, stimulated by 
the hope of infinite reward in another world -hating 
heretics with every drop of their bestial blood sav- 
age beyond description merciless beyond concep- 
tion these infamous priests in a kind of frenzied joy, 
leaped upon the helpless victims of their rage. They 
crushed their bones in iron boots, tore their quivering 
flesh with iron hooks and pincers, cut off their lips 
and eyelids, pulled out their nails, and into the bleed- 
ing quick thrust needles, 'tore out their tongues, extin- 
guished their eyes, stretched them upon racks, flayed 
them alive, crucified them with their head downward, 
exposed them to wild beasts, burned them at the 
"stake, mocked their cries and groans; ravished their 
wives, robbed their children, and then prayed God to 
finish the holy work in hell. 
Millions upon millions were sacrificed upon the 


altars of bigotry. The Catholic burned the Luther- 
an, the Lutheran burned the Catholic ; the Episcopa- 
lian tortured the Presbyterian,*'the Presbyterian tor- 
tured the Episcopalian. Every denomination killed all 
it could of every other ; and each Christian felt in duty 
bound to exterminate every other Christian who .de- 
nied the smallest fraction of his creed. 

.In the reign of Henry the VIII., that pious and 
moral founder of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, 
there was passed by the Parliament of England an 
act, entitled.,? "An act for abolishing of diversity of 
opinion." And in this act was set forth what a good 
Christian was obliged to believe. 
;, First, that in the sacrament was the real body and 
blood of Jesus Christ. . 

v Second, that the .body and blood of Jesus Christ 
was ; in the bread, and the blood and body of Jesus 
Christ \yas in the wine. 

Third, that priests should not marry. 

.Fo.urth, that vows of chastity were of perpetutl 

.Fifth, that private masses ought to be continued. '..,.. 

j^nd sixth, that auricular confession to a Driest must 
be maintained. 

This creed .was made by law, in order that a"tl men 
might know just what to believe by simply reading 
the ; ..statute. The Church hated to see the people 
wearing out their brains in thinking upon these sub- 
jects. It was thought far better that a creed should 
be made by parliament; so that whatever might be 
lacking in evidence, made up in force. The 
punishment for denying the first article was death by 
fire. For the denial of any other, article, imprison- 
ment, and for the second offense death. 


-Your attention is called to these six articles, estab- 
lished during the reign of -Henry 'Yin.,. and by the 
Church of England, simply because not one of these 
articles is. believed by that Church to-day. ; If the law 
then made by the Church could be. enforced now, 
every Episcopalian would be burned at the:stake.. 

Similar laws were passed in most Christian coun- 
tries^ as all orthodpx Churches firmly believed .that 
mankind could be legislated into heaven. According 
to the creed of every Church, slavery leada to heaven, 
liberty leads to hell. It was claimed that God -had 
founded the Church, and that to deny the authority of 
the Church wa& to be a traitor to God, and conse- 
quently an ally of the Devil. : To torture and destroy 
one of the soldiers of Satan was a duty no good Chris- 
tian cared to neglect. Nothing can be sweeter than to 
earn the gratitude of God by killing your own 
enemies. Such a mingling of profit and revenge, of 
heaven for yourself arid damnation for those you dis- 
like, is a temptation tkat your ordinary Christian 
never resists. 

According to the theologians, God, the Father of us 
all j wrote a letter to his children. The children 
have always differed somewhat as to the meaning o.f 
this letter. In consequence of these honest differ- 
ences, these brothers began to cut out each other's 
hearts. In every land, where this letter from God has 
been read, the children tor whom and for whom it waa 
written have beea filled with hatred arid; malice. 
They have imprisoned and murdered each other; and 
the wives arid children . of each other. In the name 
of God every possible erime has been .committed, 
every conceivable outrage has been . perpetrated. 
Brave men, tender and loving women, beautiful- girls, 


and prattling babes have been exterminated in the 
name of Jesus Christ. For more than fifty genera- 
tions the Church has carried the black flag. Her ven- 
geance has been measured only by her power.. During 
all these years of infamy no heretic has ever been for- 
given. With the heart of a fiend she has hated;, 
with the clutch of avarice she has grasped ; with the 
jaws of a dragon she has devoured, pitiless as famine, 
merciless as fire, with the conscience of a serpent. 
Such is the history of the Church of God. 

I do not say, and I do not believe, that Christians 
are as bad as their creeds. In spite of Church and 
dogma, there have been millions and millions of men 
and women true to the loftiest and most generous 
promptings of the human heart. They have been 
true to their convictions,- and with a self -denial and 
fortitude excelled by none, have labored and suffered 
for the salvation of men. Imbued with the spirit of 
self-sacrifice, believing that by personal effort they 
could rescue at least a few souls from the infinite 

. * 

shadow of hell, they have cheerfully endured every 
hardship and scorned danger and death. And yet, 
notwithstanding all this, they believed that honest 
error was a crime. They knew that the Bible so de- 
clared, and they believed that all unbelievers would 
be eternally lost. They believed that religion was of 
God, and all heresy of the Devil. They killed here- 
tics in defense of their own souls and the souls of 
their children. They killed:them, because, according 
to their idea, they were the enemies of God, and be- 
cause the Bible teaches that the blood of the un- 
believer is a most acceptable sacrifice to heaven. Na- 
ture never prompted a loving mother to throw her 
child into the Ganges. 


.Nature never prompted men to exterminate each 
other for a difference of opinion concerning the bap- 
tism of infants. These crimes have been produced 
by religions -filled -with all that is illogical, cruel and 
hideous. These religions were produced for the 
most part by ignorance, tyranny, and hypocrisy. 
Under, .the impression that the infinite ruler and crea- 
tor of the Universe had commanded the destruction 
of heretics and infidels, the Church perpetrated all 
these crimes. 

Men and women have been burned for thinking 
there was but one God ; that there was none ; that 
the Holy Ghost is younger than God ; that God was 
somewhat older than his son ; for insisting that good 
works will save a man, without faith ; that faith will 
do without good works ; for declaring that a' sweet 
babe will not be burned eternally, because its parents 
failed to have its head wet by a priest ; for speaking 
of God as though he had a nose ; for denying that 
Christ was his. own father ; for contending that three 
persons, rightly added together, make more than one ; 
for believing in purgatory ; for denying the reality of 
hell ; for pretending that priests can forgive sins ; for 
p preaching that Go.d-is an essence; for denying that 
witches rode through. the air on sticks ; for doubting 
the total depravity of the human heart ; f or laughing 
at irresistible grace, predestination, .and particular 
redemption ; for denying that good bread could be 
made .of the body of a dead man ; for pretending that 
the Pope was not managing this world for God, and 
in place of God ; for disputing the efficacy of a vicari- 
ous atonement ; for thinking' that the Virgm Mary 
was born like other people ; for thinking that a man's 
rib was hardly sufficient to make a good sized woman ; 


for denying that God used his finger for a pen ; for 
asserting that prayers are not answered,that diseases are 
not sent to punish unbelief ; for denying the authority 
of the Bible ; for having a Bible in their possession ; 
for attending mass, and for refusing to attend; for 
wearing a surplice; for carrying a cross, and for 
refusing ; for being a Catholic, and for being a Prot- 
estant, for being an Episcopalian, a Presbyterian, a 
Baptist, and for being a Quaker. In short, every 
virtue has been a crime, and every crime a virtue. 
The Church has burned honesty and rewarded hypoc- 
risy, and all this she did because it was commanded 
by a book a book that men had been taught implicit- 
ly to believe, long before th^y knew one word that 
was in it. They had been taught that to doubt the 
truth of this book, to examine it, even, was a crime of 
such enormity that it could not be forgiven, either in 
this world or in the next. 

The Bible was the real persecutor. The Bible burn- 
ed heretics, built dungeons, founded the Inquisition, 
and trampled upon all the liberties of men. 

How long, O how long will mankind worship a 
book ? How long will they grovel in the dust before 
the ignorant legends of the barbaric past ? How long, ^ 
O how long will they pursue phantoms in a darkness 
deeper than death ? 

Unfortunately for the world, about the beginning 
of the sixteenth century a man by the name of Gerard 
Chauvin was married to Jeanne Lefranc, and still 
more unfortunately for the world, the fruit of this 
marriage was a son, called John Ghauvin, who after- 
ward became famous as John Calvin, the founder of 
the Presbyterian Church. 

This man. forged five fetters lor the brain. These 


fetters he called points. That is to say, predestina- 
tion, particular redemption, total depravity, irresisti- 
ble grace, and the perseverance of the saints. About 
the neck of each follower he put a collar, bristling 
with these five iron points* The presence of all these 
points on the collar is still the test of orthodoxy in 
the Church he founded. This man, when in the flush 
of youth, was elected to the office of preacher in 
Geneva. He at once, in union with Farel, drew 
up a condensed statement of the Presbyterian doe- 
trine, and all the citizens of Geneva, on pain of ban- 
ishment, were compelled to take an oath that they 
believed this statement. Of this preceedirig Calvin 
very innocently remarked, that it produced great 
satisfaction. A man . by the name of Caroli had the 
audacity to dispute with Calvin. For this outrage 
he was banished. 

To show you what great subjects occupied the at- 
tention of Calvin, it is only necessary to state, that he 
furiously discussed the question, as to whether the 
sacramental bread should be leavened or unleavened. 
He drew up laws regulating the cut of the citizens' 
clothes, and prescribing their diet, and all whose 
garments were not in the Calvin fashion were refused, 
the sacrament. At last, the people becoming tired 
of this petty, theological tyranny, banished Calvin. 
In a few years, however., he was recalled and received 
with great enthusiasm. After this, he was supreme, 
and the will of Calvin became the law of Geneva. 

Under the benign administration of Calvin, James 
Gruet was beheaded because he had written some pro- 
fane verses. The slightest word against Calvin or his 
absurd doctrine was punished as a crime. 

la 1553, a man was tried at Vienna by the Catholic 


Church, for heresy. He was convicted and sentenced 
to. death by burning. It was his good fortune to es- 
cape. Pursued by the sleuth hounds of intolerance 
he fled to Geneva for protection. A dove flying from 
hawks, sought safety in the nest of a vulture. This 
fugitive from the cruelty of Homo asked shelter from 
John Calvin, who had written a book in favor of re- 
ligious toleration. Servetus had forgotten that this 
book was written by Calvin when in the minority ; 
that it was written in weakness to be forgotten in 
power ; that it was produced by fear instead of prin- 
ciple. He did not know that Calvin had caused his 
arrest at Yienne, in France, and had sent a copy of 
his work, which was claimed to be blasphemous to 
the archbishop. He did not then know that the 
Protestant Calvin was acting as one of the detectives 
of the Catholic Church, and had been instrumental 
in procuring his conviction for heresy. Ignorant of 
all this unspeakable infamy, he put himself in the 
power of this very Calvin. The maker of the Pres- 
byterian creed caused the fugitive Servetus to be ar- 
rested for blasphemy. He was tried ; Calvin was his 
accuser. He was convicted and condemned to death 


by fire. On the morning of the fatal day, Calvin saw 
him, and Servetus, the victim, asked forgiveness of 
Calvin, the murderer, for anything he might have 
said that had wounded his feelings. Servetus was 
bound to the stake, the fagots were lighted. The 
wind carried the flames somewhat away from his 
body, so that he slowly roasted for hours. Vainly he 
implored a speedy death. At last the flame climbed 
around his form ; through smoke and fire his murder- 
ers saw a white, heroic face. And there they watch- 
ed until a man became a charred and shriveled mass. 


Liberty was banished from Geneva, and nothing 
but Presbyterianism was left. Honor, justice, mer- 
cy, reason and charity were all exiled ; but the five 
points of predestination, particular redemption, irre- 
sistible grace, total depravity, and the certain perse- 
verance of the saints remained instead. . 

Calvin founded a little theocracy in Geneva, mod- 
eled after - the Old Testament, and succeeded in 

* ' * 

erecting the most detestable government that ever 
existed, except the one from, which it was copied. 

Against all this intolerance, one man, a minister, 
raised his voice. The name of this man should never 
be forgotten. It was Castellio. This brave man had 
the goodness and the courage to declare the innocence 
of honest error. He was the first of the so-called re- 
formers to take this noble ground. I wish I had the 
genius to pay a fitting tribute to his memory. Per- 
haps it would be impossible to pay him a grander 
compliment than to say, Castellio was in all things 
the opposite of Qalvin. To plead for the right of in- 
dividual judgment was considered as a crime, and 
Castellio was driven from Geneva by John Calvin. 
By him he was denounced as a child of the Devil, as 
a dog of Satan, as -a beast from Hell, and as one who, 
by this horrid blasphemy of the innocence of honest 
error,, crucified Christ afresh, and by him he was pur- 
sued until rescued by the hand of death. 

Upon the name of Caslellio, Calvin heaped every 
epii.het, until his malice was satisfied and his imagina- 
tion exhausted. It is impossible to conceive how 
human nature can become so frightfully perverted as 
to pursue a fellow man with the malignity of a fiend, 
simply because he is good, just and generous. 

Calvin was of a pallid, bloodless complexion, 


sickly, irritable, gloomy, impatient, egotistic, tyran- 
nical, heartless and infamous. He "was a strange com" 
pound of revengeful morality, malicious forgiveness, 
ferocious charity, egotistic humility, and a kind of 
hellish justice. In other. words, he was as near like 
the God of the Old Testament as his health permit- 
ted. . > 

The best thing, however, about the Presbyterians 
of Geneva was, that they denied the power of the 
Pope, and the best thing about the Pope was, that he 
was not a Presbyterian. 

The doctrines of Calvin spread rapdly, and were 
eagerly accepted by multitudes on the continent. But 
Scotland, in a few years, became the real fortress of 
Presbyterianism. The Scotch rivaled the adherents 
of Calvin, and succeeded in establishing the same 
kind of theocracy that nourished in Geneva. The 
clergy took possession and control of everj T body and 
everything. It is impossible to exaggerate the slav- 
ery, the mental degradation, the abject superstition 
of the people of Scotland during the reign of Presby- 
terianism. Heretics were hunted and devoured as 
though they had been wild beasts. The gloomy in- 
sanity of Presbyterianism took possession of a great 
majority of the people. They regarded their minis- 
ters as the Jews did Moses and Aaron. They believed 
that they were the especial agents of God, and that 
whatsoever they bound in Scotland would be bound 
in heaven. There was not one particle of intellectual 
freedom. No one was allowed to differ from the 
Church, or to even contradict a priest. Had 
Presbyterianism maintained its ascendancy, Scotland 
would have been peopled by savages to-day. The 
revengeful spirit of Calvin took possession of the 


Puritans, and caused them to redden the soil of the 
new -world- with the brave blood of honest men* 
Clinging to the five points of Calvin, they, too, estab 
ished -governments in accordance with the teachings 
of the Old Testament, They, too, attached the pen- 
alty of death to the expression of honest thought. 
They, too, believed their Church supreme, and exert- 
ed all their- power to curse this continent with a spir- 
itual despotism as imfamous as it was absurd. They 
believed with Luther that universal toleration is uni- 
versal error, and universal error is universal hell. 
Toleration was denounced as a crime. 

Fortunately for us, civilization has had a softening 
effect upon the Presbyterian Church. To the enno- 
bling, influence of the arts and sciences the savage 
spirit of Galvanism has, in some slight degree, suc- 
cumbed. True, the old creed remains substantially 
as it was written, but by a kind of tacit understand- 
ing it has come to be regarded as a relic of the: past. 
The cry of " heresy " has been growing fainter and 
fainter, and, as a consequence, the ministers of that 
denomination have ventured now and then to express 
doubts as to the damnation of infants, and the doc- 
trine of total depravity. The fact is, the old ideas 
became a little monotonous to the people. The fall 
of man, the scheme of redemption and irresistible 
grace, began to have a familiar sound. The preach- 
ers told the old stories while the congregation slept. 
Some of the ministers became tired of these stories 
themselves. The five points grew dull, and they felt 
that nothing shjort of irresistible grace could bear this 
endless repetition. The outside world was full of 
progress, and in every direction men advanced, while 
the Church, anchored to a creed, idly rotted at the 


shore. Other denominations, imbued some little with 
tne spirit of investigation, were springing up on every 
side, while the old Presbyterian ark rested on the Ar- 
arat of >the past, filled with the theological monsters 
of another age. 

Lured by the splendors of the outer world, tempted 
by the achievements of science, longing to feel the 
throb and beat of the mighty march of the human 
race, a few of the ministers of this conservative de- 
nomination were compelled by irresistible sense, to 
say a few wor.ds in harmony with the splendid ideas 
of to-day. - 

These utterances have upon several occasions so 
nearly awakened some of the members, that, rubbing 
their eyes, they have feebly inquired whether these 
grand ideas were not somewhat heretical? These 
ministers found that just in proportion as their ortho- 
doxy decreased, their congregations increased. Those 
who dealt in the pure unadulterated article, found 
themselves demonstrating the five points to a less 
numbei of hearers than they had points. Stung to 
madness by this bitter truth, this galling contrast, this 
harassing fact, the really orthodox have raised the 
cry of heresy, and expect with this cry to seal the 
lips of honest men. One of these ministers, and one 
who has been enjoying the luxury of a little honest 
thought, and the real rapture of expressing it, has al- 
ready been indicted, and is about to be tried by the 
Presbytery of Illinois. 

He has been charged : 

First, With speaking in an ambiguous language in 
relation to that dear old doctrine of the fall of man. 
With haying neglected to preach that most comfort- 


ing and consoling truth, the eternal damnation of the 

BOUl. V ; 

Surely, that man must be a monster who could 
wish to blot this blessed doctrine out and rob earth's 
wretched children of this blissful hope I 

Who can estimate the misery that has been caused 
by this most infamous doctrine of eternal punishment? 
Think of the lives it has blighted of the tears it has 
caused of the agony it has produced. Think of the 
millions who have been driven to insanity by this 
most terrible of dogmas. This doctrine renders God 
the basest and most cruel beingiti the Universe. Com- 
pared with him, the most frightful deities of the most 
barbarous and degraded tribes are miracles of good- 
ness and -mercy. There is nothing more degrading 
than to worship such a God. Lower than this the 
soul can never sink. If the doctrine of eternal dam- 
nation is true, let me have my portion in hell, -rather 
than in heaven with a God infamous enough to inflict 
eternal misery upon any of the sons of men. 

Second. "With having spoken a few kind words of 
Eobert Colly er and John Stuart Mill. 

I have the honor of a slight acquaintance with 
Robert Collyer. I have read with pleasure some of 
his. exquisite productions. He has a brain full of the 
dawn, the head of a philosopher, the imagination of a 
poet, and the sincere heart of a child. 

Is a minister to be silenced because he speaks fairly 
of a noble and candid adversary ? Is it a crime to 
compliment a lover of justice, an advocate of liberty; 
one who devoted his life to the elevatio;a of man, the 
discovery of truth, and the promulgation of what he 
believed to be right ? 

Can that tongue be pa^si^d by a psrcsbvtery that 


praises a self-denying and heroic life ? Is it a sin to 
speak a charitable word over the grave of John 
Stuart Mill-? Is it heretical to pay a just and graceful 
tribute to departed worth ? Must the true Presby- 
terian violate the sanctity of the tomb, dig open the 
grave, and ask his God to curse the silent dust ? Is 
Presbyteriamsm so narrow that it conceives of no ex- 
cellence, of no purity of intention, of no spiritual and 
moral grandeur outside of its barbaric creed ? Does 
it:still retain within its stony heart all the malice of 
its founder ? Is it still warming its fleshless hands. at 
the flames that consumed Servetus.? Does it still 
glory in the damnation of infants, and does it still 
persist in emptying the cradle in order that perdi- 
tion may be filled ? Is it still starving the soul and 
famishing the heart ? .Is it still trembling and shiver- 
ing, crouching and crawling, before its ignorant Con- 
iession of Faith ? ; 

Had such men as Robert Colly er and John Stuart 
Mill been present at the burning of Servetus, they 
would have extinguished the flames with their tears. 
Had the -Presbytery of Chicago been there; they 
would have quietly turned their backs, solemnly 
divided their coat-tails and warmed themselves. 

Third. With having spoken disparagingly of the 
doctrine of predestination. 

If there is any dogma that ought to be protected 
by law, predestination is that doctrine. Surely it is 
a cheerful, joyous thing, to one who is laboring, 
struggling and suffering in this weary world, to think 
that before he existed, before the earth was, before a 
star had glittered in the heavens, before a ray of 
light bad left the quiver of the sun, his destiny had 
been i mvocably fixed, and that for an eternity before 


his birth lie had. been doomed to bear eternal pain! 
Fourth. With having failed to preach the efficacy 
of "vicarious sacrifice.'* 


Suppose a man had been convicted of murder, and 
Was about to be hanged the Governor acting as the 
executioner. And suppose that just as the doomed 
man was to suffer death, some onein the crowd should 
step -forward and say, '*! am willing to dia in the 
place of that murderer. He has a family, and I have 
none." And suppose further that the Governor 
should reply, " Come forward, young man, your 
offer is accepted. A murder has been committed, 
and somebody must be hung, and your death will 
satisfy the law just as well as the death of the mur- 
derer." What would you then think of the doctrine 
of" vicarious sacrifice " ? 

This doctrine is the consummation of two outrages 
forgiving one crime and committing another. 

Fifth. With having inculcated a phase of the doc- 
trine commonly known as "Evolution'" or ''Devel- 
opment;" - 

The Church believes and teaches the exact opposite 
of this doctrine. According to the philosophy of 
theology, man has continued to degenerate for six 
thousand years. To teach that there is that in Na- 
ture which impels to higher forms and grander ends, 
is heresy, of course. The Deity will damn Spencer 
and his "Evolution," Darwin and his " Origin of 
Species," Bastian and his ** Spontaneous Generation," 
Huxley and his "Protoplasm," Tyndall and his 
4 ' Prayer. Guage," and will save those, and those only 
who declare that the Universe has been cursed from 
the smallest atom to the-grandest star ; that every tiling 
tends to evil, and to that only ; and that the only 


perfect thing in -Nature is the Presbyterian confession 
of faith. 

Sixth. With having intimated that the reception of 
Socrates and Penelope at heaven's gate was, to s^iy 
the least, a trifle more cordial than that of Catherine 

Penelope waiting patiently and trustfully for her 
lord's return, delaying her suitors, while sadly weav- 
ing and unweaving the shroud of Laertes, is the most 
perfect type of wife and woman produced by the civ- 
ilization of Greece. * 

Socrates, whose life was above reproach, and whose 
death was beyond all praise, stands to-day, in the esti- 
mation of every thoughtful man, at least the peer of 

Catharine II. assassinated her husband. Stepping 
upon his corpse, she mounted the throne. She was 
the murderess of Prince Iwan, the grand-nephew of 
Peter the Great, who was imprisoned for eighteen 
years, and who, during all that time, saw the sky but 
once. Takea all in all, Catharine was probably one 
of the most intellectual beasts that ever wore a 

Catharine, however, was the head of the Greek 
Church, Socrates was a heretic, and Penelope lived 
and diet! without having once heard of " particular 
redemption," or " irresistible grace." 

Seventh. WUli repudiating the idea of a " call" 
to the ministry, and pretending that men were " call- 
ed," to preach as they were to the other avocations of 

If this doctrine is true, God, to say the least of it, 
is an exceedingly poor judge of human nature. It is 
more than a century since a man of true genius has 


been found in an orthodox pulpit. Every minister ia 
berel.ical just to the extent that his intellect is above 
the -average. The Lord seems to be satisfied with 
mediocrity ; but the people are. not. 

An old deacon, wishing to get rid of an unpopular 
preacher, advised him to give up the ministry, and 
turn his attention to something else. The preacher 
replied that he could not conscientiously desert tho 
pulpit, as he had had a " call" to the ministery. -To 
which the deacon replied, "That may be so, but it's 
mighty unfortunate for you that when God called 
you to preach, he forgot to call anybody to hear you." 

There is nothing more stupidly egotistic than the 
claim 6^ the clergy that they are, in some divine 
sense, set apart to the service of the Lord ; that they 
have been chosen and sanctified ; that there is an 
infinite difference between them and persons employ- 
ed in secular affairs. They teach us that all other 
professions must take care of themselves ; that God 
allows anybody to be a doctor, a lawyer,- statesman, 
soldier, "or artist ; that the Motts anfl Coopers the 
Mansfields and Marshalls the Wilberforces and Sum- 

' ners the Angelos and Raphaels were never honor- 
Vd by a " call." These chose their professions and 
won their laurels without the assistance of the Lord. 
All these men were left free to follow their own in- 

. clinations, while God was busily engaged selecting 
and " calling " priests, rectors, elders, ministers and 

Eighth. 'With having doubted that God was the 
author of the 109th Psalm. 

The portion of that Psalm which carries with it the 
clearest and most satisfactory evidences of inspiration, 


and which has afforded almost unspeakable consola- 
tion to the Presbyterian Church, is as follows : 

" Set thou a wicked man over him ; and let Satan stand 
at his right hand. 

" When he shall be judged, let him be condemned ; and 
let his prayer become sin. 

" Let his days be few; and let another take his office. 

" Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. 

"Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: 
let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places. 

"Let the extortioner catch all that he hath ; and let the 
strangers spoil his labor. 

" Let there be none to extend mercy unto him ; naither 
let there be none to favor his fatherless children. 

" Let his posterity be cut off ; and in the generation fol- 
lowing let their name be blotted out. 

* x< * * * v* * * 

" But do thou for me, God the Lord, for Thy name's " 
sake ; because Thy irercy is good, deliver thou me. * 
* * I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth." 

Think of a God wicked and malicious enough to 
inspire this prayer. Think of one infamous enough 
to answer it. 

Had- this inspired Psalm been- found in some tem- 
ple erected for the worship of snakes, or in the pos- 
session of some cannibal king, written with blood 
upon the dried skins of babes, there would have been 
a perfect harmony between ita surroundings and its 

No wonder that the author of this inspired Psalm 
coldly received Socrates and Penelope, and reserved 
his sweetest smiles for Catharine the Second ! 

Ninth. With having said that the battles in which 
the Israelites engaged with the approval and com- 
mand of Jehovah surpassed in cruelty those of Julius 

Was it Julius Caesar who said, " And the Lord our 


IS jd lelivered him before us ; and we smote him, and 
. nts sons, and all his people. And we took all his 
cities, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women 
and the little ones, of every city, we left none to re- 
main" ? 

Did Julius CsBsar send the following report to the 
Roman Senate ? " And we took all his cities at that 
time, there was not a city which we took not from 
tbem, three-score cities, all the region of Argob, the 
kingdom of Og, in Bashan. All these cities were 
fenced with high walls, gates and bars ; besides un- 
walled towns a great many. And we utterly destroy- 
ed them, as we did unto Sihon, king of Heshbon, ut- 
terly destroying the men, women, and children of 
every city." _ 

Did Caesar take the city of Jericho "and utterly 
destroy all that was in the city, both man and woman, 
young arid old" ? Did he smite "all the country of 
the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of 
the springs, and all their kings, and leave none re- 
maining that breathed, as the Lord God had com- 
manded " ? 

Search the -records of the whole world, find out the 
history of every barbarous tiibe, and you can find- no 
crime that .touched a lower depth oH infamy than 
those the Bible's God commanded and approved, 
.For such a God I have no words to express my loath- 
ing and contempt, and all the words in all the lan- 
guages of man would scarcely be sufficient. Away 
with such a God I Give me Jupiter rather, with lo 
and Europa, or even Siva with his skulls and snakes, 
or give me none. 

Tenth. With having repudiated the doctrines of 
"total deDravitv." ....-.. 


What a precious doctrine is that of the total d*. 
pravity of the human heart! How sweet it is to be- 
lieve that the lives of all the good and great were 
continual sins and perpetual crimes ; that the love a 
mother bears her child is, in the sight of God, a sin; 
that the gratitude of Che natural heart is simple mean- 
ness ; that the tears of pity are impure ; that for the 
unconverted to live and labor for others is an offense 
to heaven ; that the noblest aspirations of the soul are 
low and grovelling in the sight of God ; that man 
should fall upon his knees and ask forgiveness, sim- 
ply for loving his wife and child, and that even the 
act of asking forgiveness is in fact a crime! 

Surely it is a kind of bliss to feel that every woman 
and child in the wide world, with the .exception of 
those who believe the five points, or some other 
equally cruel creed, and such children as have been 
baptized, ought at this very moment to be dashed 
down to the lowest glowing gulf of hell ! 

Take from the Christian the history of his own 
Church ; leave that entirely out of the question, and 
he has no argument left with which to substantiate 
the total depravity of man. 

A minister once asked an old lady, a member of 
ais church, what she thought of the doctrine of total 
depravity, and the dear old soul replied that she 
thought it a mighty good doctrine if the Lord would 
only give the people grace enough to live up to it! 

Eleventh. With having doubted the * 'perseverance 
of the saints." 

I suppose the real meaning of this doctrine is, that 
Presbyterians are just as sure of going to heaven as 
all otto folks are of going to hell. The real idea 
being, that it all depends upon the will of God, and 


not upon the character of the person to be damned or 
saved ; that God has the weakness to send Vresbyte- 
rians to paradise, and the justice to doom tne rest ol 
mankind to eternal fire. 

IX is admitted that no unconverted brain can see 
the least of sense in this doctrine ; that it is abhorrent 
to all who have not been the recipients of a "new 
heart"; that only the perfectly good can justify the 
perfectly infamous. 

It is contended that the saints do not persevere of 
their own free will that they are entitled to no cred : 
it for persevering ; but that God forces them to perse- 
vere, while on the other hand, every cnrae is commit- 
ted in accordance with the secret will of God, who 
does all things for his own glory. 

Compared with this doctrine, there Is no other idea, 
that has ever been believed by man, that can properly 
be called absurd. 

As to the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, 
I wish with all my heart that it may prove to be a 
fact. I really hope that every saint, no matter how 
badly he may break on the first quarter, nor how 
many shoes he may .cast at the half-mile pole, will 
foot it bravely down the long home-stfetca, and win 
eternal heaven by at least a neck. 

Twelfth. With having spoken and written some^ 
what lightly of the idea of converting tne heathen 
with doctrinal sermons. 

Of all the failures of which we have any history or 
knowledge, the missionary effort is the most conspic- 
uous. The whole question has been decided here, in 
our own country, and conclusively settled. We h&ve 
nearly exterminated the Indians; but we have con- 
verted none. From the. days of John Eliot to the 


execution of the last Modoe, not one Indian has been 
the subject of. irresistible grace or particular redemp- 
tion. The few fed men who roam the Western wil- 
derness have no thought or care concerning the five 
points of Calvin. They are utterly oblivious to r the 
great and vital truths contained in the Thirty-nine 
articles, the Saybrook platform, and the resolutions 
of . the Evangelical Alliance. No Indian has ever 
.scalped another on account of his religious belief. 
This of itself shows conclusively that the missiona- 
ries have had no effect. . 

Why should we convert the heathen of China and 
kill our own ? Why should we send missionaries 
across the seas, and soldiers over the plains? Why 
should we send Bibles to the East and muskets to the 
West ? If it is impossible to convert Indians who 
have no religion of their own ; no prejudice for or 
against the" "eternal procession of the Holy Ghost," 
how can we expect to convert a heathen who has a 
religion; who Jias plenty of gods and Bibles and 
prophets and Christs, and who has a religious litera- 
ture far grander than our own ? Can we hope, with 
the story of Daniel in the lion's den, to rival the stu- 
pendous miracles of India ? Is there anything in our 
Bible as lofty and loving as the prayer of the Budr 
dhist? Compare your "Confession of Faith "with 
the following : 

'* Never will I seek nor receive private individual 
salvation, never enter into final peace alone ; but 
forever and every- where will I live and strive for the 
universal redemption of every creature throughout all 
worlds. Until all are delivered, never will I leave 
the world of sin, sorrow and struggle, but will remain 
where I am. " 


Think of sending an average Presbyterian to con- 
vert a man who daily offers this tender, this infinitely 
generous, and incomparable prayer! Think of read- 
ing the 109th Psalm to a heathen who has a Bible of 
his own, in which is found this passage: "Blessed is 
that man, and beloved of all the gods, who is afraid of 
no A man, and of whom no man is afraid!" 

Why should you read even the New Testament to- 
a Hindoo, when, his own Christna has said: "If a 
man strike thee, and in striking drop his staff, pick- 
it up and hand it to him again ? " Why send a Pres- 
byterian to a Sufi, who says : "Better one moment of 
silent contemplation and inward love, than seventy 
thousand years of outward worship"? "Whoso 
would carelessly tread one worm that crawls on 
earth, that heartless one is darkly alienate, from 
God ; but he that, living, embraceth all things in his 
love, to live with him God bursts all bounds above, 
below." - 

Why should we endeavor to 'thrust our cruel and 
heartless theology upon one who prays this prayer: 
"O God, show pity toward the wicked; for on the 
good thou hast already bestowed thy mercy by having 
created them virtuous " ? 

Compare this prayer with the curses and cruelties 
of the Old Testament with the infamies command- 
ed arid approved by the being whom we are taught 
to worship as a God, and with the following tender 
product of Presbyterianisin : "It may seem absurd to 
human wisdom that God should harden, blind, and 
deliver up some men to a reprobate sense ; that he 
should first deliver them over to evil, and then con- 
demn them for that evil-; but. the believing spiritual 
man sees no absurdity in all this, knowing that God 


woulfl never be a wliit less good, even though he 
should destroy all men." . 

Of all> the religions that have been produced by 
the egotism, the malice, the ignorance and ambition 
of man, Presbyterianism is the most hideous. 

But what shall I say more ? for the time would : fail 
me to tell of Sabellianism, ol a "model trinity," and 
the '* eternal procession of the Holy .Ghost"? 

Upon these charges a. minister. is. to be tried, here in 
Chicago; in this city of. pluck and progress tins 
marvel of energy, and this miracle of nerve. The 
cry of " heresy," here, sounds like a wail from the 
Dark Ages a shriek from the Inquisition, or a groan 
from the grave of Calvin. 

Another effort is being made to enslave a man. 

It is claimed that every member of the Church has 
solemnly agreed never to outgrow the creed ; that he 
has pledged himself to remain an intellectual dwarf. 
Upon this condition the Church agrees to save his 
soul, and he hands over his brains to bind the bar- 
gain. Should a fact be found inconsistent with the 
creed, he binds himself to deny the fact and curse the 
finder. With scraps .of. dogmas and crumbs of doc- 
trine, he agrees that his si-ul shall be satisfied forever. 
What an intellectual feast the confession of faith 
must be! It reminds one of the dinner described by 

.. . j ' '- :_ ** 

Sidney Smith, where everything was cold except the 
water, and everything sour except the vinegar. 

Every member of a church promises to remain 
orthodox, that is to say stationary. Growth is her- 
esy. Orthodox ideas are the feathers that have been 
molted by the eagle of progress. They are the dead 
leaves under the majestic palin, while heresy ia the 
bud and blossQnx^at Jthe top. 


Imagine a vine that grows at one end and decays 
at tne other. The end that grows is heresy ; the end 
that .rots, is orthodox. ,The dead: are orthodox, and 
your cemetery is the most perfect type of a well. regu. 
lated ;Ghurch. No thought; .no progress, no: heresy 
there; Slowly and silently, side by side, the satisfied 
members peacefully decay. There is only this differ- 
ence the dead do not persecute. /; 

And what. does a trial for heresy mean ? It means 
that the Church says to a heretic, "Believe as I do, or 
I will withdraw my support ; I will not employ you; 
I will pursue you until your garments are rags $ until 
your children cry for bread ; until your cheeks are 
furrowed with tears. I will hunt you to the very 
portals of the tomb, and then my God will do the 
rest. I will not imprison you. I will not barn you. 
The law prevents my doing that. 1 helped make the 
Jaw, not, however, to protect you, nor deprive me of 
the right to exterminate you, but in order to keep oth- 
er Churches from; exterminating me. M 

A trial for heresy means that the spirit of persecu- 
tion still lingers in the Church ; that it still denies the 
right of private judgment ; that it still thinks more of 
creed than truth ; that it is still determined to prevent 
the intellectual growth of man. It means that church- 
es are shambles in which are bought and. sold the souls 
of men. It means that the Church is still guilty of 
the barbarity, of opposing thought -with force. It 
means that if it had the power, the mental horizon 
would be bounded by .a creed, that it. would bring 
again the whips, and chains, and dungeon, keys, the 
rack and fagot of the past. , : 

But let me tell the Church it lacks, the .power. There 
have been, and still: axe, top many men who own 


themselves too much thought,-* too much-knowledge 
for the Church to grasp again the sword of power. s 
The Church must abdicates 'For the Eglon of super- 
stitiohi science has a -message from truth. -*: ; > ?. 

Tlie ; heretics have not -thought and suffered sandi 
died in vain. Every heretic has been; and is, a ray of 
light. Not in vain did Voltaire, that great man, point 1 
from the foot of the Alps, the finger of scorn at every; 
hypocrite in Europe. Not in vain were the splendid 
utterances of the Infidels, while beyond all price al'e 
the discoveries of science. , 

The church has impeded, but it has not and it can- 
iibt stop the onward inarch of the human race. Her- 
esy cannot be burned, nor imprisoned* nor starved. 
It laughs at presbyteries and synods, at (Ecumenical 
councils and the impotent thunders of Sinai. Heresy 
is the eternal dawn, the morning star, the glittering 
herald of the day. Heresy is the last and best thought. 
It is the perpetual new world ; the unknown sea, 
toward which the brave all sail. It is the eternal hori- 
zon of progress. Heresy extends the hospitalities of 
the brain to new thoughts. Heresy is a cradle : or- 
thodoxy a coffin, ;'.- 

"Why should a man be afraid to think, and why 
should he fear to express his thoughts ? 

Is it possible that an infinite Deity is unwilling that 
man should investigate the phenomena by which he 
is surrounded? Is it possible that a god delights in 
threatening and terrifying men ? What glofyj what 
honor and renown a god must win in such a field I 
The ocean raving at a drop \ a star envious of a can- 
dle ; the sun jealous of a fire-fly! 

Go on, presbyteries and synods, go o&f Thrust the 
heretics out of .the Church. That is fc say, throw 


away your brains, put out- youreyes; The^Infidels 
will thank you. They are willing to : adopt - your 
exiles. -Every deserter from your camp is a recruit 
for the army of progress. Cling to the ignorant dog- 
mas of tlie past ; read the lOOth^salm ; gloat over the 
Slaughter of mothers and babes ; thank God- for total 
depravity ; shower your honors upon hypocrites; and 
silence every minister who is touched with that heresy 
called genius. 

Be : true to your history. Turn out the astrono- 
mers, the geologists, the naturalists, the chemists, and 
all the honest scientists. With a whip of scorpions, 
drive them all oufc We want them all. Keep the 
ignorant, the superstitious, the bigoted, and the wri- 
ters of charges and specifications. Keep themy and 
keep them all. Repeat your pious platitudes in the 
drowsy ears of the faithful, ; and read your Bible to 
heretics, as kings read some forgotten riot-act to stop 
and stay the waves of revolution. You are too weak 
to excite anger. We forgive your efforts as the sun 
forgives a cloud as the air forgives the breath you 

How long, O how long will man listen to the threats 
of God, and shut his ears to the splendid promises 
of Nature ? How long, O how long will man remain 
the cringing slave of a false and cruel creed ? 
. By this time the whole world should know that the 
real Bible has not yet been written : but is being writ- 
ten, and that it will never be finished until the 
race begins its downward march or ceases to exist. 
The real Bible is not the work of inspired men, nor 
prophets, nor apostles, nor evangelists, nor of Christ 
Every man who finds a fact, adds, as it were, a word 
to .this great book. It is aot attested by prophecy. 


by iwiracles or by signs. It makes no appeal to ,faith, to 
ignorance, to credulity or fear. It has no punishment 
for unbelief j and no reward for hypocrisy. It ; ap- 
peJs to man in the name of demonstration. It has 
nothing to conceal. It has no fear ; of being read, of 
being investigated and understood. It does not pre- 
tend to be holy or sacrec},; it simply claims to 'be 
tape.- It challenges the scrutiny of all, and implores 
evrry reader to verify every line for himself. It is 
incapable of being blasphemed. This book appeals 
to all the surroundings of man. Each thing that 
exists testifies of its perfection.. The earth with its 
luart of fire and crowns of snow ; with its forests and 
plains, its rocks and seas ; with its every wave and 
cloud ; with its every leaf, and bud, and flower, .con- 
firms its every word, and the solemn stars, shining in 
the infinite abysses, are the eternal witnesses of iu 




Univeraeis Governed by Law. 

Great :men seem to be part of the Infinite brothers 
of the mountains and the seas. Humboldt was one 
of these. He was one of those serene men, in some 
respects like our own Franklin, whose names have all 
the lustre: of a star. He was one of the few,. great 
enough to rise above the superstition and prejudice of 
his time, and to know that experience, observation 
and reason are the only basis of, knowledge. 

He became one of the greatest of men in spite of 
having been^ born rich and noble in spite of position. 
I say in spite of these things, because wealth and pos? 
ition are generally the enemies of genius, and the 
destroyers of talent. .--... 

It is of ten said of this or that man, that he is a self* 


made man that he was born of the poorest and hum- 
blest of parents, and that with every obstacle to over- 
come he became great. This is a mistake. Poverty 
is generally an advantage. Most of the intellectual 
giants of the world have been nursed at the sad and 
loving breast of poverty. Most of those who have 
climbed ;;highest on the shining ladder^ofe; fame coffi^ 
minced at the lowest round. * They were feareUiMi'e 
straw-thatched cottages of Europe ; hi the log-houses 
of America ; in the factories of the great cities ; in the 
midst of toil; in the smoke and din of labor, and on the 
verge of ^ want. They were, rocked fcy the_feet of 
mothers whose hands, at the same time, were busy 
with the needle or the wheel. 

It is hard for the rich to resist the thousand allure- 
ments of pleasure, and so, I. say, that Humboldt in 
spite of having been born to wealth and high social 
position, became truly and grandly great. 

In the antiquated and romantic castle of Tegel,by the 
side of the pine forest, on the shore of the charming lake 
near the beautiful city of Berlin, the great Humboldt, 
one hundred years ago, was born, and there he ; was- 
educated after the method suggested by Kousseaii, ' 
Campe, the philologist and critic, and the intellectual 
Kunth, being his tutors. There he received the im- 
pressions that determined his career ; there the great 
idea that the Universe is governed by law took posses- 
sion of his mind, and there he dedicated his life to 
the demonstration of this sublime truth. ; 

He came to the conclusion that the source of man's 
unhappiness is his ignorance of nature. 

After having received the most thorough education 
at that time possible, and having determined to what 
end he would devote the labors of his life, he turned 


His attention to the sciences of geology, mining, min 
eralocjy, botany, the distribution of plants, the distri- 
bution of animals, and the effect of climate upon man. 
All grand physical phenomena were investigated and 
explained. From his youth He had felt a great desire 
for travel. He felt, as he says, a violent passion for 
the sea, and longed to look upon Nature in her wild- 
est and most rugged forms; He' longed to give a 
physical description of the Universe a grand picture 
of Nature ; to account for all phenomena ; to discov- 
er the 'laws 'governing the world ; to do away with 
tnat splendid delusion called special providence, and 
to 'establish the fact that the Universe is governed by 


To establish this truth, was, and is, of infinite im- 
portance to mankind. That fact is the death-knell of 
superstition ; it gives liberty to every soul, annihilates 
fear, and ushers in the age of reason. 

The object of this illustrious man was to compre- 
hend the phenomena of physical objects in their gen- 
eral connection, and to represent Nature as one great 
whole, moved arid" animated by internal forces. 

For this purpose he' turned his attention to descrip- 
tive botany, traversing distant lands and mountain 
ranges to ascertain definitely the geographical distri- 
bution of plants. He investigated the laws regulating 
the differences of temperature and climate, and the 
changes of the atmosphere. He studied the forma- 
tion of the earth's crust, explored the deepest mines, 
ascended the highest mountains, and wandered 
through the praters Of extinct volcanoes. 

Re became thoroughly, acquainted with chemistry, 
with astronomy, with terrestrial magnetism ; and as 
the ihvestifiatioh or one subject leads to all others, for 


the reason that there is a mutual Dependence and a, 
necessary connection between all facts, so Humboldt 
became acquainted with all the known sciences. ., 

His fame does not depend so much upon his dis- 
coveries (although he discovered ; enough to make 
hundreds of reputations), as upon his vast and splen- 
did generalizations. . 

He was to science what Shakespeare was to the 

He found, so to speak, the world full of unconnect- 
ed facts all portions of a vast system parts of a 
great machine. He discovered the connection which 
each bears to all, put them together, and demonstrat- 
ed beyond all contradiction that the earth is governed 

by. law;.. \ 

He knew that to discover the connection of phenom- 
ena is the primary aim of all natural investigation. 
He was infinitely practical. 

Origin and destiny were questions with which he 
had nothing to do. 

His surroundings made him what he was. 

In accordance with a law not fully comprehended 
he was a production of his time. 

Great men do not live alqpe ; they are surrounded 
by the great ; they are the Instruments used to accom- 
plish the tendencies of their generation ; they fulfil 
the prophecies of their age. 

Nearly all of the scientific men of the eighteenth cen- 
*ury had the same idea entertained by Humboldt, but 
most of them in a dim and confused way. There 
was, however, a general belief among the intelligent 
that the world is governed by law, and that there 
really exists a connection between all facts, 'or all 
facts are simply tJie different aspects of * general fact, and 


that the task of science is to discover this connection 
to. comprehend this general .fact;, or to announce the 
laws of things. . 

Germany was full of thought, and her universities 
ewanned with philosophers- arid grand thinkers in 
every department of knowledge. 

Hi-mboldt was the Mend and companion of the 
greatest poets, historians, philologists, artists, states- 
men, critics, and logicians of his time. ""*" . 

He was the companion of Schiller, who believed that 
maw regenerated through the influence of the 
Beautiful ; of Goethe, the grand patriarch of German 
literature ; of \Veiland, who has been called the Vol- 
taire of Germany ; of Herder, who wrote tue outlines 
of a philosophical history of man ; of Kotzebue, who 
.lived in the world of romance ; of Schleiermacher, 
the pantheist ; of Schlegel, who gave to his countrymen 
the enchanted realm, of Shakespeare; of the sublime 
Kantj author of the first work published in Germany 
on Pure Reason; of Fichte, the infinite idealist; of 
Schopenhauer, the European Buddhist, who followed 
tlie great Gautama to the painless and dreamless nir- 
wana, and of hundreds of others, whose names are 
familiar to, and honored by, the scientific world. 

The German mind had been grandly roused from 
the long lethargy of the dark ages of ignoronce, fear, 
and faith. Guided by the holy light of reason, every 
department. of knowledge was investigated, enriched 
*nd illustratod. 

Huipbolclt breathed the atmosphere of investigation; 
old ideas were abandoned ; old ..creeds, hallowed by 
centuries were thrown aside; thought became courag- 
eous ; the athlete, Reason j challenged to mortal com- 
bat the monsters of superstition. , . 


No wonder that, under these influences, Humboldt 
formed the great purpose of presenting to the world a 
picture of Nature, in order that men might, for the 
first time, behold the face of their mother. 

Europe became too small for his* genius ; he visited 
the tropics in the New World, where, in the most cir- 
cumscribed limits, he could find the greatest number 
of plants, of animals, and the greatest diversity of 
climate, that he might ascertain the laws governing 
the production and distribution of plants, animals and 
men, and the effects of climate upon them all. He 
sailed along the gigantic Amazon ; the mysterious 
Oronoco ; traversed the Pampas ; climbed the Andes 
until he stood upon the crags of Chimborazoj more 
than eighteen thousand feet above the level of the 
sea, and climbed on until blood flowed from his eyes 
and lips. For nearly five years he pursued his inves- 
tigations in the New World, accompanied by the in- 
trepid Bonpland. Nothing escaped his attention. 
He was the best intellectual organ of these new reve- 
lations of science. He was calm, reflective and elo- 
quent ; filled with the sense of the beautiful and the 
love of truth. His collections were immense, and 
valuable. beyond calculation to every science. He en- 
dured innumerable hardships, braved countless dan- 
gers in unknown savage lands, and exhausted his for- 
tune for the advancement of true learning. 

Upon his return to Europe, he was hailed as the 
second Columbus ; as the scientific discoverer of 
America ; as the revealer of a New World ; as the 
great demonstrator of the sublime truth, that the 
Universe is governed by law. 

I have seen a picture of the old man, sitting upon 
the mountain side, above him the eternal snow, belov 7 , 


the 'Smiling valley of the tropics filled with vine and 
palm, his chin upon his breast, his eyes deep, thought- 
ful and calm, his forehead majestic grander than the 
mountain upon which he sat crowned with the snow 
of his whitened hair, he looked the intellectual auto- 
crat of this world. 

Not satisfied with his discoveries hi America, he 
crossed the steppes of Asia, the wastes of Siberia, the 
great Ural range, ad ding to the knowledge of mankind 
at every step. His energy acknowledged no obstacle, 
his life knew no leisure; every day was filled with 
labor and with thought. . 

He was one of the apostles of Science, and he serv- 
ed his divine Master with a self-sacrificing zeal that 
knew no abatement ; with an ardor that constantly 
increased, and with a devotion unwavering and con- 
stant as the polar star. ' 

In . order that the people at large might have the 
benefit of his numerous discoveries and his vast 
knowledge, he delivered, at Berlin, a course 1 of lec- 
tures, consisting of sixty-one free addresses upon 1 the 
following subjects : 

Five, upon the nature and limits of physical geogra- 

Three, were devoted to a history of Science. 

Two, to inducements to a study of natural science. 

Sixteen, on the heavens. 

Five, on the form, density, latent heat and magnetic 
power of the earth, and to the polar light. 

Four, were on the nature of the crust of the earth, 
on hot springs, earthquakes and volcanoes. 

Two, on mountains and the type of their forma- 

Two, on the form of the earth's surface, on the con- 


of continent, and the elevation ol soil pvei 
ravines. ., ; - . - 

Three, on the sea as a globular fiuid.surrounding the 

Ten, on the atmosphere as an elastic fluid surround- 
ing the earth, and on the distribution of heat. 

One, on the geographic distribution of organized 
matter in general. , , . 

Three,. on the geography of plants. 

Three, on the geography of animals, and 

Two, on the races of men. - 

These lectures are what is known as the COSMOS, 
and present a scientific picture of the world, of in- 
finite diyersity and unity, of ceaseless motion in th.e 
eternal grasp of law. 

These lectures contain the result of his investiga- 
tion, observation and experience ; they furnish the 
connection between phenomena' ; they disclose some 
of the changes through which the earth has passed in 
the countless ages ; the history of vegetation, animals 
and men ; the effects of climate upon individuals and 

...--- j .-.- I . .. . . .,. -.-. . .- . , X- . .- , . 

nations, the relation we sustain to other worlds, .and 
demonstrate that all phenomena, whether insignificant 
or g^and, exist in accordance with inexorable law. .; 

There, are some truths,- however,; that we never 
should forget. Superstition has. always been the re- - 
lentless enemy of science ; faith, has been a hater of 
demonstration ; hypocrisy has been sincere only in its 
dread of truth, and all religions /are inconsistent with 
mental. freedom. . , 

Since the murder of Hypatia, in the fifth century, 
when the polished blade of Greek philosophy was 
broken by the club of ignorant Catholicism, until to- 
day, superstition has detested every effort oi reason. 


It is almost impossible to conceive of the complete' 
ness of the victory that the Church achieved over 
philosophy. For ages science was Utterly ignored ; 
thought was a poor slave ; an ignorant priest was tha 
master of the world ; faith put out the eyes of the, 
soul ; the reason was a trembling coward ; the imagi- 
nation was set on fire of hell; every hitman feeling 
was sought to be suppressed ; love was considered in- 
finitely sinful, pleasure was the road to eternal fire, 
and God was supposed to be happy only when his 
children were miserable. The world was governed 
by an Almighty's whim ; prayers could change the or- 
der of things, halt the grand procession of Nature, 
could produce rain, avert pestilence, famine and death 
in all its forms. There was no idea of the certain ; 
.all depended upon divine pleasure, or displeasure 
rather ; heaven was full of inconsistent malevolence, 
and earth of ignorance. Everything was done to ap- 
pease the divine wrath ; every public calamity was 
caused by the sins of the people ; by a failure to pay 
tithes, or for having, even in secret, felt a disrespect 
for a priest. To the poor multitude, the earth was a 
kind of enchanted forest, full of demons ready to de- 
vour, and theological serpents . lurking with infinite 
power to fascinate and torture the unhappy and im- 
potent soul. Life to them was a dim and mysterious 


labyrinth, in which they wandered weary and lost, 
guided by priests as bewildered as themselves, with- 
out knowing that at every step the Ariadne of reason 
oflered them the long lost clue. 

The very heavens were full of death ; the lightning 
was regarded as the glittering vengeance of God, and 
the earth was thick with snares for the unwary feet 
of man. The soul was supposed to be crowded with 


i . 

the wild beasts of desire ; the heart to be totally cor- 
rupt, prompting only to crime; virtues were regarded 
as only deadly sins in disguise ; there was a continual 
warfare being waged between the Deity and the 
Devil, for the possession of every soul; the latter being 
generally considered victorious. The flood, the tor- 
nado, the volcano, were all evidences of the dis- 
pleasure of heaven and the sinfulness of man. The 
blight that withered, the frost that blackened, the 
earthquake that devoured, were the messengers of the 

The world was governed by fear. 

Against all the evils of nature, there was known 
only the defense of prayer, of fasting, of credulity and 
devotion. Man in his helplessness endeavored to soften 
the heart of God. The faces of the multitude were 
blanched with fear and wet with tears; they were tho 
prey of hypocrites, kings and priests. 

My heart bleeds when I contemplate the sufferings 
endured by the millions now dead-, of those who lived 
when the world appeared to be insane ; when tho 
heavens were filled with an infinite HOKKOK who 
snatched babes with dimpled hands and rosy cheeks 
from the \vhite breasts of mothers, and dashed them 
into an abyss of eternal flame. 

Slowly, beautifully, like the coming of the dawn, 
came the grand truth that the Universe is governed by 
law ; that disease fastens itself upon the good and upon 
the bach that the tornado cannot be stopped by counting 
beads; that the rushing lava pauses not for bended 
knees-, the lightning for clasped and uplifted hands; 
nor the cruel waves of the sea for prayer; that paying 
tithes . causes, rather than prevents famine; that 
pleasure is not sin; that happiness is the only good; 


that demons and gods exist only in the imagination; 
that faith is a lullaby sang to put the soul to sleep; 
that devotion is a bribe that fear oilers to supposed 
pj^ver; that offering rewards in another world for 
obedience in this, is simply buying a soul on credit; 
that knowledge consists in ascertaining the laws of 
nature, and that wisdom is the science of happiness. 
Slowly, grandly, beautifully, these truths are dawning 
upon mankind. 

From Copernicus we learn that this earth is only a 
grain of sand on the infinite shore of the Universe; 
that everywhere -we are surrounded by shining worlds, 
vastly greater than our own, all moving and existing 
in accordance with law. True, the earth began to 
grow small, .but man began to grow great. 

The moment the. fact was established that other 
worlds are governed by law, it was only natural to 
conclude that our little world was. also under its do- 
minion. The old -theological method of accounting 
for physical phenomena by the pleasure and displeas 
ure of the Deity was, by the intellectual, abandoned. 
They found that- disease, death, life, thought, heat, 
cold, the seasons, the winds, the dreams of man, the 
instinct of animals in short, that all physical and 
mental phenomena are governed by law, absolute, 
eternal and inexorable. 

Let it be understood ^ that by the term law, is meant 
the same invariable relations of succession and resem- 
blance predicated of all facts springing from like con- 
ditions. Law is a fact not a cause. It is a fact, that 
like conditions produce like results ; this fact is Law. 
"When we say that the Universe is governed by law, we 
mean that this fact, called law, is incapable of change 
that it has been, and forever will be, the same inexor- 


able, immutable FACT, inseparable from all phenom- 
ena. Law, in this sense, was not enacted or made. 
It could not have been otherwise than as it is. That 
which necessarily exists has no creator. 

Only a few years ago this earth was considered the 
real centre of the Universe; all the stars were supposed 
to revolve around this insignificant atom. The German 
mind, more than any other, has done away with this 
piece of egotism. Purbach and Mullerus, in the fif- 
teenth century, contributed most to the advancement 
of astronomy in their day. To the latter, the world 
is indebted for the introduction of decimal fractions, 
which completed our arithmetical notation and form- 
ed the second of the three steps, by which, in modern 
times, the science of numbers has been : so greatly 
improved ; and yet both of these men believed in the 
most childish absurdities, at least in enough of them, 
to die without their orthodoxy having ever been sus- 

Next came the great Copernicus, and he stands at 
the head of the heroic thinkers of his time who had 
the courage and the mental strength to break the chains 
of prejudice, custom and authority, and to establish 
truth on the basis of experience, observation and 
reason. He removed the earth, so to speak, from the 
centre of the Universe, and ascribed to it a two-fold 
motion, and demonstrated the true position which it 
occupies in the solar system. 

At his bidding the earth began to revolve, at the 
command of his genius it commenced its grand flight 
mid the eternal constellations round the sun. 

For fifty years his discoveries were disregarded. 
All at once, by the exertions of .Galileo, they were 
kindled into so grand a conflagration as to consume 


the philosophy of Aristotle, to alarm the hierarchy of 
Rome, and to threaten the existence of -every opinion 
not founded upon experience, observation and reason. 

The earth avas no longer considered a Universe, 
governed by the caprices of some revengeful deity, 
who had made the stars out of what he had left after 
completing the world, and had stuck them in the sky, 
simply to adorn the night. 

I have said this much concerning astronomy be- 
cause it was the first splendid step forward! the first 
sublime blow that shattered the lance and shivered the 
shield of superstition; the first real help tkat man re- 
ceived from heaven; because it was the first great 
lever placed beneath the altar of a false religion ; the 
first revelation of the infinite toman; the first authori- 
tative declaration that the Universe is governed by 
law; the first science that gave the lie direct to the cos- 
mogny of barbarism and because it is the sublimest 
victory that the reason has achieved. 

In speaking of astronomy, I have confined myself 
to the discoveries made since the revival of learning. 
Long ago, on the banks of the Ganges, ages before 
Copernicus lived, Aryabhatta taught that the earth is 
a sphere, and revolves on Its own axis. This, how- 
ever, does not detract from the glory of the great Ger- 
man. The discovery of the Hindoo had been lost in 
the midnight of Europe in the age of faith, and Co- 
pernicus was as much a discoverer as though Aryab- 
hatta had never lived. 

In this short address there is no time to speak of 
other sciences, and to point out the particular evi- 
dence furnished by each, to establish the dominion of 
law, nor to more than mention the name of Descartes, 
the first who undertook to give an explanation of the ce- 


lestial motions, or who formed the vast and philosophic 
conception of reducing all the phenomena of tne Uni- 
verse to the same law; of Montaigne, one of the heroes 
of common sense ; of Galvani, whose ..experiments 
gave the telegraph to the world ; of Voltaire, who 
contributed more than any other of the sons of men 
to the destruction of religious intolerance ; of August 
Comte, whose genius erected to itself a monument 
that still touches the stars ; of Guttenburg, Watt, 
Stephenson, Arkwright, all soldiers of science in the 
grand army of the dead kings. 

The glory of science is, that it is freeing the soul- 
breaking the mental manacles getting the brain out 
of bondage giving courage to thought filling the 
world with mercy, justice and joy. > 

Science found agriculture p. owing with a stick 
reaping with a sickle commerce at the mercy of the 
treacherous waves and the inconstant winds a world 
without books without schools man denying the 
authority of reason, employing his ingenuity in the 
manufacture of instruments. of lorture, in building in- 
quisitions and cathedrals. It found the land filled 
with malicious monks with persecuting Protestants 
and the burners of men. It found a world full of 
fear ; ignorance upon its knees ; credulity, the great- 
est virtue ; women treated like beasts of burden ; 
cruelty the only means of reformation. It found the 
world at the mercy of disease and famine ; men trying 
to read their fates in the stars, and to tell their fortunes 
by signs and wonders : Generals thinking to conquer 
their enemies by making the sign of the cross, <or by 
telling a rosary. It found all history full of petty and 
ridiculous falsehood., and the Almighty was suppos- 
ed to spend most of his time turning sticks into 


snakes, drowning boys for swimming on Sunday, and 
killing little children for the purpose of converting 
their parents. It found the earth filled with slaves 
and tyrants, the people in all countries down trodden, 
half naked, half starved, without hope, and without 
reason in the world. 

Such was the condition of man when the morning 
of science .dawned upon his brain, and before he had 
heard the sublime declaration that the Universe is 
governed by law. For the change that has taken 
place we are indebted solely to science the only lever 
capable of raising mankind. Abject faith is barbar- 
ism , reason is civilization. To obey is slavish ; to 
act from a sense of obligation perceived by the reason 
is noble. .Ignorance worships mystery ; reason ex 
plains it : the one grovels, the other soars. 

No wonder that fable is the enemy of knowledge. A 
man with a false diamond shuns the society of lapida- 
ries, and it is upon this principle that superstition ab- 
hors science. 

In all ages the people have honored those who dis- 
honored them. . They have worshiped their destroyers, 
they have- canonized the most gigantic liars and buried 
the great thieves in marble and gold. Under the 
loftiest monument sleeps the dust of murder. 

Imposture has always worn a crown. 

The world is beginning to change because the peo 
rle are beginning to think. To think is to advance. 
Lvery.w'here the great minds are- investigating thu 
creeds and superstitions of men, the phenomena oi 
natur.e and the Uiv.'s of things. At the head of this 
great army of investigators stood Humboldt the 
serene leader of an '*>*ellectual host a king by the 
Buflruire of science and the divine right of Genius. 


And to-day we are not honoring some butcher call- 
ed a soldier, some wily politician called a statesman, 
some robber called a king, nor some malicious meta- 
physician called a saint. We are honoring the grand 
Humboldt, whose victories were all achieved in the 
arena of thought ; who destroyed prejudice, ignorance 
and error not men ; who shed light not blood, and 
who contributed to the knowledge, the wealth and the 
happiness of all mankind. 

His life was pure, his aims lofty, his learning varied 
and profound, and his achievements vast. 

"We honor him because he has ennobled our race, 


because he has contributed as much as aay man liv- 
ing or dead to the real prosperity of the world. We 
honor him because he honored us; because belabored 
for others ; because he was the most learned man of 
the most learned nation ; because he left a legacy of 
glory to every human being. For these reasons he is 
honered throughout the world. Millions are doing 
homage to his genius at this moment, and millions 
are pronouncing his name with reverence and recount- 
ing what he accomplished. 

We associate the name of Humboldt with oceans, 
palms ; the wide deserts ; the snow-lipped craters of 
the Andes ; with primeval forests and European capi- 
tals ; with wildernesses and universities ; with savages 
and savans; with the lonely rivers of unpeopled 
wastes ; with peaks and pampas, and steppes, and 
cliffs and crags ; with the progress of the world ; with 
every science known to man, and with every star glit- 
tering in the immensity of space. 

Humboldt adopted none of the soul-shrinking creeds 
of his day; wasted none of his time in the stupidities, 
inanities and contradiction of theological metaphysics; 


he did not endeavor to harmonize the astronomy and 
geology of a barbarous people with the science of the 
nineteenth century. Never, for one moment, did he 
abandon the sublime standard of truth; he investigated, 
he studied, he thought, he separated the cold from the 
dross in the crucible of his grand brain. He was 
never found on his knees belore the altar of supersti- 
tion. He stood erect by the grand tranquil column 
of reason. He was an admirer, a lover an adorer of 
nature, and at the age of ninety, bowed by the weight 
of nearly a century, covered with the insignia of 
honor, loved by a nation, respected by a world, with 
kings for his servants, he laid his weary head upon 
her bosom upon the bosom of the Universal moth- 
er and with her loving arms around him, sank into 
that slumber called death. 

History added another name to the starry scroll of 
the immortals. 

The world is big monument ; upon the eternal gran- 
ite of her hills he inscribed his name, and there upon 
everlasting stone his genius wrote this, the sublimes* 
of truths: 


Truth Seeker Tracts, 


No. Ota* 

1. Discussion on Prayer, etc. D. M. Bennett and two 

Clergymen. 8 

2. Oration on the Gods. B. G. Jngersoll. 10 
s. Thomas Paine. B. G. Inerersoll. 6 
4. Arraingment of the Church, or Individuality. By f 

B. G. Ingersoll. 6 

6. Heretics and Heresies. B. G. Ingersoll. '5 

6. Humboldt. B. G. Ingersoll. 6 

7 The Story of Creation. D. M. Bennett. 6 

8 The Old Snake Story. " 2 

9 The story of theElood. " 5 

10 The Plagues of E^ypt. " 2 

11 Koran. Datham. and Abiram. D. M. Bennett. 1 

12 Balaam and his Ass. D. M. Bennett. 2 

13 Arraignment of Priestcraft. D. M. Bennett 8 

14 Old Abe and Little Ike. John Syphe'rs. 8 

15 Come to Dinner. " 2 

16 Fog'Horn Documents. " 2 

17 The Devil Still Ahead. - " 2 

18 Slipped up Again. " 2 
19. Joshua Stopping the Sun and Mown. D. M. Bennett 2 
20 Samson and his Exploits. D.M.Bennett. 2 

21. The Great Wrestling Match. " a 

22. Discussion with Elder Shelton. " 10 

23. Be ply to Elder Shelton's Fourth Letter. D. M.. 

Bennett. 3 

24. Christians at "Work. Wm. McDonnell. 6 

25. Discussion with Geo. Snode. D. M. Bennett 3 

26. Underwood's Prayer. . . i 

27. Ho nest Question and Ho nest Answers. Bennett K 

28. Alessandro di Cagliostro. Chas. Sotheran. 10 

29. Paine Hall Dedication Address. B. F, Underwood. 5 
so. Woman's Bights and Man's Wrongs. John Syphers. 2 

31. Gods and God-houses. John Syphers. 2 

32. The Gods of Superstition and the God of the Uni- 

verse. D. Ivi. Bennett. ' .8 

83. What has Christianity Done? S.H.Preston. 2 

84. Tribute to Thomas Paine". S. H. Preston. 2 
55. Moving the Ark. D. M. Bennett. -2 
36. Bennett's Prayer to the Devil. 2 
87. A Short Sermon, No. l. Bev. Theologricus.D.D. 2 

38. Christianity not a Moral System. X. Y. Z. 2 

39. The True Saint. S. P. Putnam. l 

40. The Bible of Nature vs. The Bible of Men. Syphers. 2 

41. Our Ecclesiastical Gentry. D. M. Bennett. l 

42. Elijah the Tishbite. D. M. Bennett. 4 

43. Christianity a Borrowed System. D. M. Bennett. 3 

44. Design Argument Befuted, B. F. Underwood. 8 

45. Elisha the Prophet. D. M. Bennett. 2 

46. Did Jesus Really Exist? D. M. Bennett S 

if. Cruelty and Credulity of the Human llace. Dr. 

Daniel Arter. 3 

48. Freethought in the West. OK L. Henderson. 5 

49. Sensible Conclusions. E. E. Guild. 5 

60. Jonah and the Big Fish D.M.Bennett. 3 

61. Sixteen Trufi Seeker Leaflets, No. l 5 

62. Harpies-Underwood Debate. B. F. Underwood. 3 

63. Questions for Bible Worshipers. B. F. Underwood. 2 

64. An Open Letter to Jesus Christ. D. M. Bennett. 5 

65. Bible God Disproved by Nature. W. E. Coleman. 8 
56. Bible Contradictions. 1 
67. Jesus Not a Perfect Character. B. F. Underwood. 2 
58. Prophecies. B. F. Underwood. 2 
69. Bible Prophecies Concerning Babylon. Underwood. 2 

60. Ezekiel's Prophecies Concerning Tyre. Underwood. 2 

61. History of the Devil. Isaac Paden. 5 

62. The Jews and their God. Isaac Paden. 10 

63. The Devil's Due-Bills. John Syphers. 3 

64. The Ills we endure their Cause and Cure. Bennett. 5 

65. Short Sermon No. 2. Rev. Theologicus, D.D. 2 

66. God Idea in History. Hugh Byron Brown. 5 

67. Sixteen Truth "Seeker Leaflets, No. 2. ' 6 

68. Ruth's Idea of Heaven and" Mine. Susan H. Wixon. 2 

69. Missionaries, Mrs. E. D. Slenker. 2 

70. Vicarious Atonement. Dr. J. S. Lyon. 3 

71. Paine's Anniversary. C. A. Cod man. 3 

72. Shadraeh, Meshaeh and Abed-nego. D. M Bennett. 2 

73. Foundations. John Syphers. 3 

74. Daniel in the Lions' Den. D.M.Bennett 2 
76. An Hour with the Devil. D. M. Bennett. 10 

Scientific Series. 

1. Hereditary Transmission. Prof. Louis Elsberg. M.D. 6 

2. Evolution ; from the Homogeneous to tne Hetero- 

geneous. B. F. Underwood. 3 

3. Darwinism. B. F. Underwood. 3 

4. Literature of the Insane. Frederic R. Marvin, M.D. 6 
6. Responsibility of Sex. Mrs. Sara B. Chase. M.D. 3 

6, Graduated Atmospheres. James McCarrolL . 2 

7. Death. Frederic R. Marvin, M.D. / 6 

Discount on $1 worth, 10 per cenr. ; on $2 worth, 20 per 
cent. ; on $3 worth, 25 per cent. ; on $5 worth, 40 per cent. ; 
on $10 worth, 60 per cent. Postage paid, by mail. 

The -foregoing Tracts, with a number of others not yet 
listed, will be issued early in 1876, in THREE VOLUMES, 
of 3no pages each, at the extremely low price of 60 cents ic 
paper, and $1.00 in cloth, or $l.5Q for the three volumes 
1 11 paper, or S2.50 lor the three volumes in cloth. Chea per 
and better reading matter on a wide variety of subjects, 
by different authors, can nowhere be obtained. 


- ' ~ -N . T 




COMMENCING JTJNE. 29tll, 1875, 










FIRST PBOPOSITION. The Christian Religion, as set forth 
iri the New Testament, is true in fact and of divine ori- 
gin. Burgess in affirmative; Underwood in negative. 

SECOND PROPOSITION. The Bible is erroneous in many 
of its teachings regarding science and morals, and is of 
human, origin. Underwood in affirmative; Burgess in 

Every person who likes to hear both sides of a ques- 
tion, and to be apprised of what can be said by each dis- 
putant, should avail themselves of the opportunity of 
procuring his valuable work. 


An Aylmer paper of July 9th. 1875, contained the follow- 
ing: "The advocate of Christianity, PBES'T BUBGESS, of 
the Northwestern University, Indianapolis, is everthing 
he has been represented to be. An eloquent speaker, 
whose words escape from his mouth, clothed with a living 
earnestness which cannot fail to find a responsive echo 
in the heart of every Christian. 

**B. P. UNDERWOOD, of Boston, makes more impression 
on the thinkers by his facts, authorities and theories, and 
when those need more forcible expression^ is not inferior 
to BUBGESS as an orator. The difference between him 
and BURGESS in that respect, is, that the latter is almost 
at all times eloquent, and generally appealing to the sym- 
pathies of his audience ; whilst MB. UNDEBWOOD does dot 
rely on the momentary influence of language, but ad- 
vances idea after idea, fact after fact, theory after theory, 
with such startling rapidity, that only .the most h ighly 
cultivated mind and the most profound thinker can grasp 

13 mo. 180 pp. In paper 60 cts. ; cloth. $1. Postpaid. 
D. M. BENNETT, fe, >*;* vf K. Y. 



Author of " The Heathens of the Heath," etc. 


A beautiful, tender.'dellcatevpathetic and most convino 
Ing composition. A beautiful exhibit of the many mis- 
chievous effects growing out of religious dogmas found- 
ed upon the inspiration and divine authority of the Bible. 


It strongly denies the divine character claimed for that 
work by its mistaken devotees, and shows up in vivid 
colors the practical effects of superstition and religious 
fanaticism. * 

"Altogether it is the most searching book ever publish- 
ed in America since the "Age of Reason." 

Price, in paper, 60 cents ; in cloth, 80 cents. Sent post- 
paid, by mail. Address D. M. BE^TNETT. 

-.. - - N. Y. 

Innocen* Amusement for the Young. 

Two Hundred Poetical Biddies, 

These Biddies embrace a large variety of subjects, and 
will be found very entertaining to children, as well as to 
those of larger growth. 

They will assist materially in affording amusement to 
Boeial parties, as well as to the fire -side family circle. 

Price, 20 cents by mail. 

D. M. BENNETT, Publisher, 

N. y. 


Let Your Light Shine ! ! ! 


and other Liberal publications to do missionary work 
and to hell) in opening THE EYES OP THE BLIND I 


are furnished at prices very low, so that Societies and 
generous individuals can buy them for gratuitous distri> 


to those who purchase by the quantity. [See Price List.] 

Probably a fnw dollars can be expended for spreading 
TKUTH and LIGHT in no way so effectually as in dis- 
pensing broadcast 


Let Liberals exercise liberality enough to give awas 
thousands and tens of thousands of these tracts. Thej^ 
are well designed to do missionary work and in spread- 
ing the glad tidings of truth. If a proper enthusiasm ia 
enkindled in the breasts of the lovers of Free Thought- 
and Mental Liberty, much good can be accomplished. 

Prices range from one cent to ten. From one to one 
hundred may be ordered of any of the various number*, 
and a heavy discount made to those who buy by the quan- 

Friends, invest $5 or $10 in this way, and see how much 
good it will do, We certainly ought to be as zealous in 
promulgating truths as our adversaries are in dissemi- 
nating error. 

Published by D. M. BENNETT. 

8. I. 



Author of " Exeter Hall." etc.. ete. 

"''"';" ' . # 

This Work Is rich In romantic and pathetic incidents, 
It exhibits, with an overwhelming array of facts, the 

Terrible Atrocities 

committed by the Church. It shows that the purest mor- 
ality exists without the Bible, and that many of the heath- 
en philosophers were " Lovers of Virtue." 

Shocking instancefe are given of the depravity of Chris- 
tian ministers, and of the prevailing immorality among 
Christian people. 

The folly of "Foreign Missions*' Is fully portrayed. 
Hypocrisy and bigotry are clearly exposed, and the road 
to virtue and happiness plainly marked out, 

A most pleasing Romance Is woven into the work in 
which much chance is afforded for fine descriptions and 
beautiful sentiments, which the author well knows how 
to give utterance to. 

"On the whole it is the work of a master hand a work 
of unaffected beauty and the deepest interest. 

"-One of the most valuable features of the work is that 
its positions are all proved. Every thinking, enquiring 
mind should peruse it" 

PRICE, in paper, - - - $1 oo. 
" in cloth, - ..... ISO, 

Bent postpaid on receipt of price. 

D. M. BENNETT. Publisher. 
--'. - N.Y. 

Will You Take a Copy ? 

Will be issued in the early part of 1876 

and Thinkers 

Being the Biographies and important sayings of the 
most distinguished Teachers, Philosophers, Reformers. 
innovators. Founders of New Schools of Thought, and 
Religion, Unbelievers in Current Theology, Scientists and 
Humanitarians of the world, from the early age of MENU 
down through the following sooo years to our own timo. 

A crown-octavo volume of over 800 paged. 

By D. M. BENNETT, Editor of The Truth Seeker, 

With a steel plate Engraving of the Author. 

It is believed the work fills a want long felt, and adds 
materially to the general information touching the 
characters treated, affording a succinct and correct ac- 
count of the best and truest persons who have lived, and 
in a convenient and economical form. 

It is divided into lour parts: 

PABT I. From Menu to Christ. PABT II. From Christ to 
the close of the isth century. PABT III. Those from, the 
18th century to the present time. PABT IV. Those still 

The work embraces over ONE HUNDBED AND FIFTY 
of the characters to whom the world owes so much for 
the progress it has made in the evolution of thought, 
truth and reason. 

An important feature will be to give the death-bed inci- 
dents of the characters treated, so far as possible, thus 
disproving the false assertions so often made, that Unbe- 
lievers and Infidels recant upon their death-beds. 

The work is printed on new type, good paper, and 
{s bound in good style. Price, by mail or otherwise 

OS~ N. B. No money required until the work Is ready 
to deliver ; and after received, if it is not worth the price, 
and does not give satisfaction, and is returned in good 
order, the money will be refunded. 

All who feel disposed to contribute to the cause of Free- 
thought and to a better knowledge of those in the centu- 
ries that are past by taking a copy of this book are re- 
quested to send in their names to the author and pub- 

D. M. BENNETT, 835 Broadway, New Tork, 


21 784 141 

US- 6 




Every person iavor|^i|t^e fe ; 21 

est convit^ions, Eve^^||Pvidu,i wno wishes to spread 
the glad tidings r o| T^iitii and Beanon, Every friend ol 
Mental Liberty who desires |hat sectarianism, supersti- 
tion, bigotry an^ error should go to the rear, ought to 
subscribe, and induce others t") subsoribe, for 

It is fearless and outspoken in its advocacy of truth an 1 
progress, and in exposing the myths, false theology and 
pernicious dogmas of the past dark ages, and in ar- 
raigning priestcraft, corrupt institutions, and debasing - 
beliefs, antiquated errors, and PROMOTING THE BEST 

D, M, BENNETT, r,, 

/V " :r ,r ui Eighth Street. ' 

PRICE - - 2.00 per yuar. 


" . . " 

* ^ ' . p 

Aftei January 1st, 1870. it will be issued weekly, at $2 (^ 
per year. $2 25 will pay for it from Sept. 1st. 1875, to Jan, 
1st. 1877. ... / 

at Liberal will not Help-to extend its, Ci