The missionary goes to some pagan land, and there he finds a man praying to a god of stone, and it excites the wrath of the missionary. I ask you tonight, does not that stone god answer prayer just as well as ours? Does he not cause rain? Does he not delay frost? Does he not snatch the ones that we love from the grasp of death precisely the same as ours? Yet we have ministers that are still engaged in that business. They tell us that they have been "called;" that they do not go at their profession as other people do, but they are "called;" that God, looking over the world, carefully selects His priests, His ministers, and His exhorters.
I don't know. They say their calling is sacred. I say to you tonight that every kind of business that is honest that a man engages in for the purpose of feeding his wife and children, for the purpose of building up his home, for the purpose of feeding and clothing the ones he loves—that business is sacred. They tell us that statesmen and poets, philosophers, heroes, and scientists and inventors come by chance; that all other departments depend entirely upon luck; but when God wants exhorters He selects.
They also tell us that it is infinitely wicked to attack the Christian religion, and when I speak of the Christian religion I do not refer especially to the Christianity of the new testament; I refer to the Christianity of the orthodox church, and when I refer to the clergy I refer to the clergy of the orthodox church. There was a time when men of genius were in the pulpits of the orthodox church; that time is past. When you find a man with brains now occupying an orthodox pulpit you will find him touched with heresy—every one of them.
How do they get most of these ministers? There will be a man in the neighborhood not very well—not having constitution enough to be wicked, and it instantly suggests itself to everybody who sees him that he would make an excellent minister. There are so many other professions, so many cities to be built, so many railways to be constructed, so many poems to be sung, so much music to be composed, so many papers to edit, so many books to read, so many splendid things, so many avenues to distinction and glory, so many things beckoning from the horizon of the future to every great and splendid man that the pulpit has to put up with the leavings—ravelings, selvage.
These preachers say, "How can any man be wicked and infamous enough to attack our religion and take from the world the solace of orthodox Christianity?" What is that solace? Let us be honest. What is it? If the Christian religion be true, the grandest, greatest, noblest of the world are now in hell, and the narrowest and meanest are now in heaven. Humboldt, the Shakespeare of science, the most learned man of the most learned nation, with a mind grand enough to grasp not simply this globe, but this constellation—a man who shed light upon the whole earth—a man who honored human nature, and who won all his victories on the field of thought—that man, pure and upright, noble beyond description, if Christianity be true, is in hell this moment. That is what they call "solace"—"tidings of great joy." LaPlace, who read the heavens like an open book, who enlarged the horizon of human thought, is there too. Beethoven, Master of melody and harmony, who added to the joy of human life, and who has borne upon the wings of harmony and melody millions of spirits to the height of joy, with his heart still filled with melody—he is in hell today. Robert Burns, poet of love and liberty, and from his heart, like a spring gurgling and running down the highways, his poems have filled the world with music. They have added luster to human love. That man who, in four lines, gave all the philosophy of life—
To make a happy fireside clime For weans and wife Is the true pathos and Sublime Of human life
—he is there with the rest.
Charles Dickens, whose genius will be a perpetual shield, saving thousands and millions of children from blows, who did more to make us tender with children than any other writer that ever touched a pen—he is there with the rest, according to our Christian religion. A little while ago there died in this country a philosopher—Ralph Waldo Emerson—a man of the loftiest ideal, a perfect model of integrity, whose mind was like a placid lake and reflected truths like stars. If the Christian religion be true, he is in perdition today. And yet he sowed the seeds of thought, and raised the whole world intellectually. And Longfellow, whose poems, tender as the dawn, have gone into millions of homes, not an impure, not a stained word in them all; but he was not a Christian. He did not believe in the "tidings of great joy." He didn't believe that God so loved the world that He intended to damn most everybody. And now he has gone to his reward. And Charles Darwin—a child of nature—one who knew more about his mother than any other child she ever had. What is philosophy? It is to account for phenomena by which we are surrounded—that is, to find the hidden cord that unites everything. Charles Darwin threw more light upon the problem of human existence than all the priests who ever lived from Melchisedec to the last exhorter. He would have traversed this globe on foot had it been possible to have found one new fact or to have corrected one error that he had made. No nobler man has lived—no man who has studied with more reverence (and by reverence I mean simply one who lives and studies for the truth)—no man who studied with more reverence than he. And yet, according to orthodox religion, Charles Darwin is in hell. Consolation!
So, if Christianity be true, Shakespeare, the greatest man who ever touched this planet, within whose brain were the fruits of all thought past, the seeds of all to be—Shakespeare, who was an intellectual ocean toward which all rivers ran, and from which now the isles and continents of thought received their dew and rain—that man who has added more to the intelligence of the world than any other who ever lived—that man, whose creations will live as long as man has imagination, and who has given more happiness upon the stage and more instruction than has flown from all the pulpits of this earth—that man is in hell, too. And Harriet Martineau, who did as much for English liberty as any man, brave and free—she is there. "George Eliot," the greatest woman the English-speaking people ever produced—she is with the rest. And this is called "Tidings of great joy."
Who are in heaven? How could there be much of a heaven without the men I have mentioned—the great men that have endeavored to make the world grander—such men as Voltaire, such men as Diderot, such men as the encyclopedists, such men as Hume, such men as Bruno, such men as Thomas Paine? If Christianity is true, that man who spent his life in breaking chains is now wearing the chains of God; that man who wished to break down the prison walls of tyranny is now in the prison of the most merciful Christ. It will not do. I can hardly express to you today my contempt for such a doctrine; and if it be true, I make my choice today, and I prefer hell.
Who is in heaven? John Calvin! John Knox! Jonathan Edwards! Torquemada—the builders of dungeons, the men who have obstructed the march of the human race. These are the men who are in heaven; and who else? Those who never had brain enough to harbor a doubt. And they ask me: How can you be wicked enough to attack the Christian religion?
"Oh," but they say, "God will never forgive you if you attack the orthodox religion." Now, when I read the history of this world, and when I think of the experience of my fellow-men, when I think of the millions living in poverty, and when I know that in the very air we breathe and in the sunlight that visits our homes there lurks an assassin ready to take our lives, and even when we believe we are in the fullness health and joy, they are undermining us with their contagion—when I know that we are surrounded by all these evils, and when I think of what man has suffered, I do not wonder if God can forgive man, but I often ask myself, "Can man forgive God?"
There is another thing. Some of these ministers have talked about me, and have made it their business to say unpleasant things. Among others the Rev. Mr. Talmage, of Brooklyn—a man of not much imagination, but of most excellent judgment—charges that I am a "blasphemer." A frightful charge! Terrible, if true! What is blasphemy? It is a sin, as I understand, against God. Is God infinite? He is, so they say; He is infinite; absolutely conditionless? Can I injure the conditionless? No. Can I sin against anything that I cannot injure? No. That is a perfectly plain proposition. I can injure my fellow-man, because he is a conditioned being, and I can help to change those conditions. He must have air; he must have food, he must have clothing; he must have shelter; but God is conditionless, and I cannot by any possibility affect Him. Consequently I cannot sin against Him. But I can sin against my fellow-man, so that I ought to be a thousand times more careful of doing injustice than of uttering blasphemy. There is no blasphemy but injustice, and there is no worship except the practice of justice. It is a thousand times more important that we should love our fellow-men than that we should love God. It is better to love wife and children than to love Jesus Christ, He is dead; they are alive. I can make their lives happy and fill all their hours with the fullness of joy. That is my religion; and the holiest temple ever erected beneath the stars is the home; the holiest altar is the fireside.
What is this blasphemy? First, it is a geographical question. There was a time when it was blasphemy in Jerusalem to say that Christ was God. In this country it is now blasphemy to say that He was not. It is blasphemy in Constantinople to deny that Mahomet was the Prophet of God; it is blasphemy here to say that he was. It is a geographical question; you cannot tell whether it is blasphemy or not without looking at the map. What is blasphemy? It is what the mistake says about the fact. It is what the last year's leaf says about this year's bud. It is the last cry of the defeated priest. Blasphemy is the little breast-work behind which hypocrisy hides; behind which mental impotency feels safe. There is no blasphemy but the avowal of thought, and he who speaks what he thinks blasphemes.
That I have had the hardihood—it doesn't take much—to attack the sacred scriptures. I have simply given my opinion; and yet they tell me that that book is holy—that you can take rags, make pulp, put ink on it, bind it in leather, and make something holy. The Catholics have a man for a pope; the Protestants have a book. The Catholics have the best of it. If they elect an idiot he will not live forever, and it is impossible for us to get rid of the barbarisms in our book. The Catholics said, "We will not let the common people read the bible." That was right. If it is necessary to believe it in order to get to heaven no man should run the risk of reading it. To allow a man to read the bible on such conditions is to set a trap for his soul. The right way is never to open it, and when you get to the day of judgment, and they ask you if you believe it say "Yes, I have never read it." The Protestant gives the book to a poor man and says: "Read it. You are at liberty to read it." "Well, suppose I don't believe it, when I get through?" "Then you will be damned." No man should be allowed to read it on those conditions. And yet Protestants have done that infinitely cruel thing. If I thought it was necessary to believe it I would say never read another line in it but just believe it and stick to it. And yet these people really think that there is something miraculous about the book. They regard it as a fetish—a kind of amulet—a something charmed, that will keep off evil spirits, or bad luck, stop bullets, and do a thousand handy-things for the preservation of life.
I heard a story upon that subject. You know that thousands of them are printed in the Sunday-school books. Here is one they don't print. There was a poor man who had belonged to the church, but he got cold, and he rather neglected it, and he had bad luck in his business, and he went down and down and down until he hadn't a dollar—not a thing to eat; and his wife said to him, "John, this comes of you having abandoned the church, this comes of your having done away with family worship. Now, I beg of you, let's go back." Well, John said it wouldn't do any harm to try. So he took down the bible, blew the dust off it, read a little from a chapter, and had family worship. As he was putting it up he opened it again, and there was a $10 bill between the leaves. He rushed out to the butcher's and bought meat, to the grocer's and bought tea and bread, and butter and eggs, and rushed back home and got them cooked, and the house was filled with the perfume of food; and he sat down at the table, tears in every eye and a smile on every face. She said, "What did I tell you?" Just then there was a knock on the door, and in came a constable, who arrested him for passing a $10 counterfeit bill.
They tell me that I ought not to attack the bible—that I have misrepresented it, and among other things that I have said that, according to the bible, the world was made of nothing. Well, what was it made of? They say God created everything. Consequently, there must have been nothing when He commenced. If he didn't make it of nothing, what did he make it of? Where there was, nothing, He made something. Yes; out of what? I don't know. This doctor of divinity, and I should think such a divinity would need a doctor, says that God made the universe out of His omnipotence. Why not out of His omniscience, or His omnipresence? Omnipotence is not a raw material. It is the something to work raw material with. Omnipotence is simply all powerful, and what good would strength do with nothing? The weakest man ever born could lift as much nothing as God. And he could do as much with it after he got it lifted. And yet a doctor of divinity tells me that this world was made of omnipotence. And right here let me say I find even in the mind of the clergymen the seeds of infidelity. He is trying to explain things. That is a bad symptom. The greater the miracle the greater the reward for believing it. God cannot afford to reward a man for believing anything reasonable. Why, even the scribes and Pharisees would believe a reasonable thing. Do you suppose God is to crown you with eternal joy and give you a musical instrument for believing something where the evidence is clear? No, sir. The larger the miracle the more grace. And let me advise the ministers of Chicago and of this country, never to explain a miracle; it cannot be explained. If you succeed in explaining it, the miracle is gone. If you fail you are gone. My advice to the clergy is, use assertion; just say "it is so," and the larger the miracle the greater the glory reaped by the eternal. And yet this man is trying to explain, pretending that He had some raw material of some kind on hand. And then I objected to the fact that He didn't make the sun until the fourth day, and that, consequently, the grass could not have grown—could not have thrown its mantle of green over the shoulders of the hill—and that the trees would not blossom and cast their shade upon the sod without some sunshine; and what does this man say? Why, that the rocks, when they crystallized, emitted light, even enough to raise a crop by. And he says "vegetation might have depended on the glare of volcanoes in the moon." What do you think would be the fate of agriculture depending on the "glare of volcanoes in the moon?" Then he says "the aurora borealis." Why, you couldn't raise cucumbers by the aurora borealis. And he says "liquid rivers of molten granite." I would like to have a farm on that stream. He guesses everything of the kind except lightning-bugs and foxfire. Now, think of that explanation in the last half of the nineteenth century by a minister. The truth is, the gentleman who wrote the account knew nothing of astronomy—knew as little as the modern preacher does—just about the same; and if they don't know more about the next world than they do about this, it is hardly worth while talking with them on the subject. There was a time, you know, when the minister was the educated man in the country, and when, if you wanted to know anything, you asked him. Now you do if you don't. So I find this man expounding the flood, and he says it was not very wet. He begins to doubt whether God had water enough to cover the whole earth. Why not stand by his book? He says that some of the animals got into the ark to keep out of the wet. I believe that is the way the Democrats got to the polls last Tuesday.
Another divine says that God would have drowned them all, but it was purely for the sake of economy that He saved any of them. Just think of that! According to this Christian religion all the people in the world were totally depraved through the fall, and God found he could not do anything with them, so he drowned them. Now, if God wanted to get up a flood big enough to drown sin, why did He not get up a flood big enough to drown the snake? That was His mistake. Now, these people say that if Jonah had walked rapidly up and down the whale's belly he would have avoided the action of its gastric-juice. Imagine Jonah sitting in the whale's mouth, on the back of a molar-tooth; and yet this doctor of divinity would have us believe that the infinite God of the universe was sitting under his gourd and made the worm that was at the root of Jonah's vine. Great business.
David is said to have been a man after God's own heart, and if you will read the twenty-eighth chapter of Chronicles you will find that David died full of years and honors. So I find in the great book of prophecy, concerning Solomon: "He shall reign in peace and quietness, he shall be my son, and I shall be his father, and I will preserve his Kingdom." Was that true?
It won't do. But they say God couldn't do away with slavery suddenly, nor with polygamy all at once—that He had to do it gradually—that if He had told this man you mustn't have slaves, and one man that he must have one wife, and one wife that she must have one husband, He would have lost the control over them notwithstanding all the miraculous power. Is it not wonderful that when they did all these miracles nobody paid any attention to them? Isn't it wonderful that, in Egypt, when they performed these wonders—when the waters were turned into blood, when the people were smitten with disease and covered with the horrible animals—isn't it wonderful that it had no influence on them? Do you know why all these miracles didn't affect the Egyptians? They were there at the time. Isn't it wonderful, too, that the Jews who had been brought from bondage—had followed a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night—who had been miraculously fed, and for whose benefit water had leaked from the rocks and followed them up and down hill through all their journeying—isn't it wonderful, when they had seen the earth open and their companions swallowed, when they had seen God Himself write in robes of flames from Sinai's crags, when they had seen Him talking face to face with Moses—isn't it a little wonderful that He had no more influence over them? They were there at the time. And that is the reason they didn't mind it—they were there. And yet, with all these miracles, this God could not prevent polygamy and slavery. Was there no room on the two tables of stone to put two more commandments? Better have written them on the back, then. Better have left the others all off and put these two on. Man shall not enslave his brother, (you shall not live on unpaid labor), and the one man shall have the one wife. If these two had been written and the other ten left off, it would have been a thousand times better for this world.
But, they say, God works gradually. No hurry about it. He is not gradual about keeping Sunday, because, if He met a man picking up sticks, He killed Him; but in other things He is gradual. Suppose we wanted now to break certain cannibals of eating missionaries—wanted to stop them from eating them raw? Of course we would not tell them, in the first place, it was wrong. That would not do. We would induce them to cook them. That would be the first step toward civilization. We would have them stew them. We would not say it is wrong to eat missionary, but it is wrong to eat missionary raw. Then, after they began stewing them, we would put in a little mutton—not enough to excite suspicion but just a little, and so, day by day, we would put in a little more mutton and a little less missionary until, in about what the bible calls "the fullness of time," we would have clear mutton and no missionary. That is God's way. The next great charge against me is that I have disgraced my parents by expressing my honest thoughts. No man can disgrace his parents that way. I want my children to express their real opinions, whether they agree with mine or not. I want my children to find out more than I have found, and I would be gratified to have them discover the errors I have made. And if my father and mother were still alive I feel and know that I am pursuing a course of which they would approve. I am true to my manhood. But think of it! Suppose the father of Dr. Talmage had been a Methodist and his mother an infidel. Then what. Would he have to disgrace them both to be a Presbyterian. The disciples of Christ, according to this doctrine, disgraced their parents. The founder of every new religion, according to this doctrine, was a disgrace to his father and mother. Now there must have been a time when a Talmage was not a Presbyterian, and the one that left something else to join that church disgraced his father and mother. Why, if this doctrine be true why do you send missionaries to other lands and ask those people to disgrace their parents? If this doctrine be true nobody has religious liberty except foundlings, and it should be written over every Foundling Hospital: "Home for Religious Liberty." It won't do.
What is the next thing I have said? I have taken the ground, and I take it again today, that the bible has only words of humiliation for woman. The bible treats woman as the slave, the serf of man, and wherever that book is believed in thoroughly woman is a slave. It is the infidelity in the church that gives her what liberty she has today. Oh! but, says the gentleman, think of the heroines in the bible. How could a book be opposed to woman which has pictured such heroines? Well, that is a good argument. Let's answer it. Who are the heroines? He tells us. The first is Esther. Who was she? Esther is a very peculiar book, and the story is about this: Ahasaerus was a king. His wife's name was Vashti. She didn't please him. He divorced her, and advertised for another. A gentleman by the name of Mordecai had a good looking niece, and he took her to market. Her name was Esther. I don't feel like reading the whole of the second chapter. It is sufficient to say she was selected. After a time there was a gentleman by the name of Haman who, I should think, was in the cabinet, according to the story. And this man Mordecai began to put on considerable style because his niece was the king's wife, and he would not bow, or he would not rise, or he would not meet this gentleman with marks of distinguished consideration, so he made up his mind to have him hung. Then they got out an order to kill the Jews, and this Esther went to see the king. In those days they believed in the Bismarkian style of government—all power came from the king, not from the people; if anybody went to see this king without an invitation, and he failed to hold out his sceptre to him, the person was killed just to preserve the dignity of the monarch. When Esther arrived he held out the sceptre, and there-upon she induced him to send out another order for the fellows who were to kill the Jews, and they killed 75,000 or 80,000 of them. And they came back and said, "Kill Haman and his ten sons," and they hung the family up. That is all there is to the story. And yet this Esther is held up as a model of womanly grace and tenderness, and there is not a more infamous story in the literature of the world.
The next heroine is Ruth. I admit, that is a very pretty story. But Ruth was guilty of more things that would be deemed indiscreet than any girl in Brooklyn. That is all there is about Ruth. The next heroine is Hannah. And what do you suppose was the matter with her? She made a coat for her boy; that's all. I have known a woman make a whole suit! The next heroine was Abigail. She was the wife of Natal. King David had a few soldiers with him, and he called at the house of Natal, and asked if he could not get food for his men. Abigail went down to give him something to eat, and she was very much struck with David, David evidently fancied her. Natal died within a week. I think he was poisoned. David and Abigail were married. If that had happened in Chicago there would have been a coroner's jury, and an inquest; but that is all there was to that.
The next is Dorcas. She was in the new testament. She was real good to the ministers. Those ladies have always stood well with the church. She was real good to the poor. She died one day, and you never hear of her again.
Then there was that person that was raised from the dead. I would like to know from a person that had recently been raised from the dead, where he was when he was wanted, what he was traveling about, and what he was engaged in. I cannot imagine a more interesting person than one that has just been raised from the dead. Lazarus comes from the tomb, and I think sometimes that there must be a mistake about it, because when they come to die again thousands of people would say, "Why, he knows all about it!" Would it not be noted if a man had two funerals?
Now, then, these are all the heroines, to show you how little they thought of woman in that day. In the days of the old testament they did not even tell us when the mother of us all (Eve) died, nor where she is buried, nor anything about it. They do not even tell us where the mother of Christ sleeps, nor when she died. Never is she spoken of after the morning of the resurrection. He who descended from the cross went not to see her; and the son had no word for the broken-hearted mother.
The story is not true. I believe Christ was a great and good man, but He had nothing about Him miraculous except the courage to tell what he thought about the religion of His day. The new testament, in relating what occurred between Christ and his mother, mentions three instances; once, when they thought He had been lost in Jerusalem, when He said to them, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" Next, at the marriage of Cana, when He said to the woman, "What have I to do with thee?"—words which He never said; and again from the cross, "Mother, behold Thy Son;" and to the disciple, "Behold thy Mother!" So of Mary Magdalene. In some respects there is no character in the new testament that so appeals to us as loving Christ—first at the sepulchre—and yet when He meets her after the resurrection He had for her the comfort only of the chilling words, "Touch me not!" I don't believe it. There were thousands of heroic women then. There are heroic women now. Think of the women who cling to fallen and disgraced husbands day by day, until they reach the gutter, and who stoop down to lift them from that position, and raise them up to be men once more! Every country is civilized in proportion as it honors woman. There are women in England working in mines, deformed by labor, that would become wild beasts were it not for the love they bear for home. Can you find among the women of the new testament any women that can equal the women born of Shakespeare's brain? You can find no woman like Isabella, where reason and purity blend into perfect truth; no woman like Juliet, where passion and purity meet like red and white within the bosom of a flower; no woman like Imogen, who said, "What is it to be false?" No woman like Cordelia, that would not show her wealth of love in hope of gain; nor like Hermione, who bore the cross of shame for years; nor like Miranda, who told her love as the flower exposes its bosom to the sun; nor like Desdemona, who was so pure that she could not suspect that another could suspect her of a crime.
And we are told that woman sinned first and man second; that man was made first and woman not till afterwards. The idea is that we could have gotten along without the woman well enough, but they never could have gotten along without us. I tell you that love is better than piety, love is better than all the ceremonial worship of the world, and it is better to love something than to believe anything on this globe. So this minister, seeking a mark to throw an arrow somewhere—trying to find some little place in the armor—charges me with having disparaged Queen Victoria. That you know is next to blasphemy. Well, I never did anything of the kind—never said a word against her in in life, neither as wife, or mother, or Queen—never doubted but that she is a good woman enough, and I have always admitted that her reputation was good in the neighborhood where she resides. I never had any other opinion. All I said in the world was—I was endeavoring to show that we are now to have an aristocracy of brain and heart—that is all—and I said, 'speaking of Louis Napoleon, he was not satisfied with simply being an emperor and having a little crown on his head, but wanted to prove that he had something in his head, so he wrote the life of Julius Caesar, and that made him a member of the French Academy; and speaking of King William, upon whose head is the divine petroleum of authority, I asked how he would like to exchange brains with Haeckel, the philosopher. Then I went over to England, and said "Queen Victoria wears the garment of power given her by blind fortune, by eyeless chance; 'George Eliot' is arrayed in robes of glory, woven in the loom of her own genius." Thereupon I am charged with disparaging a woman. And this priest, in order to get even with me, digs open the grave of "George Eliot" and endeavors to stain her unresisting dust. He calls her an adulteress—the vilest word in the languages of men—and he does it because she hated the Presbyterian creed, because she, according to his definition, was an atheist, because she lived without faith and died without fear, because she grandly bore the taunts and slanders of the Christian world. "George Eliot" carried tenderly in her heart the faults and frailties of her race. She saw the highway of eternal right through all the winding paths, where folly vainly stalks with thorn-pierced hands, the fading flowers of selfish joy; and whatever you may think or I may think of the one mistake in all her sad and loving life, I know and feel that in the court where her conscience sat as judge she stood acquitted, pure as light and stainless as a star. "George Eliot" has joined the choir invisible whose music is the gladness of this world, and her wondrous lines, her touching poems, will be read hundreds of years after every sermon in which a priest has sought to stain her name shall have vanished utterly from human speech. How appropriate here, with some slight change, the words of Laertes at Ophelia's grave:
Lay her in the earth; And from her fair and unpolluted flesh May violets spring; I tell thee, priest and minister, A ministering angel shall this woman be When thou liest howling.
I have no words with which to express my loathing hatred and condemnation of the man who will stain a noble woman's grave.
The next argument in favor of the "sacred scriptures" is the argument of numbers; and this minister congratulates himself that the infidels could not carry a precinct, or a county, or a state in the United States. Well, I tell you, they can come proportionately near it—just in proportion that that part of the country is educated. The whole world doesn't move together in one life. There has to be some man to take a step forward and the people follow; and when they get where that man was, some other Titan has taken another step, and you can see him there on the great mountain of progress. That is why the world moves. There must be pioneers, and if nobody is right except he who is with the majority, then we must turn and walk toward the setting sun. He says "We will settle this by suffrage." The Christian religion was submitted to a popular vote in Jerusalem, and what was the result? "Crucify Him "—an infamous result, showing that you can't depend on the vote of barbarians. But I am told that there are 300,000,000 Christians in the world. Well, what of it? There are more Buddhists. And they say, what a number of bibles are printed!—more bibles than any other book. Does this prove anything? True, because more of them. Suppose you should find published in the New York Herald something about you, and you should go to the editor and tell him: "That is a lie;" and he should say: "That can't be; the Herald has the largest circulation of any paper in the world." Three hundred millions of Christians, and here are the nations that prove the truth of Christianity: Russia 80,000,000 Christians. I am willing to admit it; a country without freedom of speech, without freedom of press—a country in which every mouth is a Bastille and every tongue a prisoner for life—a country in which assassins are the best men in it. They call that Christian. Girls sixteen years of age, for having spoken in favor of human liberty, are now working in Siberian mines. That is a Christian country. Only a little while ago a man shot at the emperor twice. The emperor was protected by his armor. The man was convicted, and they asked him if he wished religious consolation. "No." "Do you believe in a God?" "No;" if there was a God there would be no Russia. Sixteen millions of Christians in Spain—Spain that never touched a shore except as a robber—Spain that took the gold and silver of the new world and used it as an engine of oppression in the old—a country in which cruelty was worship, in which murder was prayer—a country where flourished the Inquisition—I admit Spain is a Christian country. If you don't believe it I do. Read the history of Holland, read the history of South America, read the history of Mexico—a chapter of cruelty beyond the power of language to express. I admit that Spain is orthodox. If you will go there you will find the man who robs you and asks God to forgive you—a country where infidelity hasn't made much headway, but, thank God, where there is even yet a dawn, where there are such men as Castelar and others, who begin to see that one schoolhouse is equal to three cathedrals and one teacher worth all the priests.
Italy is another Christian nation, with 28,000,000 Christians. In Italy lives the only authorized agent of God, the pope. For hundreds of years Italy was the beggar of the earth, and held out both hands. Gold and silver flowed from every land into her palms, and she became covered with nunneries, monasteries, and the pilgrims of the world. Italy was sacred dust. Her soil was a perpetual blessing, her sky was an eternal smile. Italy was guilty not simply of the death of the Catholic church, but Italy was dead and buried and would have been in her grave still had it not been for Mazzini, Garibaldi, and Cavour. When the prophecy of Garibaldi shall be fulfilled, when the priests, with spades in their hands, shall dig ditches to drain the Pontine marshes, when the monasteries shall be factories, when the whirling wheels of industry shall drown the drowsy and hypocritical prayers, then and not till then, will Italy be great and free. Italy is the only instance in our history and in the history of the world, so far as we know, of the resurrection of a nation. She is the first fruits of them that sleep.
Portugal is another Christian country. She made her living in the slave trade for centuries. I admit that all the blessings that that country enjoyed flowed naturally from Catholicism, and we believe in the same scriptures. If you don't believe it, read the history of the persecution of the Jewish people. I admit that Germany is a Christian nation; that is, Christians are in power. When the bill was introduced for the purpose of ameliorating the condition of the Jews, Bismark spoke against it, and said "Germany is a Christian nation, and therefore, we cannot pass the bill." Austria is another Christian nation. If you don't believe it, read the history of Hungary, and, if you still have doubts, read the history of the partition of Poland. But there is one good thing in that country. They believe in education, and education is the enemy of ecclesiasticism. Every thoroughly educated man is his own church, and his own pope, and his own priest.
They tell me that the United States—our country—is Christian. I deny it. It is neither Christian nor pagan; it is human. Our fathers retired all the gods from politics. Our fathers laid down the doctrine that the right to govern comes from the consent of the governed, and not from the clouds. Our fathers knew that if they put an infinite God in the Constitution there would be no room left for the people. Our fathers used the language of Lincoln, and they made a government for the people by the people. This is not a Christian country. Some gentleman said, "How about Delaware?" I told him there was a man in Washington some twenty or thirty years ago who came there and said he was a Revolutionary soldier and wanted a pension. He was so bent and bowed over that the wind blew his shoestrings into his eyes. They asked him how old he was, and he said fifty years. "Why, good man, you can't get a pension, because the war was over before you were born. You mustn't fool us." "Well," said he, "I'll tell you the truth: I lived sixty years in Delaware, but I never count it, and hope God won't." And these Christian nations which have been brought forward as the witnesses of the truth of the scriptures owe $25,000,000,000, which represents Christian war, Christian cannon, Christian shot, and Christian shell. The sum is so great that the imagination is dazed in its contemplation. That is the result of loving your neighbor as yourself.
The next great argument brought forward by these gentlemen is the persecution of the Jews. We are told in the nineteenth century that God has the Jews persecuted simply for the purpose of establishing the authenticity of the scriptures, and every Jewish home burned in Russia throws light on the gospel, and every violated Jewish maiden is another evidence that God still takes an interest in the holy scriptures. That is their doctrine. They are "fulfilling prophecy." The Christian grasps the Jew, strips him, robs him, makes him an outcast, and then points to him as a fulfillment of prophecy; and we are today laying the foundation of future persecution—we are teaching our children the monstrous falsehood that Jews crucified God, and the nation consented. They crucified a good man. What nation has not? What race has not? Think of the number killed by the Presbyterians; by the Catholics. Every sect, with maybe two or three exceptions, have crucified their fellows, and every race has burned its greatest and its best. And yet we are filling the minds of children with hatred of the Jewish people. It is a poor business. "Ah?" but they say, "these people are cursed by God." I say they never had any good fortune until the Jehovah of the bible deserted them. Whenever they have had a reasonable chance they have been the most prosperous people in the world. I never saw one begging. I never saw one in the criminal dock. For hundreds of years they were not allowed to own any land, for hundreds of years they were not allowed to work at any trade; they were driven simply to dealing in money, and in precious stones, and things of that character, and, by a kind of poetic justice, they have today the control of the money of the world. I am glad to see that kings and emperors go to the offices of the Jews, with their hats in their hands, to have their notes discounted. And yet I am told by clergymen that all this infamy has been kept up simply to establish the truth of the gospel. I despise such doctrine. As long as the liberty of one Jew is unsafe, my liberty is not secure. Liberty for all, and not until then will the liberty of any be assured. "Ah"; but says this man, "nobody ever died cheerfully for a lie. The Jewish people have suffered persecution for 1,600 years, and they have suffered it cheerfully." If this doctrine is true, then Judaism must be true and Christianity must be false. But martyrdom doesn't prove the truth if the martyr knows it. It simply proves the barbarity of his persecutors, and has no sincerity. That is all it proves.
But you must remember that this gentleman who believes in this doctrine is a Presbyterian, and why should a Presbyterian object? After a few hundred years of burning he expects to enjoy the eternal auto da fe of hell—an auto da fe that will be presided over by God and His angels, and they will be expected to applaud. He is a Presbyterian; and what is that? It is the worst religion of this earth. I admit that thousands and millions of Presbyterians are good people, no man ever being half so bad as his creed. I am not attacking them. I am attacking their creed. I am attacking what this religion calls "Tidings of great joy." And, according to that, hundreds of billions and billions of years ago our fate was irrevocably and forever fixed, and God in the secret counsels of His own inscrutable will, made up His mind whom He would save and whom He would damn. When thinking of that God I always think of the mistake of a Methodist preacher during the war. He commenced the prayer—and never did one more appropriate for the Presbyterian God or the Methodist go up—"O, Thou great and unscrupulous God." This Presbyterian believes that billions of years before that baby in the cradle—that little dimpled child, basking in the light of a mother's smile—was born, God had made up His mind to damn it; and when Talmage looks at one of those children who will probably be damned he is cheerful about it; he enjoys it. That is Presbyterianism—that God made man and damned him for His own glory. If there is such a God, I hate Him with every drop of my blood; and if there is a heaven it must be where He is not. Now think of that doctrine! Only a little while ago there was a ship from Liverpool out eighty days with its rudder washed away; for ten days nothing to eat—nothing but the bare decks and hunger; and the captain took a revolver in his hand and put it to his brain and said: "Some of us must die for the others. And it might as well be I." One of his companions grasped the pistol and said: "Captain, wait; wait one day more. We can live another day." And the next morning the horizon was rich with a sail, and they were saved. And yet if Presbyterianism is true; if that man had put the bullet through his infinitely generous brain so that his comrades could have eaten of his flesh and reached their homes and felt about their necks the dimpled arms of children and the kisses of wives upon their lips—if Presbyterianism be true, God had a constable ready there to clutch that soul and thrust it down to eternal hell. Tidings of great joy. And yet this is religion. Why, if that doctrine be true, every soldier in the Revolutionary War who died not a Christian has been damned; every one in the War of 1812, who kept our flag upon the sea, if he died not a Christian has been damned; and every one in the Civil War who fought to keep our flag in heaven, not a Christian, and the ones who died in Andersonville and Libby, not Christians, are now in the prison of God, where the famine of Andersonville and Libby would be regarded as a joy. Orthodox Christianity! Why, we have an account in the bible—it comes from the other world—from both countries—from heaven and from hell—let us see what it is. Here is a rich man who dies. The only fault about him was, he was rich; no other crime was charged against him. We are told that the rich man died, and when he lifted up his eyes he found no sympathy, yet even in hell he remembered his five brethren, and prayed that some one should be sent to them so that they should not come there. I tell you I had rather be in hell with human sympathy than in heaven without it.
The bible is not inspired, and ministers know nothing about another world. They don't know. I am satisfied there is no world of eternal pain. If there is a world of joy, so much the better. I have never put out the faintest star of human hope that ever trembled in the night of life. There was a time when I was not; after that I was; now I am. And it is just as probable that I will live again as it was that I could have lived before I did. Let it go. Ah! but what will life be? The world will be here. Men and women will be here. The page of history will be open. The walls of the world will be adorned with art, the niches with sculpture; music will be here, and all there is of life and joy. And there will be homes here, and the fireside, and there will be a common hope without a common fear. Love will be here, and love is the only bow on life's dark cloud. Love was the first to dream of immortality. Love is the morning and evening star. It shines upon the child; it sheds its radiance upon the peaceful tomb. Love is the mother of beauty—the mother of melody, for music is its voice. Love is the builder of every hope, the kindler of every fire on every hearth. Love is the enchanter, the magician that changes worthless things to joy, and makes right royal kings and queens out of common clay. Love is the perfume of that wondrous flower the heart. Without that divine passion, without that divine sway, we are less than beasts, and with it earth is heaven and we are gods.
INGERSOLL'S ORATION AT A CHILD'S GRAVE.
In a remote corner of the Congressional Cemetery at Washington, a small group of people with uncovered heads were ranged around a newly-opened grave. They included Detective and Mrs. George O. Miller and family and friends, who had gathered to witness the burial of the former's bright little son Harry. As the casket rested upon the trestles there was a painful pause, broken only by the mother's sobs, until the undertaker advanced toward a stout, florid-complexioned gentleman in the party and whispered to him, the words being inaudible to the lookers-on. This gentleman was Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, a friend of the Millers, who had attended the funeral—at their request. He shook his head when the undertaker first addressed him, and then said suddenly, "Does Mrs. Miller desire it?" The undertaker gave an affirmative nod. Mr. Miller looked appealingly toward the distinguished orator, and then Colonel Ingersoll advanced to the side of the grave, made a motion denoting a desire for silence, and, in a voice of exquisite cadence, delivered one of his characteristic eulogies for the dead.
The scene was intensely dramatic. A fine drizzling rain was falling, and every head was bent, and every ear turned to catch the impassioned words of eloquence and hope that fell from the lips of the famed orator. Colonel Ingersoll was unprotected by either hat or umbrella. His invocation thrilled his hearers with awe, each eye that had previously been bedimmed with tears brightening, and sobs becoming hushed. The colonel said:
My Friends: I know how vain it is to gild a grief with words, and yet I wish to take from every grave its fear. Here in this world, where life and death are equal kings, all should be brave enough to meet what all have met. The future has been filled with fear, stained and polluted by the heartless past. From the wondrous tree of life the buds and blossoms fall with ripened fruit, and in the common bed of earth patriarchs and babes sleep side by side. Why should we fear that which will come to all that is? We cannot tell. We do not know which is the greatest blessing, life or death. We cannot say that death is not good. We do not know whether the grave is the end of this life or the door of another, or whether the night here is not somewhere else a dawn. Neither can we tell which is the more fortunate, the child dying in its mother's arms before its lips have learned to form a word, or he who journeys all the length of life's uneven road, painfully taking the last slow steps with staff and crutch. Every cradle asks us "Whence?" and every coffin "Whither?" The poor barbarian weeping above his dead can answer the question as intelligently and satisfactorily as the robed priest of the most authentic creed. The tearful ignorance of the one is just as consoling as the learned and unmeaning words of the other. No man standing where the horizon of a life has touched a grave has any right to prophesy a future filled with pain and tears. It may be that death gives all there is of worth to life. If those who press and strain against our hearts could never die, perhaps that love would wither from the earth. Maybe a common faith treads from out the paths between our hearts the weeds of selfishness, and I should rather live and love where death is king than have eternal life where love is not. Another life is naught, unless we know and love again the ones who love us here.
They who stand with breaking hearts around this little grave need have no fear. The largest and the nobler faith in all that is, and is to be, tells us that death, even at its worst, is only perfect rest. We know that through the common wants of life, the needs and duties of each hour, their grief will lessen day by day until at last these graves will be to them a place of rest and peace—almost of joy. There is for them this consolation: The dead do not suffer. If they live again their lives will surely be as good as ours. We have no fear; we are all children of the same mother and the same fate awaits us all. We, too, have our religion, and it is this: "Help for the living, hope for the dead."
INGERSOLL AT HIS BROTHER'S GRAVE.—A Most Exquisite, Yet One Of The Most Sad And Mournful Sermons
The funeral of Hon. Ebon C. Ingersoll, brother of Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, of Illinois, took place at his residence in Washington, D.C., June 2, 1879. The ceremonies were extremely simple, consisting merely of viewing the remains by relatives and friends, and a funeral oration by Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, brother of the deceased. A large number of distinguished gentlemen were present, including Secretary Sherman, Assistant Secretary Hawley, Senators Blaine, Vorhees, Paddock, Allison, Logan, Hon. Thomas Henderson, Gov. Pound, Hon. Wm. M. Morrison, Gen. Jeffreys, Gen. Williams, Col. James Fishback, and others. The pall-bearers were Senators Blaine, Vorhees, David Davis, Paddock and Allison, Col. Ward, H. Lamon, Hon. Jeremiah Wilson of Indiana, and Hon. Thomas A. Boyd of Illinois.
Soon after Mr. Ingersoll began to read his eloquent characterization of the dead, his eyes filled with tears. He tried to hide them behind his eye-glasses, but he could not do it, and finally he bowed his head upon the dead man's coffin in uncontrollable grief. It was after some delay and the greatest efforts of self-mastery, that Col. Ingersoll was able to finish reading his address, which was as follows:
My Friends: I am going to do that which the dead often promised he would do for me. The loved and loving brother, husband, father, friend, died where manhood's morning almost touches noon, and while the shadows still were falling toward the west. He had not passed on life's highway the stone that marks the highest point, but being weary for a moment he lay down by the wayside, and, using his burden for a pillow, fell into that dreamless sleep that kisses down his eyelids still. While yet in love with life and raptured with the world, he passed to silence and pathetic dust. Yet, after all, it may be best, just in the happiest, sunniest hour of all the voyage, while eager winds are kissing every sail, to dash against the unseen rock, and in an instant hear the billows roar over a sunken ship. For, whether in mid-sea or among the breakers of the farther shore, a wreck must mark at last the end of each and all. And every life, no matter if its every hour is rich with love, and every moment jeweled with a joy, will, at its close, become a tragedy, as sad, and deep, and dark as can be woven of the warp and woof of mystery and death. This brave and tender man in every storm of life was oak and rock, but in the sunshine he was vine and flower. He was the friend of all heroic souls. He climbed the heights and left all superstitions far below, while on his forehead fell the golden dawning of a grander day. He loved the beautiful and was with color, form and music touched to tears. He sided with the weak, and with a willing hand gave alms; with loyal heart and with the purest hand he faithful discharged all public trusts. He was a worshiper of liberty and a friend of the oppressed. A thousand times I have heard him quote the words: "For justice all place a temple and all season summer." He believed that happiness was the only good, reason the only torch, justice the only worshiper, humanity the only religion, and love the priest.
He added to the sum of human joy, and were every one for whom he did some loving service to bring a blossom to his grave he would sleep tonight beneath a wilderness of flowers. Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our wailing cry. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no word; but in the night of death hope sees a star and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing. He who sleeps here, when dying, mistaking the approach of death for the return of health, whispered with his latest breath, "I am better now." Let us believe, in spite of doubts and dogmas and tears and fears that these dear words are true of all the countless dead. And now, to you who have been chosen from among the many men he loved to do the last sad office, for the dead, we give his sacred dust. Speech can not contain our love. There was—there is—no gentler, stronger, manlier man.
INGERSOLL'S LECTURE ON THE MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Now and then some one asks me why I am endeavoring to interfere with the religious faith of others, and why I try to take from the world the consolation naturally arising from a belief in eternal fire. And I answer, I want to do what little I can to make my country truly free. I want to broaden the intellectual horizon of our people. I want it so that we can differ upon all those questions, and yet grasp each other's hands in genuine friendship. I want in the first place to free the clergy. I am a great friend of theirs, but they don't seem to have found it out generally. I want it so that every minister will be not a parrot, not an owl sitting upon the limb of the tree of knowledge and hooting the hoots that have been hooted for eighteen hundred years. But I want it so that each one can be an investigator, a thinker; and I want to make his congregation grand enough so that they will not only allow him to think, but will demand that he shall think, and give to them the honest truth of his thought. As it is now, ministers are employed like attorneys—for the plaintiff or the defendant. If a few people know of a young man in the neighborhood maybe who has not a good constitution,—he may not be healthy enough to be wicked—a young man who has shown no decided talent—it occurs to them to make him a minister. They contribute and send him to some school. If it turns out that that young man has more of the man in him than they thought, and he changes his opinion, everyone who contributed will feel himself individually swindled—and they will follow that young man to the grave with the poisoned shafts of malice and slander. I want it so that every one will be free—so that a pulpit will not be a pillory. They have in Massachusetts, at a place called Andover, a kind of minister factory; and every professor in that factory takes an oath once in every five years—that is as long as an oath will last—that not only has he not during the last five years, but so help him God, he will not during the next five years intellectually advance; and probably there is no oath he could easier keep. Since the foundation of that institution there has not been one case of perjury. They believe the same creed they first taught when the foundation stone was laid, and now when they send out a minister they brand him as hardware from Sheffield and Birmingham. And every man who knows where he was educated knows his creed, knows every argument of his creed, every book that he reads, and just what he amounts to intellectually, and knows he will shrink and shrivel, and become solemnly stupid day after day until he meets with death. It is all wrong; it is cruel. Those men should be allowed to grow. They should have the air of liberty and the sunshine of thought.
I want to free the schools of our country. I want it so that when a professor in a college finds some fact inconsistent with Moses, he will not hide the fact. I wish to see an eternal divorce and separation between church and schools. The common school is the bread of life, but there should be nothing taught except what somebody knows; and anything else should not be maintained by a system of general taxation. I want its professors so that they will tell everything they find; that they will be free to investigate in every direction, and will not be trammeled by the superstitions of our day. What has religion to do with facts? Nothing. Is there any such thing as Methodist mathematics, Presbyterian botany, Catholic astronomy or Baptist biology? What has any form of superstition or religion to do with a fact or with any science? Nothing but to hinder, delay or embarrass. I want, then, to free the schools; and I want to free the politicians, so that a man will not have to pretend he is a Methodist, or his wife a Baptist, or his grandmother a Catholic; so that he can go through a campaign, and when he gets through will find none of the dust of hypocrisy on his knees.
I want the people splendid enough that when they desire men to make laws for them, they will take one who knows something, who has brains enough to prophesy the destiny of the American Republic, no matter what his opinions may be upon any religious subject. Suppose we are in a storm out at sea, and the billows are washing over our ship, and it is necessary that some one should reef the topsail, and a man presents himself. Would you stop him at the foot of the mast to find out his opinion on the five points of Calvinism? What has that to do with it? Congress has nothing to do with baptism or any particular creed, and from what little experience I have had in Washington, very little to do with any kind of religion whatever. Now I hope, this afternoon, this magnificent and splendid audience will forget that they are Baptists or Methodists, and remember that they are men and women. These are the highest titles humanity can bear—and every title you add, belittles them. Man is the highest; woman is the highest. Let us remember that our views depend largely upon the country in which we happen to live. Suppose we were born in Turkey most of us would have been Mohammedans; and when we read in the book that when Mohammed visited heaven he became acquainted with an angel named Gabriel, who was so broad between his eyes that it would take a smart camel three hundred days to make the journey, we probably would have believed it. If we did not, people would say: "That young man is dangerous; he is trying to tear down the fabric of our religion. What do you propose to give us instead of that angel? We cannot afford to trade off an angel of that size for nothing." Or if we had been born in India, we would have believed in a god with three heads. Now we believe in three gods with one head. And so we might make a tour of the world and see that every superstition that could be imagined by the brain of man has been in some place held to be sacred.
Now some one says, "The religion of my father and mother is good enough for me." Suppose we all said that, where would be the progress of the world? We would have the rudest and most barbaric religion—religion which no one could believe. I do not believe that it is showing real respect to our parents to believe something simply because they did. Every good father and every good mother wish their children to find out more than they knew every good father wants his son to overcome some obstacle that he could not grapple with and if you wish to reflect credit on your father and mother, do it by accomplishing more than they did, because you live in a better time. Every nation has had what you call a sacred record, and the older the more sacred, the more contradictory and the more inspired is the record. We, of course, are not an exception, and I propose to talk a little about what is called the Pentateuch, a book, or a collection of books, said to have been written by Moses. And right here in the commencement let me say that Moses never wrote one word of the Pentateuch—not one word was written until he had been dust and ashes for hundreds of years. But as the general opinion is that Moses wrote these books, I have entitled this lecture "The Mistakes of Moses." For the sake of this lecture, we will admit that he wrote it. Nearly every maker of religion has commenced by making the world; and it is one of the safest things to do, because no one can contradict as having been present, and it gives free scope to the imagination. These books, in times when there was a vast difference between the educated and the ignorant, became inspired and people bowed down and worshiped them.
I saw a little while ago a Bible with immense oaken covers, with hasps and clasps large enough almost for a penitentiary, and I can imagine how that book would be regarded by barbarians in Europe when not more than one person in a dozen could read and write. In imagination I saw it carried into the cathedral, heard the chant of the priest, saw the swinging of the censer and the smoke rising; and when that Bible was put on the altar I can imagine the barbarians looking at it and wondering what influence that book could have on their lives and future. I do not wonder that they imagined it was inspired. None of them could write a book, and consequently when they saw it they adored it; they were stricken with awe; and rascals took advantage of that awe.
Now they say that the book is inspired. I do not care whether it is or not; the question is: Is it true? If it is true it doesn't need to be inspired. Nothing needs inspiration except a falsehood or a mistake. A fact never went into partnership with a miracle. Truth scorns the assistance of wonders. A fact will fit every other fact in the universe, and that is how you can tell—whether it is or not a fact. A lie will not fit anything except a lie made for the express purpose; and, finally, some one gets tired of lying, and the last lie will not fit the next fact, and then there is a chance for inspiration. Right then and there a miracle is needed. The real question is, in the light of science, in the light of the brain and heart of the nineteenth century, is this book true? The gentleman who wrote it begins by telling us that God made the universe out of nothing. That I cannot conceive; it may be so, but I cannot conceive it. Nothing in the light of raw material, is, to my mind, a decided and disastrous failure. I cannot imagine of nothing being made into something, any more than I can of something being changed back into nothing. I cannot conceive of force aside from matter, because force to be force must be active, and unless there is matter there is nothing for force to act upon, and consequently it cannot be active. So I simply say I cannot comprehend it. I cannot believe it. I may roast for this, but it is my honest opinion. The next thing he proceeds to tell us is that God divided the darkness from the light, and right here let me say when I speak about God I simply mean the being described by the Jews. There may be in immensity a being beneath whose wing the universe exists, whose every thought is a glittering star, but I know nothing about Him,—not the slightest,—and this afternoon I am simply talking about the being described by the Jewish people. When I say God, I mean Him. Moses describes God dividing the light from the darkness. I suppose that at that time they must have been mixed. You can readily see how light and darkness can get mixed. They must have been entities. The reason I think so is because in that same book I find that darkness overspread Egypt so thick that it could be felt, and they used to have on exhibition in Rome a bottle of the darkness that once overspread Egypt. The gentleman who wrote this in imagination saw God dividing light from the darkness. I am sure the man who wrote it, believed darkness to be an entity, a something, a tangible thing that can be mixed with light.
The next thing that he informs us is that God divided the waters above the firmament from those below the firmament. The man who wrote that believed the firmament to be a solid affair. And that is what the gods did. You recollect the gods came down and made love to the daughters of men—and I never blamed them for it. I have never read a description of any heaven I would not leave on the same errand. That is where the gods lived. There is where they kept the water. It was solid. That is the reason the people prayed for rain. They believed that an angel could take a lever, raise a window and let out the desired quantity. I find in the Psalms that "He bowed the heavens and came down;" and we read that the children of men built a tower to reach the heavens and climb into the abode of the gods. The man who wrote that believed the firmament to be solid. He knew nothing about the laws of evaporation. He did not know that the sun wooed with amorous kiss the waves of the sea, and that, disappointed, their vaporous sighs changed to tears and fell again as rain. The next thing he tells us is that the grass began to grow; and the branches of the trees laughed into blossom, and the grass ran up the shoulder of the hills, and yet not a solitary ray of light had left the eternal quiver of the sun. Not a blade of grass had ever been touched by a gleam of light. And I do not think that grass will grow to hurt without a gleam of sunshine. I think the man who wrote that simply made a mistake, and is excusable to a certain degree. The next day he made the sun and moon—the sun to rule the day and the moon to rule the night. Do you think the man who wrote that knew anything about the size of the sun? I think he thought it was about three feet in diameter, because I find in some book that the sun was stopped a whole day, to give a general named Joshua time to kill a few more Amalekites; and the moon was stopped also. Now it seems to me that the sun would give light enough without stopping the moon; but as they were in the stopping business they did it just for devilment. At another time, we read, the sun was turned ten degrees backward to convince Hezekiah that he was not going to die of a boil. How much easier it would have been to cure the boil. The man who wrote that thought the sun was two or three feet in diameter, and could be stopped and pulled around like the sun and moon in a theatre. Do you know that the sun throws out every second of time as much heat as could be generated by burning eleven thousand millions tons of coal? I don't believe he knew that, or that he knew the motion of the earth. I don't believe he knew that it was turning on its axis at the rate of a thousand miles an hour, because if he did, he would have understood the immensity of heat that would have been generated by stopping the world. It has been calculated by one of the best mathematicians and astronomers that to stop the world would cause as much heat as it would take to burn a lump of solid coal three times as big as the globe. And yet we find in that book that the sun was not only stopped, but turned back ten degrees, simply to convince a gentleman that he was not going to die of a boil. They will say I will be damned if I do not believe that, and I tell them I will if I do.
Then he gives us the history of astronomy, and he gives it to us in five words: "He made the stars also." He came very near forgetting the stars. Do you believe that the man who wrote that knew that there are stars as much larger than this earth as this earth is larger than the apple which Adam and Eve are said to have eaten. Do you believe that he knew that this world is but a speck in the shining, glittering universe of existence? I would gather from that that he made the stars after he got the world done. The telescope, in reading the infinite leaves of the heavens, has ascertained that light travels at the rate of 192,000 miles per second, and it would require millions of years to come from some of the stars to this earth. Yet the beams of those stars mingle in our atmosphere, so that if those distant orbs were fashioned when this world began, we must have been whirling in space not six thousand, but many millions of years. Do you believe the man who wrote that as a history of astronomy really knew that this world was but a speck compared with millions of sparkling orbs? I do not. He then proceeds to tell us that God made fish and cattle, and that man and woman were created male and female. The first account stops at the second verse of the second chapter. You see, the Bible originally was not divided into chapters; the first Bible that was ever divided into chapters in our language was made in the year of grace 1550. The Bible was originally written in the Hebrew language, and the Hebrew language at that time had no vowels in writing. It was written with consonants, and without being divided into chapters or into verses, and there was no system of punctuation whatever. After you go home tonight write an English sentence or two with only consonants close together, and you will find that it will take twice as much inspiration to read it as it did to write it. When the Bible was divided into verses and chapters, the divisions were not always correct, and so the division between the first and second chapter of Genesis is not in the right place. The second account of the creation commences at the third verse and it differs from the first in two essential points. In the first account man is the last made; in the second man is made before the beasts. In the first account, man is made "male and female"; in the second only a male is made, and there is no intention of making a woman whatever.
You will find by reading that second chapter that God tried to palm off on Adam a beast as his helpmeet. Everybody talks about the Bible and nobody reads it; that is the reason it is so generally believed. I am probably the only man in the United States who has read the Bible through this year. I have wasted that time, but I had a purpose in view. Just read it, and you will find, about the twenty-third verse, that God caused all the animals to walk before Adam in order that he might name them. And the animals came like a menagerie into town, and as Adam looked at all the crawlers, jumpers and creepers, this God stood by to see what he would call them. After this procession passed, it was pathetically remarked, "Yet was there not found any helpmeet for Adam." Adam didn't see anything that he could fancy. And I am glad he didn't. If he had, there would not have been a free-thinker in this world; we should have all died orthodox. And finding Adam was so particular, God had to make him a helpmeet, and having used up the nothing, he was compelled to take part of the man to make the woman with, and he took from the man a rib. How did he get it? And then imagine a God with a bone in his hand, and about to start a woman, trying to make up his mind whether to make a blonde or a brunette.
Right here it is only proper that I should warn you of the consequences of laughing at any story in the Bible. When you come to die, your laughing at this story will be a thorn in your pillow. As you look back upon the record of your life, no matter how many men you have wrecked and ruined, and no matter how many women you have deceived and deserted—all that may be forgiven you but if you recollect that you have laughed at God's book you will see through the shadows of death, the leering looks of fiends and the forked tongues of devils. Let me show you how it will be. For instance it is the day of judgment. When the man is called up by the recording secretary, or whoever does the cross-examining, he says to his soul "Where are you from?" "I am from the world." "Yes sir. What kind of a man were you?" "Well, I don't like to talk about myself." "But you have to. What kind of a man were you?" "Well, I was a good fellow; I loved my wife, I loved my children. My home was my heaven; my fire-side was my paradise, and to sit there and see the lights and shadows falling on the faces of those I love, that to me was a perpetual joy. I never gave one of them a solitary moment of pain. I don't owe a dollar in the world and I left enough to pay my funeral expenses and keep the wolf of want from the door of the house I loved. That is the kind of a man I am." "Did you belong to any church?" "I did not. They were too narrow for me. They were always expecting to be happy simply because somebody else was to be damned."
"Well, did you believe that rib story?" "What rib story—Do you mean that Adam and Eve business? No, I did not. To tell you the God's truth, that was a little more than I could swallow." "To hell with him. Next. Where are you from?" "I'm from the world, too. Do you belong to any church?" "Yes, sir, and to the Young Men's Christian Association." "What is your business?" "Cashier in a bank." "Did you ever run off with any money? I don't like to tell, Sir." "Well, you have to." "Yes, Sir I did." "What kind of a bank did you have?" "A savings bank." "How much did you run off with?" "One hundred thousand dollars." "Did you take anything else along with you?" "Yes Sir." "What?" "I took my neighbor's wife." "Did you have a wife and children of your own?" "Yes, Sir." "And you deserted them?" "Oh, yes; but such was my confidence in God that I believed he would take care of them." "Have you heard of them since?" "No, Sir. Did you believe that rib story?" "Ah, bless your soul, yes! I believe all of it, Sir; I often used to be sorry that there were not harder stories yet in the Bible, so that I could show what my faith could do." "You believed it, did you?" "Yes, with all my heart." "Give him a harp."
I simply wanted to show you how important it is to believe these stories. Of all the authors in the world God hates a critic the worst. Having got this woman done he brought her to the man, and they started house-keeping, and a few minutes afterward a snake came through a crack in the fence and commenced to talk with her on the subject of fruit. She was not acquainted in the neighborhood, and she did not know whether snakes talked or not, or whether they knew anything about the apples or not. Well, she was misled, and the husband ate some of those apples and laid it all on his wife; and there is where the mistake was made. God ought to have rubbed him out at once. He might have known that no good could come of starting the world with a man like that. They were turned out. Then the trouble commenced, and people got worse and worse. God, you must recollect, was holding the reins of government, but He did nothing for them. He allowed them to live six hundred and sixty-nine years without knowing their A. B. C. He never started a school, not even a Sunday school. He didn't even keep His own boys at home. And the world got worse every day, and finally he concluded to drown them. Yet that same God has the impudence to tell me how to raise my own children. What would you think of a neighbor, who had just killed his babes giving you his views on domestic economy? God found that he could do nothing with them and He said: "I will drown them all except a few." And he picked out a fellow by the name of Noah, that had been a bachelor for five hundred years. If I had to drown anybody, I would have drowned him. I believe that Noah had then been married something like one hundred years. God told him to build a boat, and he built one five hundred feet long, eighty or ninety feet broad and fifty-five feet high, with one door shutting on the outside, and one window twenty-two inches square. If Noah had any hobby in the world it was ventilation. Then into this ark he put a certain number of all the animals in the world. Naturalists have ascertained that at that time there were at least eleven hundred thousand insects necessary to go into the ark, about forty thousand mammalia, sixteen hundred reptiles, to say nothing of the mastodon, the elephant and the animalcule, of which thousands live upon a single leaf and which cannot be seen by the naked eye. Noah had no microscope, and yet he had pick them out by pairs. You have no idea the trouble that man had. Some say that the flood was not universal, that it was partial. Why then did God say "I will destroy every living thing beneath the heavens." If it was partial why did Noah save the birds? An ordinary bird, tending strictly to business, can beat a partial flood. Why did he put the birds in there—the eagles, the vultures, the condors—if it was only a partial flood? And how did he get them in there? Were they inspired to go there, or did he drive them up? Did the polar bear leave his home of ice and start for the tropic inquiring for Noah; or could the kangaroo come from Australia unless he was inspired, or somebody was behind him? Then there are animals on this hemisphere not on that. How did he get them across? And there are some animals which would be very unpleasant in an ark unless the ventilation was very perfect.
When he got the animals in the ark, God shut the door and Noah pulled down the window. And then it began to rain, and it kept on raining until the water went twenty nine feet over the highest mountain. Chimborazo, then as now, lifted its head above the clouds, and then as now, there sat the condor. And yet the waters rose and rose over every mountain in the world—twenty-nine feet above the highest peaks, covered with snow and ice. How deep were these waters? About five and a half miles. How long did it rain? Forty days. How much did it have to rain a day? About eight hundred feet. How is that for dampness? No wonder they said the windows of the heavens were open. If I had been there I would have said the whole side of the house was out. How long were they in this ark? A year and ten days, floating around with no rudder, no sail, nobody on the outside at all. The window was shut, and there was no door, except the one that shut on the outside. Who ran this ark—who took care of it? Finally it came down on Mount Ararat, a peak seventeen thousand feet above the level of the sea, with about three thousand feet of snow, and it stopped there simply to give the animals from the tropics a chance. Then Noah opened the window and got a breath of fresh air, and let out all the animals; and then Noah took a drink, and God made a bargain with him that He would not drown us any more, and He put a rainbow in the clouds and said: "When I see that I will recollect that I have promised not to drown you." Because if it was not for that He is apt to drown us at any moment. Now can anybody believe that that is the origin of the rainbow? Are you not all familiar with the natural causes which bring those beautiful arches before our eyes? Then the people started out again, and they were as bad as before. Here let me ask why God did not make Noah in the first place? He knew He would have to drown Adam and Eve and all his family. Then another thing, why did He want to drown the animals? What had they done? What crime had they committed? It is very hard to answer these questions—that is, for a man who has only been born once. After a while they tried to build a tower to get into heaven, and the gods heard about it and said "Let's go down and see what man is up to." They came, and found things a great deal worse than they thought, and thereupon He confounded the language to prevent them succeeding, so that the fellow up above could not shout down "mortar" or "brick" to the one below, and they had to give it up. Is it possible that any one believes that that is the reason why we have the variety of languages in the world? Do you know that language is born of human experience, and is a physical science? Do you know that every word has been suggested in some way by the feelings or observations of man—that there are words as tender as the dawn, as serene as the stars, and others as wild as the beasts? Do you know that language is dying and being born continually—that every language has its cemetery and its cradle, its bud and blossom, and withered leaf? Man has loved, enjoyed and suffered, and language is simply the expression he gives those experiences.
Then the world began to divide, and the Jewish nation was started. Now I want to say that at one time your ancestors, like mine, were barbarians. If the Jewish people had to write these books now they would be civilized books, and I do not hold them responsible for what their ancestors did. We find the Jewish people first in Canaan, and there were seventy of them, counting Joseph and his children already in Egypt. They lived two hundred and fifteen years, and they then went down into Egypt and stayed there two hundred and fifteen years they were four hundred and thirty years in Canaan and Egypt. How many did they have when they went to Egypt? Seventy. How many were they at the end of two hundred and fifteen years? Three millions. That is a good many. We had at the time of the Revolution in this country three millions of people. Since that time there have been four doubles, until we have forty-eight millions today. How many would the Jews number at the same ratio in two hundred and fifteen years? Call it eight doubles and we have forty thousand. But instead of forty thousand they had three millions. How do I know they had three millions? Because they had six hundred thousand men of war. For every honest voter in the State of Illinois there will be five other people, and there are always more voters than men of war. They must have had at the lowest possible estimate three millions of people. Is that true? Is there a minister in the city of Chicago that will testify to his own idiocy by claiming that they could have increased to three millions by that time? If there is, let him say so. Do not let him talk about the civilizing influence of a lie.
When they got into the desert they took a census to see how man first-born children there were. They found they had twenty-thousand two hundred and seventy-three first-born males. It is reasonable to suppose there was about the same number of first-born girls, or forty-five thousand first-born children. There must have been about as many mothers as first-born children. Dividing three millions by forty-five thousand mothers, and you will find that the women in Israel had to have on the average sixty-eight children apiece. Some stories are too thin. This is too thick. Now, we know that among three million people there will be about three hundred births a day; and according to the Old Testament, whenever a child was born the mother had to make a sacrifice—a sin-offering for the crime of having been a mother. If there is in this universe anything that is infinitely pure, it is a mother with her child in her arms. Every woman had to have a sacrifice of a couple of pigeons, and the priests had to eat those pigeons in the most holy place. At that time there were at least three hundred births a day, and the priests had to cook and eat these pigeons in the most holy place; and at that time there were only three priests. Two hundred birds apiece per day! I look upon them as the champion bird-eaters of the world.
Then where were these Jews? They were upon the desert of Sinai; and Sahara compared to that is a garden. Imagine an ocean of lava, torn by storm and vexed by tempest, suddenly gazed at by a Gorgon and changed to stone. Such was the desert of Sinai. The whole supplies of the world could not maintain three millions of people on the desert of Sinai for forty years. It would cost one hundred thousand millions of dollars, and would bankrupt Christendom. And yet there they were with flocks and herds—so many that they sacrificed over one hundred and fifty thousand first-born lambs at one time.
It would require millions of acres to support these flocks, and yet there was no blade of grass, and there is no account of it raining baled hay. They sacrificed one hundred and fifty thousand lambs, and the blood had all to be sprinkled on the altar within two hours, and there, were only three priests. They would have to sprinkle the blood of twelve hundred and fifty lambs per minute. Then all the people gathered in front of the tabernacle eighteen feet deep. Three millions of people would make a column six miles long. Some reverend gentlemen say they were ninety feet deep. Well, that would make a column of over a mile.