His Early Religious Training
They greatly err who think and say that Mr. Ingersoll as a child was not, could not have been, properly trained in religious truths and duties. He was the son of loving and praying parents. His father was a Presbyterian and Congregational minister, beloved and honored by all who knew him. His sweet and noble mother died when Robert was a babe of only two years. Her loving task fell to the father.
By precept and example he strove with all his might, fervently invoking divine assistance, tenderly and truly to train his child in the way he should go, relying on the promise that when old he would not depart from it. Robert was brought up on the Bible and the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and taught a strict observance of the Sabbath day.
He was admonished to search the Scriptures. He did search them, but found them wanting, and frankly said so. They did not solve his childish doubts, answer his many questions, or satisfy the awakening yearnings of his large and affectionate heart. “Something wrong, somewhere,” was his frequent comment, even as a boy, as he read the Bible.
His father was troubled in spirit. He could not comprehend such skepticism in one so young, – the child of his own heart and hopes, of his own faith and prayers. How could he, in his wildest dreams, ever have foreseen that this bright and beautiful boy would one day ripen into the most famous Agnostic of the century? Yet, with all his fears and misgivings, this good father was wise and just and broad enough to say: “My boy, be true to yourself; tell your honest thought; never be a hypocrite!” He never was.