Whether the Bible is true or false, is of no consequence in comparison with the mental freedom of the race. Salvation through slavery is worthless. Salvation from slavery is inestimable.
The civilization of this century is not the child of faith, but of unbelief – the result of Freethought.
All I insist is, if there is another life, the basest soul that finds its way to that dark or radiant shore will have the everlasting chance of doing right. Nothing but the most cruel ignorance, the most heartless superstition, the most ignorant theology, ever imagined that the few days of human life spent here, surrounded by mists and clouds of darkness, blown over life’s sea by storms and tempests of passion, fixed for all eternity the condition of the human race. If this doctrine be true this life is but a net, in which Jehovah catches souls for hell.
The idea that a certain belief is necessary to salvation unsheathed the swords and lighted the fagots of persecution. As long as heaven is the reward of creed instead of deed, just so long will every orthodox church be a bastille, every member a prisoner, and every priest a turnkey.
It is far better that we should all go down “with souls unsatisfied” to the dreamless grave, to the tongueless silence of the voiceless dust, than that countless millions of human souls should suffer forever.
Eternal sleep is better than eternal pain. Eternal punishment is eternal revenge, and can be inflicted only by an eternal monster.
It seems to me that the heart of the Christian ought to burst into an efflorescence of joy when he becomes satisfied that the Bible is only the work of man; that there is no such place as perdition – that there are no eternal flames – that men’s souls are not to suffer everlasting pain – that it is all insanity and ignorance and fear and horror. I should think that every good and tender soul would be delighted to know that there is no Christ who can say to any human being – to any father, mother, or child – “Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”