All the advance that has been made in the science of medicine, has been made by the recklessness of patients. I can recollect when they wouldn't give a man water in a fever—not a drop. Now and then some fellow would get so thirsty he would say "Well, I'll die any way, so I'll drink it," and thereupon he would drink a gallon of water, and thereupon he would burst into a generous perspiration, and get well—and the next morning when the doctor would come to see him they would tell him about the man drinking the water, and he would say:
"Well, he swallowed two pitchers full."
"Is he alive?"
So they would go into the room and the doctor would feel his pulse and ask him:
"Did you drink two pitchers of water?"
"My God! what a constitution you have got."
I tell you there is something splendid in man that will not always mind. Why, if we had done as the kings told us five hundred years ago, we would all have been slaves. If we had done as the priests told us we would all have been idiots. If we had done as the doctors told us we would all have been dead. We have been saved by disobedience. We have been saved by that splendid thing called independence, and I want to see more of it, day after day, and I want to see children raised so they will have it. That is my doctrine. Give the children a chance. Be perfectly honor bright with them, and they will be your friends when you are old. Don't try to teach them something they can never learn. Don't insist upon their pursuing some calling they have no sort of faculty for. Don't make that poor girl play ten years on a piano when she has no ear for music, and when she has practiced until she can play "Bonaparte crossing the Alps," and you can't tell after she has played it whether Bonaparte ever got across or not. Men are oaks, women are vines, children are flowers, and if there is any Heaven in this world, it is in the family. It is where the wife loves the husband, and the husband loves the wife, and where the dimpled arms of children are about the necks of both. That is Heaven, if there is any—and I do not want any better Heaven in another world than that, and if in another world I can not live with the ones I loved here, then I would rather not be there. I would rather resign.
Well, my friends, I have some excuses to make for the race to which I belong. In the first place, this world is not very well adapted to raising good men and good women. It is three times better adapted to the cultivation of fish than of people. There is one little narrow belt running zigzag around the world, in which men and women of genius can be raised, and that is all. It is with man as it is with vegetation. In the valley you find the oak and elm tossing their branches defiantly to the storm, and as you advance up the mountain side the hemlock, the pine, the birch, the spruce, the fir, and finally you come to little dwarfed trees, that look like other trees seen through a telescope reversed—every limb twisted as through pain—getting a scanty subsistence from the miserly crevices of the rocks. You go on and on, until at last the highest crag is freckled with a kind of moss, and vegetation ends. You might as well try to raise oaks and elms where the mosses grow, as to raise great men and women where their surroundings are unfavorable. You must have the proper climate and soil. There never has been a man or woman of genius from the southern hemisphere, because the Lord didn't allow the right climate to fall upon the land. It falls upon the water. There never was much civilization except where there has been snow, and ordinarily decent Winter. You can't have civilization without it. Where man needs no bedclothes but clouds, revolution is the normal condition of such a people. It is the Winter that gives us the home; it is the Winter that gives us the fireside and the family relation and all the beautiful flowers of love that adorn that relation. Civilization, liberty, justice, charity and intellectual advancement are all flowers that bloom in the drifted snow. You can't have them anywhere else, and that is the reason we of the north are civilized, and that is the reason that civilization has always been with Winter. That is the reason that philosophy has been here, and, in spite of all our superstitions, we have advanced beyond some of the other races, because we have had this assistance of nature, that drove us into the family relation, that made us prudent; that made us lay up at one time for another season of the year. So there is one excuse I have for my race.
I have got another. I think we came from the lower animals. I am not dead sure of it, but think so. When I first read about it I didn't like it. My heart was filled with sympathy for those people who have nothing to be proud of except ancestors. I thought how terrible it will be upon the nobility of the old world. Think of their being forced to trace their ancestry back to the Duke Orang-Outang or to the Princess Chimpanzee. After thinking it all over I came to the conclusion that I liked that doctrine. I became convinced in spite of myself. I read about rudimentary bones and muscles. I was told that everybody had rudimentary muscles extending from the ear into the cheek. I asked: "What are they?" I was told: "They are the remains of muscles; that they became rudimentary from the lack of use." They went into bankruptcy. They are the muscles with which your ancestors used to flap their ears. Well, at first, I was greatly astonished, and afterward I was more astonished to find they had become rudimentary. How can you account for John Calvin unless we came up from the lower animals? How could you account for a man that would use the extremes of torture unless you admit that there is in man the elements of a snake, of a vulture, a hyena, and a jackal? How can you account for the religious creeds of today? How can you account for that infamous doctrine of Hell, except with an animal origin? How can you account for your conception of a God that would sell women and babes into slavery?
Well, I thought that thing over and I began to like it after a while, and I said: "It is not so much difference who my father was as who his son is." And I finally said I would rather belong to a race that commenced with the skull-less vertebrates in the dim Laurentian seas, that wriggled without knowing why they wriggled, swimming without knowing where they were going, that come along up by degrees through millions of ages, through all that crawls, and swims, and floats, and runs, and growls, and barks, and howls, until it struck this fellow in the dug-out. And then that fellow in the dugout getting a little grander, and each one below calling every one above him a heretic, calling every one who had made a little advance an infidel or an atheist, and finally the heads getting a little higher and looming up a little grander and more splendidly, and finally produced Shakespeare, who harvested all the field of dramatic thought and from whose day until now there have been none but gleaners of chaff and straw. Shakespeare was an intellectual ocean whose waves touched all the shores of human thought, within which were all the tides and currents and pulses upon which lay all the lights and shadows, and over which brooded all the calms, and swept all the storms and tempests of which the soul is capable. I would rather belong to that race that commenced with that skull-less vertebrate; that produced Shakespeare, a race that has before it an infinite future, with the angel of progress leaning from the far horizon, beckoning men forward and upward forever. I would rather belong to that race than to have descended from a perfect pair upon which the Lord has lost money every moment from that day to this.
Now, my crime has been this: I have insisted that the Bible is not the word of God. I have insisted that we should not whip our children. I have insisted that we should treat our wives as loving equals. I have denied that God—if there is any God—ever upheld polygamy and slavery. I have denied that that God ever told his generals to kill innocent babes and tear and rip open women with the sword of war. I have denied that and for that I have been assailed by the clergy of the United States. They tell me I have misquoted; and I owe it to you, and maybe I owe it to myself, to read one or two words to you upon this subject. In order to do that I shall have to put on my glasses; and that brings me back to where I started—that man has advanced just in proportion as his thought has mingled with his labor. If man's eyes hadn't failed he would never have made any spectacles, he would never have had the telescope, and he would never have been able to read the leaves of Heaven.
COL. INGERSOLL'S REPLY TO DR. COLLYER.
Now, they tell me—and there are several gentlemen who have spoken on this subject—the Rev. Mr. Collyer, a gentleman standing as high as anybody, and I have nothing to say against him—because I denounced God who upheld murder, and slavery and polygamy, he said that what I said was slang. I would like to have it compared with any sermon that ever issued from the lips of that gentleman. And before he gets through he admits that the Old Testament is a rotten tree that will soon fall into the earth and act as a fertilizer for his doctrine.
Is it honest in that man to assail my motive? Let him answer my argument! Is it honest and fair in him to say I am doing a certain thing because it is popular? Has it got to this, that, in this Christian country, where they have preached every day hundreds and thousands of sermons—has it got to this that infidelity is so popular in the United States?
If it has, I take courage. And I not only see the dawn of a brighter day, but the day is here. Think of it! A minister tells me in this year of grace, 1879, that a man is an infidel simply that he may be popular. I am glad of it. Simply that he may make money. Is it possible that we can make more money tearing up churches than in building them up? Is it possible that we can make more money denouncing the God of slavery than we can praising the God that took liberty from man? If so, I am glad.
I call publicly upon Robert Collyer—a man for whom I have great respect—I call publicly upon Robert Collyer to state to the people of this city whether he believes the Old Testament was inspired. I call upon him to state whether he believes that God ever upheld these institutions; whether God was a polygamist; whether he believes that God commanded Moses or Joshua or any one else to slay little children in the cradle. Do you believe that Robert Collyer would obey such an order? Do you believe that he would rush to the cradle and drive the knife of theological hatred to the tender heart of a dimpled child? And yet when I denounce a God that will give such a hellish order, he says it is slang.
I want him to answer; and when he answers he will say he does not believe the Bible is inspired. That is what he will say, and he holds these old worthies in the same contempt that I do. Suppose he should act like Abraham. Suppose he should send some woman out into the wilderness with his child in her arms to starve, would he think that mankind ought to hold up his name forever, for reverence.
Robert Collyer says that we should read and scan every word of the Old Testament with reverence; that we should take this book up with reverential hands. I deny it. We should read it as we do every other book, and everything good in it, keep it and everything that shocks the brain and shocks the heart, throw it away. Let us be honest.
INGERSOLL'S REPLY TO PROF. SWING
Prof. Swing has made a few remarks on this subject, and I say the spirit he has exhibited has been as gentle and as sweet as the perfume of a flower. He was too good a man to stay in the Presbyterian church. He was a rose among thistles. He was a dove among vultures and they hunted him out, and I am glad he came out. I tell all the churches to drive all such men out, and when he comes I want him to state just what he thinks. I want him to tell the people of Chicago whether he believes the Bible is inspired in any sense except that in which Shakespeare was inspired. Honor bright, I tell you that all the sweet and beautiful things in the Bible would not make one play of Shakespeare; all the philosophy in the world would not make one scene in Hamlet; all the beauties of the Bible would not make one scene in the Midsummer Night's Dream; all the beautiful things about woman in the Bible would not begin to create such a character as Perditu or Imogene or Miranda. Not one.
I want him to tell whether he believes the Bible was inspired in any other way than Shakespeare was inspired. I want him to pick out something as beautiful and tender as Burns' poem to Mary in Heaven. I want him to tell whether he believes the story about the bears eating up children; whether that is inspired. I want him to tell whether he considers that a poem or not. I want to know if the same God made those bears that devoured the children because they laughed at an old man out of hair. I want to know if the same God that did that is the same God who said, "Suffer little children to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of Heaven." I want him to answer it, and answer it fairly. That is all I ask. I want just the fair thing.
Now, sometimes Mr. Swing talks as though he believed the Bible, and then he talks to me as though he didn't believe the Bible. The day he made this sermon I think he did, just a little, believe it. He is like the man that passed a ten dollar counterfeit bill. He was arrested and his father went to see him and said, "John, how could you commit such a crime? How could you bring my gray hairs in sorrow to the grave?" "Well," he says, "father, I'll tell you. I got this bill and some days I thought it was bad and some days I thought it was good, and one day when I thought it was good I passed it."
I want it distinctly understood that I have the greatest respect for Prof. Swing, but I want him to tell whether the 109th psalm is inspired. I want him to tell whether the passages I shall afterward read in this book are inspired. That is what I want.
INGERSOLL'S REPLY TO BROOKE HERFORD, D.D.
Then there is another gentleman here. His name is Herford. He says it is not fair to apply the test of truth to the Bible—I don't think it is myself. He says although Moses upheld slavery, that he improved it. They were not quite so bad as they were before, and Heaven justified slavery at that time. Do you believe that God ever turned the arms of children into chains of slavery? Do you believe that God ever said to a man: "You can't have your wife unless you will be a slave? You can not have your children unless you will lose your liberty; and unless you are willing to throw them from your heart forever, you can not be free?" I want Mr. Herford to state whether he loves such a God. Be honor bright about it. Don't begin to talk about civilization or what the church has done or will do. Just walk right up to the rack and say whether you love and worship a God that established slavery. Honest! And love and worship a God that would allow a little babe to be torn from the breast of its mother and sold into slavery. Now tell it fair, Mr. Herford, I want you to tell the ladies in your congregation that you believe in a God that allowed women to be given to the soldiers. Tell them that, and then if you say it was not the God of Moses, then don't praise Moses any more. Don't do it. Answer these questions.
INGERSOLL GATLING GUN TURNED ON DR. RYDER
Then here is another gentleman, Mr. Ryder, the Rev. Mr. Ryder, and he says that Calvinism is rejected by a majority of Christendom. He is mistaken. There is what they call the Evangelical Alliance. They met in this country in 1875 or 1876, and there were present representatives of all the evangelical churches in the world, and they adopted a creed, and that creed is that man is totally depraved. That creed is that there is an eternal, universal Hell, and that every man that does not believe in a certain way is bound to be damned forever, and that there is only one way to be saved, and that is by faith, and by faith alone; and they would not allow anybody to be represented there that did not believe that, and they would not allow a Unitarian there, and would not have allowed Dr. Ryder there, because he takes away from the Christian world the consolation naturally arising from the belief in Hell.
Dr. Ryder is mistaken. All the orthodox religion of the day is Calvinism. It believes in the fall of man. It believes in the atonement. It believes in the eternity of Hell, and it believes in salvation by faith; that is to say, by credulity.
That is what they believe, and he is mistaken; and I want to tell Dr. Kyder today, if there is a God, and He wrote the Old Testament, there is a Hell. The God that wrote the Old Testament will have a Hell. And I want to tell Dr. Ryder another thing, that the Bible teaches an eternity of punishment. I want to tell him that the Bible upholds the doctrine of Hell. I want to tell Him that if there is no Hell, somebody ought to have said so, and Jesus Christ should not have said: "I will at the last day say: 'Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'" If there was not such a place, Christ would not have said: "Depart from me, ye cursed, and these shall go hence into everlasting fire." And if you, Dr. Ryder, are depending for salvation on the God that wrote the Old Testament, you will inevitably be eternally damned.
There is no hope for you. It is just as bad to deny Hell as it is to deny Heaven. It is just as much blasphemy to deny the devil as to deny God, according to the orthodox creed. He admits that the Jews were polygamists, but, he says, how was it they finally quit it? I can tell you—the soil was so poor they couldn't afford it. Prof. Swing says the Bible is a poem, Dr. Ryder says it is a picture. The Garden of Eden is pictorial; a pictorial snake and a pictorial woman, I suppose, and a pictorial man, and maybe it was a pictorial sin. And only a pictorial atonement.
INGERSOLL'S REPLY TO RABBI BIEN
Then there is another gentleman, and he a rabbi, a Rabbi Bien, or Bean, or whatever his name is, and he comes to the defense of the Great Law-giver. There was another rabbi who attacked me in Cincinnati, and I couldn't help but think of the old saying that a man got off when he said the tallest man he ever knew, his name was Short. And the fattest man he ever saw, his name was Lean. And it is only necessary for me to add that this rabbi in Cincinnati was Wise.
The rabbi here, I will not answer him, and I will tell you why. Because he has taken himself outside of all the limits of a gentleman; because he has taken it upon himself to traduce American women in language the beastliest I ever read; and any man who says that the American women are not just as good women as any God can make and pick his mud today, is an unappreciative barbarian.
I will let him alone because he denounced all the men in this country, all the members of Congress, all the members of the Senate, and all the judges upon the Bench; in his lecture he denounced them as thieves and robbers. That won't do. I want to remind him that in this country the Jews were first admitted to the privileges of citizens; that in this country they were first given all their rights, and I am as much in favor of their having their rights as I am in favor of having my own. But when a rabbi so far forgets himself as to traduce the women and men of this country, I pronounce him a vulgar falsifier, and let him alone.
Strange, that nearly every man that has answered me has answered me mostly on the same side. Strange, that nearly every man that thought himself called upon to defend the Bible was one who did not believe in it himself. Isn't it strange? They are like some suspected people, always anxious to show their marriage certificate. They want at least to convince the world that they are not as bad as I am.
Now, I want to read you just one or two things, and then I am going to let you go. I want to see if I have said such awful things, and whether I have got any scripture to stand by me. I will read only two or three verses. Does the Bible teach man to enslave his brother? If it does, it is not the word of God, unless God is a slaveholder.
"Moreover, all the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy of their families which are with you, which they beget in your land, and they shall be your possession. Ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you to inherit them. They shall be your bondsmen forever."—(Old Testament.)
Upon the limbs of unborn babes this fiendish God put the chains of slavery. I hate him.
"Both thy bondmen and bondwomen shall be of the heathen round about thee and them shall ye buy, bondmen and bondwomen."
Now let us read what the New Testament has. I could read a great deal more, but that is enough.
"Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters, according to the flesh in fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ."
This is putting the dirty thief that steals your labor on an equality with God.
"Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle but also to the froward."
"For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully."
The idea of a man on account of conscience toward God stealing another man, or allowing him nothing but lashes on his back as legal-tender for labor performed.
"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 blasphemed."
How can you blaspheme the name of God by asserting your independence? How can you blaspheme the name of a God by striking fetters from the limbs of men? I wish some of your ministers would tell you that. "And they that have believing masters let them not despise them." That is to say, a good Christian could own another believer in Jesus Christ; could own a woman and her children, and could sell the child away from its mother. That is a sweet belief. O, hypocrisy!
"Let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather do them service because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit."
Oh, what slush! Here is what they will tell the poor slave, so that he will serve the man that stole his wife and children from him:
"For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Having food and raiment let us be therewith content."
Don't you think that it would do just as well to preach that to the thieving man as to the suffering slave? I think so. Then this same Bible teaches witchcraft, that spirits go into the bodies of the man, and pigs, and that God himself made a trade with the devil, and the devil traded him off—a man for a certain number of swine, and the devil lost money because the hogs ran right down into the sea. He got a corner on that deal.
Now let us see how they believed in the rights of children:
"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 harken unto them, 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. 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.' And all the men of this city shall stone him with stones, that he die, so shalt thou put evil away."
That is a very good way to raise children. Here is the story of Jephthah. He went off and he asked the Lord to let him whip some people, and he told the Lord if He would let him whip them, he would sacrifice to the Lord the first thing that met him on his return; and the first thing that met him was his own beautiful daughter, and he sacrificed her. Is there a sadder story in all history than that? What do you think of a man that would sacrifice his own daughter? What do you think of a God that would receive that sacrifice? Now, then, they come to women in this blessed gospel, and let us see what the gospel says about women. Then you ought all to go to church, girls, next Sunday and hear it. "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection; but I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence for Adam was formed first, not Eve."
Don't you see?
"And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in child-bearing if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." (That is Mr. Timothy.) "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."
I suppose that every old maid is acephalous.
"For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, for as much as he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman, but woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man." "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husband as unto the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church."
Do you hear that? You didn't know how much we were above you. When you go back to the old testament, to the great law-giver, you find that the woman has to ask forgiveness for having borne a child. If it was a boy, thirty-three days she was unclean; if it was a girl, sixty-six. Nice laws! Good laws! If there is a pure thing in this world, if there is a picture of perfect purity, it is a mother with her child in her arms. Yes, I think more of a good woman and a child than I do of all the gods I have ever heard these people tell about. Just think of this:
"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, and seest among the captives a beautiful woman and hast a desire unto her that thou wouldst have her to thy wife, then thou shalt bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails."
Wherefore, ye must needs be subject not only for wrath but for conscience sake. "For this cause pay you tribute also, for they are God's ministers."
I despise this wretched doctrine. Wherever the sword of rebellion is drawn in favor of the right, I am a rebel. I suppose Alexander, czar of Russia, was put there by the order of God, was he? I am sorry he was not removed by the nihilist that shot at him the other day.
I tell you, in a country like that, where there are hundreds of girls not 16 years of age prisoners in Siberia, simply for giving their ideas about liberty, and we telegraphed to that country, congratulating that wretch that he was not killed, my heart goes into the prison, my heart goes with the poor girl working as a miner in the mines, crawling on her hands and knees getting the precious ore out of the mines, and my sympathies go with her, and my sympathies cluster around the point of the dagger.
Does the bible describe a god of mercy? Let me read you a verse or two:
"I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh." "Thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in the same."
"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.
"But the Lord thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed."
"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."
I can see what he had her nails pared for. Does the bible teach polygamy? The Rev. Dr. Newman, consul general to all the world—had a discussion with Elder Heber of Kimball, or some such wretch in Utah—whether the bible sustains polygamy, and the Mormons have printed that discussion as a campaign document. Read the order of Moses in the 31st chapter of Numbers. A great many chapters I dare not read to you. They are too filthy. I leave all that to the clergy. Read the 31st chapter of Exodus, the 31st chapter of Deuteronomy, the life of Abraham, and the life of David, and the life of Solomon, and then tell me that the bible does not uphold polygamy and concubinage!
Let them answer. Then I said that the bible upheld tyranny. Let me read you a little: "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."
George III was king by the grace of God, and when our fathers rose in rebellion, according to this doctrine, they rose against the power of God; and if they did they were successful.
And so it goes on, telling of all the cities that were destroyed, and of the great-hearted men, that they dashed their brains out, and all the little babes, and all the sweet women that they killed and plundered—all in the name of a most merciful God. Well, think of it! The Old Testament is filled with anathemas, and with curses, and with words of revenge, and jealousy, and hatred, and meanness, and brutality. Have I read enough to show that what I said is so? I think I have. I wish I had time to read to you further of what the dear old fathers of the church said about woman—wait a minute, and I will read you a little. We have got them running. St. Augustine in his 22d book says: "A woman ought to serve her husband as unto God, affirming that woman ought to be braced and bridled betimes, if she aspire to any dominion, alleging that dangerous and perilous it is to suffer her to precede, although it be in temporal and corporeal things. How can woman be in the image of God, seeing she is subject to man, and hath no authority to teach, neither to be a witness, neither to judge, much less to rule or bear the rod of empire."
Oh, he is a good one. These are the very words of Augustine. Let me read some more. "Woman shall be subject unto man as unto Christ." That is St. Augustine, and this sentence of Augustine ought to be noted of all women, for in it he plainly affirms that women are all the more subject to man. And now, St. Ambrose, he is a good boy. "Adam was deceived by Eve—called Heva—and not Heva by Adam, and therefore just it is that woman receive and acknowledge him for governor whom she called sin, lest that again she slip and fall with womanly facility. Don't you see that woman has sinned once, and man never? If you give woman an opportunity, she will sin again, whereas if you give it to man, who never, never betrayed his trust in the world, nothing bad can happen. Let women be subject to their own husbands as unto the Lord, for man is the head of woman, and Christ is the head of the congregation." They are all real good men, all of them. "It is not permitted to woman to speak; let her be in silence; as the law said: unto thy husband shalt thou ever be, and he shall bear dominion over thee."
So St. Chrysostom. He is another good man. "Woman," he says, "was put under the power of man, and man was pronounced lord over her; that she should obey man, that the head should not follow the feet. False priests do commonly deceive women, because they are easily persuaded to any opinion,—especially if it be again given, and because they lack prudence and right reason to judge the things that be spoken; which should not be the nature of those that are appointed to govern others. For they should be constant, stable, prudent, and doing everything with discretion and reason, which virtues woman can not have in equality with man."
I tell you women are more prudent than men. I tell you, as a rule, women are more truthful than men. I tell you that women are more faithful than men—ten times as faithful as man. I never saw a man pursue his wife into the very ditch and dust of degradation and take her in his arms. I never saw a man stand at the shore where she had been morally wrecked, waiting for the waves to bring back even her corpse to his arms but I have seen woman do it. I have seen woman with her white arms lift man from the mire of degradation, and hold him to her bosom as though he were an angel.
And these men thought woman not fit to be held as pure in the sight of God as man. I never saw a man that pretended that he didn't love a woman; that pretended that he loved God better than he did a woman, that he didn't look hateful to me, hateful and unclean. I could read you twenty others, but I haven't time to do it. They are all to the same effect exactly. They hate woman, and say man is as much above her as God is above man. I am a believer in absolute equality. I am a believer in absolute liberty between man and wife. I believe in liberty, and I say, "Oh, liberty, float not forever in the far horizon—remain not forever in the dream of the enthusiast, the philanthropist and poet; but come and make thy home among the children of men."
I know not what discoveries, what inventions, what thoughts may leap from the brain of the world. I know not what garments of glory may be woven by the years to come. I can not dream of the victories to be won. I do know that, coming upon the field of thought; but down the infinite sea of the future, there will never touch this "bank and shoal of time" a richer gift, a rarer blessing than liberty for man, woman and child.
I never addressed a more magnificent audience in my life, and I thank you, I thank you a thousand times over.
INGERSOLL'S CATECHISM AND BIBLE-CLASS
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 polygamist; 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 under the brutal feet of lust; that the Hebrew language 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 most learned clergymen in Chicago would substantially agree with me—in public. I have read the replies 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, answering 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."
Q. But, Mr. Collyer, do you really think that a book with as many passages in favor of wrong as right, is inspired? A. I look upon the Old Testament as a rotting tree. When it falls it will fertilize a bank of violets.
Q. Do you believe that God upheld slavery and polygamy? Do you believe that He ordered the killing of babes and the violation of maidens? A. "There is three-fold 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 three-fold 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."
Q. Then, after all, you do not pretend that the Scriptures are really inspired? A. "The Scriptures make no such claim for themselves as the Church make's 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."
Q. 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? A. "I have but one answer to this question, and it is: Let who will have written this, I can not 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."
Q. Do you not regard such talk as slang?
(Supposed) Answer. If an infidel had said that the writer of Revelations 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.
Q. 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? A. "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 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 Testament? 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 remained. All progress had ceased. In gathering up the sacred book, copyists exercised great liberty in making changes and additions."
Q. Yes, we know all that, but is the Old Testament inspired? A. "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."
Q. Yes, we will admit that, but is the Bible inspired? A. "But still I know of no way to convince any one of spirit and inspiration and God only as His reason may take hold of these things."
Q. Do you think the Old Testament true? A. "The story of Eden may be an allegory; the history of the children of Israel may have mistakes."
Q. Must inspiration claim infallibility? A. "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."
Q. Do you believe that God commanded the soldiers to kill the children and the married women and save for themselves the maidens, as recorded in Numbers 31:2? Do you believe that God upheld slavery? Do you believe that God upheld polygamy? A. "The Bible may be wrong in some statements. God and right can not 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."
Q. What then shall be done? A. "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 artificially 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."
Q. Are you an orthodox Christian? A. "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."
Q. Do you really believe the Old Testament was inspired? A. "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 congenial and blissful, particularly to the long-abused Jewish race."
Q. Do you believe in the inspiration of the Bible? A. "Of course there is a destructive ax 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 mountains, so is Zoroaster, the Persian, Manu, the Hindoo, Minos, the Cretan, Lycurgus, the Spartan, and Numa, the Roman."
Q. Do you believe all the stories in the Bible? A. "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 manhood 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."
Q. Is the Bible inspired? A. "True, the Bible is not free from errors, nor is any work of man and time. It abounds in childish views and offensive matters. I trust 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 on 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."
Q. Do you think the stories in the Bible exaggerated? A. "I dare say the numbers are immensely exaggerated."
Q. Do you think that God upheld polygamy? A. "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? And so you really wonder why any man should be indignant at the idea that God upheld and sanctioned that beastliness called polygamy? What is there to be indignant about in that?"
FIFTH, PROF. SWING.
Question. What is your idea of the Bible? Answer. "I think it 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 of their poetry, it always possesses the characteristic of religion."
Q. I suppose you fully appreciate the religious characteristics of the Song of Solomon? No answer.
Q. Does the Bible uphold polygamy? A. "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 narrow limits."
Q. 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 improve the manners, and 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 and cruel mistakes; that each man has the right to think for himself, and that it is not necessary to believe 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.
INGERSOLL'S NEW DEPARTURE—His Lecture Entitled "What Shall We do to be Saved?"—Delivered in McVicker's Theatre, Chicago, Sept. 19, 1880 [From the Chicago Times. Verbatim Report.]
Ladies and Gentlemen: Fear is the dungeon of the mind, and superstition is a dagger with which hypocrisy assassinates the soul. Courage is liberty. I am in favor of absolute freedom of thought. In the realm of the mind every one is monarch. Every one is robed, sceptered, and crowned, and every one wears the purple of authority. I belong to the republic of intellectual liberty, and only those are good citizens of that republic who depend upon reason and upon persuasion, and only those are traitors who resort to brute force.
Now, I beg of you all to forget just for a few moments that you are Methodists, or Baptists, or Catholics, or Presbyterians, and let us for an hour or two remember only that we are men and women. And allow me to say "man" and "woman" are the highest titles that can be bestowed upon humanity. "Man" and "woman." And let us if possible banish all fear from the mind. Do not imagine that there is some being in the infinite expanse who is not willing that every man and woman should think for himself and herself. Do not imagine that there is any being who would give to his children the holy torch of reason and then damn them for following where the holy light led. Let us have courage.
Priests have invented a crime called "blasphemy," and behind that crime hypocrisy has crouched for thousands of years. There is but one blasphemy, and that is injustice. There is but one worship, and that is justice.
You need not fear the anger of a God whom you cannot injure. Rather fear to injure your fellow-men. Do not be afraid of a crime you cannot commit. Rather be afraid of the one that you may commit.
There was a Jewish gentleman went into a restaurant to get his dinner, and the devil of temptation whispered in his ear: "Eat some bacon."
He knew if there was anything in the universe calculated to excite the wrath of the Infinite Being, who made every shining star, it was to see a gentleman eating bacon. He knew it, and He knew the Infinite Being was looking, and that he was the Infinite Eaves-dropper of the universe. But his appetite got the better of his conscience, as it often has with us all, and he ate that bacon. He knew it was wrong. When he went into that restaurant the weather was delightful, the sky was as blue as June, and when he came out the sky was covered with angry clouds, the lightning leaping from one to the other, and the earth shaking beneath the voice of the thunder. He went back into that restaurant with a face as white as milk, and he said to one of the keepers:
"My God, did you ever hear such a fuss about a little piece of bacon?"
As long as we harbor such opinions of Infinity; as long as we imagine the heavens to be filled with such tyranny, so long the sons of men will be cringing, intellectual cowards. Let us think, and let us honestly express our thought.
Do not imagine for a moment that I think people who disagree with me are bad people. I admit, and I cheerfully admit, that a very large proportion of mankind and a very large majority, a vast number, are reasonably honest. I believe that most Christians believe what they teach; that most ministers are endeavoring to make this world better. I do not pretend to be better than they are. It is an intellectual question. It is a question, first, of intellectual liberty, and after that, a question to be settled at the bar of human reason. I do not pretend to be better than the are. Probably I am a good deal worse than many of them, but that is not the question. The question is "Bad as I am, have I a right to think?" And I think I have, for two reasons.
First, I can't help it. And secondly, I like it. The whole question is right at a point. If I have not a right to express my thoughts, who has?
"Oh," they say, "we will allow you, we will not burn you."
"All right; why won't you burn me?"
"Because we think a decent man will allow others to think and express his thought."
"Then the reason you do not persecute me for my thought is that you believe it would be infamous in you!"
"And yet you worship a God who will, all you declare, punish me forever."
The next question then is: Can I commit a sin against God by thinking? If God did not intend I should think, why did He give me a "thinker." Now, then, we have got what they call the Christian system of religion, and thousands of people wonder how I can be wicked enough to attack that system.
There are many good things about it, and I shall never attack anything that I believe to be good! I shall never fear to attack anything I honestly believe to be wrong. We have, I say, what they call the Christian religion, and, I find, just in proportion that nations have been religious, just in the proportion they have gone back to barbarism. I find that Spain, Portugal, Italy are the three worst nations in Europe; I find that the nation nearest infidel is the most prosperous France. And so I say there can be no danger in the exercise of absolute intellectual freedom. I find among ourselves the men who think at least as good as those who do not. We have, I say, a Christian system, and that is founded upon what they are pleased to call system the "New Testament." Who wrote the New Testament? I don't know. Who does know? Nobody!
We have found some fifty-two manuscripts containing portions of the New Testament. Some of those manuscripts leave out five or six books—many of them. Others more others less. No two of these manuscripts agree. Nobody knows who wrote these manuscripts. They are all written in Greek; the disciples of Christ knew only Hebrew. Nobody ever saw, so far as we know, one of the original Hebrew manuscripts. Nobody ever saw anybody who had seen anybody who had heard of anybody that had seen anybody that had ever seen one of the original Hebrew manuscripts. No doubt the clergy of your city have told you these facts thousands of times, and they will be obliged to me for having repeated them once more. These manuscripts are written in what are called capital Greek letters. They are called Uncial characters; and the New Testament was not divided into chapters and verses, even, until the year of grace 1551. Recollect it.
In the original the manuscripts and gospels are signed by nobody. The epistles are addressed to nobody; and they are signed by the same person. All the addresses, all the pretended earmarks showing to whom they are written and by whom they are written are simply interpolations, and everybody who has studied the subject knows it.
It is further admitted that even these manuscripts have not been properly translated, and they have a syndicate now making a new translation; and I suppose that I cannot tell whether I really believe the Testament or not until I see that new translation.
You must remember, also, one other thing. Christ never wrote a solitary word of the New Testament—not one word. There is an account that He once stooped and wrote something in the sand, but that has not been preserved. He never told anybody to write a word. He never said: "Matthew, remember this. Mark, don't forget to put that down. Luke, be sure that in your gospel you have this. John, don't forget it." Not one word. And it has always seemed to me that a Being coming from another world, with a message of infinite importance to mankind, should at least have verified that message by his own signature.
Why was nothing written? I will tell you. In my judgment they expected the end of the world in a very few days. That generation was not to pass away until the heavens should be rolled up as a scroll, and until the earth should melt with fervent heat. That was their belief. They believed that the world was to be destroyed, and that there was to be another coming, and that the saints were then to govern the world. And they even went so far among the Apostles, as we frequently do now before election, as to divide out the offices in advance. This Testament was not written for hundreds of years after the Apostles were dust. These facts lived in the open mouth of credulity. They were in the wastebaskets of forgetfulness. They depended upon the inaccuracy of legend, and for centuries these doctrines and stories were blown about by the inconstant winds. And finally, when reduced to writing, some gentleman would write by the side of the passage his idea of it, and the next copyist would put that in as a part of the text. And, finally, when it was made, and the Church got in trouble, and wanted a passage to help it out, one was interpolated to order. So that now it is among the easiest things in the world to pick out at least one hundred interpolations in the Testament. And I will pick some of them out before I get through.
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, to that great and serene man I gladly pay the homage of my admiration and my tears. He was a reformer in His day. He was an infidel in His time. He was regarded as a blasphemer, and His life was destroyed by hypocrites, who have, in all ages, done what they could to trample freedom out of the human mind. Had I lived at that time I would have been His friend, and should He come again He would not find a better friend than I will be.
That is for the man. For the theological creation I have a different feeling. If He was, in fact, God, He knew that there was no such thing as death. He knew that what we call death was but the eternal opening of the golden gates of everlasting joy; and it took no heroism to face a death that was simply eternal life.
But when a man, when a poor boy sixteen years of age, goes upon the field of battle to keep his flag in heaven, not knowing but that death ends all—not knowing but that, when the shadows creep over him, the darkness will be eternal—there is heroism.
And so for the man who, in the darkness, said: "My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"—for that man I have nothing but respect, admiration, and love.
A while ago I made up my mind to find out what was necessary for me to do in order to be saved. If I have got a soul, I want it saved. I do not wish to lose anything that is of value. For thousands of years the world has been asking that question "What shall we do to be saved?"
Saved from poverty? No. Saved from crime? No. Tyranny? No. But "What shall we do to be saved from the eternal wrath of the God who made us all?"
If God made us, He will not destroy us. Infinite wisdom never made a poor investment. And upon all the works of an infinite God, a dividend must finally be declared. The pulpit has cast a shadow over even the cradle. The doctrine of endless punishment has covered the cheeks of this world with tears. I despise it, and I defy it.
I made up my mind, I say, to see what I had to do in order to save my soul according to the Testament, and thereupon I read it. I read the gospel, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But I found that the Church had been deceiving me. I found that the clergy did not understand their own book. I found that they had been building upon passages that had been interpolated. I found that they had been building upon passages that were entirely untrue. And I will tell you why I think so.
The first of these gospels was written by St. Matthew, according to the claim. Of course he never wrote a word of it. Never saw it. Never heard of it. But, for the purpose of this lecture, I will admit that he wrote it. I will admit that he was with Christ for three years, that he heard much of His conversation during that time and that he became impregnated with the doctrines, or dogmas, and the ideas of Jesus Christ.
Now let us see what Matthew says we must do in order to be saved. And I take it that, if this be true, Matthew is as good an authority as any minister in the world.
The first thing I find upon the subject of salvation is in the fifth chapter of Matthew, and is embraced in what is commonly known as the sermon on the Mount. It is as follows:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Good!
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." Good! Whether they belonged to any church or not; whether they believed the Bible or not.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." Good!
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake," (that's me, little) "for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."
In the same sermon he says: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." And then he makes use of this remarkable language, almost as applicable today as it was then: "For I say unto you that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees ye shall in no wise enter the kingdom of Heaven." Good!
In the sixth chapter I find the following, and it comes directly after the prayer known as the Lord's prayer: "For if you forgive men their trespasses your Heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." I accept the conditions. There is an offer; I accept it. If you will forgive men that trespass against you, God will forgive your trespasses against Him. I accept, and I never will ask any God to treat me any better than I treat my fellowmen. There is a square promise. There is a contract. If you will forgive others, God will forgive you. And it does not say you must believe in the Old Testament, nor be baptized, nor join the Church, nor keep Sunday. It simply says, if you forgive others God will forgive you; and it must be true. No God could afford to damn a forgiving man. (A voice: "Will He forgive Democrats?") Oh, certainly. Let me say right here that I know lots of Democrats, great, broad, whole-souled, clever men, and I love them. And the only bad thing about them is that they vote the Democratic ticket. And I know lots of Republicans so mean and narrow that the only decent thing about them is that they vote the Republican ticket.
Now let me make myself plain upon that subject, perfectly plain. For instance, I hate Presbyterianism, but I know hundreds of splendid Presbyterians. Understand me. I hate Methodism, and yet I know hundreds of splendid Methodists. I dislike a certain set of principles called Democracy, and yet I know thousands of Democrats that I respect and like. I like a certain set of principles—that is, most of them,—called Republicanism, and yet I know lots of Republicans that are a disgrace to those principles.
I do not war against men. I do not war against persons. I war against certain doctrines that I believe to be wrong. And I give to every other human being every right that I claim for myself. Of course I did not intend today to tell what we must do in the election for the purpose of being saved.
The next thing that I find is in the seventh chapter and the second verse: "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Good! That suits me!
And in the twelfth chapter of Matthew: "For whosoever shall do the will of my Father that is in Heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother. For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He shall reward every man according—" To the church he belongs to? No. To the manner in which he was baptized? No. According to his creed? No. "Then he shall reward every man according to his works." Good! I subscribe to that doctrine.
And in the sixteenth chapter: "And Jesus called a little child to Him and stood him in the midst, and said: 'Verily, I say unto you, except ye become converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.'" I do not wonder that a reformer in His day that met the Scribes and Pharisees and hypocrites, I do not wonder that at last He turned to children and said: "Except ye become as little children," I do not wonder. And yet, see what children the children of God have been. What an interesting dimpled darling John Calvin was. Think of that prattling babe known as Jonathan Edwards! Think of the infants that founded the Inquisition, that invented instruments of torture to tear human flesh. They were the ones who had become as little children.
So I find in the nineteenth chapter: "And behold, one came and said unto Him: 'Good master, what good thing shall I do in order to inherit eternal life?' And He said unto him, 'why callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, and that is God, but if thou will enter into eternal life, keep the commandments,' and he said unto Him, 'Which?'"
Now, there is a pretty fair issue. Here is a child of God asking God what is necessary for him to do in order to inherit eternal life. And God says to him: Keep the commandments. And the child said to the Almighty: "Which?" Now if there ever had been an opportunity given to the Almighty to furnish a gentleman with an inquiring mind with the necessary information upon that subject, here was the opportunity. He said unto Him, 'which?' And Jesus said: "Thou shalt do no murder; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness; honor thy father and mother; and, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." He did not say to him: "You must believe in Me—that I am the only begotten Son of the living God." He did not say: "You must be born again." He did not say: "You must believe the Bible." He did not say: "You must remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." He simply said: "Thou shalt do no murder. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Honor thy father and thy mother; and, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." And thereupon the young man, who I think was a little "fresh," and probably mistaken, said unto Him: "All these things have I kept from my youth up." I don't believe that.
Now comes in an interpolation. In the old times when the Church got a little scarce for money, they always put in a passage praising poverty. So they had this young man ask: "What lack I yet?" And Jesus said unto him: "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasures in heaven." The Church has always been willing to swap off treasures in heaven for cash down.
And when the next verse was written the Church must have been nearly dead-broke. "And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Did you ever know a wealthy disciple to unload on account of that verse?
And then comes another verse, which I believe is an interpolation: "And every one that has forsaken houses, or brethren or sisters, or father or mother, or wife or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." Christ never said it. Never. "Whosoever shall forsake father and mother." Why He said to this man who asked him "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" among other things, He said "Honor thy father and thy mother." And we turn over the page and He says: "If you will desert your father and your mother you shall have everlasting life." It won't do. If you desert your wife and your little children, or your lands—the idea of putting a house and lot on equality with wife and children. Think of that! I do not accept the terms. I will never desert the one I love for the promise of any God.
It is far more important that we shall love our wives than that we shall love God. And I will tell you why you cannot help Him. You can help her. You can fill her life with the perfume of perpetual joy. It is far more important that you love your children than that you love Jesus Christ.—And why? If He is God you cannot help Him, but you can plant a little flower of happiness in every footstep of the child, from the cradle until you die in that child's arms. Let me tell you to-day, it is far more important to build a home than to erect a church. The holiest temple beneath the stars is a home that love has built. And the holiest altar in all the wide world is the fireside around which gather father and mother and children.
There was a time when people believed that infamy. There was a time when they did desert fathers; and mothers, and wives and children. St. Augustine says to the devotee: "Fly to the desert, and though your wife put her arms around your neck, tear her hands away; she is a temptation of the devil. Though your father and mother throw their bodies athwart your threshold, step over them; and though your children pursue and with weeping eyes beseech you to return, listen not. It is the temptation of the evil one. Fly to the desert and save your soul." Think of such a soul being worth saving. While I live I propose to stand by the folks.
Here there is another condition of salvation. I find it in the 25th chapter: "Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, 'Come, ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was a hungered and ye gave Me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave Me drink; I was a stranger and ye took Me in; naked and ye clothed Me; and I was sick and ye visited Me; and I was in prison, and ye came unto me." Good! And I tell you tonight that God will not punish with eternal thirst the man who has put the cup of cold water to the lips of his neighbor. God will not allow to live in eternal nakedness of pain the man who has clothed others.
For instance, here is a shipwreck, and here is some brave sailor stands aside and allows a woman whom he never saw before to take his place in the boat, and he stands there, grand and serene as the wide sea, and he goes down. Do you tell me there is any God who will push the life-boat from the shore of eternal life, when that man wishes to step in? Do you tell me that God can be unpitying to the pitiful, that He can be unforgiving to the forgiving? I deny it; and from the aspersions of the pulpit I seek to rescue the reputation of the Deity.
Now, I have read you everything in Matthew on the subject of salvation. That is all there is. Not one word about believing anything. It is the gospel of deed, the gospel of charity, the gospel of self-denial; and if only that gospel had been preached, persecution never would have shed one drop of blood. Not one. Now, according to the testimony, Matthew was well acquainted with Christ. According to the testimony, he had been with Him, and His companion for years, and if it was necessary to believe anything in order to get to heaven, Matthew should have told us. But he forgot it. Or he didn't believe it. Or he never heard of it. You can take your choice.
The next is Mark. Now let us see what he says. And for the purpose of this lecture it is sufficient for me to say that Mark agrees, substantially, with Matthew, that God will be merciful to the merciful; that He will be kind to the kind that He will pity the pitying. And it is precisely, or substantially, the same as Matthew until I come to the 16th verse of the 16th chapter, and then I strike an interpolation, put in by hypocrisy, put in by priests, who longed to grasp with bloody hands the sceptre of universal authority.
Let me read it to you. And it is the most infamous passage in the Bible. Christ never said it. No sensible man ever said it. "And He said unto them"—that is, unto His disciples—"Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned."
Now, I propose to prove to you that that is an interpolation. Now how will I do it? In the first place, not one word is said about belief in Matthew. In the next place, not one word is said about belief in Mark, until I come to that verse. And when is that said to have been spoken? According to Mark, it is a part of the last conversation of Jesus Christ—just before, according to the account, He ascended bodily before their eyes. If there ever was any important thing happened in this world, that is one of them. If there was any conversation that people would be apt to recollect, it would be the last conversation with God before He rose through the air and seated Himself upon the throne of the Infinite. We have in this Testament five accounts of the last conversation happening between Jesus Christ and His apostles. Matthew gives it. And yet Matthew does not state that in that conversation He said: "Whoso believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and whoso believeth not shall be damned." And if He did say those words, they were the most important that ever fell from His lips. Matthew did not hear it, or did not believe it, or forgot it.
Then I turn to Luke, and he gives an account of this same last conversation, and not one word does he say upon that subject. Now it is the most important thing, if Christ said it, that He ever said.
Then I turn to John, and he gives an account of the last conversation, but not one solitary word on the subject of belief or unbelief. Not one solitary word on the subject of damnation. Not one.
Then I turn to the first chapter of the Acts, and there I find an account of the last conversation; and in that conversation there is not one word upon this subject. Now, I say, that demonstrates that the passage in Mark is an interpolation.
What other reason have I got? That there is not one particle of sense in it. Why? No man can control his belief. You hear evidence for and against, and the integrity of the soul stands at the scales and tells which side rises and which side falls. You cannot believe as you wish. You must believe as you must. And He might as well have said: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel, and whosoever has red hair shall be saved, and whosoever hath not shall be damned."
I have another reason. I am much obliged to the gentleman who interpolated these passages. I am much obliged to him that he put in some more—two, more. Now hear:
"And these signs shall follow them that believe." Good.
"In My name shall they cast out devils. They shall speak with new tongues, 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."
Bring on your believer! Let him cast out a devil. I do not claim a large one, "just a little one for a cent." Let him take up serpents. "And if he drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt him." Let me mix up a dose for the theological believer, and if it does not hurt him I'll join a church. O, but, "they say those things only lasted through that apostolic age." Let us see. "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe."
How long? I think at least until they had gone into all the world. Certainly these signs should follow until all the world had been visited. And yet if that declaration was in the mouth of Christ, he then knew that one-half of the world was unknown and that he would be dead 1,492 years before his disciples would know that there was another world. And yet he said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel," and he knew then that it would be 1,492 years before anybody went. Well, if it was worth while to have signs follow believers in the old world, surely it was worth while to have signs follow believers in the new world. And the very reason that signs should follow would be to convince the unbeliever, and there are as many unbelievers now as ever, and the signs are as necessary today as they ever were. I would like a few myself.
This frightful declaration, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned," has filled the world with agony and crime.
Every letter of this passage has been sword and fagot; every word has been dungeon and chain.
That passage made the sword of persecution drip with innocent blood for ten centuries. That passage made the horizon of a thousand years lurid with the flames of fagots. That passage contradicts the sermon on the mount. That passage travesties the Lord's prayer. That passage turns the splendid religion of deed and duty into the superstition of creed and cruelty. I deny it. It is infamous. Christ never said it! Now I come to Luke, and it is sufficient to say that Luke substantially agrees with Matthew and with Mark. Substantially agrees, as the evidence is read. I like it.
"Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful." Good!
"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged. Condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive and ye shall be forgiven." Good!
"Give, and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over." Good! I like it.
"For with the same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again."
He agrees substantially with Mark; he agrees substantially with Matthew; and I come at last to the nineteenth chapter.
"And Zaccheus stood and said unto the Lord, 'Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him four-fold.' And Jesus said unto him, 'This day is salvation come to this house.'"
That is good doctrine. He didn't ask Zaccheus what he believed. He didn't ask him, Do you believe in the Bible? Do you believe in the five points? Have you ever been baptized-sprinkled? Oh! immersed. "Half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him four-fold." "And Christ said, 'This day is salvation come to this house.'" Good!
I read also in Luke that Christ when upon the cross forgave His murderers, and that is considered the shining gem in the crown of His mercy—that He forgave His murderers. That He forgave the men who drove the nails in His hands, in His feet, that plunged a spear in His side; the soldier that in the hour of death offered Him in mockery the bitterness to drink; that He forgave them all freely, and that yet, although He would forgive them, He will in the nineteenth century damn to eternal fire an honest man for the expression of his honest thoughts. That won't do. I find too, in Luke, an account of two thieves that were crucified at the same time. The other gospels speak of them. One says they both railed upon Him. Another says nothing about it. In Luke we are told that one did, but one of the thieves looked and pitied Christ, and Christ said to that thief:
"This day shalt thou meet me in Paradise."
Why did He say that? Because the thief pitied Him. And God cannot afford to trample beneath the feet of His infinite wrath the smallest blossom of pity that ever shed its perfume in the human heart!
Who was this thief? To what church did he belong? I don't know. The fact that he was a thief throws no light on that question. Who was he? What did he believe? I don't know. Did he believe in the Old Testament? In the miracles? I don't know. Did he believe that Christ was God? I don't know. Why, then, was the promise made to him that he should meet Christ in Paradise. Simply because he pitied innocence suffering on the cross.
God cannot afford to damn any man that is capable of pitying anybody.
And now we come to John, and that is where the trouble commences. The other gospels teach that God will be merciful to the merciful, forgiving to the forgiving, kind to the kind, loving to the loving, just to the just, merciful to the good.
Now we come to John, and here is another doctrine. And allow me to say that John was not written until centuries after the others. This, the Church got up:
"And Jesus answered and said unto him: 'Furthermore I say unto thee that except a man be born again he cannot see the "Kingdom of God."'"
Why didn't He tell Matthew that? Why didn't He tell Luke that? Why didn't He tell Mark that? They never heard of it, or forgot it, or they didn't believe it.
"Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." Why?
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, 'ye must be born again.' That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit,"—and He might have added that which is born of water is water.
"Marvel not that I say unto thee, 'ye must be born again.'" And then the reason is given, and I admit I did not understand it myself until I read the reason, and will understand it as well as I do; and here it is: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, and canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth." So I find in the book of John the idea of the real presence.
So I find in the book of John, that in order to be saved we must eat of the flesh and we must drink of the blood of Jesus Christ, and if that gospel is true, the Catholic Church is right. But it is not true. I cannot believe it, and yet for all that it may be true. But I don't believe it. Neither do I believe there is any God in the universe who will damn a man simply for expressing his belief.
"Why," they say to me, "suppose all this should turn out to be true, and you should come to the day of judgment and find all these things to be true. What would you do then?" I would walk up like a man, and say, "I was mistaken."
"And suppose God was about to pass judgment on you, what would you say?" I would say to Him, "Do unto others as you would that others should do unto you." Why not?
I am told that I must render good for evil. I am told that if smitten on one cheek I must turn the other. I am told that I must overcome evil with good. I am told that I must love my enemies; and will it do for this God who tells me, "Love my enemies," to say, "I will damn mine." No, it will not do; it will not do.
In the book of John all this doctrine of regeneration; all this doctrine that it is necessary to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; all the doctrine that salvation depends upon belief—in this book of John all these doctrines find their warrant; nowhere else.
Read these three gospels and then read John, and you will agree with me that the gospels that teach "We must be kind, we must be merciful, we must be forgiving, and thereupon that God will forgive us," is true, and then say whether or no that doctrine is not better than the doctrine that somebody else can be good for you, that somebody else can be bad for you, and that the only way to get to heaven is to believe something that you do not understand.
Now upon these gospels that I have read the churches rest; and out of those things that I have read they have made their creeds. And the first Church to make a creed, so far as I know, was the Catholic. I take it that is the first Church that had any power. That is the Church that has preserved all these miracles for us. That is the Church that preserved the manuscripts for us. That is the Church whose word we have to take. That Church is the first witness that Protestantism brought to the bar of history to prove miracles that took place eighteen hundred years ago; and while the witness is there Protestantism takes pains to say: "You can't believe one word that witness says, now."
That Church is the only one that keeps up a constant communication with heaven through the instrumentality of a large number of decayed saints. That Church is an agent of God on earth. That Church has a person who stands in the place of Deity; and that Church, according to their doctrine, is infallible. That Church has persecuted to the exact extent of her power—and always will. In Spain that Church stands erect, and that Church is arrogant. In the United States that Church crawls. But the object in both countries is the same, and that is the destruction of intellectual liberty. That Church teaches us that we can make God happy by being miserable ourselves. That Church teaches you that a nun is holier in the sight of God than a loving mother with a child in her thrilled and thrilling arms. That Church teaches you that a priest is better than a father. That Church teaches you that celibacy is better than that passion of love that has made everything of beauty in this world. That Church tells the girl of 16 or 18 years of age, with eyes like dew and light—that girl with the red of health in the white of her beautiful checks—tells that girl, "Put on the veil woven of death and night, kneel upon stones, and you will please God."
I tell you that, by law, no girl should be allowed to take the veil, and renounce the beauties of the world, until she was at least 25 years of age. Wait until she knows what she wants.
I am opposed to allowing these spider-like priests weaving webs to catch the flies of youth; and there ought to be a law appointing commissioners to visit such places twice a year, and release every person who expresses a desire to be released. I don't believe in keeping penitentiaries for God. No doubt they are honest about it. That is not the question.
Now this Church, after a few centuries of thought, made a creed, and that creed is the foundation of orthodox religion. Let me read it to you:
"Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic faith; which faith, except every one do keep entire and inviolate, without doubt, he shall everlastingly perish." Now the faith is this: "That we worship one God in trinity, and trinity in unity."
Of course you understand how that's done, and there's no need of my explaining it. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance. You see what a predicament that would leave the Deity in if you divided, the substance.
"For one is the person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost; but the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one "—you know what I mean by Godhead. In glory equal, and in majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, such is the Holy Ghost. The Father is uncreated, the Son uncreated, the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.
And that is the reason we know so much about the thing. "The Father is eternal, the Son eternal, the Holy Ghost eternal," and yet there are not three eternals, only one eternal, as also there are not three uncreated, nor three incomprehensibles, only one uncreated, one incomprehensible.
"In like manner, the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, the Holy Ghost almighty." Yet there are not three almighties, only one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son God, the Holy Ghost God, and yet not three Gods; and so likewise, the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Ghost is Lord, yet there are not three Lords, for as we are compelled by the Christian truth to acknowledge every person by himself to be God and Lord, so we are all forbidden by the Catholic religion to say there are three Gods, or three Lords. "The Father is made of no one, not created or begotten. The Son is from the Father alone, not made, nor created, or begotten. The Holy Ghost is from the Father and the Son, not made nor begotten, but proceeded—" You know what proceeding is.
"So there is one Father, not three Fathers." Why should there be three Fathers, and only one Son?
"One Son, and not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts; and in this Trinity there is nothing before or afterward, nothing greater or less, but the whole three persons are coeternal with one another, and coequal, so that in all things the unity is to be worshiped in Trinity, and the Trinity is to be worshiped in unity, and therefore we will believe." Those who will be saved must thus think of the Trinity. Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now the right of this thing is this: That we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is both God and man. He is God of the substance of His Father begotten before the world was. That was a good while before His mother lived.