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UBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF 
CALIFORNIA 
SAN DIC0 



LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF 
CALIFORNIA 
SAN D!E0 



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v- 7 




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JE>rcSDm CEOttion 

THE WORKS 

OF 

Robert G. Ingersoll 



"EVERY BRAIN IS A FIELD WHERE NATURE SOWS 
THE SEEDS OF THOUGHT, AND THE CROP DEPENDS UPON 
THE SOIL." 



IN TWELVE VOLUMES 
VOLUME VII. 



DISCUSSIONS 



NEW YORK 

THE DRESDEN PUBLISHING CO., 
C. P. FARRELL 

MCMII 



COPYRIGHT, 1900 

BY 
C. P. FARRELL 



COPYRIGHT, 1901 

BY 
THE DRESDEN PUBLISHING CO. 



CONTENTS OF VOLUME VII. 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 



Answer to San Francisco Clergymen Definition of Liberty, Physi 
cal and Mental The Right to Compel Belief Woman the Equal of 
Man The Ghosts Immortality Slavery Witchcraft Aristocracy 
of the Air Unfairness of Clerical Critics Force and Matter Doc 
trine of Negation Confident Deaths of Murderers Childhood 
Scenes returned to by the Dying Death-bed of Voltaire Thomas 
Paine The First Sectarians Were Heretics Reply to Rev. Mr. 
Guard Slaughter of the Canaanites Reply to Rev. Samuel Robin 
sonProtestant Persecutions Toleration Infidelity and Progress 
The Occident Calvinism Religious Editors Reply to the Rev. Mr. 
Ijams Does the Bible teach Man to Enslave his Brothers ? Reply to 
California Christian Advocate Self-Government of French People at 
and Since the Revolution On the Site of the Bastile French Peas 
ant's Cheers for Jesus Christ Was the World created in Six Days 
Geology What is the Astronomy of the Bible ? The Earth the Centre 
of the Universe Joshua's Miracle Change of Motion into Heat 
Geography and Astronomy of Cosmas Does the Bible teach the Ex 
istence of that Impossible Crime called Witchcraft? Saul and the 
Woman of Endor Familiar Spirits Demonology of the New Testa 
ment Temptation of Jesus Possession by Devils Gadarene Swine 
Story Test of Belief Bible Idea of the Rights of Children Punish 
ment of the Rebellious Son Jephthah's Vow and Sacrifice Persecu 
tion of Job The Gallantry of God Bible Idea of the Rights of 
Women Paul's Instructions to Wives Permission given to Steal 
Wives Does the Bible Sanction Polygamy and Concubinage? Does 
the Bible Uphold and Justify Political Tyranny? Powers that be Or 
dained of God Religious Liberty of God Sun-Worship punishable 
with Death Unbelievers to be damned Does the Bible describe a 
God of Mercy ? Massacre Commanded Eternal Punishment Taught 
in the New Testament The Plan of Salvation Fall and Atonement 
Moral Bankruptcy Other Religions Parsee Sect Brahmins Con 
fucians Heretics and Orthodox, ..... 5-107 

MY CHICAGO BIBLE CLASS. 

(1879.) 

Rev. Robert Collyer Inspiration of the Scriptures Rev. Dr. 
Thomas Formation of the Old Testament Rev. Dr. Kohler Rev. 
Mr. Herford Prof. Swing Rev. Dr. Ryder, , . 111-122 

(iii) VOL. vii, 



ly CONTENTS. 

TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

(1882.) 

Rev. David Walk Character of Jesus Two or Three Christs De 
scribed in the Gospels Christ's Change of Opinions Gospels Later 
than the Epistles Divine Parentage of Christ a Late Belief The 
Man Christ probably a Historical Character Jesus Belittled by his 
Worshipers He never Claimed to be Divine -Christ's Omissions 
Difference between Christian and other Modern Civilizations Civili 
zation not Promoted by Religion Inventors French and American 
Civilization : How Produced Intemperance and Slavery in Christian 
Nations Advance due to Inventions and Discoveries Missionaries 
Christian Nations Preserved by Bayonet and Ball Dr. T. B. Taylor 
Origin of Life on this Planet Sir William Thomson Origin of 
Things Undiscoverable Existence after Death Spiritualists If the 
Dead Return Our Calendar Christ and Christmas The Existence 
of Pain Plato's Theory of Evil Will God do Better in Another 
World than he does in this? Consolation Life Not a Probationary 
Stage Rev. D.O'Donaghue The Case of Archibald Armstrong and 
Jonathan Newgate Inequalities of Life Can Criminals live a Con 
tented Life ? Justice of the Orthodox God Illustrated, . 125-167 

THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

(1883. 

Are the Books of Atheistic or Infidel Writers Extensively Read ? 
Increase in the Number of Infidels Spread of Scientific Literature 
Rev. Dr. Eddy Rev. Dr. Hawkins Rev. Dr. Haynes Rev. Mr. 
Pullman Rev. Mr. Foote Rev. Mr. Wells Rev. Dr. Van Dyke- 
Rev. Carpenter Rev. Mr. Reed Rev. Dr. McClelland Ministers 
Opposed to Discussion Whipping Children Worldliness as a Foe 
of the Church The Drama Human Love Fires, Cyclones, and 
Other Afflictions as Promoters of Spirituality Class Distinctions 
Rich and Poor Aristocracies -The Right to Choose One's Associ 
atesChurches Social Affairs Progress of the Roman Catholic 
Church Substitutes for the Churches Henry Ward Beecher How 
far Education is Favored by the Sects Rivals of the Pulpit 
Christianity Now and One Hundred Years Ago French Revolution 
produced by the Priests Why the Revolution was a Failure Infi 
delity of One Hundred Years Ago Ministers not more Intellectual 
than a Century Ago Great Preachers of the Past New Readings of 
Old Texts Clerical Answerers of Infidelity Rev. Dr. Baker Father 
Fransiola Faith and Reason Democracy of Kindness Moral In 
struction Morality Born of Human Needs The Conditions of Happi 
ness The Chief End of Man, ...... 169-215 

THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 



Discussion between Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, Hon. Frederic R. 
Coudert, and ex-Gov. Stewart L. Woodford before the Nineteenth 
Century Club of New York Propositions Toleration not a Dis- 
YOL.TII. 



CONTENTS. V 

claimer but a Waiver of the Right to Persecute Remarks of Court- 
landt Palmer No Responsibility for Thought Intellectual Hospitality 
Right of Free Speech Origin of the term " Toleration " Slander 
and False Witness Nobody can Control his own Mind : Anecdote 
Remarks of Mr. Coudert Voltaire, Rousseau, Hugo, and Ingersoll 
General Woodford's Speech Reply by Colonel Ingersoll A 
Catholic Compelled to Pay a Compliment to Voltaire Responsibility 
for Thoughts The Mexican Unbeliever and his Reception in the 
Other Country, 217-260 

A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

(1891.) 

Christianity's Message of Grief Christmas a Pagan Festival Repl) 
to Dr. Buckley Charges by the Editor of the Christian Advocate-^ 
The Tidings of Christianity In what the Message of Grief Consists- 
Fear and Flame An Everlasting Siberia Dr. Buckley's Proposal to 
Boycott the Telegram Reply to Rev. J. M. King and Rev. Thomas 
Dixon, Jr. Can a Day be Blasphemed ? Hurting Christian feelings 
"For Revenue only" What is Blasphemy ? Balaam's Ass wiser 
than the Prophet The Universalists Can God do Nothing for this 
World? The Universe a Blunder if Christianity is true The Duty of 
a Newspaper Facts Not Sectarian The Rev. Mr. Peters What In 
fidelity Has Done Public School System not Christian Orthodox 
Universities Bruno on Oxford As to Public Morals No Rewards 
or Punishments in the Universe The Atonement Immoral As to 
Sciences and Art Bruno, Humboldt, Darwin Scientific Writers 
Opposed by the Church As to the Liberation of Slaves As to the 
Reclamation of Inebriates Rum and Religion The Humanity of 
Infidelity What Infidelity says to the Dying The Battle Continued 
Morality not Assailed by an Attack on Christianity The Inquisition 
and Religious Persecution Human Nature Derided by Christianity 
Dr. DaCosta "Human Brotherhood " as exemplified by the His 
tory of the Church The Church and Science, Art and Learning 
Astronomy's Revenge Galileo and Kepler Mrs. Browning : 
Science Thrust into the Brain of Europe Our Numerals Christianity 
and Literature Institution* of Learning Stephen Girard Tames 
Lick Our Chronology Hhrtorians Natural Philosophy Philology 
Metaphysical Research latelligence, Hindoo, Egyptian Inven 
tions John Ericsson Emancipators Rev. Mr. Ballou The Right 
of God to Punish Rev. Dr. Hillier Rev. Mr. Haldeman George A. 
Locey The " Great Physican " Rev. Mr. Talmage Rev. J.Benson 
Hamilton How Voltaire Died The Death-bed of Thomas Paine 
Rev. Mr. Holloway Original Sin Rev. Dr. Tyler The Good Samar 
itan a Heathen Hospitals and Asylums Christian Treatment of the 
Insane Rev. Dr. Buckley The North American Review Discussion 
Judge Black, Dr. Field, Mr.Gladstone Circulation of Obscene 
Literature Eulogy of Whiskey Eulogy of Tobacco Human Stu 
pidity that Defies the Gods Rev. Charles Deems Jesus a Believer 
in a Personal Devil The Man Christ, .... 263-355 

VOL. vii. 



vi CONTENTS. 

SUICIDE OF JUDGE NORMILE. 

(1892.) 

Reply to the Western Watchman Henry D'Arcy Peter's Prevari 
cation Some Excellant Pagans - Heartlessness of a Catholic Wishes 
do not Affect the Judgment Devout Robbers Penitent Murderers 
Reverential Drunkards Luther's Distich Judge Normile Self- 
destruction, 359-371 

IS SUICIDE A SIN ? 

(1894.) 

Col. Ingersoll's First Letter in The New York World Under what 
Circumstances a Man has the Right to take his Own Life Medicine 
and the Decrees of God Case of the Betrayed Girl Suicides not 
Cowards Suicide under Roman Law Many Suicides Insane Insan 
ity Caused by Religion The Law against Suicide Cruel and Idiotic- 
Natural and Sufficient Cause for Self-destructionChrist's Death a 
Suicide Col. Ingersoll's Reply to his Critics Is Suffering the Work 
of God? It is not Man's Duty to Endure Hopeless Suffering When 
Suicide is Justifiable The Inquisition Alleged Cowardice ofSuicides 
Propositions Demonstrated Suicide the Foundation of the Christian 
Religion Redemption and Atonement The Clergy on Infidelity 
and Suicide Morality and Unbelief Better injure yourself than 
Another Misquotation by Opponents Cheerful View the Best The 
Wonder is that Men endure Suicide a Sin (Interview in The New 
York Journal) Causes of Suicide Col. Ingersoll Does Not Advise 
Suicide Suicides with Tracts or Bibles in their Pockets Suicide a 
Sin (Interview in The New York Herald) Comments on Rev. Merle 
St. Croix Wright's Sermon Suicide and Sanity (Interview in The 
York World) As to the Cowardice of Suicide Germany and the 
Prevalence of Suicide Killing of Idiots and Defective Infants Vir 
tue, Morality, and Religion, 375-423 

IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT? 

(1891.) 

Reply to General Rush Hawkins' Article, " Brutality and Avarice 
Triumphant" Croakers and Prophets of Evil Medical Treatment 
for Believers in Universal Evil Alleged Fraud in Army Contracts 
Congressional Extravagance Railroad "Wreckers" How Stock 
holders in Some Roads Lost Their Money The Star-Route Trials 
Timber and Public Lands Watering Stock The Formation of Trusts 
Unsafe Hotels : European Game and Singing Birds Seal Fish 
eries Cruelty to Animals Our Indians Sensible and Manly Patriot 
ism Days of Brutality Defence of Slavery by the Websters, Bentons, 
and Clays Thirty Years' Accomplishment Ennobling Influence of 
War for the Right The Lady and the Brakeman American Esteem 
of Honesty in Business Republics do not Tend to Official Corruption 
This the Best Country in the World, .... 425-447 

VOL. vn. 



CONTENTS. Vil 

A REPLY TO THE CINCINNATI GAZETTE AND 

CATHOLIC TELEGRAPH. 

(1878.) 

Defence of the Lecture on Moses How Biblical Miracles are 
sought to be Proved Some Non Sequiturs A Grammatical Criticism 
Christianity Destructive of Manners Cuvier and Agassiz on Mosaic 
Cosmogony Clerical Advance vgents Christian Threats and Warn 
ings Catholicism the Upas Tree Hebrew Scholarship as a Qualifi 
cation for Deciding Probab ities Contradictions and Mistranslations 
of the Bible Number of Errors in the Scriptures The Sunday 
Question 451-462 

AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 

(1881.) 

Charged with Blasphemy in the State of Delaware Can a Condi- 
tionless Deity be Injured ? Injustice the only Blasphemy The Lec 
ture in Delaware Laws of that State All Sects in turn Charged with 
Blasphemy Heresy Consists in making God Better than he is Thought 
to Be A Fatal Biblical Passage Judge Comegys Wilmington 
Preachers States with Laws against Blasphemy No Danger of In 
fidel Mobs No Attack on the State of Delaware Contemplated 
Comegys a Resurrection Grand Jury's Refusal to Indict Advice 
about the Cutting out of Heretics' Tongues Objections to the 
Whipping-post Mr. Bergh's Bill One Remedy for Wife-beating 

465-490 

A REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 

(1888.) 

Solemnity Charged with Being Insincere Irreverence Old Test 
ament Better than the New" Why Hurt our Feelings?" Involun 
tary Action of the Brain Source of our Conceptions of Space Good 
and Bad Right and Wrong The Minister, the Horse and the Lord's 
Prayer Men Responsible for their Actions The " Gradual " Theory 
Not Applicable to the Omniscient Prayer Powerless to Alter Re 
sults Religious Persecution Orthodox Ministers Made Ashamed 
of their Creed Purgatory Infidelity and Baptism Contrasted 
Modern Conception of the Universe The Golden Bridge of Life 
"The Only Salutation" The Test for Admission to Heaven 
"Scurrility." 493-5*7 

A REPLY TO REV. JOHN HALL AND WARNER VAN NORDEN. 

(189S.) 

Dr. Hall has no Time to Discuss the subject of Starving Workers 
Cloakmakers' Strike Warner Van Norden of the Church Extension 
Society The Uncharitableness of Organized Charity Defence of the 
Cloakmakers Life of the Underpaid On the Assertion that Assist 
ance encourages Idleness and Crime The Man without Pity an In 
tellectual Beast Tendency of Prosperity to Breed Selfishness - 
Thousands Idle without Fault Egotism of Riches Van Norden's 

Idea of Happiness The Worthy Poor 521-531 

VOL. vii 



Vlll CONTENTS. 

A REPLY TO THE REV. Dr. PLUMB. 

(1898.) 

Interview in a Boston Paper Why should a Minister call this a 
" Poor" World? Would an Infinite God make People who Need a 
Redeemer? Gospel Gossip Christ's Sayings Repetitions The Phil 
osophy of Confucius Rev. Mr. Mills The Charge of " Robbery " 
The Divine Plan ... 535*545 

A REPLY TO THE NEW YORK CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 

(1898.) 

Interview in the New York Journal Rev. Roberts. MacArthur A 
Personal Devil Devils who held Conversations with Christ not simply 
personifications of Evil The Temptation The "Man of Straw" 
Christ's Mission authenticated by the Casting Out of Devils Spain 
God Responsible for the Actions of Man Rev. Dr. J. Lewis Parks 
Rev. Dr. E. F. Moldehnke-^Patience amidst the Misfortunes of 
Others Yellow Fever as a Divine Agent The Doctrine that All is 
for the Best Rev. Mr. Hamlin Why Did God Create a Successful 
Rival ? A Compliment by the Rev. Mr. Belcher Rev. W. C. Bu 
chanan No Argument Old until it is Answered Why should God 
Create sentient Beings to be Damned ? Rev. J. W. Campbell Rev. 
Henry Frank Rev. E. C. J. Kraelingon Christ and the Devil Would 
he make a World like This ? ... 549-572 

VOL. TII. 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED.* 
i. 

AGAINST the aspersions of the pulpit and the 
religious press, I offer in evidence this mag 
nificent audience. Although I represent but a small 
part of the holy cause of intellectual liberty, even that 
part shall not be defiled or smirched by a single 
personality. Whatever I say, I shall say because I 
believe it will tend to make this world grander, man 
nearer just, the father kinder, the mother more lov 
ing, the children more affectionate, and because I be 
lieve it will make an additional flower bloom in the 
pathway of every one who hears me. 

In the first place, what have I said ? What has 
been my offence ? What have I done ? I am spoken 
of by the clergy as though I were a wolf that in the 
absence of the good shepherd had fattened upon his 
innocent flock. What have I said ? 

I delivered a lecture entitled, "The Liberty of 
Man, Woman and Child." In that lecture I said that 

This lecture was delivered by Col. Ingersoll in San Francisco Cal., June 27, 1877. 
It was a reply to various clergymen of that city, who had made violent attacks 
upon him after the delivery of his lectures, ' ' The Liberty of Man, Woman and 

Child," and "The Ghosts." .... 

(ot 



6 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

man was entitled to physical and intellectual liberty. 
I defined physical liberty to be the right to do right ; 
the right to do anything that did not interfere with 
the real happiness of others. I defined intellectual 
liberty to be the right to think right, and the right 
to think wrong provided you did your best to think 
right. 

This must be so, because thought is only an in 
strumentality by which we seek to ascertain the 
truth. Every man has the right to think, whether 
his thought is in reality right or wrong ; and he can 
not be accountable to any being for thinking wrong. 
There is upon man, so far as thought is concerned, 
the obligation to think the best he can, and to hon 
estly express his best thought. Whenever he finds 
what is right, or what he honestly believes to be the 
right, he is less than a man if he fears to express his 
conviction before an assembled world. 

The right to do right is my definition of physical 
liberty. " The right of one human being ceases 
where the right of another commences." My defini 
tion of intellectual liberty is, the right to think, 
whether you think right or wrong, provided you do 
your best to think right. 

I believe in Liberty, Fraternity and Equality the 
Blessed Trinity of Humanity. 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 7 

I believe in Observation, Reason and Experience 
the Blessed Trinity of Science. 

I believe in Man, Woman and Child the Blessed 
Trinity of Life and Joy. 

I have said, and still say, that you have no right to 
endeavor by force to compel another to think your 
way that man has no right to compel his fellow- 
man to adopt his creed, by torture or social ostracism. 
I have said, and still say, that even an infinite 
God has and can have no right to compel by force 
or threats even the meanest of mankind to accept a 
dogma abhorrent to his mind. As a matter of fact such 
a power is incapable of being exercised. You may 
compel a man to say that he has changed his mind. 
You may force him to say that he agrees with 
you. In this way, however, you make hypocrites, 
not converts. Is it possible that a god wishes the 
worship of a slave ? Does a god desire the homage 
of a coward ? Does he really long for the adoration 
of a hypocrite ? Is it possible that he requires the 
worship of one who dare not think ? If I were a god 
it seems to me that I had rather have the esteem and 
love of one grand, brave man, with plenty of heart 
and plenty of brain, than the blind worship, the ig 
norant adoration, the trembling homage of a universe 
of men afraid to reason. And yet I am warned by 



8 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

the orthodox guardians of this great city not to 
think. I am told that I am in danger of hell ; that 
for me to express my honest convictions is to excite 
the wrath of God. They inform me that unless I 
believe in a certain way, meaning their way, I am 
in danger of everlasting fire. 

There was a time when these threats whitened the 
faces of men with fear. That time has substantially 
passed away. For a hundred years hell has been 
gradually growing cool, the flames have been slowly 
dying out, the brimstone is nearly exhausted, the 
fires have been burning lower and lower, and the 
climate gradually changing. To such an extent has 
the change already been effected that if I were going 
there to-night I would take an overcoat and a box 
of matches. 

They say that the eternal future of man depends 
upon his belief. I deny it. A conclusion honestly 
arrived at by the brain cannot possibly be a crime ; 
and the man who says it is, does not think so. The 
god who punishes it as a crime is simply an infamous 
tyrant. As for me, I would a thousand times rather 
go to perdition and suffer its torments with the 
brave, grand thinkers of the world, than go to 
heaven and keep the company of a god who would 
damn his children for an honest belief. 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 9 

The next thing I have said is, that woman is the 
equal of man ; that she has every right that man 
has, and one more the right to be protected, 
because she is the weaker. I have said that mar 
riage should be an absolutely perfect partnership of 
body and soul ; that a man should treat his wife like 
a splendid flower, and that she should fill his life 
with perfume and with joy. I have said that a 
husband had no right to be morose ; that he had no 
right to assassinate the sunshine and murder the 
joy of life. 

I have said that when he went home he should go 
like a ray of light, and fill his house so full of joy that 
it would burst out of the doors and windows and 
illumine even the darkness of night. I said that 
marriage was the holiest, highest, the most sacred 
institution among men ; that it took millions of 
years for woman to advance from the condition of 
absolute servitude, from the absolute slavery where 
the Bible found her and left her, up to the position 
she occupies at present. I have pleaded for the 
rights of woman, for the rights of wives, and what 
is more, for the rights of little children. I have 
said that they could be governed by affection, by 
love, and that my heart went out to all the children 
of poverty and of crime ; to the children that live in 



IO MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

the narrow streets and in the sub-cellars ; to the 
children that run and hide when they hear the foot 
steps of a brutal father, the children that grow pale 
when they hear their names pronounced even by a 
mother ; to all the little children, the flotsam and 
jetsam upon the wide, rude sea of life. I have said 
that my heart goes out to them one and all ; I have 
asked fathers and mothers to cease beating their 
own flesh and blood. I have said to them, When 
your child does wrong, put your arms around him ; 
let him feel your heart beat against his. It is easier 
to control your child with a kiss than with a club. 

For expressing these sentiments, I have been 
denounced by the religious press and by ministers 
in their pulpits as a demon, as an enemy of order, 
as a fiend, as an infamous man. Of this, however, 
I make no complaint. A few years ago they would 
have burned me at the stake and I should have been 
compelled to look upon their hypocritical faces 
through flame and smoke. They cannot do it now 
or they would. One hundred years ago I would 
have been burned, simply for pleading for the rights 
of men. Fifty years ago I would have been im 
prisoned. Fifty years ago my wife and my children 
would have been torn from my arms in the name of 
the most merciful God. Twenty-five years ago I 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. II 

could not have made a living in the United States 
at the practice of law ; but I can now. I would not 
then have been allowed to express my thought ; 
but I can now, and I will. And when I think about 
the liberty I now enjoy, the whole horizon is illumin 
ated with glory and the air is rilled with wings. 

I then delivered another lecture entitled " Ghosts," 
in which I sought to show that man had been con 
trolled by phantoms of his own imagination ; in 
which I sought to show these imps of darkness, 
these devils, had all been produced by supersti 
tion ; in which I endeavored to prove that man had 
groveled in the dust before monsters of his own 
creation ; in which I endeavored to demonstrate 
that the many had delved in the soil that the few 
might live in idleness, that the many had lived in 
caves and dens that the few might dwell in palaces 
of gold ; in which I endeavored to show that man 
had received nothing from these ghosts except 
hatred, except ignorance, except unhappiness, and 
that in the name of phantoms man had covered the 
face of the world with tears. And for this, I have 
been assailed, in the name, I presume, of universal 
forgiveness. So far as any argument I have pro 
duced is concerned, it cannot in any way make the 
slightest difference whether I am a good or a bad 



12 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

man. It cannot in any way make the slightest 
difference whether my personal character is good or 
bad. That is not the question, though, so far as I 
am concerned, I am willing to stake the whole 
question upon that issue. That is not, however, 
the thing to be discussed, nor the thing to be de 
cided. The question is, whether what I said is true. 

I did say that from ghosts we had obtained certain 
things among other things a book known as the 
Bible. From the ghosts we received that book ; 
and the believers in ghosts pretend that upon that 
book rests the doctrine of the immortality of the 
human soul. This I deny. 

Whether or not the soul is immortal is a fact in 
nature and cannot be changed by any book what 
ever. If I am immortal, I am. If I am not, no 
book can render me so. It is no mure wonderful 
that I should live again than that I do live. 

The doctrine of immortality is not based upon any 
book. The foundation of that idea is not a creed. 
The idea of immortality, which, like a sea, has ebbed 
and flowed in the human heart, beating with its 
countless waves of hope and fear against the shores 
and rocks of fate and time, was not born of any 
book, was not born of a creed. It is not the child 
of any religion. It was born of human affection ; 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 13 

and it will continue to ebb and flow beneath the 
mists and clouds of doubt and darkness as long as 
love kisses the lips of death. It is the eternal bow 
Hope shining upon the tears of Grief. 

I did say that these ghosts taught that human 
slavery was right. If there is a crime beneath the 
shining stars it is the crime of enslaving a human 
being. Slavery enslaves not only the slave, but the 
master as well. When you put a chain upon the 
limbs of another, you put a fetter also upon your 
own brain. I had rather be a slave than a slave 
holder. The slave can at least be just the slave 
holder cannot. I had rather be robbed than be a 
robber. I had rather be stolen from than to be a 
thief. I have said, and I do say, that the Bible 
upheld, sustained and sanctioned the institution of 
human slavery ; and before I get through I will 
prove it. 

I said that to the same book we are indebted, to a 
great degree, for the doctrine of witchcraft. Rely 
ing upon its supposed sacred texts, people were 
hanged and their bodies burned for getting up 
storms at sea with the intent of drowning royal 
vermin. Every possible offence was punished under 
the name of witchcraft, from souring beer to high 
treason. 



14 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

I also said, and I still say, that the book we ob 
tained from the ghosts, for the guidance of man, 
upheld the infamy of infamies, called polygamy ; 
and I will also prove that. And the same book 
teaches, not political liberty, but political tyranny. 

I also said that the author of the book given us 
by the ghosts knew nothing about astronomy, still 
less about geology, still less, if possible, about 
medicine, and still less about legislation. 

This is what I have said concerning the aristocracy 
of the air. I am well aware that having said it I 
ought to be able to prove the truth of my words. 
I have said these things. No one ever said them 
in better nature than I have. I have not the 
slightest malice a victor never felt malice. As 
soon as I had said these things, various gentlemen 
felt called upon to answer me. I want to say that 
if there is anything I like in the world it is fairness. 
And one reason I like it so well is that I have had 
so little of it. I can say, if I wish, extremely mean 
and hateful things. I have read a great many 
religious papers and discussions and think that I 
now know all the infamous words in our language. 
I know how to account for every noble action by a 
mean and wretched motive, and that, in my judg 
ment, embraces nearly the entire science of modern 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 15 

theology. The moment I delivered a lecture upon 
" The Liberty of Man, Woman and Child," I was 
charged with having said that there is nothing back 
of nature, and that nature with its infinite arms 
embraces everything ; and thereupon I was informed 
that I believed in nothing but matter and force, that 
I believed only in earth, that I did not believe in 
spirit. If by spirit you mean that which thinks, 
then I am a believer in spirit. If you mean by 
spirit the something that says " I," the something 
that reasons, hopes, loves and aspires, then I am a 
believer in spirit. Whatever spirit there is in the 
universe must be a natural thing, and not super 
imposed upon nature. All that I can say is, that 
whatever is, is natural. And there is as much 
goodness, in my judgment, as much spirit in this 
world as in any other ; and you are just as near the 
heart of the universe here as you can be anywhere. 
One of your clergymen says in answer, as he sup 
poses, to me, that there is matter and force and 
spirit. Well, can matter exist without force ? 
What would keep it together ? What would keep 
the finest possible conceivable atom together unless 
there was force ? Can you imagine such a thing as 
matter without force ? Can you conceive of force 
without matter ? Can you conceive of force floating 



1 6 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

about attached to nothing ? Can you possibly con 
ceive of this ? No human being can conceive of 
force without matter. " You cannot conceive of 
force being harnessed or hitched to matter as you 
would hitch horses to a carriage." You cannot. 
Now, what is spirit ? They say spirit is the first 
thing that was. It seems to me, however, as though 
spirit was the blossom, the fruit of all, not the com 
mencement. They say it was first. Very well. 
Spirit without force, a spirit without any matter 
what would that spirit do ? No force, no matter ! 
a spirit living in an infinite vacuum. What would 
such a spirit turn its particular attention to ? This 
spirit, according to these theologians, created the 
world, the universe ; and if it did, there must have 
been a time when it commenced to create ; and 
back of that there must have been an eternity spent 
in absolute idleness. Now, is it possible that a 
spirit existed during an eternity without any force 
and without any matter? Is it possible that force 
could exist without matter or spirit ? Is it possible 
that matter could exist alone, if by matter you mean 
something without force ? The only answer I can 
give to all these questions is, I do not know. For 
my part, I do not know what spirit is, if there is any. 
I do not know what matter is, neither am I ac- 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 1 7 

quainted with the elements of force. If you mean 
by matter that which I can touch, that which occu 
pies space, then I believe in matter. If you mean 
by force anything that can overcome weight, that 
can overcome what we call gravity or inertia ; if you 
mean by force that which moves the molecules of 
matter, or the movement itself, then I believe in 
force. If you mean by spirit that which thinks and 
loves, then I believe in spirit. There is, however, 
no propriety in wasting any time about the science 
of metaphysics. I will give you my definition of 
metaphysics : Two fools get together ; each admits 
what neither can prove, and thereupon both of them 
say, " hence we infer." That is all there is of meta 
physics. 

These gentlemen, however, say to me that all my 
doctrine about the treatment of wives and children, 
all my ideas of the rights of man, all these are wrong, 
because I am not exactly correct as to my notion 01 
spirit. They say that spirit existed first, at least an 
eternity before there was any force or any matten 
Exactly how spirit could act without force we do not 
understand. That we must take upon credit. How 
spirit could create matter without force is a serious 
question, and we are too reverent to press such an 
inquiry. We are bound to be satisfied, however, that 



1 8 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

spirit is entirely independent offeree and matter, and 
any man who denies this must be " a malevolent 
and infamous wretch." 

Another reverend gentleman proceeds to denounce 
all I have said as the doctrine of negation. And we 
are informed by him speaking I presume from ex 
perience that negation is a poor thing to die by. 
He tells us that the last hours are the grand testing 
hours. They are the hours when atheists disown 
their principles and infidels bewail their folly " that 
Voltaire and Thomas Paine wrote sharply against 
Christianity, but their death-bed scenes are too har 
rowing for recital " He also states that " another 
French infidel philosopher tried in vain to fortify 
Voltaire, but that a stronger man than Voltaire had 
taken possession of him, and he cried ' Retire ! it is 
you that have brought me to my present state Be 
gone ! what a rich glory you have brought me.' " 
This, my friends, is the same old, old falsehood that 
has been repeated again and again by the lips of 
hatred and hypocrisy. There is not in one of these 
stories a solitary word of truth ; and every intelligent 
man knows all these death-bed accounts to be entirely 
and utterly false. They are taken, however, by the 
mass of the church as evidence that all opposition to 
Christianity, so-called, fills the bed of the dying in- 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 19 

fidel and scoffer with serpents and scorpions. So far 
as my experience goes, the bad die in many instances 
as placidly as the good. I have sometimes thought 
that a hardened wretch, upon whose memory is en 
graved the record of nearly every possible crime, dies 
without a shudder, without a tremor, while some 
grand, good man, remembering during his last mo 
ments an unkind word spoken to a stranger, it 
may be in the heat of anger, dies with remorseful 
words upon his lips. Nearly every murderer who is 
hanged,dies with an immensity of nerve, but I never 
thought it proved that he had lived a good and useful 
life. Neither have I imagined that it sanctified the 
crime for which he suffered death. The fact is, that 
when man approaches natural death, his powers, his 
intellectual faculties fail and grow dim. He becomes a 
child. He has less and less sense. And just in pro 
portion as he loses his reasoning powers, he goes back 
to the superstitions of his childhood. The scenes of 
youth cluster about him and he is again in the lap of his 
mother. Of this very fact, there is not a more beauti 
ful description than that given by Shakespeare when 
he takes that old mass of wit and filth, Jack Falstaff, 
in his arms, and Mrs Quickly says: " A' made a 
finer end, and went away, an it had been my christom 
child ; a' parted ev'n just between twelve and one, 



2O MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

ev'n at the turning o' the tide ; for after I saw him 
fumble with the sheets, and play with flowers, and 
smile upon his fingers' end, I knew there was but one 
way ; for his nose was as sharp as a pen, and a' 
babbled of green fields." As the genius of Shakes 
peare makes Falstaff a child again upon sunny slopes, 
decked with daisies, so death takes the dying back 
to the scenes of their childhood, and they are clasped 
once more to the breasts of mothers. They go back, 
for the reason that nearly every superstition in the 
world has been sanctified by some sweet and placid 
mother. Remember, the superstition has never 
sanctified the mother, but the mother has sanctified 
the superstition. The young Mohammedan, who 
now lies dying upon some field of battle, thinks sweet 
and tender thoughts of home and mother, and will, 
as the blood oozes from his veins, repeat some holy 
verse from the blessed Koran. Every superstition in 
the world that is now held sacredhas been made so by 
mothers, by fathers, by the recollections of home. I 
know what it has cost the noble, the brave, the tender, 
to throw away every superstition, although sanctified 
by the memory of those they loved. Whoever has 
thrown away these superstitions has been pursued by 
his fellow-men. From the day of the death of Vol 
taire the church has pursued him as though he had 



MV REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 21 

been the vilest criminal. A little over one hundred 
years ago, Catholicism, the inventor of instruments of 
torture, red with the innocent blood of millions, felt 
in its heartless breast the dagger of Voltaire. From 
that blow the Catholic Church never can recover. 
Livid with hatred she launched at her assassin the 
curse of Rome, and ignorant Protestants have echoed 
that curse. For myself, I like Voltaire, and when 
ever I think of that name, it is to me as a plume 
floating above some grand knight a knight who 
rides to a walled city and demands an unconditional 
surrender. I like him. He was once impri? jned in the 
Bastile, and while in that frightful fortress and I like 
to tell it he changed his name. His name was Fran 
cois Marie Arouet. In his gloomy cell he changed this 
name to Voltaire, and when some sixty years after 
ward the Bastile was torn down to the very dust, 
" Voltaire " was the battle cry of the destroyers who 
did it. I like him because he did more for religious 
toleration than any other man who ever lived or 
died. I admire him because he did more to do away 
with torture in civil proceedings than any other man. 
I like him because he was always upon the side of 
justice, upon the side of progress. I like him in 
spite of his faults, because he had many and splendid 
virtues. I like him because his doctrines have never 



22 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

brought unhappiness to any country. I like him be 
cause he hated tyranny ; and when he died he died as 
serenely as ever mortal died; he spoke to his servant 
recognizing him as a man. He said to him, calling 
him by name : " My friend, farewell." These 
were the last words of Voltaire. And this was the 
only frightful scene enacted at his bed of death. I 
like Voltaire, because for half a century he was the 
intellectual emperor of Europe. I like him, because 
from his throne at the foot of the Alps he pointed 
the finger of scorn at every hypocrite in Christen 
dom. 

I will give to any clergyman in the city of San 
Francisco a thousand dollars in gold to substantiate 
the story that the death of Voltaire was not as 
peaceful as the coming of the dawn. The same 
absurd story is told of Thomas Paine. Thomas 
Paine was a patriot he was the first man in the 
world to write these words : " THE FREE AND INDE 
PENDENT STATES OF AMERICA." He was the first 
man to convince the American people that they 
ought to separate themselves from Great Britain. 
" His pen did as much, to say the least, for the liberty 
of America, as the sword of Washington." The 
men who have enjoyed the benefit of his heroic serv 
ices repay them with slander and calumny. If 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 23 

there is in this world a crime, ingratitude is a crime. 
And as for myself, I am not willing to receive any 
thing from any man without making at least an 
acknowledgment of my obligation. Yet these clergy 
men, whose very right to stand in their pulpits and 
preach, was secured to them by such men as Thomas 
Paine, delight in slandering the reputation of that 
great man. They tell their hearers that he died in 
fear, that he died in agony, hearing devils rattle 
chains, and that the infinite God condescended to 
frighten a dying man. I will give one thousand 
dollars in gold to any clergyman in San Francisco 
who will substantiate the truth of the absurd stories 
concerning the death of Thomas Paine. There is 
not one word of truth in these accounts ; not one 
word. 

Let me ask one thing, and let me ask it, if you 
please, in what is called a reverent spirit. Suppose 
that Voltaire and Thomas Paine, and Volney and 
Hume and Hobbes had cried out when dying " My 
God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? " what 
would the clergymen of this city then have said? 

To resort to these foolish calumnies about the great 
men who have opposed the superstitions of the 
world, is in my judgment, unbecoming any intelli 
gent man. The real question is not, who is afraid to 



24 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

die ? The question is, who is right ? The great ques 
tion is not, who died right, but who lived right? 
There is infinitely more responsibility in living than 
in dying. The moment of death is the most unim 
portant moment of life. Nothing can be done then. 
You cannot even do a favor for a friend, except to 
remember him in your will. It is a moment when 
life ceases to be of value. While living, while you 
have health and strength, you can augment the hap 
piness of your fellow-men ; and the man who has 
made others happy need not be afraid to die. 
Yet these believers, as they call themselves, these 
believers who hope for immortality thousands of 
them, will rob their neighbors, thousands of them 
will do numberless acts of injustice, when, accord 
ing to their belief, the witnesses of their infamy 
will live forever ; and the men whom they have 
injured and outraged, will meet them in every glit 
tering star through all the ages yet to be. 

As for me, I would rather do a generous action, 
and read the record in the grateful faces of my 
fellow-men. 

These gentlemen who attack me are orthodox 
now, but the men who started their churches were 
heretics. 

The first Presbyterian was a heretic. The first 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 25 

Baptist was a heretic. The first Congregationalist 
was a heretic. The first Christian was denounced as 
a blasphemer. And yet these heretics, the moment 
they get numerous enough to be in the majority 
in some locality, begin to call themselves orthodox. 
Can there be any impudence beyond this ? 

The first Baptist, as I said before, was a heretic ; 
and he was the best Baptist that I have ever heard 
anything about. I always liked him. He was a 
good man Roger Williams. He was the first man, 
so far as I know, in this country, who publicly said 
that the soul of man should be free. And it was a 
wonder to me that a man who had sense enough to 
say that, could think that any particular form of bap 
tism was necessary to salvation. It does strike me 
that a man of great brain and thought could not 
possibly think the eternal welfare of a human being, 
the question whether he should dwell with angels, 
or be tossed upon eternal waves of fire, should be 
settled by the manner in which he had been baptized. 
That seems, to me so utterly destitute of thought 
and heart, that it is a matter of amazement to 
me that any man ever looked upon the ordinance 
of baptism as of any importance whatever. If we 
were at the judgment seat to-night, and the Supreme 
Being, in our hearing, should ask a man : 



26 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

" Have you been a good man ? " and the man 
replied : 

" Tolerably good." 

" Did you love your wife and children ? " 

" Yes." 

" Did you try and make them happy? " 

" Yes." 

" Did you try and make your neighbors happy? " 

" Yes, I paid my debts : I gave heaping measure, 
and I never cared whether I was thanked for it 
or not." 

Suppose the Supreme Being then should say : 

" Were you ever baptized ? " and the man should 
reply : 

" I am sorry to say I never was." 

Could a solitary person of sense hear that question 
asked, by the Supreme Being, without laughing, even 
if he knew that his own case was to be called next ? 

I happened to be in the company of six or seven 
Baptist elders how I ever got into such bad com 
pany, I don't know, and one of them asked what I 
thought about baptism. Well, I never thought much 
about it ; did not know much about it ; didn't want 
to say anything, but they insisted upon it. I said, 
" Well, I'll give you my opinion with soap, baptism 
is a good thing." 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 2? 

The Reverend Mr. Guard has answered me, as I 
am informed, upon several occasions. I have read 
the reports of his remarks, and have boiled them 
down. He said some things about me not entirely 
pleasant, which I do not wish to repeat. In his 
reply he takes the ground : 

First. That the Bible is not an immoral book, 
because he swore upon it or by it when he joined 
the Masons. 

Second. He excuses Solomon for all his crimes 
upon the supposition that he had softening of the 
brain, or a fatty degeneration of the heart. 

Third. That the Hebrews had the right to slay all 
the inhabitants of Canaan, according to the doctrine 
of the " survival of the fittest." He takes the 
ground that the destruction of these Canaanites, the 
ripping open of women with child by the sword of 
war, was an act of sublime mercy. He justifies a 
war of extermination; he applauds every act of 
cruelty and murder. He says that the Canaanites 
ought to have been turned from their homes ; that 
men guilty of no crime except fighting for their 
country, old men with gray hairs, old mothers and 
little, dimpled, prattling children, ought to have been 
sacrificed upon the altar of war ; that it was an act 
of sublime mercy to plunge the sword of religious 



28 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

persecution into the bodies of all, old and young-. 
This is what the reverend gentleman is pleased to 
call mercy. If this is mercy let us have injustice. If 
there is in the heavens such a God I am sorry that 
man exists. All this, however, is justified upon the 
ground that God has the right to do as he pleases 
with the being he has created. This I deny. Such 
a doctrine is infamously false. Suppose I could take 
a stone and in one moment change it into a sentient, 
hoping, loving human being, would I have the right 
to torture it ? Would I have the right to give it 
pain ? No one but a fiend would either exercise or 
justify such a right. Even if there is a God who 
created us all he has no such right. Above any God 
that can exist, in the infinite serenity forever sits the 
figure of justice ; and this God, no matter how great 
and infinite he may be, is bound to do justice. 

Fourth. That God chose the Jews and governed 
them personally for thousands of years, and drove 
out the Canaanites in order that his peculiar people 
might not be corrupted by the example of idolaters ; 
that he wished to make of the Hebrews a great 
nation, and that, consequently, he was justified in 
destroying the original inhabitants of that country. 
It seems to me that the end hardly justified the 
means. According to the account, God governed 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 29 

the Jews personally for many ages and succeeded in 
civilizing them to that degree, that they crucified 
him the first opportunity they had. Such an ad 
ministration can hardly be called a success. 

Fifth. The reverend gentleman seems to think that 
the practice of polygamy after all is not a bad thing 
when compared with the crime of exhibiting a 
picture of Antony and Cleopatra. Upon the cor 
rupting influence of such pictures he descants at great 
length, and attacks with all the bitterness of the 
narrow theologian the masterpieces of art. Allow 
me to say one word about art. That is one of the 
most beautiful words in our language Art. And 
it never seemed to me necessary for art to go in 
partnership with a rag. I like the paintings of 
Angelo, of Raffaelle. I like the productions of those 
splendid souls that put their ideas of beauty upon 
the canvas uncovered. 

" There are brave souls in every land 

Who worship nature, grand and nude, 
And who with swift indignant hand 
Tear off the fig leaves of the prude." 

Sixth. That it may be true that the Bible sanctions 
slavery, but that it is not an immoral book even if it 
does. 

I can account for these statements, for these argu- 



3O MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

ments, only as the reverend gentleman has accounted 
for the sins of Solomon " by a softening of the 
brain, or a fatty degeneration of the heart." 

It does seem to me that if I were a Christian, and 
really thought my fellow-man was going down to 
the bottomless pit ; that he was going to misery and 
agony forever, it does seem to me that I would try 
and save him. It does seem to me, that instead of 
having my mouth filled with epithets and invectives ; 
instead of drawing the lips of malice back from the 
teeth of hatred, it seems to me that my eyes would 
be filled with tears. It seems to me that I would do 
what little I could to reclaim him. I would talk to 
him and of him, in kindness. I would put the arms 
of affection about him. I would not speak of him as 
though he were a wild beast. I would not speak to 
him as though he were a brute. I would think of 
him as a man, as a man liable to eternal torture 
among the damned, and my heart would be filled 
with sympathy, not hatred my eyes with tears, not 
scorn. 

If there is anything pitiable, it is to see a man so 
narrowed and withered by the blight and breath of 
superstition, as cheerfully to defend the most fright 
ful crimes of which we have a record a man so 
hardened and petrified by creed and dogma that he 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 31 

hesitates not to defend even the institution of human 
slavery so lost to all sense of pity that he applauds 
murder and rapine as though they were acts of the 
loftiest self-denial. 

The next gentleman who has endeavored to 
answer what I have said, is the Rev. Samuel 
Robinson. This he has done in his sermon entitled 
" Ghosts against God or Ingersoll against Honesty." 
I presume he imagines himself to be the defendant 
in both cases. 

This gentleman apologized for attending an infidel 
lecture, upon the ground that he had to contribute to 
the support of a " materialistic demon." To say the 
least, this is not charitable. But I am satisfied. I 
am willing to exchange facts for epithets. I fare so 
much better than did the infidels in the olden time 
that I am more than satisfied. It is a little thing 
that I bear. 

The brave men of the past endured the instru 
ments of torture. They were stretched upon 
racks ; their feet were crushed in iron boots ; they 
stood upon the shores of exile and gazed with 
tearful eyes toward home and native land. They 
were taken from their firesides, from their wives, 
from their children ; they were taken to the public 
square ; they were chained to stakes, and their ashes 



32 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

were scattered by the countless hands of hatred, I 
am satisfied. The disciples of fear cannot touch me. 

This gentlemen hated to contribute a cent to the 
support of a " materialistic demon." When I saw 
that statement I will tell you what I did. I knew 
the man's conscience must be writhing in his bosom 
to think that he had contributed a dollar toward 
my support, toward the support of a " materialistic 
demon." I wrote him a letter and I said : 

" My Dear Sir : In order to relieve your con 
science of the crime of having contributed to the 
support of an unbeliever in ghosts,! hereby enclose 
the amount you paid to attend my lecture." I then 
gave him a little good advice. I advised him to be 
charitable, to be kind, and regretted exceedingly 
that any man could listen to one of my talks for an 
hour and a half and not go away satisfied that all 
men had the same right to think. 

This man denied having received the money, 
but it was traced to him through a blot on the 
envelope. 

This gentleman avers that everything that I said 
about persecution is applicable to the Catholic Church 
only. That is what he says. The Catholics have 
probably persecuted more than any other church, 
simply because that church has had more power, 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 33 

simply because it has been more of a church. It 
has to-day a better organization, and as a rule, the 
Catholics come nearer believing what they say 
about their church than otherChristians do. Was it 
a Catholic persecution that drove the Puritan fathers 
from England ? Was it not the storm of Episcopal 
persecution that filled the sails of the Mayflower ? 
Was it not a Protestant persecution that drove the 
Ark and Dove to America? Let us be honest. 
Who went to Scotland and persecuted the Presby 
terians ? Who was it that chained to the stake that 
splendid girl by the sands of the sea, for not saying 
" God save the king " ? She was worthy to have 
been the mother of Caesar. She would not say 
" God save the king," but she would say " God 
save the king, if it be God's will." Protestants 
ordered her to say " God save the king," and no 
more. She said, " I will not," and they chained 
her to a stake in the sand and allowed her to be 
drowned by the rising of the inexorable tide. Who 
did this ? Protestants. Who drove Roger Williams 
from Massachusetts ? Protestants. Who sold white 
Quaker children into slavery? Protestants. Who 
cut out the tongues of Quakers ? Who burned and 
destroyed men and women and children charged 
with impossible crimes ? Protestants. The Protes- 



34 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

tants have persecuted exactly to the extent of their 
power. The Catholics have done the same. 

I want, however, to be just. The first people to 
pass an act of religious toleration in the New 
World were the Catholics of Maryland. The next 
were the Baptists of Rhode Island, led by Roger 
Williams. The Catholics passed the act of religious 
toleration, and after the Protestants got into power 
again in England, and also in the colony of Mary 
land, they repealed the law of toleration and passed 
another law declaring the Catholics from under the 
protection of all law. Afterward, the Catholics 
again got into power and had the generosity and 
magnanimity to re-enact the old law. And, so far 
as I know, it is the only good record upon the 
subject of religious toleration the Catholics have in 
this world, and I am always willing to give them 
credit for it. 

This gentleman also says that infidelity has done 
nothing for the world in the development of the arts 
and sciences. Does he not know that nearly every 
man who took a forward step was denounced by the 
church as a heretic and infidel ? Does he not know 
that the church has in all ages persecuted the 
astronomers, the geologists, the logicians ? Does 
he not know that even to-dav the church slanders 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 35 

and maligns the foremost men ? Has he ever 
heard of Tyndall, of Huxley ? Is he acquainted with 
John W. Draper, one of the leading minds of the 
world ? Did he ever hear of Auguste Comte, the 
great Frenchman ? Did he ever hear of Descartes, 
of Laplace, of Spinoza ? In short, has he ever 
heard of a man who took a step in advance of his 
time? 

Orthodoxy never advances. When it advances, 
it ceases to be orthodoxy and becomes heresy. 
Orthodoxy is putrefaction. It is intellectual cloaca ; 
it cannot advance. What the church calls infidelity 
is simply free thought. Every man who really 
owns his own brain is, in the estimation of the 
church, an infidel. 

There is a paper published in this city called The 
Occident. The Editor has seen fit to speak of me, 
and of the people who have assembled to hear me, in 
the lowest, vilest and most scurrilous terms possible. 
I cannot afford to reply in the same spirit. He 
alleges that the people who assemble to hear me 
are the low, the debauched and the infamous. The 
man who reads that paper ought to read it with 
tongs. It is a Presbyterian sheet ; and would gladly 
treat me as John Calvin treated Castalio. Castalio 
was the first minister in the history of Christendom 



36 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

who acknowledged the innocence of honest error, 
and John Calvin followed him like a sleuth-hound of 
perdition. He called him a " dog of Satan ; " said 
that he had crucified Christ afresh ; and pursued 
him to the very grave. The editor of this paper is 
still warming his hands at the fire that burned 
Servetus. He has in his heart the same fierce 
hatred of everything that is free. But what right 
have we to expect anything good of a man who 
believes in the eternal damnation of infants ? 

There may have been sometime in the history of 
the world a worse religion than Old School Presby- 
terianism, but if there ever was, from cannibalism to 
civilization, I have never heard of it. 

I make a distinction between the members and 
the creed of that church. I know many who are 
a thousand times better than the creed good, warm 
and splendid friends of mine. I would do anything 
in the world for them. And I have said to them a 
hundred times, " You are a thousand times better 
than your creed." But when you come down to the 
doctrine of the damnation of infants, it is the de 
formity of deformities. The editor of this paper is 
engaged in giving the world the cheerful doctrines 
of fore -ordination and damnation those twin com 
forts of the Presbyterian creed, and warning them 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 37 

against the frightful effects of reasoning in any 
manner for themselves. He regards the intellectu 
ally free as the lowest, the vilest and the meanest, 
as men who wish to sin, as men who are longing to 
commit crime, men who are anxious to throw off all 
restraint. 

My friends, every chain thrown from the body 
puts an additional obligation upon the soul. Every 
man who is free, puts a responsibility upon his brain 
and upon his heart. You, who never want respons 
ibility, give your souls to some church. You, who 
never want the feeling that you are under obligation 
to yourselves, give your souls away. But if you are 
willing to feel and meet responsibility ; if you feel 
that you must give an account not only to yourselves 
but to every human being whom you injure, then 
you must be free. Where there is no freedom, there 
can be no responsibility. 

It is a mystery to me why the editors of religious 
papers are so malicious, why they endeavor to 
answer argument with calumny. Is it because they 
feel the sceptre slowly slipping from their hands ? 
Is it the result of impotent rage ? Is it because 
there is being written upon every orthodox brain a 
certificate of intellectual inferiority ? 

This same editor assures his readers that what I 



38 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

say is not worth answering, and yet he devotes col 
umn after column of his journal to that very purpose. 
He states that I am no speaker, no orator ; and upon 
the same page admits that he did not hear me, giv 
ing as a reason that he does not think it right to pay 
money for such a purpose. Recollect, that in a 
religious paper, a man who professes honesty, criti 
cises a statue or a painting, condemns it, and at the 
end of the criticism says that he never saw it. He 
criticises what he calls the oratory of a man, and at 
the end says, " I never heard him, and I never saw 
him." 

As a matter of fact, I have never heard of any 
of these gentlemen who thought it necessary to hear 
what any man said in order to answer him. 

The next gentleman who answered me is the Rev. 
Mr. Ijams. And I must say, so far as I can see, in 
his argument, or in his mode of treatment, he is a 
kind and considerate gentleman. He makes several 
mistakes as to what I really said, but the fault I 
suppose must have been in the report. I am made 
to say in the report of his sermon, " There is no 
sacred place in all the universe." What I did say 
was, " There is no sacred place in all the universe 
of thought. There is nothing too holy to be investi 
gated, nothing too divine to be understood. The 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 39 

fields of thought are fenceless, and without a wall." 
I say this to-night. 

Mr. Ijams also says that I had declared that man 
had not only the right to do right, but also the right 
to do wrong. What I really said was, man has the 
right to do right, and the right to think right, and 
the right to think wrong. Thought is a means of 
ascertaining truth, a mode by which we arrive at 
conclusions. And if no one has a right to think, 
unless he thinks right, he would only have the right 
to think upon self-evident propositions. In all re 
spects, with the exception of these misstatements to 
which I have called your attention, so far as I can 
see, Mr. Ijams was perfectly fair, and treated me as 
though I had the ordinary rights of a human being. 
I take this occasion to thank him. 

A great many papers, a great many people, a 
good many ministers and a multitude of men, have 
had their say, and have expressed themselves with 
the utmost freedom. I cannot reply to them all. I 
can only reply to those who have made a parade of 
answering me. Many have said it is not worth 
answering, and then proceeded to answer. They 
have said, he has produced no argument, and then 
have endeavored to refute it. They have said it is 
simply the old straw that has been thrashed over 



4O MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

and over again for years and years. If all I have 
said is nothing, if it is all idle and foolish, why do 
they take up the time of their fellow-men replying to 
me ? Why do they fill their religious papers with 
criticisms, if all I have said and done reminds them, 
according to the Rev. Mr. Guard, of " some little 
dog barking at a railway train " ? Why stop the 
train, why send for the directors, why hold a con 
sultation and finally say, we must settle with that 
dog or stop running these cars ? 

Probably the best way to answer them all, is to 
prove beyond cavil the truth of what I have said. 



DOES THE BIBLE TEACH MAN TO ENSLAVE 

His BROTHER? 

II. 

IF this " sacred " book teaches man to enslave his 
brother, it is not inspired. A god who would 
establish slavery is as cruel and heartless as any 
devil could be. 

" Moreover, of the children of the strangers that 
do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and 
of their families that are with you, which they begat 
in your land, and they shall be your possession. 

"And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your 
children after you, to inherit them for a possession. 
They shall be your bondmen forever. 

" Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which 
thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are 
round about you ; of them shall ye buy bondmen 
and bondmaids." Leviticus xxv. 

This is white slavery. This allows one white 
man to buy another, to buy a woman, to separate 
families and rob a mother of her child. This makes 

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42 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

the whip upon the naked backs of men and women 
a legal tender for labor performed. This is the 
kind of slavery established by the most merciful 
God. The reason given for all this, is, that the 
persons whom they enslaved were heathen. You 
may enslave them because they are not orthodox. 
If you can find anybody who does not believe in me, 
the God of the Jews, you may steal his wife from 
his arms, and her babe from the cradle. If you can 
find a woman that does not believe in the Hebrew 
Jehovah, you may steal her prattling child from her 
breast. Can any one conceive of anything more 
infamous? Can any one find in the literature of 
this world more frightful words ascribed even to a 
demon ? And all this is found in that most beautiful 
and poetic chapter known as the 25th of Leviticus 
from the Bible from this sacred gift of God this 
" Magna Charta of human freedom." 

2. " If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he 
shall serve ; and in the seventh he shall go out free 
for nothing. 

3. " If he came in by himself, he shall go out by 
himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go 
out with him. 

4. " If his master have given him a wife, and she 
hath borne him sons or daughters ; the wife and her 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 43 

children shall be her master's, and he shall go out 
by himself. 

5. " And if the servant shall plainly say, I love 
my master, my wife, and children ; I will not go out 
free : 

6. "Then his master shall bring him unto the 
judges : he shall also bring him to the door, or unto 
the door-post ; and his master shall bore his ear 
through with an awl ; and he shall serve him for 
ever." Exodus, xxi. 

The slave is allowed to have his liberty if he will 
give up his wife and children. He must remain in 
slavery for the sake of wife and child. This is 
another of the laws of the most merciful God. This 
God changes even love into a chain. Children are 
used by him as manacles and fetters, and wives 
become the keepers of prisons. Any man who 
believes that such hideous laws were made by an 
infinitely wise and benevolent God is, in my judg 
ment, insane or totally depraved. 

These are the doctrines of the Old Testament. 
What is the doctrine of the New ? What message 
had he who came from heaven's throne for the 
oppressed of earth ? What words of sympathy, 
what words of cheer, for those who labored and 
toiled without reward ? Let us see : 



44 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

" Servants, be obedient to them that are your 
masters, according to the flesh, with fear and 
trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto 
Christ." Ephesians, vi. 

This is the salutation of the most merciful God to 
a slave, to a woman who has been robbed of her 
child to a man tracked by hounds through lonely 
swamps to a girl with flesh torn and bleeding to 
a mother weeping above an empty cradle. 

" Servants, be subject to your masters with all 
fear ; not only to the good and gentle, but also to 
the fro ward." / Peter ii., 18. 

" For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience 
toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully." 
i Peter ii. t 19. 

It certainly must be an immense pleasure to God 
to see a man work patiently for nothing. It must 
please the Most High to see a slave with his wife 
and child sold upon the auction block. If this slave 
escapes from slavery and is pursued, how musical 
the baying of the bloodhound must be to the ears 
of this most merciful God. All this is simply 
infamous. On the throne of this universe there sits 
no such monster. 

" Servants, obey in all things your masters, ac 
cording to the flesh ; not with eye-service, as men 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 45 

pleasers ; but in singleness of heart, fearing God." 
Col. Hi., 22. 

The apostle here seems afraid that the slave 
would not work every moment that his strength 
permitted. He really seems to have feared that he 
might not at all times do the very best he could to 
promote the interests of the thief who claimed to 
own him. And speaking to all slaves, in the name 
of the Father of All, this apostle says : " Obey in all 
things your masters, not with eye-service, but with 
singleness of heart, fearing God." He says to them 
in substance, There is no way you can so well please 
God as to work honestly for a thief. 

1. "Let as many servants as are under the 
yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, 
that the name of God and his doctrine be not blas 
phemed." 

Think of serving God by honoring a robber! 
Think of bringing the name and doctrine of 
God into universal contempt by claiming to own 
yourself! 

2. " And they that have believing masters, let 
them not despise them, because they are brethren ; 
but rather do them service, because they are faithful 
and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things 
teach and exhort." 



46 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

That is to say, do not despise Christians who steal 
the labor of others. Do not hold in contempt the 
" faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit," who 
turn the cross of Christ into a whipping post. 

3. " If any man teach otherwise, and consent 
not to wholesome words even to words of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is 
according to godliness ; 

4. " He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting 
about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh 
envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 

5. " Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, 
and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is 
godliness : from such withdraw thyself." 

This seems to be the opinion the apostles enter 
tained of the early abolitionists. Seeking to give 
human beings their rights, seeking to give labor its 
just reward, seeking to clothe all men with that 
divine garment of the soul, Liberty, all this was de 
nounced by the apostle as a simple strife of words, 
whereof cometh envy, railings, evil surmisings and 
perverse disputing, destitute of truth. 

6. " But godliness with contentment is great 
gain. 

7. " For we brought nothing into this world, 
and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 47 

8. " And having food and raiment let us be 
therewith content."/ Tim., vi. 

This was intended to make a slave satisfied to hear 
the clanking of his chains. This is the reason he 
should never try to better his condition. He should 
be contented simply with the right to work for noth 
ing. If he only had food and raiment, and a thief to 
work for, he should be contented. He should solace 
himself with the apostolic reflection, that as he 
brought nothing into the world, he could carry noth 
ing out, and that when dead he would be as happily 
situated as his master. 

In order to show you what the inspired writer 
meant by the word servant, I will read from the 2ist 
chapter of Exodus, verses 20 and 2 1 : 

" And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with 
a rod, and he die under his hand ; he shall be surely 
punished. 

" Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he 
shall not be punished : for he is his money." 

Yet, notwithstanding these passages the Christian 
Advocate says, " the Bible is the Magna Charta of 
our liberty." 

After reading that, I was not surprised by the 
following in the same paper : 

" We regret to record that Ingersoll is on a low 



48 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

plane of infidelity and atheism, not less offensive to 
good morals than have been the teachings of infidel 
ity during the last century. France has been cursed 
with such teachings for a hundred years, and because 
of it, to-day her citizens are incapable of self- 
government." 

What was the condition of France a century ago ? 
Were they capable of self-government then ? For 
fourteen hundred years the common people of 
France had suffered. For fourteen hundred years 
they had been robbed by the altar and by the throne. 
They had been the prey of priests and nobles. All 
were exempt from taxation, except the common 
people. The cup of their suffering was full, and the 
French people arose in fury and frenzy, and tore the 
drapery from the altars of God, and filled the air 
with the dust of thrones. 

Surely, the slavery of fourteen centuries had not 
been produced by the teachings of Voltaire. I stood 
only a little while ago at the place where once stood 
the Bastile. In my imagination I saw that prison 
standing as it stood of yore. I could see it attacked 
by the populace. I could see their stormy faces and 
hear their cries. And I saw that ancient fortification 
of tyranny go down forever. And now where once 
stood the Bastile stands the Column of July. Upon 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 49 

its summit is a magnificent statue of Liberty, hold 
ing in one hand a banner, in the other a broken 
chain, and upon its shining forehead is the star of 
progress. There it stands where once stood the 
Bastile. And France is as much superior to what it 
was when Voltaire was born, as that statue, sur 
mounting the Column of July, is more beautiful than 
the Bastile that stood there once with its cells of 
darkness, and its dungeons of horror. 

And yet we are now told that the French people 
have rendered themselves incapable of government, 
simply because they have listened to the voice of pro 
gress. There are magnificent men in France. From 
that country have come to the human race some of 
the grandest and holiest messages the ear of man has 
ever heard. The French people have given to 
history some of the most touching acts of self- 
sacrifice ever performed beneath the amazed stars. 

For my part, I admire the French people. I can 
not forget the Rue San Antoine, nor the red cap of 
liberty. I can never cease to remember that the 
tricolor was held aloft in Paris, while Europe was in 
chains, and while liberty, with a bleeding breast, was 
in the Inquisition of Spain. And yet we are now 
told by a religious paper, that France is not capable 
of self-government. I suppose it was capable of 



5O MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

self-government under the old regime, at the time 
of the massacre of St. Bartholomew. I suppose it 
was capable of self-government when women were 
seen yoked with cattle pulling plows. I suppose it 
was capable of self-government when all who labored 
were in a condition of slavery. 

In the old times, even among the priests, there 
were some good, some sincere and most excellent 
men. I have read somewhere of a sermon preached 
by one of these in the Cathedral of Notre Dame. 
This old priest, among other things, said that the 
soul of a beggar was as dear to God as the soul of 
the richest of his people, and that Jesus Christ died 
as much for a beggar as for a prince. One French 
peasant, rough with labor, cried out : " I propose 
three cheers for Jesus Christ." I like such things. 
I like to hear of them. I like to repeat them. Paris 
has been a kind of volcano, and has made the 
heavens lurid with its lava of hatred, but it has also 
contributed more than any other city to the intel 
lectual development of man. France has produced 
some infamous men, among others John Calvin, but 
for one Calvin, she has produced a thousand bene 
factors of the human race. 

The moment the French people rise above the 
superstitions of the church, they will be in the 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 5 1 

highest sense capable of self-government. The 
moment France succeeds in releasing herself from 
the coils of Catholicism from the shadows of super 
stition from the foolish forms and mummeries of 
the church from the intellectual tyranny of a 
thousand years she will not only be capable of 
self-government, but will govern herself. Let the 
priests be usefully employed. We want no over 
seers of the mind ; no slave-drivers for the soul. 
We cannot afford to pay hypocrites for depriving us 
of liberty. It is a waste of money to pay priests to 
frighten our children, and paralyze the intellect of 
women. 



WAS THE WORLD CREATED IN SIX DAYS? 

III. 

FOR hundreds of years it was contended by all 
Christians that the earth was made in six days, 
literal days of twenty-four hours each, and that on 
the seventh day the Lord rested from his labor. 
Geologists have driven the church from this position, 
and it is now claimed that the days mentioned in the 
Bible are periods of time. This is a simple evasion, 
not in any way supported by the Scriptures. The 
Bible distinctly and clearly says that the world 
was created in six days. There is not within its 
lids a clearer statement. It does not say six periods. 
It was made according to that book in six days : 

31. " And God saw everything that he had made, 
and, behold, it was very good. And the evening 
and the morning were the sixth day." Genesis i. 

1. " Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, 
and all the host of them. 

2. " And on the seventh day God ended his work 

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MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 5$ 

which he had made ; and he rested on the seventh 
day from all his work which he had made. 

3. " And God blessed the seventh day (not 
seventh period), and sanctified it ; because that in it 
he had rested from all his work which God created 
and made." Genesis ii. 

From the following passages it seems clear what 
was meant by the word days : 

1 5. "Six days may work be done; but in the 
seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord : 
whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he 
shall surely be put to death." Served him right ! 

1 6. " Wherefore, the children of Israel shall keep 
the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath, throughout 
their generations, for a perpetual covenant. 

17. " It is a sign between me and the children of 
Israel forever ; for in six days the Lord made heaven 
and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and 
was refreshed. 

1 8. " And he gave unto Moses, when he had 
made an end of communing with him upon Mount 
Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, writ 
ten with the finger of God." Exodus xxxi. 

12. " Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day 
when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the 
children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, 



54 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou, Moon, 
in the valley of Ajalon. 

13. "And the sun stood still, and the moon stay 
ed, until the people had avenged themselves upon 
their enemies. Is not this written in the book 
ofjasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of 
heaven ; and hasted not to go down about a whole 
day. 

14. "And there was no day like that before it or 
after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a 
man : for the Lord fought for Israel." Josh. x. 

These passages must certainly convey the idea 
that this world was made in six days, not six periods. 
And the reason why they were to keep the Sabbath 
was because the Creator rested on the seventh day 
not period. If you say six periods, instead of six 
days, what becomes of your Sabbath ? The only 
reason given in the Bible for observing the Sabbath 
is that God observed it that he rested from his 
work that day and was refreshed. Take this reason 
away and the sacredness of that day has no founda 
tion in the Scriptures. 



WHAT IS THE ASTRONOMY OF THE BIBLE? 

IV. 

WHEN people were ignorant of all the sciences 
the Bible was understood by those who 
read it the same as by those who wrote it. From 
time to time discoveries were made that seemed 
inconsistent with the Scriptures. At first, theolo 
gians denounced the discoverers of all facts incon 
sistent with the Bible, as atheists and scoffers. 

The Bible teaches us that the earth is the centre of 
the universe ; that the sun and moon and stars 
revolve around this speck called the earth. The 
men who discovered that all this was a mistake 
were denounced by the ignorant clergy of that day, 
precisely as the ignorant clergy of our time denounce 
the advocates of free thought. When the doctrine 
of the earth's place in the solar system was demon 
strated ; when persecution could no longer conceal 
the mighty truth, then it was that the church made 
an effort to harmonize the Scriptures with the 

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56 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

discoveries of science. When the utter absurdity 
of the Mosaic account of creation became apparent 
to all thoughtful men, the church changed the read 
ing of the Bible. Then it was pretended that the 
" days " of creation were vast periods of time. 
When it was shown to be utterly impossible that the 
sun revolved around the earth, then the account 
given by Joshua of the sun standing still for the 
space of a whole day, was changed into a figure of 
speech. It was said that Joshua merely conformed 
to the mode of speech common in his day ; and that 
when he said the sun stood still, he merely intended 
to convey the idea that the earth ceased turning 
upon its axis. They admitted that stopping the 
sun could not lengthen the day, and for that reason 
it must have been the earth that stopped. But you 
will remember that the moon stood still in the valley 
of Ajalon that the moon stayed until the people 
had avenged themselves upon their enemies. 

One would naturally suppose that the sun would 
have given sufficient light to enable the Jews to 
avenge themselves upon their enemies without any 
assistance from the moon. Of course, if the moon 
had not stopped, the relations between the earth and 
moon would have been changed. 

Is there a sensible man in the world who believes 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 57 

this wretched piece of ignorance ? Is it possible 
that the religion of this nineteenth century has for its 
basis such childish absurdities ? According to this 
account, what was the sun, or rather the earth, 
stopped for? It was stopped in order that the 
Hebrews might avenge themselves upon the Amor- 
ites. For the accomplishment of such a purpose the 
earth was made to pause. Why should an almost 
infinite force be expended simply for the purpose of 
destroying a handful of men ? Why this waste of 
force ? Let me explain. I strike my hands to 
gether. They feel a sudden heat. Where did the 
heat come from ? Motion has been changed into 
heat. You will remember that there can be no 
destruction of force. It disappears in one form only 
to reappear in another. The earth, rotating at the 
rate of one thousand milesan hour, was stopped. The 
motion of this vast globe would have instantly been 
changed into heat. It has been calculated by one of 
the greatest scientists of the present day that to stop 
the earth would generate as much heat as could be 
produced by burning a world as large as this of solid 
coal. And yet, all this force was expended for the 
paltry purpose of defeating a few poor barbarians. 
The employment of so much force for the accom 
plishment of so insignificant an object would be as 



58 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

useless as bringing all the intellect of a great man to 
bear in answering the arguments of the clergymen of 
San Francisco. 

The waste of that immense force in stopping the 
planets in their grand courses, for the purpose 
claimed, would be like using a Krupp gun to destroy 
an insect to which a single drop of water is " an 
unbounded world." How is it possible for men of 
ordinary intellect, not only to endorse such ignorant 
falsehoods, but to malign those who do not ? Can 
anything be more debasing to the intellect of man 
than a belief in the astronomy of the Bible ? Ac 
cording to the Scriptures, the world was made out 
of nothing, and the sun, moon, and stars, of the 
nothing that happened to be left. To the writers 
of the Bible the firmament was solid, and in it were 
grooves along which the stars were pushed by 
angels. From the Bible Cosmas constructed his 
geography and astronomy. His book was passed 
upon by the church, and was declared to be the 
truth concerning the subjects upon which he treated. 

This eminent geologist and astronomer, taking 
the Bible as his guide, found and taught : First, 
that the earth was flat ; second, that it was a vast 
parallelogram ; third, that in the middle there was 
a vast body of land, then a strip of water all around 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 59 

it, then a strip of land. He thought that on the 
outer strip of land people lived before the flood 
that at the time of the flood, Noah in his Ark 
crossed the strip of water and landed on the shore 
of the country, in the middle of the world, where we 
now are. This great biblical scholar informed the 
true believers of his day that in the outer strip of 
land were mountains, around which the sun and 
moon revolved ; that when the sun was on the side 
of the mountain next the land occupied by man, it 
was day, and when on the other side, it was 
night. 

Mr. Cosmas believed the Bible, and regarded 
Joshua as the most eminent astronomer of his day. 
He also taught that the firmament was solid, and 
that the angels pushed and drew the stars. He 
tells us that these angels attended strictly to their 
business, that each one watched the motions of all 
the others so that proper distances might always be 
maintained, and all confusion avoided. All this was 
believed by the gentlemen who made most of our 
religion. The great argument made by Cosmas to 
show that the earth must be flat, was the fact that 
the Bible stated that when Christ should come the 
second time, in glory, the whole world should see 
him. " Now," said Cosmas, " if the world is round, 



6O MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

how could the people on the other side see the 
Lord when he comes ? " This settled the question. 

These were the ideas of the fathers of the church. 
These men have been for centuries regarded as 
almost divinely inspired. Long after they had 
become dust they governed the world. The super 
stitions they planted, their descendants watered with 
the best and bravest blood. To maintain their 
ignorant theories, the brain of the world was dwarfed 
for a thousand years, and the infamous work is still 
being prosecuted. 

The Bible was regarded as not only true, but as 
the best of all truth. Any new theory advanced, 
was immediately examined in the light, or rather in 
the darkness, of revelation, and if according to that 
test it was false, it was denounced, and the person 
bringing it forward forced to recant. It would have 
been a far better course to have discovered every 
theory found to be in harmony with the Scriptures. 

And yet we are told by the clergy and religious 
press of this city, that the Bible is the foundation of 
all science. 



DOES THE BIBLE TEACH THE EXISTENCE OF THAT 
IMPOSSIBLE CRIME CALLED WITCHCRAFT ? 

v. . /> 

IT was said by Sir Thomas More that to give up 
witchcraft was to give up the Bible itself. This 
idea was entertained by nearly all the eminent 
theologians of a hundred years ago. In my judg 
ment, they were right. To give up witchcraft is to 
give up, in a great degree at least, the supernatural. 
To throw away the little ghosts simply prepares the 
mind of man to give up the great ones. The 
founders of nearly all creeds, and of all religions 
properly so-called, have taught the existence of 
good and evil spirits. They have peopled the dark 
with devils and the light with angels. They have 
crowded hell with demons and heaven with seraphs. 
The moment these good and evil spirits, these angels 
and fiends, disappear from the imaginations of men, 
and phenomena are accounted for by natural rather 
than by supernatural means, a great step has been 

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62 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

taken in the direction of what is now known as 
materialism. While the church believes in witch 
craft, it is in a greatly modified form. The evil 
spirits are not as plenty as in former times, and 
more phenomena are accounted for by natural 
means. Just to the extent that belief has been lost 
in spirits, just to that extent the church has lost its 
power and authority. When men ceased to account 
for the happening of any event by ascribing it to 
the direct action of good or evil spirits, and began 
to reason from known premises, the chains of 
superstition began to grow weak. Into such dis 
repute has witchcraft at last fallen that many 
Christians not only deny the existence of these evil 
spirits, but take the ground that no such thing is 
taught in the Scriptures. Let us see : 

"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." Exodus 
xxii., 18. 

7. " Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a 
woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to 
her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to 
him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a spirit at 
Endor. 

8. " And Saul disguised himself, and put on 
other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, 
and they came to the woman by night ; and he 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 63 

said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar 
spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name 
unto thee. 

9. " And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou 
knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off 
those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards out 
of the land ; wherefore, then, layest thou a snare 
for my life, to cause me to die ? 

10. " And Saul sware to her by the Lord, saying, 
As the Lord liveth, there shall no punishment 
happen to thee for this thing. 

11. "Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring 
up unto thee ? And he said, Bring me up 
Samuel. 

12. "And when the woman saw Samuel she 
cried with a loud voice : and the woman spake to 
Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me ? for thou 
art Saul. 

13. " And the king said unto her, Be not afraid : 
for what sawest thou ? And the woman said unto 
Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth. 

14. " And he said unto her, What form is he of? 
And she said, An old man cometh up ; and he is 
covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it 
was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the 
ground, and bowed himself. 



64 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

15 ^[. "And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast 
thou disquieted me to bring me up ? " 2 Samuel, 
xxviii. 

This reads very much like an account of a modern 
spiritual seance. Is it not one of the wonderful 
things of the world that men and women who 
believe this account of the witch of Endor, who 
believe all the miracles and all the ghost stories 
of the Bible, deny with all their force the truth of 
modern Spiritualism. So far as I am concerned, I 
would rather believe some one who has heard what 
he relates, who has seen what he tells, or at least 
thinks he has seen what he tells. I would rather 
believe somebody I know, whose reputation for 
truth is good among those who know him. I would 
rather believe these people than to take the words 
of those who have been in their graves for four 
thousand years, and about whom I know nothing. 

31 ^f. " Regard not them that have familiar spirits, 
neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them ; I 
am the Lord, your God." Leviticus xix. 

6 ^f . " And the soul that turneth after such as have 
familiar spirits, and after wizards, I will even set my 
face against that soul, and will cut him off from 
among his people." Leviticus xx. 

10. " There shall not be found among you any 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 65 

one that useth divination, or an observer of times, 
or an enchanter, or a witch, 

11. " Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar 
spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 

12. " For all that do these things are an abomina 
tion unto the Lord." Deut. xviii. 

I have given you a few of the passages found in 
the Old Testament upon this subject, showing con 
clusively that the Bible teaches the existence of 
witches, wizards and those who have familiar spirits. 
In the New Testament there are passages equally 
strong, showing that the Savior himself was a 
believer in the existence of evil spirits, and in the 
existence of a personal devil. Nothing can be 
plainer than the teaching of the following : 

1. " Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the 
wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 

2. " And when he had fasted forty days and forty 
nights, he was afterward an hungered. 

3. " And when the tempter came to him, he said, 
If thou be the Son of God, command that these 
stones be made bread. 

4. " But he answered and said, It is written, Man 
shall not live by bread alone, but by every word 
that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 

5. " Then the devil taketh him up into the 



66 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the 
temple. 

6. " And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of 
God, cast thyself down : for it is written, He shall 
give his angels charge concerning thee : and in 
their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time 
thou dash thy foot against a stone. 

7. "Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou 
shalt not tempt the Lord, thy God. 

8. " Again, the devil taketh him up into an 
exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the 
kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them ; 

9. " And saith unto him, All these things will I 
give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 

10. "Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, 
Satan : for it is written, Thou shalt worship the 
Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 

11. "Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, 
angels came and ministered unto him." Matt. iv. 

If this does not teach the existence of a personal 
devil, there is nothing within the lids of the 
Scriptures teaching the existence of a personal God. 
If this does not teach the existence of evil spirits, 
there is nothing in the Bible going to show that 
good spirits exist either in this world or the next. 

1 6 ^[. "When the even was come they brought 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 67 

unto him many that were possessed with devils : 
and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed 
all that were sick." Matt. vii. 

1. " And they came over unto the other side of 
the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. 

2. " And when he was come out of the ship, 
immediately there met him out of the tombs a man 
with an unclean spirit, 

3. " Who had his dwelling among the tombs ; 
and no man could bind him, no, not with chains : 

4. " Because that he had been often bound with 
fetters and chains, and the chains ha.d been plucked 
asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces : 
neither could any man tame him. 

5. " And always, night and day, he was in the 
mountains, and in the tombs, crying and cutting 
himself with stones. 

6. " But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and 
worshipped him, 

7. " And cried with a loud voice, and said, What 
have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou son of the most 
high God ? I adjure thee by God, that thou tor 
ment me not. 

8. " For he said unto him, Come out of the man, 
thou unclean spirit. 

9. " And he asked him, What is thy name ? And 



68 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

he answered, saying, My name is Legion, for we are 
many. 

11. " Now, there was nigh unto the mountains a 
great herd of swine feeding. 

12. "And all the devils besought him, saying, 
Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. 

13. " And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And 
the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the 
swine ; and the herd ran violently down a steep 
place into the sea, and they were about two thou 
sand ; and were choked in the sea." Mark v. 

The doctrine of witchcraft does not stop here. 
The power of casting out devils was bequeathed by 
the Savior to his apostles and followers, and to all 
who might believe in him throughout all the coming 
time : 

17. " And these signs shall follow them that 
believe : In my name shall they cast out devils ; 
they shall speak with new tongues ; 

1 8. " And they shall take up serpents ; and if 
they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them ; 
they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall 
recover." Mark xvi. 

I would like to see the clergy who have been 
answering me, tested in this way : Let them drink 
poison, let them take up serpents, let them cure the 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 69 

sick by the laying on of hands, and I will then 
believe that they believe. 

I deny the witchcraft stories of the world. 
Witches are born in the ignorant, frightened minds 
of men. Reason will exorcise them. " They are 
tales told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signify 
ing nothing." These devils have covered the world 
with blood and tears. They have filled the earth 
with fear. They have filled the lives of children 
with darkness and horror. They have peopled the 
sweet world of imagination with mo.isters. They 
have made religion a strange mingling of fear and 
ferocity. I am doing what I can to reave the 
heavens of these monsters. For my part, I laugh 
at them all. I hold them all in contempt, ancient 
and modern, great and small. 



THE BIBLE IDEA OF THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN. 

VI. 

ALL religion has for its basis the tyranny of 
God and the slavery of man. 

1 8. ^f " If a man have a stubborn and rebellious 
son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or 
the voice of his mother, and that, when they have 
chastened him, will not hearken unto them, 

19. "Then shall his father and his mother lay 
hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of 
his city, and unto the gate of his place. 

20. " And they shall say unto the elders of his 
city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he 
will not obey our voice, he is a glutton and a 
drunkard. 

21. " And all the men of his city shall stone him 
with stones, that he die ; so shalt thou put evil 
away from among you ; and all Israel shall hear, 
and fear." Deut. xxL 

Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 7 1 

as a sacrifice. He proceeded to obey. And the 
boy, being then about thirty years of age, was not 
consulted. At the command of a phantom of the 
air, a man was willing to offer upon the altar his 
% only son. And such was the slavery of children, 
that the only son had not the spirit to resist. 

Have you ever read the story of Jephthah ? 

30 " And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, 
and said, "If thou shalt without fail deliver the 
children of Ammon into mine hands, 

31. "Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh 
forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I 
return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall 
surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a 
burnt offering. 

32. ^[ "So Jephthah passed over unto the children 
of Ammon to fight against them ; and the Lord de 
livered them into his hands. 

33. " And he smote them from Aroer, even till 
thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto 
the plain of the vineyards, with a very great 
slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were sub 
dued before the children of Israel. 

34. H" " And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his 
house, and behold, his daughter came out to meet 
him with timbrels and with dances ; and she was 



72 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

his only child ; beside her he had neither son nor 
daughter. 

35. " And it came to pass, when he saw her, that 
he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter ! 
thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of 
them that trouble me : for I have opened my mouth 
unto the Lord, and I cannot go back. . . . 

39. "And it came to pass at the end of two months, 
that she returned unto her father, who did with her 
according to his vow which he had vowed." 
Judges xi. 

Is there in the history of the world a sadder 
thing than this ? What can we think of a father 
who would sacrifice his daughter to a demon God ? 
And what can we think of a God who would accept 
such a sacrifice ? Can such a God be worthy of the 
worship of man ? I plead for the rights of children. 
I plead for the government of kindness and love. I 
p\ead for the republic of home, the democracy of 
the fireside. I plead for affection. And for this I 
am pursued by invective. For this I am called a 
fiend, a devil, a monster, by Christian editors and 
clergymen, by those who pretend to love their 
enemies and pray for those that despitefully use 
them. 

Allow me to give you another instance of affec- 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 73 

tion related in the Scriptures. There was, it seems, 
a most excellent man by the name of Job. The 
Lord was walking up and down, and happening to 
meet Satan, said to him : " Are you acquainted 
with my servant Job ? Have you noticed what an 
excellent man he is ? " And Satan replied to him 
and said : " Why should he not be an excellent 
man you have given him everything he wants ? 
Take from him what he has and he will curse you." 
And thereupon the Lord gave Satan the power to 
destroy the property and children of Job. In a 
little while these high contracting parties met 
again ; and the Lord seemed somewhat elated with 
his success, and called again the attention of Satan 
to the sinlessness of Job. Satan then told him to 
touch his body and he would curse him. And 
thereupon power was given to Satan over the body 
of Job, and he covered his body with boils. Yet in 
all this, Job did not sin with his lips. 

This book seems to have been written to show 
the excellence of patience, and to prove that at last 
God will reward all who will bear the afflictions of 
heaven with fortitude and without complaint. The 
sons and daughters of Job had been slain, and then 
the Lord, in order to reward Job, gave him other 
children, other sons and other daughters not the 



74 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

same ones he had lost ; but others. And this, ac 
cording to the writer, made ample amends. Is that 
the idea we now have of love ? If I have a child, 
no matter how deformed that child may be, and if it 
dies, nobody can make the loss to me good by 
bringing a more beautiful child. I want the one I 
loved and the one I lost 



THE GALLANTRY OF GOD. 
VII. 

I HAVE said that the Bible is a barbarous book ; 
that it has no respect for the rights of woman. 
Now I propose to prove it. It takes something 
besides epithets and invectives to prove or disprove 
anything. Let us see what the sacred volume says 
concerning the mothers and daughters of the human 
race. 

A man who does not in his heart of hearts 
respect woman, who has not there an altar at which 
he worships the memory of mother, is less than a 
man. 

11. "Let the woman learn in silence with all 
subjection. 

12. " But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to 
usurp authority over the man, but to be in 
silence." 

The reason given for this, and the only reason 
that occurred to the sacred writer, was : 

13. " For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 

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76 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

14. " And Adam was not deceived, but the 
woman being deceived was in the transgression. 

15. "Notwithstanding, she shall be saved in 
child-bearing, if they continue in faith and charity 
and holiness with sobriety." / Tim. ii. 

3. " But I would have you know, that the head of 
every man is Christ ; and the head of the woman is 
the man ; and the head of Christ is God." 

That is to say, the woman sustains the same 
relation to the man that man does to Christ, 
and man sustains the same relation to Christ that 
Christ does to God. 

This places the woman infinitely below the 
man. And yet this barbarous idiocy is regarded 
as divinely inspired. How can any woman look 
other than with contempt upon such passages ? 
How can any woman believe that this is the will of 
a most merciful God ? 

7. " For a man, indeed, ought not to cover his 
head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of 
God ; but the woman is the glory of man." 

And this is justified from the remarkable fact set 
forth in the next verse : 

8. " For the man is not of the woman ; but the 
woman of the man." 

This same chivalric gentleman also says : 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 77 

9. " Neither was the man created for the woman ; 
but the woman for the man." / Cor. xi. 

22. " Wives, submit yourselves unto your own 
husbands, as unto the Lord." 

Is it possible for abject obedience to go beyond 
this ? 

23. " For the husband is the head of the wife, 
even as Christ is the head of the Church, and he is 
the saviour of the body. 

24. " Therefore, as the Church is subject unto 
Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in 
everything." Eph. v. 

Even the Savior did not put man and woman 
upon an equality. A man could divorce his wife, but 
the wife could not divorce her husband. 

Every noble woman should hold such apostles 
and such ideas in contempt. According to the Old 
Testament, woman had to ask pardon and had to be 
purified from the crime of having born sons and 
daughters. To make love and maternity crimes is 
infamous. 

10. " When thou goest forth to war against thine 
enemies, and the Lord thy God hath delivered 
them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them 
captive, 

11. " And seest among the captives a beautiful 



78 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou 
woultfest have her to thy wife, 

1 2. " Then thou shalt bring her home to thy 
house ; and she shall shave her head, and pare her 
nails." Deut. xxi. 

This is barbarism, no matter whether it came from 
heaven or from hell, from a God or from a devil, 
from the golden streets of the New Jerusalem or 
from the very Sodom of perdition. It is barbarism 
complete and utter. 



DOES THE BIBLE SANCTION POLYGAMY 
AND CONCUBINAGE? 
VIII. 

READ the infamous order of Moses in the 3ist 
chapter of Numbers an order unfit to be 
reproduced in print an order which I am unwilling 
to repeat. Read the 3 1 st chapter of Exodus. Read 
the 2ist chapter of Deuteronomy. Read the life of 
Abraham, of David, of Solomon, of Jacob, and then 
tell me the sacred Bible does not teach polygamy 
and concubinage. All the languages of the world 
are insufficient to express the filth of polygamy. It 
makes man a beast woman a slave. It destroys the 
fireside. It makes virtue an outcast. It makes 
home a lair of wild beasts. It is the infamy of in 
famies. Yet this is the doctrine of the Bible a 
doctrine defended even by Luther and Melancthon. 
It is by the Bible that Brigham Young justifies the 
practice of this beastly horror. It takes from 
language those sweetest words, husband, wife, fathc 

(79) 



8O MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

mother, child and lover. It takes us back to the 
barbarism of animals, and leaves the heart a den in 
which crawl and hiss the slimy serpents of loathsome 
lust. Yet the book justifying this infamy is the book 
upon which rests the civilization of the nineteenth cen 
tury. And because I denounce this frightful thing, the 
clergy denounce me as a demon, and the infamous 
Christian Advocate says that the moral sentiment 
of this State ought to denounce this Illinois Catiline 
for his blasphemous utterances and for his base and 
debasing scurrility. 



DOES THE BIBLE UPHOLD AND JUSTIFY 

POLITICAL TYRANNY? 

IX. 

FOR my part, I insist that man has not only the 
capacity, but the right to govern himself. All 
political authority is vested in the people themselves, 
They have the right to select their officers and 
agents, and these officers and agents are responsible 
to the people. Political authority does not come 
from the clouds. Man should not be governed by 
the aristocracy of the air. The Bible is not a Repub 
lican or Democratic book. Exactly the opposite 
doctrine is taught. From that volume we learn that 
the people have no power whatever ; that all power 
and political authority comes from on high, and that 
all the kings, all the potentates and powers, have 
been ordained of God ; that all the ignorant and 
cruel kings have been placed upon the world's 
thrones by the direct act of Deity. The Scriptures 
teach us that the common people have but one duty 

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82 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

the duty of obedience. Let me read to you some 
of the political ideas in the great " Magna Charta " 
of human liberty. 

1. " Let every soul be subject unto the higher 
powers. For there is no power but of God; the 
powers that be are ordained of God. 

2. " Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, 
resisteth the ordinance of God : and they that resist 
shall receive to themselves damnation." 

According to this, George III. was ordained of 
God. He was King of Great Britian by divine right, 
and by divine right was the lawful King of the 
American Colonies. The leaders in the Revolution 
ary struggle resisted the power, and according to 
these passages, resisted the ordinances of God ; and 
for that resistance they are promised the eternal 
recompense of damnation. 

3. " For rulers are not a terror to good works, 
but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the 
power ? do that which is good, and thou shalt have 
praise of the same. . . . 

5. " Wherefore, ye must needs be subject, not 
only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 

6. ' ' For, for this cause pay ye tribute also ; for 
they are God's ministers, attending continually upon 
this very thing." Romans^ xiii. 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 8$ 

13. "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of 
man for the Lord's sake ; whether it be to the king 
as supreme ; 

14. " Or unto governors, as unto them that are 
sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers, and 
for the praise of them that do well. 

1 5. " For so is the will of God." / Pet. ii. 

Had these ideas been carried out, political pro 
gress in the world would have been impossible. 
Upon the necks of the people still would have been 
the feet of kings. I deny this wretched, this in 
famous doctrine. Whether higher powers are or 
dained of God or not, if those higher powers 
endeavor to destroy the rights of man, I for one 
shall resist. Whenever and wherever the sword of 
rebellion is drawn in support of a human right, I am 
a rebel. The despicable doctrine of submission to 
titled wrong and robed injustice finds no lodgment 
in the brain of a man. The real rulers are the 
people, and the rulers so-called are but the servants 
of the people. They are not ordained of any God. 
All political power comes from and belongs to man. 
Upon these texts of Scripture rest the thrones of 
Europe. For fifteen hundred years these verses 
have been repeated by brainless kings and heartless 
priests. For fifteen hundred years each one of 



84 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

these texts has been a bastile in which has been 
imprisoned the pioneers of progress. Each one of 
these texts has been an obstruction on the highway 
of humanity. Each one has been a fortification 
behind which have crouched the sainted hypocrites 
and the titled robbers. According to these texts, a 
robber gets his right to rob from God. And it is 
the duty of the robbed to submit. The thief gets 
his right to steal from God. The king gets his 
right to trample upon human liberty from God. I 
say, fight the king fight the priest. 



THE RELIGIOUS LIBERTY OF GOD. 
x. 

THE Bible denounces religious liberty. After 
covering the world with blood, after having 
made it almost hollow with graves, Christians are 
beginning to say that men have a right to differ up 
on religious questions provided the questions about 
which they differ are not considered of great im 
portance. The motto of the Evangelical Alliance is : 

" In non-essentials, Liberty ; in essentials, Unity." 
The Christian world have condescended to say that 
upon all non-essential points we shall have the right 
to think for ourselves ; but upon matters of the least 
importance, they will think and speak for us. In 
this they are consistent. They but follow the teach 
ings of the God they worship. They but adhere to 
the precepts and commands of the sacred Scriptures. 
Within that volume there is no such thing as relig- 
ous toleration. Within that volume there is not one 
particle of mercy for an unbeliever. For all who 

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86 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

think for themselves, for all who are the owners of 
their own souls, there are threatenings, curses and 
anathemas. Any Christian who to-day exercises the 
least toleration is to that extent false to his religion. 
Let us see what the " Magna Charta " of liberty 
says upon this subject : 

6. If "If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy 
son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or 
thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee 
secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, 
which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers ; 

7. " Namely of the gods of the people which are 
round about you, nigh unto thee, or afar off from 
thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the 
other end of the earth ; 

8. " Thou shalt not consent unto him ; nor hearken 
unto him ; neither shall thine eye pity him ; neither 
shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him. 

9. " But thou shalt surely kill him ; thine hand 
shall be first upon him to put him to death, and 
afterwards the hand of all the people ; 

10. "And thou shalt stone him with stones, that 
he die ; because he hath sought to thrust thee away 
from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of 
the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage." 
DeuL xiii. 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 87 

That is the religious liberty of the Bible. If the 
wife of your bosom had said, " I like the religion of 
India better than the religion of Palestine," it was 
then your duty to kill her, and the merciful Most 
High understand me, I do not believe in any mer 
ciful Most High said : 

" Thou shalt not pity her but thou shalt surely kill ; 
thy hand shall be the first upon her to put her to 
death." 

This I denounce as infamously infamous. If it is 
necessary to believe in such a God, if it is necessary 
to adore such a Deity in order to be saved, I will 
take my part joyfully in perdition. Let me read you 
a few more extracts from the " Magna Charta " of 
human liberty ; 

2. ^f " If there be found among you, within any of 
thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man 
or woman that hath wrought wickedness in the sight 
of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant, 

3. "And hath gone and served other gods, and 
worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any 
of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded ; 

4. "And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, 
and enquired diligently, and behold, it be true, and 
the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought 
in Israel ; 



88 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

' 5. " Then shaltthou bring forth that man, or that 
woman, which have committed that wicked thing, 
unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and 
shalt stone them with stones till they die." 

Under this law if the woman you loved had said : 
" Let us worship the sun ; I am tired of this jealous 
and bloodthirsty Jehovah ; let us worship the sun ; 
let us kneel to it as it rises over the hills, filling the 
world with light and love, when the dawn stands 
jocund on the mountain's misty top ; it is the sun 
whose beams illumine and cover the earth with 
verdure and with beauty ; it is the sun that covers 
the trees with leaves, that carpets the earth with 
grass and adorns the world with flowers ; I adore 
the sun because in its light I have seen your eyes ; 
it has given to me the face of my babe ; it has clothed 
my life with joy ; let us in gratitude fall down and 
worship the glorious beams of the sun." 

For this offence she deserved not only death, but 
death at your hands : 

" Thine eye shall not pity her ; neither shalt thou 
spare ; neither shalt thou conceal her. 

" But thou shalt surely kill her : thy hand shall be 
the first upon her to put her to death, and after 
wards the hand of all the people. 

"And thou shalt stone her with stones that she die." 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 89 

For my part I had a thousand times rather wor 
ship the sun than a God who would make such a 
law or give such a command. This you may say 
is the doctrine of the Old Testament what is the 
doctrine of the New? 

" He that believes and is baptized shall be saved ; 
and he that believeth not shall be damned." 

That is the religious liberty of the New Testament. 
That is the " tidings of great joy." 

Every one of these words has been a chain upon 
the limbs, a whip upon the backs of men. Every one 
has been a fagot. Every one has been a sword. 
Every one has been a dungeon, a scaffold, a rack. 
Every one has been a fountain of tears. These 
words have filled the hearts of men with hatred. 
These words invented all the instruments of torture. 
These words covered the earth with blood. 

For the sake of argument, suppose that the Bible 
is an inspired book. If then, as is contended, God 
gave these frightful laws commanding religious in 
tolerance to his chosen people, and afterward this 
same God took upon himself flesh, and came among 
the Jews and taught a different religion, and they 
crucified him, did he not reap what he had sown ? 



DOES THE BIBLE DESCRIBE A GOD OF MERCY ? 

XI. 

IS it possible to conceive of a more jealous, re 
vengeful, changeable, unjust, unreasonable, cruel 
being than the Jehovah of the Hebrews? Is it 
possible to read the words said to have been spoken 
by this Deity, without a shudder? Is it possible to 
contemplate his character without hatred ? 

" I will make mine arrows drunk with blood and my 
sword shall devour flesh/' Deut. xxxii. 

Is this the language of an infinitely kind and ten 
der parent to his weak, his wandering and suffering 
children ? 

" Thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine 
enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in the same." 
Psalms, Ixviii. 

Is it possible that a God takes delight in seeing 
dogs lap the blood of his children ? 

22. "And the Lord thy God will put out those 
nations before thee by little and little ; thou mayest 
not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the 
field increase upon thee. (80) 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 91 

23. " But the Lord thy God shall deliver them unto 
thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruc 
tion, until they be destroyed. 

24. "And he shall deliver their kings into thine 
hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from 
under heaven ; there shall no man be able to stand 
before thee, until thou have destroyed them." 
Deut. viz. 

If these words had proceeded from the mouth of a 
demon, if they had been spoken by some enraged and 
infinitely malicious fiend, I should not have been sur 
prised. But these things are attributed to a God 
of infinite mercy. 

40. ^f " So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, 
and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, 
and all their kings ; he left none remaining, but 
utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God 
of Israel commanded." Josh. x. 

14. "And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, 
the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves ; 
but every man they smote with the edge of the 
sword until they had destroyed them, neither left 
they any to breathe." Josh. xi. 

19. "There was not a city that made peace with 
the children of Israel, save the Hivites, the inhabit 
ants of Gibeon ; all other they took ! battle. 



92 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

20. " For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts 
that they should come against Israel in battle, that he 
might destroy them utterly, and that they might 
have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as 
the Lord commanded Moses." Josh. xi. 

There are no words in our language with which 
to express the indignation I feel when reading these 
cruel and heartless words. 

" 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 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 besiege 
it. And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it 
into thy hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof 
with the sword. But the women, and the little ones, 
and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even 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 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 93 

inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that 
breatheth." 

These terrible instructions were given to an army 
ofinvasion. The men who were thus ruthlessly mur 
dered were fighting for their homes, their firesides, 
for their wives and for their little children. Yet 
these things, by the clergy of San Francisco, are 
called acts of sublime mercy. 

All this is justified by the doctrine of the survival 
of the fittest. The Old Testament is filled with 
anathemas, with curses, with words of vengeance, of 
revenge, of jealousy, of hatred and of almost infinite 
brutality. Do not, I pray you, pluck from the heart 
the sweet flower of pity and trample it in the bloody 
dust of superstition. Do not, I beseech you, justify 
the murder of women, the assassination of dimpled 
babes. Do not let the gaze of the gorgon of super 
stition turn your hearts to stone. 

Is there an intelligent Christian in the world who 
would not with joy and gladness receive conclusive 
testimony to the effect that all the passages in the 
Bible upholding and sustaining polygamy and con 
cubinage, political tyranny, the subjection of woman, 
the enslavement of children, establishing domestic 
and political tyranny, and that all the commands to 
destroy men, women and children, are but interpola- 



94 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

tions of kings and priests, made for the purpose of 
subjugating mankind through the instrumentality of 
fear ? Is there a Christian in the world who would 
not think vastly more of the Bible if all these in 
famous things were eliminated from it? 

Surely the good things in that book are not ren 
dered more sacred from the fact that in the same 
volume are found the frightful passages I have quot 
ed. In my judgment the Bible should be read and 
studied precisely as we read and study any book 
whatever. The good in it should be preserved and 
cherished, and that which shocks the human heart 
should be cast aside forever. 

While the Old Testament threatens men, women 
and children with disease, famine, war, pestilence 
and death, there are no threatenings of punishment 
beyond this life. The doctrine of eternal punish 
ment is a dogma of the New Testament. This 
doctrine, the most cruel, the most infamous of which 
the human mind can conceive, is taught, if taught at 
all, in the Bible in the New Testament. One can 
not imagine what the human heart has suffered by 
reason of the frightful doctrine of eternal damnation. 
It is a doctrine so abhorrent to every drop of my 
blood, so infinitely cruel, that it is impossible for me 
to respect either the head or heart of any human 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 95 

being who teaches or fears it. This doctrine neces 
sarily subverts all ideas of justice. To inflict infinite 
punishment for finite crimes, or rather for crimes 
committed by finite beings, is a proposition so 
monstrous that I am astonished it ever found lodg 
ment in the brain of man. Whoever says that we 
can be happy in heaven while those we loved on 
earth are suffering infinite torments in eternal fire, 
defames and calumniates the human heart. 



THE PLAN OF SALVATION. 
XII. 

WE are told, however, that a way has been 
provided for the salvation of all men, and 
that in this plan the infinite mercy of God is made 
manifest to the children of men. According to the 
great scheme of the atonement, the innocent suffers 
for the guilty in order to satisfy a law. What kind of 
law must it be that is satisfied with the agony of 
innocence ? Who made this law ? If God made it 
he must have known that the innocent would have 
to suffer as a consequence. The whole scheme is to 
me a medley of contradictions, impossibilities and 
theological conclusions. We are told that if Adam 
and Eve had not sinned in the Garden of Eden 
death never would have entered the world. We 
are further informed that had it not been for the 
devil, Adam and Eve would not have been led 
astray ; and if they had not, as I said before, death 
never would have touched with its icy hand the 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 97 

human heart. If our first parents had never sinned, 
and death never had entered the world, you and I 
never would have existed. The earth would have 
been filled thousands of generations before you and 
I were born. At the feast of life, death made seats 
vacant for us. According to this doctrine, we are 
indebted to the devil for our existence. Had he not 
tempted Eve no sin. If there had been no sin 
no death. If there had been no death the world 
would have been filled ages before you and I were 
born. Therefore, we owe our existence to the devil. 
We are further informed that as a consequence of 
original sin the scheme called the atonement became 
necessary ; and that if the Savior had not taken 
upon himself flesh and come to this atom called the 
earth, and if he had not been crucified for us, we 
should all have been cast forever into hell. Had it 
not been for the bigotry of the Jews and the treach 
ery of Judas Iscariot, Christ would not have been 
crucified ; and if he had not been crucified, all of us 
would have had our portion in the lake that burneth 
with eternal fire. 

According to thi? great doctrine, according to this 
vast and most wonderful scheme, we owe, as I said 
before, our existence to the devil, our salvation to 
Judas Iscariot and the bigotry of the Jews. 



98 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

So far as I am concerned, I fail to see any meicy 
in the plan of salvation. Is it mercy to reward a 
man forever in consideration of believing a certain 
thing, of the truth of which there is, to his mind, 
ample testimony ? Is it mercy to punish a man 
with eternal fire simply because there is not testi 
mony enough to satisfy his mind ? Can there be 
such a thing as mercy in eternal punishment ? 

And yet this same Deity says to me, " resist not 
evil ; pray for those that despitefully use you ; love 
your enemies, but I will eternally damn mine." It 
seems to me that even gods should practice what 
they preach. 

Ail atonement, after all, is a kind of moral bank 
ruptcy. Under its provisions, man is allowed the 
luxury of sinning upon a credit. Whenever he is 
guilty of a wicked action he says, " charge it." This 
kind of bookkeeping, in my judgment, tends to 
breed extravagance in sin. 

The truth is, most Christians are better than their 
creeds ; most creeds are better than the Bible, and 
most men are better than their God. 



OTHER RELIGIONS. 

XIII. 

WE must remember that ours is not the only re 
ligion. Man has in all ages endeavored to 
answer the great questions Whence ? and Whither ? 
He has endeavored to read his destiny in the stars, 
to pluck the secret of his existence from the night. 
He has questioned the spectres of his own imagina 
tion. He has explored the mysterious avenues of 
dreams. He has peopled the heavens with spirits. 
He has mistaken his visions for realities. In the 
twilight of ignorance he has mistaken shadows for 
gods. In all ages he has been the slave of misery, 
the dupe of superstition and the fool of hope. He has 
suffered and aspired. 

Religion is a thing of growth, of development. 
As we advance we throw aside the grosser and ab- 
surder forms of faith practically at first by ceasing 
to observe them, and lastly, by denying them alto 
gether. Every church necessarily by its constitution 

(99) 



IOO MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

endeavors to prevent this natural growth or devel 
opment. What has happened to other religions 
must happen to ours. Ours is not superior to many 
that have passed, or are passing away. Other re 
ligions have been lived for and died for by men as 
noble as ours can boast. Their dogmas and doc 
trines have, to say the least, been as reasonable, as 
full of spiritual grandeur, as ours. 

Man has had beautiful thoughts. Man has tried 
to solve these questions in all the countries of the 
world, and I respect all such men and women ; but 
let me tell you one little thing. I want to show you 
that in other countries there is something. 

The Parsee sect of Persia say : A Persian saint 
ascended the three stairs that lead to heaven's gate, 
and knocked ; a voice said : " Who is there ? " 
" Thy servant, O God ! " But the gates would not 
open. For seven years he did every act of kind 
ness ; again he came, and the voice said : " Who is 
there?" And he replied: "Thy slave, O God!" 
Yet the gates were shut. Yet seven other years of 
kindness, and the man again knocked ; and the voice 
cried and said : " Who is there ? " " Thyself, O 
God ! " And the gates wide open flew. 

I say there is no more beautiful Christian poem 
than this. 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. IOI 

A Persian after having read our religion, with its 
frightful descriptions of perdition, wrote these words : 
" Two angels flying out from the blissful city of God 
the angel of love and the angel of pity hovered 
over the eternal pit where suffered the captives of 
hell. One smile of love illumined the darkness and 
one tear of pity extinguished all the fires." Has 
orthodoxy produced anything as generously beauti 
ful as this ? Let me read you this : Sectarians, hear 
this: Believers in eternal damnation, hear this: 
Clergy of America who expect to have your happiness 
in heaven increased by seeing me burning in hell, hear 
this: 

This is the prayer of the Brahmins a prayer that 
has trembled from human lips toward heaven for 
more than four thousand years : 

" Never will I seek or receive private individual 
salvation. Never will I enter into final bliss alone. 
But forever and everywhere will I labor and strive 
for the final redemption of every creature throughout 
all worlds, and until all are redeemed. Never will I 
wrongly leave this world to sin, sorrow and strug 
gle, but will remain and work and suffer where 

In 
am. 

Has the orthodox religion produced a prayer like 
this ? See the infinite charity, not only for every 



IO2 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

soul in this world, but of all the shining worlds of the 
universe. Think of that, ye parsons who imagine 
that a large majority are going to eternal ruin. 

Compare it with the sermons of Jonathan Edwards, 
and compare it with the imprecation of Christ : 
" Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared 
for the devil and his angels ; " with the ideas of 
Jeremy Taylor, with the creeds of Christendom, with 
all the prayers of all the saints, and in no church 
except the Universalist will you hear a prayer like 
this. 

" When thou art in doubt as to whether an action 
is good or bad, abstain from it." 

Since the days of Zoroaster has there been any 
rule for human conduct given superior to this ? 

Are the principles taught by us superior to those 
of Confucius ? He was asked if there was any single 
word comprising the duties of man. He replied : 
" Reciprocity." Upon being asked what he thought 
of the doctrine of returning benefits for injuries, he 
replied : " That is not my doctrine. If you return 
benefits for injuries what do you propose for benefits ? 
My doctrine is ; For benefits return benefits ; for 
injuries return justice without any admixture of re 
venge." 

To return good for evil is to pay a premium upon 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 10$ 

wickedness. I cannot put a man under obligation to 
do me a favor by doing him an injury. 

Now, to-day, right now, what is the church do 
ing ? What is it doing, I ask you honestly ? Does it 
satisfy the craving hearts of the nineteenth century ? 
Are we satisfied ? I am not saying this except from 
the honesty of my heart. Are we satisfied ? Is it 
a consolation to us now ? Is it even a consolation 
when those we love die ? The dead are so near and 
the promises are so far away. It is covered with 
the rubbish of the past. I ask you, is it all that is 
demanded by the brain and heart of the nineteenth 
century ? 

We want something better ; we want something 
grander ; we want something that has more brain 
in it, and more heart in it. We want to advance 
that is what we want ; and you cannot advance 
without being a heretic you cannot do it. 

Nearly all these religions have been upheld by 
persecution and bloodshed. They have been ren 
dered stable by putting fetters upon the human 
brain. They have all, however, been perfectly 
natural productions, and under similar circumstances 
would all be reproduced. Only by intellectual 
development are the old superstitions outgrown. 
As only the few intellectually advance, the majority 



104 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

is left on the side of superstition, and remains 
there until the advanced ideas of the few thinkers 
become general ; and by that time there are other 
thinkers still in advance. 

And so the work of development and growth 
slowly and painfully proceeds from age to age. The 
pioneers are denounced as heretics, and the heretics 
denounce their denouncers as the disciples of super 
stition and ignorance. Christ was a heretic. Herod 

o 

was orthodox. Socrates was a blasphemer. Anytus 
worshiped all the gods. Luther was a skeptic, while 
the sellers of indulgences were the best of Catholics. 
Roger Williams was a heretic, while the Puritans 
who drove him from Massachusetts were all ortho 
dox. Every step in advance in the religious history 
of the world has been taken by heretics. No super 
stition has been destroyed except by a heretic. No 
creed has been bettered except by a heretic. 
Heretic is the name that the orthodox laggard hurls 
at the disappearing pioneer. It is shouted by the 
dwellers in swamps to the people upon the hills. It 
is the opinion that midnight entertains of the dawn. 
It is what the rotting says of the growing. Heretic 
is the name that a stench gives to a perfume. 

With this word the coffin salutes the cradle. It 
is taken from the lips of the dead. Orthodoxy is a 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. IO5 

shroud heresy is a banner. Orthodoxy is an 
epitaph heresy is a prophecy. Orthodoxy is a 
cloud, a fog, a mist heresy the star shining forever 
above the child of truth. 

I am a believer in the eternity of progress. I do 
not believe that Want will forever extend its 
withered hand, its wan and shriveled palms, for 
charity. I do not believe that the children will 
forever be governed by cruelty and brute force. I 
do not believe that poverty will dwell with man 
forever. I do not believe that prisons will forever 
cover the earth, or that the shadow of the gallows 
will forever fall upon the ground. I do not believe 
that injustice will sit forever upon the bench, or that 
malice and superstition will forever stand in the 
pulpit. 

I believe the time will come when there will be 
charity in every heart, when there will be love in 
every family, and when law and liberty and justice, 
like the atmosphere, will surround this world. 

We have worshiped the ghosts long enough. 
We have prostrated ourselves before the ignorance 
of the past. 

Let us stand erect and look with hopeful eyes 
toward the brightening future. Let us stand by our 
convictions. Let us not throw away our idea of 



106 MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 

justice for the sake of any book or of any religion 
whatever. Let us live according to our highest 
and noblest and purest ideal. 

By this time we should know that the real Bible 
has not been written. 

The real Bible is not the work of inspired men, 
or prophets, or apostles, or evangelists, or of 
Christs. 

Every man who finds a fact, adds, as it were, 
a word to this great book. It is not attested 
by prophecy, by miracles, or signs. It makes no ap 
peal to faith, to ignorance, to credulity or fear. It 
has no punishment for unbelief, and no reward for 
hypocrisy. It appeals to man in the name of de 
monstration. It has nothing to conceal. It has 
no fear of being read, of being contradicted, of being 
investigated and understood. It does not pretend 
to be holy, or sacred ; it simply claims to be true. It 
challenges the scrutiny of all, and implores every 
reader to verify every line for himself. It is incap 
able of being blasphemed. This book appeals to all 
the surroundings of man. Each thing that exists 
testifies to its perfection. The earth, with its heart 
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- 



MY REVIEWERS REVIEWED. 1 07 

firms its every word, and the solemn stars, shining 
in the infinite abysses, are the eternal witnesses of 
its truth. 

Ladies and gentlemen you cannot tell how I thank 
you this evening ; you cannot tell how I feel toward 
the intellectual hospitality of this great city by the 
Pacific sea. Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you I 
thank you again and again, a thousand times. 



MY CHICAGO BIBLE CLASS. 



MY CHICAGO BIBLE CLASS.* 

To the Editor : 

NOTHING is more gratifying than to see ideas 
that were received with scorn, flourishing in 
the sunshine of approval. Only a few weeks ago, I 
stated that the Bible was not inspired ; that Moses 
was mistaken ; that the " flood " was a foolish myth ; 
that the Tower of Babel existed only in credulity ; 
that God did not create the universe from nothing, 
that he did not start the first woman with a rib ; that , 
he never upheld slavery ; that he was not a polyga- 
mist ; that he did not kill people for making hair- 
oil ; that he did not order his generals to kill 
the dimpled babes ; that he did not allow the roses 
of love and the violets of modesty to be trodden un 
der the brutal feet of lust ; that the Hebrew lan 
guage was written without vowels ; that the Bible 
was composed of many books, written by unknown 
men ; that all translations differed from each other ; 
and that this book had filled the world with agony 
and crime. 

At that time I had not the remotest idea that the 

* Chicago Times, 1879. (Ill) 



112 MY CHICAGO BIBLE CLASS. 

most learned clergymen in Chicago would substanti 
ally agree with me in public. I have read the re 
plies of the Rev. Robert Collyer, Dr. Thomas, Rabbi 
Kohler, Rev. Brooke Herford, Prof. Swing and Dr. 
Ryder, and will now ask them a few questions, an 
swering them in their own words. 

First. Rev. Robert Collyer. 

Question. What is your opinion of the Bible ? 

Answer. " It is a splendid book. It makes the 
noblest type of Catholics and the meanest bigots. 
Through this book men give their hearts for good to 
God, or for evil to the devil. The best argument for 
the intrinsic greatness of the book is that it can touch 
such wide extremes, and seem to maintain us in 
the most unparalleled cruelty, as well as the most 
tender mercy ; that it can inspire purity like that of 
the great saints, and afford arguments in favor of 
polygamy. The Bible is the text book of ironclad 
Calvinism and sunny Universalism. It makes the 
Quaker quiet, and the Millerite crazy. It inspired 
the Union soldier to live and grandly die for the 
right, and Stonewall Jackson to live nobly, and die 
grandly for the wrong." 

Question. But, Mr. Collyer, do you really think 
that a book with as many passages in favor of wrong 
as right, is inspired? 



MY CHICAGO BIBLE CLASS. 113 

Answer. " I look upon the Old Testament as a 
rotting tree. When it falls it will fertilize a bank 
of violets." 

Question. Do you believe that God upheld slavery 
and polygamy ? Do you believe that he ordered 
the killing of babes and the violation of maidens ? 

Answer. " There is threefold inspiration in the 
Bible, the first, peerless and perfect, the word of God 
to man ; the second, simply and purely human, and 
then below this again, there is an inspiration born of 
an evil heart, ruthless and savage there and then as 
anything well can be. A threefold inspiration, of 
heaven first, then of the earth, and then of hell, all 
in the same book, all sometimes in the same chapter, 
and then, besides, a great many things that need no 
inspiration." 

Question. Then after all you do not pretend that 
the Scriptures are really inspired ? 

Answer. " The Scriptures make no such claim for 
themselves as the church makes for them. They 
leave me free to say this is false, or this is true. 
The truth even within the Bible, dies and lives, makes 
on this side and loses on that." 

Question. What do you say to the last verse in 
the Bible, where a curse is threatened to any man 
who takes from or adds to the book ? 



114 MY CHICAGO BIBLE CLASS. 

Answer. " I have but one answer to this question, 
and it is : Let who will have written this, I cannot 
for an instant believe that it was written by a divine 
inspiration. Such dogmas and threats as these are 
not of God, but of man, and not of any man of a 
free spirit and heart eager for the truth, but a narrow 
man who would cripple and confine the human soul 
in its quest after the whole truth of God, and back 
those who have done the shameful things in the name 
of the most high." 

Question. Do you not regard such talk as " slang " ? 

{Supposed) Answer. If an infidel had said that the 
writer of Revelation was narrow and bigoted, I 
might have denounced his discourse as " slang," but 
I think that Unitarian ministers can do so with the 
greatest propriety. 

Question. Do you believe in the stories of the 
Bible, about Jael, and the sun standing still, and the 
walls falling at the blowing of horns ? 

Answer. " They may be legends, myths, poems, 
or what they will, but they are not the word of God. 
So I say again, it was not the God and Father 
of us all, who inspired the woman to drive that 
nail crashing through the king's temple after she 
had given him that bowl of milk and bid him sleep in 
safety, but a very mean devil of hatred and revenge, 



MY CHICAGO BIBLE CLASS. 

that I should hardly expect to find in a squaw on 
the plains. It was not the ram's horns and the 
shouting before which the walls fell flat. If they 
went down at all, it was through good solid pounding. 
And not for an instant did the steady sun stand 
still or let his planet stand still while barbarian 
fought barbarian. He kept just the time then he 
keeps now. They might believe it who made the 
record. I do not. And since the whole Christian 
world might believe it, still we do not who gather in 
this church. A free and reasonable mind stands 
right in our way. Newton might believe it as a 
Christian, and disbelieve it as a philosopher. We 
stand then with the philosopher against the Christian, 
for we must believe what is true to us in the last 
test, and these things are not true." 

Second. Rev. Dr. Thomas. 

Question. What is your opinion of the Old Tes 
tament ? 

Answer. " My opinion is that it is not one book, 
but many thirty-nine books bound up in one. The 
date and authorship of most of these books are 
wholly unknown. The Hebrews wrote without 
vowels, and without dividing the letters into syllables, 
words, or sentences. The books were gathered up 
by Ezra. At that time only two of the Jewish tribes 



Il6 MY CHICAGO BIBLE CLASS. 

remained. All progress has ceased. In gathering 
up the sacred book, copyists exercised great liberty 
in making changes and additions." 

Question. Yes, we know all that, but is the Old 
Testament inspired ? 

Answer. "There maybe the inspiration of art, 
of poetry, or oratory ; of patriotism and there are 
such inspirations. There are moments when great 
truths and principles come to men. They seek the 
man, and not the man them." 

Question. Yes, we all admit that, but is the Bible 
inspired ? 

Answer. " But still I know of no way to convince 
anyone of spirit, and inspiration, and God, only as his 
reason may take hold of these things." 

Question. Do you think the Old Testament 
true? 

Answer. " The story of Eden may be an allegory. 
The history of the children of Israel may have 
mistakes." 

Question. Must inspiration claim infallibility ? 

Answer. " It is a mistake to say that if you believe 
one part of the Bible you must believe all. Some 
of the thirty-nine books may be inspired, others 
not ; or there may be degrees of inspiration." 

Question. Do you believe that God commanded 



MY CHICAGO BIBLE CLASS. 117 

the soldiers to kill the children and the married 
women, and save for themselves, the maidens, as 
recorded in Numbers xxxi, 2 ? 

Do you believe that God upheld slavery ? 

Do you believe that God upheld polygamy ? 

Answer. " The Bible may be wrong in some state 
ments. God and right cannot be wrong. We must 
not exalt the Bible above God. It may be that 
we have claimed too much for the Bible, and thereby 
given not a little occasion for such men as Mr. 
Ingersoll to appear at the other extreme, denying 
too much." 

Question, What then shall be done ? 

Answer. " We must take a middle ground. It is 
not necessary to believe that the bears devoured the 
forty-two children, nor that Jonah was swallowed by 
the whale." 

Third. Rev. Dr. Kohler. 

Question. What is your opinion about the Old 
Testament ? 

Answer. " I will not make futile attempts of arti 
ficially interpreting the letter of the Bible so as to 
make it reflect the philosophical, moral and scientific 
views of our time. The Bible is a sacred record of 
humanity's childhood." 

Question. Are you an orthodox Christian ? 



Il8 MY CHICAGO BIBLE CLASS. 

Answer. " No. Orthodoxy, with its face turned 
backward to a ruined temple or a dead Messiah, is 
fast becoming like Lot's wife, a pillar of salt." 

Question. Do you really believe the Old Testa 
ment was inspired ? 

Answer. " I greatly acknowledge our indebtedness 
to men like Voltaire and Thomas Paine, whose bold 
denial and cutting wit were so instrumental in 
bringing about this glorious era of freedom, so con 
genial and blissful, particularly to the long-abused 
Jewish race." 

Question. Do you believe in the inspiration of 
the Bible ? 

Answer. " Of course there is a destructive axe 
needed to strike down the old building in order to 
make room for the grander new. The divine origin 
claimed by the Hebrews for their national literature, 
was claimed by all nations for their old records and 
laws as preserved by the priesthood. As Moses, the 
Hebrew law-giver, is represented as having received 
the law from God on the holy mountain, so is Zoro 
aster the Persian, Manu the Hindoo, Minos the 
Cretan, Lycurgus the Spartan, and Numa the 
Roman." 

Question. Do you believe all the stories in the 
Bible? 



MY CHICAGO BIBLE CLASS. IIQ 

Answer. "All that can and must be said against 
them is that they have been too long retained 
around the arms and limbs of grown-up man 
hood, to check the spiritual progress of religion ; 
that by Jewish ritualism and Christian dogmatism 
they became fetters unto the soul, turning the 
light of heaven into a misty haze to blind the eye, 
and even into a hell- fire of fanaticism to consume 
souls." 

Question. Is the Bible inspired? 

Answer. " True, the Bible is not free from errors, 
nor is any work of man and time. It abounds in 
childish views and offensive matter. I trust that it 
will in a time not far off be presented for common 
use in families, schools, synagogues and churches, in 
a refined shape, cleansed from all dross and chaff, 
and stumbling blocks in which the scoffer delights 
to dwell." 

Fourth. Rev. Mr. Herford. 

Question. Is the Bible true ? 

Answer. " Ingersoll is very fond of saying 'The 
question is not, is the Bible inspired, but is it true ? ' 
That sounds very plausible, but you know as applied 
to any ancient book it is simply nonsense." 

Question. Do you think the stories in the Bible 
exaggerated ? 




I2O MY CHICAGO BIBLE CLASS. 

Answer. " I dare say the numbers are immensely 
exaggerated." 

Question. Do you think that God upheld polyg 
amy ? 

Answer. " The truth of which simply is, that four 
thousand years ago polygamy existed among the 
Jews, as everywhere else on earth then, and even 
their prophets did not come to the idea of its being 
wrong. But what is there to be indignant about in 
that?" 

Question. And so you really wonder why any 
man should be indignant at the idea that God up 
held and sanctioned that beastliness called polyg 
amy ? 

Answer. " What is there to be indignant about in 
that ? " 

Fifth. Prof. Swing. 

Question. What is your idea of the Bible ? 

Answer. " I think it is a poem." 

Sixth. Rev. Dr. Ryder. 

Question. And what is your idea of the sacred 
Scriptures ? 

Answer. " Like other nations, the Hebrews had 
their patriotic, descriptive, didactic and lyrical poems 
in the same varieties as other nations ; but with 
them, unlike other nations, whatever may be the form 



MY CHICAGO BIBLE CLASS. 121 

of their poetry, it always possesses the charactej istic 
of religion." 

Question. I suppose you fully appreciate the 
religious characteristics of the Song of Solomon. 

No answer. 

Question. Does the Bible uphold polygamy ? 

Answer. " The law of Moses did not forbid it, but 
contained many provisions against its worst abuses, 
and such as were intended to restrict it within nar 
row limits." 

Question. So you think God corrected some of 
the worst abuses of polygamy, but preserved the 
institution itself? 

I might question many others, but have concluded 
not to consider those as members of my Bible Class 
who deal in calumnies and epithets. From the so- 
called " replies " of such ministers, it appears that 
while Christianity changes the heart, it does not im 
prove the manners, and that one can get into heaven 
in the next world without having been a gentleman 
in this. 

It is difficult for me to express the deep and 
thrilling satisfaction I have experienced in reading 
the admissions of the clergy of Chicago. Surely, 
the battle of intellectual liberty is almost won, when 
ministers admit that the Bible is filled with ignorant 



122 MY CHICAGO BIBLE CLASS. 

and cruel mistakes ; that each man has the right to 
think for himself, and that it is not necessary to be 
lieve the Scriptures in order to be saved. From the 
bottom of my heart I congratulate my pupils on the 
advance they have made, and hope soon to meet 
them on the serene heights of perfect freedom. 

ROBERT G. INGERSOLL. 
Washington, D. C., May 7, 



TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 



To THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY.* 

THE following questions have been submitted to 
me by the Rev. David Walk, Dr. T. B. Taylor, 
the Rev. Myron W. Reed, and the Rev. D. O'Don- 
aghue, of Indianapolis, with the request that I answer 
them : 

I. 

Question. Is the Character of Jesus of Nazareth, 
as described in the Four Gospels, Fictional or Real? 
REV. DAVID WALK. 

Answer. In all probability, there was a man by the 
name of Jesus Christ, who was,in his day and genera 
tion, a reformer a man who was infinitely shocked 
at the religion of Jehovah who became almost in 
sane with pity as he contemplated the sufferings of 
the weak, the poor, and the ignorant at the hands 
of an intolerant, cruel, hypocritical, and bloodthirsty 
church. It is no wonder that such a man predicted 
the downfall of the temple. In all probability, he 

* The Iconvcfast, Indianapolis, Indiana. 1883. (135) 



126 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS' CLERGY. 

hated, at last, every pillar and stone in it, and de 
spised even the " Holy of Holies." This man, of 
course, like other men, grew. He did not die with 
the opinion he held in his youth. He changed his 
views from time to time fanned the spark of reason 
into a flame, and as he grew older his horizon ex 
tended and widened, and he became gradually a 
wiser, greater, and better man. 

I find two or three Christs described in the four 
Gospels. In some portions you would imagine that 
he was an exceedingly pious Jew. When he says 
that people must not swear by Jerusalem, because 
it is God's holy city, certainly no Pharisee could have 
gone beyond that expression. So, too, when it is 
recorded that he drove the money changers from the 
temple. This, had it happened, would have been 
the act simply of one who had respect for this temple 
and not for the religion taught in it. 

It would seem that, at first, Christ believed sub 
stantially in the religion of his time ; that after 
ward, seeing its faults, he wished to reform it ; and 
finally, comprehending it in all its enormity, he de 
voted his life to its destruction. This view shows 
that he " increased in stature and grew in knowl 
edge." 

This view is also supported by the fact that, at 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 127 

first, according to the account, Christ distinctly stated 
that his gospel was not for the Gentiles. At that time 
he had altogether more patriotism than philosophy. 
In my own opinion, he was driven to like the Gen 
tiles by the persecution he endured at home. He 
found, as every Freethinker now finds, that there 
are many saints not in churches and many devils not 
out. 

The character of Christ, in many particulars, as 
described in the Gospels, depends upon who wrote 
the Gospels. Each one endeavored to make a Christ 
to suit himself. So that Christ, after all, is a growth ; 
and since the Gospels were finished, millions of men 
have been adding to and changing the character of 
Christ. 

There is another thing that should not be forgotten, 
and that is that the Gospels were not written until 
after the Epistles. I take it for granted that Paul 
never saw any of the Gospels, for the reason that he 
quotes none of them. There is also this remarkable 
fact : Paul quotes none of the miracles of the New 
Testament. He says not one word about the mul 
titude being fed miraculously, not one word about 
the resurrection of Lazarus, nor of the widow's son. 
He had never heard of the lame, the halt, and the 
blind that had been cured ; or if he had, he did not 



128 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

think these incidents of enough importance to be em 
balmed in an epistle. 

So we find that none of the early fathers ever 
quoted from the four Gospels. Nothing can be more 
certain than that the four Gospels were not written 
until after the Epistles, and nothing can be more 
certain than that the early Christians knew nothing 
of what we call the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, 
and John. All these things have been growths. At 
first it was believed that Christ was a direct descend 
ant from David. At that time the disciples of Christ, 
of course, were Jews. The Messiah was expected 
through the blood of David. For that reason, the 
genealogy of Joseph, a descendant of David, was 
given. It was not until long after, that the idea 
came into the minds of Christians that Christ was the 
son of the Holy Ghost. If they, at the time the 
genealogy was given, believed that Christ was in 
fact the son of the Holy Ghost, why did they give 
the genealogy of Joseph to show that Christ was re 
lated to David ? In other words, why should the 
son of God attempt to get glory out of the fact that 
he had in his veins the blood of a barbarian king ? 
There is only one answer to this. The Jews ex 
pected the Messiah through David, and in order to 
prove that Christ was the Messiah, they gave the 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 129 

genealogy of Joseph. Afterward, the idea became 
popularized that Christ was the son of God, and then 
were interpolated the words " as was supposed" in 
the genealogy of Christ. It was a long time before 
the disciples became great enough to include the 
world in their scheme, and before they thought it 
proper to tell the " glad tidings of great joy " be 
yond the limits of Judea. 

My own opinion is that the man called Christ 
lived ; but whether he lived in Palestine, or not, is 
of no importance. His life is worth its example, 
its moral force, its benevolence, its self-denial and 
heroism. It is of no earthly importance whether he 
changed water into wine or not. All his miracles 
are simply dust and darkness compared with what 
he actually said and actually did. We should be 
kind to each other whether Lazarus was raised or 
not. We should be just and forgiving whether 
Christ lived or not. All the miracles in the world 
are of no use to virtue, morality, or justice. Mir 
acles belong to superstition, to ignorance, to fear 
and folly. 

Neither does it make any difference who wrote the 
Gospels. They are worth the truth that is in them 
and no more. 

The words of Paul are often quoted, that " all 



I3O REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

scripture is given by inspiration of God." Of course 
that could not have applied to anything written after 
that time. It could have applied only to the Scrip 
tures then written and then known. It is perfectly 
clear that the four Gospels were not at that time 
written, and therefore this statement of Paul's does 
not apply to the four Gospels. Neither does it apply 
to anything written after that statement was written. 
Neither does it apply to that statement. If it ap 
plied to anything it was the Old Testament, and not 
the New. 

Christ has been belittled by his worshipers. When 
stripped of the miraculous ; when allowed to be, not 
divine but divinely human, he will have gained a 
thousandfold in the estimation of mankind. I think 
of him as I do of Buddha, as I do of Confucius, of 
Epictetus, of Bruno. I place him with the great, the 
generous, the self-denying of the earth, and for the 
man Christ, I feel only admiration and respect. I 
think he was in many things mistaken. His reliance 
upon the goodness of God was perfect. He seemed 
to believe that his father in heaven would protect 
him. He thought that if God clothed the lilies of 
the field in beauty, if he provided for the sparrows, 
he would surely protect a perfectly just and loving 
man. In this he was mistaken ; and in the darkness 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

of death, overwhelmed, he cried out : " Why hast 
thou forsaken me ?" 

I do not believe that Christ ever claimed to be 
divine ; ever claimed to be inspired ; ever claimed 
to work a miracle. In short, I believe that he was 
an honest man. These claims were all put in his 
mouth by others by mistaken friends, by ignorant 
worshipers, by zealous and credulous followers, and 
sometimes by dishonest and designing priests. This 
has happened to all the great men of the world. 
All historical characters are, in part, deformed or 
reformed by fiction. There was a man by the 
name of George Washington, but no such George 
Washington ever existed as we find portrayed in 
history. The historical Caesar never lived. The 
historical Mohammed is simply a myth. It is the 
task of modern criticism to rescue these characters, 
and in the mass of superstitious rubbish to find the 
actual man. Christians borrowed the old clothes of 
the Olympian gods and gave them to Christ. To 
me, Christ the man is far greater than Christ the 
god. 

To me, it has always been a matter of wonder that 
Christ said nothing as to the obligation man is under 
to his country, nothing as to the rights of the people 
as against the wish and will of kings, nothing 



132 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

against the frightful system of human slavery almost 
universal in his time. What he did not say is alto 
gether more wonderful than what he did say. It is 
marvelous that he said nothing upon the subject of 
intemperance, nothing about education, nothing about 
philosophy, nothing about nature, nothing about art. 
He said nothing in favor of the home, except to offer 
a reward to those who would desert their wives and 
families. Of course, I do not believe that he said 
the words that were attributed to him, in which a re 
ward is offered to any man who will desert his 
kindred. But if we take the account given in the 
four Gospels as the true account, then Christ did 
offer a reward to a father who would desert his chil 
dren. It has always been contended that he was a 
perfect example of mankind, and yet he never mar 
ried. As a result of what he did not teach in con 
nection with what he did teach, his followers saw no 
harm in slavery, no harm in polygamy. They be 
littled this world and exaggerated the importance of 
the next. They consoled the slave by telling him 
that in a little while he would exchange his chains 
for wings. They comforted the captive by saying 
that in a few days he would leave his dungeon for 
the bowers of Paradise. His followers believed that 
he had said that " Whosoever believeth not shall 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 133 

be damned." This passage was the cross upon which 
intellectual liberty was crucified. 

If Christ had given us the laws of health ; if he 
had told us how to cure disease by natural means ; 
if he had set the captive free ; if he had crowned 
the people with their rightful power ; if he had 
placed the home above the church ; if he had broken 
all the mental chains ; if he had flooded all the caves 
and dens of fear with light, and filled the future 
with a common joy, he would in truth have been 
the Savior of this world. 

Question. How do you account for the differ 
ence between the Christian and other modern 
civilizations ? 

Answer. I account for the difference between 
men by the difference in their ancestry and surround 
ings the difference in soil, climate, food, and em 
ployment. There would be no civilization in Eng 
land were it not for the Gulf Stream. There would 
have been very little here had it not been for the 
discovery of Columbus. And even now on this con 
tinent there would be but little civilization had the 
soil been poor. I might ask : How do you account 
for the civilization of Egypt ? At one time that was 
the greatest civilization in the world. Did that fact 
prove that the Egyptian religion was of divine 



134 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

origin ? So, too, there was a time when the civiliza 
tion of India was beyond all others. Does that 
prove that Vishnu was a God ? Greece dominated 
the intellectual world for centuries. Does that fact 
absolutely prove that Zeus was the creator of 
heaven and earth ? The same may be said of Rome. 
There was a time when Rome governed the world, 
and yet I have always had my doubts as to the truth 
of the Roman mythology. As a matter of fact, 
Rome was far better than any Christian nation ever 
was to the end of the seventeenth century. A 
thousand years of Christian rule produced no fellow 
for the greatest of Rome. There were no poets the 
equals of Horace or Virgil, no philosophers as great 
as Lucretius, no orators like Cicero, no emperors 
like Marcus Aurelius, no women like the mothers 
of Rome. 

The civilization of a country may be hindered by 
a religion, but it has never been increased by any 
form of superstition. When America was discover 
ed it had the same effect upon Europe that it 
would have, for instance, upon the city of Chicago 
to have Lake Michigan put the other side of it. 
The Mediterranean lost its trade. The centers of 
commerce became deserted. The prow of the world 
turned westward, and, as a result, France, England, 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 135 

and all countries bordering on the Atlantic became 
prosperous. The world has really been civilized by 
discoverers by thinkers. The man who invented 
powder, and by that means released hundreds of 
thousands of men from the occupations of war, did 
more for mankind than religion. The inventor of 
paper and he was not a Christian did more than 
all the early fathers for mankind. The inventors of 
plows, of sickles, of cradles, of reapers ; the invent 
ors of wagons, coaches, locomotives ; the inventors 
of skiffs, sail-vessels, steamships ; the men who have 
made looms in short, the inventors of all useful 
things they are the civilizers taken in connection 
with the great thinkers, the poets, the musicians, 
the actors, the painters, the sculptors. The men 
who have invented the useful, and the men who 
have made the useful beautiful, are the real civil 
izers of mankind. 

The priests, in all ages, have been hindrances 
stumbling-blocks. They have prevented man from 
using his reason. They have told ghost stories to 
courage until courage became fear. They have 
done all in their power to keep men from growing 
intellectually, to keep the world in a state of child 
hood, that they themselves might be deemed great 
and good and wise. They have always known that 



136 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

their reputation for wisdom depended upon the 
ignorance of the people. 

I account for the civilization of France by such 
men as Voltaire. He did good by assisting to de 
stroy the church. Luther did good exactly in the 
same way. He did harm in building another church. 
I account, in part, for the civilization of England by 
the fact that she had interests greater than the church 
could control ; and by the further fact that her 
greatest men cared nothing for the church. I ac 
count in part for the civilization of America by the 
fact that our fathers were wise enough, and jealous 
of each other enough, to absolutely divorce church 
and state. They regarded the church as a danger 
ous mistress one not fit to govern a president. 
This divorce was obtained because men like Jeffer 
son and Paine were at that time prominent in the 
councils of the people. There is this peculiarity in 
our country the only men who can be trusted with 
human liberty are the ones who are not to be angels 
hereafter. Liberty is safe so long as the sinners 
have an opportunity to be heard. 

Neither must we imagine that our civilization is 
the only one in the world. They had no locks and 
keys in Japan until that country was visited by 
Christians, and they are now used only in those 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 137 

ports where Christians are allowed to enter. It 
has often been claimed that there is but one way 
to make a man temperate, and that is by making 
him a Christian ; and this is claimed in face of the 
fact that Christian nations are the most intem 
perate in the world. For nearly thirteen centuries 
the followers of Mohammed have been absolute 
teetotalers not one drunkard under the flag of the 
star and crescent. Wherever, in Turkey, a man is 
seen under the influence of liquor, they call him a 
Christian. You must also remember that almost 
every Christian nation has held slaves. Only a few 
years ago England was engaged in the slave trade. 
A little while before that our Puritan ancestors 
sold white Quaker children in the Barbadoes, and 
traded them for rum, sugar, and negro slaves. Even 
now the latest champion of Christianity upholds 
slavery, polygamy, and wars of extermination. 

Sometimes I suspect that our own civilization is 
not altogether perfect. When I think of the peni 
tentiaries crammed to suffocation, and of the many 
who ought to be in ; of the want, the filth, the de 
pravity of the great cities ; of the starvation in the 
manufacturing centers of Great Britain, and, in fact, 
of all Europe ; when I see women working like 
beasts of burden, and little children deprived, not 



138 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

simply of education, but of air, light and food, there 
is a suspicion in my mind that Christian civilization 
is not a complete and overwhelming success. 

After all, I am compelled to account for the ad 
vance that we have made, by the discoveries and 
inventions of men of genius. For the future I rely 
upon the sciences ; upon the cultivation of the in 
tellect. I rely upon labor ; upon human interests 
in this world ; upon the love of wife and children 
and home. I do not rely upon sacred books, but 
upon good men and women. I do not rely upon 
superstition, but upon knowledge ; not upon mira 
cles, but upon facts ; not upon the dead, but upon 
the living ; and when we become absolutely civilized, 
we shall look back upon the superstitions of the 
world, not simply with contempt, but with pity. 

Neither do I rely upon missionaries to convert 
those whom we are pleased to call " the heathen." 
Honest commerce is the great civilizer. We ex 
change ideas when we exchange fabrics. The effort 
to force a religion upon the people always ends in 
war. Commerce, founded upon mutual advantage, 
makes peace. An honest merchant is better than a 
missionary. 

Spain was blessed with what is called Christian 
civilization, and yet, for hundreds of years, that 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 139 

government was simply an organized crime. When 
one pronounces the name of Spain, he thinks of the 
invasion of the New World, the persecution in the 
Netherlands, the expulsion of the Jews, and the 
Inquisition. Even to-day, the Christian nations of 
Europe preserve themselves from each other by 
bayonet and ball. Prussia has a standing army of 
six hundred thousand men, France a half million, 
and all their neighbors a like proportion. These 
countries are civilized. They are in the enjoyment 
of Christian governments have their hundreds of 
thousands of ministers, and the land covered with 
cathedrals and churches and yet every nation is 
nearly beggared by keeping armies in the field. 
Christian kings have no confidence in the promises 
of each other. What they call peace is the little 
time necessarily spent in reloading their guns. 
England has hundreds of ships of war to protect 
her commerce from other Christians, and to force 
China to open her ports to the opium trade. Only 
the other day the Prime Minister of China, in one 
of his dispatches to the English government, used 
substantially the following language : " England 
regards the opium question simply as one of trade, 
but to China, it has a moral aspect." Think of 
Christian England carrying death and desolation to 



I4O REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

hundreds of thousands in the name of trade. Then 
think of heathen China protesting in the name of 
morality. At the same time England has the im 
pudence to send missionaries to China. 

What has been called Christianity has been a 
disturber of the public peace in all countries and at 
all times. Nothing has so alienated nations, nothing 
has so destroyed the natural justice of mankind, as 
what has been known as religion. The idea that all 
men must worship the same God, believe the same 
dogmas, has for thousands of years plucked with 
bloody hands the flower of pity from the human 
heart. 

Our civilization is not Christian. It does not come 
from the skies. It is not a result of " inspiration." 
It is the child of invention, of discovery, of applied 
knowledge that is to say, of science. When man 
becomes great and grand enough to admit that all 
have equal rights ; when thought is untrammeled ; 
when worship shall consist in doing useful things ; 
when religion means the discharge of obligations to 
our fellow-men, then, and not until then, will the 
world be civilized. 



II. 

Question. Since Laplace and other most distin 
guished astronomers hold to the theory that the 
earth was originally in a gaseous state, and then a 
molten mass in which the germs, even, of vegetable 
or animal life, could not exist, how do you account 
for the origin of life on this planet without a " Cre 
ator " ? DR. T. B. TAYLOR. 

Answer. Whether or not " the earth was origin 
ally in a gaseous state and afterwards a molten mass 
in which the germs of vegetable and animal life 
could not exist," I do not know. My belief is that 
the earth as it is, and as it was, taken in connection 
with the influence of the sun, and of other planets, 
produced whatever has existed or does exist on the 
earth. I do not see why gas would not need a 
" creator " as much as a vegetable. Neither can I im 
agine that there is any more necessity for some one 
to start life than to start a molten mass. There may 
be now portions of the world in which there is not 

(141) 



142 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

one particle of vegetable life. It may be that on the 
wide waste fields of the Arctic zone there are places 
where no vegetable life exists, and there may be 
many thousand miles where no animal life can be 
found. But if the poles of the earth could be changed, 
and if the Arctic zone could be placed in a different 
relative position to the sun, the snows would melt, 
the hills would appear, and in a little while even the 
rocks would be clothed with vegetation. After a 
time vegetation would produce mpre soil, and in a 
few thousand years forests would be filled with 
beasts and birds. 

I think it was Sir William Thomson who, in his 
effort to account for the origin of life upon this earth, 
stated that it might have come from some meteoric 
stone falling from some other planet having in it the 
germs of life. What would you think of a farmer 
who would prepare his land and wait to have it 
planted by meteoric stones? So, what would you 
think of a Deity who would make a world like this, 
and allow it to whirl thousands and millions of years, 
barren as a gravestone, waiting for some vagrant 
comet to sow the seeds of life ? 

I believe that back of animal life is the vegetable, 
and back of the vegetable, it may be, is the mineral. 
It may be that crystallization is the first step toward 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 143 

what we call life, and yet I believe life is back of 
that. In my judgment, if the earth ever was in a 
gaseous state, it was filled with life. These are sub 
jects about which we know but little. How do you 
account for chemistry ? How do you account for 
the fact that just so many particles of one kind seek 
the society of just so many particles of another, and 
when they meet they instantly form a glad and last 
ing union ? How do you know but atoms have 
love and hatred ? How do you know that the vege 
table does not enjoy growing, and that crystallization 
itself is not an expression of delight? How do you 
know that a vine bursting into flower does not feel 
a thrill ? We find sex in the meanest weeds how 
can you say they have no loves ? 

After all, of what use is it to search for a creator ? 
The difficulty is not thus solved. You leave your 
creator as much in need of a creator as anything 
your creator is supposed to have created. The bot 
tom of your stairs rests on nothing, and the top of 
your stairs leans upon nothing. You have reached 
no solution. 

The word " God " is simply born of our ignorance. 
We go as far as we can, and we say the rest of the 
way is " God." We look as far as we can, and be 
yond the horizon, where there is nought so far as we 



144 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

know but blindness, we place our Deity. We see 
an infinitesimal segment of a circle, and we say the 
rest is " God." 

Man must give up searching for the origin of 
anything. No one knows the origin of life, or of 
matter, or of what we call mind. The whence and 
the whither are questions that no man can answer. 
In the presence of these questions all intellects are 
upon a level. The barbarian knows exactly the 
same as the scientist, the fool as the philosopher. 
Only those who think that they have had some 
supernatural information pretend to answer these 
questions, and the unknowable, the impossible, the 
unfathomable, is the realm wholly occupied by the 
"inspired." 

We are satisfied that all organized things must 
have had a beginning, but we cannot conceive that 
matter commenced to be. Forms change, but sub 
stance remains eternally the same. A beginning of 
substance is unthinkable. It is just as easy to con 
ceive of anything commencing to exist without a cause 
as with a cause. There must be something for cause 
to operate upon. Cause operating upon nothing 
were such a thing possible would produce nothing. 
There can be no relation between cause and nothing. 
We can understand how things can be arranged 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 145 

joined or separated and how relations can be 
changed or destroyed, but we cannot conceive of 
creation of nothing being changed into something, 
nor of something being made except from pre 
existing materials. 

Question. Since the universal testimony of the 
ages is in the affirmative of phenomena that attest 
the continued existence of man after death which 
testimony is overwhelmingly sustained by the phe 
nomena of the nineteenth century what further 
evidence should thoughtful people require in order 
to settle the question, " Does death end all ? " 

Answer. I admit that in all ages men have be 
lieved in spooks and ghosts and signs and wonders. 
This, however, proves nothing. Men have for thou 
sands of ages believed the impossible, and worshiped 
the absurd. Our ancestors have worshiped snakes 
and birds and beasts. I do not admit that any ghost 
ever existed. I know that no miracle was ever 
performed except in imagination ; and what you are 
pleased to call the " phenomena of the nineteenth 
century," I fear are on an exact equality with the 
phenomena of the Dark Ages. 

We do not yet understand the action of the brain. 
No one knows the origin of a thought. No one 
knows how he thinks, or why he thinks, any more 



146 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

than one knows why or how his heart beats. Peo 
ple, I imagine, have always had dreams. In dreams 
they often met persons whom they knew to be 
dead, and it may be that much of the philosophy 
of the present was born of dreams. I cannot admit 
that anything supernatural ever has happened or ever 
will happen. I cannot admit the truth of what you 
call the " phenomena of the nineteenth century," if 
by such " phenomena " you mean the reappear 
ance of the dead. I do not deny the existence of 
a future state, because I do not know. Neither do 
I aver that there is one, because I do not know. 
Upon this question I am simply honest. I find that 
people who believe in immortality or at least those 
who say they do are just as afraid of death as any 
body else. I find that the most devout Christian 
weeps as bitterly above his dead, as the man who 
says that death ends all. You see the promises are 
so far away, and the dead are so near. Still, I do 
not say that man is not immortal ; but I do say that 
there is nothing in the Bible to show that he is. 
The Old Testament has not a word upon the sub 
ject except to show us how we lost immortality. 
According to that book, man was driven from the 
Garden of Eden, lest he should put forth his hand 
and eat of the fruit of the tree of life and live for- 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 147 

ever. So the fact is, the Old Testament shows us 
how we lost immortality. In the New Testament 
we are told to seek for immortality, and it is also 
stated that " God alone hath immortality." 

There is this curious thing about Christians and 
Spiritualists : The Spiritualists laugh at the Chris 
tians for believing the miracles of the New Testa 
ment ; they laugh at them for believing the story 
about the witch of Endor. And then the Chris 
tians laugh at the Spiritualists for believing that 
the same kind of things happen now. As a matter 
of fact, the Spiritualists have the best of it, because 
their witnesses are now living, whereas the Chris 
tians take simply the word of the dead of men 
they never saw and of men about whom they know 
nothing. The Spiritualist, at least, takes the testi 
mony of men and women that he can cross-examine. 
It would seem as if these gentlemen ought to make 
common cause. Then the Christians could prove 
their miracles by the Spiritualists, and the Spirit 
ualists could prove their " phenomena " by the 
Christians. 

I believe that thoughtful people require some ad 
ditional testimony in order to settle the question, 
" Does death end all ? " If the dead return to this 
world they should bring us information of value. 



148 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

There are thousands of questions that studious his 
torians and savants are endeavoring to settle 
questions of history, of philosophy, of law, of art, 
upon which a few intelligent dead ought to be able 
to shed a flood of light. All the questions of the 
past ought to be settled. Some modern ghosts 
ought to get acquainted with some of the Pharaohs, 
and give us an outline of the history of Egypt. 
They ought to be able to read the arrow-headed 
writing and all the records of the past. The hiero 
glyphics of all ancient peoples should be unlocked, 
and thoughts and facts that have been imprisoned 
for so many thousand years should be released 
and once again allowed to visit brains. The 
Spiritualists ought to be able to give us the history 
of buried cities. They should clothe with life the 
dust of all the past. If they could only bring us 
valuable information ; if they could only tell us 
about some steamer in distress so that succor 
could be sent ; if they could only do something use 
ful, the world would cheerfully accept their theories 
and admit their " facts." I think that thoughtful 
people have the right to demand such evidence. I 
would like to have the spirits give us the history 
of all the books of the New Testament and tell us 
who first told of the miracles. If they could give us 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 149 

the history of any religion, or nation, or anything, 
I should have far more confidence in the " phe 
nomena of the nineteenth century." 

There is one thing about the Spiritualists I like, 
and that is, they are liberal. They give to others 
the rights they claim for themselves. They do not 
pollute their souls with the dogma of eternal pain. 
They do not slander and persecute even those who 
deny their " phenomena." But I cannot admit that 
they have furnished conclusive evidence that death 
does not end all. Beyond the horizon of this life 
we have not seen. From the mysterious beyond no 
messenger has come to me. 

For the whole world I would not blot from the 
sky of the future a single star. Arched by the bow 
of hope let the dead sleep. 

Question. How, when, where, and by whom was 
our present calendar originated, that is "Anno 
Domini," and what event in the history of the na 
tions does it establish as a fact, if not the birth of 
Jesus of Nazareth ? 

Answer. I have already said, in answer to a 
question by another gentleman, that I believe the 
man Jesus Christ existed, and we now date from 
somewhere near his birth. I very much doubt about 



I5O REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

his having been born on Christmas, because in read 
ing other religions, I find that that time has been 
celebrated for thousands of years, and the cause of 
it is this : 

About the 2istor 226. of December is the shortest 
day. After that the days begin to lengthen and the 
sun comes back, and for many centuries in most 
nations they had a festival in commemoration of 
that event. The Christians, I presume, adopted this 
day, and made the birth of Christ fit it. Three 
months afterward the 2 1 st of March the days and 
nights again become equal, and the day then begins 
to lengthen. For centuries the nations living in 
the temperate zones have held festivals to com 
memorate the coming of spring the yearly miracle 
of leaf, of bud and flower. This is the celebration 
known as Easter, and the Christians adopted that in 
commemoration of Christ's resurrection. So that, 
as a matter of fact, these festivals of Christmas and 
Easter do not even tend to show that they stand for 
or are in any way connected with the birth or resur 
rection of Christ. In fact the evidence is over 
whelmingly the other way. 

While we are on the calendar business it may be 
well enough to say that we get our numerals from 
the Arabs, from whom also we obtained our ideas of 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 151 

algebra. The higher mathematics came to us from 
the same source. So from the Arabs we receive 
chemistry, and our first true notions of geography. 
They gave us also paper and cotton. 

Owing to the fact that the earth does not make 
its circuit in the exact time of three hundred and 
sixty-five days and a quarter, and owing to the 
fact that it was a long time before any near approach 
was made to the actual time, all calendars after 
awhile became too inaccurate for general use, and 
they were from time to time changed. 

Right here, it may be well enough to remark, 
that all the monuments and festivals in the world 
are not sufficient to establish an impossible event. 
No amount of monumental testimony, no amount of 
living evidence, can substantiate a miracle. The 
monument only proves the belief of the builders. 

If we rely upon the evidence of monuments, cal 
endars, dates, and festivals, all the religions on the 
earth can be substantiated. Turkey is filled with 
such monuments and much of the time wasted in 
such festivals. We celebrate the Fourth of July, 
but such celebration does not even tend to prove 
that God, by his special providence, protected 
Washington from the arrows of an Indian. The 
Hebrews celebrate what is called the Passover, but 



152 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

this celebration does not even tend to prove that 
the angel of the Lord put blood on the door-posts 
in Egypt. The Mohammedans celebrate to-day the 
flight of Mohammed, but that does not tend to prove 
that Mohammed was inspired and was a prophet of 
God. 

Nobody can change a falsehood to a truth by the 
erection of a monument. Monuments simply prove 
that people endeavor to substantiate truths and 
falsehoods by the same means. 



III. 

Question. Letting the question as to hell here 
after rest for the present, how do you account for the 
hell here namely, the existence of pain ? There 
are people who, by no fault of their own, are at this 
present time in misery. If for these there is no life 
to come, their existence is a mistake ; but if there is 
a life to come, it may be that the sequel to the acts 
of the play to come will justify the pain and misery 
of this present time ? REV. MYRON W. REED. 

Answer. There are four principal theories : 

First That there is behind the universe a being 
of infinite power and wisdom, kindness, and justice. 

Second That the universe has existed from 
eternity, and that it is the only eternal existence, and 
that behind it is no creator. 

Third That there is a God who made the uni 
verse, but who is not all-powerful and who is, under 
the circumstances, doing the best he can. 

Fourth That there is an all-powerful God who 

(153) 



154 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

made the universe, and that there is also a nearly 
all-powerful devil, and this devil ravels about as fast 
as this God knits. 

By the last theory, as taught by Plato, it is ex 
tremely easy to account for the misery in this world. 
If we admit that there is a malevolent being with 
power enough, and with cunning enough, to fre 
quently circumvent God, the problem of evil becomes 
solved so far as this world is concerned. But why 
this being was evil is still unsolved ; why the devil 
is malevolent is still a mystery. Consequently you 
will have to go back of this world, on that theory, 
to account for the origin of evil. If this devil al 
ways existed, then, of course, the universe at one 
time was inhabited only by this God and this devil. 

If the third theory is correct, we can account for the 
fact that God does not see to it that justice is always 
done. 

If the second theory is true, that the universe has 
existed from eternity, and is without a creator, then 
we must account for the existence of evil and good, 
not by personalities behind the universe, but by the 
nature of things. 

If there is an infinitely good and wise being who 
created all, it seems to me that he should have made 
a world in which innocence should be a sufficient 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 155 

shield. He should have made a world where the 
just man should have nothing to fear. 

My belief is this : We are surrounded by obsta 
cles. We are filled with wants. We must have 
clothes. We must have food. We must protect 
ourselves from sun and storm, from heat and cold. 
In our conflict with these obstacles, with each other, 
and with what may be called the forces of nature, all 
do not succeed. It is a fact in nature that like be 
gets like ; that man gives his constitution, at least 
in part, to his children ; that weakness and strength 
are in some degree both hereditary. This is a fact 
in nature. I do not hold any god responsible for 
this fact filled as it is with pain and joy. But it 
seems to me that an infinite God should so have 
arranged matters that the bad would not pass 
that it would die with its possessor that the good 
should survive, and that the man should give to his 
son, not the result of his vices, but the fruit of his 
virtues. 

I cannot see why we should expect an infinite God 
to do better in another world than he does in this. 
If he allows injustice to prevail here, why will he 
not allow the same thing in the world to come ? If 
there is any being with power to prevent it, why is 
crime permitted ? If a man standing upon the rail- 



156 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

way should ascertain that a bridge had been carried 
off by a flood, and if he also knew that the train 
was coming filled with men, women, and children ; 
with husbands going to their wives, and wives re 
joining their families ; if he made no effort to stop 
that train ; if he simply sat down by the roadside to 
witness the catastrophe, and so remained until the 
train dashed off the precipice, and its load of life 
became a mass of quivering flesh, he would be de 
nounced by every good man as the most monstrous 
of human beings. And yet this is exactly what the 
supposed God does. He, if he exists, sees the train 
rushing to the gulf. He gives no notice. He sees 
the ship rushing for the hidden rock. He makes no 
sign. And he so constructed the world that assas 
sins lurk in the air hide even in the sunshine and 
when we imagine that we are breathing the breath of 
life, we are taking into ourselves the seeds of 
death. 

There are two facts inconsistent in my mind a 
martyr and a God. Injustice upon earth renders the 
justice of heaven impossible. 

I would not take from those suffering in this 
world the hope of happiness hereafter. My princi 
pal object has been to take away from them the fear 
of eternal pain hereafter. Still, it is impossible for 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 157 

me to explain the facts by which I am surrounded, 
if I admit the existence of an infinite Being. I find 
in this world that physical and mental evils afflict 
the good. It seems to me that I have the same 
reason to expect the bad to be rewarded hereafter. 
I have no right to suppose that infinite wisdom will 
ever know any more, or that infinite benevolence 
will increase in kindness, or that the justice of the 
eternal can change. If, then, this eternal being 
allows the good to suffer pain here, what right have 
we to say that he will not allow them to suffer for 
ever ? 

Some people have insisted that this life is a kind 
of school for the production of self-denying men and 
women that is, for the production of character. 
The statistics show that a large majority die under 
five years of age. What would we think of a school 
master who killed the most of his pupils the first day ? 
If this doctrine is true, and if manhood cannot be 
produced in heaven, those who die in childhood are 
infinitely unfortunate. 

I admit that, although I do not understand the sub 
ject, still, all pain, all misery may be for the best. I 
do not know. If there is an infinitely wise Being, 
who is also infinitely powerful, then everything that 
happens must be for the best. That philosophy of 



158 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

special providence, going to the extreme, is infinitely 
better than most of the Christian creeds. There 
seems to be no half-way house between special 
providence and atheism. You know some of the 
Buddhists say that when a man commits murder, that 
is the best thing he could have done, and that to be 
murdered was the best thing that could have happened 
to the killed. They insist that every step taken is the 
necessary step and the best step ; that crimes are as 
necessary as virtues, and that the fruit of crime and 
virtue is finally the same. 

But whatever theories we have, we have at last 
to be governed by the facts. We are in a world 
where vice, deformity, weakness, and disease are 
hereditary. In the presence of this immense and 
solemn truth rises the religion of the body. Every 
man should refuse to increase the misery of this 
world. And it may be that the time will come when 
man will be great enough and grand enough ut 
terly to refrain from the propagation of disease and 
deformity, and when only the healthy will be fathers 
and mothers. We do know that the misery in this 
world can be lessened ; consequently I believe in the 
religion of this world. And whether there is a 
heaven or hell here, or hereafter, every good man has 
enough to do to make this world a little better than 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 159 

it is. Millions of lives are wasted in the vain effort 
to find the origin of things, and the destiny of man. 
This world has been neglected. We have been 
taught that life should be merely a preparation for 
death. 

To avoid pain we must know the conditions of 
health. For the accomplishment of this end we must 
rely upon investigation instead of faith, upon labor 
in place of prayer. Most misery is produced by ig 
norance. Passions sow the seeds of pain. 

Question. State with what words you can com 
fort those who have, by their own fault, or by the 
fault of others, found this life not worth living ? 

Answer. If there is no life beyond this, and so 
believing I come to the bedside of the dying of one 
whose life has been a failure a ' ' life not worth liv 
ing," I could at least say to such an one, " Your failure 
ends with your death. Beyond the tomb there is 
nothing for you neither pain nor misery, neither 
grief nor joy." But if I were a good orthodox Chris 
tian, then I would have to say to this man, "Your 
life has been a failure ; you have not been a Chris 
tian, and the failure will be extended eternally ; you 
have not only been a failure for a time, but you will 
be a failure forever." 



l6o REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

Admitting that there is another world, and that 
the man's life had been a failure in this, then I 
should say to him, " If you live again, you will have 
the eternal opportunity to reform. There will be 
no time, no date, no matter how many millions and 
billions of ages may have passed away, at which you 
will not have the opportunity of doing right." 

Under no circumstances could I consistently say 
to this man : " Although your life has been a failure ; 
although you have made hundreds and thousands of 
others suffer ; although you have deceived and be 
trayed the woman who loved you ; although you 
have murdered your benefactor ; still, if you will 
now repent and believe a something that is unrea 
sonable or reasonable to your mind, you will, at the 
moment of death, be transferred to a world of 
eternal joy." This I could not say. I would tell 
him, " If you die a bad man here, you will commence 
the life to come with the same character you leave 
this. Character cannot be made by another for you. 
You must be the architect of your own." There is 
to me unspeakably more comfort in the idea that 
every failure ends here, than that it is to be perpetu 
ated forever. 

How can a Christian comfort the mother of a girl 
who has died without believing in Christ ? What 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. l6l 

doctrine is there in Christianity to wipe away her 
tears ? What words of comfort can you offer to the 
mother whose brave boy fell in defence of his coun 
try, she knowing and you knowing, that the boy was 
not a Christian, that he did not believe in the Bible, 
and had no faith in the blood of the atonement ? 
What words of comfort have you for such fathers 
and for such mothers ? 

To me, there is no doctrine so infinitely absurd 
as the idea that this life is a probationary state 
that the few moments spent here decide the fate of 
a human soul forever. Nothing can be conceived 
more merciless, more unjust. I am doing all I can 
to destroy that doctrine. I want, if possible, to get 
the shadow of hell from the human heart. 

Why has any life been a failure here ? If God is 
a being of infinite wisdom and kindness, why does 
he make failures ? What excuse has infinite wisdom 
for peopling the world with savages ? Why should 
one feel grateful to God for having made him with 
a poor, weak and diseased brain ; for having allowed 
him to be the heir of consumption, of scrofula, or of 
insanity ? Why should one thank God, who lived 
and died a slave ? 

After all, is it not of more importance to speak 
the absolute truth ? Is it not manlier to tell the 



1 62 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

fact than to endeavor to convey comfort through 
falsehood ? People must reap not only what they 
sow, but what others have sown. The people of the 
whole world are united in spite of themselves. 

Next to telling a man, whose life has been a fail 
ure, that he is to enjoy an immortality of delight 
next to that, is to assure him that a place of eternal 
punishment does not exist. 

After all, there are but few lives worth living in 
any great and splendid sense. Nature seems filled 
with failure, and she has made no exception in favor 
of man. To the greatest, to the most successful, there 
comes a time when the fevered lips of life long for 
the cool, delicious kiss of death when, tired of the 
dust and glare of day, they hear with joy the rust 
ling garments of the night. 



IV. 

" A RCHIBALD ARMSTRONG and Jonathan 
** Newgate were fast friends. Their views in 
regard to the question of a future life, and the exist 
ence of a God, were in perfect accord. They said : 
' We know so little about these matters that we are 
not justified in giving them any serious consideration. 
Our motto and rule of life shall be for each one to 
make himself as comfortable as he can, and enjoy 
every pleasure within his reach, not allowing himself 
to be influenced at all by thoughts of a future life.' 

" Both had some money. Archibald had a large 
amount. Once upon a time when no human eye 
saw him and he had no belief in a God Jonathan 
stole every dollar of his friend's wealth, leaving him 
penniless. He had no fear, no remorse ; no one saw 
him do the deed. He became rich, enjoyed life 
immensely, lived in contentment and pleasure, until 
in mellow old age he went the way of all flesh. 
Archibald fared badly. The odds were against him. 

(163) 



164 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

His money was gone. He lived in penury and 
discontent, dissatisfied with mankind and with him 
self, until at last, overcome by misfortune, and 
depressed by an incurable malady, he sought rest 
in painless suicide." 

Question. What are we to think of the rule of 
life laid down by these men ? Was either of them 
inconsistent or illogical ? Is there no remedy to cor 
rect such irregularities ? REV. D. O'DONAGHUE. 

Answer. The Rev. Mr. O'Donaghue seems to 
entertain strange ideas as to right and wrong. 
He tells us that Archibald Armstrong and Jonathan 
Newgate concluded to make themselves as comfort 
able as they could and enjoy every pleasure within 
their reach, and the Rev. Mr. O'Donaghue states that 
one of the pleasures within the reach of Mr. Newgate 
was to steal what little money Mr. Armstrong had. 
Does the reverend gentleman think that Mr. New 
gate made or could make himself comfortable in 
that way ? He tells us that Mr. Newgate " had no 
remorse," that he " became rich and enjoyed life 
immensely," that he " lived in contentment and 
pleasure, until, in mellow old age, he went the way 
of all flesh." 

Does the reverend gentleman really believe that 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 1 65 

a man can steal without fear, without remorse? 
Does he really suppose that one can enjoy the 
fruits of theft, that a criminal can live a contented 
and happy life, that one who has robbed his friend 
can reach a mellow and delightful old age ? Is this 
the philosophy of the Rev. Mr. O'Donaghue ? 

And right here I may be permitted to ask, Why 
did the Rev. Mr. O'Donaghue's God allow a thief 
to live without fear, without remorse, to enjoy life 
immensely and to reach a mellow old age ? And 
why did he allow Mr. Armstrong, who had been 
robbed, to live in penury and discontent, until at 
last, overcome by misfortune, he sought rest in 
suicide ? Does the Rev. Mr. O'Donaghue mean to 
say that if there is no future life it is wise to steal 
in this ? If the grave is the eternal home, would 
the Rev. Mr. O'Donaghue advise people to commit 
crimes in order that they may enjoy this life ? Such 
is not my philosophy. Whether there is a God or 
not, truth is better than falsehood. Whether there 
is a heaven or hell, honesty is always the best 
policy. There is no world, and can be none, where 
vice can sow the seed of crime and reap the sheaves 
of joy. 

According to my view, Mr. Armstrong was alto 
gether more fortunate than Mr. Newgate. I had 



1 66 REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 

rather be robbed than to be a robber, and I had 
rather be of such a disposition that I would be 
driven to suicide by misfortune than to live in con 
tentment upon the misfortunes of others. The 
reverend gentleman, however, should have made 
his question complete he should have gone the 
entire distance. He should have added that Mr. 
Newgate, after having reached a mellow old age, 
was suddenly converted, joined the church, and died 
in the odor of sanctity on the very day that his vic 
tim committed suicide. 

But I will answer the fable of the reverend gen 
tleman with a fact. 

A young man was in love with a girl. She was 
young, beautiful, and trustful. She belonged to no 
church knew nothing about a future world basked 
in the sunshine of this. All her life had been filled 
with gentle deeds. The tears of pity had sancti 
fied her cheeks. She believed in no religion, wor 
shiped no God, believed no Bible, but loved every 
thing. Her lover in a fit of jealous rage murdered 
her. He was tried ; convicted ; a motion for a new 
trial overruled and a pardon refused. In his cell, 
in the shadow of death, he was converted he be 
came a Catholic. With the white lips of fear he 
confessed to a priest. He received the sacrament. 



REPLY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS CLERGY. 1 67 

He was hanged, and from the rope's end winged his 
way to the realms of bliss. For months the mur 
dered girl had suffered all the pains and pangs of 
hell. 

The poor girl will endure the agony of the dam 
ned forever, while her murderer will be ravished with 
angelic chant and song. Such is the justice of the 
orthodox God. 

Allow me to use the language of the reverend 
gentleman : "Is there no remedy to correct such 
irregularities ? " 

As long as the idea of eternal punishment remains 
a part of the Christian system, that system will be 
opposed by every man of heart and brain. Of all 
religious dogmas it is the most shocking, infamous, 
and absurd. The preachers of this doctrine are the 
enemies of human happiness ; they are the assassins 
of natural joy. Every father, every mother, every 
good man, every loving woman, should hold this 
doctrine in abhorrence ; they should refuse to pay 
men for preaching it ; they should not build churches 
in which this infamy is taught ; they should teach 
their little children that it is a lie ; they should take 
this horror from childhood's heart a horror that 
makes the cradle as terrible as the coffin. 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES.* 

Question. The clergymen who have been inter 
viewed, almost unanimously have declared that the 
church is suffering very little from the skepticism of 
the day, and that the influence of the scientific writers, 
whose opinions are regarded as atheistic or infidel, 
is not great ; and that the books of such writers are 
not read as much as some people think they are. 
What is your opinion with regard to that subject ? 

Answer. It is natural for a man to defend his 
business, to stand by his class, his caste, his creed. 
And I suppose this accounts for the ministers all say 
ing that infidelity is not on the increase. By com 
paring long periods of time, it is very easy to see the 
progress that has been made. Only a few years ago 
men who are now considered quite orthodox would 
have been imprisoned, or at least mobbed, for heresy. 
Only a few years ago men like Huxley and Tyndall 
and Spencer and Darwin and Humboldt would have 
been considered as the most infamous of monsters. 

* Brooklyn Union, 1888. (169) 



1 7 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

Only a few years ago science was superstition's hired 
man. The scientific men apologized for every fact 
they happened to find. With hat in hand they 
begged pardon of the parson for finding a fossil, and 
asked the forgiveness of God for making any discov 
ery in nature. At that time every scientific discov 
ery was something to be pardoned. Moses was 
authority in geology, and Joshua was considered the 
first astronomer of the world. Now everything has 
changed, and everybody knows it except the clergy. 
Now religion is taking off" its hat to science. Relig 
ion is finding out new meanings for old texts. We 
are told that God spoke in the language of the com 
mon people ; that he was not teaching any science ; 
that he allowed his children not only to remain in 
error, but kept them there. It is now admitted that 
the Bible is no authority on any question of natural 
fact ; it is inspired only in morality, in a spiritual 
way. All, except the Brooklyn ministers, see that 
the Bible has ceased to be regarded as authority. 
Nobody appeals to a passage to settle a dispute of 
fact. The most intellectual men of the world laugh 
at the idea of inspiration. Men of the greatest 
reputations hold all supernaturalism in contempt. 
Millions of people are reading the opinions of men 
who combat and deny the foundation of orthodox 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

Christianity. Humboldt stands higher than all the 
apostles. Darwin has done more to change human 
thought than all the priests who have existed. Where 
there was one infidel twenty-five years ago, there 
are one hundred now. I can remember when I 
would be the only infidel in the town. Now I meet 
them thick as autumn leaves ; they are everywhere. 
In all the professions, trades, and employments, 
the orthodox creeds are despised. They are not 
simply disbelieved ; they are execrated. They are 
regarded, not with indifference, but with passionate 
hatred. Thousands and hundreds of thousands of 
mechanics in this country abhor orthodox Christianity. 
Millions of educated men hold in immeasurable con 
tempt the doctrine of eternal punishment. The 
doctrine of atonement is regarded as absurd by mill 
ions. So with the dogma of imputed guilt, vicarious 
virtue, and vicarious vice. I see that the Rev. Dr. 
Eddy advises ministers not to answer the arguments 
of infidels in the pulpit, and gives this wonderful 
reason : That the hearers will get more doubts from 
the answer than from reading the original arguments. 
So the Rev. Dr. Hawkins admits that he cannot 
defend Christianity from infidel attacks without 
creating more infidelity. So the Rev. Dr. Haynes ad 
mits that he cannot answer the theories of Robertson 



172 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

Smith in popular addresses. The only minister 
who feels absolutely safe on this subject, so far as 
his congregation is concerned, seems to be the Rev. 
Joseph Pullman. He declares that the young people 
in his church don't know enough to have intelligent 
doubts, and that the old people are substantially in 
the same condition. Mr. Pullman feels that he is be 
hind a breastwork so strong that other defence is 
unnecessary. So the Rev. Mr. Foote thinks that 
infidelity should never be refuted in the pulpit. I 
admit that it never has been successfully done, but I 
did not suppose so many ministers admitted the im 
possibility. Mr. Foote is opposed to all public dis 
cussion. Dr. Wells tells us that scientific atheism 
should be ignored ; that it should not be spoken of 
in the pulpit. The Rev, Dr. Van Dyke has the same 
feeling of security enjoyed by Dr. Pullman, and he 
declares that the great majority of the Christian peo 
ple of to-day know nothing about current infidel 
theories. His idea is to let them remain in igno- 

o 

ranee ; that it would be dangerous for the Christian 
minister even to state the position of the infidel ; 
that, after stating it, he might not, even with the help 
of God, successfully combat the theory. These min 
isters do not agree. Dr. Carpenter accounts for 
infidelity by nicotine in the blood. It is all smoke. 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 173 

He thinks the blood of the human family has de 
teriorated. He thinks that the church is safe 
because the Christians read. He differs with his 
brothers Pullman and Van Dyke. So the Rev. 
George E. Reed believes that infidelity should be 
discussed in the pulpit. He has more confidence in 
his general and in the weapons of his warfare than 
some of his brethren. His confidence may arise 
from the fact that he has never had a discussion. 
The Rev. Dr. McClelland thinks the remedy is to 
stick by the catechism ; that there is not now 
enough of authority ; not enough of the brute force ; 
thinks that the family, the church, and the state 
ought to use the rod ; that the rod is the salvation 
of the world ; that the rod is a divine institution ; 
that fathers ought to have it for their children ; 
that mothers ought to use it. This is a part of the 
religion of universal love. The man who cannot 
raise children without whipping them ought not to 
have them. The man who would mar the flesh of a 
boy or girl is unfit to have the control of a human 
being. The father who keeps a rod in his house 
keeps a relic of barbarism in his heart. There is 
nothing reformatory in punishment ; nothing reform 
atory in fear. Kindness, guided by intelligence, is 
the only reforming force. An appeal to brute force 



174 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

is an abandonment of love and reason, and puts 
father and child upon a savage equality ; the sav- 
ageness in the heart of the father prompting the 
use of the rod or club, produces a like savageness in 
the victim. The old idea that a child's spirit must 
be broken is infamous. All this is passing away, 
however, with orthodox Christianity. That children 
are treated better than formerly shows conclusively 
the increase of what is called infidelity. Infidelity 
has always been a protest against tyranny in the 
state, against intolerance in the church, against bar 
barism in the family. It has always been an appeal 
for light, for justice, for universal kindness and ten 
derness. 

Question. The ministers say, I believe, Colonel, 
that worldliness is the greatest foe to the church, and 
admit that it is on the increase ? 

Answer. I see that all the ministers you have in 
terviewed regard worldliness as the great enemy of 
the church. What is worldliness ? I suppose 
worldliness consists in paying attention to the affairs 
of this world ; getting enjoyment out of this life ; 
gratifying the senses, giving the ears music, the eyes 
painting and sculpture, the palate good food ; culti 
vating the imagination ; playing games of chance ; 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

adorning the person ; developing the body ; enrich 
ing the mind ; investigating the facts by which we 
are surrounded ; building homes ; rocking cradles ; 
thinking ; working ; inventing ; buying ; selling ; 
hoping all this, I suppose, is worldliness. These 
" worldly " people have cleared the forests, plowed 
the land, built the cities, the steamships, the tele 
graphs, and have produced all there is of worth and 
wonder in the world. Yet the preachers denounce 
them. Were it not for " worldly " people how 
would the preachers get along ? Who would build 
the churches ? Who would fill the contribution 
boxes and plates, and who (most serious of all 
questions) would pay the salaries ? It is the 
habit of the ministers to belittle men who support 
them to slander the spirit by which they live. " It 
is as though the mouth should tear the hand that 
feeds it." The nobility of the Old World hold the 
honest workingman in contempt, and yet are so con 
temptible themselves that they are willing to live 
upon his labor. And so the minister pretending to 
be spiritual pretending to be a spiritual guide 
looks with contempt upon the men who make it pos 
sible for him to live. It may be said by " worldli 
ness " they only mean enjoyment that is, hearing 
music, going to the theater and the opera, taking a 



176 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

Sunday excursion to the silvery margin of the sea. 
Of course, ministers look upon theaters as rival 
attractions, and most of their hatred is born of busi 
ness views. They think people ought to be driven 
to church by having all other places closed. In my 
judgment the theater has done good, while the 
church has done harm. The drama never has in 
sisted upon burning anybody. Persecution is not 
born of the stage. On the contrary, upon the stage 
have forever been found impersonations of patriot 
ism, heroism, courage, fortitude, and justice, and 
these impersonations have always been applauded, 
and have been represented that they might be ap 
plauded. In the pulpit, hypocrites have been wor 
shiped ; upon the stage they have been held up to 
derision and execration. Shakespeare has done far 
more for the world than the Bible. The ministers 
keep talking about spirituality as opposed to world- 
liness. Nothing can be more absurd than this talk 
of spirituality. As though readers of the Bible, 
repeaters of texts, and sayers of prayers were en 
gaged in a higher work than honest industry. Is 
there anything higher than human love ? A man is 
in love with a girl, and he has determined to work 
for her and to give his life that she may have a life 
of joy. Is there anything more spiritual than that 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 177 

anything higher ? They marry. He clears some 
land. He fences a field. He builds a cabin ; and 
she, of this hovel, makes a happy home. She plants 
flowers, puts a few simple things of beauty upon the 
walls. This is what the preachers call " worldli- 
ness." Is there anything more spiritual ? In a little 
while, in this cabin, in this home, is heard the drowsy 
rhythm of the cradle's rock, while softly floats the 
lullaby upon the twilight air. Is there anything 
more spiritual, is there anything more infinitely ten 
der than to see husband and wife bending, with 
clasped hands, over a cradle, gazing upon the dim 
pled miracle of love ? I say it is spiritual to work 
for those you love ; spiritual to improve the phys 
ical condition of mankind for he who improves the 
physical condition improves the mental. I believe 
in the plowers instead of the prayers. I believe 
in the new firm of " Health & Heresy " rather than 
the old partnership of " Disease & Divinity," doing 
business at the old sign of the " Skull & Cross- 
bones." Seme of the ministers that you have inter 
viewed, or at least one of them, tells us the cure for 
worldliness. He says that God is sending fires, and 
cyclones, and things of that character for the pur 
pose of making people spiritual ; of calling their 
attention to the fact that everything in this world is 



178 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

of a transitory nature. The clergy have always had 
great faith in famine, in affliction, in pestilence. 
They know that a man is a thousand times more apt 
to thank God for a crust or a crumb than for a ban 
quet. They know that prosperity has the same 
effect on the average Christian that thick soup has, 
according to Bumble, on the English pauper : " It 
makes 'em impudent." The devil made a mistake 
in not doubling Job's property instead of leaving 
him a pauper. In prosperity the ministers think 
that we forget death and are too happy. In the 
arms of those we love, the dogma of eternal fire is 
for the moment forgotten. According to the minis 
ters, God kills our children in order that we may 
not forget him. They imagine that the man who 
goes into Dakota, cultivates the soil and rears him 
a little home, is getting too " worldly." And so God 
starts a cyclone to scatter his home and the limbs 
of wife and children upon the desolate plains, and 
the ministers in Brooklyn say this is done because 
we are getting too " worldly." They think we should 
be more " spiritual ; " that is to say, willing to live 
upon the labor of others ; willing to ask alms, say 
ing, in the meantime, " It is more blessed to give 
than to receive." If this is so, why not give the 
money back ? " Spiritual " people are those who 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 1 79 

eat oatmeal and prunes, have great confidence in 
dried apples, read Cowper's " Task " and Pollok's 
" Course of Time," laugh at the jokes in Harper s 
Monthly, wear clothes shiny at the knees and elbows, 
and call all that has elevated the world " beggarly 
elements." 

Question. Some of the clergymen who have been 
interviewed admit that the rich and poor no longer 
meet together, and deprecate the establishment of 
mission chapels in connection with the large and 
fashionable churches. 

Answer. The early Christians supposed that the 
end of the world was at hand. They were all sitting 
on the dock waiting for the ship. In the presence of 
such a belief what are known as class distinctions 
could not easily exist. Most of them were exceed 
ingly poor, and poverty is a bond of union. As a 
rule, people are hospitable in the proportion that they 
lack wealth. In old times, in the West, a stranger 
was always welcome. He took in part the place 
of the newspaper. He was a messenger from the 
older parts of the country. Life was monotonous. 
The appearance of the traveler gave variety. As 
people grow wealthy they grow exclusive. As they 
become educated there is a tendency to pick their 



l8o THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

society. It is the same in the church. The church 
no longer believes the creed, no longer acts as though 
the creed were true. If the rich man regarded the 
sermon as a means of grace, as a kind of rope 
thrown by the minister to a man just above the falls ; 
if he regarded it as a lifeboat, or as a lighthouse, 
he would not allow his coachman to remain outside. 
If he really believed that the coachman had an im 
mortal soul, capable of eternal joy, liable to ever 
lasting pain, he would do his utmost to make the 
calling and election of the said coachman sure. As 
a matter of fact the rich man now cares but little 
for servants. They are not included in the scheme 
of salvation, except as a kind of job lot. The 
church has become a club. It is a social affair, and 
the rich do not care to associate in the week days 
with the poor they may happen to meet at church. 
As they expect to be in heaven together forever, 
they can afford to be separated here. There will 
Certainly be time enough there to get acquainted. 
Another thing is the magnificence of the churches. 
The church depends absolutely upon the rich. Poor 
people feel out of place in such magnificent build 
ings. They drop into the nearest seat ; like poor 
relations, they sit on the extreme edge of the chair. 
At the table of Christ they are below the salt. 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. l8l 

They are constantly humiliated. When subscrip 
tions are asked for they feel ashamed to have their 
mite compared with the thousands given by the 
millionaire. The pennies feel ashamed to mingle 
with the silver in the contribution plate. The re 
sult is that most of them avoid the church. It costs 
too much to worship God in public. Good clothes 
are necessary, fashionably cut. The poor come in 
contact with too much silk, too many jewels, too 
many evidences of what is generally assumed to be 
superiority. 

Question. Would this state of affairs be remedied 
if, instead of churches, we had societies of ethical 
culture? Would not the rich there predominate 
and the poor be just as much out of place ? 

Answer. I think the effect would be precisely the 
same, no matter what the society is, what object it 
has, if composed of rich and poor. Class distinctions, 
to a greater or less extent, will creep in in fact, 
they do not have to creep in. They are there at the 
commencement, and they are born of the different 
conditions of the members. 

These class distinctions are not always made by 
men of wealth. For instance, some men obtain 
money, and are what we call snobs. Others obtain 



1 82 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

it and retain their democratic principles, and meet 
men according to the law of affinity, or general in 
telligence, on intellectual grounds, for instance. 

There is not only the distinction produced by 
wealth and power, but there are the distinctions 
born of intelligence, of culture, of character, of end, 
object, aim in life. No one can blame an honest 
mechanic for holding a wealthy snob in utter con 
tempt. Neither can any one blame respectable pov 
erty for declining to associate with arrogant wealth. 
The right to make the distinction is with all classes, 
and with the individuals of all classes. It is impos 
sible to have any society for any purpose that is, 
where they meet together without certain embar 
rassments being produced by these distinctions. 
Now t for instance, suppose there should be a society 
simply of intelligent and cultured people. There, 
wealth, to a great degree, would be disregarded. 
But, after all, the distinction that intelligence draws 
between talent and genius is as marked and cruel as 
was ever drawn between poverty and wealth. Wher 
ever the accomplishment of some object is deemed 
of such vast importance that, for the moment, all 
minor distinctions are forgotten, then it is possible 
for the rich and poor, the ignorant and intelligent, 
to act in concert. This happens in political parties, 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 183 

in time of war, and it has also happened whenever a 
new religion has been founded. Whenever the rich 
wish the assistance of the poor, distinctions are for 
gotten. It is upon the same principle that we gave 
liberty to the slave during the Civil war, and clad 
him in the uniform of the nation ; we wanted him, 
we needed him ; and, for the time, we were perfectly 
willing to forget the distinction of color. Common 
peril produces pure democracy. It is with societies 
as with individuals. A poor young man coming to 
New York, bent upon making his fortune, begins to 
talk about the old fogies ; holds in contempt many 
of the rules and regulations of the trade ; is loud in 
his denunciation of monopoly ; wants competition ; 
shouts for fair play, and is a real democrat. But 
let him succeed ; let him have a palace in Fifth 
Avenue, with his monogram on spoons and coaches ; 
then, instead of shouting for liberty, he will call for 
more police. He will then say : " We want protec 
tion ; the rabble must be put down." We have an 
aristocracy of wealth. In some parts of our country 
an aristocracy of literature men and women who 
imagine themselves writers and who hold in contempt 
all people who cannot express commonplaces in the 
most elegant diction people who look upon a mis 
take in grammar as far worse than a crime. So, in 



184 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

some communities we have an aristocracy of muscle. 
The only true aristocracy, probably, is that of kind 
ness. Intellect, without heart, is infinitely cruel ; 
as cruel as wealth without a sense of justice ; as 
cruel as muscle without mercy. So that, after all, 
the real aristocracy must be that of goodness where 
the intellect is directed by the heart. 

Question. You say that the aristocracy of intellect 
is quite as cruel as the aristocracy of wealth what 
do you mean by that ? 

Answer. By intellect, I mean simply intellect ; 
that is to say, the aristocracy of education of sim 
ple brain expressed in innumerable ways in in 
vention, painting, sculpture, literature. And I meant 
to say that that aristocracy was as cruel as that of 
simple arrogant wealth. After all, why should a man 
be proud of something given him by nature some 
thing that he did not earn, did not produce some 
thing that he could not help ? Is it not more rea 
sonable to be proud of wealth which you have 
accumulated than of brain which nature gave you ? 
And, to carry this idea clearly out, why should we be 
proud of anything ? Is there any proper occasion 
on which to crow ? If you succeed, your success 
crows for you ; if you fail, certainly crowing is not in 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 185 

the best of taste. And why should a man be proud 
of brain ? Why should he be proud of disposition or 
of good acts ? 

Question. You speak of the cruelty of the intel 
lect, and yet, of course, you must recognize the right 
of every one to select his own companions. Would 
it be arrogant for the intellectual man to prefer the 
companionship of people of his own class in preference 
to commonplace and unintelligent persons ? 

Answer. All men should have the same rights, 
and one right that every man should have is to as 
sociate with congenial people. There are thousands 
of good men whose society I do not covet. They 
may be stupid, or they may be stupid only in the 
direction in which I am interested, and may be ex 
ceedingly intelligent as to matters about which I 
care nothing. In either case they are not congenial. 
They have the right to select congenial company ; 
so have I. And while distinctions are thus made, 
they are not cruel ; they are not heartless. They 
are for the good of all concerned, spring naturally 
from the circumstances, and are consistent with the 
highest philanthropy. Why we notice these dis 
tinctions in the church more than we do in the club 
is that the church talks one way and acts another ; be- 



1 86 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

cause the church insists that a certain line of conduct 
is essential to salvation, and that every human being 
is in danger of eternal pain. If the creed were 
true, then, in the presence of such an infinite verity, 
all earthly distinctions should instantly vanish. Every 
Christian should exert himself for the salvation of 
the soul of a beggar with the same degree of earnest 
ness that he would show to save a king. The acci 
dents of wealth, education, social position, should be 
esteemed as naught, and the richest should gladly 
work side by side with the poorest. The churches 
will never reach the poor as long as they sell pews ; 
as long as the rich members wear their best clothes 
on Sunday. As long as the fashions of the drawing- 
room are taken to the table of the last supper, the 
poor will remain in the highways and hedges. 
Present fashion is more powerful than faith. So 
long as the ministers shut up their churches, and 
allow the poor to go to hell in summer ; as long as 
they leave the devil without a competitor for three 
months in the year, the churches will not materially 
impede the march of human progress. People often, 
unconsciously and without any malice, say something 
or do something that throws an unexpected light 
upon a question. The other day, in one of the New 
York comic papers, there was a picture representing 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 1 87 

the foremost preachers of the country at the seaside 
together. It was regarded as a joke that they could 
enjoy each other's society. These ministers are 
supposed to be the apostles of the religion of kind 
ness. They tell us to love even our enemies, and 
yet the idea that they could associate happily to 
gether is regarded as a joke ! After all, churches 
are like other institutions, they have to be managed, 
and they now rely upon music and upon elocution 
rather than upon the gospel. They are becoming 
social affairs. They are giving up the doctrine of 
eternal punishment, and have consequently lost 
their hold. The orthodox churches used to tell 
us tiiere was to be a fire, and they offered to insure ; 
and as long as the fire was expected the premiums 
were paid and the policies were issued. Then came 
the Universalist Church, saying that there would 
be no fire, and yet asking the people to insure. For 
such a church there is no basis. It undoubtedly 
did good by its influence upon other churches. So 
with the Unitarian. That church has no basis 
for organization ; no reason, because no hell is 
threatened, and heaven is but faintly promised. 
Just as the churches have lost their belief in eternal 
fire, they have lost their influence, and the reason 
they have lost their belief is on account of the 



1 88 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

diffusion of knowledge. That doctrine is becom 
ing absurd and infamous. Intelligent people are 
ashamed to broach it. Intelligent people can no 
longer believe it. It is regarded with horror, and 
the churches must finally abandon it, and when they 
do, that is the end of the church militant. 

Question. What do you say to the progress of the 
Roman Catholic Church, in view of the fact that they 
have not changed their belief, in any particular, in 
regard to future punishment ? 

Answer. Neither Catholicism nor Protestantism 
will ever win another battle. The last victory of 
Protestantism was won in Holland. Nations have 
not been converted since then. The time has passed 
to preach with sword and gun, and for that reason 
Catholicism can win no more victories. That church 
increases in this country mostly from immigration. 
Catholicism does not belong to the New World. It 
s at war with the idea of our Government, antago 
nistic to true republicanism, and is in every sense 
anti-American. The Catholic Church does not con 
trol its members. That church prevents no crime. 
It is not in favor of education. It is not the friend 
of liberty. In Europe it is now used as a political 
power, but here it dare not assert itself. There are 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 189 

thousands of good Catholics. As a rule they prob 
ably believe the creed of the church. That church 
has lost the power to anathematize. It can no 
longer burn. It must now depend upon other forces 
upon persuasion, sophistry, ignorance, fear, and 
heredity. 

Question. You have stated your objections to 
the churches, what would you have to take their 
place ? 

Answer. There was a time when men had to 
meet together for the purpose of being told the law. 
This was before printing, and for hundreds and hun 
dreds of years most people depended for their in 
formation on what they heard. The ear was the 
avenue to the brain. There was a time, of course, 
when Freemasonry was necessary, so that a man 
could carry, not only all over his own country, but to 
another, a certificate that he was a gentleman ; that 
he was an honest man. There was a time, and it was 
necessary, for the people to assemble. They had no 
books, no papers, no way of reaching each other. 
But now all that is changed. The daily press gives 
you the happenings of the world. The libraries 
give you the thoughts of the greatest and best. 
Every man of moderate means can command the 



I9O THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

principal sources of information. There is no ne 
cessity for going to the church and hearing the same 
story forever. Let the minister write what he 
wishes to say. Let him publish it. If it is worth 
buying, people will read it. It is hardly fair to get 
them in a church in the name of duty and there in 
flict upon them a sermon that under no circum 
stances they would read. Of course, there will 
always be meetings, occasions when people come 
together to exchange ideas, to hear what a man has 
to say upon some questions, but the idea of going 
fifty-two days in a year to hear anybody on the same 
subject is absurd. 

Question. Would you include a man like Henry 
Ward Beecher in that statement ? 

Answer. Beecher is interesting just in proportion 
that he is not orthodox, and he is altogether more 
interesting when talking against his creed. He de 
livered a sermon the other day in Chicago, in which 
he takes the ground that Christianity is kindness, 
and that, consequently, no one could be an infidel. 
Every one believes in kindness, at least theoretically. 
In that sermon he throws away all creed, and comes 
to the conclusion that Christianity is a life, not an 
aggregation of intellectual convictions upon certain 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 1 91 

subjects. The more sermons like that are preached, 
probably the better. What I intended was the 
eternal repetition of the old story : That God made 
the world and a man, and then allowed the devil to 
tempt him, and then thought of a scheme of salva 
tion, of vicarious atonement, 1500 years afterwards ; 
drowned everybody except Noah and his family, 
and afterward, when he failed to civilize the Jewish 
people, came in person and suffered death, and 
announced the doctrine that all who believed on 
him would be saved, and those who did not, eter 
nally lost. Now, this story, with occasional refer 
ences to the patriarchs and the New Jerusalem, and 
the exceeding heat of perdition, and the wonderful 
joys of Paradise, is the average sermon, and this 
story is told again, again, and again, by the same 
men, listened to by the same people without any 
effect except to tire the speaker and the hearer. If 
all the ministers would take their texts from Shakes 
peare ; if they would read every Sunday a selection 
from some of the great plays, the result would be 
infinitely better. They would all learn something ; 
the mind would be enlarged, and the sermon would 
appear short. Nothing has shown more clearly the 
intellectual barrenness of the pulpit than baccalau 
reate sermons lately delivered. The dignified dull- 



IQ2 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

ness, the solemn stupidity of these addresses has 
never been excelled. No question was met. The 
poor candidates for the ministry were given no new 
weapons. Armed with the theological flintlock of 
a century ago, they were ordered to do battle for 
doctrines older than their weapons. They were told 
to rely on prayer, to answer all arguments by keep 
ing out of discussions, and to overwhelm the skeptic 
by ignoring the facts. There was a time when the 
Protestant clergy were in favor of education ; that is 
to say, education enough to make a Catholic a Prot 
estant, but not enough to make a Protestant a phi 
losopher. The Catholics are also in favor of educa 
tion enough to make a savage a Catholic, and there 
they stop. The Christian should never unsettle his 
belief. If he studies, if he reads, he is in danger. 
A new idea is a doubt ; a doubt is the threshold of 
infidelity. The young ministers are warned against 
inquiry. They are educated like robins ; they 
swallow whatever is thrown in the mouth, worms or 
shingle-nails, it makes no difference, and they are 
expected to get their revenge by treating their flocks 
precisely as the professors treated them. The creeds 
of the churches are being laughed at. Thousands 
of young men say nothing, because they do not wish 
to hurt the feelings of mothers and maiden aunts. 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 193 

Thousands of business men say nothing, for fear it 
may interfere with trade. Politicians keep quiet for 
fear of losing influence. But when you get at the 
real opinions of people, a vast majority have out 
grown the doctrines of orthodox Christianity. Some 
people think these things good for women and chil 
dren, and use the Lord as an immense policeman to 
keep order. Every day ministers are uttering a 
declaration of independence. They are being ex 
amined by synods and committees of ministers, and 
they are beginning everywhere to say that they do 
not regard this life as a probationary stage ; that 
the doctrine of eternal punishment is too bad ; 
that the Bible is, in many things, foolish, absurd, 
and infamous ; that it must have been written by 
men. And the people at large are beginning to find 
that the ministers have kept back the facts ; have 
not told the history of the Bible ; have not given 
to their congregations the latest advices, and so the 
feeling is becoming almost general that orthodox 
Christianity has outlived its usefulness. The church 
has a great deal to contend with. The scientific 
men are not religious. Geology laughs at Genesis, 
and astronomy has concluded that Joshua knew 
but very little of the motions of heavenly bodies. 
Statesmen do not approve of the laws of Moses ; 



194 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

the intellect of the world is on the other side. 
There is something besides preaching on Sunday. 
The newspaper is the rival of the pulpit. Nearly 
all the cars are running on that blessed day. 
Steamers take hundreds of thousands of excursion 
ists. The man who has been at work all the week 
seeks the sight of the sea, and this has become so 
universal that the preacher is following his example. 
The flock has ceased to be afraid of the wolf, and 
the shepherd deserts the sheep. In a little while 
all the libraries will be open all the museums. 
There will be music in the public parks ; the opera, 
the theater. And what will churches do then ? The 
cardinal points will be demonstrated to empty pews, 
unless the church is wise enough to meet the intel 
lectual demands of the present. 

Question. You speak as if the influences working 
against Christianity to-day will tend to crush it out 
of existence. Do you think that Christianity is any 
worse off now than it was during the French Revolu 
tion, when the priests were banished from the 
country and reason was worshiped ; or in England, 
a hundred years ago, when Hume, Bolingbroke, and 
others made their attacks upon it ? 

Answer. You must remember that the French 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 195 

Revolution was produced by Catholicism ; that it was 
a reaction ; that it went to infinite extremes ; that it 
was a revolution seeking revenge. It is not hard to 
understand those times, provided you know the his 
tory of the Catholic Church. The seeds of the French 
Revolution were sown by priests and kings. The 
people had suffered the miseries of slavery for a 
thousand years, and the French Revolution came 
because human nature could bear the wrongs no 
longer. It was something not reasoned ; it was felt. 
Only a few acted from intellectual convictions. The 
most were stung to madness, and were carried away 
with the desire to destroy. They wanted to shed 
blood, to tear down palaces, to cut throats, and in 
some way avenge the wrongs of all the centuries. 
Catholicism has never recovered it never will. 
The dagger of Voltaire struck the heart ; the wound 
was mortal. Catholicism has staggered from that 
day to this. 

It has been losing power every moment. At the 
death of Voltaire there were twenty millions less 
Catholics than when he was born. In the French 
Revolution muscle outran mind ; revenge anticipated 
reason. There was destruction without the genius 
of construction. They had to use materials that had 
been rendered worthless by ages of Catholicism. 



196 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

The French Revolution was a failure because the 
French people were a failure, and the French people 
were a failure because Catholicism had made them 
so. The ministers attack Voltaire without reading 
him. Probably there are not a dozen orthodox min 
isters in the world who have read the works of Vol 
taire. I know of no one who has. Only a little 
while ago, a minister told me he had read Voltaire. 
I offered him one hundred dollars to repeat a para 
graph, or to give the title, even, of one of Voltaire's 
volumes. Most ministers think he was an atheist. 
The trouble with the infidels in England a hundred 
years ago was that they did not go far enough. It 
may be that they could not have gone further and 
been allowed to live. Most of them took the ground 
that there was an infinite, all-wise, beneficent God, 
creator of the universe, and that this all-wise, benefi 
cent God certainly was too good to be the author 
of the Bible. They, however, insisted that this 
good God was the author of nature, and the theo 
logians completely turned the tables by showing 
that this god of nature was in the pestilence and 
plague business, manufactured earthquakes, over 
whelmed towns and cities, and was, of necessity, 
the author of all pain and agony. In my judgment, 
the Deists were all successfully answered. The god 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 197 

of nature is certainly as bad as the God of the Old 
Testament. It is only when we discard the idea of 
a deity, the idea of cruelty or goodness in nature, 
that we are able ever to bear with patience the ills 
of life. I feel that I am neither a favorite nor a 
victim. Nature neither loves nor hates me. I do 
not believe in the existence of any personal god. I 
regard the universe as the one fact, as the one exist 
ence that is, as the absolute thing. I am a part 
of this. I do not say that there is no God ; I simply 
say that I do not believe there is. There may be 
millions of them. Neither do I say that man is not 
immortal. Upon that point I admit that I do not 
know, and the declarations of all the priests in the 
world upon that subject give me no light, and do 
not even tend to add to my information on the sub 
ject, because I know that they know that they do not 
know. The infidelity of a hundred years ago knew 
nothing, comparatively speaking, of geology ; noth 
ing of astronomy ; nothing of the ideas of Lamarck 
and Darwin ; nothing of evolution ; nothing, com 
paratively speaking, of other religions ; nothing of 
India, that womb of metaphysics ; in other words, 
the infidels of a hundred years ago knew the creed 
of orthodox Christianity to be false, but had not the 
facts to demonstrate it. The infidels of to-day have 



198 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

the facts ; that is the difference. A hundred years 
ago it was a guessing prophecy ; to-day it is the fact 
and fulfillment. Everything in nature is working 
against superstition to-day. Superstition is like a 
thorn in the flesh, and everything, from dust to stars, 
is working together to destroy the false. The small 
est pebble answers the greatest parson. One blade 
of grass, rightly understood, destroys the orthodox 
creed. 

Question. You say that the pews will be empty 
in the future unless the church meets the intellectual 
demands of the present. Are not the ministers of 
to-day, generally speaking, much more intellectual 
than those of a hundred years ago, and are not the 
" liberal " views in regard to the inspiration of the 
Bible, the atonement, future punishment, the fall of 
man, and the personal divinity of Christ which openly 
prevail in many churches, an indication that the 
church is meeting the demands of many people who 
do not care to be classed as out-and-out disbelievers 
in Christianity, but who have advanced views on 
those and other questions ? 

Answer. As to the first part of this question, I do 
not think the ministers of to-day are more intellectual 
than they were a hundred years ago ; that is, I do 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 199 

not think they have greater brain capacity, but I think 
on the average, the congregations have a higher 
amount. The amelioration of orthodox Christianity 
is not by the intelligence in the pulpit, but by the 
brain in the pews. Another thing : One hundred 
years ago the church had intellectual honors to be 
stow. The pulpit opened a career. Not so now. 
There are too many avenues to distinction and 
wealth too much worldliness. The best minds 
do not go into the pulpit. Martyrs had rather be 
burned than laughed at. Most ministers of to-day 
are not naturally adapted to other professions prom 
ising eminence. There are some great exceptions, 
but those exceptions are the ministers nearest in 
fidels. Theodore Parker was a great man. Henry 
Ward Beecher is a great man not the most consist 
ent man in the world but he is certainly a man 
of mark, a remarkable genius. If he could only get 
rid of the idea that Plymouth Church is necessary 
to him after that time he would not utter an or 
thodox word. Chapin was a man of mind. I might 
mention some others, but, as a rule, the pulpit is not 
remarkable for intelligence. The intelligent men of 
the world do not believe in orthodox Christianity. It 
is to-day a symptom of intellectual decay. The con 
servative ministers are the stupid ones. The con- 



200 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

servative professors are those upon whose ideas 
will be found the centuries' moss, old red sandstone 
theories, pre-historic silurian. Now, as to the sec 
ond part of the question : The views of the church 
are changing, the clergy of Brooklyn to the contrary, 
notwithstanding. Orthodox religion is a kind of boa- 
constrictor ; anything it can not dodge it will swal 
low. The church is bound to have something for 
sale that somebody wants to buy. According to the 
pew demand will be the pulpit supply. In old 
times the pulpit dictated to the pews. Things have 
changed. Theology is now run on business princi 
ples. The gentleman who pays for the theories in 
sists on having them suit him. Ministers are intel 
lectual gardeners, and they must supply the market 
with such religious vegetables as the congregations 
desire. Thousands have given up belief in the in 
spiration of the Bible, the divinity of Christ, the 
atonement idea and original sin. Millions believe 
now, that this is not a state of probation ; that a 
man, provided he is well off and has given liberally 
to the church, or whose wife has been a regular at 
tendant, will, in the next world, have another chance ; 
that he will be permitted to file a motion for a new 
trial. Others think that hell is not as warm as it 
used to be supposed ; that, while it is very hot in 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 2OI 

the middle of the day, the nights are cool ; and that, 
after all, there is not so much to fear from the future. 
They regard the old religion as very good for the 
poor, and they give them the old ideas on the same 
principle that they give them their old clothes. 
These ideas, out at the elbows, out at the knees, 
buttons off, somewhat raveled, will, after all, do very 
well for paupers. There is a great trade of this 
kind going on now selling old theological clothes 
to the colored people in the South. All I have said 
applies to all churches. The Catholic Church changes 
every day. It does not change its ceremonies ; but 
the spirit that begot the ceremonies, the spirit that 
clothed the skeleton of ceremony with the flesh and 
blood and throb of life and love, is gone. The spirit 
that built the cathedrals, the spirit that emptied the 
wealth of the world into the lap of Rome, has turned 
in another direction. Of course, the churches are all 
going to endeavor to meet the demands of the hour. 
They will find new readings for old texts. They 
will re-punctuate and re-parse the Old Testament. 
They will find that " flat" meant "a little rounding ; " 
that " six days " meant " six long times ;" that the 
word " flood " should have been translated " damp 
ness," " dew," or " threatened rain ;" that Daniel in 
the lion's den was an historical myth; that Samson 



2O2 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

and his foxes had nothing to do with this world. All 
these things will be gradually explained and made to 
harmonize with the facts of modern science. They 
will not change the words of the creed ; they will 
simply give " new meanings ;" and the highest criti 
cism to-day is that which confesses and avoids. In 
other words, the churches will change as the people 
change. They will keep for sale that which can be 
sold. Already the old goods are being " marked 
down." If, however, the church should fail, why 
then it must go. I see no reason, myself, for its ex 
istence. It apparently does no good ; it devours 
without producing ; it eats without planting, and is a 
perpetual burden. It teaches nothing of value. It 
misleads, mystifies, and misrepresents. It threatens 
without knowledge and promises without power. In 
my judgment, the quicker it goes the better for all 
mankind. But if it does not go in name, it must go 
in fact, because it must change ; and, therefore, it is 
only a question of time when it ceases to divert from 
useful channels the blood and muscle of the world. 

Question. You say that in the baccalaureate ser 
mons delivered lately the theological students were 
told to answer arguments by keeping out of discus 
sion. Is it not the fact that ministers have of late years 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 2OT, 

preached very largely on scientific disbelief, agnosti 
cism, and infidelity, so much so as to lead to their 
being reprimanded by some of their more conserva 
tive brethren ? 

Answer. Of course there are hundreds of thou 
sands of ministers perpetually endeavoring to answer 
infidelity. Their answers have done so much harm 
that the more conservative among the clergy have 
advised them to stop. Thousands have answered 
me, and their answers, for the most part, are like this : 
Paine was a blackguard, therefore the geology of 
Genesis is on a scientific basis. We know the doc 
trine of the atonement is true, because in the French 
Revolution they worshiped reason. And we know, 
too, all about the fall of man and the Garden of Eden 
because Voltaire was nearly frightened to death 
when he came to die. These are the usual argu 
ments, supplemented by a few words concerning my 
self. And, in my view, they are the best that can 
be made. Failing to answer a man's argument, the 
next best thing is to attack his character. " You 
have no case," said an attorney to the plaintiff. " No 
matter," said the plaintiff, " I want you to give the 
defendant the devil." 

Question. What have you to say to the Rev. Dr. 



204 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

Baker's statement that he generally buys five or six 
tickets for your lectures and gives them to young 
men, who are shocked at the flippant way in which 
you are said to speak of the Bible ? 

Answer. Well, as to that, I have always wondered 
why I had such immense audiences in Brooklyn and 
New York. This tends to clear away the mystery. 
If all the clergy follow the example of Dr. Baker, that 
accounts for the number seeking admission. Of 
course, Dr. Baker would not misrepresent a thing 
like that, and I shall always feel greatly indebted to 
him, shall hereafter regard him as one of my agents, 
and take this occasion to return my thanks. He is 
certainly welcome to all the converts to Christianity 
made by hearing me. Still, I hardly think it honest 
in young men to play a game like that on the doctor. 

Question. You speak of the eternal repetition of 
the old story of Christianity and say that the more 
sermons like the one Mr. Beecher preached lately the 
better. Is it not the fact that ministers, at the pres 
ent time, do preach very largely on questions of purely 
moral, social, and humanitarian interest, so much so, 
indeed, as to provoke criticism on the part of the 
secular newspaper press ? 

Answer. I admit that there is a general tendency 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 205 

in the pulpit to preach about things happening in this 
world ; in other words, that the preachers them 
selves are beginning to be touched with worldliness. 
They find that the New Jerusalem has no particular 
interest for persons dealing in real estate in this 
world. And thousands of people are losing interest 
in Abraham, in David, Haggai, and take more inter 
est in gentlemen who have the cheerful habit of 
living. They also find that their readers do not 
wish to be reminded perpetually of death and coffins 
and worms and dust and gravestones and shrouds 
and epitaphs and hearses, biers, and cheerful sub 
jects of that character. That they prefer to hear 
the minister speak about a topic in which they have 
a present interest, and about which something cheer 
ful can be said. In fact, it is a relief to hear about 
politics, a little about art, something about stocks 
or the crops, and most ministers find it necessary to 
advertise that they are going to speak on something 
that has happened within the last eighteen hundred 
years, and that, for the time being, Shadrach, Me- 
shech, and Abednego will be left in the furnace. Of 
course, I think that most ministers are reasonably 
honest. Maybe they don't tell all their doubts, but 
undoubtedly they are endeavoring to make the world 
better, and most of the church members think that 



206 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

they are doing the best that can be done. I am not 
criticising their motives, but their methods. I am 
not attacking the character or reputation of minis 
ters, but simply giving my ideas, avoiding anything 
personal. I do not pretend to be very good, nor 
very bad just fair to middling. 

Question. You say that Christians will not read 
for fear that they will unsettle their belief. Father 
Fransiola (Roman Catholic) said in the interview I 
had with him : " If you do not allow man to reason 
you crush his manhood. Therefore, he has to reason 
upon the credibility of his faith, and through reason, 
guided by faith, he discovers the truth, and so satisfies 
his wants." 

Answer. Without calling in question the perfect 
sincerity of Father Fransiola, I think his statement 
is exactly the wrong end to. I do not think that rea 
son should be guided by faith; I think that faith 
should be guided by reason. After all, the highest 
possible conception of faith would be the science of 
probabilities, and the probable must not be based on 
what has not happened, but upon what has ; not upon 
something we know nothing about, but the nature 
of the things with which we are acquainted. The 
foundation we must know something about, and 
whenever we reason, we must have something as a 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 2O; 

basis, something 1 secular, something that we think 
we know. About these facts we reason, sometimes 
by analogy, and we say thus and so has happened, 
therefore thus and so may happen. We do not say 
thus and so may happen, therefore something else has 
happened. We must reason from the known to the 
unknown, not from the unknown to the known. 
This Father admits that if you do not allow a man to 
reason you crush his manhood. At the same time 
he says faith must govern reason. Who makes the 
faith? The church. And the church tells the man 
that he must take the faith, reason or no reason, and 
that he may afterward reason, taking the faith as 
a fact. This makes him an intellectual slave, and 
the poor devil mistakes for liberty the right to ex 
amine his own chains. These gentlemen endeavor 
to satisfy their prisoners by insisting that there is 
nothing beyond the walls. 

Question. You criticise the church for not encour- 

/ 

aging the poor to mingle with the rich, and yet you 
defend the right of a man to choose his own company. 
Are not these same distinctions made by non-confess 
ing Christians in real life, and will not there always 
be some greater, richer, wiser, than the rest ? 

Answer. I do not blame the church because there 



2O8 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

are these distinctions based on wealth, intelligence, 
and culture. What I blame the church for is pre 
tending to do away with these distinctions. These 
distinctions in men are inherent ; differences in brain, 
in race, in blood, in education, and they are differences 
that will eternally exist that is, as long as the hu 
man race exists. Some will be fortunate, some 
unfortunate, some generous, some stingy, some rich, 
some poor. What I wish to do away w : th is the 
contempt and scorn and hatred existing between 
rich and poor. I want the democracy of kindness 
what you might call the republicanism of justice. I 
do not have to associate with a man to keep from rob 
bing him. I can give him his rights without enjoy 
ing his company, and he can give me my rights 
without inviting me to dinner. Why should not 
poverty have rights ? And has not honest poverty 
the right to hold dishonest wealth in contempt, and 
will it not do it, whether it belongs to the same 
church or not? We cannot judge men by their 
wealth, or by the position they hold in society. I 
like every kind man ; I hate every cruel one. I like 
the generous, whether they are poor or rich, ignorant 
or cultivated. I like men that love their families, 
that are kind to their wives, gentle with their 
children, no matter whether they are millionaires or 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 2O9 

mendicants. And to me the blossom of benevolence, 
of charity, is the fairest flower, no matter whether it 
blooms by the side of a hovel, or bursts from a vine 
climbing the marble pillar of a palace. I respect no 
man because he is rich ; I hold in contempt no man 
because he is poor. 

Question. Some of the clergymen say that the 
spread of infidelity is greatly exaggerated ; that it 
makes more noise and creates more notice than con 
servative Christianity simply on account of its being 
outside of the accepted line of thought. 

Answer. There was a time when an unbeliever, 
open and pronounced, was a wonder. At that time 
the church had great power ; it could retaliate ; it could 
destroy. The church abandoned the stake only when 
too many men objected to being burned. At that 
time infidelity was clad not simply in novelty, but 
often in fire. Of late years the thoughts of men 
have been turned, by virtue of modern discoveries, 
as the result of countless influences, to an investi 
gation of the foundation of orthodox religion. Other 
religions were put in the crucible of criticism, and 
nothing was found but dross. At last it occurred 
to the intelligent to examine our own religion, and 
this examination has excited great interest and great 
comment. People want to hear, and they want to 



2IO THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

hear because they have already about concluded 
themselves that the creeds are founded in error. 

Thousands come to hear me because they are in 
terested in the question, because they want to hear 
a man say what they think. They want to hear their 
own ideas from the lips of another. The tide has 
turned, and the spirit of investigation, the intelli 
gence, the intellectual courage of the world is on 
the other side. A real good old-fashioned orthodox 
minister who believes the Thirty-nine articles with 
all his might, is regarded to-day as a theological 
mummy, a kind of corpse acted upon by the galvanic 
battery of faith, making strange motions, almost like 
those of life not quite. 

Question. How would you convey moral instruc 
tion from youth up, and what kind of instruction 
would you give ? 

Answer. I regard Christianity as a failure. Now, 
then, what is Christianity ? I do not include in the 
word " Christianity " the average morality of the 
world or the .morality taught in all systems of relig 
ion ; that i.s, as distinctive Christianity. Christianity 
is this : A belief in the inspiration of the Scriptures, 
the atonement, the life, death, and resurrection of 
Christ, an eternal reward for the believers in Christ, 
and eternal punishment for the rest of us. Now, 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 2 I I 

take from Christianity its miracles, its absurdities 
of the atonement and fall of man and the inspira 
tion of the Scriptures, and I have no objection to it 
as I understand it. I believe, in the main, in the 
Christianity which I suppose Christ taught, that is, 
in kindness, gentleness, forgiveness. I do not be 
lieve in loving enemies ; I have pretty hard work to 
love my friends. Neither do I believe in revenge. 
No man can afford to keep the viper of revenge in 
his heart. But I believe in justice, in self-defence. 
Caristianity that is, the miraculous part must be 
abandoned. As to morality morality is born, is 
born of the instinct of self-preservation. If man 
could not suffer, the word " conscience " never would 
have passed his lips. Self-preservation makes lar 
ceny a crime. Murder will be regarded as a bad 
thing as long as a majority object to being murdered. 
Morality does not come from the clouds ; it is born 
of human want and human experience. We need 
no inspiration, no inspired work. The industrious 
man knows that the idle has no right to rob him of 
the product of his labor, and the idle man knows 
that he has no right to do it. It is not wrong be 
cause we find it in the Bible, but I presume it was 
put in the Bible because it is wrong. Then, you 
find in the Bible other things upheld that are in- 



212 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

famous. And why ? Because the writers of the 
Bible were barbarians, in many things, and because 
that book is a mixture of good and evil. I see no 
trouble in teaching morality without miracle. I see 
no use of miracle. What can men do with it? 
Credulity is not a virtue. The credulous are not 
necessarily charitable. Wonder is not the mother 
of wisdom. I believe children should be taught to 
investigate and to reason for themselves, and that 
there are facts enough to furnish a foundation for 
all human virtue. We will take two families; in 
the one, the father and mother are both Christians, 
and they teach their children their creed ; teach 
them that they are naturally totally depraved ; that 
they can only hope for happiness in a future life by 
pleading the virtues of another, and that a certain 
belief is necessary to salvation ; that God punishes 
his children forever. Such a home has a certain at 
mosphere. Take another family ; the father and 
mother teach their children that they should be 
kind to each other because kindness produces hap 
piness ; that they should be gentle ; that they should 
be just, because justice is the mother of joy. And 
suppose this father and mother say to their children : 
" If you are happy it must be as a result of your own 
actions ; if you do wrong you must suffer the conse- 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 2 13 

quences. No Christ can redeem you ; no savior 
can suffer for you. You must suffer the consequences 
of your own misdeeds. If you plant you must reap, 
and you must reap what you plant." And suppose 
these parents also say : " You must find out the 
conditions of happiness. You must investigate the 
circumstances by which you are surrounded. You 
must ascertain the nature and relation of things so 
that you can act in accordance with known facts, to 
the end that you may have health and peace." In 
such a family, there would be a certain atmosphere, 
in my judgment, a thousand times better and purer 
and sweeter than in the other. The church gener 
ally teaches that rascality pays in this world, but not 
in the next ; that here virtue is a losing game, but 
the dividends will be large in another world. They 
tell the people that they must serve God on credit, 
but the devil pays cash here. That is not my doc 
trine. My doctrine is that a thing is right because 
it pays, in the highest sense. That is the reason it 
is right. The reason a thing is wrong is because it 
is the mother of misery. Virtue has its reward here 
and now. It means health ; it means intelligence, 
contentment, success. Vice means exactly the op 
posite. Most of us have more passion than judg 
ment, carry more sail than ballast, and by the temp- 



214 THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 

est of passion we are blown from port, we are 
wrecked and lost. We cannot be saved by faith 
or by belief. It is a slower process : We must be 
saved by knowledge, by intelligence the only lever 
capable of raising mankind. 

Question. The shorter catechism, Colonel, you 
may remember says " that man's chief end is to 
glorify God and enjoy him forever." What is your 
idea of the chief end of man ? 

Answer. It has always seemed a little curious to 
me that joy should be held in such contempt here, 
and yet promised hereafter as an eternal reward. 
Why not be happy here, as well as in heaven. Why 
not have joy here ? Why not go to heaven now 
that is, to-day ? Why not enjoy the sunshine of this 
world, and all there is of good in it ? It is bad 
enough ; so bad that I do not believe it was ever cre 
ated by a beneficent deity ; but what little good there 
is in it, why not have it ? Neither do I believe that 
it is the end of man to glorify God. How can the Infi 
nite be glorified ? Does he wish for reputation ? He 
has no equals, no superiors. How can he have what 
we call reputation ? How can he achieve what we 
call glory ? Why should he wish the flattery of the 
average Presbyterian ? What good will it do him 



THE BROOKLYN DIVINES. 215 

to know that his course has been approved of by the 
Methodist Episcopal Church ? What does he care, 
even, for the religious weeklies, or the presidents of 
religious colleges ? I do not see how we can help 
God, or hurt him. If there be an infinite Being, cer 
tainly nothing we can do can in any way affect him. 
We can affect each other, and therefore man should 
be careful not to sin against man. For that reason 
I have said a hundred times, injustice is the only 
blasphemy. If there be a heaven I want to associate 
there with the ones who have loved me here. I 
might not like the angels and the angels might not 
like me. I want to find old friends. I do not care 
to associate with the Infinite ; there could be no 
freedom in such society. I suppose I am not spirit 
ual enough, and am somewhat touched with world- 
liness. It seems to me that everybody ought to be 
honest enough to say about the Infinite " I know 
nothing ;" of eternal joy, " I have no conception ;" 
about another world, " I know nothing." At the 
same time, I am not attacking anybody for believing 
in immortality. The more a man can hope, and the 
less he can fear, the better. I have done what I 
could to drive from the human heart the shadow of 
eternal pain. I want to put out the fires of an ig 
norant and revengeful hell. 



LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION.* 

COLONEL INGERSOLL'S OPENING. 
Ladies, Mr. President and Gentlemen : 

1AM here to-night for the purpose of defending 
your right to differ with me. I want to convince 
you that you are under no compulsion to accept my 
creed ; that you are, so far as I am concerned, abso 
lutely free to follow the torch of your reason accord 
ing to your conscience ; and I believe that you are 

* A discussion between Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, Hon. Frederic R. Coudert, Ex- 
Qov. Stewart L. Woodford, before the Nineteenth Century Club of New York, at the 
Metropolitan Opera House, May 8, 1888. The points for discussion, as submitted in 
advance, were the following propositions : 

First. Thought is a necessary natural product the result of what is called im 
pressions made through the medium of the senses upon the brain, not forgetting the 
Fact of heredity. 

Second. No human being is accountable to any being human or divine for his 
thoughts. 

Third. Human beings have a certain interest in the thoughts of each other, and 
one who undertakes to tell his thoughts should be honest. 

Fourth. All have an equal right to express their thoughts upon all subjects. 

Fifth. For one man to say to another, ' ' I tolerate you, " is an assumption of 
authority not a disclaimer, but a waiver, of the right to persecute. 

Sixth. Each man has the same right to express to the whole world his ideas, that 
the rest of the world have to express their thoughts to him. 

Courtlandt Palmer, Esq., President of the Club, in introducing Mr. Ingersoll, 
among other things said : 

' ' The inspiration of the orator of the evening seems to be that of the great Victor 
Hugo, who uttered the august saying, ' There shall be no slavery of the mind.' 

' ' When I was in Paris, about a'year ago, I visited the tomb of Victor Hugo. It was 
placed in a recess in the crypt of the Pantheon. Opposite it was the tomb of Jean 
Jacques Rousseau. Near by, in another recess, was the memorial statue of Voltaire ; 
and I felt, as I looked at these three monuments, that had Colonel Ingersoll been 
born in France, and had he passed in his long life account, the acclaim of the 
liberal culture of France would have enlarged that trio into a quartette. 

' ' Colonel Ingersoll has appeared in several important debates in print, notably with 
Judge Jeremiah S. Black, formerly Attorney-General of the United States ; lately 
in the pages of The North American Review with the Rev. Dr. Henry M. Field, and 
last but not least the Right Hon. William E Gladstone, England's greatest citizen, 
has taken up the cudgel against him in behalf of his view of Orthodoxy. To-night, 
I believe for the first time, the colonel has consented to appear in a colloquial dis 
cussion, I have now the honor to introduce this distinguished orator.' ' (217) 



2l8 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

civilized to that degree that you will extend to me 
the right that you claim for yourselves. 

I admit, at the very threshold, that every human 
being thinks as he must ; and the first proposition 
really is, whether man has the right to think. It 
will bear but little discussion, for the reason that no 
man can control his thought. If you think you can, 
what are you going to think to-morrow ? What 
are you going to think next year ? If you can ab 
solutely control your thought, can you stop think 
ing ? 

The question is, Has the will any power over 
the thought ? What is thought ? It is the result of 
nature of the outer world first upon the senses 
those impressions left upon the brain as pictures of 
things in the outward world, and these pictures are 
transformed into, or produce, thought ; and as long 
as the doors of the senses are open, thoughts will be 
produced. Whoever looks at anything in nature, 
thinks. Whoever hears any sound or any sym 
phony no matter what thinks. Whoever looks 
upon the sea, or on a star, or on a flower, or on the 
face of a fellow-man, thinks, and the result of that 
look is an absolute necessity. The thought pro 
duced will depend upon your brain, upon your ex 
perience, upon the history of your life. 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

One who looks upon the sea, knowing that the 
one he loved the best had been devoured by its 
hungry waves, will have certain thoughts ; and he 
who sees it for the first time, will have different 
thoughts. In other words, no two brains are alike ; 
no two lives have been or are or ever will be the 
same. Consequently, nature cannot produce the 
same effect upon any two brains, or upon any two 
hearts. 

The only reason why we wish to exchange 
thoughts is that we are different. If we were all 
the same, we would die dumb. No thought would 
be expressed after we found that our thoughts were 
precisely alike. We differ our thoughts are differ 
ent. Therefore the commerce that we call conver 
sation. 

Back of language is thought. Back of language 
is the desire to express our thought to another. 
This desire not only gave us language this desire 
has given us the libraries of the world. And not 
only the libraries ; this desire to express thought, to 
show to others the splendid children of the brain, 
has written every book, formed every language, 
painted every picture, and chiseled every statue 
this desire to express our thought to others, to reap 
the harvest of the brain, 



22O THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

If, then, thought is a necessity, " it follows as the 
night the day " that there is, there can be, no respon 
sibility for thought to any being, human or divine. 

A camera contains a sensitive plate. The light 
flashes upon it, and the sensitive plate receives a 
picture. Is it in fault, is it responsible, for the pic 
ture ? So with the brain. An image is left on it, a 
picture is imprinted there. The plate may not be 
perfectly level it may be too concave, or too con 
vex, and the picture may be a deformity ; so with 
the brain. But the man does not make his own 
brain, and the consequence is, if the picture is dis 
torted it is not the fault of the brain. 

We take then these two steps : first, thought is a 
necessity ; and second, the thought depends upon 
the brain. 

Each brain is a kind of field where nature sows 
with careless hands the seeds of thought. Some 
brains are poor and barren fields, producing weeds 
and thorns, and some are like the tropic world 
where grow the palm and pine children of the sun 
and soil. 

You read Shakespeare. What do you get out 
of Shakespeare ? All that your brain is able to 
hold. It depends upon your brain. If you are 
great if you have been cultivated if the wings of 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 221 

your imagination have been spread if you have 
had great, free, and splendid thoughts jr you have 
stood upon the edge of things if you have had the 
courage to meet all that can come you get an 
immensity from Shakespeare. If you have lived 
nobly if you have loved with every drop of your 
blood and every fibre of your being if you have 
suffered if you have enjoyed then you get an 
immensity from Shakespeare. But if you have lived 
a poor, little, mean, wasted, barren, weedy life 
you get very little from that immortal man. 

So it is from every source in nature what you 
get depends upon what you are. 

Take then the second step. If thought is a ne 
cessity, there can be no responsibility for thought. 
And why has man ever believed that his fellow-man 
was responsible for his thought ? 

Everything that is, everything that has been, has 
been naturally produced. Man has acted as, under 
the same circumstances, we would have acted ; be 
cause when you say " under the circumstances," it is 
the same as to say that you would do exactly as 
they have done. 

There has always been in men the instinct of self- 
preservation. There was a time when men believed, 
and honestly believed, that there was above them a 



222 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

God. Sometimes they believed in many, but it will 
be sufficient for my illustration to say, one. Man be 
lieved that there was in the sky above him a God 
who attended to the affairs of men. He believed that 
that God, sitting upon his throne, rewarded virtue 
and punished vice. He believed also, that that God 
held the community responsible for the sins of indi 
viduals. He honestly believed it. When the flood 
came, or when the earthquake devoured, he really 
believed that some God was filled with anger with 
holy indignation at his children. He believed it, 
and so he looked about among his neighbors to see 
who was in fault, and if there was any man who had 
failed to bring his sacrifice to the altar, had failed to 
kneel, it may be to the priest, failed to be present in 
the temple, or had given it as his opinion that the 
God of that tribe or of that nation was of no use, then, 
in order to placate the God, they seized the neighbor 
and sacrificed him on the altar of their ignorance and 
of their fear. 

They believed when the lightning leaped from the 
cloud and left its blackened mark upon the man, that 
he had done something that he had excited the 
wrath of the gods. 

And while man so believed, while he believed 
that it was necessary, in order to defend himself, to 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 22$ 

kill his neighbor he acted simply according to the 
dictates of his nature. 

What I claim is that we have nov advanced far 
enough not only to think, but to know, that the con 
duct of man has nothing to do with the phenomena 
of nature. We are now advanced far enough to 
absolutely know that no man can be bad enough and 
no nation infamous enough to cause an earthquake. 
I think we have got to that point that we absolutely 
know that no man can be wicked enough to entice 
one of the bolts from heaven that no man can be 
cruel enough to cause a drought and that you could 
not have infidels enough on the earth to cause another 
flood. I think we have advanced far enough not 
only to say that, but to absolutely know it I mean 
people who have thought, and in whose minds there 
is something like reasoning. 

We know, if we know anything, that the lightning 
is just as apt to hit a good rrian as a bad man. We 
know it. We know that the earthquake is just as 
liable to swallow virtue as to swallow vice. And 
you know just as well as I do that a ship loaded 
with pirates is just as apt to outride the storm as 
one crowded with missionaries. You know it. 

I am now speaking of the phenomena of nature. I 
believe, as much as I believe that I live, that the 



224 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

reason a thing is right is because it tends to the 
happiness of mankind. I believe, as much as I be- 
believe that I live, that on the average the good man 
is not only the happier man, but that no man is happy 
who is not good. 

If then we have gotten over that frightful, that 
awful superstition we are ready to enjoy hearing the 
thoughts of each other. 

I do not say, neither do I intend to be understood 
as saying, that there is no God. All I intend to 
say is, that so far as we can see, no man is punished, 
no nation is punished by lightning, or famine, or 
storm. Everything happens to the one as to the 
other. 

Now, let us admit that there is an infinite God. 
That has nothing to do with the sinlessness of 
thought nothing to do with the fact that no man is 
accountable to any being, human or divine, for what 
he thinks. And let me tell you why. 

If there be an infinite God, leave him to deal with 
men who sin against him. You can trust him, if 
you believe in him. He has the power. He has a 
heaven full of bolts. Trust him. And now that you 
are satisfied that the earthquake will not swallow you, 
or the lightning strike you, simply because you tell 
your thoughts, if one of your neighbors differs with 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 225 

you, and acts improperly or thinks or speaks im 
properly of your God, leave him with your God he 
can attend to him a thousand times better than you 
can. He has the time. He lives from eternity to 
eternity. More than that, he has the means. So 
that, whether there be this Being or not, you have 
no right to interfere with your neighbor. 

The next proposition is, that I have the same 
right to express my thought to the whole world, 
that the whole world has to express its thought to 
me. 

I believe that this realm of thought is not a de 
mocracy, where the majority rule ; it is not a repub 
lic. It is a country with one inhabitant. This brain 
is the world in which my mind lives, and my mind is 
the sovereign of that realm. We are all kings, and 
one man balances the rest of the world as one drop 
of water balances the sea. Each soul is crowned. 
Each soul wears the purple and the tiara ; and only 
those are good citizens of the intellectual world who 
give to every other human being every right that they 
claim for themselves, and only those are traitors in 
the great realm of thought who abandon reason and 
appeal to force. 

If now I have got out of your minds the idea that 
you must abuse your neighbors to keep on good 



226 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

terms with God, then the question of religion is ex 
actly like every question I mean of thought, of 
mind I have nothing to say now about action. 

Is there authority in the world of art ? Can a 
legislature pass a law that a certain picture is beauti 
ful, and can it pass a law putting in the penitentiary 
any impudent artistic wretch who says that to him it 
is not beautiful ? Precisely the same with music. 
Our ears are not all the same ; we are not touched 
by the same sounds the same beautiful memories 
do not arise. Suppose you have an authority in 
music ? You may make men, it may be, by offer 
ing them office or by threatening them with punish 
ment, swear that they all like that tune but you 
never will know till the day of your death whether 
they do or not. The moment you introduce a des 
potism in the world of thought, you succeed in 
making hypocrites and you get in such a posi 
tion that you never know what your neighbor 
thinks. 

So in the great realm of religion, there can be no 
force. No erne can be compelled to pray. No mat 
ter how you tie him down, or crush him down on 
his face or on his knees, it is above the power of 
the human race to put in that man, by force, the spirit 
of prayer. You cannot do it. Neither can you com- 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 22 / 

pel anybody to worship a God. Worship rises from 
the heart like perfume from a flower. It cannot obey ; 
it cannot do that which some one ekj commands. 
It must be absolutely true to the law of its own na 
ture. And do you think any God would be satisfied 
with compulsory worship ? Would he like to see 
long rows of poor, ignorant slaves on their terri 
fied knees repeating words without a soul giving 
him what you might call the shucks of sound ? Will 
any God be satisfied with that ? And so I say, we 
must be as free in one department of thought as an 
other. 

Now, I take the next step, and that is, that the 
rights of all are absolutely equal. 

I have the same right to give you my opinion that 
you have to give me yours. I have no right to 
compel you to hear, if you do not want to. I have 
no right to compel you to speak if you do not want 
to. If you do not wish to know my thought, I have 
no right to force it upon you. 

The next thing is, that this liberty of thought, 
this liberty of expression, is of more value than any 
other thing beneath the stars. Of more value than 
any religion, of more value than any government, of 
more value than all the constitutions that man has 
written and all the laws that he has passed, is this 



228 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

liberty the absolute liberty of the human mind. 
Take away that word from language, and all other 
words become meaningless sounds, and there is 
then no reason for a man being and living upon the 
earth. 

So then, I am simply in favor of intellectual hos 
pitality that is all. You come to me with a new 
idea. I invite you into the house. Let us see what 
you have. Let us talk it over. If I do not like 
your thought, I will bid it a polite " good day." If 
I do like it, I will say : " Sit down ; stay with me, 
and become a part of the intellectual wealth of my 
world." That is all. 

And how any human being ever has had the im 
pudence to speak against the right to speak, is be 
yond the power of my imagination. Here is a man 
who speaks who exercises a right that he, by his 
speech, denies. Can liberty go further than that ? 
Is there any toleration possible beyond the liberty to 
speak against liberty the real believer in free speech 
allowing others to speak against the right to speak ? 
Is there any limitation beyond that ? 

So, whoever has spoken against the right to speak 
has admitted that he violated his own doctrine. No 
man can open his mouth against the freedom of 
speech without denying every argument he may put 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

forward. Why ? He is exercising the right that 
he denies. How did he get it ? Suppose there is 
one man on an island. You will all admit now that 
he would have the right to do his own thinking. You 
will all admit that he has the right to express his 
thought. Now, will somebody tell me how many 
men would have to emigrate to that island before 
the original settler would lose his right to think and 
his right to express himself? 

If there be an infinite Being and it is a question 
that I know nothing about you would be perfectly 
astonished to know how little I do know on that 
subject, and yet I know as much as the aggregated 
world knows, and as little as the smallest insect that 
ever fanned with happy wings the summer air if 
there be such a Being, I have the same right to think 
that he has. simply because it is a necessity of my 
nature because I cannot help it. And the Infinite 
would be just as responsible to the smallest intelli 
gence living in the infinite spaces he would be just 
as responsible to that intelligence as that intelligence 
can be to him, provided that intelligence thinks as a 
necessity of his nature. 

There is another phrase to which I object " tolera 
tion." " The limits of toleration." Why say " tol 
eration " ? I will tell you why. When the thinkers 



230 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

were in the minority when the philosophers were 
vagabonds when the men with brains furnished 
fuel for bonfires when the majority were ignorantly 
orthodox when they hated the heretic as a last 
year's leaf hates a this year's bud in that delightful 
time these poor people in the minority had to say to 
ignorant power, to conscientious rascality, to cruelty 
born of universal love : " Don't kill us ; don't be 
so arrogantly meek as to burn us ; tolerate us." 
At that time the minority was too small to talk 
about rights, and the great big ignorant majority 
when tired of shedding blood, said : " Well, we will 
tolerate you ; we can afford to wait ; you will not 
live long, and when the Being of infinite compassion 
gets hold of you we will glut our revenge through 
an eternity of joy ; we will ask you every now and 
then, ' What is your opinion now ?' ' 

Both feeling absolutely sure that infinite goodness 
would have his revenge, they " tolerated " these 
thinkers, and that word finally took the place almost 
of liberty. But I do not like it. When you say " I 
tolerate," you do not say you have no right to punish, 
no right to persecute. It is only a disclaimer for a 
few moments and for a few years, but you retain the 
right. I deny it. 

And let me say here to-night it is your experi- 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 23! 

ence, it is mine that the bigger a man is the more 
charitable he is ; you know it. The more brain he 
has, the more excuses he finds for all the world ; you 
know it. And if there be in heaven an infinite 
Being, he must be grander than any man ; he must 
have a thousand times more charity than the human 
heart can hold, and is it possible that he is going to 
hold his ignorant children responsible for the impres 
sions made by nature upon their brain ? Let us 
have some sense. 

There is another side to this question, and that is 
with regard to the freedom of thought and expres 
sion in matters pertaining to this world. 

No man has a right to hurt the character of a 
neighbor. He has no right to utter slander. He 
has no right to bear false witness. He has no right 
to be actuated by any motive except for the general 
good but the things he does here to his neighbor 
these are easily defined and easily punished. All 
that I object to is setting up a standard of authority 
in the world of art, the world of beauty, the world of 
poetry, the world of worship, the world of religion, 
and the world of metaphysics. That is what I object 
to ; and if the old doctrines had been carried out, 
every human being that has benefited this world 
would have been destroyed. If the people who be- 



232 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

Heve that a certain belief is necessary to insure 
salvation had had control of this world, we would 
have been as ignorant to-night as wild beasts. 
Every step in advance has been made in spite of 
them. There has not been a book of any value 
printed since the invention of that art and when I 
say " of value," I mean that contained new and 
splendid truths that was not anathematized by the 
gentlemen who believed that man is responsible for 
his thought. Every step has been taken in spite of 
that doctrine. 

Consequently I simply believe in absolute liberty 
of mind. And I have no fear about any other world 
not the slightest. When I get there, I will give 
my honest opinion of that country ; I will give my 
honest thought there ; and if for that I lose my soul, 
I will keep at least my self-respect^ 

A man tells me a story. I believe it, or dis 
believe it. I cannot help it. I read a story no 
matter whether in the original Hebrew, or whether 
it has been translated. I believe it or I disbelieve 
it. No matter whether it is written in a very solemn 
or a very flippant manner I have my idea about its 
truth. And I insist that each man has the right to 
judge that for himself, and for that reason, as I have 
already said, I am defending your right to differ with 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 233 

me that is all. And if you do differ with me, all that 
it proves is that I do not agree with you. There is 
no man that lives to-night beneath the stars there 
is no being that can force my soul u A Jon its knees, 
unless the reason is given. I will be no slave. I do 
not care how big my master is, I am just as small, if 
a slave, as though the master were small. It is not 
the greatness of the master that can honor the slave. 
In other words, I am going to act according to my 
right, as I understand it, without interfering with any 
other human being. And now, if you think any of 
you, that you can control your thought, I want you 
to try it. There is not one here who can by any 
possibility think, only as he must. 

You remember the story of the Methodist 
minister who insisted that he could control his 
thoughts. A man said to him, " Nobody can con 
trol his own mind." " Oh, yes, he can," the 
preacher replied. " My dear sir," said the man, 
" you cannot even say the Lord's Prayer without 
thinking of something else." " Oh, yes, I can." 
" Well, if you will do it, I will give you that horse, 
the best riding horse in this county." " Well, who 
is to judge ? " said the preacher. " I will take your 
own word for it, and if you say the Lord's Prayer 
through without thinking of anything else, I will give 



234 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

you that horse." So the minister shut his eyes and 
began: "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be 
thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done," 
" I suppose you will throw in the saddle and bridle? " 

I say to you to-night, ladies and gentlemen, that 
I feel more interest in the freedom of thought and 
speech than in all other questions, knowing, as I 
do, that it is the condition of great and splendid 
progress for the race ; remembering, as I do, that 
the opposite idea has covered the cheek of the 
world with tears ; remembering, and knowing, as I 
do, that the enemies of free thought and free speech 
have covered this world with blood. These men 
have filled the heavens with an infinite monster ; 
they have filled the future with fire and flame, and 
they have made the present, when they have had 
the power, a perdition. These men, these doctrines, 
have carried fagots to the feet of philosophy. 
These men, these doctrines, have hated to see the 
dawn of an intellectual day. These men, these 
doctrines, have denied every science, and denounced 
and killed every philosopher they could lay their 
bloody, cruel, ignorant hands upon. 

And for that reason, I am for absolute liberty of 
thought, everywhere, in every department, domain, 
and realm of the human mind. 



REMARKS OF MR. COUDERT. 

Ladies and Gentlemen and Mr. President : It is 
not only " the sense of the church " that I am lack 
ing now, I am afraid it is any sense at all ; and I am 
only wondering how a reasonably intelligent being 
meaning myself could in view of the misfortune 
that befell Mr. Kernan, have undertaken to speak 
to-night. 

This is a new experience. I have never sung in any 
of Verdi's operas I have never listened to one 
through but I think I would prefer to try all three of 
these performances rather than go on with this duty 
which, in a vain moment of deluded vanity, I heed 
lessly undertook. 

I am in a new field here. I feel very much like 
the master of a ship who thinks that he can safely guide 
his bark. (I am not alluding to the traditional bark 
of St. Peter, in which I hope that I am and will al 
ways be, but the ordinary bark that requires a com 
pass and a rudder and a guide.) And I find that all 
these ordinary things, which we generally take for 
granted, and which are as necessary to our safety as the 

(235) 



236 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

air which we breathe, or the sunshine that we enjoy, 
have been quietly, pleasantly, and smilingly thrown 
overboard by the gentleman who has just preceded 
me. 

Carlyle once said and the thought came to me as 
the gentlman was speaking "A Comic History of 
England !" for some wretch had just written such a 
book (talk of free thought and free speech when 
men do such things!) " A Comic History of En 
gland!" The next thing we shall hear of will be "A 
Comic History of the Bible !" I think we have 
heard the first chapter of that comic history to-night ; 
and the only comfort that I have and possibly some 
other antiquated and superannuated persons of either 
sex, if such there be within my hearing is that such 
things as have seemed to me charmingly to partake 
of the order of blasphemy, have been uttered with 
such charming bonhomie, and received with such en 
thusiastic admiration, that I have wondered whether 
we are in a Christian audience of the nineteenth 
century, or in a possible Ingersollian audience of the 
twenty-third. 

And let me first, before I enter upon the very few 
and desultory remarks, which are the only ones that 
I can make now and with which I may claim your 
polite attention let me say a word about the com- 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 237 

parison with which your worthy President opened 
these proceedings. 

There are two or three things upon which I am a 
little sensitive : One, aspersions upon the land of my 
birth the city of New York ; the next, the land of 
my fathers ; and the next, the bark that I was just 
speaking of. 

Now your worthy President, in his well-meant 
efforts to exhibit in the best possible style the new 
actor upon his stage, said that he had seen Victor 
Hugo's remains, and Voltaire's, and Jean Jacques 
Rousseau's, and that he thought the niche might 
well be filled by Colonel Ingersoll. If that had been 
merely the expression of a natural desire to see him 
speedily annihilated, I might perhaps in the inter 
ests of the Christian community have thought, but 
not said, "Amen !" (Here you will at once observe 
the distinction I make between free thought and free 
speech !) 

I do not think, and I beg that none of you, and 
particularly the eloquent rhetorician who preceded 
me, will think, that in anything I may say I intend 
any personal discourtesy, for I do believe to some 
extent in freedom of speech upon a platform like 
this. Such a debate as this rises entirely above 
and beyond the plane of personalities. 



238 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

I suppose that your President intended to com 
pare Colonel Ingersoll to Voltaire, to Hugo and to 
Rousseau. I have no retainer from either of those 
gentlemen, but for the reason that I just gave you, 
I wish to defend their memory from what I consider 
a great wrong. And so I do not think with all 
respect to the eloquent and learned gentleman 
that he is entitled to a place in that niche. Vol 
taire did many wrong things. He did them for 
many reasons, and chiefly because he was human. 
But Voltaire did a great deal to build up. Leaving 
aside his noble tragedies, which charmed and de 
lighted his audiences, and dignified the stage, 
throughout his work was some effort to ameliorate 
the condition of the human race. He fought against 
torture ; he fought against persecution ; he fought 
against bigotry ; he clamored and wrote against 
littleness and fanaticism in every way, and he was 
not ashamed when he entered upon his domains at 
Fernay, to erect a church to the God of whom the 
most our friend can say is, "I do not know whether 
he exists or not." 

Rousseau did many noble things, but he was a 
madman, and in our day would probably have been 
locked up in an asylum and treated by intelligent 
doctors. His works, however, bear the impress of a 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 2 39 

religious education, and if there be in his works or 
sayings anything to parallel what we have heard to 
night whether a parody on divine revelation, or a 
parody upon the prayer of prayers I have not 
seen it. 

Victor Hugo has enriched the literature of his day 
with prose and poetry that have made him the 
Shakespeare of the nineteenth century poems as 
deeply imbued with a devout sense of responsibility 
to the Almighty as the writings of an archbishop or 
a cardinal. He has left the traces of his beneficent 
action all over the literature of his day, of his country, 
and of his race. 

All these men, then, have built up something. 
Will anyone, the most ardent admirer of Colonel 
Ingersoll, tell me what he has built up ? 

To go now to the argument. The learned gentle 
man says that freedom of thought is a grand thing. 
Unfortunately, freedom of thought exists. What 
one of us would not put manacles and fetters upon 
his thoughts, if he only could ? What persecution 
have any of us suffered to compare with the invol 
untary recurrence of these demons that enter our 
brain that bring back past events that we would 
wipe out with our tears, or even with our blood 
and make us slaves of a power unseen but uncon- 



240 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

trollable and uncontrolled ? Is it not unworthy of 
so eloquent and intelligent a man to preach before 
you here to-night that thought must always be 
free ? 

When in the history of the world has thought ever 
been fettered ? If there be a page in history upon 
which such an absurdity is written, I have failed to 
find it. 

Thought is beyond the domain of man. The most 
cruel and arbitrary ruler can no more penetrate into 
your bosom and mine and extract the inner work 
ings of our brain, than he can scale the stars or pull 
down the sun from its seat. Thought must be free. 
Thought is unseen, unhandled and untouched, and 
no despot has yet been able to reach it, except when 
the thoughts burst into words. And therefore, may 
we not consider now, and say, that liberty of word is 
what he wants, and not liberty of thought, which no 
one has ever gainsaid, or disputed ? 

Liberty of speech ! and the gentleman generously 
tells us, " Why, I only ask for myself what I would 
cheerfully extend to you. I wish you to be free ; 
and you can even entertain those old delusions 
which your mothers taught, and look with envious 
admiration upon me while I scale the giddy heights 
of Olympus, gather the honey and approach the 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 24! 

stars and tell you how pure the air is in those upper 
regions which you are unable to reach." 

Thanks for his kindness ! But I think that it is 
one thing for us to extend to him that liberty that he 
asks for the liberty to destroy and another thing 
for him to give us the liberty which we claim the 
liberty to conserve. 

Oh, destruction is so easy, destruction is so 
pleasant! It marks the footsteps all through our 
life. The baby begins by destroying his bib ; the 
older child by destroying his horse, and when the 
man is grown up and he joins the regiment with 
the latent instinct that when he gets a chance he will 
destroy human life. 

This building cost many thousand days' work. It 
was planned by more or less skillful architects (ig 
norant of ventilation, but well-meaning). Men 
lavished their thought, and men lavished their sweat 
for a pittance, upon this building. It took months 
and possibly years to build it and to adorn it and 
to beautify it. And yet, as it stands complete to 
night with all of you here in the vigor of your life 
and in the enjoyment of such entertainment as you 
may get here this evening, I will find a dozen men 
who with a few pounds of dynamite will reduce it 
and all of us to instant destruction. 



242 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

The dynamite man may say to me, " I give you 
full liberty to build and occupy and insure, if you 
will give me liberty to blow up." Is that a fair bar 
gain ? Am I bound in conscience and in good sense 
to accept it ? Liberty of speech ! Tell me where 
liberty of speech has ever existed. There have 
been free societies, England was a free country. 
France has struggled through crisis after crisis to 
obtain liberty of speech. We think we have liberty 
of speech, as we understand it, and yet who would 
undertake to say that our society could live with 
liberty of speech ? We have gone through many 
crises in our short history, and we know that thought 
is nothing before the law, but the word is an act 
as guilty at times as the act of killing, or burglary, 
or any of the violent crimes that disgrace humanity 
and require the police. 

A word is an act an act of the tongue ; and 
why should my tongue go unpunished, and I who 
wield it mercilessly toward those who are weaker 
than I, escape, if my arm is to be punished when I use 
it tyrannously ? Whom would you punish for the 
murder of Desdemona is it lago, or Othello ? 
Who was the villain, who was the criminal, who de 
served the scaffold who but free speech ? lago 
exercised free speech. He poisoned the ear of 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 243 

Othello and nerved his arm and Othello was the 
murderer but lago went scot free. That was a 
word. 

" Oh," says the counsel, " but that does not apply 
to individuals ; be tender and charitable to individ 
uals." Tender and charitable to men if they 
endeavor to destroy all that you love and venerate 
and respect ! 

Are you tender and charitable to me if you enter 
my house, my castle, and debauch my children from 
the faith that they have been taught ? Are you 
tender and charitable to them and to me when you 
teach them that I have instructed them in falsehood, 
that their mother has rocked them in blasphemy, 
and that they are now among the fools and the 
witlings of the world because they believe in my 
precepts ? Is that the charity that you speak of ? 
Heaven forbid that liberty of speech such as that, 
should ever invade my home or yours ! 

We all understand, and the learned gentleman 
will admit, that his discourse is but an eloquent 
apology for blasphemy. And when I say this, 
I beg you to believe me incapable of resorting to the 
cheap artifice of strong words to give point to a 
pointless argument, or to offend a courteous adver 
sary. I think if I put it to him he would, with 



244 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

characteristic candor, say, " Yes, that is what I claim 
the liberty to blaspheme ; the world has outgrown 
these things ; and I claim to-day, as I claimed a few 
months ago in the neighboring gallant little State of 
New Jersey, that while you cannot slander man, your 
tongue is free to revile and insult man's maker." 
New Jersey was behind in the race for progress, 
and did not accept his argument. His unfortu 
nate client was convicted and had to pay the fine 
which the press which is seldom mistaken says 
came from the pocket of his generous counsel. 

The argument was a strong one ; the argument 
was brilliant, and was able ; and I say now, with 
all my predilections for the church of my fathers, 
and for your church (because it is not a question of 
our differences, but it is a question whether the tree 
shall be torn up by the roots, not what branches may 
bear richer fruit or deserve to be lopped off) I say, 
why has every Christian State passed these statutes 
against blasphemy ? Turning into ridicule sacred 
things firing off the Lord's Prayer as you would a 
joke from Joe Miller or a comic poem that is what 
I mean by blasphemy. If there is any other or bet 
ter definition, give it me, and I will use it. 

Now understand. All these States of ours care 
not one fig what our religion is. Behave your- 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 245 

selves properly, obey the laws, do not require the 
intervention of the police, and the majesty of your 
conscience will be as exalted as the sun. But the 
wisest men and the best men possibly not so elo 
quent as the orator, but I may say it without offence 
to him other names that shine brightly in the galaxy 
of our best men, have insisted and maintained that 
the Christian faith was the ligament that kept our 
modern society together, and our laws have said, 
and the laws of most of our States say, to this day, 
"Think what you like, but do not, like Samson, pull 
the pillars down upon us all." 

If I had anything to say, ladies and gentlemen, it 
is time that I should say it now. My exordium has 
been very long, but it was no longer than the 
dignity of the subject, perhaps, demanded. 

Free speech we all have. Absolute liberty of 
speech we never had. Did we have it before the 
war ? Many of us here remember that if you 
crossed an imaginary line and went among some of 
the noblest and best men that ever adorned this 
continent, one word against slavery meant death. 
And if you say that that was the influence of slavery, 
I will carry you to Boston, that city which numbers 
within its walls as many intelligent people to the 
acre as any city on the globe was it different there ? 



246 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

Why, the fugitive, beaten, blood-stained slave, 
when he got there, was seized and turned back ; 
and when a few good and brave men, in defence of 
free speech, undertook to defend the slave and to 
try and give him liberty, they were mobbed and 
pelted and driven through the city. You may say, 
" That proves there was no liberty of speech." No ; 
it proves this : that wherever, and wheresoever, and 
whenever, liberty of speech is incompatible with the 
safety of the State, liberty of speech must fall back 
and give way, in order that the State may be pre 
served. 

First, above everything, above all things, the 
safety of the people is the supreme law. And if 
rhetoricians, anxious to tear down, anxious to pluck 
the faith from the young ones who are unable to 
defend it, come forward with nickel-plated plati 
tudes and commonplaces clothed in second-hand 
purple and tinsel, and try to tear down the temple, 
then it is time, I shall not say for good men for I 
know so few they make a small battalion but for 
good women, to come to the rescue. 



GENERAL WOODFORD'S SPEECH. 

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen : At this 
late hour, I could not attempt even if I would 
the eloquence of my friend Colonel Ingersoll ; nor 
the wit and rapier-like sarcasm of my other valued 
friend Mr. Coudert. But there are some things so 
serious about this subject that we discuss to-night, 
that I crave your pardon if, without preface, and with 
out rhetoric, I get at once to what from my Protestant 
standpoint seems the fatal logical error of Mr. Inger- 
soll's position. 

Mr. Ingersoll starts with the statement and that 
I may not, for I could not, do him injustice, nor my 
self injustice, in the quotation, I will give it as he 
stated it he starts with this statement : that thought 
is a necessary natural product, the result of what we 
call impressions made through the medium of the 
senses upon the brain. 

Do you think that is thought ? Now stop turn 
right into your own minds is that thought ? Does 
not will power take hold ? Does not reason take 

(247) 



248 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

hold ? Does not memory take hold, and is not 
thought the action of the brain based upon the im 
pression and assisted or directed by manifold and 
varying influences ? 

Secondly, our friend Mr. Ingersoll says that no 
human being is accountable to any being, human or 
divine, for his thought. 

He starts with the assumption that thought is the 
inevitable impression burnt upon the mind at once, 
and then jumps to the conclusion that there is no 
responsibility. Now, is not that a fair logical analy 
sis of what he has said ? 

My senses leave upon my mind an impression, 
and then my mind, out of that impression, works 
good or evil. The glass of brandy, being presented 
to my physical sense, inspires thirst Inspires the 
thought of thirst inspires the instinct of debauchery. 
Am I not accountable for the result of the mind 
given me, whether I yield to the debauch, or rise to 
the dignity of self-control ? 

Every thing of sense leaves its impression upon 
the mind. If there be no responsibility anywhere, 
then is this world blind chance. If there be no re 
sponsibility anywhere, then my friend deserves no 
credit if he be guiding you in the path of truth, and 
I d*"*erve no censure if I be carrying you back into 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 249 

the path of superstition. Why, admit for a moment 
that a man has no control over his thought, and you 
destroy absolutely the power of regenerating the 
world, the power of improving the world. The 
world swings one way, or it swings the other. If 
it be true that in all these ages we have come nearer 
and nearer to a perfect liberty, that is true simply 
and alone because the mind of man through reason, 
through memory, through a thousand inspirations 
and desires and hopes, has ever tended toward better 
results and higher achievements. 

No accountability ? I speak not for my friend, 
but I recognize that I am accountable to myself ; I 
recognize that whether I rise or fall, that whether my 
life goes upward or downward, I am responsible to 
myself. And so, in spite of all sophistry, so in spite 
of all dream, so in spite of all eloquence, each 
woman, each man within this audience is responsible 
first of all to herself and himself whether when 
bad thoughts, when passion, when murder, when 
evil come into the heart or brain he harbors them 
there or he casts them out. 

I am responsible further I am responsible to my 
neighbor. I know that I am my neighbor's keeper, 
I know that as I touch your life, as you touch mine, 
I am responsible every moment, every hour, every 



25O THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

day, for my influence upon you. I am either helping 
you up, or I am dragging you down ; you are either 
helping me up or you are dragging me down and 
you know it. Sophistry cannot get away from this ; 
eloquence cannot seduce us from it. You know that 
if you look back through the record of your life, there 
are lives that you have helped and lives that you 
have hurt. You know that there are lives on the 
downward plane that went down because in an evil 
hour you pushed them ; you know, perhaps with 
blessing, lives that have gone up because you have 
reached out to them a helping hand. That respon 
sibility for your neighbor is a responsibility and an 
accountability that you and I cannot avoid or evade. 
I believe one thing further : that because there is 
a creation there is a Creator. I believe that because 
there is force, there is a Projector of force ; because 
there is matter, there is spirit. I reverently believe 
these things. I am not angry with my neighbor be 
cause he does not ; it may be that he is right, that I 
am wrong ; but if there be a Power that sent me 
into this world, so far as that Power has given me 
wrong direction, or permitted wrong direction, that 
Power will judge me justly. So far as I disregard 
the light that I have, whatever it may be whether 
jt be light of reason, light of conscience, light of 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 251 

history so far as I do that which my judgment tells 
me is wrong, I am responsible and I am account 
able. 

Now the Protestant theory, as I understand it, is 
simply this : It would vary from the theory as taught 
by the mother church it certainly swings far away 
from the theory as suggested by my friend ; I under 
stand the Protestant theory to be this : That every 
man is responsible to himself, to his neighbor, and to 
his God, for his thought. Not for the first impres 
sion but for that impression, for that direction and 
result which he intelligently gives to the first impres 
sion or deduces from it. I understand that the Prot 
estant idea is this : that man may think we know 
he will think for himself ; but that he is responsible 
for it. That a man may speak his thought, so long as 
he does not hurt his neighbor. He must use his own 
liberty so that he shall not injure the well-being of 
any other one so that when using this liberty, when 
exercising this freedom, he is accountable at the last 
to his God. And so Protestantism sends me into 
the world with this terrible and solemn responsibility. 

It leaves Mr. Ingersoll free to speak his thought at 
the bar of his conscience, before the bar of his fellow- 
man, but it holds him in the inevitable grip of abso 
lute responsibility for every light word idly spoken. 



252 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

God grant that he may use that power so that he 
can face that responsibility at the last ! 

It leaves to every churchman liberty to believe 
and stand by his church according to his own con 
viction. It stands for this ; the absolute liberty of 
each individual man to think, to write, to speak, to 
act, according to the best light within him ; limited 
as to his fellows, by the condition that he shall not 
use that liberty so as to injure them ; limited in the 
other direction, by those tremendous laws which 
are laws in spite of all rhetoric, and in spite of all 
logic. 

If I put my finger into the fire, that fire burns. If 
I do a wrong, that wrong remains. If I hurt my 
neighbor, the wrong reacts upon myself. If I would 
try to escape what you call judgment, what you call 
penalty, I cannot escape the working of the inevit 
able law that follows a cause by effect ; I cannot 
escape that inevitable law not the creation of some 
dark monster flashing through the skies but, as I 
believe, the beneficent creation which puts into the 
spiritual life the same control of law that guides the 
material life, which wisely makes me responsible, 
that in the solemnity of that responsibility I am 
bound to lift my brother up and never to drag my 
brother down. 



REPLY OF COLONEL INGERSOLL. 

The first gentleman who replied to me took 
the ground boldly that expression is not free 
that no man has the right to express his real 
thoughts and I suppose that he acted in accord 
ance with that idea. How are you to know whether 
he thought a solitary thing that he said, or not ? 
How is it possible for us to ascertain whether he is 
simply the mouthpiece of some other ? Whether 
he is a free man, or whether he says that which he 
does not believe, it is impossible for us to ascer 
tain. 

He tells you that I am about to take away the 
religion of your mothers. I have heard that said a 
great many times. No doubt Mr. Coudert has the 
religion of his mother, and judging from the argu 
ment he made, his mother knew at least as much 
about these questions as her son. I believe that 
every good father and good mother wants to see the 
son and the daughter climb higher upon the great 
and splendid mount of thought than they reached. 

(253) 



254 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

You never can honor your father by going around 
swearing to his mistakes. You never can honor 
your mother by saying that ignorance is blessed be 
cause she did not know everything. I want to 
honor my parents by finding out more than they 
did. 

There is another thing that I was a little astonish- 

'ed at that Mr. Coudert, knowing that he would be 

in eternal felicity with his harp in his hand, seeing 

me in the world of the damned, could yet grow 

envious here to-night at my imaginary monument. 

And he tells you this Catholic that Voltaire 
was an exceedingly good Christian compared with 
me. Do you know I am glad that I have compelled 
a Catholic one who does not believe he has the 
right to express his honest thoughts to pay a com 
pliment to Voltaire simply because he thought it 
was at my expense ? 

I have an almost infinite admiration for Voltaire ; 
and when I hear that name pronounced, I think of a 
plume floating over a mailed knight I think of a 
man that rode to the beleaguered City of Catholicism 
and demanded a surrender I think of a great man 
who thrust the dagger of assassination into your 
Mother Church, and from that wound she never will 
recover. 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 255 

One word more. This gentleman says that 
children are destructive that the first thing they do 
is to destroy their bibs. The gentleman, I should 
think from his talk, has preserved his ! 

They talk about blasphemy. What is blasphemy ? 
Let us be honest with each other. Whoever lives 
upon the unpaid labor of others is a blasphemer. 
Whoever slanders, maligns, and betrays is a blas 
phemer. Whoever denies to others the rights that 
he claims for himself is a blasphemer. 

Who is a worshiper ? One who makes a happy 
home one who fills the lives of wife and children 
with sunlight one who has a heart where the 
flowers of kindness burst into blossom and fill the 
air with perfume the man who sits beside his wife, 
prematurely old and wasted, and holds her thin 
hands in his and kisses them as passionately and 
loves her as truly and as rapturously as when she 
was a bride he is a worshiper that is worship. 

And the gentleman brought forward as a reason 
why we should not have free speech, that only a 
few years ago some of the best men in the world, if 
you said a word in favor of liberty, would shoot you 
down. What an argument was that ! They were 
not good men. They were the whippers of women 
and the stealers of babes robbers of the trundle- 



256 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

bed assassins of human liberty. They knew no 
better, but I do not propose to follow the example 
of a barbarian because he was honestly a barbarian. 

So much for debauching his family by telling 
them that his precepts are false. If he has taught 
them as he has taught us to-night, he has debauched 
their minds. I would be honest at the cradle. I 
would not tell a child anything as a certainty that I 
did not know. I would be absolutely honest. 

But he says that thought is absolutely free no 
body can control thought. Let me tell him : Super 
stition is the jailer of the mind. You can so stuff 
a child with superstition that its poor little brain is a 
bastile and its poor little soul a convict. Fear is the 
jailer of the mind, and superstition is the assassin of 
liberty. 

So when anybody goes into his family and tells 
these great and shining truths, instead of debauch 
ing his children they will kill the snakes that crawl 
in their cradles. Let us be honest and free. 

And now, coming to the second gentleman. He 
is a Protestant. The Catholic Church says : " Don't 
think ; pay your fare ; this is a through ticket, and 
we will look out for your baggage." The Protestant 
Church says: "Read that Bible for yourselves; 
think for yourselves ; but if you do not come to a 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 257 

right conclusion you will be eternally damned." 
Any sensible man will say, " Then I won't read it 
I'll believe it without reading it." And that is the 
only way you can be sure you will believe it ; don't 
read it. 

Governor Woodford says that we are responsible 
for our thoughts. Why ? Could you help thinking 
as you did on this subject ? No, Could you help 
believing the Bible ? I suppose not. Could you 
help believing that story of Jonah ? Certainly not 
it looks reasonable in Brooklyn. 

I stated that thought was the result of the impres 
sions of nature upon the mind through the medium 
of the senses. He says you cannot have thought 
without memory. How did you get the first one ? 

Of course I intended to be understood and the 
language is clear that there could be no thought 
except through the impressions made upon the brain 
by nature through the avenues called the senses. 
Take away the senses, how would you think then ? 
If you thought at all, I think you would agree with 
Mr. Coudert. 

Now, I admit so we need never have a con 
tradiction about it I admit that every human being 
is responsible to the person he injures. If he in 
jures any man, woman, or child, or any dog, or the 



258 THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

lowest animal that crawls, he is responsible to that 
animal, to that being in other words, he is respon 
sible to any being that he has injured. 

But you cannot injure an infinite Being, if there 
be one. I will tell you why. You cannot help 
him, and you cannot hurt him. If there be an in 
finite Being, he is conditionless he does not want 
anything he has it. You cannot help anybody 
that does not want something you cannot help 
him. You cannot hurt anybody unless he is a con 
ditioned being and you change his condition so as 
to inflict a harm. But if God be conditionless, you 
cannot hurt him, and you cannot help him. So do 
not trouble yourselves about the Infinite. All our 
duties lie within reach all our duties are right here ; 
and my religion is simply this : 

First. Give to every other human being every 
right that you claim for yourself. 

Second. If you tell your thought at all, tell your 
honest thought. Do not be a parrot do not be an 
instrumentality for an organization. Tell your own 
thought, honor bright, what you think. 

My next idea is, that the only possible good in 
the universe is happiness. The time to be happy is 
now. The place to be happy is here. The way to 
be happy is to try and make somebody else so. 



THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 259 

My good friend General Woodford and he is a 
good man telling the best he knows says that I 
will be accountable at the bar up yonder. I am 
ready to settle that account now, and expect to be, 
every moment of my life and when that settlement 
comes, if it does come, I do not believe that a soli 
tary being can rise and say that I ever injured him 
or her. 

But no matter what they say. Let me tell you a 
story, how we will settle if we do get there. 

You remember the story told about the Mexican 
who believed that his country was the only one in 
the world, and said so. The priest told him that 
there was another country where a man lived who 
was eleven or twelve feet high, that made the whole 
world, and if he denied it, when that man got hold of 
him he would not leave a whole bone in his body. 
But he denied it. He was one of those men who 
would not believe further than his vision extended. 

So one day in his boat,he was rocking away when 
the wind suddenly arose and he was blown out of 
sight of his home. After several days he was 
blown so far that he saw the shores of another 
country. Then he said, " My Lord ; I am gone ! I 
have been swearing all my life that there was no 
other country, and here it is ! " So he did his best 



26O THE LIMITATIONS OF TOLERATION. 

paddled with what little strength he had left, 
reached the shore, and got out of his boat. Sure 
enough, there came down a man to meet him about 
twelve feet high. The poor little wretch was fright 
ened almost to death, so he said to the tall man as 
he saw him coming down : " Mister, whoever you 
are, I denied your existence I did not believe you 
lived ; I swore there was no such country as this ; 
but I see I was mistaken, and I am gone. You are 
going to kill me, and the quicker you do it the bet 
ter and get me out of my misery. Do it now !" 

The great man just looked at the little fellow, and 
said nothing, till he asked, " What are you going to 
do with me, because over in that other country I 
denied your existence ? " " What am I going to do 
with you ? " said the supposed God. " Now that you 
have got here, if you behave yourself I am going to 
treat you well." 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON.* 

CHAPTER I. 

THE good part of Christmas is not always Chris 
tian it is generally Pagan ; that is to say, 
human, natural. 

Christianity did not come with tidings of great joy, 
but with a message of eternal grief. It came with 
the threat of everlasting torture on its lips. It meant 
war on earth and perdition hereafter. 

It taught some good things the beauty of love and 
kindness in man. But as a torch-bearer, as abringer 
of joy, it has been a failure. It has given infinite 
consequences to the acts of finite beings, crushing 
the soul with a responsibility too great for mortals 
to bear. It has filled the future with fear and flame, 
and made God the keeper of an eternal penitentiary, 
destined to be the home of nearly all the sons of 
men. Not satisfied with that, it has deprived God of 
the pardoning power. 

This is the famous Christmas Sermon written by Colonel Ingersoll and printed in 
the Evening Telegram, on December 19, 1891. 

In answer to this ' ' Christmas Sermon ' ' the Rev. Dr. J. M. Buckley, editor of the 
Christian Advocate, the recognized organ of the Methodist Church, wrote an arti 
cle, calling upon the public to boycott the Evening Telegram for publishing such 
a "sermon. 1 ' 

This attack was headed ' ' Lies That Are Mountainous.' ' The Telegram promptly 
accepted the issue raised by Dr. Buckley and dared him to do his utmost. On the 
very same day it published an answer from Colonel Ingersoll that echoed through 
out America. (263) 



264 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

And yet it may have done some good by borrowing 
from the Pagan world the old festival called Christmas. 

Long before Christ was born the Sun-God tri 
umphed over the powers of Darkness. About the 
time that we call Christmas the days begin percepti 
bly to lengthen. Our barbarian ancestors were wor 
shipers of the sun, and they celebrated his victory 
over the hosts of night. Such a festival was natural 
and beautiful. The most natural of all religions is 
the worship of the sun. Christianity adopted this 
festival. It borrowed from the Pagans the best it has. 

I believe in Christmas and in every day that has 
been set apart for joy. We in America have too 
much work and not enough play. We are too much 
like the English. 

I think it was Heinrich Heine who said that he 
thought a blaspheming Frenchman was a more pleas 
ing object to God than a praying Englishman. We 
take our joys too sadly. I am in favor of all the good 
free days the more the better. 

Christmas is a good day to forgive and forget a 
good day to throw away prejudices and hatreds 
a good day to fill your heart and your house, and the 
hearts and houses of others, with sunshine. 

R. G INGERSOLL. 



COL. INGERSOLL'S REPLY TO DR. BUCKLEY. 

II. 

WHENEVER an orthodox editor attacks an 
unbeliever, look out for kindness, charity 
and love. 

The gentle editor of the Christian Advocate 
charges me with having written three " gigantic 
falsehoods," and he points them out as follows : 

First " Christianity did not come with tidings of 
great joy; but with a message of eternal grief." 

Second " It [Christianity] has filled the future 
with fear and flame, and made God the keeper of 
an eternal penitentiary, destined to be the home of 
nearly all the sons of men." 

Third " Not satisfied with that, it [Christianity] 
has deprived God of the pardoning power." 

Now, let us take up these " gigantic falsehoods" in 
their order and see whether they are in accord with 
the New Testament or not whether they are sup 
ported by the creed of the Methodist Church. 

I insist that Christianity did not come with tidings 
of great joy, but with a message of eternal grief. 



266 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

According to the orthodox creeds, Christianity 
came with the tidings that the human race was 
totally depraved, and that all men were in a lost con 
dition, and that all who rejected or failed to believe 
the new religion, would be tormented in eternal 
fire. 

These were not " tidings of great joy." 

If the passengers on some great ship were told 
that the ship was to be wrecked, that a few would 
be saved and that nearly all would go to the bot 
tom, would they talk about " tidings of great joy " ? 
It is to be presumed that Christ knew what his mis 
sion was, and what he came for. He says : " Think 
not that I am come to send peace on earth ; I 
came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come 
to set a man at variance against his father, and the 
daughter against her mother." In my judgment, these 
are not "tidings of great joy." 

Now, as to the message of eternal grief: 

"Then shall he say also unto them on the left 
hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire 
prepared for the devil and his angels." 

"And these shall go away into everlasting pun 
ishment ; but the righteous [meaning the Methodists] 
into life eternal." 

" He that believeth not shall be damned." 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 267 

" He that believeth not the Son shall not see life ; 
but the wrath of God abideth on him." 

" Fear not them which kill the body, but are not 
able to kill the soul ; but rather fear him which is able 
to destroy both soul and body in hell." 

"And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up 
forever and ever." 

Knowing, as we do, that but few people have 
been believers, that during the last eighteen hundred 
years not one in a hundred has died in the faith, and 
that consequently nearly all the dead are in hell, it 
can truthfully be said that Christianity came with a 
message of eternal grief. 

Now, as to the second " gigantic falsehood," to the 
effect that Christianity filled the future with fear 
and flame, and made God the keeper of an eternal 
penitentiary, destined to be the home of nearly all 
the sons of men. 

In the Old Testament there is nothing about 
punishment in some other world, nothing about the 
flames and torments of hell. When Jehovah killed 
one of his enemies he was satisfied. His revenge 
was glutted when the victim was dead. The Old 
Testament gave the future to sleep and oblivion. 
But in the New Testament we are told that the 
punishment in another world is everlasting, and that 



268 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

" the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever 
and ever." 

This awful doctrine, these frightful texts, filled 
the future with fear and flame. Building on these 
passages, the orthodox churches have constructed a 
penitentiary, in which nearly all the sons of men are 
to be imprisoned and tormented forever, and of this 
prison God is the keeper. The doors are opened 
only to receive. 

The doctrine of eternal punishment is the infamy 
of infamies. As I have often said, the man who be 
lieves in eternal torment, in the justice of endless 
pain, is suffering from at least two diseases petri 
faction of the heart and putrefaction of the brain. 

The next question is whether Christianity has 
deprived God of the pardoning power. 

The Methodist Church and every orthodox church 
teaches that this life is a period of probation ; that 
there is no chance given for reformation after death ; 
that God gives no opportunity to repent in another 
world. 

This is the doctrine of the Christian world. If 
this dogma be true, then God will never release a 
soul from hell the pardoning power will never be 
exercised. 

How happy God will be and how happy all the 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 269 

saved will be, knowing that billions and billions of 
his children, of their fathers, mothers, brothers, 
sisters, wives, and children are convicts in the eternal 
dungeons, and that the words of pardon will never 
be spoken ! 

Yet this is in accordance with the promise con 
tained in the New Testament, of happiness here and 
eternal joy hereafter,to those who would desert breth 
ren or sisters, or father or mother, or wife or children. 

It seems to me clear that Christianity did not 
bring " tidings of great joy," but that it came with a 
" message of eternal grief" that it did " fill the future 
with fear and flame," that it did make God "the 
keeper of an eternal penitentiary," that the peniten 
tiary " was destined to be the home of nearly all the 
sons of men," and that " it deprived God of the par 
doning power." 

Of course you can find passages full of peace, in 
the Bible, others of war some filled with mercy, and 
others cruel as the fangs of a wild beast. 

According to the Methodists, God has an eternal 
prison an everlasting Siberia. There is to be an 
eternity of grief, of agony and shame. 

What do I think of what the Doctor says about 
the Telegram for having published my Christmas 
sermon ? 



27O A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

The editor of the Christian Advocate has no idea 
of what intellectual liberty means. He ought to 
know that a man should not be insulted because 
another man disagrees with him. 

What right has Dr. Buckley to disagree with 
Cardinal Gibbons, and what right has Cardinal 
Gibbons to disagree with Dr. Buckley ? The 
same right that I have to disagree with them 
both. 

I do not warn people against reading Catholic or 
Methodist papers or books. But I do tell them to 
investigate for themselves to stand by what they 
believe to be true, to deny the false, and, above all 
things, to preserve their mental manhood. The good 
Doctor wants the Telegram destroyed wants all 
religious people to unite for the purpose of punishing 
the Telegram because it published something with 
which the reverend Doctor does not agree, or rather 
that does not agree with the Doctor. 

It is too late. That day has faded in the West of 
the past. The doctor of theology has lost his power. 
Theological thunder has lost its lightning it is 
nothing now but noise, pleasing those who make it 
and amusing those who hear. 

The Telegram has nothing to fear. It is, in the 
highest sense, a newspaper wide-awake, alive, al- 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 27 I 

ways on time, good to its friends, fair with its enemies, 
and true to the public. 

What have I to say to the Doctor's personal 
abuse ? 

Nothing. A man may call me a devil, or the 
devil, or he may say that I am incapable of telling 
the truth, or that I tell lies, and yet all this proves 
nothing. My arguments remain unanswered. 

I cannot afford to call Dr. Buckley names. I 
have good mental manners. The cause I represent 
(in part) is too great, too sacred, to be stained by an 
ignorant or a malicious personality. 

I know that men do as they must with the light 
they have, and so I say More light ! 



REPLY TO 

REV. J. M. KING AND REV. THOMAS DIXON, JR. 

III. 



""*HE Rev. James M. King who seems to have 
A taken this occasion to become known finds 
fault because " blasphemous utterances concerning 
Christmas " were published in the Telegram, and 
were allowed "to greet the eyes of innocent chil 
dren and pure women." 

How is it possible to blaspheme a day ? One 
day is not, in and of itself, holier than another that 
is to say, two equal spaces of time are substantially 
alike. We call a day " good " or " bad " according 
to what happens in the day. A day filled with hap 
piness, with kind words, with noble deeds, is a good 
day. A day filled with misfortunes and anger and 
misery we call a bad day. But how is it possible to 
blaspheme a day ? 

A man may or may not believe that Christ was 
born on the 25th of December, and yet he may fill 

(878) 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 273 

that day, so far as he is concerned, with good 
thoughts and words and deeds. Another may really 
believe that Christ was born on that day, and yet do 
his worst to make all his friends unhappy. But how 
can the rights of what are called " clean families " be 
violated by reading the honest opinions of others as 
to whether Christmas is kept in honor of the birth of 
Christ,or in honor of the triumph of the sun over the 
hosts of darkness ? Are Christian families so weak 
intellectually that they cannot bear to hear the other 
side ? Or is their case so weak that the slightest 
evidence overthrows it ? Why do all these ministers 
insist that it is ill-bred to even raise a question as to 
the truth of the improbable, or as to the improbabil 
ity of the impossible ? 

A minister says to me that I am going to hell 
that I am bound to be punished forever and ever 
and thereupon I say to him : " There is no hell ; 
you are mistaken ; your Bible is not inspired ; no 
human being is to suffer agony forever ; " and there 
upon, with an injured look, he asks me this ques 
tion : " Why do you hurt my feelings ? " It does 
not occur to him that I have the slightest right to 
object to his sentence of eternal grief. 

Does the gentleman imagine that true men and 
pure women cannot differ with him ? There are 



274 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

many thousands of people who love and honor the 
memory of Jesus Christ,who yet have not the slight 
est belief in his divine origin, and who do not for 
one moment imagine that he was other than a good 
and heroic man. And there are thousands of peo 
ple who admire the character of Jesus Christ who do 
not believe that he ever existed who admire the 
character of Christ as they admire Imogen, or Per- 
dita, not believing that any of the characters men 
tioned actually lived. 

And it may be well enough here to state that no 
human being hates any really good man or good 
woman that is, no human being hates a man known 
to be good a woman known to be pure and good. 
No human being hates a lovable character. 

It is perfectly easy for any one with the slightest 
imagination to understand how other people differ 
from him. I do not attribute a bad motive to a man 
simply because he disagrees with me. I do not say 
that a man is a Christian or a Mohammedan " for 
revenue only." I do not say that a man joins the 
Democratic party simply for office, or that he 
marches with the Republicans simply for position. I 
am willing to hear his reasons with his motives I 
have nothing to do. 

Mr. King imagines that I have denounced Chris- 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 2/5 

tianity " for revenue only." Is he willing to admit 
that we have drifted so far from orthodox religion 
that the way to make money is to denounce Christi 
anity ? I can hardly believe, for joy, that liberty of 
thought has advanced so far. I regret exceedingly 
that there is not an absolute foundation for his re 
mark. I am indeed sorry that it is possible in this 
world of ours for any human being to make a living 
out of the ignorance and fear of his fellow-men. 
Still, it gives me great hope for the future to read, 
even in this ignorant present, that there is one man, 
and that man myself, who advocates human liberty 
the absolute enfranchisement of the soul and does 
it " for revenue " because this charge is such a 
splendid compliment to my fellow-men. 

Possibly the remark of the Rev. Mr. King will be 
gratifying to the Telegram and will satisfy that 
brave and progressive sheet that it is in harmony 
with the intelligence of the age. 

My opinion is that the Telegram will receive the 
praise of enlightened and generous people. 

Personally I judge a man not so much by his the 
ories as by his practice, and I would much rather 
meet on the desert were I about to perish for want 
of water a Mohammedan who would give me a 
drink than a Christian who would not ; because, 



276 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

after all is said and done, we are compelled to judge 
people by their actions. 

I do not know what takes place in the invisible 
world called the brain, inhabited by the invisible 
something we call the mind. All that takes place 
there is invisible and soundless. This mind, hidden 
in this brain, masked by flesh, remains forever un 
seen, and the only evidence we can possibly have as 
to what occurs in that world, we obtain from the ac 
tions of the man, of the woman. By these actions 
we judge of the character, of the soul. So I make 
up my mind as to whether a man is good or bad, not 
by his theories, but by his actions. 

Under no circumstances can the expression of an 
honest opinion, couched in becoming language, 
amount to blasphemy. And right here it may be 
well enough to inquire : What is blasphemy ? 

A man who knowingly assaults the true, who 
knowingly endeavors to stain the pure, who know 
ingly maligns the good and noble, is a blasphemer. 
A man who deserts the truth because it is unpopular 
is a blasphemer. He who runs with the hounds 
knowing that the hare is in the right is a blasphemer. 

In the soul of every man, or in the temple inhab 
ited by the soul, there is one niche in which can be 
found the statue of the ideal. In the presence of 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 2/7 

this statue the good man worshipsthe bad man 
blasphemes that is to say, he is not true to the 
ideal. 

A man who slanders a pure woman or an honest 
man is a blasphemer. So, too, a man who does not 
give the honest transcript of his mind is a blas 
phemer. If a man really thinks the character of 
Jehovah, as portrayed in the Old Testament, is good, 
and he denounces Jehovah as bad, he is a blas 
phemer. If he really believes that the character of 
Jehovah, as portrayed in the Old Testament, is bad, 
and he pronounces it good, he is a blasphemer and 
a coward. 

All laws against "blasphemy" have been passed 
by the numerically strong and intellectually weak. 
These laws have been passed by those who, finding 
no help in logic, appealed to the legislature. 

Back of all these superstitions you will find some 
self-interest. I do not say that this is true in every 
case, but I do say that if priests had not been fond 
of mutton, lambs never would have been sacrificed 
to God. Nothing was ever carried to the temple 
that the priest could not use, and it always 'so hap 
pened that God wanted what his agents liked. 

Now, I will not say that all priests have been 
priests " for revenue only," but I must say that the 



778 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

history of the world tends to show that the sacerdo 
tal class prefer revenue without religion to religion 
without revenue. 

I am much obliged to the Rev. Mr. King for ad 
mitting that an infidel has a right to publish his 
views at his own expense, and with the utmost 
cheerfulness I accord that right to a Christian. The 
only thing I have ever objected to is the publication 
of his views at the expense of others. 

I cannot admit, however, that the ideas contained 
in what is known as the Christmas Sermon are " re 
volting to a vast majority of the people who give 
character to the community in which we live." I 
suppose that a very large majority of men and 
women who disagree with me are perfectly satisfied 
that I have the right to disagree with them, and that 
I do not disagree with them to any greater degree 
than they disagree with me. And I also imagine 
that a very large majority of intelligent people are 
perfectly willing to hear the other side. 

I do not regard religious opinions or political 
opinions as exotics that have to be kept under glass, 
protected from the frosts of common sense or the 
tyrannous north wind of logic. Such plants are 
hardly worth preserving. They certainly ought to 
be hardy enough to stand the climate of free discus- 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 279 

sion, and if they cannot, the sooner they die the 
better. 

I do not think there was anything blasphemous or 
impure in the words published by the Telegram. 
The most that can possibly be said against them, 
calculated to excite the prejudice of Christians, is 
that they were true that they cannot be answered 
except by abuse. 

It is not possible, in this day and generation, to 
stay the rising flood of intellectual freedom by keep 
ing the names of thinkers out of print. The church 
has had the field for eighteen hundred years. For 
most of this time it has held the sword and purse of 
the world. For many centuries it controlled colleges 
and universities and schools. It had within its gift 
wealth and honor. It held the keys, so far as this 
world is concerned, of heaven and hell that is to 
say, of prosperity and misfortune. It pursued its 
enemies even to the grave. It reddened the scaffold 
with the best blood, and kept the sword of persecu 
tion wet for many centuries. Thousands and thou 
sands have died in its dungeons. Millions of 
reputations have been blasted by its slanders. It 
has made millions of widows and orphans, and it has 
not only ruled this world, but it has pretended to 
hold the keys of eternity, and under this pretence 



280 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

it has sentenced countless millions to eternal 
flames. 

At last the spirit of independence rose against its 
monstrous assumptions. It has been growing some 
what weaker. It has been for many years gradually 
losing its power. The sword of the state belongs 
now to the people. The partnership between altar 
and throne has in many countries been dissolved. 
The adulterous marriage of church and state has 
ceased to exist. Men are beginning to express their 
honest thoughts. In the arena where speech is free, 
superstition is driven to the wall. Man relies more 
and more on the facts in nature, and the real priest 
is the interpreter of nature. The pulpit is losing its 
power. In a little while religion will take its place 
with astrology, with the black art, and its ministers 
will take rank with magicians and sleight-of-hand 
performers. 

With regard to the letter of the Rev. Thomas 
Dixon, Jr., I have but little to say. 

I am glad that he believes in a free platform and a 
free press that he, like Lucretia Mott, believes in 
"truth for authority, and not authority for truth." 
At the same time I do not see how the fact that I 
am not a scientist has the slightest bearing upon the 
question ; but if there is any fact that I have avoided 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 28 1 

or misstated, then I wish that fact to be pointed out. 
I admit also, that I am a " sentimentalist " that is, 
that I am governed, to a certain extent, by sentiment 
that my mind is so that cruelty is revolting 1 and 
that mercy excites my love and admiration. I admit 
that I am so much of" a sentimentalist " that I have no 
love for the Jehovah of the Old Testament, and that 
it is impossible for me to believe a creed that fills the 
prison house of hell with countless billions of men, 
women and children. 

I am also glad that the reverend gentleman admits 
that I have " stabbed to the heart hundreds of super 
stitions and lies," and I hope to stab many, many 
more, and if I succeed in stabbing all lies to the heart 
there will be no foundation left for what I called 
"orthodox" Christianity but goodness will survive, 
justice will live, and the flower of mercy will shed 
its perfume forever. 

When we take into consideration the fact that the 
Rev. Mr. Dixon is a minister and believes that he is 
called upon to deliver to the people a divine message, 
I do not wonder that he makes the following asser 
tion : " If God could choose Balaam's ass to speak a 
divine message, I do not see why he could not utilize 
the Colonel." It is natural for a man to justify him 
self and to defend his own occupation. Mr, Dixon, 



282 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

however, will remember that the ass was much su 
perior to the prophet of God, and that the argument 
was all on the side of the ass. And, furthermore, 
that the spiritual discernment of the ass far exceeded 
that of the prophet. It was the ass who saw the 
angel when the prophet's eye was dim. I suggest to 
the Rev. Mr. Dixon that he read the account once 
more, and he will find 

First, that the ass first saw the angel of the Lord ; 
second, that the prophet Balaam was cruel, unrea 
sonable, and brutal ; third, that the prophet so lost 
his temper that he wanted to kill the innocent ass, 
and the ass, not losing her temper, reasoned with the 
prophet and demonstrated not only her intellectual 
but her moral superiority. In addition to all this the 
angel of the Lord had to open the eyes of the prophet 
in other words, had to work a miracle in order to 
make the prophet equal to the ass, and not only so, 
but rebuked him for his cruelty. And this same 
angel admitted that without any miracle whatever 
the ass saw him the angel showing that the spirit 
ual discernment of the ass in those days was far su 
perior to that of the prophet. 

I regret that the Rev. Mr, King loses his temper 
and that the Rev. Mr. Dixon is not quite polite. 

All of us should remember that passion clouds the 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 283 

judgment, and that he who seeks for victory loses 
sight of the cause. 

And there is another thing : He who has absolute 
confidence in the justice of his position can afford to 
be good-natured. Strength is the foundation of 
kindness ; weakness is often malignant, and when 
argument fails passion comes to the rescue. 

Let us be good-natured. Let us have respect for 
the rights of each other. 

The course pursued by the Telegram is worthy of 
all praise. It has not only been just to both sides, 
but it has been as is its custom true to the public. 

ROBERT G. INGERSOLL. 



IV. 

To the Editor of the Evening Telegram : 

SOME of the gentlemen who have given their 
ideas through the columns of the Telegram have 
wandered from the questions under discussion. It 
may be well enough to state what is really in 
dispute. 

I was called to account for having stated that 
Christianity did not bring " tidings of great joy," but 
a message of eternal grief that it filled the future 
with fear and flame made God the keeper of an 
eternal penitentiary, in which most of the children 
of men were to be imprisoned forever, and that, not 
satisfied with that, it had deprived God of the par 
doning power. 

These statements were called " mountainous lies " 
by the Rev. Dr. Buckley, and because the Telegram 
had published the " Christmas Sermon " containing 
these statements, he insisted that such a paper 

(384) 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

should not be allowed in the families of Christians or 
of Jews in other words, that the Telegram should 
be punished, and that good people should refuse to 
allow that sheet to come into their homes. 

It will probably be admitted by all fair-minded 
people that if the orthodox creeds be true, then 
Christianity was and is the bearer of a message of 
eternal grief, and a large majority of the human race 
are to become eternal convicts, and God has de 
prived himself of the pardoning power. According 
to those creeds, no word of mercy to any of the lost 
can ever fall from the lips of the Infinite. 

The Universalists deny that such was or is the 
real message of Christianity. They insist that all 
are finally to be saved. If that doctrine be true, 
then I admit that Christianity came with " tidings of 
great joy." 

Personally I have no quarrel with the Univer- 
salist Church. I have no quarrel with any creed 
that expresses hope for all of the human race. I 
find fault with no one for filling the future with joy 
for dreaming splendid dreams and for uttering 
splendid prophecies. I do not object to Christianity 
because it promises heaven to a few, but because it 
threatens the many with perdition. 

It does not seem possible to me that a God who 



286 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

loved men to that degree that he died that they 
might be saved, abandons his children the moment 
they are dead. It seems to me that an infinite God 
might do something for a soul after it has reached 
the other world. 

Is it possible that infinite wisdom can do no more 
than is done for a majority of souls in this world ? 

Think of the millions born in ignorance and filth, 
raised in poverty and crime. Think of the millions 
who are only partially developed in this world. 
Think of the weakness of the will, of the power of 
passion. Think of the temptations innumerable. 
Think, too, of the tyranny of man, of the arrogance 
of wealth and position, of the sufferings of the weak 
and can we then say that an infinite God has done, 
in this world, all that could be done for the salvation 
of his children ? Is it not barely possible that some 
thing may be done in another world ? Is there noth 
ing left for God to do for a poor, ignorant, criminal 
human soul after it leaves this world ? Can God do 
nothing except to pronounce the sentence of eternal 
pain ? 

I insist that if the orthodox creed be true, Christi 
anity did not come with "tidings of great joy," but 
that its message was and is one of eternal grief. 

If the orthodox creed be true, the universe is a 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 287 

vast blunder an infinite crime. Better, a thousand 
times, that every pulse of life should cease better 
that all the gods should fall palsied from their 
thrones, than that the creed of Christendom should 
be true. 

There is another question and that involves the 
freedom of the press. 

The Telegram has acted with the utmost fairness 
and with the highest courage. After all, the Amer 
ican people admire the man who takes his stand and 
bravely meets all comers. To be an instrumentality 
of progress, the press must be free. Only the free 
can carry a torch. Liberty sheds light. 

The editor or manager of a newspaper occupies a 
public position, and he must not treat his patrons as 
though they were weak and ignorant children. He 
must not, in the supposed interest of any ism, sup 
press the truth neither must he be dictated to by 
any church or any society of believers or unbelievers. 
The Telegram, by its course, has given a certifi 
cate of its manliness, and the public, by its course, 
has certified that it appreciates true courage. 

All Christians should remember that facts are not 
sectarian, and that the sciences are not bound by the 
creeds. We should remember that there are no 
such things as Methodist mathematics, or Baptist 



288 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

botany, or Catholic chemistry. The sciences are 
secular. 

The Rev. Mr. Peters seems to have mistaken the 
issues and yet, in some things, I agree with him. 
He is certainly right when he says that " Mr. Buck 
ley's cry to boycott the Telegram is unmanly and un- 
American," but I am not certain that he is right 
.when he says that it is un-Christian. 

The church has not been in the habit of pursuing 
enemies with kind words and charitable deeds. To 
tell the truth, it has always been rather relentless. 
It has preached forgiveness, but it has never for 
given. There is in the history of Christendom no 
instance where the church has extended the hand of 
friendship to a man who denied the truth of its creed. 

There is in the church no spirit no climate of 
compromise. In the nature of things there can be 
none, because the church claims that it is absolutely 
right that there is only one road leading to heaven. 
It demands unconditional surrender. It will not 
bear contradiction. It claims to have the absolute 
truth. For these reasons it cannot consistently com 
promise, any more than a mathematician could 
change the multiplication table to meet the view of 
some one who should deny that five times five are 
twenty-five. 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 289 

The church does not give its opinion it claims to 
know it demands belief. Honesty, industry, gen 
erosity count for nothing in the absence of belief. 
It has taught and still teaches that no man can 
reach heaven simply through good and honest deeds. 
It believes and teaches that the man who relies upon 
himself will be eternally punished and why should 
the church forgive a man whom it thinks its God is 
waiting somewhat impatiently to damn ? 

The Rev. Mr. Peters asks and probably honestly 
thinks that the questions are pertinent to the issues 
involved " What has infidelity done for the world ? 
What colleges, hospitals, and schools has it founded ? 
What has it done for the elevation of public morals ?" 
And he inquires what science or art has been orig 
inated by infidelity. He asks how many slaves it 
has liberated, how many inebriates it has reclaimed, 
how many fallen women it has restored, and what it 
did for the relief of the wounded and dying soldiers ; 
and concludes by asking what life it ever assisted to 
higher holiness, and what death it has evei' cheered. 

Although these questions have nothing whatever 
to do with the matters under discussion, still it may 
be well enough to answer them. 

It is cheerfully admitted that hospitals and asy 
lums have been built by Christians in Christian 



29O A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

countries, and it is also admitted that hospitals and 
asylums have been built in countries not Christian ; 
that there were such institutions in China thousands 
of years before Christ was born, and that many 
centuries before the establishment of any orthodox 
church there were asylums on the banks of the 
Nile asylums for the old, the poor, the infirm asy 
lums for the blind and for the insane, and that the 
Egyptians, even of those days, endeavored to cure 
insanity with kindness and affection. The same is 
true of India and probably of most ancient nations. 

There has always been more or less humanity in 
man more or less goodness in the human heart. 
So far as we know, mothers have always loved their 
children. There must always have been more good 
than evil, otherwise the human race would have 
perished. The best things in the Christian religion 
came from the heart of man. Pagan lips uttered 
the sublimest of truths, and all ages have been re 
deemed by honesty, heroism, and love. 

But let me answer these questions in their order. 

First As to the schools. 

It is most cheerfully admitted that the Catholics 
have always been in favor of education that is to 
say, of education enough to make a Catholic out of 
a heathen. It is also admitted that Protestants have 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 2QI 

always been in favor of enough education to make a 
Protestant out of a Catholic. Many schools and 
many colleges have been established for the spread 
of what is called the Gospel and for the education of 
the clergy. Presbyterians have founded schools for 
the benefit of their creed. The Methodists have es 
tablished colleges for the purpose of making Meth 
odists. The same is true of nearly all the sects. As 
a matter of fact, these schools have in many import 
ant directions hindered rather than helped the 
cause of real education. The pupils were not taught 
to investigate for themselves. They were not al 
lowed to think. They were told that thought is 
dangerous. They were stuffed and crammed with 
creeds with the ideas of others. Their credulity 
was applauded and their curiosity condemned. If 
all the people had been educated in these sectarian 
schools, all the people would have been far more 
ignorant than they are. These schools have been, 
and most of them still are, the enemies of higher 
education, and just to the extenc that they are under 
the control of theologians they are hindrances, and 
just to the extent that they have become secularized 
they have been and are a benefit. 

Our public-school system is not Christian. It is 
secular. Yet I admit that it never could have been 



292 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

established without the assistance of Christians 
neither could it have been supported without the as 
sistance of others. But such is the value placed 
upon education that people of nearly all denomina 
tions, and of nearly all religions, and of nearly all 
opinions, for the most part agree that the children of 
a nation should be educated by the nation. Some 
religious people are opposed to these schools be 
cause they are not religious because they do not 
teach some creed but a large majority of the peo 
ple stand by the public schools as they are. These 
schools are growing better and better, simply be 
cause they are growing less and less theological, 
more and more secular. 

Infidelity, or agnosticism, or free thought, has in 
sisted that only that should be taught in schools 
which somebody knows or has good reason to 
believe. 

The greatest professors in our colleges to-day are 
those who have the least confidence in the super 
natural, and the schools that stand highest in the 
estimation of the most intelligent are those that have 
drifted farthest from the orthodox creeds. Free 
thought has always been and ever must be the 
friend of education. Without free thought there 
can be no such thing in the highest sense as a 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 293 

school. Unless the mind is free, there are no 
teachers and there are no pupils, in any just and 
splendid sense. 

The church has been and still is the enemy of 
education, because it has been in favor of intellect 
ual slavery, and the theological schools have been 
what might be called the deformatories of the human 
mind. 

For instance : A man is graduated from an ortho 
dox university. In this university he has studied 
astronomy, and yet he believes that Joshua stopped 
the sun. He has studied geology, and yet he asserts 
the truth of the Mosaic cosmogony. He has studied 
chemistry, and yet believes that water was turned 
into wine. He has been taught the ordinary theory 
of cause and effect, and at the same time he thor 
oughly believes in the miraculous multiplication of 
loaves and fishes. Can such an institution, with any 
propriety, be called a seat of learning ? Can we not 
say of such a university what Bruno said of Oxford : 
" Learning is dead and Oxford is its widow." 

Year after year the religious colleges are improv 
ing simply because they are becoming more and 
more secular, less and less theological. Whether in 
fidelity has founded universities or not, it can truth 
fully be said that the spirit of investigation, the spirit 



294 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

of free thought, the attitude of mental independence, 
contended for by those who are called infidels, have 
made schools useful instead of hurtful. 

Can it be shown that any infidel has ever raised 
his voice against education ? Can there be found in 
the literature of free thought one line against the en 
lightenment of the human race? Has free thought 
ever endeavored to hide or distort a fact ? Has it 
not always appealed to the senses to demonstration ? 
It has not said, " He that hath ears to hear, let him 
hear ;" but it has said, " He that hath brains to think, 
let him think." 

The object of a school should be to ascertain truth 
in every direction, to the end that man may know 
the conditions of happiness and every school should 
be absolutely free. No teacher should be bound by 
anything except a perceived fact. He should not be 
the slave of a creed, engaged in the business of en 
slaving others. 

So much for schools. 

Second As to public morals. 

Christianity teaches that all offences can be for 
given. Every church unconsciously allows people to 
commit crimes on a credit. I do not mean by this 
that any church consciously advocates immorality. 
I most cheerfully admit that thousands and thousands 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 2Q5 

of ministers are endeavoring to do good that they 
are pure, self-denying men, trying to make this world 
better. But there is a frightful defect in their phi 
losophy. They say to the bank cashier : You must 
not steal, you must not take a dollar larceny is 
wrong, it is contrary to all law, human and divine 
but if you do steal every cent in the bank, God will 
as gladly, quickly forgive you in Canada as he will 
in the United States. On the other hand, what is 
called infidelity says : There is no being in the uni 
verse who rewards, and there is no being who pun 
ishes every act has its consequences. If the act is 
good, the consequences are good ; if the act is bad, 
the consequences are bad ; and these consequences 
must be borne by the actor. It says to every human 
being : You must reap what you sow. There is no 
reward, there is no punishment, but there are conse 
quences, and these consequences are the invisible and 
implacable police of nature. They cannot be avoided. 
They cannot be bribed. No power can awe them, 
and there is not gold enough in the world to make 
them pause. Even a God cannot induce them to re 
lease for one instant their victim. 

This great truth is, in my judgment, the gospel of 
morality. If all men knew that they must inevi 
tably bar the consequences of their own actions if 



^9$ A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

they absolutely knew that they could not injure an 
other without injuring themselves, the world, in my 
judgment, would be far better than it is. 

Free thought has attacked the morality of what is 
called the atonement. The innocent should not suffer 
for the guilty, and if the innocent does suffer for the 
guilty, that cannot by any possibility justify the 
guilty. The reason a thing is wrong is because it, 
in some way, causes the innocent to suffer. This 
being the very essence of wrong, how can the suffer 
ing of innocence justify the guilty ? If there be a 
world of joy, he who is worthy to enter that world 
must be willing to carry his own burdens in this. 

So much for morality. 

Third As to sciences and art. 

I do not believe that we are indebted to Christi 
anity for any science. I do not remember that one 
science is mentioned in the New Testament. There 
is not one word, so far as I remember, about educa 
tion nothing about any science, nothing about art. 
The writers of the New Testament seem to have 
thought that the world was about coming to an end. 
This world was to be sacrificed absolutely to the next. 
The affairs of this life were not worth speaking of. 
All people were exhorted to prepare at once for the 
other life. 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 297 

The sciences have advanced in the proportion that 
they did not interfere with orthodox theology. To 
the extent that they were supposed to interfere with 
theology they have been obstructed and denounced. 
Astronomy was found to be inconsistent with the 
Scriptures, and the astronomers were imprisoned and 
despised. Geology contradicted the Mosaic account, 
and the geologists were denounced and persecuted. 
Every step taken in astronomy was taken in spite of 
the church, and every fact in geology had to fight its 
way. The same is true as to the science of medicine. 
The church wished to cure disease by necromancy, 
by charm and prayer, and with the bones of the 
saints. The church wished man to rely entirely 
upon God that is to say, upon the church and not 
upon himself. The physician interfered with the 
power and prosperity of the priest, and those who 
appealed to physicians were denounced as lacking 
faith in God. This state of things existed even in 
the Old Testament times. A king failed to send for 
the prophets, but sent for a physician, and then 
comes this piece of grim humor : " And Asa slept 
with his fathers." 

The great names in science are not those of 
recognized saints. 

BRUNO one of the greatest and bravest of men 



298 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

greatest of all martyrs perished at the stake, be 
cause he insisted on the existence of other worlds 
and taught the astronomy of Galileo. 

HUMBOLDT in some respects the wisest man 
known to the scientific world denied the existence 
of the supernatural and " the truths of revealed re 
ligion," and yet he revolutionized the thought of his 
day and left a legacy of intellectual glory to the race. 

DARWIN greatest of scientists so great that our 
time will probably be known as " Darwin's Century " 
had not the slightest confidence in any possible 
phase of the so-called supernatural. This great man 
left the creed of Christendom without a foundation. 
He brought as witnesses against the inspiration of 
the Scriptures such a multitude of facts, such an over 
whelming amount of testimony, that it seems im 
possible to me that any unprejudiced man can, after 
hearing the testimony, remain a believer in evangeli 
cal religion. He accomplished more than all the 
schools, colleges, and universities that Christianity 
has founded. He revolutionized the philosophy of 
the civilized world. 

The writers who have done most for science have 
been the most bitterly opposed by the church. 
There is hardly a valuable book in the libraries of 
the world that cannot be found on the " Index Ex- 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 299 

purgatorius." Kant and Fichte and Spinoza were 
far above and beyond the orthodox world. Voltaire 
did more for freedom than any other man, and yet 
the church denounced him with a fury amounting to 
insanity called him an atheist, although he believed 
not only in God, but in special providence. He 
was opposed to the church that is to say, opposed 
to slavery, and for that reason he was despised. 

And what shall I say of D'Holbach, of Hume, of 
Buckle, of Draper, of Haeckel, of Biichner, of Tyn- 
dall and Huxley, of Auguste Comte, and hundreds 
and thousands of others who have filled the scien 
tific world with light and the heart of man with love 
and kindness ? 

It may be well enough, in regard to art, to say 
that Christianity is indebted to Greece and Rome 
for its highest conceptions, and it may be well to add 
that fcr many centuries Christianity did the best it 
could to destroy the priceless marbles of Greece and 
Rome. A few were buried, and in that way were 
saved from Christian fury. 

The same is true of the literature of the classic 
world. A few fragments were rescued, and these 
became the seeds of modern literature. A few 
statues were preserved, and they are to-day models 
for all the world. 



3OQ A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

Of course it will be admitted that there is much 
art in Christian lands, because, in spite of the creeds, 
Christians, so-called, have turned their attention to 
this world. They have beautified their homes, they 
have endeavored to clothe themselves in purple and 
fine linen. They have been forced from banquets 
or from luxury by the difficulty of camels going 
through the eyes of needles or the impossibility of 
carrying water to the rich man. They have culti 
vated this world, and the arts have lived. Did they 
obey the precepts that they find in their sacred 
writings there would be no art, they would ' ' take no 
thought for the morrow," they would " consider the 
lilies of the field." 

Fourth As to the liberation of slaves. 

It was exceedingly unfortunate for the Rev. Mr. 
Peters that he spoke of slavery. The Bible upholds 
human slavery white slavery. The Bible was 
quoted by all slaveholders and slave-traders. The 
man who went to Africa to steal women and children 
took the Bible with him. He planted himself firmly 
on the Word of God. As Whittier says of White- 
field : 

" He bade the slave ship speed from coast to coast, 
Fanned by the wings of the Holy Ghost." 

So when the poor wretches were sold to the plant- 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 30! 

ers, the planters defended their action by reading 
the Bible. When a poor woman was sold, her chil 
dren torn from her breast, the auction block on which 
she stood was the Bible ; the auctioneer who sold her 
quoted the Scriptures ; the man who bought her re 
peated the quotations, and the ministers from the 
pulpit said to the weeping woman, as her child was 
carried away : " Servants, be obedient unto your 
masters." 

Freethinkers in all ages have been opposed to 
slavery. Thomas Paine did more for human liberty 
than any other man who ever stood upon the west 
ern world. The first article he ever wrote in this 
country was one against the institution of slavery. 
Freethinkers have also been in favor of free bodies. 
Freethinkers have always said " free hands," and the 
infidels, the wide world over, have been friends of 
freedom. 

Fifth As to the reclamation of inebriates. 

Much has been said, and for many years, on the 
subject of temperance much has been uttered by 
priests and laymen and yet there seems to be a 
subtle relation between rum and religion. Scotland 
is extremely orthodox, yet it is not extremely temper 
ate. England is nothing if not religious, and London 
is, par excellence, the Christian city of the world, and 



302 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

yet it is the most intemperate. The Mohammedans 
followers of a false prophet do not drink. 

Sixth As to the humanity of infidelity. 

Can it be said that people have cared for the 
wounded and dying only because they were orthodox? 

Is it not true that religion, in its efforts to prop 
agate the creed of forgiveness by the sword, has 
caused the death of more than one hundred and fifty 
millions of human beings ? Is it not true that where 
the church has cared for one orphan it has created 
hundreds ? Can Christianity afford to speak of war ? 

The Christian nations of the world to-day are 
armed against each other. In Europe, all that can 
be gathered by taxation all that can be borrowed by 
pledging the prosperity of the future the labor of 
those yet unborn is used for the purpose of keeping 
Christians in the field, to the end that they may de 
stroy other Christians, or at least prevent other Chris 
tians from destroying them. Europe is covered with 
churches and fortifications, with temples and with 
forts hundreds of thousands of priests, millions of 
soldiers, countless Bibles and countless bayonets 
and that whole country is oppressed and imooverished 
for the purpose of carrying on war. The people have 
become deformed by labor, and yet Christianity 
boasts of peace. 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 303 

Seventh " And what death has infidelity ever 
cheered ?" 

Is it possible for the orthodox Christian to cheer 
the dying when the dying is told that there is a 
world of eternal pain, and that he, unless he has been 
forgiven, is to be an eternal convict ? Will it cheer 
him to know that, even if he is to be saved, countless 
millions are to be lost ? Is it possible for the Chris 
tian religion to put a smile upon the face of death ? 

On the other hand, what is called infidelity says to 
the dying : What happens to you will happen to all. 
If there be another world of joy, it is for all. If 
there is another life, every human being will have 
the eternal opportunity of doing ri^ht the eternal 
opportunity to live, to reform, to enjoy. There is no 
monster in the sky. There is no Moloch who de 
lights in the agony of his children. These frightful 
things are savage dreams. 

Infidelity puts out the fires of hell with the tears of 

pity- 
Infidelity puts the seven-hued arch of Hope over 

every grave. 

Let us then, gentlemen, come back to the real 
questions under discussion. Let us not wander away, 

ROBERT G. INGERSOLL. 
Jariy g, 1891. 



INGERSOLL CONTINUES THE BATTLE. 

V. 

NO one objects to the morality of Christianity. 
The industrious people of the world those 
who have anything are, as a rule, opposed to lar 
ceny ; a very large majority of people object to be 
ing murdered, and so we have laws against larceny 
and murder. A large majority of people believe in 
what they call, or what they understand to be, justice 
at least as between others. There is no very 
great difference of opinion among civilized people as 
to what is or is not moral. 

It cannot truthfully be said that the man who attacks 
Buddhism attacks all morality. He does not attack 
goodness, justice, mercy, or anything that tends in 
his judgment to the welfare of mankind ; but he at 
tacks Buddhism. So one attacking what is called 
Christianity does not attack kindness, charity, or any 
virtue. He attacks something that has been added 

(304) 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 3O5 

to the virtues. He does not attack the flower, but 
what he believes to be the parasite. 

If people, when they speak of Christianity, include 
the virtues common to all religions, they should not 
give Christianity credit for all the good that has been 
done. There were millions of virtuous men and 
women, millions of heroic and self-denying souls 
before Christianity was known. 

It does not seen possible to me that love, kind 
ness, justice, or charity ever caused any one who 
possessed and practiced these virtues to persecute 
his fellow-man on account of a difference of belief. 
If Christianity has persecuted, some reason must 
exist outside of the virtues it has inculcated. If this 
reason this cause is inherent in that something 
else, which has been added to the ordinary virtues, 
then Christianity can properly be held accountable 
for the persecution. Of course back of Christianity 
is the nature of man, and, primarily, it may be 
responsible. 

Is there anything in Christianity that will account 
for such persecutions for the Inquisition ? It cer 
tainly was taught by the church that belief was 
necessary to salvation, and it was thought at the same 
time that the fate of man was eternal punishment ; 
that the state of man was that of depravity, and that 



306 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

there was but one way by which he could be saved, 
and that was through belief through faith. As 
long as this was honestly believed, Christians would 
not allow heretics or infidels to preach a doctrine to 
their wives, to their children, or to themselves 
which, in their judgment, would result in the dam 
nation of souls. 

The law gives a father the right to kill one who is 
about to do great bodily harm to his son. Now, if 
a father has the right to take the life of a man 
simply because he is attacking the body of his son, 
how much more would he have the right to take the 
life of one who was about to assassinate the soul of 
his son ! 

Christians reasoned in this way. In addition to 
this, they felt that God would hold the community 
responsible if the community allowed a blasphemer 
to attack the true religion. Therefore they killed 
the freethinker, or rather the free talker, in self-de 
fence. 

At the bottom of religious persecution is the 
doctrine of self-defence ; that is to say, the defence 
of the soul. If the founder of Christianity had 
plainly said : " It is not necessary to believe in 
order to be saved ; it is only necessary to do, and 
he who really loves his fellow-men, who is kind, 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 307 

honest, just and charitable, is to be forever blest " 
if he had only said that, there would probably have 
been but little persecution. 

If he had added to this : " You must not perse 
cute in my name. The religion I teach is the Re 
ligion of Love not the Religion of Force and 
Hatred. You must not imprison your fellow-men. 
You must not stretch them upon racks, or crush 
their bones in iron boots. You must not flay them 
alive. You must not cut off their eyelids, or pour 
molten lead into their ears. You must treat all 
with absolute kindness. If you cannot convert 
your neighbor by example, persuasion, argument, 
that is the end. You must never resort to force, 
and, whether he believes as you do or not, treat him 
always with kindness" his followers then would not 
have murdered their fellows in his name. 

If Christ was in fact God, he knew the persecu 
tions that would be carried on in his name ; he 
knew the millions that would suffer death through 
torture ; and yet he died without saying one word 
to prevent what he must have known, if he were 
God, would happen. 

All that Christianity has added to morality is 
worthless and useless. Not only so it has been 
hurtful. Take Christianity from morality and the 



308 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

useful is left, but take morality from Christianity and 
the useless remains. 

Now, falling back on the old assertion, " By its 
fruits we may know Christianity," then I think we 
are justified in saying that, as Christianity consists 
of a mixture of morality and something else, and as 
morality never has persecuted a human being, and as 
Christianity has persecuted millions, the cause of the 
persecution must be the something else that was added 
to morality. 

I cannot agree with the reverend gentleman when 
he says that " Christianity has taught mankind the 
priceless value and dignity of human nature." On 
the other hand, Christianity has taught that the whole 
human race is by nature depraved, and that if God 
should act in accordance with his sense of justice, all 
the sons of men would be doomed to eternal pain. 
Human nature has been derided, has been held up to 
contempt and scorn, all our desires and passions de 
nounced as wicked and filthy. 

Dr. Da Costa asserts that Christianity has taught 
mankind the value of freedom. It certainly has not 
been the advocate of free thought ; and what is free 
dom worth if the mind is to be enslaved ? 

Dr. Da Costa knows that millions have been sacri 
ficed in their efforts to be free ; that is, millions have 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 309 

been sacrificed for exercising their freedom as against 
the church. 

It is not true that the church " has taught and es 
tablished the fact of human brotherhood." This has 
been the result of a civilization to which Christianity 
itself has been hostile. 

Can we prove that " the church established human 
brotherhood" by banishing the Jews from Spain ; by 
driving out the Moors ; by the tortures of the Inquisi 
tion ; by butchering the Covenanters of Scotland ; by 
the burning of Bruno and Servetus ; by the persecu 
tion of the Irish ; by whipping and hanging Quakers 
in New England ; by the slave trade ; and by the 
hundreds of wars waged in the name of Christ ? 

We all know that the Bible upholds slavery in its 
very worst and most cruel form ; and how it can be 
said that a religion founded upon a Bible that upholds 
the institution of slavery has taught and established 
the fact of human brotherhood, is beyond my imagin 
ation to conceive. 

Neither do I think it true that " we are indebted 
to Christianity for the advancement of science, art, 
philosophy, letters and learning." 

I cheerfully admit that we are indebted to Chris 
tianity for some learning, and that the human mind 
has been developed by the discussion of the absurdi- 



3IO A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

ties of superstition. Certainly millions and millions 
have had what might be called mental exercise, and 
their minds may have been somewhat broadened by 
the examination, even, of these absurdities, contra 
dictions, and impossibilities. The church was not 
the friend of science or learning when it burned 
Vanini for writing his " Dialogues Concerning Na 
ture." What shall we say of the " Index Expurgato- 
rius " ? For hundreds of years all books of any par 
ticular value were placed on the " Index," and good 
Catholics forbidden to read them. Was this in favor 
of science and learning ? 

That we are indebted to Christianity for the ad 
vancement of science seems absurd. What science ? 
Christianity was certainly the enemy of astronomy, 
and I believe that it was Mr. Draper who said that 
astronomy took her revenge, so that not a star that 
glitters in all the heavens bears a Christian name. 

Can it be said that the church has been the friend 
of geology, or of any true philosophy ? Let me show 
how this is impossible. 

The church accepts the Bible as an inspired book. 
Then the only object is to find its meaning, and if 
that meaning is opposed to any result that the human 
mind may have reached, the meaning stands and 
the result reached by the mind must be abandoned. 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 311 

For hundreds of years the Bible was the standard, 
and whenever anything was asserted in any science 
contrary to the Bible, the church immediately de 
nounced the scientist. I admit the standard has been 
changed, and ministers are very busy, not trying 
to show that science does not agree with the Bible, 
but that the Bible agrees with science. 

Certainly Christianity has done little for art. The 
early Christians destroyed all the marbles of Greece 
and Rome upon which they could lay their violent 
hands ; and nothing has been produced by the Chris 
tian world equal to the fragments that were accident 
ally preserved. There have been many artists who 
were Christians ; but they were not artists because 
they were Christians ; because there have been many 
Christians who were not artists. It cannot be said 
that art is born of any creed. The mode of expres 
sion may be determined, and probably is to a certain 
degree, by the belief of the artist ; but not his artis 
tic perception and feeling. 

So, Galileo did not make his discoveries because he 
was a Christian, but in spite of it. His Bible was 
the other way, and so was his creed. Consequently, 
they could not by any possibility have assisted him. 
Kepler did not discover or announce what are 
known as the "Three Laws" because he was a 



jl A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

Christian ; but, as I said about Galileo, in spite of 
his creed. 

Every Christian who has really found out and 
demonstrated and clung to a fact inconsistent with 
the absolute inspiration of the Scriptures, has done 
so certainly without the assistance of his creed. 

Let me illustrate this : When our ancestors were 
burning each other to please God ; when they were 
ready to destroy a man with sword and flame for 
teaching the rotundity of the world, the Moors in 
Spain were teaching geography to their children 
with brass globes. So, too, they had observatories 
and knew something of the orbits of the stars. 

They did not find out these things because they 
were Mohammedans, or on account of their belief 
in the impossible. They were far beyond the Chris 
tians, intellectually, and it has been very poetically 
said by Mrs. Browning, that " Science was thrust 
into the brain of Europe on the point of a Moorish 
lance." 

From the Arabs we got our numerals, making 
mathematics of the higher branches practical. We 
also got from them the art of making cotton paper, 
which is almost at the foundation of modern intelli - 
gence. We learned from them to make cotton cloth, 
making cleanliness possible in Christendom. 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 313 

So from among people of different religions we 
have learned many useful things ; but they did not 
discover them on account of their religion. 

It will not do to say that the religion of Greece 
was true because the Greeks were the greatest 
sculptors. Neither is it an argument in favor of 
monarchy that Shakespeare, the greatest of men, 
was born and lived in a monarchy. 

Dr. Da Costa takes one of the effects of a general 
cause, or of a vast number of causes, and makes it 
the cause, not only of other effects, but of the general 
cause. He seems to think that all events for many 
centuries, and especially all the good ones, were 
caused by Christianity. 

As a matter of fact, the civilization of our time is 
the result of countless causes with which Christian 
ity had little to do, except by way of hindrance. 

Does the Doctor think that the material progress 
of the world was caused by this passage : " Take no 
thought for the morrow " ? 

Does he seriously insist that the wealth of Chris 
tendom rests on this inspired declaration : "It is 
easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a 
needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom oi 
heaven "? 

The Rev. Mr. Peters, in answer, takes the ground 



314 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

that the Bible has produced the richest and most 
varied literature the world has ever seen. 

This, I think, is hardly true. Has not most of 
modern literature been produced in spite of the 
Bible ? Did not Christians, for many generations, 
take the ground that the Bible was the only import 
ant book, and that books differing from the Bible 
should be destroyed ? 

If Christianity Catholic and Protestant could 
have had its way, the works of Voltaire, Spinoza, 
Hume, Paine, Humboldt, Darwin, Haeckel, Spen 
cer, Comte, Huxley, Tyndall, Draper, Goethe, Gib 
bon, Buckle and Buchner would not have been pub 
lished. In short, the philosophy that enlightens and 
the fiction that enriches the brain would not exist. 

The greatest literature the world has ever seen is, 
in my judgment, the poetic the dramatic ; that is 
to say, the literature of fiction in its widest sense. 
Certainly if the church could have had control, the 
plays of Shakespeare never would have been writ 
ten ; the literature of the stage could not have 
existed ; most works of fiction, and nearly all poetry, 
would have perished in the brain. So I think it 
hardly fair to say that " the Bible has produced the 
richest and most varied literature the world has 
ever seen/' 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 31 5 

Thousands of theological books have been written 
on thousands of questions of no possible importance. 
Libraries have been printed on subjects not worth 
discussing not worth thinking about and that will, 
in a few years, be regarded as puerile by the whole 
world. 

Mr. Peters, in his enthusiasm, asks this question : 

" Who raised our great institutions of learning ? 
Infidels never a stone of them ! " 

Stephen Girard founded the best institution of 
learning, the best charity, the noblest ever founded 
in this or any other land ; and under the roof built 
by his wisdom and his wealth many thousands of 
orphans have been reared, clothed, fed and educated, 
not only in books, but in avocations, and become 
happy and useful citizens. Under his will there has 
been distributed to the poor, fuel to the value of more 
than $5oo,ooo ; and this distribution goes on year 
after year. 

One of the best observatories in the world was 
built by the generosity of James Lick, an infidel. I 
call attention to these two cases simply to show that 
the gentleman is mistaken, and that he was some 
what carried away by his zeal. 

So, too, Mr. Peters takes the ground that " we are 
indebted to Christianity for our chronology." 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

According to Christianity this world has been 
peopled about six thousand years. Christian chro 
nology gives the age of the first man, and then 
gives the line from father to son down to the flood, 
and from the flood down to the coming of Christ, 
showing that men have been upon the earth only 
about six thousand years. This chronology is infi 
nitely absurd, and I do not believe that there is an 
intelligent, well-educated Christian in the world, 
having examined the subject, who will say that the 
Christian chronology is correct. 

Neither can it, I think, truthfully be said that 
" we are indebted to Christianity for the continuation 
of history." The best modern historians of whom I 
have any knowledge are Voltaire, Hume, Gibbon, 
Buckle and Draper. 

Neither can I admit that " we are indebted to 
Christianity for natural philosophy." 

I do not deny that some natural philosophers have 
also been Christians, or, rather, that some Christians 
have been natural philosophers to the extent that 
their Christianity permitted. But Lamarck and Hum- 
boldt and Darwin and Spencer and Haeckel and 
Huxley and Tyndall have done far more for natural 
philosophy than they have for orthodox religion. 

Whoever believes in the miraculous must be the 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 317 

enemy of natural philosophy. To him there is some 
thing above nature, liable to interfere with nature. 
Such a man has two classes of ideas in his mind, 
each inconsistent with the other. To the extent that 
he believes in the supernatural he is incapacitated 
for dealing with the natural, and to that extent fails 
to be a philosopher. Philosophy does not include 
the caprice of the Infinite. It is founded on the ab 
solute integrity and invariability of nature. 

Neither do I agree with the reverend gentleman 
when he says that " we are indebted to Christianity 
for our knowledge of philology." 

The church taught for a long time that Hebrew 
was the first language, and that other languages had 
been derived from that ; and for hundreds and hun 
dreds of years the efforts of philologists were arrested 
simply because they started with that absurd assump 
tion and believed in the Tower of Babel. 

Christianity cannot now take the credit for " meta 
physical research." It has always been the enemy 
of metaphysical research. It never has said to any 
human being, " Think !" It has always said, " Hear !" 
It does not ask anybody to investigate. It lays down 
certain doctrines as absolutely true, and, instead of 
asking investigation, it threatens every investigator 
with eternal pain. Metaphysical research is destroy- 



3l8 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

ing what has been called Christianity, and Christians 
have always feared it. 

This gentleman makes another mistake, and a 
very common one. This is his argument : Christian 
countries are the most intelligent ; therefore they 
owe that intelligence to Christianity. Then the next 
step is taken. Christianity, being the best, having 
produced these results, must have been of divine 
origin. 

Let us see what this proves. There was a time 
when Egypt was the first nation in the world. Could 
not an Egyptian, at that time have used the same 
arguments that Mr. Peters uses now, to prove that 
the religion of Egypt was divine ? Could he not 
then have said : " Egypt is the most intelligent, the 
most civilized and the richest of all nations ; it has 
been made so by its religion ; its religion is, there 
fore, divine " ? 

So there was a time when a Hindoo could have 
made the same argument. Certainly this argument 
could have been made by a Greek. It could have 
been repeated by a Roman. And yet Mr. Peters 
will not admit that the religion of Egypt was divine, 
or that the mythology of Greece was true, or that 
Jupiter was in fact a god. 

Is it not evident to all that if the churches in Europe 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 319 

had been institutions of learning ; if the domes of 
cathedrals had been observatories ; if priests had been 
teachers of the facts in nature, the world would 
have been far in advance of what it is to-day ? 

Countries depend on something besides their re 
ligion for progress. Nations with a good soil can 
get along quite well with an exceedingly poor relig 
ion ; and no religion yet has been good enough to 
give wealth or happiness to human beings where 
the climate and soil were bad and barren. 

Religion supports nobody. It has to be sup 
ported. It produces no wheat, no corn ; it ploughs 
no land ; it fells no forests. It is a perpetual mend 
icant. It lives on the labor of others, and then has 
the arrogance to pretend that it supports the giver. 

Mr. Peters makes this exceedingly strange state 
ment : "Every discovery in science, invention and 
art has been the work of Christian men. Infidels 
have contributed their share, but never one of them 
has reached the grandeur of originality." 

This, I think, so far as invention is concerned, can 
be answered with one name John Ericsson, one of 
the profoundest agnostics I ever met. 

I am almost certain that Humboldt and Goethe 
were original. Darwin was certainly regarded as 
such. 



32O A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

I do not wish to differ unnecessarily with Mr. 
Peters, but I have some doubts about Morse having 
been the inventor of the telegraph. 

Neither can I admit that Christianity abolished 
slavery. Many of the abolitionists in this country 
were infidels ; many of them were Christians. But 
the church itself did not stand for liberty. The 
Quakers, I admit, were, as a rule, on the side of free 
dom. But the Christians of New England perse 
cuted these Quakers, whipped them from town to 
town, lacerated their naked backs, and maimed their 
bodies, not only, but took their lives. 

Mr. Peters asks : " What name is there among 
the world's emancipators after which you cannot 
write the name ' Christian ? ' Well, let me give 
him a few Voltaire, Jefferson, Paine, Franklin, 
Lincoln, Darwin. 

Mr. Peters asks : " Why is it that in Christian 
countries you find the greatest amount of physical 
and intellectual liberty, the greatest freedom of 
thought, speech, and action ? " 

Is this true of all ? How about Spain and Portu 
gal ? There is more infidelity in France than in 
Spain, and there is far more liberty in France than 
in Spain. 

There is far more infidelity in England than there 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 321 

was a century ago, and there is far more liberty than 
there was a century ago. There is far more infidel 
ity in the United States than there was fifty years 
ago, and a hundred infidels to-day where there was 
one fifty years ago ; and there is far more intellectual 
liberty, far greater freedom of speech and action, 
than ever before. 

A few years ago Italy was a Christian country to 
the fullest extent. Now there are a thousand times 
more liberty and a thousand times less religion. 

Orthodoxy is dying ; Liberty is growing. 

Mr. Ballou, a grandson, or grand-nephew, of Hosea 
Ballou, seems to have wandered from the faith. As 
a rule, Christians insist that when one denies the 
religion of Christian parents he is an exceedingly 
bad man, but when he denies the religion of parents 
not Christians, and becomes a Christian, that he is a 
very faithful, good and loving son. 

Mr. Ballou insists that God has the same right to 
punish us that Nature has, or that the State has. I 
do not think he understands what I have said. The 
State ought not to punish for the sake of punish 
ment. The State may imprison, or inflict what is 
called punishment, first, for its own protection, and, 
secondly, for the reformation of the punished. If 
no one could do the State any injury, certainly the 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

State would have no right to punish under the plea 
of protection ; and if no human being could by any 
possibility be reformed, then the excuse of reforma 
tion could not be gi^en. 

Let us apply this : If God be infinite, no one can 
injure him. Therefore he need not punish any 
body or damn anybody or burn anybody for his 
protection. 

Let us take another step. Punishment being 
justified only on two grounds that is, the protection 
of society and the reformation of the punished how 
can eternal punishment be justified ? In the first 
place, God does not punish to protect himself, and, 
in the second place, if the punishment is to be for 
ever, he does not punish to reform the punished. 
What excuse then is left ? 

Let us take still another step. If, instead of pun 
ishment, we say "consequences," and that every good 
man has the right to reap the good consequences of 
good actions, and that every bad man must bear the 
consequences of bad actions, then you must say to the 
good : If you stop doing good you will lose the har 
vest. You must say to the bad : If you stop doing 
bad you need not increase your burdens. And if it 
be a fact in Nature that all must reap what they sow, 
there is neither mercy nor cruelty in this fact, and I 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 323 

hold no God responsible for it. The trouble with the 
Christian creed is that God is described as the one 
who gives rewards and the one who inflicts eternal 
pain. 

There is still another trouble. This God, if infi 
nite, must have known when he created man, exactly 
who would be eternally damned. What right had 
he to create men, knowing that they were to be 
damned? 

So much for Mr. Ballou. 

The Rev. Dr. Hillier seems to reason in a kind of 
circle. He takes the ground, in the first place, that 
" infidelity, Christianity, science, and experience all 
agree, without the slightest tremor of uncertainty, 
in the inexorable law that whatsoever a man sows 
that shall he also reap." He then takes the ground 
that, " if we wish to be rid of the harvest, we must 
not sow the seed ; if we would avoid the result, we 
must remove the cause ; the only way to be rid of hell 
is to stop doing evil ; that this, and this only, is the 
way to abolish an eternal penitentiary." 

Very good ; but that is not the point. The real 
thing under discussion is this : Is this life a state of 
probation, and if a man fails to live a good life here, 
will he have no opportunity for reformation in an 
other world, if there be one ? Can he cease to do 



324 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

evil in the eternal penitentiary ? and if he does, can 
he be pardoned can he be released ? 

It is admitted that man must bear the consequences 
of his acts. If the consequences are good, then the 
acts are good. If the consequences are bad, the acts 
are bad. Through experience we find that certain 
acts tend to unhappiness and others to happiness. 

Now, the only question is whether we have wis 
dom enough to live in harmony with our conditions 
here ; and if we fail here, will we have an opportu 
nity of reforming in another world ? If not, then the 
few years that we live here determine whether we 
shall be angels or devils forever. 

It seems to me, if there be another life, that in that life 
men may do good, and men may do evil ; and if they 
may do good it seems to me that they may reform. 

I do not see why God, if there be one, should lose 
all interest in his children, simply because they leave 
this world and go where he is. Is it possible that 
an infinite God does all for his children here, in this 
poor ignorant world, that it is possible for him to 
do, and that if he fails to reform them here, nothing 
is left to do except to make them eternal convicts? 

The Rev. Mr. Haldeman mistakes my position. I 
do not admit that " an infinite God, as revealed in 
Nature, has allowed men to grow up under conditions 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 325 

which no ordinary mortal can look at in all their con 
centrated agony and not break his heart." 

I do not confess that God reveals himself in Nature 
as an infinite God, without mercy. I do not admit 
that there is an infinite Being anywhere responsible 
for the agonies and tears, for the barbarities and 
horrors of this life. I cannot believe that there is in 
the universe a Being with power to prevent these 
things. I hold no God responsible. I attribute 
neither cruelty nor mercy to Nature. Nature neither 
weeps nor rejoices. I cannot believe that this world, 
as it now is, as it has been, was created by an infi 
nitely wise, powerful, and benevolent God. But it is 
far better that we should all go down " with souls un 
satisfied " to the dreamless grave, to the tongueless 
silence of the voiceless dust, than that countless 
millions of human souls should suffer forever. 

Eternal sleep is better than eternal pain. Eternal 
punishment is eternal revenge, and can be inflicted 
only by an eternal monster. 

Mr. George A. Locey endeavors to put his case in 
an extremely small compass, and satisfies himself 
with really one question, and that is : " If a man in 
good health is stricken with disease, is assured that 
a physician can cure him, but refuses to take the 
medicine and dies, ought there to be any escape ?" 



326 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

He concludes that the physician has done his 
duty ; that the patient was obdurate and suffered the 
penalty. 

The application he makes is this : 

" The Christian's ' tidings of great joy ' is the mes 
sage that the Great Physician tendered freely. Its 
acceptance is a cure certain, and a life of eternal hap 
piness the reward. If the soul accepts, are they not 
tidings of great joy ; and if the soul rejects, is it not 
unreasonable on the part of Colonel Ingersoll to try 
and sneak out and throw the blame on God ?" 

The answer to this seems easy. The cases are 
not parallel. If an infinite God created us all, he 
knew exactly what we would do. If he gave us 
free will it does not change the result, because he 
knew how we would use the free will. 

Now, if he knew that billions upon billions would 
refuse to take the remedy, and consequently would 
suffer eternal pain, why create them ? There would 
have been much less misery in the world had he left 
them dust. 

What right has a God to make a failure ? Why 
should he change dust into a sentient being, know 
ing that that being was to be the heir of endless 
agony ? 

If the supposed physician had created the patient 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 327 

who refused to take the medicine, and had so created 
him that he knew he would refuse to take it, the 
cases might be parallel. 

According to the orthodox creed, millions are to 
be damned who never heard of the medicine or of 
the " Great Physician." 

There is one thing said by the Rev. Mr. Talmage 
that I hardly think he could have intended. Pos 
sibly there has been a misprint. It is the following 
paragraph : 

" Who " (speaking of Jesus) " has such an eye to 
our need ; such a lip to kiss away our sorrow ; such 
a hand to snatch us out of the fire ; such a foot to 
trample our enemies ; such a heart to embrace all 
our necessities ? " 

What does the reverend gentleman mean by 
" such afoot to trample our enemies " f 

This, to me, is a terrible line. But it is in accord 
ance with the history of the church. In the name 
of its founder it has " trampled on its enemies," and 
beneath its cruel feet have perished the noblest of 
the world. 

The Rev. J. Benson Hamilton, of Brooklyn, comes 
into this discussion with a great deal of heat and 
considerable fury. He states that " Infidelity is the 
creed of prosperity, but when sickness or trouble or 



328 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

sorrow comes he " (meaning the infidel) " does not 
paw nor mock nor cry ' Ha ! ha ! ' He sneaks and 
cringes like a whipped cur, and trembles and whines 
and howls." 

The spirit of Mr. Hamilton is not altogether ad 
mirable. He seems to think that a man establishes 
the truth of his religion by being brave, or demon 
strates its falsity by trembling in the presence of 
death. 

Thousands of people have died for false religions 
and in honor of false gods. Their heroism did not 
prove the truth of the religion, but it did prove the 
sincerity of their convictions. 

A great many murderers have been hanged who 
exhibited on the scaffold the utmost contempt of 
death ; and yet this courage exhibited by dying 
murderers has never been appealed to in justification 
of murder. 

The reverend gentleman tells again the story of 
the agonies endured by Thomas Paine when dying ; 
tells us that he then said that he wished his work 
had been thrown into the fire, and that if the devil 
ever had any agency in any work he had in the 
writing of that book (meaning " The Age of Rea 
son,") and that he frequently asked the Lord Jesus 
to have mercy upon him. 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 329 

Of course there is not a word of truth in this 
story. Its falsity has been demonstrated thousands 
and thousands of times, and yet ministers of the 
Gospel go right on repeating it just the same. 

So this gentleman tells us that Voltaire was accus 
tomed to close his letters with the words, " Crush 
the wretch ! " (meaning Christ). This is not so. He 
referred to superstition, to religion, not to Christ. 

This gentleman also says that " Voltaire was the 
prey of anguish and dread, alternately supplicating 
and blaspheming God ; that he complained that he 
was abandoned by God ; that when he died his 
friends fled from the room, declaring the sight too 
terrible to be endured." 

There is not one word of truth in this. Everybody 
who has read the life of Voltaire knows that he died 
with the utmost serenity. 

Let me tell you how Voltaire died. 

He was an old man of eighty-four. He had been 
surrounded by the comforts of life. He was a man 
of wealth of genius. Among the literary men of 
the world he stood first. God had allowed him to 
have the appearance of success. His last years 
were filled with the intoxication of flattery. He 
stood at the summit of his age. The priests became 
anxious. They began to fear that God would for- 



33O A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

get, in a multiplicity of business, to make a terrible 
example of Voltaire. 

Toward the last of May, 1788, it was whispered in 
Paris that Voltaire was dying. Upon the fences of 
expectation gathered the unclean birds of supersti 
tion, impatiently waiting for their prey. 

" Two days before his death his nephew went to 
seek the Cure" of St. Sulpice and the Abbe" Gautier, 
and brought them into his uncle's sick-chamber, 
who was informed that they were there. 

" ' Ah, well/ said Voltaire ; ' give them my com 
pliments and my thanks.' 

" The abbe" spoke some words to Voltaire, exhort 
ing him to patience. The Cure" of St. Sulpice then 
came forward, having announced himself, and asked 
Voltaire, lifting his voice, if he acknowledged the 
divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The sick man 
pushed one of his hands against the curb's coif shov 
ing him back, and cried, turning abruptly to the other 
side: 

" 'Let me die in peace !' 

" The cure" seemingly considered his person soiled 
and his coif dishonored by the touch of the philoso 
pher. He made the nurse give him a little brushing 
and went out with the Abbe" Gautier. 

" He expired," says Wagniere, " on the 3oth of 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 33! 

May, 1788, at about a quarter past eleven at night, 
with the most perfect tranquillity. 

" Ten minutes before his last breath he took the 
hand of Morand, his valet-de-chambre, who was 
watching by him, pressed it and said : ' Adieu, my 
dear Morand. I am gone !' 

" These were his last words." 

From this death, so simple and serene, so natural 
and peaceful from these words so utterly destitute of 
cant or dramatic touch all the frightful pictures, all 
the despairing utterances have been drawn and made. 
From these materials, and from these alone, have 
been constructed all the shameless calumnies about 
the death of this great and wonderful man. 

Voltaire was the intellectual autocrat of his time. 
From his throne at the foot of thq Alps he pointed 
the finger of scorn at every hypocrite in Europe. He 
was the pioneer of his century. He was the assassin 
of superstition. Through the shadows of faith and 
fable ; through the darkness of myth and miracle ; 
through the midnight of Christianity ; through the 
blackness of bigotry ; past cathedral and dungeon ; 
past rack and stake ; past altar and throne, he car 
ried, with chivalric hands, the sacred torch of 
Reason. 

Let me also tell you about the death of Thomas 



33 2 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

Paine. After the publication of his " Rights of Man " 
and " The Age of Reason ", every falsehood that 
malignity could coin and malice pass, was given to 
the world. On his return to America, although 
Thomas Jefferson, another infidel, was President, 
it was hardly safe for Paine to appear in the public 
streets. 

Under the very flag he had helped to put in heaven, 
his rights were not respected. Under the Constitu 
tion that he had first suggested, his life was insecure. 
He had helped to give liberty to more than three 
millions of his fellow-citizens, and they were willing 
to deny it unto him. 

He was deserted, ostracized, shunned, maligned 
and cursed. But he maintained his integrity. He 
stood by the convictions of his mind, and never for 
one moment did he hesitate or waver. He died 
almost alone. 

The moment he died the pious commenced manu 
facturing horrors for his death-bed. They had his 
chamber filled with devils rattling chains, and these 
ancient falsehoods are certified to by the clergy even 
of the present day. 

The truth is that Thomas Paine died as he had 
lived. Some ministers were impolite enough to visit 
him against his will. Several of them he ordered 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 333 

from his room. A couple of Catholic priests, in all 
the meekness of arrogance, called that they might 
enjoy the agonies of the dying friend of man. 
Thomas Paine, rising in his bed, the few moments 
of expiring life fanned into flame by the breath of 
indignation, had the goodness to curse them both. 

His physician, who seems to have been a meddling 
fool, just as the cold hand of Death was touching the 
patriot's heart, whispered in the dulled ear of the 
dying man : " Do you believe, or do you wish to be 
lieve, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God ? " 

And the reply was : " I have no wish to believe on 
that subject." 

These were the last remembered words of Thomas 
Paine. He died as serenely as ever mortal passed 
away. He died in the full possession of his mind, 
and on the brink and edge of death proclaimed the 
doctrines of his life. 

Every philanthropist, every believer in human 
liberty, every lover of the great Republic, should feel 
under obligation to Thomas Paine for the splendid 
services rendered by him in the darkest days of the 
American Revolution. In the midnight of Valley 
Forge, " The Crisis " was the first star that glittered 
in the wide horizon of despair. 

We should remember that Thomas Paine was the 



334 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

first man to write these words : " The United States 
of America." 

The Rev. Mr. Hamilton seems to take a kind of 
joy in imagining what infidels will suffer when they 
come to die, and he writes as though he would like 
to be present. 

For my part I hope that all the sons and daughters 
of men will die in peace ; that they will pass away 
as easily as twilight fades to night. 

Of course when I said that " Christianity did not 
bring tidings of great joy, but a message of eternal 
grief," I meant orthodox Christianity ; and when I 
said that " Christianity fills the future with fire and 
flame, and made God the keeper of an eternal peni 
tentiary, in which most of the children of men were 
to be imprisoned forever," I was giving what I un 
derstood to be the Evangelical belief on that 
subject. 

If the churches have given up the doctrine of 
eternal punishment, then for one I am delighted, 
and I shall feel that what little I have done toward 
that end has not been done in vain. 

The Rev. Mr. Hamilton, enjoying my dying agony 
in imagination, says : " Let the world wait but for a 
few years at the most, when Death's icy fingers feel 
for the heartstrings of the boaster, and, as most of 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 335 

his like who have gone before him have done, he 
will sing another strain." 

How shall I characterize the spirit that could 
prompt the writing of such a sentence ? 

The reverend gentleman " loves his enemies," 
and yet he is filled with glee when he thinks of the 
agonies I shall endure when Death's icy fingers feel 
for the strings of my heart ! Yet I have done him 
no harm. 

He then quotes, as being applicable to me, a pas 
sage from the prophet Isaiah, commencing : " The 
vile person will speak villainy." 

Is this passage applicable only to me ? 

The Rev. Mr. Holloway is not satisfied with the 
" Christmas Sermon." For his benefit I repeat, in 
another form, what the " Christmas Sermon " con 
tains : 

If orthodox Christianity teaches that this life is a 
period of probation, that we settle here our eternal 
destiny, and that all who have heard the Gospel and 
who have failed to believe it are to be eternally lost, 
then I say that Christianity did not " bring tidings 
of great joy," but a Message of Eternal Grief. And 
if the orthodox churches are still preaching the doc 
trine of Endless Pain, then I say it would be far bet 
ter if every church crumbled into dust than that 



336 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

such preaching and such teaching should be con 
tinued. 

It would be far better yet, however, if the minis 
ters could be converted and their congregations en 
lightened. 

I admit that the orthodox churches preach some 
things beside hell ; but if they do not believe in 
the eternity of punishment they ought publicly to 
change their creeds. 

I admit, also, that the average minister advises 
his congregation to be honest and to treat all with 
kindness, and I admit that many of these ministers 
fail to follow their own advice when they make 
what they call " replies " to me. 

Of course there are many good things about the 
church. To the extent that it is charitable, or 
rather to the extent that it causes charity, it is 
good. To the extent that it causes men and women 
to lead moral lives it is good. But to the extent 
that it fills the future with fear it is bad. To the ex 
tent that it convinces any human being that there is 
any God who not only can, but will, inflict eternal 
torments on his own children, it is bad. 

And such teaching does tend to blight humanity. 
Such teaching does pollute the imagination of child 
hood. Such teaching does furrow the cheeks of the 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 337 

best and tenderest with tears. Such teaching does 
rob old age of all its joy, and covers every cradle 
with a curse ! 

The Rev. Mr. Holloway seems to be extremely 
familiar with God. He says : " God seems to have 
delayed his advent through all the ages to give unto 
the world the fullest opportunity to do all that the 

human mind could suggest for the weal of the 


race. 

According to this gentleman, God just delayed 
his advent for the purpose of seeing what the world 
would do, knowing all the time exactly what would 
be done. 

Let us make a suggestion : If the orthodox creed 
be true, then all people became tainted or corrupted 
or depraved, or in some way spoiled by what is 
known as " Original Sin." 

According to the Old Testament, these people 
kept getting worse and worse. It does not seem that 
Jehovah made any effort to improve them, but he 
patiently waited for about fifteen hundred years with 
out having established any church, without having 
given them a Bible, and then he drowned all but 
eight persons. 

Now, those eight persons were also depraved. The 
taint of Original Sin was also in their blood. 



338 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

It seems to me that Jehovah made a mistake. He 
should also have killed the remaining eight, and 
started new, kept the serpent out of his garden, and 
furnished the first pair with a Bible and the Presby 
terian Confession of Faith. 

The Rev. Dr. Tyler takes it for granted that all 
charity and goodness are the children of Christianity. 
This is a mistake. All the virtues were in the world 
long before Christ came. Probably Mr. Tyler will 
be convinced by the words of Christ himself. He 
will probably remember the story of the Good Samar 
itan, and if he does he will see that it is exactly in 
point. The Good Samaritan was not a Hebrew. He 
was not on of" the chosen people." He was a poor, 
" miserable heathen," who knew nothing about the 
Jehovah of the Old Testament, and who had never 
heard of the " scheme of salvation." And yet, ac 
cording to Christ, he was far more charitable than 
the Levites the priests of Jehovah, the highest of 
" the chosen people." Is it not perfectly plain from 
this story that charity was in the world before Chris 
tianity was established ? 

A great deal has been said about asylums and hos 
pitals, as though the Christians are entitled to great 
credit on that score. If Dr. Tyler will read what is 
said in the British Encyclopaedia, under the head of 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 339 

" Mental Diseases," he will find that the Egyptians 
treated the insane with the utmost kindness, and 
that they called reason back to its throne by the voice 
of music ; that the temples were resorted to by crowds 
of the insane ; and that "whatever gifts of nature 
or productions of art were calculated to impress the 
imagination were there united. Games and recrea 
tions were instituted in the temples. Groves and 
gardens surrounded these holy retreats. Gayly deco 
rated boats sometimes transported patients to breathe 
the pure breezes of the Nile." 

So in ancient Greece it is said that "from the 
hands of the priest the cure of the disordered mind 
first passed into the domain of medicine, with the 
philosophers. Pythagoras is said to have employed 
music for the cure of mental diseases. The order of 
the day for his disciples exhibits a profound knowl 
edge of the relations of body and mind. The early 
morning was divided between gentle exercise, con 
versation and music. Then came conversation, fol 
lowed by gymnastic exercise and a temperate diet. 
Afterward, a bath and supper with a sparing allow 
ance of wine ; then reading, music and conversation 
concluded the day." 

So "Asclepiades was celebrated for his treatment 
of mental disorders. He recommended that bodily 



34O A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

restraint should be avoided as much as possible." It 
is also stated that " the philosophy and arts of Greece 
spread to Rome, and the first special treatise on in 
sanity is that of Celsus, which distinguishes varieties 
of insanity and their proper treatment." 

" Over the arts and sciences of Greece and Rome 
the errors and ignorance of the Middle Ages gradu 
ally crept, until they enveloped them in a cloud worse 
than Egyptian darkness. The insane were again 
consigned to the miracle-working ordinances of 
priests cr else totally neglected. Idiots and imbeciles 
were permitted to go clotheless and homeless. The 
frantic and furious were chained in lonesome dun 
geons and exhibited for money, like wild beasts. The 
monomaniacs became, according to circumstance, the 
objects of superstitious horror or reverence. They 
were regarded as possessed with demons and sub 
jected either to priestly exorcism, or cruelly destroyed 
as wizards and witches. This cruel treatment of the 
insane continued with little or no alleviation down 
to the end of the last century in all the civilized 
countries of Europe." 

Let me quote a description of these Christian 
asylums. 

" Public asylums indeed existed in most of the 
metropolitan cities of Europe, but the insane were 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 341 

more generally, if at all troublesome, confined in 
jails, where they were chained in the lowest dungeons 
or made the butts and menials of the most debased 
criminals. In public asylums the inmates were con 
fined in cellars, isolated in cages, chained to floors or 
walls. These poor victims were exhibited to the 
public like wild beasts. They were often killed by 
the ignorance and brutality of their keepers." 

I call particular attention to the following para 
graph : " Such was the state of the insane generally 
throughout Europe at the commencement of this 
century. Such it continued to be in England so 
late as 1815 and in Ireland as 1817, as revealed by 
the inquiries of parliamentary commissions in those 
years respectively." 

Dr. Tyler is entirely welcome to all the comfort 
these facts can give. 

Not only were the Greeks and Romans and 
Egyptians far in advance of the Christians in the 
treatment of the mentally diseased, but even the 
Mohammedans were in advance of the Christians 
about 700 years, and in addition to this they treated 
their lunatics with great kindness. 

The temple of Diana of Ephesus was a refuge for 
insolvent debtors, and the Thesium was a refuge for 
slaves. 



342 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

Again, I say that hundreds of years before the 
establishment of Christianity there were in India not 
only hospitals and asylums for people, but even for 
animals. The great mistake of the Christian clergy 
is that they attribute all goodness to Christianity. 
They have always been engaged in maligning human 
nature in attacking the human heart in efforts to 
destroy all natural passions. 

Perfect maxims for the conduct of life were uttered 
and repeated in India and China hundreds and hun 
dreds of years before the Christian era. Every virtue 
was lauded and every vice denounced. All the 
good that Christianity has in it came from the human 
heart. Everything in that system of religion came 
from this world ; and in it you will find not only the 
goodness of man, but the imperfections of man not 
only the love of man, but the malice of man. 

Let me tell you why the Christians for so many 
centuries neglected or abused the insane. They be 
lieved the New Testament, and honestly supposed 
that the insane were filled with devils. 

In regard to the contest between Dr. Buckley, 
who, as I understand it, is a doctor of theology 
and I should think such theology stood in need of a 
doctor and the Telegram, I have nothing to say. 
There is only one side to that contest ; and so far 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 343 

as the Doctor heretofore criticised what is known as 
the " Christmas Sermon," I have answered him, 
leaving but very little to which I care to reply in 
his last article. 

Dr. Buckley, like many others, brings forward 
names instead of reasons instead of arguments. 
Milton, Pascal, Elizabeth Fry, John Howard, and 
Michael Faraday are not arguments. They are only 
names ; and, instead of giving the names, Dr. Buck 
ley should give the reasons advanced by those 
whose names he pronounces. 

Jonathan Edwards may have been a good man, 
but certainly his theology was infamous. So Father 
Mathew was a good man, but it was impossible for 
him to be good enough to convince Dr. Buckley of 
the doctrine of the " Real Presence." 

Milton was a very good man, and he described 
God as a kind of brigadier-general, put the angels 
in uniform and had regular battles ; but Milton's 
goodness can by no possibility establish the truth of 
his poetical and absurd vagaries. 

All the self-denial and goodness in the world do 
not even tend to prove the existence of the super 
natural or of the miraculous. Millions and millions 
of the most devoted men could not, by their devo 
tion, substantiate the inspiration of the Scriptures. 



344 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

There are, however, some misstatements in Dr. 
Buckley's article that ought not to be passed over 
in silence. 

The first is to the effect that I was invited to 
write an article for the North American Review, 
Judge Jeremiah Black to reply, and that Judge Black 
was improperly treated. 

Now, it is true that I was invited to write an ar 
ticle, and did write one ; but I did not know at the 
time who was to reply. It is also true that Judge 
Black did reply, and that my article and his reply 
appeared in the same number of the Review. 

Dr. Buckley alleges that the North American Re 
view gave me an opportunity to review the Judge, 
but denied to Judge Black an opportunity to respond. 
This is without the slightest foundation in fact. Mr. 
Metcalf, who at that time was manager of the 
Review, is still living and will tell the facts. Per 
sonally I had nothing to do with it, one way or the 
other. I did not regard Judge Black's reply as for 
midable, and was not only willing that he should be 
heard again, but anxious that he should. 

So much for that. 

As to the debate, with Dr. Field and Mr. Gladstone, 
I leave them to say whether they were or were not 
fairly treated. Dr. Field, by his candor, by his fair- 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 345 

ness, and by the manly spirit he exhibited won my 
respect and love. 

Most ministers imagine that any man who differs 
from them is a blasphemer. .This word seems to 
leap unconsciously from their lips. They cannot 
imagine that another man loves liberty as much and 
with as sincere devotion as they love God. They 
cannot imagine that another prizes liberty above all 
gods, even if gods exist. They cannot imagine that 
any mind is so that it places Justice above all per 
sons, a mind that cannot conceive even of a God who 
is not bound to do justice. 

If God exists, above him, in eternal calm, is the 
figure of Justice. 

Neither can some ministers understand a man who 
regards Jehovah and Jupiter as substantially the 
same, with this exception that he thinks far more 
of Jupiter, because Jupiter had at least some human 
feelings. 

I do not understand that a man can be guilty of 
blasphemy who states his honest thoughts in proper 
language, his object being, not to torture the feelings 
of others, but simply to give his thought to find and 
establish the truth. 

Dr. Buckley makes a charge that he ought to have 
known to be without foundation. Speaking of my- 



34-6 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

self, he said : " In him the laws to prevent the circu 
lation of obscene publications through the mails have 
found their most vigorous opponent." 

It is hardly necessary for me to say that this is un 
true. The facts are that an effort was made to clas 
sify obscene literature with what the pious call 
" blasphemous and immoral works." A petition was 
forwarded to Congress to amend the law so that the 
literature of Freethought could not be thrown from 
the mails, asking that, if no separation could be made, 
the law should be repealed. 

It was said that I had signed this petition, and I 
certainly should have done so had it been presented 
to me. The petition was absolutely proper. 

A few years ago I found the petition, and discov 
ered that while it bore my name it had never been 
signed by me. But for the purposes of this answer I 
am perfectly willing that the signature should be 
regarded as genuine, as there is nothing in the pe 
tition that should not have been granted. 

The law as it stood was opposed by the Liberal 
League but not a member of that society was in 
favor of the circulation of obscene literature ; but 
they did think that the privacy of the mails had 
been violated, and that it was of the utmost import 
ance to maintain the inviolability of the postal service. 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 347 

I disagreed with these people, and favored the de 
struction of obscene literature not only, but that it 
be made a criminal offence to send it through the 
mails. As a matter of fact I drew up resolutions to 
that effect that were passed. Afterward they were 
changed, or some others were passed, and I resigned 
from the League on that account. 

Nothing can be more absurd than that I was, 
directly or indirectly, or could have been, interested 
in the circulation of obscene publications through 
the mails ; and I will pay a premium of #1,000 a 
word for each and every word I ever said or wrote 
in favor of sending obscene publications through the 
mails. 

I might use much stronger language. I might 
follow the example of Dr. Buckley himself. But I 
think I have said enough to satisfy all unprejudiced 
people that the charge is absurdly false. 

Now, as to the eulogy of whiskey. It gives me a 
certain pleasure to read that even now, and I believe 
the readers of the Telegram would like to read it 
once more ; so here it is : 

" I send you some of the most wonderful whiskey 
that ever drove the skeleton from a feast or painted 
landscapes in the brain of man. It is the mingled 
souls of wheat and corn. In it you will find the 



34-8 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

sunshine and the shadow that chased each other over 
the billowy fields ; the breath of June ; the carol of the 
lark ; the dews of night ; the wealth of summer and 
autumn's rich content, all golden with imprisoned 
light. Drink it and you will hear the voices of 
men and maidens singing the ' Harvest Home,' 
iningled with the laughter of children. Drink it 
and you will feel within your blood the star-lit 
dawns, the dreamy, tawny dusks of many perfect 
days. For forty years this liquid joy has been with 
in the happy staves of oak, longing to touch the lips 
of men." 

I re-quote this for the reason that Dr. Buckley, 
who is not very accurate, made some mistakes in 
his version. 

Now, in order to show the depth of degradation to 
which I have sunk in this direction, I will confess 
that I also wrote a eulogy of tobacco, and here 
it is : 

" Nearly four centuries ago Columbus, the adven 
turous, in the blessed island of Cuba, saw happy people 
with rolled leaves between their lips. Above their 
heads were little clouds of smoke. Their faces were 
serene, and in their eyes was the autumnal heaven of 
content. These people were kind, innocent, gentle 
and loving. 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 349 

" The climate of Cuba is the friendship of the earth 
and air, and of this climate the sacred leaves were 
born the leaves that breed in the mind of him who 
uses them the cloudless, happy days in which they 
grew. 

" These leaves make friends, and celebrate with 
gentle rites the vows of peace. They have given 
consolation to the world. They are the companions 
of the lonely the friends of the imprisoned, of the 
exile, of workers in mines, of fellers of forests, of 
sailors on the desolate seas. They are the givers of 
strength and calm to the vexed and wearied minds 
of those who build with thought and dream the tem 
ples of the soul. 

" They tell of hope and rest. They smooth the 
wrinkled brows of pain drive fears and strange mis 
shapen dreads from out the mind and fill the heart 
with rest and peace. Within their magic warp and 
woof some potent gracious spell imprisoned lies, that, 
when released by fire, doth softly steal within the 
fortress of the brain and bind in sleep the captured 
sentinels of care and grief. 

" These leaves are the friends of the fireside, and 
their smoke, like incense, rises from myriads of happy 
homes. Cuba is the smile of the sea." 

There are some people so constituted that there is 



35O A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

no room in the heaven of their minds for the butter 
flies and moths of fancy to spread their wings. 
Everything is taken in solemn and stupid earnest. 
Such men would hold Shakespeare responsible for 
what Falstaff said about " sack," and for Mrs. Quickly 's 
notions of propriety. 

There is an old Greek saying which is applicable 
here : " In the presence of human stupidity, even 
the gods stand helpless." 

John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, 
lacked all sense of humor. He preached a sermon 
on " The Cause and Cure of Earthquakes." He in 
sisted that they were caused by the wickedness of 
man, and that the only way to cure them was to be 
lieve on the Lord Jesus Christ. 

The man who does not carry the torch of Humor 
is always in danger of falling into the pit of Ab 
surdity. 

The Rev. Charles Deems, pastor of the Church 
of the Strangers, contributes his part to the discus 
sion. 

He took a text from John, as follows : " He that 
committeth sin is of the devil, for the devil sinneth 
from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of 
God was manifested, that he might destroy the works 
of the devil." 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 351 

According to the orthodox creed of the Rev. Dr. 
Deems all have committed sin, and consequently all 
are of the devil. The Doctor is not a metaphysician. 
He does not care to play at sleight of hand with 
words. He stands on bed-rock, and he asserts that 
the devil is no Persian myth, but a personality, who 
works unhindered by the limitations of a physical 
body, and gets human personalities to aid him in his 
works. 

According to the text, it seems that the devil was 
a sinner from the beginning. I suppose that must 
mean from his beginning, or from the beginning of 
things. According to Dr. Deems' creed, his God is 
the Creator of all things, and consequently must have 
been the Creator of the devil. According to the 
Scriptures the devil is the father of lies, and Dr. 
Deems' God is the father of the devil that is to say, 
the grandfather of lies. This strikes me as almost 
" blasphemous." 

The Doctor also tells us " that Jesus believed as 
much in the personality of the devil as in that of 
Herod or Pilate or John or Peter." 

That I admit. There is not the slightest doubt, if 
the New Testament be true, that Christ believed in 
a personal devil a devil with whom he had conver 
sations ; a devil who took him to the pinnacle of the 



352 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

Temple and endeavored to induce him to leap to the 
earth below. 

Of course he believed in a personal devil. Not 
only so ; he believed in thousands of personal devils. 
He cast seven devils out of Mary Magdalene. He 
cast a legion of devils out of the man in the tombs, 
or, rather, made a bargain with these last-mentioned 
devils that they might go into a drove or herd of 
swine, if they would leave the man. 

I not only admit that Christ believed in devils, but 
he believed that some devils were deaf and dumb, 
and so declared. 

Dr. Deems is right, and I hope he will defend 
against all comers the integrity of the New Testa 
ment. 

The Doctor, however, not satisfied exactly with 
what he finds in the New Testament, draws a little on 
his own imagination. He says : 

" The devil is an organizing, imperial intellect, 
vindictive, sharp, shrewd, persevering, the aim of 
whose works is to overthrow the authority of God's 
law." 

How does the Doctor know that the devil has an 
organizing, imperial intellect ? How does he know 
that he is vindictive and sharp and shrewd and per 
severing ? 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 363 

If the devil has an " imperial intellect," why does 
he attempt the impossible ? 

Robert Burns shocked Scotland by saying of the 
devil, or, rather, to the devil, that he was sorry for 
him, and hoped he would take a thought and mend. 

Dr. Deems has gone far in advance of Burns. For 
a clergyman he seems to be exceedingly polite. 
Speaking of the " Arch Enemy of God " of that 
" organizing, imperial intellect who is seeking to un 
dermine the church " the Doctor says : 

" The devil may be conceded to be sincere." 

It has been said : 

"An honest God is the noblest work of man," and 
it may now be added : A sincere devil is the noblest 
work of Dr. Deems. 

But, with all the devil's smartness, sharpness, and 
shrewdness, the Doctor says that he " cannot write a 
book ; that, he cannot deliver lectures " (like myself, 
I suppose), " edit a newspaper " (like the editor of the 
Telegram], " or make after-dinner speeches ; but he 
can get his servants to do these things for him." 

There is one thing in the Doctor's address that I 
feel like correcting (I quote from the Telegrams re 
port) : 

"Dr. Deems showed at length how the Son of God, 
the Christ of the Bible not the Christ of the lecture 



$54 A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 

platform caricatures is operating to overcome all 
these works." 

I take it for granted that he refers to what he 
supposes I have said about Christ, and, for fear that 
he may not have read it, I give it here : 

"And let me say here, once for all, that for the man 
Christ I have infinite respect. Let me say, once for 
all, that the place where man has died for man is holy 
ground. And let me say, once for all, that to that 
great and serene man I gladly pay, the tribute of my 
admiration and my tears. He was a reformer in his 
day. He was an infidel in his time. He was re 
garded as a blasphemer, and his life was destroyed 
by hypocrites, who have, in all ages, done what they 
could to trample freedom and manhood out of the 
human mind. Had I lived at that time I would have 
been his friend, and should he come again he will not 
find a better friend than I will be. That is for the 
man. For the theological creation I have a different 
feeling." 

I have not answered each one who has attacked by 
name. Neither have I mentioned those who have 
agreed with me. But I do take this occasion to 
thank all, irrespective of their creeds, who have man 
fully advocated the right of free speech, and who 
have upheld the Telegram in the course it has taken. 



A CHRISTMAS SERMON. 355 

I thank all who have said a kind word for me, and I 
also feel quite grateful to those who have failed to 
say unkind words. Epithets are not arguments. To 
abuse is not to convince. Anger is stupid and malice 
illogical. 

And, after all that has appeared by way of reply, 
I still insist that orthodox Christianity did not come 
with " tidings of great joy," but with a message of 
eternal grief. 

ROBERT G. INGERSOLL. 

New York, February 5, 1892. 



SUICIDE OF JUDGE NORMILE. 



SUICIDE OF JUDGE NORMILE.* 

Question. Have you read an article in the 
Western Watchman, entitled " Suicide of Judge 
Normile " ? If so, what is your opinion of it ? 

Answer. I have read the article, and I think the 
spirit in which it is written is in exact accord with 
the creed, with the belief, that prompted it. 

In this article the writer speaks not only of Judge 
Normile, but of Henry D'Arcy, and begins by say 
ing that a Catholic community had been shocked, 
but that as a matter of fact the Catholics had no 
right " to feel special concern in the life or death of 
either," for the reason, " that both had ceased to be 
Catholics, and had lived as infidels and scoffers." 

According to the Catholic creed all infidels and 
scoffers are on the direct road to eternal pain ; and 
yet, if the Watchman is to be believed, Catholics 
have no right to have special concern for the fate of 
such people, even after their death. 

A reply to the Western Watchman, published in the St. Louis Globe Democrat, 
Sept. 1, 1892. (359) 



360 SUICIDE OF JUDGE NORMILE. 

The church has always proclaimed that it was 
seeking the lost that it was trying in every way 
to convert the infidels and save the scoffers that 
it cared less for the ninety-nine sheep safe in the 
fold than for the one that had strayed. We have 
been told that God so loved infidels and scoffers, 
that he came to this poor world and gave his life 
that they might be saved. But now we are told 
by the Western Watchman that the church, said to 
have been founded by Christ, has no right to feel 
any special concern about the fate of infidels and 
scoffers. 

Possibly the Watchman only refers to the infidels 
and scoffers who were once Catholics. 

If the New Testament is true, St. Peter was at 
one time a Christian ; that is to say, a good Catho 
lic, and yet he fell from grace and not only denied 
his Master, but went to the extent of swearing that 
he did not know him ; that he never had made his 
acquaintance. And yet, this same Peter was taken 
back and became the rock on which the Catholic 
Church is supposed to rest. 

Are the Catholics of St. Louis following the 
example of Christ, when they publicly declare that 
they care nothing for the fate of one who left the 
church and who died in his sins ? 



SUICIDE OF JUDGE NORMILE. 361 

The Watchman, in order to show that it was 
simply doing its duty, and was not actuated by 
hatred or malice, assures us as follows : " A warm 
personal friendship existed between D'Arcy and 
Normile and the managers of this paper." What' 
would the Watchman have said if these men had 
been the personal enemies of the managers of that 
paper ? Two warm personal friends, once Catho 
lics, had gone to hell ; but the managers of the 
Watchman, " warm personal friends " of the dead, 
had no right to feel any special concern about these 
friends in the flames of perdition. One would think 
that pity had changed to piety. 

Another wonderful statement is that " both of 
these men determined to go to hell, if there was a 
hell, and to forego the joys of heaven, if there was 
a heaven." 

Admitting that heaven and hell exist, that heaven 
is a good place, and that hell, to say the least, is, 
and eternally will be, unpleasant, why should any 
sane man unalterably determine to go to hell ? It is 
hard to think of any reason, unless he was afraid of 
meeting those Catholics in heaven who had been 
his " warm personal friends " in this world. The 
truth is that no one wishes to be unhappy in this or 
any other country. The truth is that Henry D'Arcy 



SUICIDE OF JUDGE NORMILE. 

and Judge Normile both became convinced that the 
Catholic Church is of human origin, that its creed is 
not true, that it is the enemy of progress, and the foe 
of freedom. It may be that they were in part led to 
these conclusions by the conduct of their " warm 
personal friends." 

It is claimed that these men, Henry D'Arcy and 
Judge Normile " studied " to convince -themselves 
" that there was no God ;" that " they went back to 
Paganism and lived among the ancients," and that 
they soon revelled " in the grossness of Paganism." 
If they went back to Paganism, they certainly found 
plenty of gods. The Pagans filled heaven and 
earth with deities. The Catholics have only three, 
while the Pagans had hundreds. And yet there were 
some very good Pagans. By associating with So 
crates and Plato one would not necessarily become 
a groveling wretch. Zeno was not altogether abom 
inable. He would compare favorably, at least, with 
the average pope. Aristotle was not entirely despic 
able, although wrong, it may be, in many things. 
Epicurus was temperate, frugal and serene. He 
perceived the beauty of use, and celebrated the mar 
riage of virtue and joy. He did not teach his dis 
ciples to revel in grossness, although his maligners 
have made this charge. Cicero was a Pagan, and 



SUICIDE OF JUDGE NORMILE. 363 

yet he uttered some very sublime and generous 
sentiments. Among other things, he said this : 
"When we say that we should love Romans, but not 
foreigners, we destroy the bond of universal brother 
hood and drive from our hearts charity and justice." 

Suppose a Pagan had written about " two warm 
personal friends " of his, who had joined the Catholic 
Church, and suppose he had said this : "Although 
our two warm personal friends have both died by 
their own hands, and although both have gone to 
the lowest hell, and are now suffering inconceivable 
agonies, we have no right to feel any special con 
cern about them or about their sufferings ; and, to 
speak frankly, we care nothing for their agonies, 
nothing for their tears, and we mention them only to 
keep other Pagans from joining that blasphemous 
and ignorant church. Both of our friends were 
raised as Pagans, both were educated in our holy re 
ligion, and both had read the works of our greatest 
and wisest authors, and yet they fell into apostasy, 
and studied day and night, in season and out of 
season, to convince themselves that a young car 
penter of Palestine was in fact, Jupiter, whom we call 
Stator, the creator, the sustainer and governor of 
all." 

It is probable that the editor of the Watchman 



364 SUICIDE OF JUDGE NORMILE. 

was perfectly conscientious in his attack on the dead. 
Nothing but a sense of religious duty could in 
duce any man to attack the character of a " warm 
personal friend," and to say that although the friend 
was in hell, he\ felt no special concern as to his 
fate. 

The Watchman seems to think that it is hardly 
probable or possible that a sane Catholic should be 
come an infidel. People of every religion feel sub 
stantially in this way. It is probable that the Mo 
hammedan is of the opinion that no sane believer in 
the religion of Islam could possibly become a Cath 
olic. Probably there are no sane Mohammedans. I 
do not know. 

Now, it seems to me, that when a sane Catholic 
reads the history of his church, of the Inquisition, of 
centuries of flame and sword, of philosophers and 
thinkers tortured, flayed and burned by the " Bride 
of God," and of all the cruelties of Christian years, 
he may reasonably come to the conclusion that the 
Church of Rome is not the best possible church in 
this, the best possible of all worlds. 

It would hardly impeach his sanity if, after reading 
the history of superstition, he should denounce the 
Hierarchy, from priest to pope. The truth is, the 
real opinions of all men are perfectly honest no 



SUICIDE OF JUDGE NORMILE. 365 

matter whether they are for or against the Catholic 
creed. All intelligent people are intellectually hos 
pitable. Every man who knows something of the 
operations of his own mind is absolutely certain that 
his wish has not, to his knowledge, influenced his 
judgment. He may admit that his wish has influenced 
his speech, but he must certainly know that it has not 
affected his judgment. 

In other words, a man cannot cheat himself in a 
game of solitaire and really believe that he has won 
the game. No matter what the appearance of the 
cards may be, he knows whether the game was lost 
or won. So, men may say that their judgment is a 
certain way, and they may so affirm in accordance 
with their wish, but neither the wish, nor the decla 
ration can affect the real judgment. So, a man must 
know whether he believes a certain creed or not, or, 
at least, what the real state of his mind is. When 
a man tells me that he believes in the supernatural, 
in the miraculous, and in the inspiration of the Scrip 
tures, I take it for granted that he is telling the 
truth, although it seems impossible to me that the 
man could reach that conclusion. When another 
tells me that he does not know whether there is a 
Supreme Being or not, but that he does not be 
lieve in the supernatural, and is perfectly satisfied 



366 SUICIDE OF JUDGE NORMILE. 

that the Scriptures are for the most part false and 
barbarous, I implicitly believe every word he says. 

I admit cheerfully that there are many millions 
of men and women who believe what to me seems 
impossible and infinitely absurd ; and, undoubtedly, 
what I believe seems to them equally impossible. 

Let us give to others the liberty which we claim 
for ourselves. 

The Watchman seems to think that unbelief, 
especially when coupled with what they call " the sins 
of the flesh," is the lowest possible depth, and tells us 
that "robbers maybe devout," "murderers peni 
tent," and " drunkards reverential." 

In some of these statements the Watchman is 
probably correct. There have been " devout rob 
bers." There have been gentlemen of the high 
way, agents of the road, who carried sacred images, 
who bowed, at holy shrines for the purpose of 
securing success. For many centuries the devout 
Catholics robbed the Jews. The devout Ferdinand 
and Isabella were great robbers. A great many 
popes have indulged in this theological pastime, not 
to speak of the rank and file. Yes, the Watchman 
is right. There is nothing in robbery that necessa 
rily interferes with devotion. 

There have been penitent murderers, and most 



SUICIDE OF JUDGE NORMILE. 367 

murderers, unless impelled by a religious sense of 
duty to God, have been penitent. David, with 
dying breath, advised his son to murder the old 
friends of his father. He certainly was not penitent. 
Undoubtedly Torquemada murdered without re 
morse, and Calvin burned his " warm personal 
friend " to gain the applause of God. Philip the 
Second was a murderer, not penitent, because he 
deemed it his duty. The same may be said of the 
Duke of Alva, and of thousands of others. 

Robert Burns was not, according to his own 
account, strictly virtuous, and yet I like him better 
than I do those who planned and carried into bloody 
execution the massacre of St. Bartholomew. 

Undoubtedly murderers have been penitent. A 
man in California cut the throat of a woman, although 
she begged for mercy, saying at the same time that 
she was not prepared to die. He cared nothing for 
her prayers. He was tried, convicted and sentenced 
to death. He made a motion for a new trial. This 
was denied. He appealed to the governor, but the 
executive refused to interfere. Then he became 
penitent and experienced religion. On the scaffold 
he remarked that he was going to heaven ; that his 
only regret was that he would not meet the woman 
he had murdered, as she was not a Christian 



368 SUICIDE OF JUDGE NORMILE. 

when she died. Undoubtedly murderers can be 
penitent. 

An old Spaniard was dying. He sent for a priest 
to administer the last sacraments of the church. 
The priest told him that he must forgive all his ene 
mies. " I have no enemies," said the dying man, 
" I killed the last one three weeks ago." Undoubt 
edly murderers can be penitent. 

So, I admit that drunkards have been pious and 
reverential, and I might add, honest and generous. 

Some good Catholics and some good Protestants 
have enjoyed a hospitable glass, and there have been 
priests who used the blood of the grape for other 
than a sacramental purpose. Even Luther, a good 
Catholic in his day, a reformer, a Doctor of Divinity, 
gave to the world this couplet : 

" Who loves not woman, wine and song, 
Will live a fool his whole life long." 

The Watchman, in effect, says that a devout robber 
is better than an infidel ; that a penitent murderer 
is superior to a freethinker, in the sight of God. 

Another curious thing in this article is that after 
sending both men to hell, the Watchman says : 
"As to their moral habits we know nothing." 

It may then be taken for granted, if these " warm 
personal friends" knew nothing against the dead, 



SUICIDE OF JUDGE NORMILE. 369 

that their lives were, at least, what the church calls 
moral. We know, if we know anything, that there 
is no necessary connection between what is called 
religion and morality. Certainly there were millions 
of moral people, those who loved mercy and dealt 
honestly, before the Catholic Church existed. The 
virtues were well known, and practiced, before a 
triple crown surrounded the cunning brain of an 
Italian Vicar of God, and before the flames of the 
Auto da fe delighted the hearts of a Christian mob. 
Thousands of people died for the right, before the 
wrong organized the infallible church. 

But why should any man deem it his duty or feel 
it a pleasure to say harsh and cruel things of the 
dead ? Why pierce the brow of death with the 
thorns of hatred ? Suppose the editor of the Watch 
man had died, and Judge Normile had been the 
survivor, would the infidel and scoffer have attacked 
the unreplying dead ? 

Henry D'Arcy I did not know ; but Judge Nor 
mile was my friend and I was his. Although we 
met but a few times, he excited my admiration and 
respect. He impressed me as being an exceedingly 
intelligent man, well informed on many subjects, of 
varied reading, possessed of a clear and logical mind, 
a poetic temperament, enjoying the beautiful things 



370 SUICIDE OF JUDGE NORMILE. 

in literature and art, and the noble things in life. He 
gave his opinions freely, but without the least arro 
gance, and seemed perfectly willing that others 
should enjoy the privilege of differing with him. 
He was, so far as I could perceive, a gentleman, 
tender of the feelings of others, free and manly in 
his bearing, " of most excellent fancy," and a most 
charming and agreeable companion. 

According, however, to the Watchman, such a 
man is far below a " devout robber " or a " penitent 
murderer." Is it possible that an assassin like 
Ravillac is far better than a philosopher like Voltaire ; 
and that all the Catholic robbers and murderers who 
retain their faith, give greater delight to God than 
the Humboldts, Haeckels and Darwins who have 
filled the world with intellectual light ? 

Possibly the Catholic Church is mistaken. Possi 
bly the Watchman is in error, and possibly there 
may be for the erring, even in another world, some 
asylum besides hell. 

Judge Normile died by his own hand. Certainly 
he was not afraid of the future. He was not appalled 
by death. He died by his own hand. Can any 
thing be more pitiful more terrible ? How can a 
man in the flowing tide and noon of life destroy him 
self? What storms there must have been within the 



SUICIDE OF JUDGE NORMILE. 371 

brain ; what tempests must have raved and wrecked ; 
what lightnings blinded and revealed ; what hur 
rying clouds obscured and hid the stars; what mon 
strous shapes emerged from gloom ; what darkness 
fell upon the day ; what visions filled the night ; how 
the light failed ; how paths were lost ; how high 
ways disappeared ; how chasms yawned ; until one 
thought the thought of death swift, compassionate 
and endless became the insane monarch of the mind. 

Standing by the prostrate form of one who thus 
found death, it is far better to pity than to revile to 
kiss the clay than curse the man. 

The editor of the Watchman has done himself in 
justice. He has not injured the dead, but the living. 

I am an infidel an unbeliever and yet I hope 
that all the children of men may find peace and joy. 
No matter how they leave this world, from altar or 
from scaffold, crowned with virtue or stained with 
crime, I hope that good may come to all. 

R. G. INGERSOLL. 



IS SUICIDE A SIN? 



Is SUICIDE A SIN?* 

COL. INGERSOLL'S FIRST LETTER. 

1DO not know whether self-killing is on the in 
crease or not. If it is, then there must be, on 
the average, more trouble, more sorrow, more fail 
ure, and, consequently, more people are driven to 
despair. In civilized life there is a great struggle, 
great competition* and many fail. To fail in a great 
city is like being wrecked at sea. In the country a 
man has friends; he can get a little credit, a little help, 
but in the city it is different. The man is lost in 
the multitude. In the roar of the streets, his cry is 
not heard. Death becomes his only friend. Death 
promises release from want, from hunger and pain, 
and so the poor wretch lays down his burden, dashes 
it from his shoulders and falls asleep. 

To me all this seems very natural. The wonder 
is that so many endure and suffer to the natural end, 
that so many nurse the spark of life in huts and 
prisons, keep it and guard it through years of misery 

These letters were published in the New York World, 1894. (37$) 



376 is SUICIDE A SIN? 

and want ; support it by beggary, by eating the 
crust found in the gutter, and to whom it only gives 
days of weariness and nights of fear and dread. 
Why should the man, sitting amid the wreck of all 
he had, the loved ones dead, friends lost, seek to 
lengthen, to preserve his life ? What can the future 
have for him ? 

Under many circumstances a man has the right 
to kill himself. When life is of no value to him, 
when he can be of no real assistance to others, why 
should a man continue? When he is of no benefit, 
when he is a burden to those he loves, why should 
he remain ? The old idea was that God made us 
and placed us here for a purpose and that it was our 
duty to remain until he called us. The world is 
outgrowing this absurdity. What pleasure can it 
give God to see a man devoured by a cancer ; to 
see the quivering flesh slowly eaten ; to see the 
nerves throbbing with pain ? Is this a festival for 
God ? Why should the poor wretch stay and 
suffer ? A little morphine would give him sleep the 
agony would be forgotten and he would pass un 
consciously from happy dreams to painless death. 

If God determines all births and deaths, of what 
use is medicine and why should doctors defy with 
pills and powders, the decrees of God ? No one, 



is SUICIDE A SIN? 377 

except a few insane, act now according to this child 
ish superstition. Why should a man, surrounded by 
flames, in the midst of a burning building, from 
which there is no escape, hesitate to put a bullet 
through his brain or a dagger in his heart ? Would 
it give God pleasure to see him burn ? When 
did the man lose the right of self-defence ? 

So, when a man has committed some awful crime, 
why should he stay and ruin his family and friends ? 
Why should he add to the injury ? Why should he 
live, filling his days and nights, and the days and 
nights of others, with grief and pain, with agony and 
tears ? 

Why should a man sentenced to imprisonment for 
life hesitate to still his heart ? The grave is better 
than the cell. Sleep is sweeter than the ache of toil. 
The dead have no masters. 

So the poor girl, betrayed and deserted, the door 
of home closed against her, the faces of friends 
averted, no hand that will help, no eye that will 
soften with pity, the future an abyss filled with 
monstrous shapes of dread and fear, her mind racked 
by fragments of thoughts like clouds broken by 
storm, pursued, surrounded by the serpents of re 
morse, flying from horrors too great to bear, rushes 
with joy through the welcome door of death. 



378 is SUICIDE A SIN ? 

Undoubtedly there are many cases of perfectly 
justifiable suicide cases in which not to end life 
would be a mistake, sometimes almost a crime. 

As to the necessity of death, each must decide 
for himself. And if a man honestly decides that 
death is best best for him and others and acts 
upon the decision, why should he be blamed ? 

Certainly the man who kills himself is not a 
physical coward. He may have lacked moral 
courage, but not physical. It may be said that 
some men fight duels because they are afraid to 
decline. They are between two fires the chance 
of death and the certainty of dishonor, and they 
take the chance of death. So the Christian mar 
tyrs were, according to their belief, between two 
fires the flames of the fagot that could burn but 
for a few moments, and the fires of God, that were 
eternal. And they chose the flames of the fagot. 

Men who fear death to that degree that they 
will bear all the pains and pangs that nerves can 
feel.rather than die, cannot afford to call the suicide 
a coward. It does not seem to me that Brutus was 
a coward or that Seneca was. Surely Antony had 
nothing left to live for. Cato was not a craven. He 
acted on his judgment. So with hundreds of others 
whp felt that they had reached the end that the 



is SUICIDE A SIN ? 379 

journey was done, the voyage was over, and, so 
feeling, stopped. It seems certain that the man who 
commits suicide, who " does the thing that ends all 
other deeds, that shackles accident and bolts up 
change " is not lacking in physical courage. 

If men had the courage, they would not linger in 
prisons, in almshouses, in hospitals ; they would not 
bear the pangs of incurable disease, the stains of 
dishonor ; they would not live in filth and want, in 
poverty and hunger, neither would they wear the 
chain of slavery. All this can be accounted for only 
by the fear of death or " of something after." 

Seneca, knowing that Nero intended to take his 
life, had no fear. He knew that he could defeat 
the Emperor. He knew that " at the bottom of 
every river, in the coil of every rope, on the point 
of every dagger, Liberty sat and smiled." He 
knew that it was his own fault if he allowed him 
self to be tortured to death by his enemy. He 
said : " There is this blessing, that while life has 
but one entrance, it has exits innumerable, and as 
I choose the house in which I live, the ship in which 
I will sail, so will I choose the time and manner of 
my death." 

To me this is not cowardly, but manly and noble. 

Under the Roman law persons found guilty of 



380 ^ IS SUICIDE A SIN ? 

certain offences were not only destroyed, but their 
blood was polluted and their children became out 
casts. If, however, they died before conviction 
their children were saved. Many committed sui 
cide to save their babes. Certainly they were not 
cowards. Although guilty of great crimes they 
had enough of honor, of manhood, left to save their 
innocent children. This was not cowardice. 

Without doubt many suicides are caused by in 
sanity. Men lose their property. The fear of the 
future overpowers them. Things lose proportion, 
they lose poise and balance, and in a flash, a gleam 
of frenzy, kill themselves. The disappointed in 
love, broken in heart the light fading from their 
lives seek the refuge of death. 

Those who take their lives in painful, barbarous 
ways who mangle their throats with broken glass, 
dash themselves from towers and roofs, take poisons 
that torture like the rack such persons must be in 
sane. But those who take the facts into account, 
who weigh the arguments for and against, and who 
decide that death is best the only good and then 
resort to reasonable means, may be, so far as I can 
see, in full possession of their minds. 

Life is not the same to all to some a blessing, 
to some a curse, to some not much in any way. 



IS SUICIDE A SIN? 381 

Some leave it with unspeakable regret, some with 
the keenest joy and some with indifference. 

Religion, or the decadence of religion,has a bear 
ing upon the number of suicides. The fear of God, 
of judgment, of eternal pain will stay the hand, and 
people so believing will suffer here until relieved by- 
natural death. A belief in eternal agony beyond 
the grave will cause such believers to suffer the pangs 
of this life. When there is no fear of the future, 
when death is believed to be a dreamless sleep, men 
have less hesitation about ending their lives. On 
the other hand, orthodox religion has driven mill 
ions to insanity. It has caused parents to murder 
their children and many thousands to destroy them 
selves and others. 

It seems probable that all real, genuine orthodox 
believers who kill themselves must be insane, and to 
such a degree that their belief is forgotten. God 
and hell are out of their minds. 

I am satisfied that many who commit suicide are 
insane, many are in the twilight or dusk of insanity, 
and many are perfectly sane. 

The law we have in this State making it a crime 
to attempt suicide is cruel and absurd and calculated 
to increase the number of successful suicides. When 
a man has suffered so much, when he has been so 



382 IS SUICIDE A SIN? 

persecuted and pursued by disaster that he seeks the 
rest and sleep of death, why should the State add to 
the sufferings of that man ? A man seeking death, 
knowing that he will be punished if he fails, will 
take extra pains and precautions to make death 
certain. 

This law was born of superstition, passed by 
thoughtlessness and enforced by ignorance and 
cruelty. 

When the house of life becomes a prison, when 
the horizon has shrunk and narrowed to a cell, and 
when the convict longs for the liberty of death, 
why should the effort to escape be regarded as a 
crime ? 

Of course, I regard life from a natural point of 
view. I do not take gods, heavens or hells into ac 
count. My horizon is the known, and my estimate 
of life is based upon what I know of life here in this 
world. People should not suffer for the sake of 
supernatural beings or for other worlds or the hopes 
and fears of some future state. Our joys, our suffer 
ings and our duties are here. 

The law of New York about the attempt to com 
mit suicide and the law as to divorce are about equal. 
Both are idiotic. Law cannot prevent suicide. Those 
who have lost all fear of death, care nothing for law 



IS SUICIDE A SIN? 383 

and its penalties. Death is liberty, absolute and 
eternal. 

We should remember that nothing happens but 
the natural. Back of every suicide and every attempt 
to commit suicide is the natural and efficient cause. 
Nothing happens by chance. In this world the facts 
touch each other. There is no space between no 
room for chance. Given a certain heart and brain, 
certain conditions, and suicide is the necessary result 
If we wish to prevent suicide we must change con 
ditions. We must by education, by invention, by 
art, by civilization, add. to the value of the average 
life. We must cultivate the brain and heart do 
away with false pride and false modesty. We must 
become generous enough to help our fellows with 
out degrading them. We must make industry 
useful work of all kinds honorable. We must 
mingle a little affection with our charity a little 
fellowship. We should allow those who have sinned 
to really reform. We should not think only of 
what the wicked have done, but we should think of 
what we have wanted to do. People do not hate 
the sick. Why should they, despise the mentally 
weak the diseased in brain ? 

Our actions are the fruit, the result, of circum 
stances of conditions and we do as we must. 



384 IS SUICIDE A SIN ? 

This great truth should fill the heart with pity for 
the failures of our race. 

Sometimes I have wondered that Christians de 
nounced the suicide ; that in olden times they buried 
him where the roads crossed, drove a stake through 
his body, and then took his property from his 
children and gave it to the State. 

If Christians would only think, they would see 
that orthodox religion rests upon suicide that man 
was redeemed by suicide, and that without suicide 
the whole world would have been lost. 

If Christ were God, then he had the power to 
protect himself from the Jews without hurting them. 
But instead of using his power he allowed them to 
take his life. 

If a strong man should allow a few little children 
to hack him to death with knives when he could 
easily have brushed them aside, would we not say 
that he committed suicide ? 

There is no escape. If Christ were, in fact, God, 
and allowed the Jews to kill him, then he con 
sented to his own death refused, though perfectly 
able, to defend and protect himself, and was, in 
fact, a suicide. 

We cannot reform the world by law or by super 
stition. As long as there shall be pain and failure, 



IS SUICIDE A SIN ? 385 

want and sorrow, agony and crime, men and women 
will untie life's knot and seek the peace of death. 

To the hopelessly imprisoned to the dishonored 
and despised to those who have failed, who have 
no future, no hope to the abandoned, the broken 
hearted, to those who are only remnants and frag 
ments of men and women how consoling, how en 
chanting is the thought of death ! 

And even to the most fortunate, death at last is a 
welcome deliverer. Death is as natural and as mer 
ciful as life. When we have journeyed long when 
we are weary when we wish for the twilight, for 
the dusk, for the cool kisses of the night when the 
senses are dull when the pulse is faint and low 
when the mists gather on the mirror of memory 
when the past is almost forgotten, the present hardly 
perceived when the future has but empty hands 
death is as welcome as a strain of music. 

After all, death is not so terrible as joyless life. 
Next to eternal happiness is to sleep in the soft 
clasp of the cool earth, disturbed by no dream, 
by no thought, by no pain, by no fear, unconscious 
of all and forever. 

The wonder is that so many live, that in spite of 
rags and want, in spite of tenement and gutter, of 
filth and pain, they limp and stagger and crawl 



386 is SUICIDE A SIN ? 

beneath their burdens to the natural end. The 
wonder is that so few of the miserable are brave 
enough to die that so many are terrified by the 
" something after death" by the spectres and 
phantoms of superstition. 

Most people are in love with life. How they cling 
to it in the arctic snows how they struggle in the 
waves and currents of the sea how they linger in 
famine how they fight disaster and despair ! On 
the crumbling edge of death they keep the flag fly 
ing and go down at last full of hope and courage. 

But many have not such natures. They cannot 
bear defeat. They are disheartened by disaster. 
They lie down on the field of conflict and give the 
earth their blood. 

They are our unfortunate brothers and sisters. 
We should not curse or blame we should pity. On 
their pallid faces our tears should fall. 

One of the best men I ever knew, with an affec 
tionate wife, a charming and loving daughter, com 
mitted suicide. He was a man of generous impulses. 
His heart was loving and tender. He was conscien 
tious, and so sensitive that he blamed himself for 
having done what at the time he thought was wise 
and best. He was the victim of his virtues. Let us 
be merciful in our judgments. 



IS SUICIDE A SIN? 387 

All we can say is that the good and the bad, the 
loving and the malignant, the conscientious and the 
vicious, the educated and the ignorant, actuated by 
many motives, urged and pushed by circumstances 
and conditions sometimes in the calm of judgment, 
sometimes in passion's storm and stress, sometimes 
in whirl and tempest of insanity raise their hands 
against themselves and desperately put out the light 
of life. 

Those who attempt suicide should not be punished. 
If they are insane they should if possible be restored 
to reason ; if sane, they should be reasoned with, 
calmed and assisted. 

R. G. INGERSOLL. 



\ 



COL. iNGERSOLL'S REPLY TO HIS CRITICS. 

IN the article written by me about suicide the 
ground was taken that " under many circum 
stances a man has the right to kill himself." 

This has been attacked with great fury by clergy 
men, editors and the writers of letters. These peo 
ple contend that the right of self-destruction does 
not and cannot exist. They insist that life is the 
gift of God, and that he only has the right to end 
the days of men ; that it is our duty to bear the 
sorrows that he sends with grateful patience. Some 
have denounced suicide as the worst of crimes worse 
than the murder of another. 

The first question, then, is : 

Has a man under any circumstances the right to 
kill himself? 

A man is being slowly devoured by a cancer 
his agony is intense his suffering all that nerves 
can feel. His life is slowly being taken. Is this the 
work of the good God ? Did the compassionate God 

(388) 



IS SUICIDE A SIN ? 389 

create the cancer so that it might feed on the quiver- 
ering flesh of this victim ? 

This man, suffering agonies beyond the imagina 
tion to conceive, is of no use to himself. His life is 
but a succession of pangs. He is of no use to his wife, 
his children, his friends or society. Day after day 
he is rendered unconscious by drugs that numb the 
nerves and put the brain to sleep. 

Has he the right to render himself unconscious ? 
Is it proper for him to take refuge in sleep ? 

If there be a good God I cannot believe that he 
takes pleasure in the sufferings of men that he 
gloats over the agonies of his children. If there 
be a good God, he will, to the extent of his power, 
lessen the evils of life. 

So I insist that the man being eaten by the can 
cer a burden to himself and others, useless in 
every way has the right to end his pain and pass 
through happy sleep to dreamless rest. 

But those who have answered me would say to 
this man : "It is your duty to be devoured. The 
good God wishes you to suffer. Your life is the 
gift of God. You hold it in trust and you have 
no right to end it. The cancer is the creation of 
God and it is your duty to furnish it with food." 

Take another case : A man is on a burning ship, 



39O IS SUICIDE A SIN? 

the crew and the rest of the passengers have es 
caped gone in the lifeboats and he is left alone. 
In the wide horizon there is no sail, no sign of 
help. He cannot swim. If he leaps into the sea 
he drowns, if he remains on the ship he burns. 
In any event he can live but a few moments. 

Those who have answered me, those who insist 
that under no circumstances a man has the right 
to take his life, would say to this man on the deck, 
" Remain where you are. It is the desire of your 
loving, heavenly Father that you be clothed in 
flame that you slowly roast that your eyes be 
scorched to blindness and that you die insane with 
pain. Your life is not your own, only the agony 
is yours." 

I would say to this man : Do as you wish. If 
you prefer drowning to burning, leap into the sea. 
Between inevitable evils you have the right of 
choice. You can help no one, not even God, by 
allowing yourself to be burned, and you can in 
jure no one, not even God, by choosing the easier 
death. 

Let us suppose another case : 

A man has been captured by savages in Central 
Africa. He is about to be tortured to death. His 
captors are going to thrust splinters of pine into 



IS SUICIDE A SIN? 391 

his flesh and then set them on fire. He watches 
them as they make the preparations. He knows 
what they are about to do and what he is about to 
suffer. There is no hope of rescue, of help. He 
has a vial of poison. He knows that he can take 
it and in one moment pass beyond their power, 
leaving to them only the dead body. 

Is this man under obligation to keep his life be 
cause God gave it, until the savages by torture 
take it ? Are the savages the agents of the good 
God ? Are they the servants of the Infinite ? Is 
it the duty of this man to allow them to wrap his 
body in a garment of flame ? Has he no right to 
defend himself? Is it the will of God that he die 
by torture ? What would any man of ordinary in 
telligence do in a case like this? Is there room 
for discussion ? 

If the man took the poison, shortened his life a 
few moments, escaped the tortures of the savages, 
is it possible that he would in another world be 
tortured forever by an infinite savage ? 

Suppose another case : In the good old days, 
when the Inquisition flourished, when men loved 
their enemies and murdered their friends, many 
frightful and ingenious ways were devised to touch 
the nerves of pain. 



392 IS SUICIDE A SIN ? 

Those who loved God, who had been " born 
twice," would take a fellow-man who had been 
convicted of " heresy," lay him upon the floor of a 
dungeon, secure his arms and legs with chains, 
fasten him to the earth so that he could not move, 
put an iron vessel, the opening downward, on his 
stomach, place in the vessel several rats, then tie 
it securely to his body. Then these worshipers 
of God would wait until the rats, seeking food and 
liberty, would gnaw through the body of the vic 
tim. 

Now, if a man about to be subjected to this tor 
ture, had within his hand a dagger, would it excite 
the wrath of the " good God," if with one quick 
stroke he found the protection of death ? 

To this question there can be but one answer. 

In the cases I have supposed it seems to me 
that each person would have the right to destroy 
himself. It does not seem possible that the man 
was under obligation to be devoured by a cancer ; 
to remain upon the ship and perish in flame ; to 
throw away the poison and be tortured to death by 
savages ; to drop the dagger and endure the 
" mercies " of the church. 

If, in the cases I have supposed, men would have 
the right to take their lives, then I was right when 



is SUICIDE A SIN ? 393 

I said that " under many circumstances a man has 
a right to kill himself." 

Second. I denied that persons who killed them 
selves were physical cowards. They may lack moral 
courage ; they may exaggerate their misfortunes, lose 

l 

the sense of proportion, but the man who plunges 
the dagger in his heart, who sends the bullet through 
his brain, who leaps from some roof and dashes him 
self against the stones beneath, is not and cannot be 
a physical coward. 

The basis of cowardice is the fear of injury or the 
fear of death, and when that fear is not only gone, 
but in its place is the desire to die, no matter by 
what means, it is impossible that cowardice should ex 
ist. The suicide wants the very thing that a coward 
fears. He seeks the very thing that cowardice en 
deavors to escape. 

So, the man, forced to a choice of evils, choosing 
the less is not a coward, but a reasonable man. 

It must be admitted that the suicide is honest with 
himself. He is to bear the injury ; if it be one. 
Certainly there is no hypocrisy, and just as certainly 
there is no physical cowardice. 

Is the man who takes morphine rather than be 
eaten to death by a cancer a coward ? 

Is the man who leaps into the sea rather than be 



394 is SUICIDE A SIN? 

burned a coward ? Is the man that takes poison 
rather than be tortured to death by savages or 
"Christians" a coward? 

Third. I also took the position that some suicides 
were sane ; that they acted on their best judgment, 
and that they were in full possession of their minds. 
Now, if under some circumstances, a man has the 
right to take his life, and, if, under such circumstances, 
he does take his life, then it cannot be said that he 
was insane. 

Most of the persons who have tried to answer me 
have taken the ground that suicide is not only a 
crime, but some of them have said that it is the 
greatest of crimes. Now, if it be a crime, then the 
suicide must have been sane. So all persons who 
denounce the suicide as a criminal admit that he was 
sane. Under the law, an insane person is incapa 
ble of committing a crime. All the clergymen who 
have answered me, and who have passionately as 
serted that suicide is a crime, have by that assertion 
admitted that those who killed themselves were 
sane. 

They agree with me, and not only admit, but as 
sert that " some who have committed suicide were 
sane and in the full possession of their minds." 

It seems to me that these three propositions have 



is SUICIDE A SIN? 395 

been demonstrated to be true : First, that under 
some circumstances a man has the right to take his 
life ; second, that the man who commits suicide is 
not a physical coward, and, third, that some who 
have committed suicide were at the time sane and 
in full possession of their minds. 

Fourth. I insisted, and still insist, that suicide 
was and is the foundation of the Christian religion. 

I still insist that if Christ were God he had the 
power to protect himself without injuring his assail 
ants that having that power it was his duty to use 
it, and that failing to use it he consented to his own 
death and was guilty of suicide. 

To this the clergy answer that it was self-sacri 
fice for the redemption of man, that he made an 
atonement for the sins of believers. These ideas 
about redemption and atonement are born of a be 
lief in the " fall of man," on account of the sins of 
our first " parents," and of the declaration that " with 
out the shedding of blood there is no remission of 
sin." The foundation has crumbled. No intelligent 
person now believes in the " fall of man" that our 
first parents were perfect, and that their descendants 
grew worse and worse, at least until the coming of 
Christ. 

Intelligent men now believe that ages and ages 



396 is SUICIDE A SIN ? 

before the dawn of history, man was a poor, naked, 
cruel, ignorant and degraded savage, whose lan 
guage consisted of a few sounds of terror, of hatred 
and delight ; that he devoured his fellow-man, hav 
ing all the vices, but not all the virtues of the beasts ; 
that the journey from the den to the home, the 
palace, has been long and painful, through many 
centuries of suffering, of cruelty and war ; through 
many ages of discovery, invention, self-sacrifice and 
thought. 

Redemption and atonement are left without a fact 
on which to rest. The idea that an infinite God, 
creator of all worlds, came to this grain of sand, 
learned the trade of a carpenter, discussed with 
Pharisees and scribes, and allowed a few infuriated 
Hebrews to put him to death that he might atone 
for the sins of men and redeem a few believers from 
the consequences of his own wrath, can find no 
lodgment in a good and natural brain. 

In no mythology can anything more monstrously 
unbelievable be found. 

But if Christ were a man and attacked the relig 
ion of his times because it was cruel and absurd ; if 
he endeavored to found a religion of kindness, of 
good deeds, to take the place of heartlessness and 
ceremony, and if, rather than to deny what he be- 



is SUICIDE A SIN ? 397 

lieved to be right and true, he suffered death, 
then he was a noble man a benefactor of his race. 
But if he were God there was no need of this. 
The Jews did not wish to kill God. If he had only 
made himself known all knees would have touched 
the ground. If he were God it required no heroism 
to die. He knew that what we call death is but the 
opening of the gates of eternal life. If he were 
God there was no self-sacrifice. He had no need 
to suffer pain. He could have changed the cruci 
fixion to a joy. 

Even the editors of religious weeklies see that 
there is no escape from these conclusions from 
these arguments and so, instead of attacking the 
arguments, they attack the man who makes them. 

Fifth. I denounced the law of New York that 
makes an attempt to commit suicide a crime. 

It seems to me that one who has suffered so 
much that he passionately longs for death should 
be pitied, instead of punished helped rather than 
imprisoned. 

A despairing woman who had vainly sought for 
leave to toil, a woman without home, without 
friends, without bread, with clasped hands, with 
tear-filled eyes, with broken words of prayer, in 
the darkness of night leaps from the dock, hoping, 



398 is SUICIDE A SIN? 

longing for the tearless sleep of death. She is 
rescued by a kind, courageous man, handed over 
to the authorities, indicted, tried, convicted, clothed 
in a convict's garb and locked in a felon's cell. 

To me this law seems barbarous and absurd, a 
law that only savages would enforce. 

Sixth. In this discussion a curious thing has 
happened. For several centuries the clergy have 
declared that while infidelity is a very good thing 
to live by, it is a bad support, a wretched consola 
tion, in the hour of death. They have in spite of 
the truth, declared that all the great unbelievers died 
trembling with fear, asking God for mercy, sur 
rounded by fiends, in the torments of despair. 
Think of the thousands and thousands of clergy 
men who have described the last agonies of Vol 
taire, who died as peacefully as a happy child 
smilingly passes from play to slumber ; the final 
anguish of Hume, who fell into his last sleep as 
serenely as a river, running between green and 
shaded banks, reaches the sea ; the despair of 
Thomas Paine, one of the bravest, one of the noblest 
men, who met the night of death untroubled as a 
star that meets the morning. 

At the same time these ministers admitted that 
the average murderer could meet death on the 



is SUICIDE A SIN? 399 

scaffold with perfect serenity, and could smilingly 
ask the people who had gathered to see him killed 
to meet him in heaven. 

But the honest man who had expressed his hon 
est thoughts against the creed of the church in 
power could not die in peace. God would see to 
it that his last moments should be filled with the 
insanity of fear that with his last breath he should 
utter the shriek of remorse, the cry for pardon. 

This has all changed, and now the clergy, in 
their sermons answering me, declare that the athe 
ists, the freethinkers, have no fear of death that to 
avoid some little annoyance, a passing inconven 
ience, they gladly and cheerfully put out the light 
of life. It is now said that infidels believe that 
death is the end that it is a dreamless sleep 
that it is without pain that therefore they have 
no fear, care nothing for gods, or heavens or hells, 
nothing for the threats of the pulpit, nothing for 
the day of judgment, and that when life becomes 
a burden they carelessly throw it down. 

The infidels are so afraid of death that they com 
mit suicide. 

This certainly is a great change, and I congrat 
ulate myself on having forced the clergy to contra 
dict themselves. 



4OO IS SUICIDE A SIN ? 

Seventh. The clergy take the position that the 
atheist, the unbeliever, has no standard of morality 
that he can have no real conception of right and 
wrong. They are of the opinion that it is impos 
sible for one to be moral or good unless he believes 
in some Being far above himself. 

In this connection we might ask how God can 
be moral or good unless he believes in some Being 
superior to himself? 

What is morality ? It is the best thing to do 
under the circumstances. What is the best thing 
to do under the circumstances ? That which will 
increase the sum of human happiness or lessen 
it the least. Happiness in its highest, noblest 
form, is the only good ; that which increases or 
preserves or creates happiness is moral that which 
decreases it, or puts it in peril, is immoral. 

It is not hard for an atheist for an unbeliever 
to keep his hands out of the fire. He knows that 
burning his hands will not increase his well-being, 
and he is moral enough to keep them out of the 
flames. 

So it may be said that each man acts according 
to his intelligence so far as what he considers his 
own good is concerned. Sometimes he is swayed 
by passion, by prejudice, by ignorance but when 



IS SUICIDE A SIN? 4OI 

he is really intelligent, master of himself, he does 
what he believes is best for him. If he is intelligent 
enough he knows that what is really good for him is 
o-ood for others for all the world. 

o 

It is impossible for me to see why any belief in 
the supernatural is necessary to have a keen per 
ception of right and wrong. Every man who has 
the capacity to suffer and enjoy, and has imagina 
tion enough to give the same capacity to others, 
has within himself the natural basis of all morality. 
The idea of morality was born here, in this world, 
of the experience, the intelligence of mankind. 
Morality is not of supernatural origin. It did not 
fall from the clouds, and it needs no belief in the 
supernatural, no supernatural promises or threats, 
no supernatural heavens or hells to give it force and 
life. Subjects who are governed by the threats and 
promises of a king are merely slaves. They are not 
governed by the ideal, by noble views of right and 
wrong. They are obedient cowards, controlled by 
fear, or beggars governed by rewards by alms. 

Right and wrong exist in the nature of things. 
Murder was just as criminal before as after the 
promulgation of the Ten Commandments. 

Eighth. Many of the clergy, some editors and 
some writers of letters who have answered me, have 



40O IS SUICIDE A SIN ? 

Seventh. The clergy take the position that the 
atheist, the unbeliever, has no standard of morality 
that he can have no real conception of right and 
wrong. They are of the opinion that it is impos 
sible for one to be moral or good unless he believes 
in some Being far above himself. 

In this connection we might ask how God can 
be moral or good unless he believes in some Being 
superior to himself? 

What is morality ? It is the best thing to do 
under the circumstances. What is the best thing 
to do under the circumstances ? That which will 
increase the sum of human happiness or lessen 
it the least. Happiness in its highest, noblest 
form, is the only good ; that which increases or 
preserves or creates happiness is moral that which 
decreases it, or puts it in peril, is immoral. 

It is not hard for an atheist for an unbeliever 
to keep his hands out of the fire. He knows that 
burning his hands will not increase his well-being, 
and he is moral enough to keep them out of the 
flames. 

So it may be said that each man acts according 
to his intelligence so far as what he Considers his 
own good is concerned. Sometimes he is swayed 
by passion, by prejudice, by ignorance but when 



IS SUICIDE A SIN? 4OI 

he is really intelligent, master of himself, he does 
what he believes is best for him. If he is intelligent 
enough he knows that what is really good for him is 
Sfood for others for all the world. 

o 

It is impossible for me to see why any belief in 
the supernatural is necessary to have a keen per 
ception of right and wrong. Every man who has 
the capacity to suffer and enjoy, and has imagina 
tion enough to give the same capacity to others, 
has within himself the natural basis of all morality. 
The idea of morality was born here, in this world, 
of the experience, the intelligence of mankind. 
Morality is not of supernatural origin. It did not 
fall from the clouds, and it needs no belief in the 
supernatural, no supernatural promises or threats, 
no supernatural heavens or hells to give it force and 
life. Subjects who are governed by the threats and 
promises of a king are merely slaves. They are not 
governed by the ideal, by noble views of right and 
wrong. They are obedient cowards, controlled by 
fear, or beggars governed by rewards by alms. 

Right and wrong exist in the nature of things. 
Murder was just as criminal before as after the 
promulgation of the Ten Commandments. 

Eighth. Many of the clergy, some editors and 
some writers of letters who have answered me, have 



4O2 IS SUICIDE A SIN ? 

said that suicide is the worst of crimes that a man 
had better murder somebody else than himself. One 
clergyman gives as a reason for this statement that the 
suicide dies in an act of sin, and therefore he had 
better kill another person. Probably he would com 
mit a less crime if he would murder his wife or 
mother. 

I do not see that it is any worse to die than to live 
in sin. To say that it is not as wicked to murder 
another as yourself seems absurd. The man about 
to kill himself wishes to die. Why is it better for 
him to kill another man, who wishes to live ? 

To my mind it seems clear that you had better 
injure yourself than another. Better be a spend 
thrift than a thief. Better throw away your own 
money than steal the money of another better kill 
yourself if you wish to die than murder one whose 
life is full of joy. 

The clergy tell us that God is everywhere, and 
that it is one of the greatest possible crimes to rush 
into his presence. It is wonderful how much they 
know about God and how little about their fellow- 
men. Wonderful the amount of their information 
about other worlds and how limited their knowledge 
is of this. 

There may or may not be an infinite Being. I 



IS SUICIDE A SIN ? 403 

neither affirm nor deny. I am honest enough to 
say that I do not know. I am candid enough to 
admit that the question is beyond the limitations of 
my mind. Yet I think I know as much on that 
subject as any human being knows or ever knew, 
and that is nothing. I do not say that there is 
not another world, another life ; neither do I say 
that there is. I say that I do not know. It seems 
to me that every sane and honest man must say the 
same. But if there is an infinitely good God and 
another world, then the infinitely good God will be 
just as good to us in that world as he is in this. If 
this infinitely good God loves his children in this 
world, he will love them in another. If he loves a 
man when he is alive, he will not hate him the in 
stant he is dead. 

If we are the children of an infinitely wise and 
powerful God, he knew exactly what we would do 
the temptations that we could and could not 
withstand knew exactly the effect that every 
thing would have upon us, knew under what cir 
cumstances we would take our lives and produced 
such circumstances himself. It is perfectly ap 
parent that there are many people incapable by 
nature of bearing the burdens of life, incapable 
of preserving their mental poise in stress and 



404 IS SUICIDE A SIN ? 

strain of disaster, disease and loss, and who by 
failure, by misfortune and want, are driven to de 
spair and insanity, in whose darkened minds there 
comes like a flash of lightning in the night, the 
thought of death, a thought so strong, so vivid, 
that all fear is lost, all ties broken, all duties, all 
obligations, all hopes forgotten, and naught remains 
except a fierce and wild desire to die. Thousands 
and thousands become moody, melancholy, brood 
upon loss of money, of position, of friends, until 
reason abdicates and frenzy takes possession of the 
soul. If there be an infinitely wise and powerful 
God, all this was known to him from the beginning, 
and he so created things, established relations, put 
in operation causes and effects, that all that has 
happened was the necessary result of his own acts. 

Ninth. Nearly all who have tried to answer what 
I said have been exceedingly careful to misquote 
me, and then answer something that I never uttered. 
They have declared that I have advised people who 
were in trouble, somewhat annoyed, to kill them 
selves ; that I have told men who have lost their 
money, who had failed in business, who were not 
good in health, to kill themselves at once, without 
taking into consideration any duty that they owed 
to wives, children, friends, or society. 



IS SUICIDE A SIN ? 4O5 

No man has a right to leave his wife to fight the 
battle alone if he is able to help. No man has a 
right to desert his children if he can possibly be of 
use. As long as he can add to the comfort of those 
he loves, as long as he can stand between wife and 
misery, between child and want, as long as he can 
be of any use, it is his duty to remain. 

I believe in the cheerful view, in looking at the 
sunny side of things, in bearing with fortitude the 
evils of life, in struggling against adversity, in find 
ing the fuel of laughter even in disaster, in having 
confidence in to-morrow, in finding the pearl of joy 
among the flints and shards, and in changing by the 
alchemy of patience even evil things to good. I 
believe in the gospel of cheerfulness, of courage and 
good nature. 

Of the future I have no fear. My fate is the fate 
of the world of all that live. My anxieties are 
about this life, this world. About the phantoms 
called gods and their impossible hells, I have no 
care, no fear. 

The existence of God I neither affirm nor deny, 
I wait. The immortality of the soul I neither affirm 
nor deny. I hope hope for all of the children of 
men. I have never denied the existence of another 
world, nor the immortality of the soul. For many 



406 IS SUICIDE A SIN ? 

years I have said that the idea of immortality, that 
like a sea has ebbed and flowed in the human heart, 
with its countless waves of hope and fear beating 
against the shores and rocks of time and fate, was 
not born of any book, nor of any creed, nor of any 
religion. It was born of human affection, and it will 
continue to ebb and flow beneath the mists and 
clouds of doubt and darkness as long as love kisses 
the lips of death. 

What I deny is the immortality of pain, the 
eternity of torture. 

After all, the instinct of self-preservation is strong. 
People do not kill themselves on the advice of 
friends or enemies. All wish to be happy, to enjoy 
life ; all wish for food and roof and raiment, for 
friends, and as long as life gives joy, the idea of 
self-destruction never enters the human mind. 

The oppressors, the tyrants, those who trample 
on the rights of others, the robbers of the poor, 
those who put wages below the living point, the 
ministers who make people insane by preaching 
the dogma of eternal pain ; these are the men who 
drive the weak, the suffering and the helpless down 
to death. 

It will not do to say that God has appointed 
a time for each to die. Of this there is, and there 



IS SUICIDE A SIN ? 4O7 

can be, no evidence. There is no evidence that 
any god takes any interest in the affairs of men 
that any sides with the right or helps the weak, 
protects the innocent or rescues the oppressed. 
Even the clergy admit that their God, through all 
ages, has allowed his friends, his worshipers, to 
be imprisoned, tortured and murdered by his ene 
mies. Such is the protection of God. Billions of 
prayers have been uttered ; has one been answered ? 
Who sends plague, pestilence and famine ? Who 
bids the earthquake devour and the volcano to over 
whelm ? 

Tenth. Again, I say that it is wonderful to me 
that so many men, so many women endure and 
carry their burdens to 'the natural end ; that so 
many, in spite of "age, ache and penury," guard 
with trembling hands the spark of life ; that pris 
oners for life toil and suffer to the last ; that the 
helpless wretches in poorhouses and asylums cling 
to life ; that the exiles in Siberia, loaded with chains, 
scarred with the knout, live on ; that the incurables, 
whose every breath is a pang, and for whom the 
future has only pain, should fear the merciful touch 
and clasp of death. 

It is but a few steps at most from the cradle to 
the grave; a short journey. The suicide hastens, 



408 IS SUICIDE A SIN ? 

shortens the path, loses the afternoon, the twilight, 
the dusk of life's day ; loses what he does not want, 
what he cannot bear. In the tempest of despair, in 
the blind fury of madness, or in the calm of thought 
and choice, the beleaguered soul finds the serenity of 
death. 

Let us leave the dead where nature leaves them. 
We know nothing of any realm that lies beyond the 
horizon of the known, beyond the end of life. Let 
us be honest with ourselves and others. Let us 
pity the suffering, the despairing, the men and 
women hunted and pursued by grief and shame, by 
misery and want, by chance and fate until their only 
friend is death. 

ROBERT G. INGERSOLL. 



SUICIDE A SIN.* 

Question. Do you think that what you have 
written about suicide has caused people to take 
their lives ? 

Answer. No, I do not. People do not kill them 
selves because of the ideas of others. They are the 
victims of misfortune. 

Question. What do you consider the chief cause 
of suicide ? 

Answer. There are many causes. Some indi 
viduals are crossed in love, others are bankrupt in 
estate or reputation, still others are diseased in 
body and frequently in mind. There are a thou 
sand and one causes that lead up to the final act. 

Question. Do you consider that nationality plays 
a part in these tragedies ? 

Answer. No, it is a question of individuals. 
There are those whose sorrows are greater than 
they can bear. These sufferers seek the peace of 
death. 

Question. Do you, then, advise suicide ? 

New York Journal, 1895. An Interview. (411) 



412 INTERVIEWS ON SUICIDE. 

Answer. No, I have never done so, but I have 
said, and still say, that there are circumstances 
under which it is justifiable for a person to take his 
life. 

Question. What do you think of the law which 
prohibits self-destruction ? 

Answer. That it is absurd and ridiculous. The 
other day a man was tried before Judge Goff for 
having tried to kill himself. I think he pleaded 
guilty, and the Judge, after speaking of the terrible 
crime of the poor wretch, sentenced him to the 
penitentiary for two years. This was an outrage ; 
infamous in every way, and a disgrace to our civil 
ization. 

Question. Do you believe that such a law will 
prevent the frequency of suicides ? 

Answer. By no means. After this, persons in 
New York who have made up their minds to com 
mit suicide will see to it that they succeed. 

Question. Have your opinions been in any way 
modified since your first announcement of them ? 

Answer. No, I feel now as I have felt for many 
years. No one can answer my articles on suicide, 
because no one can satisfactorily refute them. 
Every man of sense knows that a person being de 
voured by a cancer has the right to take morphine, 



INTERVIEWS ON SUICIDE. 413 

and pass from agony to dreamless sleep. So, too, 
there are circumstances under which a man has the 
right to end his pain of mind. 

Question. Have you seen in the papers that 
many who have killed themselves have had on their 
persons some article of yours on suicide ? 

Answer. Yes, I have read such accounts, but I 
repeat that I do not think these persons were led to 
kill themselves by reading the articles. Many peo 
ple who have killed themselves were found to have 
Bibles or tracts in their pockets. 

Question. How do you account for the presence 
of the latter ? 

Answer. The reason of this is that the theolo 
gians know nothing. The pious imagine that their 
God has placed us here for some wise and inscru 
table purpose, and that he will call for us when he 
wants us. All this is idiotic. When a man is of 
no use to himself or to others, when his days and 
nights are filled with pain and sorrow, why should 
he remain to endure them longer ? 



SUICIDE A SIN.* 

COL. ROBERT G. INGERSOLL was seen at 
his house and asked if he had read the Rev. 
Merle St. Croix Wright's sermon. 

Answer. Yes. I have read the sermon, and also 
an interview had with the reverend gentleman. 

Long ago I gave my views about suicide, and I 
entertain the same views still. Mr. Wright's ser 
mon has stirred up quite a commotion among the 
orthodox ministers. This commotion may always be 
expected when anything sensible comes from a pul 
pit. Mr. Wright has mixed a little common sense 
with his theology, and, of course this has displeased 
the truly orthodox. 

Sense is the bitterest foe that theology has. No 
system of supernatural religion can outlive a good 
dose of real good sense. The orthodox ministers 
take the ground that an infinite Being created man, 
put him on the earth and determined his days. 
They say that God desires every person to live until 
he, God, calls for his soul. They insist that we are 

* ffan York Herald, 1887. An Interview, (414) 



INTERVIEWS ON SUICIDE. 415 

all on guard and must remain so until relieved by a 
higher power the superior officer. 

The trouble with this doctrine is that it proves too 
much. It proves that God kills every person who 
dies as we say, " according to nature." It proves 
that we ought to say, " according to God." It proves 
that God sends the earthquake, the cyclone, the 
pestilence, for the purpose of killing people. It 
proves that all diseases and all accidents are his mes 
sengers, and that all who do not kill themselves, die 
by the act, and in accordance with the will of God. 
It also shows that when a man is murdered, it is in 
harmony with, and a part of the divine plan. When 
God created the man who was murdered, he knew 
that he would be murdered, and when he made the 
man who committed the murder, he knew exactly 
what he would do. So that the murder was the act 
of God. 

Can it be said that God intended that thousands 
should die of famine and that he, to accomplish his 
purpose, withheld the rain ? Can we say that he in 
tended that thousands of innocent men should die in 
dungeons and on scaffolds ? 

Is it possible that a man, " slowly being devoured 
by a cancer," whose days and nights are filled with 
torture, who is useless to himself and a burden to 



41 6 INTERVIEWS ON SUICIDE. 

others, is carrying out the will of God ? Does God 
enjoy his agony ? Is God thrilled by the music of 
his moans the melody of his shrieks ? 

This frightful doctrine makes God an infinite mon 
ster, and every human being a slave ; a victim. 
This doctrine is not only infamous but it is idiotic. 
It makes God the only criminal in the universe. 

Now, if we are governed by reason, if we use our 
senses and our minds, and have courage enough to 
be honest ; if we know a little of the world's history, 
then we know if we know anything that man has 
taken his chances, precisely the same as other ani 
mals. He has been destroyed by heat and cold, by 
flood and fire, by storm and famine, by countless 
diseases, by numberless accidents. By his intelli 
gence, his cunning, his strength, his foresight, he has 
managed to escape utter destruction. He has de 
fended himself. He has received no supernatural 
aid. Neither has he been attacked by any super 
natural power. Nothing has ever happened in na 
ture as the result of a purpose to benefit or injure 
the human race. 

Consequently the question of the right or wrong of 
suicide is not in any way affected by a supposed ob 
ligation to the Infinite. 

All theological considerations must be thrown aside 



INTERVIEWS ON SUICIDE. 4! 7 

because we see and know that the laws of life are 
the same for all living things that when the con 
ditions are favorable, the living multiply and life 
lengthens, and when the conditions are unfavorable, 
the living decrease and life shortens. We have no 
evidence of any interference of any power superior 
to nature. Taking into consideration the fact that all 
the duties and obligations of man must be to his 
fellows, to sentient beings, here in this world, and 
that he owes no duty and is under no obligation to 
any phantoms of the air, then it is easy to determine 
whether a man under certain circumstances has the 
right to end his life. 

If he can be of no use to others if he is of no 
use to himself if he is a burden to others a curse 
to himself why should he remain ? By ending his 
life he ends his sufferings and adds to the well-being 
of others. He lessens misery and increases happi 
ness. Under such circumstances undoubtedly a man 
has the right to stop the pulse of pain and woo the 
sleep that has no dream. 

I do not think that the discussion of this question is 
of much importance, but I am glad that a clergyman 
has taken a natural and a sensible position, and that 
he has reasoned not like a minister, but like a man. 

When wisdom comes from the pulpit I am de- 



41 8 INTERVIEWS ON SUICIDE. 

lighted and surprised. I feel then that there is a little 
light in the East, possibly the dawn of a better day. 

I congratulate the Rev. Mr. Wright, and thank him 
for his brave and philosophic words. 

There is still another thing. Certainly a man has 
the right to avoid death, to save himself from acci 
dent and disease. If he has this right, then the 
theologians must admit that God, in making his de 
crees, took into consideration the result of such ac 
tions. Now, if God knew that while most men 
would avoid death, some would seek it, and if his 
decrees were so made that they would harmonize 
with the acts of those who would avoid death, can 
we say that he did not, in making his decrees, take 
into consideration the acts of those who would seek 
death ? Let us remember that all actions, good, bad 
and indifferent, are the necessary children of con 
ditions that there is no chance in the natural world 
in which we live. 

So, we must keep in mind that all real opinions 
are honest, and that all have the same right to ex 
press their thoughts. Let us be charitable. 

When some suffering wretch, wild with pain, 
crazed with regret, frenzied with fear, with desperate 
hand unties the knot of life, let us have pity Let 
us be generous. 



SUICIDE AND SANITY.* 

Question. Is a suicide necessarily insane ? was 
the first question, to which Colonel Ingersoll 
replied : 

Answer. No. At the same time I believe that a 
great majority of suicides are insane. There are 
circumstances under which suicide is natural, sensible 
and right. When a man is of no use to himself, 
when he can be of no use to others, when his life is 
filled with agony, when the future has no promise 
of relief, then I think he has the right to cast 
the burden of life away and seek the repose of 
death. 

Question. Is a suicide necessarily a coward ? 

Answer. I cannot conceive of cowardice in con 
nection with suicide. Of nearly all things death is 
the most feared. And the man who voluntarily 
enters the realm of death cannot properly be called 
a coward. Many men who kill themselves forget 

Neva York Press, 1897. An Interview. (419) 



42O INTERVIEWS ON SUICIDE. 

the duties they owe to others forget their wives 
and children. Such men are heartless, wicked, 
brutal ; but they are not cowards. 

Question. When is the suicide of the sane justi 
fiable ? 

Answer. To escape death by torture ; to avoid 
being devoured by a cancer ; to prevent being 
a burden on those you love ; when you can be of 
no use to others or to yourself ; when life is un 
bearable ; when in all the horizon of the future 
there is no star of hope. 

Question. Do you believe that any suicides have 
been caused or encouraged by your declaration 
three years ago that suicide sometimes was justifi 
able ? 

Answer. Many preachers talk as though I had 
inaugurated, invented, suicide, as though no one 
who had not read my ideas on suicide had ever 
taken his own life. Talk as long as language lasts, 
you cannot induce a man to kill himself. The man 
who takes his own life does not go to others to find 
reasons or excuses. 

Question. On the whole is the world made better 
or worse by suicides ? 

Answer. Better by some and poorer by others. 

Question. Why is it that Germany, said to be 



INTERVIEWS ON SUICIDE. 421 

the most educated of civilized nations, leads the 
world in suicides ? 

Answer. I do not know that Germany is the 
most educated ; neither do I know that suicide is 
more frequent there than in all other countries. I 
know that the struggle for life is severe in Germany, 
that the laws are unjust, that the government is op 
pressive, that the people are sentimental, that they 
brood over their troubles and easily become hope 
less. 

Question. If suicide is sometimes justifiable, is 
not killing of born idiots and infants hopelessly 
handicapped at birth equally so ? 

Answer. There is no relation between the ques 
tions between suicides and killing idiots. Suicide 
may, under certain circumstances, be right and kill 
ing idiots may be wrong ; killing idiots may be right 
and suicide may be wrong. When we look about 
us, when we read interviews with preachers about 
Jonah, we know that all the idiots have not been 
killed. 

Question. Should suicide be forbidden by law ? 

Answer. No. A law that provides for the punish 
ment of those who attempt to commit suicide is 
idiotic. Those who are willing to meet death are 
not afraid of law. The only effect of such a law 



422 INTERVIEWS ON SUICIDE. 

would be to make the person who had concluded to 
kill himself a little more careful to succeed. 

Question. What is your belief about virtue, 
morality and religion ? 

Answer. I believe that all actions that tend to 
the well-being of sentient beings are virtuous and 
moral. I believe that real religion consists in doing 
good. I do not believe in phantoms. I believe in 
the uniformity of nature ; that matter will forever 
attract matter in proportion to mass and distance ; 
that, under the same circumstances, falling bodies 
will attain the same speed, increasing in exact pro 
portion to distance ; that light will always, under the 
same circumstances, be reflected at the same angle ; 
that it will always travel with the same velocity ; 
that air will forever be lighter than water, and gold 
heavier than iron ; that all substances will be true to 
their natures ; that a certain degree of heat will 
always expand the metals and change water into 
steam ; that a certain degree of cold will cause the 
metals to shrink and change water into ice ; that all 
atoms will forever be in motion ; that like causes 
will forever produce like effects, that force will be 
overcome only by force ; that no atom of matter 
will ever be created or destroyed ; that the energy 
in the universe will forever remain the same, noth- 



INTERVIEWS ON SUICIDE. 423 

ing lost, nothing gained ; that all that has been pos 
sible has happened, and that all that will be possible 
will happen ; that the seeds and causes of all 
thoughts, dreams, fancies and actions, of all virtues 
and all vices, of all successes and all failures, are in 
nature ; that there is in the universe no power 
superior to nature ; that man is under no obligation 
to the imaginary gods ; that all his obligations 
and duties are to be discharged and done in this 
world ; that right and wrong do not depend on the 
will of an infinite Being, but on the consequences of 
actions, and that these consequences necessarily flow 
from the nature of things. I believe that the uni 
verse is natural. 



IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT? 



Is AVARICE TRIUMPHANT?* 

HP HERE are many people, in all countries, who 
1 seem to enjoy individual and national decay. 
They love to prophesy the triumph of evil. They 
mistake the afternoon of their own lives for the 
evening of the world. To them everything has 
changed. Men are no longer honest or brave, and 
women have ceased to be beautiful. They are dys 
peptic, and it gives them the greatest pleasure to say 
that the art of cooking has been lost. 

For many generations many of these people occu 
pied the pulpits. They lifted the hand of warning 
whenever the human race took a step in advance. 
As wealth increased, they declared that honesty and 
goodness and self-denial and charity were vanishing 
from the earth. They doubted the morality of well- 
dressed people considered it impossible that the 
prosperous should be pious. Like owls sitting on 
the limbs of a dead tree, they hooted the obsequies 
of spring, believing it would come no more. 

*A reply to General Rush Hawkins' article, "Brutality and Avarice Trium 
phant, ' ' published in the North American Review, June, 1891. (427) 



428 IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT? 

There are some patriots who think it their duty to 
malign and slander the land of their birth. They 
feel that they have a kind of Cassandra mission, and 
they really seem to enjoy their work. They hon 
estly believe that every kind of crime is on the in 
crease, that the courts are all corrupt, that the legis 
lators are bribed, that the witnesses are suborned, 
that all holders of office are dishonest ; and they feel 
like a modern Marius sitting amid the ruins of all the 
virtues. 

It is useless to endeavor to persuade these people 
that they are wrong. They do not want arguments, 
because they will not heed them. They need medi 
cine. Their case is not for a philosopher, but for a 
physician. 

General Hawkins is probably right when he says 
that some fraudulent shoes, some useless muskets, 
and some worn-out vessels were sold to the Govern 
ment during the war ; but we must remember that 
there were millions and millions of as good shoes as 
art and honesty could make, millions of the best 
muskets ever constructed, and hundreds of the most 
magnificent ships ever built, sold to the Government 
during the same period. We must not mistake an 
eddy for the main stream. We must also remember 
another thing : there were millions of good, brave, 



IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT? 429 

and patriotic men to wear the shoes, to use the mus 
kets, and to man the ships. 

So it is probably true that Congress was extrava 
gant in land subsidies voted to railroads ; but that 
this legislation was secured by bribery is preposter 
ous. It was all done in the light of noon. There is 
not the slightest evidence tending to show that the 
general policy of hastening the construction of rail 
ways through the Territories of the United States 
was corruptly adopted not the slightest. At the 
same time, it may be that some members of Congress 
were induced by personal considerations to vote for 
such subsidies. As a matter of fact, the policy was 
wise, and through the granting of the subsidies 
thousands of miles of railways were built, and these 
railways have given to civilization vast territories 
which otherwise would have remained substantially 
useless to the world. Where at that time was a 
wilderness, now are some of the most thriving cities in 
the United States agreat,an industrious, and a happy 
population. The results have justified the action of 
Congress. 

It is also true that some railroads have been 
"wrecked" in the United States, but most of these 
wrecks have been the result of competition. It is 
the same with corporations as with individuals the 



43O IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT ? 

powerful combine against the weak. In the world of 
commerce and business is the great law of the sur 
vival of the strongest. Railroads are not eleemosy 
nary institutions. They have but little regard for 
the rights of one another. Some fortunes have been 
made by the criminal "wrecking" of roads, but even 
in the business of corporations honesty is the best 
policy, and the companies that have acted in accord 
ance with the highest standard, other things being 
equal, have reaped the richest harvest. 

Many railways were built in advance of a demand ; 
they had to develop the country through which 
they passed. While they waited for immigration, 
interest accumulated ; as a result foreclosure took 
place ; then reorganization. By that time the country 
had been populated ; towns were springing up along 
the line ; increased business was the result. On the 
new bonds and the new stock the company paid in 
terest and dividends. Then the ones who first in 
vested and lost their money felt that they had been 
defrauded. 

So it is easy to say that certain men are guilty 
of crimes easy to indict the entire nation, and at 
the same time impossible to substantiate one of the 
charges. Everyone who knows the history of the 
Star-Route trials knows that nothing was established 



IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT ? 431 

against the defendants, knows that every effort was 
made by the Government to convict them, and also 
knows that an unprejudiced jury of twelve men, 
never suspected of being improperly influenced, after 
having heard the entire case, pronounced the de 
fendants not guilty. After this, of course, any one 
can say, who knows nothing of the evidence and who 
cares nothing for the facts, that the defendants were 
all guilty. 

It may also be true that some settlers in the far 
West have taken timber from the public lands, and 
it may be that it was a necessity. Our laws and reg 
ulations were such that where a settler was entitled 
to take up a certain amount of land he had to take 
it all in one place ; he could not take a certain num 
ber of acres on the plains and a certain number of 
acres in the timber. The consequence was that 
when he settled upon the land the land that he 
could cultivate he took the timber that he needed 
from the Government land, and this has been called 
stealing. So I suppose it may be said that the 
cattle stole the Government's grass and possibly 
drank the Government's water. 

It will also be admitted with pleasure that stock 
has been " watered " in this country. And what 
is the crime or practice known as watering stock ? 



432 IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT ? 

For instance, you have a railroad one hundred miles 
long, worth, we will say, $3,000,000 able to pay 
interest on that sum at the rate of six per cent. 
Now, we all know that the amount of stock issued 
has nothing to do with the value of the thing rep 
resented by the stock. If there was one share of 
stock representing this railroad, it would be worth 
three million dollars, whether it said on its face it 
was one dollar or one hundred dollars. If there 
were three million shares of stock issued on this 
property, they would be worth one dollar apiece, 
and, no matter whether it said on this stock that 
each share was a hundred dollars or a thousand 
dollars, the share would be worth one dollar no 
more, no less. If any one wishes to find the value 
of stock, he should find the value of the thing 
represented by the stock. It is perfectly clear that, 
if a pie is worth one dollar, and you cut it into four 
pieces, each piece is worth twenty-five cents ; and 
if you cut it in a thousand pieces, you do not in 
crease the value of the pie. 

If, then, you wish to find the value of a share of 
stock, find its relation to the thing represented by 
all the stock. 

It can also be safely admitted that trusts have been 
formed. The reason is perfectly clear. Corpora- 



IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT? 433 

tions are like individuals they combine. Unfor 
tunate corporations become socialistic, anarchistic, 
and cry out against the abuses of trusts. It is 
natural for corporations to defend themselves 
natural for them to stop ruinous competition by a 
profitable pool ; and when strong corporations com 
bine, little corporations suffer. It is with corpora 
tions as with fishes the large eat the little ; and it 
may be that this will prove a public benefit in the 
end. When the large corporations have taken pos 
session of the little ones, it may be that the Govern 
ment will take possession of them the Government 
being the largest corporation of them all. 

It is to be regretted that all houses are not fire 
proof; but certainly no one imagines that the peo 
ple of this country build houses for the purpose of 
having them burned, or that they erect hotels hav 
ing in view the broiling.of guests. Men act as they 
must ; that is to say, according to wants and neces 
sities. In a new country the buildings are cheaper 
than in an old one, money is scarcer, interest 
higher, and consequently people build cheaply and 
take the risks of fire. They do not do this on 
account of the Constitution of the United States, or 
the action of political parties, or the general idea 
that man is entitled to be free. In the hotels of 



434 IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT? 

Zurope it may be that there is not as great danger 
of fire as of famine. 

The destruction of game and of the singing birds 
is to be greatly regretted, not only in this country, 
but in all others. The people of America have been 
too busy felling forests, ploughing fields, and build 
ing houses, to cultivate, to the highest degree, the 
aesthetic side of their natures. Nature has been 
somewhat ruthless with us. The storms of winter 
breasted by the Western pioneer, the whirlwinds of 
summer, have tended, it may be, to harden some 
what the sensibilities ; in consequence of which 
they have allowed their horses and cattle to bear 
the rigors of the same climate. 

It is also true that the seal-fisheries are being 
destroyed, in the interest of the present, by those 
who care nothing for the future. All these things 
are to be deprecated, are to be spoken against ; but 
we must not hint, provided we are lovers of the 
Republic, that such things are caused by free in 
stitutions. 

General Hawkins asserts that " Christianity has 
neither preached nor practiced humanity towards 
animals," while at the same time " Sunday school 
children by hundreds of thousands are taught what 
a terrible thing it is to break the Sabbath ; " that 



IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT? 436 

" museum trustees tremble with pious horror at the 
suggestion of opening the doors leading to the col 
lections on that day," and that no protests have 
come " from lawmakers or the Christian clergy." 

Few people will suspect me of going out of my 
way to take care of Christianity or of the clergy. At 
the same time, I can afford to state the truth. 
While there is not much in the Bible with regard to 
practicing humanity toward animals, there is at 
least this : " The merciful man is merciful to his 
beast." Of course, I am not alluding now to the 
example set by Jehovah when he destroyed the 
cattle of the Egyptians with hailstones and diseases 
on account of the sins of their owners. 

In regard to the treatment of animals Christians 
have been much like other people. 

So, hundreds of lawmakers have not only pro 
tested against cruelty to animals, but enough have 
protested against it to secure the enactment of laws 
making cruelty toward animals a crime. Henry 
Bergh, who did as much good as any man who has 
lived in the nineteenth century, was seconded in his 
efforts by many of the Christian clergy not only, but 
by hundreds and thousands of professing Christians 
probably millions. Let us be honest. 

It is true that the clergy are apt to lose the dis- 



43 6 IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT ? 

tinction between offences and virtues, to regard the 
little as the important that is to say, to invert the 
pyramid. 

It is true that the Indians have been badly treated. 
It is true that the fringe of civilization has been 
composed of many low and cruel men. It is true 
that the red man has been demoralized by the vices 
of the white. It is a frightful fact that, when a 
superior race meets an inferior, the inferior imitates 
only the vices of the superior, and the superior those 
of the inferior. They exchange faults and failings. 
This is one of the most terrible facts in the history 
of the human race. 

Nothing can be said to justify our treatment of 
the Indians. There is, however, this shadow of an 
excuse : In the old times, when we lived along the 
Atlantic, it hardly occurred to our Ancestors that 
they could ever go beyond the Ohio ; so the first 
treaty with the Indians drove them back but a few 
miles. In a little while, through immigration, the 
white race passed the line, and another treaty was 
made, forcing the Indians still further west ; yet the 
tide of immigration kept on, and in a little while 
again the line was passed, the treaty violated. 
Another treaty was made, pushing the Indians still 
farther toward the Pacific, across the Illinois, across 



IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT? 437 

the Mississippi, across the Missouri, violating at 
every step some treaty made ; and each treaty born 
of the incapacity of the white men who made it to 
foretell the growth of the Republic. 

But the author of " Brutality and Avarice Trium 
phant " made a great mistake when he selected the 
last thirty years of our national life as the period 
within which the Americans have made a change of 
the national motto appropriate, and asserted that 
now there should be in place of the old motto the 
words, " Plundering Made Easy." 

Most men believe in a sensible and manly patri 
otism. No one should be blind to the defects in the 
laws and institutions of his country. He should call 
attention to abuses, not for the purpose of bringing 
his country into disrepute, but that the abuses may 
cease and the defects be corrected. He should do 
what he can to make his country great, prosperous, 
just, and free. But it is hardly fair to exaggerate 
the faults of your country for the purpose of calling 
attention to your own virtues, or to earn the praise 
of a nation that hates your own. This is what might 
be called wallowing in the gutter of reform. 

The thirty years chosen as the time in which we 
as a nation have passed from virtue to the lowest 
depths of brutality and avarice are, in fact, the most 



438 IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT? 

glorious years in the life of this or of any other 
nation. 

In 1861 slavery was, in a legal sense at least, a 
national institution. It was firmly imbedded in the 
Federal Constitution. The Fugitive Slave Law was 
in full force and effect. In all the Southern and in 
nearly all of the Northern States it was a crime to 
give food, shelter, or raiment to a man or woman 
seeking liberty by flight. Humanity was illegal, 
hospitality a misdemeanor, and charity a crime. 
Men and women were sold like beasts. Mothers 
were robbed of their babes while they stood under 
our flag. All the sacred relations of life were tram 
pled beneath the bloody feet of brutality and avarice. 
Besides, so firmly was slavery fixed in law and creed, 
in statute and Scripture, that the tongues of honest 
men were imprisoned. Those who spoke for the 
slave were mobbed by Northern lovers of the 
" Union." 

Now, it seems to me that those were the days 
when the motto could properly have been, " Plun 
dering Made Easy." Those were the days of bru 
tality, and the brutality was practiced to the end 
that we might make money out of the unpaid labor 
of others. 

It is not necessary to go into details as to the cause 



IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT ? 439 

of the then condition ; it is enough to say that the 
whole nation, North and South, was responsible. 
There were many years of compromise, and thousands 
of statesmen, so-called, through conventions and 
platforms, did what they could to preserve slavery 
and keep the Union. These efforts corrupted politics, 
demoralized our statesmen, polluted our courts, and 
poisoned our literature. The Websters, Bentons, 
and Clays mistook temporary expedients for prin 
ciples, and really thought that the progress of the 
world could be stopped by the resolutions of a packed 
political convention. Yet these men, mistaken as 
they really were, worked and wrought unconsciously 
in the cause of human freedom. They believed that 
the preservation of the Union was the one important 
thing, and that it could not be preserved unless 
slavery was protected unless the North would be 
faithful to the bargain as written in the Constitution. 
For the purpose of keeping the nation true to the 
Union and false to itself, these men exerted every 
faculty and all their strength. They exhausted their 
genius in showing that slavery was not, after all, 
very bad, and that disunion was the most terrible 
calamity that could by any possibility befall the na 
tion, and that the Union, even at the price of slavery, 
was the greatest possible blessing. They did not 



44 K AVARICE TRIUMPHANT? 

suspect that slavery would finally strike the blow for 
disunion. But when the time came and the South 
unsheathed the sword, the teachings of these men as 
to the infinite value of the Union gave to our flag 
millions of brave defenders. 

Now, let us see what has been accomplished 
during the thirty years of " Brutality and Ava 
rice." 

The Republic has been rebuilt and reunited, and 
we shall remain one people for many centuries to 
come. The Mississippi is nature's protest against 
disunion. The Constitution of the United States is 
now the charter of human freedom, and all laws in 
consistent with the idea that all men are entitled to 
liberty have been repealed. The black man knows 
that the Constitution is his shield, that the laws pro 
tect him, that our flag is his, and the black mother 
feels that her babe belongs to her. Where the 
slave-pen used to be you will find the schoolhouse. 
The dealer in human flesh is now a teacher ; instead 
of lacerating the back of a child, he develops and 
illumines the mind of a pupil. 

There is now freedom of speech. Men are allowed 
to utter their thoughts. Lips are no longer sealed 
by mobs. Never before in the history of our world 
has so much been done for education. 



IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT ? 441 

The amount of business done in a country on credit 
is the measure of confidence, and confidence is based 
upon honesty. So it may truthfully be said that, 
where a vast deal of business is done on credit, an 
exceedingly large per cent, of the people are re 
garded as honest. In our country a very large per 
cent, of contracts are faithfully fulfilled. Probably 
there is no nation in the world where so much 
business is done on credit as in the United States. 
The fact that the credit of the Republic is second 
to that of no other nation on the globe would seem 
to be at least an indication of a somewhat general 
diffusion of honesty. 

The author of" Brutality and Avarice Triumphant" 
seems to be of the opinion that our country was de 
moralized by the war. They who fight for the right 
are not degraded they are ennobled. When men 
face death and march to the mouths of the guns for 
a principle, they grow great ; and if they come out of 
the conflict, they come with added moral grandeur ; 
they become better men, better citizens, and they 
love more intensely than ever the great cause 
for the success of which they put their lives in 
pawn. 

The period of the Revolution produced great men. 
After the great victory the sons of the heroes degen- 



44 2 IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT ? 

crated, and some of the greatest principles involved 
in the Revolution were almost forgotten. 

During the Civil war the North grew great and 
the South was educated. Never before in the history 
of mankind was there such a period of moral exalta 
tion. The names that shed the brightest, the whitest 
light on the pages of our history became famous 
then. Against the few who were actuated by base 
and unworthy motives let us set the great army that 
fought for the Republic, the millions who bared their 
breasts to the storm, the hundreds and hundreds of 
thousands who did their duty honestly, nobly, and 
went back to their wives and children with no thought 
except to preserve the liberties of themselves and 
their fellow-men. 

Of course there were some men who did not do 
their duty some men false to themselves and to 
their country. No one expects to find sixty-five 
millions of saints in America. A few years ago a 
lady complained to the president of a Western rail 
road that a brakeman had spoken to her with great 
rudeness. The president expressed his regret at 
the incident, and said among other things : 
" Madam, you have no idea how difficult it is for us 
to get gentlemen to fill all those places." 

It is hardly to be expected that the American 



IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT? 443 

people should excel all others in the arts, in poetry, 
and in fiction. We have been very busy taking 
possession of the Republic. It is hard to over 
estimate the courage, the industry, the self-denial it 
has required to fell the forests, to subdue the fields, 
to construct the roads, and to build the countless 
homes. What has been done is a certificate of the 
honesty and industry of our people. 

It is not true that " one of the unwritten mottoes 
of our business morals seem to say in the plainest 
phraseology possible : ' Successful wrong is right.' ' 
Men in this country are not esteemed simply be 
cause they are rich ; inquiries are made as to how 
they made their money, as to how they use it. The 
American people do not fall upon their knees before 
the golden calf ; the worst that can be said is 
that they think too much of the gold of the calf 
and this distinction is seen by the calves them 
selves. 

Nowhere in the world is honesty in business 
esteemed more highly than here. There are 
millions of business men merchants, bankers, and 
men engaged in all trades and professions to whom 
reputation is as dear as life. 

There is one thing in the article " Brutality and 
Avarice Triumphant " that seems even more objec- 



444 Is AVARICE TRIUMPHANT ? 

tionable than the rest, and that is the statement, or, 
rather, the insinuation, that all the crimes and the 
shortcomings of the American people can be ac 
counted for by the fact that our Government is a 
Republic. We are told that not long ago a French 
official complained to a friend that he was compelled 
to employ twenty clerks to do the work done by 
four under the empire, and on being asked the rea 
son answered : " It is the Republic." He was told 
that, as he was the head of the bureau, he could 
prevent the abuse, to which he replied : " I know 
I have the power ; but I have been in this position 
for more than thirty years, and am now too old to 
learn another occupation, and I must make places 
for the friends of the deputies. " And then it 
is added by General Hawkins : " And so it is 
here" 

It seems to me that it cannot be fairly urged that 
we have abused the Indians because we contend 
that all men have equal rights before the law, or be 
cause we insist that governments derive their just 
powers from the consent of the governed. The 
probability is that a careful reading of the history of 
the world will show that nations under the control 
of kings and emperors have been guilty of some 
pruelty. To account for the bad we do by the good 



IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT? 445 

we believe, is hardly logical. Our virtues should 
not be made responsible for our vices. 

Is it possible that free institutions tend to the 
demoralization of men ? Is a man dishonest be 
cause he is a man and maintains the rights of men ? 
In order to be a moral nation must we be controlled 
by king or emperor ? Is human liberty a mistake ? 
Is it possible that a citizen of the great Republic at 
tacks the liberty of his fellow-citizens ? Is he will 
ing to abdicate ? Is he willing to admit that his 
rights are not equal to the rights of others ? Is 
he, for the sake of what he calls morality, willing 
to become a serf, a servant or a slave ? 

Is it possible that " high character is impracti 
cable " in this Republic ? Is this the experience of 
the author of " Brutality and Avarice Triumphant"? 
Is it true that "intellectual achievement pays no 
dividends " ? Is it not a fact that America is to-day 
the best market in the world for books, for music, 
and for art ? 

There is in our country no real foundation for 
these wide and sweeping slanders. This, in my 
judgment, is the best Government, the best country, 
in the world. The citizens of this Republic are, on 
the average, better clothed and fed and educated 
than any other people. They are fuller of life, more 



446 IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT ? 

progressive, quicker to take advantage of the forces 
of nature, than any other of the children of men. 
Here the burdens of government are lightest, the 
responsibilities of the individual greatest, and here, 
in my judgment, are to be worked out the most 
important problems of social science. 

Here in America is a finer sense of what is due from 
man to man than you will find in other lands. We 
do not cringe to those whom chance has crowned ; 
we stand erect. 

Our sympathies are strong and quick. Generosity 
is almost a national failing. The hand of honest 
want is rarely left unfilled. Great calamities open the 
hearts and hands of all. 

Here you will find democracy in the family re 
publicanism by the fireside. Say what you will, the 
family is apt to be patterned after the government. 
If a king is at the head of the nation, the husband 
imagines himself the monarch of the home. In this 
country we have carried into the family the idea on 
which the Government is based. Here husbands 
and wives are beginning to be equals. 

The highest test of civilization is the treatment of 
women and children. By this standard America 
stands first among nations. 

There is a magnitude, a scope, a grandeur, about 



IS AVARICE TRIUMPHANT ? 447 

this country an amplitude that satisfies the heart 
and the imagination. We have our faults, we have 
our virtues, but our country is the best. 

No American should ever write a line that can 
be sneeringly quoted by an enemy of the great 

Republic. 

ROBERT G. INGERSOLL. 



REPLY TO THE 
GAZETTE AND TELEGRAPH. 



A REPLY TO THE CINCINNATI GAZETTE AND 
CATHOLIC TELEGRAPH.* 

Question. Colonel, have you noticed the criticisms 
made on your lectures by the Cincinnati Gazette and 
the Catholic Telegraph f 

Answer. I have read portions of the articles. 

Question. What do you think of them ? 

Answer. Well, they are hardly of importance 
enough to form a distinct subject of thought. 

Question. Well, what do you think of the attempted 
argument of the Gazette against your lecture on 
Moses ? 

Answer. The writer endeavors to show that con 
sidering the ignorance prevalent four thousand years 
ago, God did as well as one could reasonably expect ; 
that God at that time did not have the advantage of 
telescope, microscope, and spectrum, and that for 
this reason a few mistakes need not excite our 
special wonder. He also shows that, although God 
was in favor of slavery he introduced some reforms ; 

* The Cincinnati Gazette, 1878. An Interview. (461) 



452 REPLY TO THE GAZETTE AND TELEGRAPH. 

but whether the reforms were intended to perpetuate 
slavery or to help the slave is not stated. The ar 
ticle has nothing to do with my position. I am 
perfectly willing to admit that there is a land called 
Egypt ; that the Jews were once slaves ; that they 
got away and started a little country of their own. 
All this may be true without proving that they were 
miraculously fed in the wilderness, or that water ran 
up hill, or that God went into partnership with 
hornets or snakes. There may have been a man by 
the name of Moses without proving that sticks were 
turned into snakes. 

A while ago a missionary addressed a Sunday 
school. In the course of his remarks he said that he 
had been to Mount Ararat, and had brought a stone 
from the mountain. He requested the children to 
pass in line before him so that they could all get a 
look at this wonderful stone. After they had all 
seen it he said: "You will as you grow up meet 
people who will deny that there ever was a flood, or 
that God saved Noah and the animals in the ark, and 
then you can tell them that you know better, be 
cause you saw a stone from the very mountain where 
the ark rested." 

That is precisely the kind of argument used in the 
Gazette. The article was written by some one who 



REPLY TO THE GAZETTE AND TELEGRAPH. 453 

does not quite believe in the inspiration of the 
Scriptures himself, and were it not for the fear of hell, 
would probably say so. 

I admit that there was such a man as Mohammed, 
such a city as Mecca, such a general as Omar, but I 
do not admit that God made known his will to Mo 
hammed in any substantial manner. Of course the 
Gazette would answer all this by saying that Mo 
hammed did exist, and that therefore God must have 
talked with him. I admit that there was such a gen 
eral as Washington, but I do not admit that God 
kept him from being shot. I admit that there is a 
portrait of the Virgin Mary in Rome, but I do not 
admit that it shed tears. I admit that there was such 
a man as Moses, but I do not admit that God hunted 
for him in a tavern to kill him. I admit that there 
was such a priest as St. Denis, but I do not admit 
that he carried his head in his hand, after it was cut 
off, and swam the river, and put his head on again 
and eventually recovered. I admit that the article 
appeared in the Gazette, but I do not admit that it 
amounted to anything whatever. 

Question. Did you notice what the Catholic Tele 
graph said about your lecture being ungrammatical ? 

Answer. Yes ; I saw an extract from it. In the 
Catholic Telegraph occurs the following : " The lee- 



454 REPLY TO THE GAZETTE AND TELEGRAPH. 

ture was a failure as brilliant as Ingersoll's flashes of 
ungrammatical rhetoric." After making this state 
ment with the hereditary arrogance of a priest, after 
finding fault with my " ungrammatical rhetoric " he 
then writes the following sentence : " It could not 
boast neither of novelty in argument or of attractive 
language." After this, nothing should be noticed that 
this gentleman says on the subject of grammar. 

In this connection it may be proper for me to say 
that nothing is more remarkable than the fact that 
Christianity destroys manners. With one exception, 
no priest has ever written about me, so far as I know, 
except in an arrogant and insolent manner. They 
seem utterly devoid of the usual amenities of life. 
Every one who differs with them is vile, ignorant and 
malicious. But, after all, what can you expect of a 
gentleman who worships a God who will damn 
dimpled babes to an eternity of fire, simply because 
they were not baptized. 

Question. This Catholic writer says that the oldest 
page of history and the newest page of science are 
nothing more than commentaries on the Mosaic Rec 
ord. He says the Cosmogony of Moses has been 
believed in, and has been received as the highest truth 
by the very brightest names in science. What do 
you think of that statement ? 



REPLY TO THE GAZETTE AND TELEGRAPH. 466 

Answer. I think it is without the least foundation 
in fact, and is substantially like the gentleman's the 
ology, depending simply upon persistent assertion. 

I see he quotes Cuvier as great authority. Cuvier 
denied that the fossil animals were in any way re 
lated to the animals now living, and believed that 
God had frequently destroyed all life upon the earth 
and then produced other forms. Agassiz was the 
last scientist of any standing who ventured to throw 
a crumb of comfort to this idea. 

Question. Do you mean to say that all the great 
living scientists regard the Cosmogony of Moses as 
a myth ? 

Answer. I do. I say this : All men of science 
and men of sense look upon the Mosaic account as 
a simple myth. Humboldt, who stands in the same 
relation to science that Shakespeare did to the drama, 
held this opinion. The same is held by the best 
minds in Germany, by Huxley, Tyndall and Herbert 
Spencer in England, by John W. Draper and others 
in the United States. Whoever agrees with Moses 
is some poor frightened orthodox gentleman afraid 
of losing his soul or his salary, and as a rule, both 
are exceedingly small. 

Question. Some people say that you slander the 
Bible in saying that God went into partnership with 



REPLY TO THE GAZETTE AND TELEGRAPH. 

hornets, and declare that there is no such passage in 
the Bible. 

Answer. Well, let them read the twenty-eighth 
verse of the twenty-third chapter of Exodus, "And I 
will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out 
the Hivite, the Canaanite and the Hittite from before 
thee." 

Question. Do you find in lecturing through the coun 
try that your ideas are generally received with favor ? 

Answer. Astonishingly so. There are ten times 
as many freethinkers as there were five years ago. 
In five years more we will be in the majority. 

Question. Is it true that the churches, as a general 
thing, make strong efforts, as I have seen it stated, 
to prevent people from going to hear you ? 

Answer. Yes ; in many places ministers have 
advised their congregations to keep away, telling 
them I was an exceedingly dangerous man. The 
result has generally been a full house, and I have 
hardly ever failed to publicly return my thanks to 
the clergy for acting as my advance agents. 

Question. Do you ever meet Christian people 
who try to convert you ? 

Answer. Not often. But I do receive a great 
many anonymous letters, threatening me with the 
wrath of God, and calling my attention to the uncer- 



REPLY TO THE GAZETTE AND TELEGRAPH. 457 

tainty of life and the certainty of damnation. These 
letters are nearly all written in the ordinary Christian 
spirit ; that is to say, full of hatred and impertinence. 

Question. Don't you think it remarkable that the 
Telegraph^ a Catholic paper, should quote with ex 
travagant praise, an article from such an orthodox 
sheet as the Gazette f 

Answer. I do not. All the churches must make 
common cause. All superstitions lead to Rome ; 
all facts lead to science. In a few years all the 
churches will be united. This will unite all forms of 
liberalism. When that is done the days of super 
stition, of arrogance, of theology, will be numbered. 
It is very laughable to see a Catholic quoting scien 
tific men in favor of Moses, when the same men 
would have taken great pleasure in swearing that 
the Catholic Church was the worst possible organiza 
tion. That church should forever hold its peace. 
Wherever it has had authority it has destroyed 
human liberty. It reduced Italy to a hand organ, 
Spain to a guitar, Ireland to exile, Portugal to con 
tempt. Catholicism is the upas tree in whose 
shade the intellect of man has withered. The rec 
ollection of the massacre of St. Bartholomew should 
make a priest silent, and the recollection of the 
same massacre should make a Protestant careful. 



458 REPLY TO THE GAZETTE AND TELEGRAPH, 

I can afford to be maligned by a priest, when the 
same party denounces Garibaldi, the hero of Italy, 
as a " pet tiger" to Victor Emmanuel. I could not 
afford to be praised by such a man. I thank him 
for his abuse. 

Question. What do you think of the point that 
no one is able to judge of these things unless he is 
a Hebrew scholar ? 

Answer. I do not think it is necessary to under 
stand Hebrew to decide as to the probability of 
springs gushing out of dead bones, or of the dead 
getting out of their graves, or of the probability of 
ravens keeping a hotel for wandering prophets. I 
hardly think it is necessary even to be a Greek 
scholar to make up my mind as to whether devils 
actually left a person and took refuge in the bodies 
of swine. Besides, if the Bible is not properly 
translated, the circulation ought to stop until the 
corrections are made. I am not accountable if God 
made a revelation to me in a language that he 
knew I never would understand. If he wishes to 
convey any information to my mind, he certainly 
should do it in English before he eternally damns 
me for paying no attention to it. 

Question. Are not many of the contradictions in 
the Bible owing to mistranslations ? 



REPLY TO THE GAZETTE AND TELEGRAPH. 459 

Answer. No. Nearly all of the mistranslations 
have been made to help out the text. It would be 
much worse, much more contradictory had it been 
correctly translated. Nearly all of the mistakes, as 
Mr. Weller would say, have been made for the pur 
poses of harmony. 

Question. How many errors do you suppose 
there are ? 

Answer. Well, I do not know. It has been re 
ported that the American Bible Society appointed a 
committee to hunt for errors, and the said committee 
returned about twenty-four to twenty-five thousand. 
And thereupon the leading men said, to correct so 
many errors will destroy the confidence of the com 
mon people in the sacredness of the Scriptures. 
Thereupon it was decided not to correct any. I 
saw it stated the other day that a very prominent 
divine charged upon the Bible Society that they 
knew they were publishing a book full of errors. 

Question. What is your opinion of the Rible 
anyhow ? 

Answer. My first objection is, it is not true. 

Second. It is not inspired. 

Third. It upholds human slavery. 

Fourth. It sanctions concubinage. 

Fifth. It commands the most infamously cruel 



460 REPLY TO THE GAZETTE AND TELEGRAPH. 

acts of war, such as the utter destruction of old men 
and little children. 

Sixth. After killing fathers, mothers and brothers, 
it commands the generals to divide the girls among 
the soldiers and priests. Beyond this, infamy has 
never gone. If any God made this order I am op 
posed to him. 

Seventh. It upholds human sacrifice, or, at least, 
seems to, from the following : 

" Notwithstanding no devoted thing that a man 
shall devote unto the Lord of all that he hath, both 
of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, 
shall be sold or redeemed ; every devoted thing is 
most holy unto the Lord." 

" None devoted, which shall be devoted, of men, 
shall be redeemed ; but shall surely be put to death." 
(Twenty-seventh Chapter of Leviticus, 28th and 2 9th 
verses.) 

Eighth. Its laws are absurd, and the punishments 
cruel and unjust. Think of killing a man for making 
hair oil! Think of killing a man for picking up 
sticks on Sunday ! 

Ninth. It upholds polygamy. 

Tenth. It knows nothing of astronomy, nothing 
of geology, nothing of any science whatever. 

Eleventh. It is opposed to religious liberty, and 



REPLY TO THE GAZETTE AND TELEGRAPH. 46 1 

teaches a man to kill his own wife if she differs with 
him on religion ; that is to say, if he is orthodox. 
There is no book in the world in which can be 
found so much that is thoroughly despicable and in 
famous. Of course there are some good passages, 
some good sentiments. But they are, at least in the 
Old Testment, few and far between. 

Twelfth. It treats woman like a beast, and man 
like a slave. It fills heaven with tyranny, and earth 
with hypocrisy and grief. 

Question. Do you think any book inspired ? 

Answer. No. I do not think any book is inspir 
ed. But, if it had been the intention of this God to 
give to man an inspired book, he should have waited 
until Shakespeare's time, and used Shakespeare 
as the instrument. Then there never would have 
been any doubt as to the inspiration of the book. 
There is more beauty, more goodness, more intelli 
gence in Shakespeare than in all the sacred books of 
this world. 

Question. What do you think as a freethinker 
of the Sunday question in Cincinnati ? 

Answer. I think that it is a good thing to have a 
day of recreation, a day of rest, a day of joy, not 'a 
day of dyspepsia and theology. I am in favor of 



462 REPLY TO THE GAZETTE AND TELEGRAPH. 

operas and theaters, music and happiness on Sunday. 
I am opposed to all excesses on any day. If the 
clergy will take half the pains to make the people 
intelligent that they do to make them superstitious, 
the world will soon have advanced so far that it can 
enjoy itself without excess. The ministers want 
Sunday for themselves. They want everybody to 
come to church because they can go no where else. 
It is like the story of a man coming home at three 
o'clock in the morning, who, upon being asked by 
his wife how he could come at such a time of night, 
replied, " The fact is, every other place is shut up." 
The orthodox clergy know that their churches will 
remain empty if any other place remains open. Do 
not forget to say that I mean orthodox churches, 
orthodox clergy, because I have great respect for 
Unitarians and Universalists. 



AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS.* 

Question. I understand, Colonel Ingersoll, that you 
have been indicted in the State of Delaware for the 
crime of blasphemy ? 

Answer. Well, not exactly indicted. The Judge, 
who, I believe, is the Chief Justice of the State, 
dedicated the new court-house at Wilmington to the 
service of the Lord, by a charge to the grand jury, 
in which he almost commanded them to bring in a 
bill of indictment against me, for what he was pleased 
to call the crime of blasphemy. Now, as a matter of 
fact, there can be no crime committed by man 
against God, provided always that a correct defini 
tion of the Deity has been given by the orthodox 
churches. They say that he is infinite. If so, he 
is conditionless. I can injure a man by changing his 
conditions. Take from a man water, and he perishes 
of thirst ; take from him air, and he suffocates ; 
he may die from too much, or too little heat. That 

Brooklyn Eagle, 1881. (4BB) 



466 AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 

is because he is a conditioned being. But if God is 
conditionless, he cannot in any way be affected by 
what anybody else may do ; and, consequently, a sin 
against God is as impossible as a sin against the 
principle of the lever or inclined plane. This crime 
called blasphemy was invented by priests for the 
purpose of defending doctrines not able to take care 
of themselves. Blasphemy is a kind of breastwork 
behind which hypocrisy has crouched for thousands 
of years. Injustice is the only blasphemy that can be 
committed, and justice is the only true worship. Man 
can sin against man, but not against God. But even 
if man could sin against God, it has always struck 
me that an infinite being would be entirely able to 
take care of himself without the assistance of a Chief 
Justice. Men have always been violating the rights 
of men, under the plea of defending the rights of God, 
and nothing, for ages, was so perfectly delightful 
to the average Christian as to gratify his revenge, 
and get God in his debt at the same time. Chief 
Justice Comegys has taken this occasion to lay up 
for himself what he calls treasures in heaven, and on 
the last great day he will probably rely on a certified 
copy of this charge. The fact that he thinks the 
Lord needs help satisfies me that in that particular 
neighborhood I am a litttle ahead. 



AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 467 

The fact is, I never delivered but one lecture in 
Delaware. That lecture, however, had been pre 
ceded by a Republican stump speech ; and, to tell 
you the truth, I imagine that the stump speech is 
what a Yankee would call the heft of the offence. 
It is really hard for me to tell whether I have blas 
phemed the Deity or the Democracy. Of course I 
have no personal feeling whatever against the Judge. 
In fact he has done me a favor. He has called the 
attention of the civilized world to certain barbarian 
laws that disfigure and disgrace the statute books of 
most of the States. These laws were passed when 
our honest ancestors were burning witches, trading 
Quaker children to the Barbadoes for rum and mo 
lasses, branding people upon the forehead, boring 
their tongues with hot irons, putting one another in 
the pillory, and, generally, in the name of God, mak 
ing their neighbors as uncomfortable as possible. 
We have outgrown these laws without repealing 
them. They are, as a matter of fact, in most com 
munities actually dead ; but in some of the States, 
like Delaware, I suppose they could be enforced, 
though there might be trouble in selecting twelve 
men, even in Delaware, without getting one man 
broad enough, sensible enough, and honest enough, 
to do justice. I hardly think it would be possible in 



468 AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 

any State to select a jury in the ordinary way that 
would convict any person charged with what is com 
monly known as blasphemy. 

All the so-called Christian churches have accused 
each other of being blasphemers, in turn. The 
Catholics denounced the Presbyterians as blas 
phemers, the Presbyterians denounced the Baptists ; 
the Baptists, the Presbyterians, and the Catholics all 
united in denouncing the Quakers, and they all to 
gether denounced the Unitarians called them blas 
phemers because they did not acknowledge the divin 
ity of Jesus Christ the Unitarians only insisting that 
three infinite beings were not necessary, that one 
infinite being could do all the business, and that the 
other two were absolutely useless. This was called 
blasphemy. 

Then all the churches united to call the Univer- 
salists blasphemers. I can remember when a Uni- 
versalist was regarded with a thousand times more 
horror than an infidel is to-day. There is this 
strange thing about the history of theology nobody 
has ever been charged with blasphemy who thought 
God bad. For instance, it never would have excited 
any theological hatred if a man had insisted that 
God would finally damn everybody. Nearly all 
heresy has consisted in making God better than the 



AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 469 

majority in the churches thought him to be. The 
orthodox Christian never will forgive the Univer- 
salist for saying that God is too good to damn any 
body eternally. Now, all these sects have charged 
each other with blasphemy, without anyone of them 
knowing really what blasphemy is. I suppose they 
have occasionally been honest, because they have 
mostly been ignorant. It is said that Torquemada 
used to shed tears over the agonies of his victims 
and that he recommended slow burning, not because 
he wished to inflict pain, but because he really de 
sired to give the gentleman or lady he was burning 
a chance to repent of his or her sins, and make his 
or her peace with God previous to becoming a 
cinder. 

The root, foundation, germ and cause of nearly all 
religious persecution is the idea that some certain 
belief is necessary to salvation. If orthodox Chris 
tians are right in this idea, then persecution of all 
heretics and infidels is a duty. If I have the right 
to defend my body from attack, surely I should have 
a like right to defend my soul. Under our laws I 
could kill any man who was endeavoring, for 
example, to take the life of my child. How much 
more would I be justified in killing any wretch who 
was endeavoring to convince my child of the truth 



47 AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 

of a doctrine which, if believed, would result in the 
eternal damnation of that child's soul ? 

If the Christian religion, as it is commonly under 
stood, is true, no infidel should be allowed to live ; 
every heretic should be hunted from the wide world 
as you would hunt a wild beast, They should not 
be allowed to speak, they should not be allowed to 
poison the minds of women and children ; in other 
words, they should not be allowed to empty heaven 
and fill hell. The reason I have liberty in this 
country is because the Christians of this country do 
not believe their doctrine. The passage from the 
Bible, " Go ye into all the world and preach the 
Gospel to every creature," coupled with the assur 
ance that, " Whosoever believeth and is baptized 
shall be saved, and whoso believeth not shall be dam 
ned," is the foundation of most religious persecution. 
Every word in that passage has been fire and fagot, 
whip and sword, chain and dungeon. That one 
passage has probably caused more agony among 
men, women and children,' than all the passages of 
all other books that were ever printed. Now, this 
passage was not in the book of Mark when origin 
ally written, but was put there many years after the 
gentleman who evolved the book of Mark from his 
inner consciousness, had passed away. It was put 



AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 47 I 

there by the church that is to say, by hypocrisy 
and priestly craft, to bind the consciences of men 
and force them to come under ecclesiastical and 
spiritual power; and that passage has been received 

and believed, and been made binding by law in most 

. * 

countries ever since. 

What would you think of a law compelling a man 
to admire Shakespeare, or calling it blasphemy to 
laugh at Hamlet ? Why is not a statute neces 
sary to uphold the reputation of Raphael or of 
Michael Angelo ? Is it possible that God cannot 
write a book good enough and great enough and 
grand enough not to excite the laughter of his 
children ? Is it possible that he is compelled to 
have his literary reputation supported by the State 
of Delaware ? 

There is another very strange thing about this 
business. Admitting that the Bible is the work of 
God, it is not any more his work than are the sun, 
the moon and the stars or the earth, and if for dis 
believing this Bible we are to be damned forever, 
we ought to be equally damned for a mistake in 
geology or astronomy. The idea of allowing a man 
to go to heaven who swears that the earth is flat, 
and damning a fellow who thinks it is round, but who 
has his honest doubts about Joshua, seems to me to 



472 AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 

be perfectly absurd. It seems to me that in this 
view of it, it is just as necessary to be right on the 
subject of the equator as on the doctrine of infant 
baptism. 

Question. What was in your judgment the motive 
of Judge Comegys ? Is he a personal enemy of 
yours ? Have you ever met him ? Have you any 
idea what reason he had for attacking you ? 

Answer. I do not know the gentleman, personally. 
Outside of the political reason I have intimated, I 
do not know why he attacked me. I once delivered a 
lecture entitled "What must we do to be Saved ?" in 
the city of Wilmington, and in that lecture I pro 
ceeded to show, or at least tried to show, that 
Matthew, Mark and Luke knew nothing about Chris 
tianity, as it is understood in Delaware ; and I also 
endeavored to show that all men have an equal right 
to think, and that a man is only under obligations to 
be honest with himself, and with all men, and that 
he is not accountable for the amount of mind that he 
has been endowed with otherwise it might be Judge 
Comegys himself would be damned but that he is 
only accountable for the use he makes of what little 
mind he has received. I held that the safest thing 
for every man was to be absolutely honest,and to ex 
press his honest thought. After the delivery of this 



* AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 473 

lecture various ministers in Wilmington began re 
plying, and after the preaching of twenty or thirty 
sermons, not one of which, considered as a reply, 
was a success, I presume it occurred to these ministers 
that the shortest and easiest way would be to have 
me indicted and imprisoned. 

In this I entirely agree with them. It is the old 
and time -honored way. I believe it is, as it always 
has been, easier to kill two infidels than to answer 
one ; and if Christianity expects to stem the tide that 
is now slowly rising over the intellectual world, it 
must be done by brute force, and by brute force 
alone. And it must be done pretty soon, or they 
will not have the brute force. It is doubtful if they 
have a majority of the civilized world on their side 
to-day. No heretic ever would have been burned if 
he could have been answered. No theologian ever 
called for the help of the law until his logic gave out. 

I suppose Judge Comegys to be a Presbyterian. 
Where did he get his right to be a Presbyterian ? 
Where did he get his right to decide which creed is the 
correct one ? How did he dare to pit his little brain 
against the word of God ? He may say that his 
father was a Presbyterian. But what was his grand 
father ? If he will only go back far enough he will, 
in all probability, find that his ancestors were Cath- 



474 AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 

olics, and if he will go back a little farther still, that 
they were barbarians ; that at one time they were 
naked, and had snakes tattooed on their bodies. What 
right had they to change ? Does he not perceive 
that had the savages passed the same kind of laws 
that now exist in Delaware, they could have pre 
vented any change in belief? They would have had 
a whipping-post, too, and they would have said : 
"Any gentleman found without snakes tattooed upon 
his body shall be held guilty of blasphemy ; " and all 
the ancestors of this Judge, and of these ministers, 
would have said, Amen ! 

What right had the first Presbyterian to be a 
Presbyterian ? He must have been a blasphemer 
first. A small dose of pillory might have changed 
his religion. Does this Judge think that Delaware is 
incapable of any improvement in a religious point of 
view? Does he think that the Presbyterians of 
Delaware are not only the best now, but that they 
will forever be the best that God can make ? Is 
there to be no advancement ? Has there been no 
advancement ? Are the pillory and the whipping 
post to be used to prevent an excess of thought 
in the county of New Castle ? Has the county 
ever been troubled that way ? Has this Judge 
ever had symptons of any such disease ? Now, I want 



AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 475 

it understood that I like this Judge, and my prin 
cipal reason for liking him is that he is the last of his 
race. He will be so inundated with the ridicule of 
mankind that no other Chief Justice in Delaware, or 
anywhere else, will ever follow his illustrious ex 
ample. The next Judge will say : " So far as I am 
concerned, the Lord may attend to his own business, 
and deal with infidels as he may see proper." Thus 
great good has been accomplished by this Judge, 
which shows, as Burns puts it, " that a pot can be 
boiled, even if the devil tries to prevent it." 

Question. How will this action of Delaware, in 
your opinion, affect the other States ? 

Answer. Probably a few other States needed an 
example exactly of this kind. New Jersey, in all 
probability, will say : " Delaware is perfectly ridicu 
lous," and yet, had Delaware waited awhile, New 
Jersey might have done the same thing. Maryland 
will exclaim : " Did you ever see such a fool ! " 
And yet I was threatened in that State. The aver 
age American citizen, taking into consideration the 
fact that we are blest, or cursed, with about one 
hundred thousand preachers, and that these preach 
ers preach on the average one hundred thousand 
sermons a week some of which are heard clear 
through will unquestionably ho!4 that a man who 



476 AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 

happens to differ with all these parsons ought to 
have and shall have the privilege of expressing his 
mind ; and that the one hundred thousand clergy 
men ought to be able to put down the one man who 
happens to disagree with them, without calling on 
the army or navy to do it, especially when it is 
taken into consideration that an infinite God is 
already on their side. Under these circumstances, 
the average American will say : " Let him talk, and 
let the hundred thousand preachers answer him to 
their hearts' content." So that in my judgment the 
result of the action of Delaware will be : First, to 
liberalize all other States, and second, finally to 
liberalize Delaware itself. In many of the States 
they have the same idiotic kind of laws as those 
found in Delaware with the exception of those 
blessed institutions for the spread of the Gospel, 
known as the pillory and the whipping-post. There 
is a law in Maine by which a man can be put into 
the penitentiary for denying the providence of God, 
and the day of judgment. There are similar laws 
in most of the New England States. One can be 
imprisoned in Maryland for a like offence. 

In North Carolina no man can hold office that has 
not a certain religious belief; and so in several 
other of the Southern States. In half the States of 



AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 477 

this Union, if my wife and children should be mur 
dered before my eyes, I would not be allowed in a 
court of justice to tell who the murderer was. You 
see that, for hundreds of years, Christianity has en 
deavored to put the brand of infamy on every 
intellectual brow. 

Question. I see that one objection to your 
lectures urged by Judge Comegys on the grand 
jury is, that they tend to a breach of the peace to 
riot and bloodshed. 

Answer. Yes ; Judge Comegys seems to be 
afraid that people who love their enemies will mob 
their friends. He is afraid that those disciples who, 
when smitten on one cheek turn the other to be 
smitten also, will get up a riot. He seems to im 
agine that good Christians feel called upon to violate 
the commands of the Lord in defence of the Lord's 
reputation. If Christianity produces people who 
cannot hear their doctrines discussed without raising 
mobs, and shedding blood, the sooner it is stopped 
being preached the better. 

There is not the slightest danger of any infidel 
attacking a Christian for his belief, and there never 
will be an infidel mob for such a purpose. Chris 
tians can teach and preach their views to their hearts' 
content. They can send all unbelievers to an eternal 



478 AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEG\S. 

hell, if it gives them the least pleasure, and they may 
bang their Bibles as long as their fists last, but no 
infidel will be in danger of raising a riot to stop them, 
or put them down by brute force, or even by an ap 
peal to the law, and I would advise Judge Comegys, 
if he wishes to compliment Christianity, to change 
his language and say that he feared a breach of the 
peace might be committed by the infidels not by 
the Christians. He may possibly have thought that 
it was my intention to attack his State. But I can 
assure him, that if ever I start a warfare of that kind, 
I shall take some State of my size. There is no 
glory to be won in wringing the neck of a "Blue 
Hen ! " 

Question. I should judge, Colonel, that you are 
prejudiced against the State of Delaware ? 

Answer. Not by any means. Oh, no ! I know a 
great many splendid people in Delaware, and since 
I have known more of their surroundings, my admi 
ration for them has increased. They are, on the 
whole, a very good people in that State. I heard a 
story the other day : An old fellow in Delaware has 
been for the last twenty or thirty years gathering 
peaches there in their season a kind of peach 
tramp. One day last fall, just as the season closed, 
he was leaning sadly against a tree, " Boys ! " sa/d he, 



AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 479 

" I'd like to come back to Delaware a hundred years 
from now." The boys asked, " What for ?" The 
old fellow replied : " Just to see how damned little 
they'd get the baskets by that time." And it oc 
curred to me that people who insist that twenty-two 
quarts make a bushel, should be as quiet as possible 
on the subject of blasphemy. 



AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS.* 

Question. Have you read Chief Justice Comegys' 
compliments to you before the Delaware grand 
jury ? 

Answer. Yes, I have read his charge, in which 
he relies upon the law passed in 1 740. After read 
ing his charge it seemed to me as though he had 
died about the date of the law, had risen from the 
dead, and had gone right on where he had left off. 
I presume he is a good man, but compared with 
other men, is something like his State when com 
pared with other States. 

A great many people will probably regard the 
charge of Judge Comegys as unchristian, but I do 
not. I consider that the law of Delaware is in exact 
accord with the Bible, and that the pillory, the whip 
ping-post, and the suppression of free speech are 
the natural fruit of the Old and New Testament. 

Delaware is right. Christianity can not succeed, 
can not exist, without the protection of law. Take 

Chicago Times, Feb. 14, 1881. (480) 



AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 481 

from orthodox Christianity the protection of law, 
and all church property would be taxed like other 
property. The Sabbath would be no longer a day 
devoted to superstition. Everyone could express 
his honest thought upon every possible subject. 
Everyone, notwithstanding his belief, could testify 
in a court of justice. In other words, honesty 
would be on an equality with hypocrisy. Science 
would stand on a level, so far as the law is concern 
ed, with superstition. Whenever this happens the 
end of orthodox Christianity will be near. 

By Christianity I do not mean charity, mercy, 
kindness, forgiveness. I mean no natural virtue, 
because all the natural virtues existed and had been 
practiced by hundreds and thousands of millions be 
fore Christ was born. There certainly were some 
good men even in the days of Christ in Jerusalem, 
before his death. 

By Christianity I mean the ideas of redemp 
tion, atonement, a good man dying for a bad man, 
and the bad man getting a receipt in full. By 
Christianity I mean that system that insists that in the 
next world a few will be forever happy, while the 
many will be eternally miserable. Christianity, as I 
have explained it, must be protected, guarded, and 
sustained by law. It was founded by the sword 



482 AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 

that is to say, by physical force, and must be pre 
served by like means. 

In many of the States of the Union an infidel is not 
allowed to testify. In the State of Delaware, if Alex 
ander von Humboldt were living, he could not be a 
witness, although he had more brains than the State 
of Delaware has ever produced, or is likely to pro 
duce as long as the laws of 1 740 remain in force. 
Such men as Huxley, Tyndall and Haeckel could 
be fined and imprisoned in the State of Delaware, 
and, in fact, in many States of this Union. 

Christianity, in order to defend itself, puts the 
brand of infamy on the brow of honesty. Christian 
ity marks with a letter " C," standing for " convict" 
every brain that is great enough to discover the 
frauds. I have no doubt that Judge Comegys 
is a good and sincere Christian. I believe that 
he, in his charge, gives an exact reflection of the 
Jewish Jehovah. I believe that every word he 
said was in exact accord with the spirit of orthodox 
Christianity. Against this man personally I have 
nothing to say. I know nothing of his character 
except as I gather it from this charge, and after 
reading the charge I am forced simply to say, Judge 
Comegys is a Christian. 

It seems, however, that the grand jury dared to 



AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 483 

take no action, notwithstanding they had been 
counseled to do so by the Judge. Although the 
Judge had quoted to them the words of George I. 
of blessed memory ; although he had quoted to 
them the words of Lord Mansfield, who became a 
Judge simply because of his hatred of the English 
colonists, simply because he despised liberty in the 
new world ; notwithstanding the fact that I could 
have been punished with insult, with imprisonment, 
and with stripes, and with every form of degrada 
tion ; notwithstanding that only a few years ago I 
could have been branded upon the forehead, bored 
through the tongue, maimed and disfigured, still, 
such has been the advance even in the State of 
Delaware, owing, it may be, in great part to the one 
lecture delivered by me, that the grand jury abso 
lutely refused to indict me. 

The grand jury satisfied themselves and their 
consciences simply by making a report in which 
they declared that my lecture had " no parallel in the 
habits of respectable vagabondism ;" that I was* 'an 
arch-blasphemer and reviler of God and religion," 
and recommended that should I ever attempt to 
lecture again I should be taught that in Delaware 
blasphemy is a crime punishable by fine and im 
prisonment. I have no doubt that every mem- 



484 AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 

her of the grand jury signing this report was entirely 
honest ; that he acted in exact accord with what he 
understood to be the demand of the Christian re 
ligion. I must admit that for Christians, the report is 
exceedingly mild and gentle. 

I have now in the house, letters that passed be 
tween certain bishops in the fifteenth century, in 
which they discussed the propriety of cutting out the 
tongues of heretics before they were burned. Some 
of the bishops were in favor of and some against it. 
One argument for cutting out their tongues which 
seemed to have settled the question was, that unless 
the tongues of heretics were cut out they might 
scandalize the gentlemen who were burning them, 
by blasphemous remarks during the fire. I would 
commend these letters to Judge Comegys and the 
members of the grand jury. 

I want it distinctly understood that I have noth 
ing against Judge Comegys or the grand jury. They 
act as 'most anybody would, raised in Delaware, 
in the shadow of the whipping-post and the pil 
lory. We must remember that Delaware was a 
slave State ; that the Bible became extremely dear 
to the people because it upheld that peculiar institu 
tion. We must remember that the Bible was the 
block on which mother and child stood for sale when 



AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 486 

they were separated by the Christians of Delaware. 
The Bible was regarded as the title-pages to slavery, 
and as the book of all books that gave the right 
to masters to whip mothers and to sell children. 

There are many offences now for which the punish 
ment is whipping and standing in the pillory ; where 
persons are convicted of certain crimes and sent 
to the penitentiary, and upon being discharged from 
the penitentiary are furnished by the State with a 
dark jacket plainly marked on the back with a large 
Roman " C," the letter to be of a light color. This 
they are to wear for six months after being discharged, 
and if they are found at any time without the dark 
jacket and the illuminated " C" they are to be pun 
ished with twenty lashes upon the bare back. The 
object, I presume, of this law, is to drive from the 
State all the discharged convicts for the benefit of 
New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland that is to 
say, other Christian communities. A cruel people 
make cruel laws. 

The objection I have to the whipping-post is 
that it is a punishment which cannot be inflicted 
by a gentleman. The person who administers the 
punishment must, of necessity, be fully as degraded 
as the person who receives it. I am opposed to any 
kind of punishment that cannot be administered by 



486 AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 

a gentleman. I am opposed to corporal punishment 
everywhere. It should be taken from the asylums 
and penitentiaries, and any man who would apply 
the lash to the naked back of another is beneath the 
contempt of honest people. 

Question. Have you seen that Henry Bergh has 
introduced in the New York Legislature a bill pro 
viding for whipping as a punishment for wife-beat 
ing ? 

Answer. The objection I have mentioned is fatal 
to Mr. Bergh's bill. He will be able to get persons 
to beat wife-beaters, who, under the same circum 
stances, would be wife-beaters themselves. If they 
are not wife-beaters when they commence the business 
of beating others, they soon will be. I think that wife- 
beating in great cities could be stopped by putting 
all the wife-beaters at work at some government em 
ployment, the value of the work, however, to go to 
the wives and children. The trouble now is that 
most of the wife-beating is among the extremely 
poor, so that the wife by informing against her hus 
band, takes the last crust out of her own mouth. If 
you substitute whipping or flogging for the prison 
here, you wjll in the first place prevent thousands 
of wives from informing, and in many cases, where 
the wife would inform, she would afterward be 



AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 487 

murdered by the flogged brute. This brute would 
naturally resort to the same means to reform his 
wife that the State had resorted to for the purpose 
of reforming him. Flogging would beget flogging. 
Mr. Bergh is a man of great kindness of heart. 
When he reads that a wife has been beaten, he says 
the husband deserves to be beaten himself. But if Mr. 
Bergh was to be the executioner, I imagine you could 
not prove by the back of the man that the punishment 
had been inflicted. 

Another good remedy for wife-beating is the 
abolition of the Catholic Church. We should also 
do away with the idea that a marriage is a sac 
rament, and that there is any God who is ren 
dered happy by seeing a husband and wife live to 
gether, although the husband gets most of his earthly 
enjoyment from whipping his wife. No woman 
should live with a man a moment after he has struck 
her. Just as the idea of liberty enlarges, confidence 
in the whip and fist, in the kick and blow, will dimin 
ish. Delaware occupies toward freethinkers pre 
cisely the same position that a wife -beater does to 
ward the wife. Delaware knows that there are no 
reasons sufficient to uphold Christianity, conse 
quently these reasons are supplemented with the 
pillory and the whipping-post. The whipping-post 



488 AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 

is considered one of God's arguments, and the pillory 
is a kind of moral suasion, the use of which fills 
heaven with a kind of holy and serene delight. I 
am opposed to the religion of brute force, but all 
these frightful things have grown principally out of 
a belief in eternal punishment and out of the further 
idea that a certain belief is necessary to avoid eternal 
pain. 

If Christianity is right, Delaware is right. If 
God will damn every body forever simply for being 
intellectually honest, surely he ought to allow the 
good people of Delaware to imprison the same gentle 
man for two months. Of course there are thousands 
and thousands of good people in Delaware, people 
who have been in other States, people who have 
listened to Republican speeches, people who have 
read the works of scientists, who hold the laws of 
1 740 in utter abhorrence ; people who pity Judge 
Comegys and who have a kind of sympathy for the 
grand jury. 

You will see that at the last election Delaware 
lacked only six or seven hundred of being a civilized 
State, and probably in 1884 will stand redeemed and 
regenerated, with the laws of 1 740 expunged from 
the statute book. Delaware has not had the best of 
opportunities. You must remember that it is next 



AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 489 

to New Jersey, which is quite an obstacle in the 
path of progress. It is just beyond Maryland, 
which is another obstacle. I heard the other day 
that God originally made oysters with legs, and 
afterward took them off, knowing that the people 
of Delaware would starve to death before they 
would run to catch anything. Judge Comegys is 
the last judge who will make such a charge in the 
United States. He has immortalized himself as the 
last mile -stone on that road. He is the last of 
his race. No more can be born. Outside of this 
he probably was a very clever man, and it may be, 
he does not believe a word he utters. The probability 
is that he has underestimated the intelligence of the 
people of Delaware. I am afraid to think that he is 
entirely honest, for fear that I may underestimate 
him intellectually, and overestimate him morally. 
Nothing could tempt me to do this man injustice, 
though I could hardly add to the injury he has done 
himself. He has called attention to laws that ought 
to be repealed, and to lectures that ought to be re 
peated. I feel in my heart that he has done me a 
great service, second only to that for which I am 
indebted to the grand jury. Had the Judge known 
me personally he probably would have said nothing. 
Should I have the misfortune to be arrested in his 
State and sentenced to two months of solitary con- 



490 AN INTERVIEW ON CHIEF JUSTICE COMEGYS. 

finement, the Judge having become acquainted with 
me during the trial, would probably insist on spend 
ing most of his time in my cell. At the end of the 
two months he would, I think, lay himself liable to 
the charge of blasphemy, providing he had honor 
enough to express his honest thought. After all, it 
is all a question of honesty. Every man is right. I 
cannot convince myself there is any God who will 
ever damn a man for having been honest. This 
gives me a certain hope for the Judge and the grand 
jury. 

For two or three days I have been thinking 
what joy there must have been in heaven when 
Jehovah heard that Delaware was on his side, and 
remarked to the angels in the language of the late 
Adjt. Gen. Thomas : " The eyes of all Delaware are 
upon you." 



REPLY TO 
REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 



A REPLY TO REV'D DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER.* 

Ladies and Gentlemen : 

WHEREVER I lecture, as a rule, some 
ministers think it their duty to reply for the 
purpose of showing either that I am unfair, or that 
I am blasphemous, or that I laugh. And laughing 
has always been considered by theologians as a 
crime. Ministers have always said you will have no 
respect for our ideas unless you are solemn. Solem 
nity is a condition precedent to believing anything 
without evidence. And if you can only get a man 
solemn enough, awed enough, he will believe any 
thing. 

In this city the Rev. Dr. Thomas has made a few 
remarks, and I may say by way of preface that I 
have always held him in the highest esteem. He 
struggles, according to his statement, with the 
problem of my sincerity, and he about half concludes 
that I am not sincere. There is a little of the 

Col. Ingersoll filled McVicker's Theatre again yesterday afternoon, when he 
answered the question ' ' What Must We Do to Be Saved f ' ' But before doing so he 
replied to the recent criticisms of city clergymen on his ' ' Talmagian Theology." 
Chicago Tribune, Nov. 27, 1882. (493) 



494 REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 

minister left in Dr. Thomas. Ministers always 
account for a difference of opinion by attacking the 
motive. Now, to him, it makes no difference 
whether I am sincere or insincere ; the question is, 
Can my argument be answered ? Suppose you 
could prove that the maker of the multiplication 
table held mathematics in contempt ; what of it ? 
Ten times ten would be a hundred still. 

My sincerity has nothing to do with the force of 
the argument not the slightest. But this gentle 
man begins to suspect that I am doing what I do for 
the sake of applause. What a commentary on the 
Christian religion, that, after they have been preach 
ing it for sixteen or eighteen hundred years, a man 
attacks it for the sake of popularity a man attacks 
it for the purpose of winning applause ! When I 
commenced to speak upon this subject there was no 
appreciable applause ; most of my fellow-citizens 
differed with me ; and I was denounced as though I 
had been a wild beast. But I have lived to see the 
majority of the men and women of intellect in the 
United States on my side ; I have lived to see the 
church deny her creed ; I have lived to see ministers 
apologize in public for what they preached ; and a 
great and glorious work is going on until, in a little 
while, you will not find one of them, unless it is 



REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 495 

some old petrifaction of the red-stone period, who 
will admit that he ever believed in the Trinity, in 
the Atonement, or in the doctrine of Eternal Agony. 
The religion preached in the pulpits does not satisfy 
the intellect of America, and if Dr. Thomas wishes 
to know why people go to hear infidelity it is this : 
Because they are not satisfied with the orthodox 
Christianity of the day. That is the reason. They 
are beginning to hold it in contempt. 

But this gentleman imagines that I am insincere 
because I attacked certain doctrines of the Bible. 
I attacked the doctrine of eternal pain. I hold it in 
infinite and utter abhorrence. And if there be a 
God in this universe who made a hell ; if there be a 
God in this universe who denies to any human 
being the right of reformation, then that God is not 
good, that God is not just, and the future of man is 
infinitely dark. I despise that doctrine, and I have 
done what little I could to get that horror from the 
cradle, that horror from the hearts of mothers, that 
horror from the hearts of husbands and fathers, and 
sons, and brothers, and sisters. It is a doctrine that 
turns to ashes all the humanities of life and all the 
hopes of mankind. I despise it. 

And the gentleman also charges that I am wanting 
in reverence. I admit here to-day that I have no 



496 REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 

reverence for a falsehood. I do not care how old it 
is, and I do not care who told it, whether the men 
were inspired or not. I have no reverence for what 
I believe to be false, and in determining what is 
false I go by my reason. And whenever another 
man gives me an argument I examine it. If it is 
good I follow it. If it is bad I throw it away. I 
have no reverence for any book that upholds human 
slavery. I despise such a book. I have no rever 
ence for any book that upholds or palliates the 
infamous institution of polygamy. I have no rever 
ence for any book that tells a husband to kill his 
wife if she differs with him upon the subject of 
religion. I have no reverence for any book that 
defends wars of conquest and extermination. I have 
no reverence for a God that orders his legions to 
slay the old and helpless, and to whet the edge 
of the sword with the blood of mothers and 
babes. I have no reverence for such a book ; 
neither have I any reverence for the author of 
that book. No matter whether he be God or man, 
I have no reverence. I have no reverence for the 
miracles of the Bible. I have no reverence for the 
story that God allowed bears to tear children in 
pieces. I have no reverence for the miraculous, but 
I have reverence for the truth, for justice, for charity, 



REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 497 

for humanity, for intellectual liberty, and for human 
progress. 

I have the right to do my own thinking. I 
am going to do it. I have never met any minister 
that I thought had brain enough to think for himself 
and for me too. I do my own. I have no rever 
ence for barbarism, no matter how ancient it may 
be, and no reverence for the savagery of the Old 
Testament; no reverence for the malice of the New. 
And let me tell you here to-night that the Old Testa 
ment is a thousand times better than the New. The 
Old Testament threatened no vengeance beyond 
the grave. God was satisfied when his enemy was 
dead. It was reserved for the New Testament it 
was reserved for universal benevolence to rend 
the veil between time and eternity and fix the 
horrified gaze of man upon the abyss of hell. The 
New Testament is just as much worse than the Old, 
as hell is worse than sleep. And yet it is the fashion 
to say that the Old Testament is bad and that the 
New Testament is good. I have no reverence for 
any book that teaches a doctrine contrary to my 
reason ; no reverence for any book that teaches a 
doctrine contrary to my heart ; and, no matter how 
old it is, no matter how many have believed it, no 
matter how many have died on account of it, no 



REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 

matter how many live for it, I have no reverence for 
that book, and I am glad of it. 

Dr. Thomas seems to think that I should approach 
these things with infinite care, that I should not 
attack slavery, or polygamy, or religious persecution, 
but that I should " mildly suggest " mildly, should 
not hurt anybody's feelings. When I go to church 
the ministers tell me I am going to hell. When I 
meet one I tell him, "There is no hell," and he says : 
" What do you want to hurt our feelings for ? " He 
wishes me mildly to suggest that the sun and moon 
did not stop, that may be the bears only frightened 
the children, and that, after all, Lot's wife was only 
scared. Why, there was a minister in this city of 
Chicago who imagined that his congregation were 
progressive, and, in his pulpit, he said that he did 
not believe the story of Lot's wife said that he did 
not think that any sensible man would believe that 
a woman was changed into salt ; and they tried him, 
and the congregation thought he was entirely too 
fresh. And finally he went before that church and 
admitted that he was mistaken, and owned up to 
the chloride of sodium, and said : " I not only take 
the Bible cum grano salis, but with a whole bar- 
relful." 

My doctrine is, if you do not believe a thing, say 



REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 499 

so say so ; no need of going away around the bush 
and suggesting may be, perhaps, possibly, peradven- 
ture. That is the ministerial way, but I do not like it. 

I am also charged with making an onslaught 
upon the good as well as the bad. I say here to 
day that never in my life have I said one word 
against honesty, one word against liberty, one word 
against charity, one word against any institution that 
is good. I attack the bad, not the good, and I 
would like to have some minister point out in some 
lecture or speech that I have delivered, one word 
against the good, against the highest happiness of 
the human race. 

I have said all I was able to say in favor of 
justice, in favor of liberty, in favor of home, in favor 
of wife and children, in favor of progress, and in 
favor of universal kindness ; but not one word in 
favor of the bad, and I never expect to. 

Dr. Thomas also attacks my statement that the 
brain thinks in spite of us. 

Doesn't it ? Can any man tell what he is going 
to think to-morrow ? You see, you hear, you taste, 
you feel, you smell these are the avenues by which 
Nature approaches the brain, the consequence of 
this is thought, and you cannot by any possibility 
help thinking. 



5OO REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 

Neither can you determine what you will think. 
These impressions are made independently of your 
will. " But," says this reverend doctor, "Whence 
comes this conception of space ? " I can tell him. 
There is such a thing as matter. We conceive 
that matter occupies room space and, in our 
minds, space is simply the opposite of matter. And 
it comes naturally not supernaturally. 

Does the gentleman contend there had to be a 
revelation of God for us to conceive of a place where 
there is nothing ? We know there is something. 
We can think of the opposite of something, and 
therefore we say space. " But," says this gentleman, 
" Where do we get the idea of good and bad? " I 
can tell him ; no trouble about that. Every man has 
the capacity to enjoy and the capacity to suffer 
every man. Whenever a man enjoys himself he 
calls that good ; whenever he suffers he calls that 
bad. The animals that are useful to him he calls 
good ; the poisonous, the hurtful, he calls bad. 
The vegetables that he can eat and use he calls 
good ; those that are of no use except to choke 
the growth of the good ones, he calls bad. When 
the sun shines, when everything in nature is out that 
ministers to him, he says " this is good ;" when the 
storm comes and blows down his hut, when the frost 



REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 50 I 

comes and lays down his crop, he says " this is bad." 
And all phenomena that affect men well he calls 
good ; all that affect him ill he calls bad. 

Now, then, the foundation of the idea of right and 
wrong is the effect in nature that we are capable of 
enjoying or capable of suffering. That is the founda 
tion of conscience ; and if man could not suffer, if man 
could not enjoy, we never would have dreamed of the 
word conscience; and the words right and wrong 
never could have passed human lips. There are no 
supernatural fields. We get our ideas from experi 
ence some of them from our forefathers, many from 
experience. A man works food does not come of 
itself. A man works to raise it, and, after he has 
worked in the sun and heat, do you think it is neces 
sary that he should have a revelation from heaven 
before he thinks that he has a better right to it than 
the man who did not work ? And yet, according to 
these gentlemen, we never would have known it was 
wrong to steal had not the Ten Commandments been 
given from Mount Sinai. 

You go into a savage country where they never 
heard of the Bible, and let a man hunt all day for 
game, and finally get one little bird, and the hungry- 
man that staid at home endeavor to take it from 
him, and you would see whether he would need a 



502 REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 

direct revelation from God in order to make up 
his mind who had the better right to that bird. 
Our ideas of right and wrong are born of our 
surroundings, and if a man will think for a moment 
he will see it. But they deny that the mind thinks 
in spite of us. I heard a story of a man who said, 
" No man can think of one thing a minute, he will 
think of something else." Well, there was a little 
Methodist preacher. He said he could think of 
a thing a minute that he could say the Lord's 
Prayer and never think of another thing. "Well," 
said the man, " I'll tell you what I will do. There is 
the best road-horse in the country. I will give you 
that horse if you will just say the Lord's Prayer, and 
not think of another thing." And the little fellow 
shut up his eyes : " Our Father which art in Heaven, 
Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy 
will be done I suppose you will throw in the saddle 
and bridle ?" 

I have always insisted, and I shall always insist, 
until I find some fact in Nature correcting the state 
ment, that Nature sows the seeds of thought that 
every brain is a kind of field where the seeds are 
sown, and that some are very poor, and some are 
very barren, and some are very rich. That is my 
opinion. 



REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 503 

Again he asks:" If one is not responsible for his 
thought, why is any one blamed for thinking as he 
does ? " It is not a question of blame, it is a ques 
tion of who is right a question of who is wrong. 
Admit that every one thinks exactly as he must, 
that does not show that his thought is right ; that 
does not show that his thought is the highest 
thought. Admit that every piece of land in the 
world produces what it must ; that does not prove 
that the land covered with barren rocks and a little 
moss is just as good as the land covered with wheat 
or corn ; neither does it prove that the mind has to 
act as the wheat or the corn ; neither does it prove 
that the land had any choice as to what it would 
produce. I hold men responsible not for their 
thoughts ; I hold men responsible for their actions. 
And I have said a thousand times : Physical liberty 
is this the right to do anything that does not in 
terfere with another in other words, to act right ; 
and intellectual liberty is this the right to think 
right, and the right to think wrong, provided you 
do your best to think right. I have always said it, 
and I expect to say it always. 

The reverend gentleman is also afflicted with the 
gradual theory. I believe in that theory. 

If you will leave out inspiration, if you will leave 



504 REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 

out the direct interference of ah infinite God, the 
gradual theory is right. It is a. theory of evolu 
tion. 

I admit that astronomy has been born of astrology, 
that chemistry came from the black art ; and I also 
contend that religion will be lost in science. I be 
lieve in evolution. I believe in the budding of the 
seed, the shining of the sun, the dropping of the 
rain ; I believe in the spreading and the growing ; 
and that is as true in every other department of the 
world as it is in vegetation. I believe it ; but 
that does not account for the Bible doctrine. 
We are told we have a book absolutely inspired, 
and it will not do to say God gradually grows. 
If he is infinite now, he knows as much as he 
ever will. If he has been always infinite, he 
knew as much at the time he wrote the Bible 
as he knows to-day ; and, consequently, what 
ever he said then must be as true now as it was 
then. You see they mix up now a little bit of 
philosophy with religion a little bit of science with 
the shreds and patches of the supernatural. 

Hear this : I said in my lecture the other day 
that all the clergymen in the world could not get 
one drop of rain out of the sky. I insist on it. All 
the prayers on earth cannot produce one drop of 



REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 505 

rain. I also said all the clergymen of the world 
could not save one human life. They tried it last 
year. They tried it in the United States. The 
Christian world upon its knees implored God to 
save one life, and the man died. The man died ! 
Had the man recovered the whole church would 
have claimed that it was in answer to prayer. The 
man having died, what does the church say now ? 
What is the answer to this ? The Rev. Dr. Thomas 
says : " There is prayer and there is rain." Good. 
" Can he that is himself or any one else say there is 
no possible relation between one and the other ? " 
I do. Let us put it another way. There is rain 
and there is infidelity ; can any one say there is no 
possible relation between the two ? How does Dr. 
Thomas know that he is not indebted to me for this 
year's crops ? And yet this gentleman really throws 
out the idea that there is some possible relation 
between prayer and rain, between rain. and health ; 
and he tells us that he would have died twenty-five 
years ago had it not been for prayer. I doubt it. 
Prayer is not a medicine. Life depends upon cer 
tain facts not upon prayer. All the prayer in the 
world cannot take the place of the circulation of the 
blood. All the prayer in the world is no substitute 
for digestion. All the prayer in the world cannot 



506 REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 

take the place of food ; and whenever a man lives 
by prayer you will find that he eats considerable be 
sides. It will not do. Again : This reverend Doc 
tor says : " Shall we say that all the love of the 
unseen world " how does he know there is any 
love in the unseen world ? " and the love of God " 
how does he know there is any love in God ? 
" heed not the cries and tears of earth ? " 

I do not know ; but let the gentleman read the 
history of religious persecution. Let him read the 
history of those who were put in dungeons, of those 
who lifted their chained hands to God and mingled 
prayer with the clank of fetters ; men that were in 
the dungeons simply for loving this God, simply for 
worshiping this God. And what did God do ? 
Nothing. The chains remained upon the limbs of 
his worshipers. They remained in the dungeons 
built by theology, by malice, and hatred ; and what 
did God do ? Nothing. Thousands of men were 
taken from their homes, fagots were piled around 
their bodies ; they were consumed to ashes, and what 
did God do ? Nothing. The sword of extermina 
tion was unsheathed, hundreds and thousands of men, 
women and children perished. Women lifted their 
hands to God and implored him to protect their 
children, their daughters ; and what did God do ? 



REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 507 

Nothing. Whole races were enslaved, and the 
cruel lash was put upon the naked back of toil. 
What did God do ? Nothing. Children were sold 
from the arms of mothers. All the sweet humanities 
of life were trodden beneath the brutal foot of creed ; 
and what did God do ? Nothing. Human beings, 
his children, were tracked through swamps by 
bloodhounds ; and what did God do ? Nothing. 
Wild storms sweep over the earth and the ship 
wrecked go down in the billows ; and what does 
God do ? Nothing. There come plague and pesti 
lence and famine. What does God do ? Thousands 
and thousands perish. Little children die upon the 
withered breasts of mothers ; and what does God 
do ? Nothing. 

What evidence has Dr. Thomas that the cries and 
tears of man have ever touched the heart of God ? 
Let us be honest. I appeal to the history of the 
world ; I appeal to the tears, and blood, and agony, 
and imprisonment, and death of hundreds and mill 
ions of the bravest and best. Have they ever 
touched the heart of the Infinite ? Has the hand of 
help ever been reached from heaven ? I do not 
know ; but I do not believe it. 

Dr. Thomas tells me that is orthodox Christianity. 
What right has he to tell what is orthodox Chris- 



508 REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 

tianity ? He is a heretic. He had too much brain to 
remain in the Methodist pulpit. He had a doubt 
and a doubt is born of an idea. And his doctrine has 
been declared by his own church to be unorthodox. 
They have passed on his case and they have found 
him unconstitutional. What right has he to state 
what is orthodox ? And here is what he says : 
"Christianity " orthodox Christianity 1 suppose he 
means "teaches, concerning the future world, that 
rewards and punishments are carried over from time 
to eternity ; that the principles of the government of 
God are the same there as here ; that character, and 
not profession determines destiny ; and that Hum- 
boldt, and Dickens, and all others who have gone 
and shall go to that world shall receive their just 
rewards ; that souls will always be in the place in 
which for the time, be it now or a million years 
hence, they are fitted. That is what Christianity 
teaches." 

If it does, never will I have another word to say 
against Christianity. It never has taught it. Chris 
tianity orthodox Christianity teaches that when 
you draw your last breath you have lost the last 
opportunity for reformation. Christianity teaches 
that this little world is the eternal line between time 
and eternity, and if you do not get religion in this 



REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 509 

life, you will be eternally damned in the next. That 
is Christianity. They say : "Now is the accepted 
time." If you put it off until you die, that is too 
late ; and the doctrine of the Christian world is that 
there is no opportunity for reformation in another 
world. The doctrine of orthodox Christianity is 
that you must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ here 
in this life, and it will not do to believe on him in 
the next world. You must believe on him here 
and that if you fail here, God in his infinite wisdom 
will never give you another chance. That is ortho 
dox Christianity ; and according to orthodox Chris 
tianity, the greatest, the best and the sublimest of 
the world are now in hell. And why is it that they 
say it is not orthodox Christianity ? I have made 
them ashamed of their doctrine. When I called to 
their attention the fact that such men as Darwin, 
such men as Emerson, Dickens, Longfellow, La 
place, Shakespeare, and Humboldt, were in hell, it 
struck them all at once that the company in heaven 
would not be very interesting with such men left 
out. 

And now they begin to say : " We think the Lord 
will give those men another chance." I have 
succeeded in my mission beyond my most sanguine 
expectations. I have made orthodox ministers deny 



5IO REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 

their creeds ; I have made them ashamed of their 
doctrine and that is glory enough. They will let 
me in, a few years after I am dead. I admit that 
the doctrine that God will treat us as we treat 
others I admit that is taught by Matthew, Mark, 
and Luke ; but it is not taught by the Orthodox 
church. I want that understood. I admit also 
that Dr. Thomas is not orthodox, and that he was 
driven out of the church because he thought God 
too good to damn men forever without giving them 
the slightest chance. Why, the Catholic Church 
is a thousand times better than your Protestant 
Church upon that question. The Catholic Church 
believes in purgatory that is, a place where a 
fellow can get a chance to make a motion for a new 
trial. 

Dr. Thomas, all I ask of you is to tell all that you 
think. Tell your congregation whether you believe 
the Bible was written by divine inspiration. Have 
the courage and the grandeur to tell your people 
whether, in your judgment, God ever upheld slavery. 

Do not shrink. Do not shirk. Tell your people 
whether God ever upheld polygamy. Do not 
shrink. Tell them whether God was ever in favor 
of religious persecution. Stand right to it. Then 
tell your people whether you honestly believe that 



REPLV TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 5ll 

a good man can suffer for a bad one and the bad 
one get the credit. Be honor bright. Tell what 
you really think and there will not be as much 
difference between you and myself as you imagine. 

The next gentleman, I believe, is the Rev. Dr. 
Lorimer. He comes to the rescue, and I have an 
idea of his mental capacity from the fact that he is a 
Baptist. He believes that the infinite God has a 
choice as to the manner in which a man or babe 
shall be dampened. This gentleman regards modern 
infidelity as " pitifully shallow " as to its intellectual 
conceptions and as to its philosophical views of the 
universe and of the problems regarding man's place 
in it and of his destiny. " Pitifully shallow ! " 

What is the modern conception of the universe ? 
The modern conception is that the universe always 
has been and forever will be. The modern concep 
tion of the universe is that it embraces within its 
infinite arms all matter, all spirit, all forms of force, 
all that is, all that has been, all that can be. That 
is the modern conception of this universe. And 
this is called " pitiful." 

What is the Christian conception ? It is that all 
the matter in the universe is dead, inert, and that 
back of it is a Jewish Jehovah who made it, and 
who is now engaged in managing the affairs of this 



5 1 2 REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 

world. And they even go so far as to say that that 
Being made experiments in which he signally failed. 
That Being made man and woman and put them in 
a garden and allowed them to become totally de 
praved. That Being of infinite wisdom made 
hundreds and millions of people when he knew he 
would have to drown them. That Being peopled a 
planet like this with men, women and children, 
knowing that he would have to consign most of them 
to eternal fire. That is a pitiful conception of the 
universe. That is an infamous conception of the 
universe. Give me rather the conception of Spinoza, 
the conception of Humboldt, of Darwin, of Huxley, 
of Tyndall and of every other man who has thought. 
I love to think of the whole universe together as 
one eternal fact. 1 love to think that everything is 
alive ; that crystallization is itself a step toward joy. 
I love to think that when a bud bursts into blossom 
it feels a thrill. I love to have the universe full of 
feeling and full of joy, and not full of simple dead, 
inert matter, managed by an old bachelor for all 
eternity. 

Another thing to which this gentleman objects is 
that I propose to banish such awful thoughts as the 
mystery of our origin and our relations to the pres 
ent and to the possible future from human thought. 



REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 513 

I have never said so. Never. I have said, One 
world at a time. Why ? Do not make yourself 
miserable about another. Why ? Because I do 
not know anything about it, and it may be good. 
So do not worry. That is all. You do not know 
where you are going to land. It may be the happy 
port of heaven. Wait until you get there. It will 
be time enough to make trouble then. This is what 
I have said. I have said that the golden bridge 
of life from gloom emerges, and on shadow rests. I 
do not know. I admit it. Life is a shadowy 
strange and winding road on which we travel for a 
few short steps, just a little way from the cradle with 
its lullaby of love, to the low and quiet wayside inn 
where all at last must sleep, and where the only 
salutation is "Good-Night!" Whether there is a 
good morning I do not know, but I am willing to 
wait. 

Let us think these high and splendid thoughts. 
Let us build palaces for the future, but do not let us 
spend time making dungeons for men who happen 
to differ from us. I am willing to take the concep 
tions of Humboldt and Darwin, of Haeckel and 
Spinoza, and I am willing to compare their splendid 
conceptions with the doctrine embraced in the 
Baptist creed. This gentleman has his ideas upon a 



5 14 REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 

variety of questions, and he tells me that, " No one 
has a right to say that Dickens, Longfellow, and 
Darwin are castaways." Why not ? They were 
not Christians. They did not believe in the Lord 
Jesus Christ. They did not believe in the inspira 
tion of the Scriptures. And, if orthodox religion 
be true, they are castaways. But he says : " No 
one has the right to say that orthodoxy condemns 
to perdition any man who has struggled toward the 
right, and who has tried to bless the earth he is 
raised on." That is what I say, but that is not what 
orthodoxy says. Orthodoxy says that the best man 
in the world, if he fails to believe in the existence of 
God, or in the divinity of Christ, will be eternally 
lost. Does it not say it? Is there an orthodox 
minister in this town now who will stand up and 
say that an honest atheist can be saved ? He will 
not. Let any preacher say it, and he will be tried 
for heresy. 

I will tell you what orthodoxy is. A man goes 
to the day of judgment, and they cross-examine 
him, and they say to him : 

" Did you believe the Bible ? " 

" No." 

" Did you belong to the church ? " 

" No." 



REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 5 I 5 

" Did you take care of your wife and children ? " 

" Yes ? " 

1 ' Pay your debts ? " 

" Yes." 

" Love your country ? " 

" Yes." 

" Love the whole world ? " 

" Yes." 

" Never made anybody unhappy ? " 

" Not that I know of. If there is any man or 
woman that I ever wronged let them stand up and 
say so. That is the kind of man I am ; but," said 
he, " I did not believe the Bible. I did not believe 
in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and, to tell you the 
truth, I did not believe in the existence of God. I 
now find I was mistaken ; but that was my doctrine." 

Now, I want to know what, according to the 
orthodox church, is done with that man ? He is 
sent to hell. 

That is their doctrine. 

Then the next fellow comes. He says : 

" Where did you come from ? " 

And he looks off kind of stiffly, with his head on 
one side and he says : 

" I came from the gallows. I was just hung." 

" What were you hung for? " 



5l6 REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 

" Murdering my wife. She wasn't a Christian 
either, she got left. The day I was hung I was 
washed in the blood of the Lamb." 

That is Christianity. And they say to him : 

"Come in ! Let the band play ! " 

That is orthodox Christianity. Every man that is 
hanged there is a minister there, and the minister 
tells him he is all right. All he has to do is just to 
believe on the Lord. 

Another objection this gentleman has, and that 
is that I am scurrilous. Scurrilous ! And the gen 
tleman, in order to show that he is not scurrilous, 
calls infidels, " donkeys, serpents, buzzards." That 
is simply to show that he is not scurrilous. 

Dr. Lorimer is also of the opinion that the mind 
thinks independently of the will ; and I propose to 
prove by him that it does. He is the last man in 
the world to controvert that doctrine the last man. 
In spite of himself his mind absorbed the sermon of 
another man, and he repeated it as his own. I am 
satisfied he is an honest man ; consequently his 
mind acted independently of his will, and he fur 
nishes the strongest evidence in favor of my position 
that it is possible to conceive. I am infinitely 
obliged to him for the testimony he has uncon 
sciously offered. 



REPLY TO REV. DRS. THOMAS AND LORIMER. 

He also takes the ground that infidelity debases 
a man and renders him unfit for the discharge of 
the highest duties pertaining to life, and that we 
show the greatest shallowness when we endeavor 
to overthrow Calvinism. What is Calvinism ? It 
is the doctrine that an infinite God made millions of 
people, knowing that they would be damned. I 
have answered that a thousand times. I answer it 
again. No God has a right to make a mistake, and 
then damn the mistake. No God has a right to 
make a failure, and a man who is to be eternally 
damned is not a conspicuous success. No God has 
a right to make an investment that will not finally 
pay a dividend. 

The world is getting better, and the ministers, all 
your life and all mine, have been crying out from 
the pulpit that we are all going wrong, that im 
morality was stalking through the land, that crime 
was about to engulf the world, and yet, in spite of 
all their prophecies, the world has steadily grown 
better, and there is more justice, more charity, more 
kindness, more goodness, and more liberty in the 
world to-day than ever before. And there is more 
infidelity in the world to-day than ever before. 



REPLY TO 
REV. J. HALL AND W. VAN NORDEN 



A REPLY TO 
REV. JOHN HALL AND WARNER VAN NORDEN. 

Question. Have you read the article in the Morn 
ing Advertiser entitled "Workers Starving " ? 

Answer. I have read it, and was greatly surprised 
at the answers made to the reporter of the Ad 
vertiser. 

Question. What do you think of the remarks of 
the Rev. John Hall and by Mr. Warner Van Norden, 
Treasurer of the "Church Extension Committee " ? 

Answer. My opinion is that Dr. Hall must have 
answered under some irritation, or that the reporter 
did not happen to take down all he said. It hardly 
seems probable that Dr. Hall should have said that 

* The attention of Morning' Advertiser readers was, in the issue of February 27th, 
called to two sets of facts transpiring contemporaneously in this city. One was the 
starving condition of four hundred cloakmakers who had struck because they 
could not live on reduced wages. Arbitration had failed; two hundred of the 
number, seeing starvation staring them in the face, were forced to give up the 
fight, and the remaining number continued to do battle for higher wages. 

While these cloakmakers were in the extremity of destitution, millionaires were 
engaged in subscribing to a fund " for the extension of the church." The exten 
sion committee, received at the home of Jay Gould, had met with such signal 
success as to cause comment throughout the city. The host subscribed ten thousand 
dollars, his daughter twenty-five hundred and the assembled guests sums ranging 
between five hundred and one thousand. The Morning Advertiser made inquiry as 
to whether any of the money contributed for the extension of the church would 
find its way into the pockets of the hungry cloakmakers. 

Dr. John Hall said he did not have time to discuss the matter of aiding the needy 
poor, as there were so many other things that demanded his immediate attention. 

Mr. Warner Van Norden, Treasurer of the Church Extension Committee, was 
seen at his office in the North American Bank, of which institution he is President. 

(581) 



522 REPLY TO REV. J. HALL AND W. VAN NORDEN. 

he had no time to discuss the matter of aiding the 
needy poor, giving as a reason that there were so 
many other things that demanded his immediate 
attention. " The church is always insisting that it 
is, above all things, a charitable institution ; that it 
collects and distributes many millions every year for 
the relief of the needy, and it is always quoting : 
" Sell that thou hast and give to the poor." It 
is hard to imagine anything of more importance 
than to relieve the needy, or to succor the oppress 
ed. Of course, I know that the church itself pro 
duces nothing, and that it lives on contributions ; 
but its claim is that it receives from those who are 
able to give, and gives to those who are in urgent 
need. 

I have sometimes thought, that the most uncharit- 

He took the view that the cloakmakers had brought their trouble upon themselves, 
and it was not the duty of the charitable to extend to them direct aid. 

Generally speaking, he was not in favor of helping the poor and needy of the 
city, save in the way employed by the church. 

" The experience of centuries, said he, "teaches us that the giving of alms to 
the poor only encourages them in their idleness and their crimes. The duty of the 
church is to save men's souls, and to minister to their bodies incidentally. 

" It is best to teach people to rely upon their own resources. If the poor felt that 
they could get material help, they would want it always. In these days if a man or 
woman can't get along it's their own fault. There is my typewriter. She was 
brought up in a tenement house. Now she gets two dollars a day, and dresses 
better than did the lords and ladies of other times. You'll find that where people 
are poor, it's their own fault. 

" After all, happiness does not lie in the enjoyment of material things it is the soul 
that makes life worth living. You should come to our Working Girls' Club and see 
this fact illustrated. There you will see girls who have been working all day, 
singing hymns and following the leader in prayer." 

' ' Don't you think there are many worthy poor in this city who need material 
help ? " was asked. 

"No, sir ; I do not," said Mr. Van Norden. " If a man or woman wants money, 
they should work for it." 

" But is employment always to be had ? " 

" I think it is by Americans. You' 11 find that most of the people out of work 
are those who are not adapted to the conditions of this country. 

Colonel Robert Ingersoll was asked what he thought of such philosophy. New 
York Morning Advertiser ', March 6, 1892. 



REPLY TO REV. J. HALL AND W. VAN NORDEN. 523 

able thing in the world is an organized charity. It 
seems to have the peculiarities of a corporation, 
and becomes as soulless as its kindred. To use a 
very old phrase, it generally acts like " a beggar on 
horseback." 

Probably Dr. Hall, in fact, does a great deal for 
the poor, and I imagine that he must have been 
irritated or annoyed when he made the answer at 
tributed to him in the Advertiser. The good Sa 
maritan may have been in a hurry, but he said noth 
ing about it. The Levites that passed by on the 
other side seemed to have had other business. 
Understand me, I am saying nothing against Dr. 
Hall, but it does seem to me that there are few 
other matters more important than assisting our 
needy fellow-men. 

Question. What do you think of Mr. Warner 
Van Norden's sentiments as expressed to the re 
porter ? 

Answer. In the first place, I think he is entirely 
mistaken. I do not think the cloakmakers brought 
their trouble upon themselves. The wages they 
receive were and are insufficient to support reason 
able human beings. They work for almost noth 
ing, and it is hard for me to understand why they 
live at all, when life is so expensive and death so 



524 REPLY TO REV. J. HALL AND W. VAN NORDEN. 

cheap. All they can possibly do is to earn enough 
one day to buy food to enable them to work the 
next. Life with them is a perpetual struggle. They 
live on the edge of death. Under their feet they 
must feel the side of the grave crumbling, and thus 
they go through, day by day, month by month, year 
by year. They are, I presume, sustained by a hope 
that is never realized. 

Mr. Van Norden says that he is not in favor of 
helping the poor and needy of the city, save in the 
way employed by the church, and that the experi 
ence of centuries teaches us that the giving of alms 
to the poor only encourages them in their idleness 
and their crimes. 

Is Mr. Van Norden ready to take the ground 
that when Christ said : " Sell that thou hast and 
give to the poor," he intertded to encourage idleness 
and crime ? 

Is it possible that when it was said, " It is better 
to give than to receive," the real meaning was, It 
is better to encourage idleness and crime than to 
receive assistance ? 

For instance, a man falls into the water. Why 
should one standing on the shore attempt to rescue 
him ? Could he not properly say : " If all who 
fall into the water are rescued, it will only encour- 



REPLY TO REV. J. HALL AND W. VAN NORDEN. 525 

age people to fall into the water ; it will make 
sailors careless, and persons who stand on wharves, 
will care very little whether they fall in or not. 
Therefore, in order to make people careful who 
have not fallen into the water, let those in the water 
drown." In other words, why should anybody be 
assisted, if assistance encourages carelessness, or 
idleness, or negligence ? 

According to Mr. Van Norden, charity is out of 
place in this world, kindness is a mistake, and hos 
pitality springs from a lack of philosophy. In other 
words, all should take the consequences of their 
acts, not only, but the consequences of the acts of 
others. 

If I knew this doctrine to be true, I should still 
insist that men should be charitable on their own 
account. A man without pity, no matter how intel 
ligent he may be, is at best only an intellectual beast, 
and if by withholding all assistance we could finally 
people the world with those who are actually self- 
supporting, we would have a population without 
sympathy, without charity that is to say, without 
goodness. In my judgment, it would be far better 
that none should exist. 

Mr. Van Norden takes the ground that the duty 
of the church is to save men's souls, and to minister 



526 REPLY TO REV. J. HALL AND W. VAN NORDEN. 

to their bodies incidentally. I think that conditions 
have a vast deal to do with morality and goodness. 
If you wish to change the conduct of your fellow- 
men, the first thing to do is to change their condi 
tions, their surroundings ; in other words, to help 
them to help themselves help them to get away 
from bad influences, away from the darkness of ig 
norance, away from the temptations of poverty and 
want, not only into the light intellectually, but into 
the climate of prosperity. It is useless to give a 
hungry man a religious tract, and it is almost use 
less to preach morality to those who are so situated 
that the necessity of the present, the hunger of the 
moment, overrides every other consideration. There 
is a vast deal of sophistry in hunger, and a good deal 
of persuasion in necessity. 

Prosperity is apt to make men selfish. They 
imagine that because they have succeeded, others 
and all others, might or may succeed. If any man 
will go over his own life honestly, he will find that he 
has not always succeeded because he was good, or 
that he has always failed because he was bad. He 
will find that many things happened with which he 
had nothing to do, for his benefit, and that, after all 
is said and done, he cannot account for all of his 
successes by his absolute goodness. So, if a man 



REPLY TO REV. J. HALL AND W. VAN NORDEN. 52 7 

will think of all the bad things he has done of all 
the bad things he wanted to do of all the bad 
things he would have done had he had the chance, 
and had he known that detection was impossible, he 
will find but little foundation for egotism. 

Question. What do you say to this language of 
Mr. Van Norden. " It is best to teach people to rely 
upon their own resources. If the poor felt that they 
could get material help they would want it always, 
and in this day, if a man and woman cannot get 
along, it is their own fault " ? 

Ansiver. All I can say is that I do not agree with 
him. Often there are many more men in a certain 
trade than there is work for such men. Often great 
factories shut down, leaving many thousands out of 
employment. You may say that it was the fault of 
these men that they learned that trade ; that they 
might have known it would be overcrowded ; so you 
may say it was the fault of the capitalist to start a 
factory in that particular line, because he should have 
known that it was to be overdone. 

As no man can look very far into the future, the 
truth is it was nobody's fault, and without fault thou 
sands and thousands are thrown out of employment. 
Competition is so sharp, wages are so small, that to be 
out of employment for a few weeks means want. You 



528 REPLY TO REV. J. HALL AND W. VA"N NORDEN. 

cannot say that this is the fault of the man who wants 
bread. He certainly did not wish to go hungry ; 
neither did he deliberately plan a failure. He did 
the best he could. There are plenty of bankers who 
fail in business, not because they wish to fail; so 
there are plenty of professional men who cannot 
make a living, yet it may not be their fault ; and 
there are others who get rich, and it may not be by 
reason of their virtues. 

Without doubt, there are many people in the 
city of New York who cannot make a living. Com 
petition is too sharp ; life is too complex ; conse 
quently the percentage of failures is large. In sav 
age life there are few failures, but in civilized life 
there are many. There are many thousands out of 
work and out of food in Berlin to-day. It can 
hardly be said to be their fault. So there are many 
thousands in London, and every other great city of 
the world. You cannot account for all this want by 
saying that the people who want are entirely to 
blame. 

A man gets rich, and he is often egotistic enough 
to think that his wealth was the result of his 
own unaided efforts ; and he is sometimes heartless 
enough to say that others should get rich by follow 
ing his example. 



REPLY TO REV. J. HALL AND W. VAN NORDEN. 529 

Mr. Van Norden states that he has a typewriter 
who gets two dollars a day, and that she dresses 
better than the lords and ladies did of olden times. 
He must refer to the times of the Garden of Eden. 
Out of two dollars a day one must live, and there is 
very little left for gorgeous robes. I hardly think a 
lady is to be envied because she receives two dol 
lars a day, and the probability is that the manner in 
which she dresses on that sum having first deducted 
the expenses of living is not calculated to excite 
envy. 

The philosophy of Mr. Van Norden seems to 
be concentrated into this line : " Where people are 
poor it is their own fault." Of course this is the 
death of all charity. 

We are then informed by this gentleman that 
" happiness does not lie in the enjoyment of mate 
rial things that it is the soul that makes life worth 
living." 

Is it the soul without pity that makes life worth 
living? Is it the soul in which the blossom of 
charity has never shed its perfume that makes life 
so desirable ? Is it the soul, having all material 
things, wrapped in the robes of prosperity, and that 
says to all the poor : It is your own fault ; die of 
hunger if you must that makes life worth living ? 



530 REPLY TO REV. J. HALL AND W. VAN NORDEN. 

It may be asked whether it is worth while for such 
a soul to live. 

If this is the philosophy of Mr. Van Norden, I 
do not wish to visit his working girls' club, or 
to " hear girls who have been working all day 
singing hymns and following the leader in prayer." 
Why should a soul without pity pray ? Why 
should any one ask God to be merciful to the 
poor if he is not merciful himself? For my own 
part, I would rather see poor people eat than to 
hear them pray. I would rather see them clothed 
comfortably than to see them shivering, and at the 
same time hear them sing hymns. 

It does not seem possible that any man can say 
that there are no worthy poor in this city who need 
material help. Neither does it seem possible that 
any man can say to one who is starving that if he 
wants money he must work for it. There are 
hundreds and thousands in this city willing to work 
who can find no employment. There are good and 
pure women standing between their children and 
starvation, living in rooms worse than cells in peni 
tentiaries giving their own lives to their children 
hundreds and hundreds of martyrs bearing the cross 
of every suffering, worthy of the reverence and love 
of mankind. So there are men wandering about 



REPLY TO REV. J. HALL AND W. VAN NORDEN. 53 I 

these streets in search of work, willing to do any 
thing to feed the ones they love. 

Mr. Van Norden has not done himself justice. I 
do not believe that he expresses his real sentiments. 
But, after all, why should we expect charity in a 
church that believes in the dogma of eternal pain ? 
Why cannot the rich be happy here in their palaces, 
while the poor suffer and starve in huts, when these 
same rich expect to enjoy heaven forever, with all 
the unbelievers in hell ? Why should the agony of 
time interfere with their happiness, when the ago 
nies of eternity will not and cannot affect their joy ? 
But I have nothing against Dr. John Hall or Mr. 
Van Norden only against their ideas. 



REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB. 



A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB.* 

Question. Last Sunday the Rev. Dr. Plumb paid 
some attention to the lecture which you delivered 
here on the 23rd of October. Have you read a 
report of it, and what have you to say ? 

Answer. Dr. Plumb attacks not only myself, but 
the Rev. Mr. Mills. I do not know the position that 
Mr. Mills takes, but from what Dr. Plumb says, I 
suppose that he has mingled a little philosophy with 
his religion and some science with his superstition. 
Dr. Plumb appears to have successfully avoided both. 
His manners do not appear to me to be of the best. 
Why should he call an opponent coarse and blas 
phemous, simply because he does not happen to 
believe as he does ? Is it blasphemous to say that 
this " poor" world never was visited by a Redeemer 
from Heaven, a majestic being unique peculiar 
who ' ' trod the sea and hushed the storm and raised 
the dead " ? Why does Dr. Plumb call this world a 

Boston, 1898. (535) 



53$ A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB. 

" poor " world ? According to his creed, it was 
created by infinite wisdom, infinite goodness and 
infinite power. How dare he call the work of such 
a being "poor"? 

Is it not blasphemous for a Boston minister to 
denounce the work of the Infinite and say to God 
that he made a " poor " world ? If I believed this 
world had been made by an infinitely wise and good 
Being, I should certainly insist that this is not a poor 
world, but, on the contrary, a perfect world. I 
would insist that everything that happens is for the 
best. Whether it looks wise or foolish to us, I 
would insist that the fault we thought we saw, lies in 
us and not in the infinitely wise and benevolent 
Creator. 

Dr. Plumb may love God, but he certainly re 
gards him as a poor mechanic and a failure as a 
manufacturer. There Dr. Plumb, like all religious 
preachers, takes several things for granted ; things 
that have not been established by evidence, and 
things which in their nature cannot be estab 
lished. 

He tells us that this poor world was visited by a 
mighty Redeemer from Heaven. How does he 
know ? Does he know where heaven is ? Does 
he know that any such place exists ? Is he perfectly 



A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB. 537 

sure that an infinite God would be foolish enough to 
make people who needed a redeemer ? 

He also says that this Being " trod the sea, hushed 
the storm and raised the dead." Is there any evi 
dence that this Being trod the sea? Any more 
evidence than that Venus rose from the foam of the 
ocean ? Any evidence that he hushed the storm 
any more than there is that the storm comes from 
the cave of ^Eolus ? Is there any evidence that he 
raised the dead ? How would it be possible to 
prove that the dead were raised ? How could we 
prove such a thing if it happened now ? Who 
would believe the evidence ? As a matter of fact r 
the witnesses themselves would not believe and 
could not believe until raising of the dead became so 
general as to be regarded as natural. 

Dr. Plumb knows, if he knows anything, that 
gospel gossip is the only evidence he has, or anybody 
has, that Christ trod the sea, hushed the storm and 
raised the dead. He also knows, if he knows any 
thing, that these stories were not written until Christ 
himself had been dead for at least four generations. 
He knows also that these accounts were written at 
a time when the belief in miracles was almost uni 
versal, and when everything that actually happened 
was regarded of no particular importance, and only 



A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB. 

the things that did not happen were carefully written 
out with all the details. 

So Dr. Plumb says that this man who hushed the 
storm " spake as never man spake." Did the 
Doctor ever read Zeno ? Zeno, who denounced 
human slavery many years before Christ was born ? 
Did he ever read Epicurus, one of the greatest of 
the Greeks? Has he read anything from Buddha? 
Has he read the dialogues between Arjuna and 
Krishna ? If he has, he knows that every great 
and splendid utterance of Christ was uttered cen 
turies before he lived. Did he ever read Lao-tsze ? If 
he did and this man lived many centuries before the 
coming of our Lord he knows that Lao-tsze said 
" we should render benefits for injuries. We should 
love our enemies, and we should not resist evil." 
So it will hardly do now to say that Christ spake as 
never man spake, because he repeated the very 
things that other men had said. 

So he says that I am endeavoring to carry people 
back to a dimly groping Socrates or a vague Con 
fucius. Did Dr. Plumb ever read Confucius ? Only 
a little while ago a book was published by Mr. For- 
long showing the origin of the principal religion and 
the creeds that have been taught. In this book you 
will find the cream of Buddha, of Christ, of Zoroaster, 



A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB. 539 

and you will also find a few pages devoted to the 
philosophy of Confucius ; and after you have read the 
others, then read what Confucius says, and you will 
find that his philosophy rises like a monolith touch 
ing the clouds, while the creeds and sayings of the 
others appear like heaps of stone or piles of rubbish. 
The reason of this is that Confucius was not simply 
a sentimentalist. He was not controlled entirely by 
feeling, but he had intelligence a great brain in 
which burned the torch of reason. Read Confucius, 
and you will think that he must have known the 
sciences of to-day ; that is to say, the conclusions 
that have been reached by modern thinkers. It 
could have been easily said of Confucius in his day 
that he spake as never man had spoken, and it may 
be that after you read him you will change your 
mind just a little as to the wisdom and the intelli 
gence contained in many of the sayings of our Lord. 
Dr. Plumb charges that Mr. Mills is trying to re 
construct theology. Whether he is right in this 
charge I do not know, but I do know that I am not 
trying to reconstruct theology. I am endeavoring 
to destroy it. I have no more confidence in theol 
ogy than I have in astrology or in the black art. 
Theology is a science that exists wholly independent 
of facts, and that reaches conclusions, without the 



54O A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. FLUME. 

assistance of evidence. It also scorns experience 
and does what little it can to do away with 
thought. 

I make a very great distinction between theology 
and real religion. I can conceive of no religion ex 
cept usefulness. Now, here we are, men and women 
in this world, and we have certain faculties, certain 
senses. There are things that we can ascertain, 
and by developing our brain we can avoid mistakes, 
keep a few thorns out of our feet, a few thistles out 
of our hands, a few diseases from our flesh. In my 
judgment, we should use all our senses, gathering 
information from every possible quarter, and this in 
formation should be only used for the purpose of 
ascertaining the facts, for finding out the conditions 
of well-being, to the end that we may add to the 
happiness of ourselves and fellows. 

In other words, I believe in intellectual veracity 
and also in mental hospitality. To me reason is the 
final arbiter, and when I say reason, I mean my rea 
son. It may be a very poor light, the flame small 
and flickering, but, after all, it is the only light I 
have, and never with my consent shall any preacher 
blow it out. 

Now, Dr. Plumb thinks that I am trying to despoil 
my fellow-men of their greatest inheritance ; that is 



A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB. 541 

to say, divine Christ. Why do you call Christ good ? 
Is it because he was merciful ? Then why do you 
put him above mercy ? Why do you call Christ 
good ? Is it because he was just ? Why do you 
put him before justice ? Suppose it should turn out 
that no such person as Christ ever lived. What 
harm would that do justice or mercy ? Wouldn't 
the tear of pity be as pure as now, and wouldn't 
justice, holding aloft her scales, from which she 
blows even the dust of prejudice, be as noble, as 
admirable as now ? Is it not better to love, justice 
and mercy than to love a name, and when you put 
a name above justice, above mercy, are you sure 
that you are benefiting your fellow-men ? 

If Dr. Plumb wanted to answer me, why did he 
not take my argument instead of my motive ? 
Why did he not point out my weakness instead of 
telling the consequences that would follow from my 
action ? We have nothing to do with the conse 
quences. I said that to believe without evidence, 
or in spite of evidence, was superstition. If that 
definition is correct, Dr. Plumb is a superstitious 
man, because he believes at least without evidence. 
What evidence has he that Christ was God ? In 
the nature of things, how could he have evidence ? 
The only evidence he pretends to have is the dream 



542 A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB. 

of Joseph, and he does not know that Joseph 
ever dreamed the dream, because Joseph did not 
write an account of his dream, so that Dr. Plumb 
has only hearsay for the dream, and the dream is 
the foundation of his creed. 

Now, when I say that that is superstition, Dr. 
Plumb charges me with being a burglar a coarse, 
blasphemous burglar who wishes to rob somebody 
of some great blessing. Dr. Plumb would not hesi 
tate to tell a Mohammedan that Mohammed was an 
impostor. He would tell a Mormon in Utah that 
Joseph Smith was a vulgar liar and that Brigham 
Young was no better. In other words, if in Turkey, 
he would be a coarse and blasphemous burglar, and 
he would follow the same profession in Utah. So 
probably he would tell the Chinese that Confucius 
was an ignorant wretch and that their religion was 
idiotic, and the Chinese priest would denounce Dr. 
Plumb as a very coarse and blasphemous burglar, 
and Dr. Plumb would be perfectly astonished 
that a priest could be so low, so impudent and 
malicious. 

Of course my wonder is not excited. I have 
become used to it. 

If Dr. Plumb would think, if he would exercise 
his imagination a little and put himself in the place 



A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB. 543 

of others, he would think, in all probability, better 
things of his opponents. I do not know Dr. Plumb, 
and yet I have no doubt that he is a good and 
sincere man ; a little superstitious, superficial, and 
possibly, mingled with his many virtues, there may 
be a little righteous malice. 

The Rev. Mr. Mills used to believe as Dr. Plumb 
does now, and I suppose he has changed for reasons 
that were sufficient for him. So I believe him to be 
an honest, conscientious man, and so far as I am con 
cerned, I have no objection to Mr. Mills doing what 
little he can to get all the churches to act together. 
He may never succeed, but I am not responsible for 
that. 

So I have no objection to Dr. Plumb preaching 
what he believes to be the gospel. I admit that he 
is honest when he says that an infinitely good God 
made a poor world ; that he made man and woman 
and put them in the Garden of Eden, and that this 
same God before that time had manufactured a devil, 
and that when he manufactured this devil, he knew 
that he would corrupt the man and woman that he 
had determined to make ; that he could have 
defeated the devil, but that for a wise purpose, he 
allowed his Satanic Majesty to succeed ; that at the 
time he allowed him to succeed, he knew that in 



544 A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB. 

consequence of his success that he (God) in about 
fifteen or sixteen hundred years would be compelled 
to drown the whole world with the exception of eight 
people. These eight people he kept for seed. At 
the time he kept them for seed, he knew that they 
were totally depraved, that they were saturated with 
the sin of Adam and Eve, and that their children 
would be their natural heirs. He also knew at 
the time he allowed the devil to succeed, that he 
(God), some four thousand years afterward, would be 
compelled to be born in Palestine as a babe, to learn 
the carpenter's trade, and to go about the country for 
three years preaching to the people and discussing 
with the rabbis of his chosen people, and he also 
knew that these chosen people these people who 
had been governed and educated by him, to whom 
he had sent a multitude of prophets, would at that 
time be so savage that they would crucify him, al 
though he would be at that time the only sinless 
being who had ever stood upon the earth. This he 
knew would be the effect of his government, of his 
education of his chosen people. He also knew at 
the time he allowed the devil to succeed, that in 
consequence of that success a vast majority of the 
human race would become eternal convicts in the 
prison of hell. 



A REPLY TO THE REV. DR. PLUMB. 545 

All this he knew, and yet Dr. Plumb insists that 
he was and is infinitely wise, infinitely powerful 
and infinitely good. What would this God have 
done if he had lacked wisdom, or power, or 
goodness ? 

Of all the religions that man has produced, of all 
the creeds of savagery, there is none more perfectly 
absurd than Christianity. 



REPLY TO THE 
N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 



A REPLY TO 
THE NEW YORK CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION.* 

Question. Have you followed the controversy, 
or rather, the interest manifested in the letters to 
the Journal which have followed your lecture of 
Sunday, and what do you think of them ? 

Answer. I have read the letters and reports that 
have been published in the Journal. Some of them 
seem to be very sincere, some not quite honest, and 
some a little of both. 

The Rev. Robert S. MacArthur takes the ground 
that very many Christians do not believe in a per 
sonal devil, but are still Christians. He states that 
they hold that the references in the New Testament 
to the devil are simply to personifications of evil, 
and do not apply to any personal existence. He 
says that he could give the names of a number of 
pastors who hold such views. He does not state 
what his view is. Consequently, I do not know 
whether he is a believer in a personal devil or not. 

New York Journal, 1898. An Interview. (649) 



55O REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 

The statement that the references in the New 
Testament to a devil are simply to personifications 
of evil, not applying to any personal existence, 
seems to me utterly absurd. 

The references to devils in the New Testament 
are certainly as good and satisfactory as the refer 
ences to angels. Now, are the angels referred to in 
the New Testament simply personifications of good, 
and are there no such personal existences ? If 
devils are only personifications of evil, how is it that 
these personifications of evil could hold arguments 
with Jesus Christ ? How could they talk back ? 
How could they publicly acknowledge the divinity 
of Christ ? As a matter of fact, the best evidences 
of Christ's divinity in the New Testament are the 
declarations of devils. These devils were supposed 
to be acquainted with supernatural things, and con 
sequently knew a God when they saw one, whereas 
the average Jew, not having been a citizen of the 
celestial world, was unable to recognize a deity 
when he met him. 

Now, these personifications of evil, as Dr. Mac- 
Arthur calls them, were of various kinds. Some 
of them were dumb, while others could talk, and 
Christ said, speaking of the dumb devils, that they 
were very difficult to expel from the bodies of men ; 



REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 551 

that it required fasting and prayer to get them out. 
Now, did Christ mean that these dumb devils did 
not exist ? That they were only " personifications 
of evil " ? 

Now, we are also told in the New Testament that 
Christ was tempted by the devil ; that is, by a 
" personification of evil," and that this personifica 
tion took him to the pinnacle of the temple and 
tried to induce him to jump off. Now, where did 
this personification of evil come from ? Was it an 
actual existence ? Dr. MacArthur says that it may 
not have been. Then it did not come from the out 
side of Christ. If it existed it came from the inside 
of Christ, so that, according to MacArthur, Christ 
was the creator of his own devil. 

I do not know that I have a right to say that this 
is Dr. MacArthur's opinion, as he has wisely re 
frained from giving his opinion. I hope some time 
he will tell us whether he really believes in a devil 
or not, or whether he thinks all allusions and refer 
ences to devils in the New Testament can be ex 
plained away by calling the devils "personifications 
of evil." Then, of course, he will tell us whether it 
was a " personification of evil " that offered Christ 
all the kingdoms of the world, and whether Christ 
expelled seven " personifications of evil " from Mary 



552 REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SlTPERSTITION. 

Magdalene, and how did they come to count these 
" personifications of evil " ? If the devils, after all, 
are only " personifications of evil," then, of course, 
they cannot be numbered. They are all one. 
There may be different manifestations, but, in fact, 
there can be but one, and yet Mary Magdalene had 
seven. 

Dr. MacArthur states that I put up a man of 
straw, and then vigorously beat him down. Now, 
the question is, do I attack a man of straw ? I take 
it for granted that Christians to some extent, at least, 
believe in their creeds. I suppose they regard the 
Bible as the inspired word of God ; that they be 
lieve in the fall of man, in the atonement, in salva 
tion by faith, in the resurrection and ascension of 
Christ. I take it for granted that they believe these 
things. Of course, the only evidence I have is 
what they say. Possibly that cannot be depended 
upon. They may be dealing only in the " personi 
fication of truth." 

When I charge the orthodox Christians with be 
lieving these things, I am told that I am far behind 
the religious thinking of the hour, but after all, this 
" man of straw " is quite powerful. Prof. Briggs 
attacked this " man of straw," and the straw man 
turned on him and put him out. A preacher by 



REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 553 

the name of Smith, a teacher in some seminary out 
in Ohio, challenged this " man of straw," and the 
straw man put him out. 

Both these reverend gentlemen were defeated 
by the straw man, and if the Rev. Dr. MacArthur 
will explain to his congregation, I mean only ex 
plain what he calls the " religious thinking of the 
hour," the " straw man " will put him out too. 

Dr. MacArthur finds fault with me because I put 
into the minds of representative thinkers of to-day 
the opinions of medieval monks, which leading re 
ligious teachers long ago discarded. Will Dr. Mac- 
Arthur have the goodness to point out one opinion 
that I have put into the minds of representative 
thinkers that is, of orthodox thinkers that any 
orthodox religious teacher of to-day has discarded ? 
Will he have the kindness to give just one ? 

In my lecture on "Superstition " I did say that 
to deny the existence of evil spirits, or to deny the 
existence of the devil, is to deny the truth of the 
New Testament ; and that to deny the existence of 
these imps of darkness is to contradict the words of 
Jesus Christ. I did say that if we give up the be 
lief in devils we must give up the inspiration of 
the Old and New Testaments, and we must give up 
the divinity of Christ. Upon that declaration I 



554 REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 

stand, because if devils do not exist, then Jesus Christ 
was mistaken, or we have not in the New Testament 
a true account of what he said and of what he pre 
tended to do. If the New Testament gives a true 
account of his words and pretended actions, then he 
did claim to cast out devils. That was his principal 
business. That was his certificate of divinity, casting 
out devils. That authenticated his mission and 
proved that he was superior to the hosts of darkness. 

Now, take the devil out of the New Testament, 
and you also take the veracity of Christ ; with that 
veracity you take the divinity ; with that divinity 
you take the atonement, and when you take the 
atonement, the great fabric known as Christianity 
becomes a shapeless ruin. 

Now, let Dr. MacArthur answer this, and answer 
it not like a minister, but like a man. Ministers are 
unconsciously a little unfair. They have a little 
tendency to what might be called a natural crook. 
They become spiritual when they ought to be can 
did. They become a little ingenious and pious when 
they ought to be frank ; and when really driven into 
a corner, they clasp their hands, they look upward, 
and they cry "Blasphemy / " I do not mean by this 
that they are dishonest. I simply mean that they 
are illogical. 



REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 555 

Dr. MacArthur tells us also that Spain is not a 
representative of progressive religious teachers. I 
admit that. There are no progressive religious 
teachers in Spain, and right here let me make a re 
mark. If religion rests on an inspired revelation, it 
is incapable of progress. It may be said that year 
after year we get to understand it better, but if it is 
not understood when -given, why is it called a " reve 
lation " ? There is no progress in the multiplication 
table. Some men are better mathematicians than 
others, but the old multiplication table remains the 
same. So there can be no progress in a revelation 
from God. 

Now, Spain and that is the great mistake, the 
great misfortune has remained orthodox. That is 
to say, the Spaniards have been true to their super 
stition. Of course the Rev. Dr. MacArthur will 
not admit that Catholicism is Christianity, and I sup 
pose that the pope would hardly admit that a Bap 
tist is a very successful Christian. The trouble with 
Spain is, and the trouble with the Baptist Church is, 
that neither of them has progressed to any great 
extent. 

Now, in my judgment, what is called religion must 
grow better as man grows better, simply because it 
was produced by man. and the better man is, the 



REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 

nearer civilized he is, the better, the nearer civilized, 
will be what he calls his religion ; and if the Baptist 
religion has progressed, it is a demonstration that 
it was not originally founded on a revelation from 
God. 

In my lecture I stated that we had no right to 
make any distinction between the actions of infinite 
wisdom and goodness, and that if God created and 
governs this world we ought to thank him, if we 
thanked him at all, for all that happens ; that we 
should thank him just as heartily for famine and cy 
clone as for sunshine and harvest, and that if Presi 
dent McKinley thanked God for the victory at 
Santiago, he also should have thanked him for send 
ing the yellow fever. 

I stand by these words. A finite being has no 
right to make any distinction between the actions of 
the infinitely good and wise. If God governs this 
world, then everything that happens is the very best 
that could happen. When A murders B, the best 
thing that could happen to A is to be a murderer and 
the best thing that could have happened to B was to 
be murdered. There is no escape from this if the 
world is governed by infinite wisdom and goodness. 

It will not do to try and dodge by saying that man 
is free. This God who made man and made him free 



REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 557 

knew exactly how he would use his freedom, and 
consequently ihis God cannot escape the responsi 
bility for the actions of men. He made them. He 
knew exactly what they would do. He is respon 
sible. 

If I could turn a piece of wood into a human 
being, and I knew that he would murder a man, 
who is the real murderer ? But if Dr. MacArthur 
would think as much as he preaches, he would 
come much nearer agreeing with me. 

The Rev. Dr. J. Lewis Parks is very sorry that 
he cannot discuss Ingersoll's address, because to do 
so would be dignifying Ingersoll. Of course I 
deeply regret the refusal of Dr. J. Lewis Parks to 
discuss the address. I dislike to be compelled to 
go to the end of my life without being dignified. 
At the same time I will forgive the Rev. Dr. J. 
Lewis Parks for not answering me, because I know 
that he cannot. 

The Rev. Dr. Moldehnke, whose name seems 
chiefly made of consonants, denounces me as a scof 
fer and as illogical, and says that Christianity is not 
founded upon the devil, but upon Christ. He fur 
ther says that we do not believe in such a thing as 
a devil in human form, but we know that there is 
evil, and that evil we call the devil. He hides his 



55^ REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 

head under the same leaf with Dr. MacArthur by 
calling the devil evil. 

Now, is this gentleman willing to say that all the 
allusions to the devil in the Old and New Testa 
ments can be harmonized with the idea that the 
devil is simply a personification of evil ? Can he 
say this and say it honestly ? 

But the Rev. Dr. Moldehnke, I think, seems to 
be consistent ; seems to go along with the logic of 
his creed. He says that the yellow fever, if it visit 
ed our soldiers, came from God, and that we 
should thank God for it. He does not say the 
soldiers should thank God for it, or that those who 
had it should thank God for it, but that we should 
thank God for it, and there is this wonderful thing 
about Christianity. It enables us to bear with great 
fortitude, with a kind of sublime patience, the mis 
fortunes of others. 

He says that this yellow fever works out God's 
purposes. Of course I am not as well acquainted 
with the Deity as the Rev. Moldehnke appears to 
be. I have not the faintest idea of what God's pur 
poses are. He works, even according to his mes 
sengers, in such a mysterious way, that with the 
little reason I have I find it impossible to follow 
him. Why God should have any purpose that 



REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 559 

could be worked out with yellow fever, or cholera, 
or why he should ever ask the assistance of tape 
worms, or go in partnership with cancers, or take 
in the plague as an assistant, I have never been 
able to understand. I do not pretend to know. I 
admit my ignorance, and after all, the Rev. Dr. 
Moldehnke may be right. It may be that every 
thing that happens is for the best. At the same 
time, I do not believe it. 

There is a little old story on this subject that 
throws some light on the workings of the average 
orthodox mind. 

One morning the son of an old farmer came in 
and said to his father, " One of the ewe lambs is 
dead." 

" Well," said the father ; " that is all for the best. 
Twins never do very well, any how." 

The next morning the son reported the death of 
the other lamb, and the old man said, " Well, that 
is all for the best ; the old ewe will have more 
wool." 

The next morning the son said, " The old ewe is 
dead." 

" Well," replied the old man ; " that may be for 
the best, but I don't see it this morning." 

The Rev. Mr. Hamlin has the goodness to say 



560 REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 

that my influence is on the wane. This is an ad 
mission that I have some, for which I am greatly 
obliged to him. He further states that all my 
arguments are easily refuted, but fails to refute them 
on the ground that such refutation might be an 
advertisement for me. 

Now, if Mr. Hamlin would think a little, he 
would see that there are some things in the lecture 
on " Superstition " worth the while even of a 
Methodist minister to answer. 

Does Mr. Hamlin believe in the existence of the 
devil ? If he does, will he have the goodness to 
say who created the devil ? He may say that God 
created him, as he is the creator of all. Then I 
ask Mr. Hamlin this question : Why did God 
create a successful rival ? When God created the 
devil, did he not know at that time that he was 
to make this world ? That he was to create Adam 
and Eve and put them in the Garden of Eden, and 
did he not know that this devil would tempt this 
Adam and Eve ? That in consequence of that they 
would fall ? That in consequence of that he would 
have to drown all their descendants except eight ? 
That in consequence of that he himself would have 
to be born into this world as a Judean peasant? 
That he would have to be crucified and suffer for 



REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 561 

the sins of these people who had been misled by 
this devil that he deliberately created, and that after 
all he would be able only to save a few Methodists ? 

Will the Rev. Mr. Hamlin have the goodness to 
answer this ? He can answer it as mildly as he 
pleases, so that in any event it will be no adver 
tisement for him. 

The Rev. Mr. F. J. Belcher pays me a great 
compliment, for which I now return my thanks. He 
has the goodness to say, " Ingersoll in many 
respects is like Voltaire." I think no finer compli 
ment has been paid me by any gentleman occupy 
ing a pulpit, for many years, and again I thank the 
Rev. Mr. Belcher. 

The Rev. W. D. Buchanan, does not seem to be 
quite fair. He says that every utterance of mine 
impresses men with my insincerity, and that every 
argument I bring forward is specious, and that I 
spend my time in ringing the changes on arguments 
that have been answered over and over again for 
hundreds of years. 

Now, Dr. Buchanan should remember that he 
ought not to attack motives ; that you cannot 
answer an argument by vilifying the man who makes 
it. You must answer not the man, but the argu 
ment. 



562 REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 

Another thing this reverend gentleman should 
remember, and that is that no argument is old until 
it has been answered. An argument that has not 
been answered, although it has been put forward 
for many centuries, is still as fresh as a flower with 
the dew on its breast. It never is old until it has 
been answered. 

It is well enough for this gentleman to say that 
these arguments have been answered, and if they 
have and he knows that they have, of course it will 
be but a little trouble to him to repeat these answers. 

Now, my dear Dr. Buchanan, I wish to ask you 
some questions. Do you believe in a personal devil ? 
Do you believe that the bodies of men and women 
become tenements for little imps and goblins and 
demons ? Do you believe that the devil used to 
lead men and women astray ? Do you believe the 
stories about devils that you find in the Old and New 
Testaments ? 

Now, do not tell me that these questions have been 
answered long ago. Answer them now. And if 
you say the devil does exist, that he is a person, 
that he is an enemy of God, then let me ask you 
another question : Why should this devil punish 
souls in hell for rebelling against God ? Why should 
the devil, who is an enemy of God, help punish God's 



REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 563 

enemies ? This may have been answered many 
times, but one more repetition will do but little 
harm. 

Another thing ; Do you believe in the eternity of 
punishment ? Do you believe that God is the 
keeper of an eternal prison, the doors of which open 
only to receive sinners, and do you believe that 
eternal punishment is the highest expression of 
justice and mercy ? 

If you had the power to change a stone into a 
human being, and you knew that that human being 
would be a sinner and finally go to hell and suffer 
eternal torture, would you not leave it stone ? And 
if, knowing this, you changed the stone into a man, 
would you not be a fiend ? Now, answer this fairly. 
I want nothing spiritual ; nothing with the Pres 
byterian flavor ; just good, honest talk, and tell us 
how that is. 

I say to you that if there is a place of eternal tor 
ment or misery for any of the children of men I 
say to you that your God is a wild beast, an insane 
fiend, whom I abhor and despise with every drop of 
my blood. 

At the same time you may say whether you are 
up, according to Dr. MacArthur, with the religious 
thinking of the hour. 



564 REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 

The Rev. J. W. Campbell I rather like. He appears 
to be absolutely sincere. He is orthodox true blue. 
He believes in a devil ; in an acting, thinking devil, 
and a clever devil. Of course he does not think this 
devil is as stout as God, but he is quicker ; not quite 
as wise, but a little more cunning. 

According to Mr. Campbell, the devil is the bunco 
steerer of the universe king of the green goods men ; 
but, after all, Mr. Campbell will not admit that if this 
devil does not exist the Christian creeds all crumble, 
but I think he will admit that if the devil does not 
exist, then Christ was mistaken, or that the writers 
of the New Testament did not truthfully give us his 
utterances. 

Now, if Christ was mistaken about the existence 
of the devil, may be he was mistaken about the ex 
istence of God. In other words, if Christ made a 
mistake, then he was ignorant. Then we cannot say 
he was divine, although ignorance has generally be 
lieved in divinity. So I do not see exactly how Mr. 
Campbell can say that if the devil does not exist 
the Christian creeds do not crumble, and when I 
say Christian creeds I mean orthodox creeds. Is 
there any orthodox Christian creed without the devil 
in it? 

Now, if we throw away the devil we throw away 



REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 565 

original sin, the fall of man, and we throw away the 
atonement. Of this arch the devil is the keystone. 
Remove him, the arch falls. 

Now, how can you say that an orthodox Christian 
creed remains intact without crumbling when original 
sin, the fall of man, the atonement and the existence 
of the devil are all thrown aside ? 

Of course if you mean by Christianity, acting like 
Christ, being good, forgiving, that is another matter, 
but that is not Christianity. Orthodox Christians say 
that a man must believe on Christ, must have faith, 
and that to act as Christ did, is not enough ; that a 
man who acts exactly as Christ did, dying without 
faith, would go to hell. So when Mr. Campbell 
speaks of a Christian, I suppose he means an orthodox 
Christian. 

Now, Dr. Campbell not only knows that the devil 
exists, but he knows a good deal about him. He 
knows that he can assume every conceivable disguise 
or shape ; that he can go about like a roaring lion ; 
that at another time he is a god of this world ; on 
another occasion a dragon, and in the afternoon of the 
same day may be Lucifer, an angel of light, and all 
the time, I guess, a prince of lies. So he often as 
sumes the disguise of the serpent. 

So the Doctor thinks that when the devil invited 



566 REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 

Christ into the wilderness to tempt him, that he 
adopted some disguise that made him more than 
usually attractive. Does the Doctor think that Christ 
could not see through the disguise ? Was it possible 
r or the devil with a mask to fool God, his creator? 
Was it possible for the devil to tempt Christ by offer 
ing him the kingdoms of the earth when they already 
belonged to Christ, and when Christ knew that the 
devil had no title, and when the devil knew that 
Christ knew that he had no title, and when the devil 
knew that Christ knew that he was the devil, and 
when the devil knew that he was Christ ? Does the 
reverend gentleman still think that it was the dis 
guise of the devil that tempted Christ ? 

I would like some of these questions answered, be 
cause I have a very inquiring mind. 

So Mr. Campbell tells us and it is very good and 
comforting of him that there is a time coming when 
the devil shall deceive the nations no more. He 
also tells us that God is more powerful than the 
devil, and that he is going to put an end to him. 

Will Mr. Campbell have the goodness to tell me 
why God made the devil ? If he is going to put an 
end to him why did he start him ? Was it not a 
waste of raw material to make him ? Was it not 
unfair to let this devil, so powerful, so cunning, so 



REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 567 

attractive, into the Garden of Eden, and put Adam 
and Eve, who were then scarcely half dry, within his 
power, and not only Adam and Eve within his power, 
but their descendants, so that the slime of the serpent 
has been on every babe, and so that, in consequence 
of what happened in the Garden of Eden, flames 
will surround countless millions in the presence of the 
most merciful God ? 

Now, it may be that the Rev. Dr. Campbell can 
explain all these things. He may not care to do it 
for my benefit, but let him think of his own congre 
gation ; of the lambs he is protecting from the wolves 
of doubt and thought. 

The Rev. Henry Frank appears to be a man of 
exceedingly good sense ; one who thinks for him 
self, and who has the courage of his convictions. Of 
course I am sorry that he does not agree with me, 
but I have become used to that, and so I thank him 
for the truths he utters. 

He does not believe in the existence of a personal 
devil, and I guess by following him up we would find 
that he d'd not believe in the existence of a personal 
God, or in the inspiration of the Scriptures. In 
fact, he tells us that he has given up the infallibility 
of the Bible. At the same time, he says it is the 
most perfect compendium of religious and moral 



568 REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 

thought. In that I think he is a little mistaken. 
There is a vast deal of irreligion in the Bible, and 
there is a good deal of immoral thought in the Bible ; 
but I agree with him that it is neither inspired nor 
infallible. 

The Rev. E. C. J. Kraeling, pastor of the Zion 
Lutheran Church, declares that those who do not 
believe in a personal God do not believe in a per 
sonal Satan, and vice versa. The one, he says, 
necessitates the other. In this I do not think he is 
quite correct. I think many people believe in a 
personal God who do not believe in a personal 
devil, but I know of none who do believe in a per 
sonal devil who do not also believe in a personal 
God. The orthodox generally believe in both of 
them, and for many centuries Christians spoke with 
great respect of the devil. They were afraid of 
him. 

But I agree with the Rev. Mr. Kraeling when he 
says that to deny a personal Satan is to deny the 
infallibility of God's word. I agree with this because 
I suppose by " God's word " he means the Bible. 

He further says, and I agree with him, that a 
" Christian " needs no scientific argument on which 
to base his belief in the personality of Satan. That 
certainly is true, and if a Christian does need a 



REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 569 

scientific argument it is equally true that he never 
will have one. 

You see this word " Science " means something 
that somebody knows ; not something that somebody 
guesses, or wishes, or hopes, or believes, but some 
thing that somebody knows. 

Of course there cannot be any scientific argument 
proving the existence of the devil. At the same 
time I admit, as the Rev. Mr. Kraeling says, and I 
thank him for his candor, that the Bible does prove 
the existence of the devil from Genesis to the . 
Apocalypse, and I do agree with him that the 
" revealed word " teaches the existence of a personal 
devil, and that all truly orthodox Christians believe 
that there is a personal devil, and the Rev. Mr. 
Kraeling proves this by the fall of man, and he 
proves that without this devil there could be no 
redemption for the evil spirits ; so he brings forward 
the temptation of Christ in the wilderness. At the 
same time that Mr. Kraeling agrees with me as to 
what the Bible says, he insists that I bring no 
arguments, that I blaspheme, and then he drops 
into humor and says that if any further arguments 
are needed to prove the existence of the devil, that 
I furnish them. 

How a man believing the creed of the orthodox 



57O REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 

Mr. Kraeling can have anything like a sense of 
humor is beyond even my imagination. 

Now, I want to ask Mr. Kraeling a few questions, 
and I will ask him the same questions that I ask all 
orthodox people in my lecture on " Superstition." 

Now, Mr. Kraeling believes that this world was 
created by a being of infinite wisdom, power and 
goodness, and that the world he created has been 
governed by him. 

Now, let me ask the reverend gentleman a few 
plain questions, with the request that he answer 
them without mist or mystery. If you, Mr. Krael 
ing, had the power to make a world, would you 
make an exact copy of this ? Would you make a 
man and woman, put them in a garden, knowing 
that they would be deceived, knowing that they 
would fall ? Knowing that all the consequences 
believed in by orthodox Christians would follow 
from that fall? Would you do it? And would 
you make your world so as to provide for earth 
quakes and cyclones ? Would you create the seeds 
of disease and scatter them in the air and water ? 
Would you so arrange matters as to produce can 
cers ? Would you provide for plague and pesti 
lence ? Would you so make your world that life 
should feed on life, that the quivering flesh should 



REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 57 1 

be torn by tooth and beak and claw ? Would 
you? 

Now, answer fairly. Do not quote Scripture; 
just answer, and be honest. 

Would you make different races of men ? Would 
you make them of different colors, and would you 
so make them that they would persecute and en 
slave each other ? Would you so arrange matters 
that millions and millions should toil through many 
generations, paid only by the lash on the back ? 
Would you have it so that millions and millions of 
babes would be sold from the breasts of mothers ? 
Be honest. 

Would you provide for religious persecution ? 
For the invention and use of instruments of torture ? 
Would you see to it that the rack was not forgotten, 
and that the fagot was not overlooked or unlighted ? 
Would you make a world in which the wrong 
would triumph ? Would you make a world in 
which innocence would not be a shield? Would 
you make a world where the best would be loaded 
with chains ? Where the best would die in the 
darkness of dungeons ? Where the best would make 
scaffolds sacred with their blood ? 

Would you make a world where hypocrisy and 
cunning and fraud should represent God, and 



572 REPLY TO THE N. Y. CLERGY ON SUPERSTITION. 

where meanness would suck the blood of honest 
credulity ? 

Would you provide for the settlement of all 
difficulties by war ? Would you so make your 
world that the weak would bear the burdens, so 
that woman would be a slave, so that children 
would be trampled upon as though they were 
poisonous reptiles ? Would you fill the woods with 
wild beasts ? Would you make a few volcanoes to 
overwhelm your children ? Would you provide 
for earthquakes that would swallow them ? Would 
you make them ignorant, savage, and fill their 
minds with all the phantoms of horror ? Would 
you ? 

Now, it will only take you a few moments to 
answer these questions, and if you say you would, 
then I shall be satisfied that you believe in the 
orthodox God, and that you are as bad as he. If 
you say you would not, I will admit that there is a 
little dawn of intelligence in your brain. 

At the same time I want it understood with re 
gard to all these ministers that I am a friend of 
theirs. I am trying to civilize their congregations, 
so that the congregations may allow the ministers 
to develop, to grow, to become really and truly 
intelligent. The process is slow, but it is sure. 



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