SEVERAL people, having read the sermons of
Mr. Talmage in which he reviews some of my
lectures, have advised me not to pay the slightest
attention to the Brooklyn divine. They think that
no new arguments have been brought forward, and
they have even gone so far as to say that some of
the best of the old ones have been left out.

After thinking the matter over, I became satisfied
that my friends were mistaken, that they had been car-
ried away by the general current of modern thought,
and were not in a frame of mind to feel the force
of the arguments of Mr. Talmage, or to clearly see
the candor that characterizes his utterances.

At the first reading, the logic of these sermons does
not impress you. The style is of a character calculated
to throw the searcher after facts and arguments off
his guard. The imagination of the preacher is so
lurid; he is so free from the ordinary forms of ex-
pression; his statements are so much stranger than
truth, and his conclusions so utterly independent of
his premises, that the reader is too astonished to
be convinced.


Not until I had read with great care
the six discourses delivered for my benefit had I any
clear and well-defined idea of the logical force of
Mr. Talmage. I had but little conception of his
candor, was almost totally ignorant of his power to
render the simple complex and the plain obscure by
the mutilation of metaphor and the incoherence
of inspired declamation. Neither did I know the
generous accuracy with which he states the position
of an opponent, and the fairness he exhibits in a
religious discussion.

He has without doubt studied the Bible as closely
and critically as he has the works of Buckle and
Darwin, and he seems to have paid as much attention
to scientific subjects as most theologians. His theory
of light and his views upon geology are strikingly
original, and his astronomical theories are certainly as
profound as practical. If his statements can be relied
upon, he has successfully refuted the teachings of

Humboldt and Haeckel, and exploded the blunders of
Spencer and Tyndall. Besides all this, he has the
courage of his convictions—he does not quail before a
fact, and he does not strike his colors even to a dem-
onstration. He cares nothing for human experience.
He cannot be put down with statistics, nor driven
from his position by the certainties of science. He
cares neither for the persistence of force, nor the
indestructibility of matter.

He believes in the Bible, and he has the bravery
to defend his belief. In this, he proudly stands
almost alone. He knows that the salvation of the
world depends upon a belief in his creed. He
knows that what are called “the sciences” are of
no importance in the other world. He clearly sees
that it is better to live and die ignorant here, if you
can wear a crown of glory hereafter. He knows it
is useless to be perfectly familiar with all the sciences
in this world, and then in the next “lift up your eyes,
being in torment.” He knows, too, that God will
not punish any man for denying a fact in science.
A man can deny the rotundity of the earth, the
attraction of gravitation, the form of the earths orbit,
or the nebular hypothesis, with perfect impunity.
He is not bound to be correct upon any philo-

sophical subject. He is at liberty to deny and ridi-
cule the rule of three, conic sections, and even the
multiplication table. God permits every human
being to be mistaken upon every subject but one.
No man can lose his soul by denying physical facts.
Jehovah does not take the slightest pride in his geology,
or in his astronomy, or in mathematics, or in
any school of philosophy—he is jealous only of his
reputation as the author of the Bible. You may deny
everything else in the universe except that book.
This being so, Mr. Talmage takes the safe side, and
insists that the Bible is inspired. He knows that at
the day of judgment, not a scientific question will be
asked. He knows that the Hæckels and Huxleys
will, on that terrible day, regret that they ever
learned to read. He knows that there is no “saving
grace” in any department of human knowledge; that
mathematics and all the exact sciences and all the
philosophies will be worse than useless. He knows
that inventors, discoverers, thinkers and investigators,
have no claim upon the mercy of Jehovah; that the
educated will envy the ignorant, and that the writers
and thinkers will curse their books.

He knows that man cannot be saved through
what he knows—but only by means of what he
believes. Theology is not a science. If it were,
God would forgive his children for being mistaken
about it. If it could be proved like geology, or
astronomy, there would be no merit in believing it.
From a belief in the Bible, Mr. Talmage is not to be
driven by uninspired evidence. He knows that his
logic is liable to lead him astray, and that his reason
cannot be depended upon. He believes that scien-
tific men are no authority in matters concerning
which nothing can be known, and he does not wish
to put his soul in peril, by examining by the light of
reason, the evidences of the supernatural.

He is perfectly consistent with his creed. What
happens to us here is of no consequence compared
with eternal joy or pain. The ambitions, honors,
glories and triumphs of this world, compared with
eternal things, are less than naught.

Better a cross here and a crown there, than a feast
here and a fire there.

Lazarus was far more fortunate than Dives. The
purple and fine linen of this short life are as nothing
compared with the robes of the redeemed.

Mr. Talmage knows that philosophy is unsafe—
that the sciences are sirens luring souls to eternal
wreck. He knows that the deluded searchers after
facts are planting thorns in their own pillows—that
the geologists are digging pits for themselves, and
that the astronomers are robbing their souls of the
heaven they explore. He knows that thought, capa-
city, and intellectual courage are dangerous, and this
belief gives him a feeling of personal security.

The Bible is adapted to the world as it is. Most
people are ignorant, and but few have the capacity to
comprehend philosophical and scientific subjects, and
if salvation depended upon understanding even one
of the sciences, nearly everybody would be lost.
Mr. Talmage sees that it was exceedingly merciful in
God to base salvation on belief instead of on brain.
Millions can believe, while only a few can understand.
Even the effort to understand is a kind of treason
born of pride and ingratitude. This being so, it is far
safer, far better, to be credulous than critical. You are
offered an infinite reward for believing the Bible. If
you examine it you may find it impossible for you to
believe it. Consequently, examination is dangerous.
Mr. Talmage knows that it is not necessary to under-
stand the Bible in order to believe it. You must be-
lieve it first. Then, if on reading it you find anything
that appears false, absurd, or impossible, you may
be sure that it is only an appearance, and that the real
fault is in yourself. It is certain that persons wholly
incapable of reasoning are absolutely safe, and that
to be born brainless is to be saved in advance.

Mr. Talmage takes the ground,—and certainly from
his point of view nothing can be more reasonable
—that thought should be avoided, after one has
“experienced religion” and has been the subject of
“regeneration.” Every sinner should listen to ser-
mons, read religious books, and keep thinking, until
he becomes a Christian. Then he should stop. After
that, thinking is not the road to heaven. The real
point and the real difficulty is to stop thinking just at
the right time. Young Christians, who have no idea
of what they are doing, often go on thinking after
joining the church, and in this way heresy is born, and
heresy is often the father of infidelity. If Christians
would follow the advice and example of Mr. Talmage
all disagreements about doctrine would be avoided.
In this way the church could secure absolute in-
tellectual peace and all the disputes, heartburnings,
jealousies and hatreds born of thought, discussion
and reasoning, would be impossible.

In the estimation of Mr. Talmage, the man who
doubts and examines is not fit for the society of
angels. There are no disputes, no discussions in
heaven. The angels do not think; they believe,
they enjoy. The highest form of religion is re-
pression. We should conquer the passions and
destroy desire. We should control the mind and
stop thinking. In this way we “offer ourselves a
“living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” When
desire dies, when thought ceases, we shall be pure.
—This is heaven.

Robert G. Ingersoll.

Washington, D. C,

April; 1882.


Polonius. My lord, I will use them according to
their desert.

Hamlet. God’s bodikins, man, much better: use
every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape
whipping? Use them after your own honor and
dignity: the less they deserve, the more merit is
in your bounty.

Question. Have you read the sermon of

Mr. Talmage, in which he exposes your mis-

Answer. I have read such reports as appeared in
some of the New York papers.

Question. What do you think of what he has
to say?

Answer. Some time ago I gave it as my opinion
of Mr. Talmage that, while he was a man of most
excellent judgment, he was somewhat deficient in
imagination. I find that he has the disease that seems

to afflict most theologians, and that is, a kind of intel-
lectual toadyism, that uses the names of supposed great
men instead of arguments. It is perfectly astonishing
to the average preacher that any one should have the
temerity to differ, on the subject of theology, with
Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, and other gentlemen
eminent for piety during their lives, but who,
as a rule, expressed their theological opinions a few
minutes before dissolution. These ministers are per-
fectly delighted to have some great politician, some
judge, soldier, or president, certify to the truth of the
Bible and to the moral character of Jesus Christ.

Mr. Talmage insists that if a witness is false in one
particular, his entire testimony must be thrown away.
Daniel Webster was in favor of the Fugitive Slave
Law, and thought it the duty of the North to capture
the poor slave-mother. He was willing to stand
between a human being and his freedom. He was
willing to assist in compelling persons to work without
any pay except such marks of the lash as they might
receive. Yet this man is brought forward as a witness
for the truth of the gospel. If he was false in his
testimony as to liberty, what is his affidavit worth as
to the value of Christianity?


Andrew Jackson was a brave man, a good general,

a patriot second to none,
an excellent judge of horses, and a brave duelist. I
admit that in his old age he relied considerably upon
the atonement. I think Jackson was really a very great
man, and probably no President impressed himself
more deeply upon the American people than the hero
of New Orleans, but as a theologian he was, in my
judgment, a most decided failure, and his opinion as
to the authenticity of the Scriptures is of no earthly
value. It was a subject upon which he knew probably
as little as Mr. Talmage does about modern infidelity.
Thousands of people will quote Jackson in favor of
religion, about which he knew nothing, and yet have
no confidence in his political opinions, although he
devoted the best part of his life to politics.

No man should quote the words of another, in place
of an argument, unless he is willing to accept all the
opinions of that man. Lord Bacon denied the Copernican

system of astronomy, and, according to Mr.
Talmage, having made that mistake, his opinions upon
other subjects are equally worthless. Mr. Wesley
believed in ghosts, witches, and personal devils, yet
upon many subjects I have no doubt his opinions were
correct. The truth is, that nearly everybody is right
about some things and wrong about most things; and
if a man’s testimony is not to be taken until he is
right on every subject, witnesses will be extremely

Personally, I care nothing about names. It makes
no difference to me what the supposed great men of
the past have said, except as what they have said
contains an argument; and that argument is worth to
me the force it naturally has upon my mind. Chris-
tians forget that in the realm of reason there are no
serfs and no monarchs. When you submit to an
argument, you do not submit to the man who made it.
Christianity demands a certain obedience, a certain
blind, unreasoning faith, and parades before the eyes
of the ignorant, with great pomp and pride, the names
of kings, soldiers, and statesmen who have admitted
the truth of the Bible. Mr. Talmage introduces as a
witness the Rev. Theodore Parker.


This same The-
odore Parker denounced the Presbyterian creed as
the most infamous of all creeds, and said that the worst
heathen god, wearing a necklace of live snakes, was a
representation of mercy when compared with the God
of John Calvin. Now, if this witness is false in any
particular, of course he cannot be believed, according
to Mr. Talmage, upon any subject, and yet Mr.
Talmage introduces him upon the stand as a good

Although I care but little for names, still I will sug-
gest that, in all probability, Humboldt knew more upon
this subject than all the pastors in the world. I cer-
tainly would have as much confidence in the opinion
of Goethe as in that of William H. Seward; and as
between Seward and Lincoln, I should take Lincoln;
and when you come to Presidents, for my part, if I
were compelled to pin my faith on the sleeve of any-
body, I should take Jefferson’s coat in preference to
Jackson’s. I believe that Haeckel is, to say the least,
the equal of any theologian we have in this country,
and the late John W. Draper certainly knew as much
upon these great questions as the average parson. I
believe that Darwin has investigated some of these
things, that Tyndall and Huxley have turned their
minds somewhat in the same direction, that Helmholtz
has a few opinions, and that, in fact, thousands of able,
intelligent and honest men differ almost entirely with
Webster and Jackson.

So far as I am concerned, I think more of reasons
than of reputations, more of principles than of persons,
more of nature than of names, more of facts, than of

It is the same with books as with persons. Proba-
bly there is not a book in the world entirely destitute
of truth, and not one entirely exempt from error.
The Bible is like other books. There are mistakes in
it, side by side with truths,—passages inculcating
murder, and others exalting mercy; laws devilish and
tyrannical, and others filled with wisdom and justice.
It is foolish to say that if you accept a part, you must
accept the whole. You must accept that which com-
mends itself to your heart and brain. There never was
a doctrine that a witness, or a book, should be thrown
entirely away, because false in one particular. If in
any particular the book, or the man, tells the truth, to
that extent the truth should be accepted.

Truth is made no worse by the one who tells it,
and a lie gets no real benefit from the reputation of its

Question. What do you think of the statement
that a general belief in your teachings would fill all
the penitentiaries, and that in twenty years there
would be a hell in this world worse than the one
expected in the other?

Answer. My creed is this:

1. Happiness is the only good.

2. The way to be happy, is to make others happy.
Other things being equal, that man is happiest who is
nearest just—who is truthful, merciful and intelligent—
in other words, the one who lives in accordance with
the conditions of life.

3. The time to be happy is now, and the place to
be happy, is here.

4. Reason is the lamp of the mind—the only torch
of progress; and instead of blowing that out and de-
pending upon darkness and dogma, it is far better to
increase that sacred light.

5. Every man should be the intellectual proprietor
of himself, honest with himself, and intellectually
hospitable; and upon every brain reason should be
enthroned as king.

6. Every man must bear the consequences, at
least of his own actions. If he puts his hands in
the fire, his hands must smart, and not the hands of
another. In other words: each man must eat the
fruit of the tree he plants.

I can not conceive that the teaching of these doc-
trines would fill penitentiaries, or crowd the gallows.
The doctrine of forgiveness—the idea that somebody
else can suffer in place of the guilty—the notion that
just at the last the whole account can be settled—
these ideas, doctrines, and notions are calculated to fill
penitentiaries. Nothing breeds extravagance like the
credit system.

Most criminals of the present day are orthodox be-
lievers, and the gallows seems to be the last round of
the ladder reaching from earth to heaven. The Rev.
Dr. Sunderland, of this city, in his sermon on the assas-
sination of Garfield, takes the ground that God per-
mitted the murder for the purpose of opening the eyes
of the people to the evil effects of infidelity. Accord-
ing to this minister, God, in order to show his hatred
of infidelity, “inspired,” or allowed, one Christian to
assassinate another.

Religion and morality do not necessarily go together.
Mr. Talmage will insist to-day that morality is not
sufficient to save any man from eternal punishment.
As a matter of fact, religion has often been the enemy
of morality. The moralist has been denounced by the
theologians. He sustains the same relation to Chris-
tianity that the moderate drinker does to the total-
abstinence society. The total-abstinence people say
that the example of the moderate drinker is far worse
upon the young than that of the drunkard—that the
drunkard is a warning, while the moderate drinker is
a perpetual temptation.


So Christians say of moral-
ists. According to them, the moralist sets a worse
example than the criminal. The moralist not only in-
sists that a man can be a good citizen, a kind husband,
an affectionate father, without religion, but demon-
strates the truth of his doctrine by his own life;
whereas the criminal admits that in and of himself he
is nothing, and can do nothing, but that he needs
assistance from the church and its ministers.

The worst criminals of the modern world have been
Christians—I mean by that, believers in Christianity—
and the most monstrous crimes of the modern world
have been committed by the most zealous believers.
There is nothing in orthodox religion, apart from the
morality it teaches, to prevent the commission oF crime.
On the other hand, the perpetual proffer of forgiveness
is a direct premium upon what Christians are pleased
to call the commission of sin.

Christianity has produced no greater character than
Epictetus, no greater sovereign than Marcus Aurelius.
The wickedness of the past was a good deal like that
of the present. As a rule, kings have been wicked in
direct proportion to their power—their power having
been lessened, their crimes have decreased. As a
matter of fact, paganism, of itself, did not produce any
great men; neither has Christianity. Millions of in-
fluences determine individual character, and the re-
ligion of the country in which a man happens to be
born may determine many of his opinions, without
influencing, to any great extent, his real character.

There have been brave, honest, and intelligent men
in and out of every church.

Question. Mr. Talmage says that you insist that,
according to the Bible, the universe was made out of
nothing, and he denounces your statement as a gross
misrepresentation. What have you stated upon that

Answer. What I said was substantially this: “We
“are told in the first chapter of Genesis, that in the
“beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
“If this means anything, it means that God pro-
“duced—caused to exist, called into being—the
“heaven and the earth. It will not do to say that
“God formed the heaven and the earth of previously
“existing matter. Moses conveys, and intended to
“convey, the idea that the matter of which the
“universe is composed was created.”

This has always been my position. I did not sup-
pose that nothing was used as the raw material; but
if the Mosaic account means anything, it means that
whereas there was nothing, God caused something to
exist—created what we know as matter. I can not
conceive of something being made, created, without
anything to make anything with. I have no more
confidence in fiat worlds than I have in fiat money.
Mr. Talmage tells us that God did not make the uni-
verse out of nothing, but out of “omnipotence.”
Exactly how God changed “omnipotence” into matter
is not stated. If there was nothing in the universe,
omnipotence could do you no good. The weakest man
in the world can lift as much nothing as God.

Mr. Talmage seems to think that to create something
from nothing is simply a question of strength—that it
requires infinite muscle—that it is only a question of
biceps. Of course, omnipotence is an attribute, not an
entity, not a raw material; and the idea that something
can be made out of omnipotence—using that as the
raw material—is infinitely absurd. It would have
been equally logical to say that God made the universe
out of his omniscience, or his omnipresence, or his
unchangeableness, or out of his honesty, his holiness,
or his incapacity to do evil. I confess my utter in-
ability to understand, or even to suspect, what the
reverend gentleman means, when he says that God
created the universe out of his “omnipotence.”

I admit that the Bible does not tell when God created
the universe. It is simply said that he did this “in the
beginning.” We are left, however, to infer that “the
beginning” was Monday morning, and that on the
first Monday God created the matter in an exceedingly
chaotic state; that on Tuesday he made a firmament
to divide the waters from the waters; that on Wednes-
day he gathered the waters together in seas and
allowed the dry land to appear.


We are also told that
on that day “the earth brought forth grass and herb
“yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding
“fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind.” This
was before the creation of the sun, but Mr. Talmage
takes the ground that there are many other sources of
light; that “there may have been volcanoes in active
operation on other planets.”


I have my doubts,
however, about the light of volcanoes being sufficient
to produce or sustain vegetable life, and think it a
little doubtful about trees growing only by “volcanic
glare.” Neither do I think one could depend upon
“three thousand miles of liquid granite” for the pro-
duction of grass and trees, nor upon “light that rocks
might emit in the process of crystallization.” I doubt
whether trees would succeed simply with the assistance
of the “Aurora Borealis or the Aurora Australis.”
There are other sources of light, not mentioned by
Mr. Talmage—lightning-bugs, phosphorescent beetles,
and fox-fire. I should think that it would be humili-
ating, in this age, for an orthodox preacher to insist
that vegetation could exist upon this planet without the
light of the sun—that trees could grow, blossom and
bear fruit, having no light but the flames of volcanoes,
or that emitted by liquid granite, or thrown off by the
crystallization of rocks.

There is another thing, also, that should not be for-
gotten, and that is, that there is an even balance for-
ever kept between the totals of animal and vegetable
life—that certain forms of animal life go with certain
forms of vegetable life. Mr. Haeckel has shown that
“in the first epoch, algæ and skull-less vertebrates
were found together; in the second, ferns and fishes;
in the third, pines and reptiles; in the fourth, foliaceous

forests and mammals.” Vegetable and animal
life sustain a necessary relation; they exist together;
they act and interact, and each depends upon the other.
The real point of difference between Mr. Talmage and
myself is this: He says that God made the universe
out of his “omnipotence,” and I say that, although I
know nothing whatever upon the subject, my opinion
is, that the universe has existed from eternity—that it
continually changes in form, but that it never was
created or called into being by any power. I think
that all that is, is all the God there is.

Question. Mr. Talmage charges you with having
misrepresented the Bible story of the deluge. Has he
correctly stated your position?

Answer. Mr. Talmage takes the ground that the
flood was only partial, and was, after all, not much of a
flood. The Bible tells us that God said he would
“destroy all flesh wherein is the breath of life from
“under heaven, and that everything that is in the
“earth shall die;” that God also said: “I will destroy
“man, whom I have created, from the face of the
“earth; both man and beast and the creeping thing
“and the fowls of the air, and every living substance
“that I have made will I destroy from off the face of
“the earth.”

I did not suppose that there was any miracle in the
Bible larger than the credulity of Mr. Talmage. The
flood story, however, seems to be a little more than
he can bear. He is like the witness who stated that
he had read Gullivers Travels, the Stories of Mun-
, and the Flying Wife, including Robinson
, and believed them all; but that Wirt’s Life of
Patrick Henry
was a litde more than he could stand.

It is strange that a man who believes that God
created the universe out of “omnipotence” should
believe that he had not enough omnipotence left to
drown a world the size of this. Mr. Talmage seeks
to make the story of the flood reasonable. The
moment it is reasonable, it ceases to be miraculous.
Certainly God cannot afford to reward a man with
eternal joy for believing a reasonable story. Faith is
only necessary when the story is unreasonable, and if
the flood only gets small enough, I can believe it
myself. I ask for evidence, and Mr. Talmage seeks
to make the story so little that it can be believed
without evidence. He tells us that it was a kind of
“local option” flood—a little wet for that part of the

Why was it necessary to save the birds? They
certainly could have gotten out of the way of a real
small flood. Of the birds, Noah took fourteen of each
species. He was commanded to take of the fowls of the
air by sevens—seven of each sex—and, as there are
at least 12,500 species, Noah collected an aviary of
about 175,000 birds, provided the flood was general.
If it was local, there are no means of determining the
number. But why, if the flood was local, should he
have taken any of the fowls of the air into his ark?

All they had to do was to fly away, or “roost high;”
and it would have been just as easy for God to have
implanted in them, for the moment, the instinct of
getting out of the way as the instinct of hunting the ark.
It would have been quite a saving of room and pro-
visions, and would have materially lessened the labor
and anxiety of Noah and his sons.

Besides, if it had been a partial flood, and great
enough to cover the highest mountains in that country,
the highest mountain being about seventeen thousand
feet, the flood would have been covered with a sheet
of ice several thousand feet in thickness. If a column
of water could have been thrown seventeen thousand
feet high and kept stationary, several thousand feet
of the upper end would have frozen. If, however,
the deluge was general, then the atmosphere would
have been forced out the same on all sides, and the
climate remained substantially normal.

Nothing can be more absurd than to attempt to
explain the flood by calling it partial.

Mr. Talmage also says that the window ran clear
round the ark, and that if I had only known as much
Hebrew as a man could put on his little finger, I
would have known that the window went clear round.
To this I reply that, if his position is correct, then the
original translators of King James’ edition did not
know as much Hebrew as they could have put on
their little fingers; and yet I am obliged to believe
their translation or be eternally damned. If the
window went clear round, the inspired writer should
have said so, and the learned translators should have
given us the truth. No one pretends that there was
more than one door, and yet the same language is
used about the door, except this—that the exact size
of the window is given, and the only peculiarity men-
tioned as to the door is that it shut from the outside.
For any one to see that Mr. Talmage is wrong on the
window question, it is only necessary to read the story
of the deluge.

Mr. Talmage also endeavors to decrease the depth
of the flood. If the flood did not cover the highest
hills, many people might have been saved. He also
insists that all the water did not come from the rains,
but that “the fountains of the great deep were broken
“up.” What are “the fountains of the great deep”?
How would their being “broken up” increase the
depth of the water? He seems to imagine that these
“fountains” were in some way imprisoned—anxious
to get to the surface, and that, at that time, an oppor-
tunity was given for water to run up hill, or in some
mysterious way to rise above its level.


According to
the account, the ark was at the mercy of the waves for
at least seven months. If this flood was only partial,
it seems a little curious that the water did not seek its
level in less than seven months. With anything like
a fair chance, by that time most of it would have
found its way to the sea again.

There is in the literature of ignorance no more
perfectly absurd and cruel story than that of the

I am very sorry that Mr. Talmage should disagree
with some of the great commentators. Dr. Scott
tells us that, in all probability, the angels assisted in
getting the animals into the ark. Dr. Henry insists
that the waters in the bowels of the earth, at God’s
command, sprung up and flooded the earth. Dr.
Clark tells us that it would have been much easier
for God to have destroyed all the people and made
some new ones, but that he did not want to waste
anything. Dr. Henry also tells us that the lions, while
in the ark, ate straw like oxen.


Nothing could be
more amusing than to see a few lions eating good,
dry straw. This commentator assures us that the
waters rose so high that the loftiest mountains were
overflowed fifteen cubits, so that salvation was not
hoped for from any hills or mountains. He tells us
that some of the people got on top of the ark, and
hoped to shift for themselves, but that, in all proba-
bility, they were washed off by the rain. When we
consider that the rain must have fallen at the rate of
about eight hundred feet a day, I am inclined to think
that they were washed off.

Mr. Talmage has clearly misrepresented the Bible.
He is not prepared to believe the story as it is told.
The seeds of infidelity seem to be germinating in his
mind. His position no doubt will be a great relief to
most of his hearers. After this, their credulity will
not be strained. They can say that there was probably
quite a storm, some rain, to an extent that rendered it
necessary for Noah and his family—his dogs, cats,
and chickens—to get in a boat. This would not be
unreasonable. The same thing happens almost every
year on the shores of great rivers, and consequently
the story of the flood is an exceedingly reasonable

Mr. Talmage also endeavors to account for the
miraculous collection of the animals in the ark by
the universal instinct to get out of the rain. There
are at least two objections to this: 1. The animals
went into the ark before the rain commenced; 2. I
have never noticed any great desire on the part of
ducks, geese, and loons to get out of the water. Mr.
Talmage must have been misled by a line from an old
nursery book that says: “And the little fishes got
“under the bridge to keep out of the rain.” He tells
us that Noah described what he saw. He is the first
theologian who claims that Genesis was written by
Noah, or that Noah wrote any account of the flood.
Most Christians insist that the account of the flood
was written by Moses, and that he was inspired to
write it. Of course, it will not do for me to say that
Mr. Talmage has misrepresented the facts.

Question. You are also charged with misrepresen-
tation in your statement as to where the ark at last
rested. It is claimed by Mr. Talmage that there is
nothing in the Bible to show that the ark rested on
the highest mountains.

Answer. Of course I have no knowledge as to
where the ark really came to anchor, but after it struck
bottom, we are told that a dove was sent out, and
that the dove found no place whereon to rest her
foot. If the ark touched ground in the low country,
surely the mountains were out of water, and an or-
dinary mountain furnishes, as a rule, space enough
for a dove’s foot. We must infer that the ark rested
on the only land then above water, or near enough
above water to strike the keel of Noah’s boat. Mount
Ararat is about seventeen thousand feet high; so I
take it that the top of that mountain was where Noah
ran aground—otherwise, the account means nothing.

Here Mr. Talmage again shows his tendency to
belittle the miracles of the Bible. I am astonished
that he should doubt the power of God to keep an
ark on a mountain seventeen thousand feet high.
He could have changed the climate for that occasion.
He could have made all the rocks and glaciers pro-
duce wheat and corn in abundance. Certainly God,
who could overwhelm a world with a flood, had the
power to change every law and fact in nature.

I am surprised that Mr. Talmage is not willing to
believe the story as it is told. What right has he to
question the statements of an inspired writer? Why
should he set up his judgment against the Websters
and Jacksons? Is it not infinitely impudent in him
to contrast his penny-dip with the sun of inspiration?
What right has he to any opinion upon the subject?
He must take the Bible as it reads. He should
remember that the greater the miracle the greater
should be his faith.

Question. You do not seem to have any great
opinion of the chemical, geological, and agricultural
views expressed by Mr. Talmage?

Answer. You must remember that Mr. Talmage
has a certain thing to defend. He takes the Bible as
actually true, and with the Bible as his standard, he
compares and measures all sciences. He does not
study geology to find whether the Mosaic account is
true, but he reads the Mosaic account for the purpose
of showing that geology can not be depended upon.
His idea that “one day is as a thousand years with
“God,” and that therefore the “days” mentioned in the
Mosaic account are not days of twenty-four hours, but
long periods, is contradicted by the Bible itself. The
great reason given for keeping the Sabbath day is, that
“God rested on the seventh day and was refreshed.”
Now, it does not say that he rested on the “seventh
“period,” or the “seventh good—while,” or the
“seventh long-time,” but on the “seventh day.” In
imitation of this example we are also to rest—not on
the seventh good-while, but on the seventh day.
Nothing delights the average minister more than to
find that a passage of Scripture is capable of several
interpretations. Nothing in the inspired book is so
dangerous as accuracy. If the holy writer uses
general terms, an ingenious theologian can harmonize
a seemingly preposterous statement with the most
obdurate fact.


An “inspired” book should contain
neither statistics nor dates—as few names as possible,
and not one word about geology or astronomy. Mr.
Talmage is doing the best he can to uphold the fables
of the Jews. They are the foundation of his faith.
He believes in the water of the past and the fire of the
future—in the God of flood and flame—the eternal
torturer of his helpless children.

It is exceedingly unfortunate that Mr. Talmage does
not appreciate the importance of good manners, that
he does not rightly estimate the convincing power of
kindness and good nature. It is unfortunate that a
Christian, believing in universal forgiveness, should
exhibit so much of the spirit of detraction, that he
should run so easily and naturally into epithets, and
that he should mistake vituperation for logic. Thou-
sands of people, knowing but little of the mysteries of
Christianity—never having studied theology,—may
become prejudiced against the church, and doubt the
divine origin of a religion whose defenders seem to
rely, at least to a great degree, upon malignant per-


Mr. Talmage should remember that in a
discussion of this kind, he is supposed to represent a
being of infinite wisdom and goodness. Surely, the
representative of the infinite can afford to be candid,
can afford to be kind. When he contemplates the
condition of a fellow-being destitute of religion, a
fellow-being now travelling the thorny path to eternal
fire, he should be filled with pity instead of hate.
Instead of deforming his mouth with scorn, his eyes
should be filled with tears. He should take into
consideration the vast difference between an infidel
and a minister of the gospel,—knowing, as he does,
that a crown of glory has been prepared for the
minister, and that flames are waiting for the soul
of the unbeliever.


He should bear with philosophic
fortitude the apparent success of the skeptic, for a
few days in this brief life, since he knows that in a
little while the question will be eternally settled in
his favor, and that the humiliation of a day is as
nothing compared with the victory of eternity. In
this world, the skeptic appears to have the best
of the argument; logic seems to be on the side
of blasphemy; common sense apparently goes hand
in hand with infidelity, and the few things we are
absolutely certain of, seem inconsistent with the
Christian creeds.

This, however, as Mr. Talmage well knows, is but
apparent. God has arranged the world in this way
for the purpose of testing the Christian’s faith.
Beyond all these facts, beyond logic, beyond reason,
Mr. Talmage, by the light of faith, clearly sees the
eternal truth. This clearness of vision should give
him the serenity of candor and the kindness born of
absolute knowledge. He, being a child of the light,
should not expect the perfect from the children of
darkness. He should not judge Humboldt and
Wesley by the same standard. He should remember
that Wesley was especially set apart and illuminated
by divine wisdom, while Humboldt was left to grope
in the shadows of nature. He should also remember
that ministers are not like other people. They have
been “called.” They have been “chosen” by infinite
wisdom. They have been “set apart,” and they
have bread to eat that we know not of. While
other people are forced to pursue the difficult paths
of investigation, they fly with the wings of faith.

Mr. Talmage is perfectly aware of the advantages
he enjoys, and yet he deems it dangerous to be fair.
This, in my judgment, is his mistake. If he cannot
easily point out the absurdities and contradictions in
infidel lectures, surely God would never have selected
him for that task. We cannot believe that imperfect
instruments would be chosen by infinite wisdom.
Certain lambs have been entrusted to the care of Mr.
Talmage, the shepherd.


Certainly God would not
select a shepherd unable to cope with an average
wolf. Such a shepherd is only the appearance of
protection. When the wolf is not there, he is a
useless expense, and when the wolf comes, he goes.
I cannot believe that God would select a shepherd
of that kind. Neither can the shepherd justify his
selection by abusing the wolf when out of sight.
The fear ought to be on the other side. A divinely
appointed shepherd ought to be able to convince his
sheep that a wolf is a dangerous animal, and ought
to be able to give his reasons. It may be that the
shepherd has a certain interest in exaggerating the
cruelty and ferocity of the wolf, and even the number
of the wolves. Should it turn out that the wolves
exist only in the imagination of the shepherd, the
sheep might refuse to pay the salary of their pro-
tector. It will, however, be hard to calculate the
extent to which the sheep will lose confidence in a
shepherd who has not even the courage to state the
facts about the wolf. But what must be the result
when the sheep find that the supposed wolf is, in
fact, their friend, and that he is endeavoring to rescue
them from the exactions of the pretended shepherd,
who creates, by falsehood, the fear on which he


Por. Why, man, what’s the matter? Don’t tear
your hair.

Sir Hugh. I have been beaten in a discussion,
overwhelmed and humiliated.

Por. Why didn’t you call your adversary a fool?

Sir Hugh. My God! I forgot it!

Question. I want to ask you a few questions
about the second sermon of Mr. Talmage;
have you read it, and what do you think of it?

Answer. The text taken by the reverend gentle-
man is an insult, and was probably intended as such:
“The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.”
Mr. Talmage seeks to apply this text to any one
who denies that the Jehovah of the Jews was and is
the infinite and eternal Creator of all. He is per-
fectly satisfied that any man who differs with him on
this question is a “fool,” and he has the Christian
forbearance and kindness to say so. I presume he
is honest in this opinion, and no doubt regards Bruno,
Spinoza and Humboldt as driveling imbeciles. He
entertains the same opinion of some of the greatest,
wisest and best of Greece and Rome.

No man is fitted to reason upon this question who
has not the intelligence to see the difficulties in all
theories. No man has yet evolved a theory that
satisfactorily accounts for all that is. No matter
what his opinion may be, he is beset by a thousand
difficulties, and innumerable things insist upon an
explanation. The best that any man can do is to
take that theory which to his mind presents the
fewest difficulties. Mr. Talmage has been educated
in a certain way—has a brain of a certain quantity,
quality and form—and accepts, in spite it may be,
of himself, a certain theory. Others, formed differ-
ently, having lived under different circumstances,
cannot accept the Talmagian view, and thereupon he
denounces them as fools. In this he follows the
example of David the murderer; of David, who
advised one of his children to assassinate another;
of David, whose last words were those of hate and


Mr. Talmage insists that it takes no especial
brain to reason out a “design” in Nature, and in a
moment afterward says that “when the world slew
“Jesus, it showed what it would do with the eternal
“God, if once it could get its hands on Him.” Why
should a God of infinite wisdom create people who
would gladly murder their Creator? Was there any
particular “design” in that? Does the existence
of such people conclusively prove the existence of a
good Designer? It seems to me—and I take it that
my thought is natural, as I have only been born
once—that an infinitely wise and good God would
naturally create good people, and if he has not, cer-
tainly the fault is his.


The God of Mr. Talmage
knew, when he created Guiteau, that he would
assassinate Garfield. Why did he create him? Did
he want Garfield assassinated? Will somebody be
kind enough to show the “design” in this trans-
action? Is it possible to see “design” in earth-
quakes, in volcanoes, in pestilence, in famine, in
ruthless and relentless war? Can we find “design” in
the fact that every animal lives upon some other—
that every drop of every sea is a battlefield where
the strong devour the weak? Over the precipice
of cruelty rolls a perpetual Niagara of blood. Is
there “design” in this? Why should a good God
people a world with men capable of burning their
fellow-men—and capable of burning the greatest and
best? Why does a good God permit these things?
It is said of Christ that he was infinitely kind and
generous, infinitely merciful, because when on earth
he cured the sick, the lame and blind. Has he not
as much power now as he had then? If he was and
is the God of all worlds, why does he not now give
back to the widow her son?


Why does he with-
hold light from the eyes of the blind? And why
does one who had the power miraculously to feed
thousands, allow millions to die for want of food?
Did Christ only have pity when he was part human?
Are we indebted for his kindness to the flesh that
clothed his spirit? Where is he now? Where has he
been through all the centuries of slavery and crime?
If this universe was “designed,” then all that
happens was “designed.” If a man constructs an
engine, the boiler of which explodes, we say either
that he did not know the strength of his materials, or
that he was reckless of human life. If an infinite being
should construct a weak or imperfect machine, he must
be held accountable for all that happens.


He cannot
be permitted to say that he did not know the strength
of the materials. He is directly and absolutely re-
sponsible. So, if this world was designed by a being
of infinite power and wisdom, he is responsible for
the result of that design. My position is this: I do
not know. But there are so many objections to the
personal-God theory, that it is impossible for me to
accept it. I prefer to say that the universe is all the
God there is. I prefer to make no being responsible.
I prefer to say: If the naked are clothed, man
must clothe them; if the hungry are fed, man must
feed them. I prefer to rely upon human endeavor,
upon human intelligence, upon the heart and brain
of man. There is no evidence that God has ever
interfered in the affairs of man. The hand of earth
is stretched uselessly toward heaven. From the
clouds there comes no help. In vain the shipwrecked
cry to God. In vain the imprisoned ask for liberty
and light—the world moves on, and the heavens are
deaf and dumb and blind. The frost freezes, the fire
burns, slander smites, the wrong triumphs, the good
suffer, and prayer dies upon the lips of faith.

Question. Mr. Talmage charges you with being
“the champion blasphemer of America”—what do
you understand blasphemy to be?

Answer. Blasphemy is an epithet bestowed by su-
perstition upon common sense. Whoever investi-
gates a religion as he would any department of
science, is called a blasphemer. Whoever contradicts
a priest, whoever has the impudence to use his own
reason, whoever is brave enough to express his
honest thought, is a blasphemer in the eyes of the
religionist. When a missionary speaks slightingly of
the wooden god of a savage, the savage regards him
as a blasphemer. To laugh at the pretensions of
Mohammed in Constantinople is blasphemy. To say
in St. Petersburg that Mohammed was a prophet of
God is also blasphemy. There was a time when to
acknowledge the divinity of Christ in Jerusalem was


To deny his divinity is now blasphemy
in New York. Blasphemy is to a considerable extent
a geographical question. It depends not only on what
you say, but where you are when you say it. Blas-
phemy is what the old calls the new,—what last
year’s leaf says to this year’s bud. The founder of
every religion was a blasphemer. The Jews so re-
garded Christ, and the Athenians had the same
opinion of Socrates. Catholics have always looked
upon Protestants as blasphemers, and Protestants have
always held the same generous opinion of Catholics.
To deny that Mary is the Mother of God is blas-
phemy. To say that she is the Mother of God is
blasphemy. Some savages think that a dried snake-
skin stuffed with leaves is sacred, and he who thinks
otherwise is a blasphemer. It was once blasphemy
to laugh at Diana, of the Ephesians. Many people
think that it is blasphemous to tell your real opinion
of the Jewish Jehovah. Others imagine that words
can be printed upon paper, and the paper bound into
a book covered with sheepskin, and that the book is
sacred, and that to question its sacredness is blas-
phemy. Blasphemy is also a crime against God, but
nothing can be more absurd than a crime against
God. If God is infinite, you cannot injure him. You
cannot commit a crime against any being that you
cannot injure. Of course, the infinite cannot be in-
jured. Man is a conditioned being.


By changing
his conditions, his surroundings, you can injure him;
but if God is infinite, he is conditionless. If he is
conditionless, he cannot by any possibility be injured.
You can neither increase, nor decrease, the well-being
of the infinite. Consequently, a crime against God
is a demonstrated impossibility. The cry of blasphemy
means only that the argument of the blasphemer can-
not be answered. The sleight-of-hand performer,
when some one tries to raise the curtain behind which
he operates, cries “blasphemer!” The priest, find-
ing that he has been attacked by common sense,—
by a fact,—resorts to the same cry. Blasphemy is the
black flag of theology, and it means: No argument
and no quarter! It is an appeal to prejudice, to
passions, to ignorance. It is the last resort of a
defeated priest. Blasphemy marks the point where
argument stops and slander begins. In old times, it
was the signal for throwing stones, for gathering
fagots and for tearing flesh; now it means falsehood
and calumny.

Question. Then you think that there is no such
thing as the crime of blasphemy, and that no such
offence can be committed?

Answer. Any one who knowingly speaks in favor
of injustice is a blasphemer. Whoever wishes to
destroy liberty of thought,—the honest expression of
ideas,—is a blasphemer. Whoever is willing to malign
his neighbor, simply because he differs with him upon
a subject about which neither of them knows anything
for certain, is a blasphemer. If a crime can be com-
mitted against God, he commits it who imputes to
God the commission of crime. The man who says
that God ordered the assassination of women and
babes, that he gave maidens to satisfy the lust of
soldiers, that he enslaved his own children,—that man
is a blasphemer. In my judgment, it would be far
better to deny the existence of God entirely. It
seems to me that every man ought to give his honest
opinion. No man should suppose that any infinite
God requires him to tell as truth that which he knows
nothing about.

Mr. Talmage, in order to make a point against
infidelity, states from his pulpit that I am in favor of
poisoning the minds of children by the circulation of
immoral books. The statement is entirely false. He
ought to have known that I withdrew from the Liberal
League upon the very question whether the law should
be repealed or modified. I favored a modification
of that law, so that books and papers could not be
thrown from the mails simply because they were

I was and am in favor of the destruction of
every immoral book in the world. I was and am
in favor, not only of the law against the circulation
of such filth, but want it executed to the letter in every
State of this Union. Long before he made that state-
ment, I had introduced a resolution to that effect, and
supported the resolution in a speech. Notwithstand-
ing these facts, hundreds of clergymen have made
haste to tell the exact opposite of the truth.


they have done in the name of Christianity, under the
pretence of pleasing their God. In my judgment, it
is far better to tell your honest opinions, even upon
the subject of theology, than to knowingly tell a false-
hood about a fellow-man. Mr. Talmage may have
been ignorant of the truth. He may have been misled
by other ministers, and for his benefit I make this ex-
planation. I wanted the laws modified so that bigotry
could not interfere with the literature of intelligence;
but I did not want, in any way, to shield the writers or
publishers of immoral books. Upon this subject I
used, at the last meeting of the Liberal League that
I attended, the following language:

“But there is a distinction wide as the Mississippi,
“yes, wider than the Atlantic, wider than all oceans,
“between the literature of immorality and the litera-
“ture of free thought. One is a crawling, slimy lizard,
“and the other an angel with wings of light. Let us
“draw this distinction. Let us understand ourselves.
“Do not make the wholesale statement that all these
“laws ought to be repealed. They ought not to be
“repealed. Some of them are good, and the law
“against sending instruments of vice through the
“mails is good. The law against sending obscene
“pictures and books is good. The law against send-
“ing bogus diplomas through the mails, to allow a
“lot of ignorant hyenas to prey upon the sick people
“of the world, is a good law.


The law against rascals
“who are getting up bogus lotteries, and sending their
“circulars in the mails is a good law. You know, as
“well as I, that there are certain books not fit to go
“through the mails. You know that. You know there
“are certain pictures not fit to be transmitted, not fit
“to be delivered to any human being. When these
“books and pictures come into the control of the
“United States, I say, burn them up! And when any
“man has been indicted who has been trying to make
“money by pandering to the lowest passions in the
“human breast, then I say, prosecute him! let the
“law take its course.”

I can hardly convince myself that when Mr.
Talmage made the charge, he was acquainted with
the facts. It seems incredible that any man, pre-
tending to be governed by the law of common
honesty, could make a charge like this knowing
it to be untrue. Under no circumstances, would
I charge Mr. Talmage with being an infamous
man, unless the evidence was complete and over-
whelming. Even then, I should hesitate long before
making the charge. The side I take on theological
questions does not render a resort to slander or
calumny a necessity. If Mr. Talmage is an honor-
able man, he will take back the statement he has
made. Even if there is a God, I hardly think that
he will reward one of his children for maligning
another; and to one who has told falsehoods about
“infidels,” that having been his only virtue, I doubt
whether he will say: “Well done good and faithful

Question. What have you to say to the charge
that you are endeavoring to “assassinate God,”
and that you are “far worse than the man who at-
“tempts to kill his father, or his mother, or his sister,
“or his brother”?

Answer. Well, I think that is about as reason-
able as anything he says. No one wishes, so far as I
know, to assassinate God. The idea of assassinating
an infinite being is of course infinitely absurd. One
would think Mr. Talmage had lost his reason! And
yet this man stands at the head of the Presbyterian
clergy. It is for this reason that I answer him. He
is the only Presbyterian minister in the United
States, so far as I know, able to draw an audience.
He is, without doubt, the leader of that denomination.

He is orthodox and conservative. He believes im-
plicitly in the “Five Points” of Calvin, and says
nothing simply for the purpose of attracting attention.
He believes that God damns a man for his own glory;
that he sends babes to hell to establish his mercy,
and that he filled the world with disease and crime
simply to demonstrate his wisdom. He believes that
billions of years before the earth was, God had made
up his mind as to the exact number that he would
eternally damn, and had counted his saints. This
doctrine he calls “glad tidings of great joy.”


really believes that every man who is true to himself
is waging war against God; that every infidel is a
rebel; that every Freethinker is a traitor, and that
only those are good subjects who have joined the
Presbyterian Church, know the Shorter Catechism by
heart, and subscribe liberally toward lifting the mort-
gage on the Brooklyn Tabernacle. All the rest are
endeavoring to assassinate God, plotting the murder
of the Holy Ghost, and applauding the Jews for the
crucifixion of Christ. If Mr. Talmage is correct in
his views as to the power and wisdom of God, I
imagine that his enemies at last will be overthrown,
that the assassins and murderers will not succeed, and
that the Infinite, with Mr. Talmage s assistance, will
finally triumph. If there is an infinite God, certainly
he ought to have made man grand enough to have
and express an opinion of his own. Is it possible
that God can be gratified with the applause of moral
cowards? Does he seek to enhance his glory by
receiving the adulation of cringing slaves? Is God
satisfied with the adoration of the frightened?

Question. You notice that Mr. Talmage finds
nearly all the inventions of modern times mentioned
in the Bible?

Answer: Yes; Mr. Talmage has made an ex-
ceedingly important discovery. I admit that I am
somewhat amazed at the wisdom of the ancients.
This discovery has been made just in the nick of
time. Millions of people were losing their respect
for the Old Testament. They were beginning to
think that there was some discrepancy between the
prophecies of Ezekiel and Daniel and the latest devel-
opments in physical science. Thousands of preachers
were telling their flocks that the Bible is not a
scientific book; that Joshua was not an inspired as-
tronomer, that God never enlightened Moses about
geology, and that Ezekiel did not understand the
entire art of cookery. These admissions caused
some young people to suspect that the Bible, after all,
was not inspired; that the prophets of antiquity did
not know as much as the discoverers of to-day.


Bible was falling into disrepute. Mr. Talmage has
rushed to the rescue. He shows, and shows conclu-
sively as anything can be shown from the Bible, that
Job understood all the laws of light thousands of
years before Newton lived; that he anticipated the
discoveries of Descartes, Huxley and Tyndall; that
he was familiar with the telegraph and telephone;
that Morse, Bell and Edison simply put his discov-
eries in successful operation; that Nahum was, in
fact, a master-mechanic; that he understood perfectly
the modern railway and described it so accurately
that Trevethick, Foster and Stephenson had no diffi-
culty in constructing a locomotive. He also has
discovered that Job was well acquainted with the
trade winds, and understood the mysterious currents,
tides and pulses of the sea; that Lieutenant Maury
was a plagiarist; that Humboldt was simply a biblical
student. He finds that Isaiah and Solomon were
far in advance of Galileo, Morse, Meyer and Watt.
This is a discovery wholly unexpected to me. If
Mr. Talmage is right, I am satisfied the Bible is an
inspired book. If it shall turn out that Joshua was
superior to Laplace, that Moses knew more about
geology than Humboldt, that Job as a scientist was
the superior of Kepler, that Isaiah knew more than
Copernicus, and that even the minor prophets ex-
celled the inventors and discoverers of our time—
then I will admit that infidelity must become speech-
less forever.


Until I read this sermon, I had never
even suspected that the inventions of modern times
were known to the ancient Jews. I never supposed
that Nahum knew the least thing about railroads, or
that Job would have known a telegraph if he had seen
it. I never supposed that Joshua comprehended the
three laws of Kepler. Of course I have not read
the Old Testament with as much care as some other
people have, and when I did read it, I was not looking
for inventions and discoveries. I had been told so
often that the Bible was no authority upon scientific
questions, that I was lulled into a state of lethargy.
What is amazing to me is, that so many men did
read it without getting the slightest hint of the
smallest invention. To think that the Jews read that
book for hundreds and hundreds of years, and yet
went to their graves without the slightest notion of
astronomy, or geology, of railroads, telegraphs, or
steamboats! And then to think that the early fathers
made it the study of their lives and died without in-
venting anything! I am astonished that Mr. Talmage
himself does not figure in the records of the Patent
Office. I cannot account for this, except upon the
supposition that he is too honest to infringe on the
patents of the patriarchs. After this, I shall read
the Old Testament with more care.

Question. Do you see that Mr. Talmage endeav-
ors to convict you of great ignorance in not knowing
that the word translated “rib” should have been
translated “side,” and that Eve, after all, was not
made out of a rib, but out of Adam’s side?

Answer. I may have been misled by taking the
Bible as it is translated. The Bible account is simply
this: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall
“upon Adam, and he slept. And he took one of
“his ribs and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
“and the rib which the Lord God had taken from
“man made he a woman, and brought her unto the
“man. And Adam said: This is now bone of my
“bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called
“woman, because she was taken out of man.” If
Mr. Talmage is right, then the account should be as
follows: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep
“to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one
“of his sides, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
“and the side which the Lord God had taken from
“man made he a woman, and brought her unto the
“man. And Adam said: This is now side of my
“side, and flesh of my flesh.” I do not see that the
story is made any better by using the word “side”
instead of “rib.” It would be just as hard for God
to make a woman out of a man’s side as out of a
rib. Mr. Talmage ought not to question the power
of God to make a woman out of a bone, and he must
recollect that the less the material the greater the

There are two accounts of the creation of man,
in Genesis, the first being in the twenty-first verse
of the first chapter and the second being in the
twenty-first and twenty-second verses of the sec-
ond chapter.

According to the second account, “God formed
“man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into
“his nostrils the breath of life.” And after this,
“God planted a garden eastward in Eden and put
“the man” in this garden. After this, “He made
“every tree to grow that was good for food and
“pleasant to the sight,” and, in addition, “the tree

“of life in the midst of the garden,” beside “the tree
“of the knowledge of good and evil.” And he “put
“the man in the garden to dress it and keep it,”
telling him that he might eat of everything he saw
except of “the tree of the knowledge of good and

After this, God having noticed that it “was not
“good for man to be alone, formed out of the ground
“every beast of the field, every fowl of the air, and
“brought them to Adam to see what he would call
“them, and Adam gave names to all cattle, and to
“the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field.
“But for Adam there was not found an helpmeet for

We are not told how Adam learned the language,
or how he understood what God said. I can hardly
believe that any man can be created with the know-
ledge of a language. Education cannot be ready
made and stuffed into a brain. Each person must
learn a language for himself. Yet in this account we
find a language ready made for man’s use. And not
only man was enabled to speak, but a serpent also
has the power of speech, and the woman holds a
conversation with this animal and with her husband;
and yet no account is given of how any language was
learned. God is described as walking in the garden
in the cool of the day, speaking like a man—holding
conversations with the man and woman, and occa-
sionally addressing the serpent.

In the nursery rhymes of the world there is
nothing more childish than this “inspired” account
of the creation of man and woman.

The early fathers of the church held that woman
was inferior to man, because man was not made for
woman, but woman for man; because Adam was
made first and Eve afterward. They had not the
gallantry of Robert Burns, who accounted for the
beauty of woman from the fact that God practiced
on man first, and then gave woman the benefit of
his experience. Think, in this age of the world,
of a well-educated, intelligent gentleman telling his
little child that about six thousand years ago a
mysterious being called God made the world out of
his “omnipotence;” then made a man out of some
dust which he is supposed to have moulded into
form; that he put this man in a garden for the pur-
pose of keeping the trees trimmed; that after a little
while he noticed that the man seemed lonesome, not
particularly happy, almost homesick; that then it oc-
curred to this God, that it would be a good thing for
the man to have some company, somebody to help
him trim the trees, to talk to him and cheer him up
on rainy days; that, thereupon, this God caused
a deep sleep to fall on the man, took a knife, or a
long, sharp piece of “omnipotence,” and took out one
of the man’s sides, or a rib, and of that made a
woman; that then this man and woman got along
real well till a snake got into the garden and induced
the woman to eat of the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil; that the woman got the man to take
a bite; that afterwards both of them were detected by
God, who was walking around in the cool of the
evening, and thereupon they were turned out of the
garden, lest they should put forth their hands and eat
of the tree of life, and live forever.

This foolish story has been regarded as the sacred,
inspired truth; as an account substantially written by
God himself; and thousands and millions of people
have supposed it necessary to believe this childish
falsehood, in order to save their souls. Nothing
more laughable can be found in the fairy tales and
folk-lore of savages. Yet this is defended by the
leading Presbyterian divine, and those who fail to
believe in the truth of this story are called “brazen
“faced fools,” “deicides,” and “blasphemers.”

By this story woman in all Christian countries was
degraded. She was considered too impure to preach
the gospel, too impure to distribute the sacramental
bread, too impure to hand about the sacred wine,
too impure to step within the “holy of holies,” in the
Catholic Churches, too impure to be touched by a
priest. Unmarried men were considered purer than
husbands and fathers. Nuns were regarded as su-
perior to mothers, a monastery holier than a home, a
nunnery nearer sacred than the cradle. And through
all these years it has been thought better to love
God than to love man, better to love God than to
love your wife and children, better to worship an
imaginary deity than to help your fellow-men.

I regard the rights of men and women equal. In
Love’s fair realm, husband and wife are king and
queen, sceptered and crowned alike, and seated on
the self-same throne.

Question. Do you still insist that the Old Testa-
ment upholds polygamy? Mr. Talmage denies this
charge, and shows how terribly God punished those
who were not satisfied with one wife.

Answer. I see nothing in what Mr. Talmage has
said calculated to change my opinion. It has been
admitted by thousands of theologians that the Old
Testament upholds polygamy. Mr. Talmage is
among the first to deny it. It will not do to say that
David was punished for the crime of polygamy
or concubinage. He was “a man after God’s own
“heart.” He was made a king. He was a successful
general, and his blood is said to have flowed in the
veins of God. Solomon was, according to the ac-
count, enriched with wisdom above all human beings.
Was that a punishment for having had so many


Was Abraham pursued by the justice of
God because of the crime against Hagar, or for the
crime against his own wife? The verse quoted by
Mr. Talmage to show that God was opposed to
polygamy, namely, the eighteenth verse of the eight-
eenth chapter of Leviticus, cannot by any ingenuity
be tortured into a command against polygamy. The
most that can be possibly said of it is, that you shall
not marry the sister of your wife, while your wife is
living. Yet this passage is quoted by Mr. Talmage
as “a thunder of prohibition against having more
“than one wife.” In the twentieth chapter of
Leviticus it is enacted: “That if a man take a wife
“and her mother they shall be burned with fire.” A
commandment like this shows that he might take his

wife and somebody else’s mother. These passages
have nothing to do with polygamy. They show
whom you may marry, not how many; and there is
not in Leviticus a solitary word against polygamy—
not one. Nor is there such a word in Genesis, nor
Exodus, nor in the entire Pentateuch—not one
word. These books are filled with the most minute
directions about killing sheep, and goats and doves;
about making clothes for priests, about fashioning
tongs and snuffers; and yet, they contain not one
word against polygamy. It never occurred to the in-
spired writers that polygamy was a crime. Polygamy
was accepted as a matter of course. Women were
simple property.

Mr. Talmage, however, insists that, although God
was against polygamy, he permitted it, and at the
same time threw his moral influence against it.
Upon this subject he says: “No doubt God per-
“mitted polygamy to continue for sometime, just
“as he permits murder and arson, theft and gam-
“bling to-day to continue, although he is against
“them.” If God is the author of the Ten Com-
mandments, he prohibited murder and theft, but
he said nothing about polygamy. If he was so
terribly against that crime, why did he forget to
mention it? Was there not room enough on the
tables of stone for just one word on this subject?
Had he no time to give a commandment against
slavery? Mr. Talmage of course insists that God
had to deal with these things gradually, his idea being
that if God had made a commandment against them all
at once, the Jews would have had nothing more to do
with him.

For instance: if we wanted to break cannibals
of eating missionaries, we should not tell them all
at once that it was wrong, that it was wicked, to
eat missionaries raw; we should induce them first
to cook the missionaries, and gradually wean them
from raw flesh. This would be the first great step.
We would stew the missionaries, and after a time
put a little mutton in the stew, not enough to excite
the suspicion of the cannibal, but just enough to get
him in the habit of eating mutton without knowing it.
Day after day we would put in more mutton and less
missionary, until finally, the cannibal would be perfectly
satisfied with clear mutton. Then we would tell him
that it was wrong to eat missionary. After the can-
nibal got so that he liked mutton, and cared nothing
for missionary, then it would be safe to have a law
upon the subject.

Mr. Talmage insists that polygamy cannot exist
among people who believe the Bible. In this he is
mistaken. The Mormons all believe the Bible. There
is not a single polygamist in Utah who does not insist
upon the inspiration of the Old and New Testaments.

The Rev. Mr. Newman, a kind of peripatetic consu-
lar theologian, once had a discussion, I believe, with
Elder Orson Pratt, at Salt Lake City, upon the question
of polygamy. It is sufficient to say of this discussion
that it is now circulated by the Mormons as a campaign
document. The elder overwhelmed the parson.
Passages of Scripture in favor of polygamy were
quoted by the hundred. The lives of all the patriarchs
were brought forward, and poor parson Newman was
driven from the field. The truth is, the Jews at that
time were much like our forefathers. They were
barbarians, and many of their laws were unjust
and cruel. Polygamy was the right of all; practiced,
as a matter of fact, by the rich and powerful, and the
rich and powerful were envied by the poor.


In such
esteem did the ancient Jews hold polygamy, that the
number of Solomons wives was given, simply to en-
hance his glory. My own opinion is, that Solomon
had very few wives, and that polygamy was not
general in Palestine. The country was too poor, and
Solomon, in all his glory was hardly able to support
one wife. He was a poor barbarian king with a
limited revenue, with a poor soil, with a sparse popu-
lation, without art, without science and without power.
He sustained about the same relation to other kings
that Delaware does to other States. Mr. Talmage
says that God persecuted Solomon, and yet, if he will
turn to the twenty-second chapter of First Chronicles,
he will find what God promised to Solomon. God,
speaking to David, says: “Behold a son shall be born
“to thee, who shall be a man of rest, and I will give him
“rest from his enemies around about; for his name shall
“be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness
“unto Israel in his days. He shall build a house in my
“name, and he shall be my son and I will be his father,
“and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over
“Israel forever.” Did God keep his promise?

So he tells us that David was persecuted by
God, on account of his offences, and yet I find in
the twenty-eighth verse of the twenty-ninth chapter
of First Chronicles, the following account of the death
of David: “And he died in a good old age, full of
“days, riches and honor.” Is this true?

Question. What have you to say to the charge
that you were mistaken in the number of years that
the Hebrews were in Egypt? Mr. Talmage says that
they were there 430 years, instead of 215 years.

Answer. If you will read the third chapter of
Galatians, sixteenth and seventeenth verses, you will
find that it was 430 years from the time God made the
promise to Abraham to the giving of the law from
Mount Sinai. The Hebrews did not go to Egypt for
215 years after the promise was made to Abraham,
and consequently did not remain in Egypt more than
215 years. If Galatians is true, I am right.

Strange that Mr. Talmage should belittle the mira-
cles. The trouble with this defender of the faith is that
he cares nothing for facts. He makes the strangest
statements, and cares the least for proof, of any
man I know. I can account for what he says of me
only upon the supposition that he has not read my
lectures. He may have been misled by the pirated
editions; Persons have stolen my lectures, printed the
same ones under various names, and filled them with
mistakes and things I never said. Mr. C. P. Farrell,
of Washington, is my only authorized publisher.
Yet Mr. Talmage prefers to answer the mistakes of
literary thieves, and charge their ignorance to me.

Question. Did you ever attack the character of
Queen Victoria, or did you draw any parallel between

her and George Eliot, calculated to depreciate the
reputation of the Queen?

Answer. I never said a word against Victoria.
The fact is, I am not acquainted with her—never met
her in my life, and know but little of her. I never
happened to see her “in plain clothes, reading the
“Bible to the poor in the lane,”—neither did I ever
hear her sing. I most cheerfully admit that her
reputation is good in the neighborhood where she
resides. In one of my lectures I drew a parallel
between George Eliot and Victoria. I was showing
the difference between a woman who had won her
position in the world of thought, and one who was
queen by chance. This is what I said:

“It no longer satisfies the ambition of a great man
“to be a king or emperor. The last Napoleon was
“not satisfied with being the Emperor of the French.
“He was not satisfied with having a circlet of gold
“about his head—he wanted some evidence that he
“had something of value in his head. So he wrote
“the life of Julius Cæsar that he might become a
“member of the French Academy. The emperors,
“the kings, the popes, no longer tower above their
“fellows. Compare King William with the philoso-
“pher Hæckel. The king is one of the ‘anointed
“‘of the Most High’—as they claim—one upon
“whose head has been poured the divine petroleum
“of authority.


Compare this king with Hæckel, who
“towers an intellectual Colossus above the crowned
“mediocrity. Compare George Eliot with Queen
“Victoria. The queen is clothed in garments given
“her by blind fortune and unreasoning chance, while
“George Eliot wears robes of glory, woven in the
“loom of her own genius. The world is beginning
“to pay homage to intellect, to genius, to heart.”
I said not one word against Queen Victoria, and did
not intend to even intimate that she was not an ex-
cellent woman, wife and mother. I was simply trying
to show that the world was getting great enough to
place a genius above an accidental queen. Mr. Tal-
mage, true to the fawning, cringing spirit of ortho-
doxy, lauds the living queen and cruelly maligns the
genius dead. He digs open the grave of George Eliot,
and tries to stain the sacred dust of one who was the
greatest woman England has produced. He calls her
“an adultress.” He attacks her because she was an
atheist—because she abhorred Jehovah, denied the
inspiration of the Bible, denied the dogma of eternal
pain, and with all her heart despised the Presbyterian
creed. He hates her because she was great and brave
and free—because she lived without “faith” and died
without fear—because she dared to give her honest
thought, and grandly bore the taunts and slanders of
the Christian world.

George Eliot tenderly carried in her heart the
burdens of our race. She looked through pity’s tears
upon the faults and frailties of mankind. She knew
the springs and seeds of thought and deed, and saw,
with cloudless eyes, through all the winding ways of
greed, ambition and deceit, where folly vainly plucks
with thorn-pierced hands the fading flowers of selfish
joy—the highway of eternal right. Whatever her
relations may have been—no matter what I think, or
others say, or how much all regret the one mistake in
all her self-denying, loving life—I feel and know that
in the court where her own conscience sat as judge, she
stood acquitted—pure as light and stainless as a star.

How appropriate here, with some slight change,
the wondrously poetic and pathetic words of Laertes
at Ophelia’s grave:

Leave her i’ the earth;
And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
May violets spring!
I tell thee, churlish priest,
A ministering angel shall this woman be,
When thou liest howling!

I have no words with which to tell my loathing for
a man who violates a noble woman’s grave.

Question. Do you think that the spirit in which
Mr. Talmage reviews your lectures is in accordance
with the teachings of Christianity?

Answer. I think that he talks like a true Presby-
terian. If you will read the arguments of Calvin
against the doctrines of Castalio and Servetus, you will
see that Mr. Talmage follows closely in the footsteps
of the founder of his church. Castalio was such a
wicked and abandoned wretch, that he taught the
innocence of honest error. He insisted that God
would not eternally damn a man for being honestly
mistaken. For the utterance of such blasphemous
sentiments, abhorrent to every Christian mind, Calvin
called him “a dog of Satan, and a child of hell.” In
short, he used the usual arguments. Castalio was
banished, and died in exile. In the case of Servetus,
after all the epithets had been exhausted, an appeal
was made to the stake, and the blasphemous wretch
was burned to ashes.

If you will read the life of John Knox, you will find
that Mr. Talmage is as orthodox in his methods of
dealing with infidels, as he is in his creed. In my
opinion, he would gladly treat unbelievers now, as the
Puritans did the Quakers, as the Episcopalians did the
Presbyterians, as the Presbyterians did the Baptists,
and as the Catholics have treated all heretics. Of
course, all these sects will settle their differences in
heaven. In the next world, they will laugh at the
crimes they committed in this.

The course pursued by Mr. Talmage is consistent.
The pulpit cannot afford to abandon the weapons of
falsehood and defamation. Candor sows the seeds of
doubt. Fairness is weakness. The only way to suc-
cessfully uphold the religion of universal love, is to
denounce all Freethinkers as blasphemers, adulterers,
and criminals. No matter how generous they may
appear to be, no matter how fairly they may deal with
their fellow-men, rest assured that they are actuated
by the lowest and basest motives. Infidels who out-
wardly live honest and virtuous lives, are inwardly
vicious, virulent and vile. After all, morality is only
a veneering. God is not deceived with the varnish of
good works. We know that the natural man is
totally depraved, and that until he has been regene-
rated by the spirit of God, he is utterly incapable of a
good action. The generosity of the unbeliever is, in
fact, avarice. His honesty is only a form of larceny.
His love is only hatred. No matter how sincerely
he may love his wife,—how devoted he may be to
his children,—no matter how ready he may be ‘to
sacrifice even his life for the good of mankind, God,
looking into his very heart, finds it only a den of
hissing snakes, a lair of wild, ferocious beasts, a cage
of unclean birds.

The idea that God will save a man simply because
he is honest and generous, is almost too preposterous
for serious refutation. No man should rely upon his
own goodness. He should plead the virtue of another.
God, in his infinite justice, damns a good man on his
own merits, and saves a bad man on the merits of
another. The repentant murderer will be an angel
of light, while his honest and unoffending victim will
be a fiend in hell.

A little while ago, a ship, disabled, was blown about
the Atlantic for eighty days. Everything had been
eaten. Nothing remained but bare decks and hunger.
The crew consisted of Captain Kruger and nine others.
For nine days, nothing had been eaten. The captain,
taking a revolver in his hand, said: “Mates, some
“one must die for the rest. I am willing to sacrifice
“myself for you.” One of his comrades grasped his
hand, and implored him to wait one more day. The
next morning, a sail was seen upon the horizon, and
the dying men were rescued.

To an ordinary man,—to one guided by the light of
reason,—it is perfectly clear that Captain Kruger was
about to do an infinitely generous action. Yet Mr.
Talmage will tell us that if that captain was not a
Christian, and if he had sent the bullet crashing
through his brain in order that his comrades might eat
his body, and live to reach their wives and homes,—
his soul, from that ship, would have gone, by dark
and tortuous ways, down to the prison of eternal pain.

Is it possible that Christ would eternally damn a
man for doing exactly what Christ would have done,
had he been infinitely generous, under the same cir-
cumstances? Is not self-denial in a man as praise-
worthy as in a God? Should a God be worshiped,
and a man be damned, for the same action?

According to Mr. Talmage, every soldier who fought
for our country in the Revolutionary war, who was
not a Christian, is now in hell. Every soldier, not a
Christian, who carried the flag of his country to vic-
tory—either upon the land or sea, in the war of 1812,
is now in hell. Every soldier, not a Christian, who
fought for the preservation of this Union,—to break
the chains of slavery—to free four millions of people
—to keep the whip from the naked back—every man
who did this—every one who died at Andersonville
and Libby, dreaming that his death would help make
the lives of others worth living, is now a lost and
wretched soul. These men are now in the prison of
God,—a prison in which the cruelties of Libby and
Andersonville would be regarded as mercies,—in
which famine would be a joy.


Sinner. Is God infinite in wisdom and power?

Parson. He is.

Sinner. Does he at all times know just what ought
to be done?

Parson. He does.

Sinner. Does he always do just what ought to be

Parson. He does.

Sinner. Why do you pray to him?

Parson. Because he is unchangeable.

Question. I want to ask you a few questions
about Mr. Talmage’s third sermon. What do
you think of it?

Answer. I often ask myself the questions: Is
there anything in the occupation of a minister,—any-
thing in his surroundings, that makes him incapable
of treating an opponent fairly, or decently? Is there
anything in the doctrine of universal forgiveness that
compels a man to speak of one who differs with him
only in terms of disrespect and hatred? Is it neces-
sary for those who profess to love the whole world,
to hate the few they come in actual contact with?

Mr. Talmage, no doubt, professes to love all man-
kind,—Jew and Gentile, Christian and Pagan. No
doubt, he believes in the missionary effort, and thinks
we should do all in our power to save the soul of the
most benighted savage; and yet he shows anything
but affection for the “heathen” at home. He loves
the ones he never saw,—is real anxious for their wel-
fare,—but for the ones he knows, he exhibits only
scorn and hatred. In one breath, he tells us that
Christ loves us, and in the next, that we are “wolves
“and dogs.” We are informed that Christ forgave
even his murderers, but that now he hates an honest
unbeliever with all his heart. He can forgive the
ones who drove the nails into his hands and feet,—
the one who thrust the spear through his quivering
flesh,—but he cannot forgive the man who entertains
an honest doubt about the “scheme of salvation.”
He regards the man who thinks, as a “mouth-maker
“at heaven.” Is it possible that Christ is less for-
giving in heaven than he was in Jerusalem? Did he
excuse murderers then, and does he damn thinkers
now? Once he pitied even thieves; does he now
abhor an intellectually honest man?

Question. Mr. Talmage seems to think that you
have no right to give your opinion about the Bible.
Do you think that laymen have the same right as
ministers to examine the Scriptures?

Answer. If God only made a revelation for
preachers, of course we will have to depend on the
preachers for information. But the preachers have
made the mistake of showing the revelation. They
ask us, the laymen, to read it, and certainly there is
no use of reading it, unless we are permitted to think
for ourselves while we read. If after reading the Bible
we believe it to be true, we will say so, if we are
honest. If we do not believe it, we will say so, if we
are honest.

But why should God be so particular about our
believing the stories in his book? Why should God
object to having his book examined? We do not
have to call upon legislators, or courts, to protect
Shakespeare from the derision of mankind. Was not
God able to write a book that would command the
love and admiration of the world? If the God of
Mr. Talmage is infinite, he knew exactly how the
stories of the Old Testament would strike a gentle-
man of the nineteenth century. He knew that many
would have their doubts,—that thousands of them—
and I may say most of them,—would refuse to believe
that a miracle had ever been performed.

Now, it seems to me that he should either have left
the stories out, or furnished evidence enough to con-
vince the world. According to Mr. Talmage, thou-
sands of people are pouring over the Niagara of
unbelief into the gulf of eternal pain. Why does not
God furnish more evidence? Just in proportion as
man has developed intellectually, he has demanded
additional testimony. That which satisfies a barbarian,
excites only the laughter of a civilized man. Cer-
tainly God should furnish evidence in harmony with
the spirit of the age. If God wrote his Bible for the
average man, he should have written it in such a way
that it would have carried conviction to the brain and
heart of the average man; and he should have
made no man in such a way that he could not, by any
possibility, believe it. There certainly should be a
harmony between the Bible and the human brain. If
I do not believe the Bible, whose fault is it? Mr.
Talmage insists that his God wrote the Bible for me.
and made me. If this is true, the book and the man
should agree. There is no sense in God writing
a book for me and then making me in such a way that
I cannot believe his book.

Question. But Mr. Talmage says the reason why
you hate the Bible is, that your soul is poisoned; that
the Bible “throws you into a rage precisely as pure
“water brings on a paroxysm of hydrophobia.”

Answer. Is it because the mind of the infidel is
poisoned, that he refuses to believe that an infinite
God commanded the murder of mothers, maidens and
babes? Is it because their minds are impure, that
they refuse to believe that a good God established
the institution of human slavery, or that he protected
it when established? Is it because their minds are
vile, that they refuse to believe that an infinite God
established or protected polygamy? Is it a sure
sign of an impure mind, when a man insists that
God never waged wars of extermination against his
helpless children? Does it show that a man has
been entirely given over to the devil, because he
refuses to believe that God ordered a father to sacri-
fice his son? Does it show that a heart is entirely
without mercy, simply because a man denies the
justice of eternal pain?

I denounce many parts of the Old Testament
because they are infinitely repugnant to my sense
of justice,—because they are bloody, brutal and in-
famous,—because they uphold crime and destroy
human liberty. It is impossible for me to imagine
a greater monster than the God of the Old Testa-
ment. He is unworthy of my worship. He com-
mands only my detestation, my execration, and my
passionate hatred. The God who commanded the
murder of children is an infamous fiend. The God
who believed in polygamy, is worthy only of con-
tempt. The God who established slavery should be
hated by every free man. The Jehovah of the Jews
was simply a barbarian, and the Old Testament is
mostly the barbarous record of a barbarous people.

If the Jehovah of the Jews is the real God, I do
not wish to be his friend. From him I neither ask,
nor expect, nor would I be willing to receive, even an
eternity of joy. According to the Old Testament,
he established a government,—a political state,—and
yet, no civilized country to-day would re-enact these
laws of God.

Question. What do you think of the explanation
given by Mr. Talmage of the stopping of the sun and
moon in the time of Joshua, in order that a battle
might be completed?

Answer. Of course, if there is an infinite God,
he could have stopped the sun and moon. No one
pretends to prescribe limits to the power of the
infinite. Even admitting that such a being existed,
the question whether he did stop the sun and moon,
or not, still remains. According to the account, these
planets were stopped, in order that Joshua might con-
tinue the pursuit of a routed enemy. I take it for
granted that a being of infinite wisdom would not
waste any force,—that he would not throw away any
“omnipotence,” and that, under ordinary circum-
stances, he would husband his resources. I find that
this spirit exists, at least in embryo, in Mr. Talmage.
He proceeds to explain this miracle. He does not
assert that the earth was stopped on its axis, but sug-
gests “refraction” as a way out of the difficulty.


while the stopping of the earth on its axis accounts for
the sun remaining in the same relative position, it does
not account for the stoppage of the moon. The moon
has a motion of its own, and even if the earth had been
stopped in its rotary motion, the moon would have gone
on. The Bible tells us that the moon was stopped. One
would suppose that the sun would have given sufficient
light for all practical purposes. Will Mr. Talmage be
kind enough to explain the stoppage of the moon?
Every one knows that the moon is somewhat obscure
when the sun is in the midst of the heavens. The moon
when compared with the sun at such a time, is much
like one of the discourses of Mr. Talmage side by side
with a chapter from Humboldt;—it is useless.

In the same chapter in which the account of the
stoppage of the sun and moon is given, we find that
God cast down from heaven great hailstones on
Joshua’s enemies. Did he get out of hailstones?
Had he no “omnipotence” left? Was it necessary
for him to stop the sun and moon and depend entirely
upon the efforts of Joshua? Would not the force
employed in stopping the rotary motion of the earth
have been sufficient to destroy the enemy? Would
not a millionth part of the force necessary to stop the
moon, have pierced the enemy’s centre, and rolled up
both his flanks? A resort to lightning would have
been, in my judgment, much more economical and
rather more effective. If he had simply opened the
earth, and swallowed them, as he did Korah and his
company, it would have been a vast saving of
“omnipotent” muscle. Yet, the foremost orthodox
minister of the Presbyterian Church,—the one who
calls all unbelievers “wolves and dogs,” and “brazen
“fools,” in his effort to account for this miracle, is
driven to the subterfuge of an “optical illusion.”
We are seriously informed that “God probably
“changed the nature of the air,” and performed this
feat of ledgerdemain through the instrumentality of


It seems to me it would have been fully
as easy to have changed the nature of the air breathed
by the enemy, so that it would not have supported
life. He could have accomplished this by changing
only a little air, in that vicinity; whereas, according
to the Talmagian view, he changed the atmosphere
of the world. Or, a small “local flood” might have
done the work. The optical illusion and refraction
view, ingenious as it may appear, was not original
with Mr. Talmage. The Rev. Henry M. Morey, of
South Bend, Indiana, used, upon this subject, the fol-
lowing language; “The phenomenon was simply
“optical. The rotary motion of the earth was not
“disturbed, but the light of the sun was prolonged by
“the same laws of refraction and reflection by which
“the sun now appears to be above the horizon when
“it is really below. The medium through which the
“sun’s rays passed, might have been miraculously
“influenced so as to have caused the sun to linger
“above the horizon long after its usual time for dis-

I pronounce the opinion of Mr. Morey to be the
ripest product of Christian scholarship. According to
the Morey-Talmage view, the sun lingered somewhat
above the horizon. But this is inconsistent with the
Bible account. We are not told in the Scriptures that
the sun “lingered above the horizon,” but that it “stood
“still in the midst of heaven for about a whole day.”
The trouble about the optical-illusion view is, that it
makes the day too long. If the air was miraculously
changed, so that it refracted the rays of the sun, while
the earth turned over as usual for about a whole day,
then, at the end of that time, the sun must have been
again visible in the east. It would then naturally
shine twelve hours more, so that this miraculous day
must have been at least thirty-six hours in length.
There were first twelve hours of natural light, then
twelve hours of refracted and reflected light, and then
twelve hours more of natural light. This makes the
day too long. So, I say to Mr. Talmage, as I said to
Mr. Morey: If you will depend a little less on
refraction, and a little more on reflection, you will see
that the whole story is a barbaric myth and foolish

For my part, I do not see why God should be
pleased to have me believe a story of this character.
I can hardly think that there is great joy in heaven
over another falsehood swallowed. I can imagine
that a man may deny this story, and still be an excel-
lent citizen, a good father, an obliging neighbor, and
in all respects a just and truthful man. I can also
imagine that a man may believe this story, and yet
assassinate a President of the United States.

I am afraid that Mr. Talmage is beginning to be
touched, in spite of himself, with some new ideas. He
tells us that worlds are born and that worlds die.
This is not exactly the Bible view. You would think
that he imagined that a world was naturally pro-
duced,—that the aggregation of atoms was natural,
and that disintegration came to worlds, as to men,
through old age. Yet this is not the Bible view.
According to the Bible, these worlds were not born,—
they were created out of “nothing,” or out of
“omnipotence,” which is much the same. According
to the Bible, it took this infinite God six days to make
this atom called earth; and according to the account,
he did not work nights,—he worked from the morn-
ings to the evenings,—and I suppose rested nights,
as he has since that time on Sundays.

Admitting that the battle which Joshua fought
was exceedingly important—which I do not think—
is it not a little strange that this God, in all subse-
quent battles of the world’s history, of which we
know anything, has maintained the strictest neu-
trality? The earth turned as usual at Yorktown,
and at Gettysburg the moon pursued her usual
course; and so far as I know, neither at Waterloo
nor at Sedan were there any peculiar freaks of “re-
“fraction” or “reflection.”

Question. Mr. Talmage tells us that there was in
the early part of this century a dark day, when
workmen went home from their fields, and legis-
latures and courts adjourned, and that the darkness
of that day has not yet been explained. What is
your opinion about that?

Answer. My opinion is, that if at that time we
had been at war with England, and a battle had
been commenced in the morning, and in the after-
noon the American forces had been driven from their
position and were hard pressed by the enemy, and
if the day had become suddenly dark, and so dark
that the Americans were thereby enabled to escape,
thousands of theologians of the calibre of Mr. Tal-
mage would have honestly believed that there had
been an interposition of divine Providence. No
battle was fought that day, and consequently, even
the ministers are looking for natural causes. In
olden times, when the heavens were visited by
comets, war, pestilence and famine were predicted.
If wars came, the prediction was remembered; if
nothing happened, it was forgotten. When eclipses
visited the sun and moon, the barbarian fell upon his
knees, and accounted for the phenomena by the
wickedness of his neighbor.


Mr. Talmage tells us
that his father was terrified by the meteoric shower
that visited our earth in 1833. The terror of the
father may account for the credulity of the son.
Astronomers will be surprised to read the declaration
of Mr. Talmage that the meteoric shower has never
been explained. Meteors visit the earth every year
of its life, and in a certain portion of the orbit they
are always expected, and they always come. Mr.
Newcomb has written a work on astronomy that
all ministers ought to read.

Question. Mr. Talmage also charges you with
“making light of holy things,” and seems to be aston-
ished that you should ridicule the anointing oil of

Answer. I find that the God who had no time to
say anything on the subject of slavery, and who found
no room upon the tables of stone to say a word
against polygamy, and in favor of the rights of
woman, wife and mother, took time to give a recipe
for making hair oil. And in order that the priests
might have the exclusive right to manufacture this oil,
decreed the penalty of death on all who should
infringe. I admit that I am incapable of seeing the
beauty of this symbol. Neither could I ever see the
necessity of Masons putting oil on the corner-stone
of a building. Of course, I do not know the exact
chemical effect that oil has on stone, and I see no harm
in laughing at such a ceremony. If the oil does good,
the laughter will do no harm; and if the oil will do no
harm, the laughter will do no good. Personally, I am
willing that Masons should put oil on all stones; but,
if Masons should insist that I must believe in the effi-
cacy of the ceremony, or be eternally damned, I
would have about the same feeling toward the
Masons that I now have toward Mr. Talmage. I
presume that at one time the putting of oil on a
corner-stone had some meaning; but that it ever did
any good, no sensible man will insist. It is a custom
to break a bottle of champagne over the bow of
a newly-launched ship, but I have never considered
this ceremony important to the commercial interests
of the world.

I have the same opinion about putting oil on
stones, as about putting water on heads. For my
part, I see no good in the rite of baptism. Still, it
may do no harm, unless people are immersed during
cold weather. Neither have I the slightest objection
to the baptism of anybody; but if people tell me that
I must be baptized or suffer eternal agony, then I deny
it. If they say that baptism does any earthly good, I
deny it. No one objects to any harmless ceremony;
but the moment it is insisted that a ceremony is neces-
sary, the reason of which no man can see, then the
practice of the ceremony becomes hurtful, for the
reason that it is maintained only at the expense of
intelligence and manhood.

It is hurtful for people to imagine that they can
please God by any ceremony whatever. If there is
any God, there is only one way to please him, and
that is, by a conscientious discharge of your obliga-
tions to your fellow-men. Millions of people imagine
that they can please God by wearing certain kinds
of cloth. Think of a God who can be pleased with
a coat of a certain cut! Others, to earn a smile of
heaven, shave their heads, or trim their beards, or
perforate their ears or lips or noses. Others maim
and mutilate their bodies. Others think to please
God by simply shutting their eyes, by swinging
censers, by lighting candles, by repeating poor Latin,
by making a sign of the cross with holy water, by
ringing bells, by going without meat, by eating fish,
by getting hungry, by counting beads, by making
themselves miserable Sundays, by looking solemn,
by refusing to marry, by hearing sermons; and
others imagine that they can please God by calumni-
ating unbelievers.

There is an old story of an Irishman who, when
dying, sent for a priest. The reputation of the
dying man was so perfectly miserable, that the priest
refused to administer the rite of extreme unction.
The priest therefore asked him if he could recollect
any decent action that he had ever done. The dying
man said that he could not. “Very well,” said the
priest, “then you will have to be damned.” In a
moment, the pinched and pale face brightened, and
he said to the priest: “I have thought of one good
“action.” “What is it?” asked the priest. And the
dying man said, “Once I killed a gauger.”

I suppose that in the next world some ministers,
driven to extremes, may reply: “Once I told a lie
“about an infidel.”

Question. You see that Mr. Talmage still sticks to
the whale and Jonah story. What do you think of
his argument, or of his explanation, rather, of that

Answer. The edge of his orthodoxy seems to be
crumbling. He tells us that “there is in the mouth
“of the common whale a cavity large enough for a
“man to live in without descent into his stomach,”—
and yet Christ says, that Jonah was in the whale’s
belly, not in his mouth. But why should Mr. Tal-
mage say that? We are told in the sacred account
that “God prepared a great fish” for the sole pur-
pose of having Jonah swallowed. The size of the
present whale has nothing to do with the story. No
matter whether the throat of the whale of to-day is
large or small,—that has nothing to do with it. The
simple story is, that God prepared a fish and had
Jonah swallowed.


And yet Mr. Talmage throws out
the suggestion that probably this whale held Jonah
in his mouth for three days and nights. I admit that
Jonah’s chance for air would have been a little better
in his mouth, and his chance for water a little worse.
Probably the whale that swallowed Jonah was the
same fish spoken of by Procopius,—both accounts
being entitled, in my judgment, to equal credence.
I am a little surprised that Mr. Talmage forgot
to mention the fish spoken of by Munchausen—an
equally reliable author,—and who has given, not
simply the bald fact that a fish swallowed a ship, but
was good enough to furnish the details. Mr. Talmage
should remember that out of Jonah’s biography
grew the habit of calling any remarkable lie, “a fish
“story.” There is one thing that Mr. Talmage
should not forget; and that is, that miracles should
not be explained. Miracles are told simply to be
believed, not to be understood.

Somebody suggested to Mr. Talmage that, in
all probability, a person in the stomach of a whale
would be digested in less than three days. Mr. Tal-
mage, again showing his lack of confidence in God,
refusing to believe that God could change the nature
of gastric juice,—having no opportunity to rely
upon “refraction or reflection,” frankly admits that
Jonah had to save himself by keeping on the
constant go and jump. This gastric-juice theory of
Mr. Talmage is an abandonment of his mouth hy-
pothesis. I do not wonder that Mr. Talmage thought
of the mouth theory. Possibly, the two theories had
better be united—so that we may say that Jonah,
when he got tired of the activity necessary to
avoid the gastric juice, could have strolled into
the mouth for a rest. What a picture! Jonah
sitting on the edge of the lower jaw, wiping the
perspiration and the gastric juice from his anxious
face, and vainly looking through the open mouth
for signs of land!

In this story of Jonah, we are told that “the Lord
“spake unto the fish.” In what language? It must
be remembered that this fish was only a few hours
old. He had been prepared during the storm, for
the sole purpose of swallowing Jonah. He was a
fish of exceedingly limited experience. He had no
hereditary knowledge, because he did not spring
from ancestors; consequently, he had no instincts.
Would such a fish understand any language? It
may be contended that the fish, having been made
for the occasion, was given a sufficient knowledge
of language to understand an ordinary command-
ment; but, if Mr. Talmage is right, I think an order
to the fish would have been entirely unnecessary.
When we take into consideration that a thing the
size of a man had been promenading up and down
the stomach of this fish for three days and three
nights, successfully baffling the efforts of gastric
juice, we can readily believe that the fish was as
anxious to have Jonah go, as Jonah was to leave.

But the whale part is, after all, not the most won-
derful portion of the book of Jonah. According to
this wonderful account, “the word of the Lord came
“to Jonah,” telling him to “go and cry against the
“city of Nineveh;” but Jonah, instead of going,
endeavored to evade the Lord by taking ship for
Tarshish. As soon as the Lord heard of this, he
“sent out a great wind into the sea,” and frightened
the sailors to that extent that after assuring them-
selves, by casting lots, that Jonah was the man, they
threw him into the sea. After escaping from the
whale, he went to Nineveh, and delivered his pre-
tended message from God. In consequence of his
message, Jonah having no credentials from God,—
nothing certifying to his official character, the King
of Nineveh covered himself with sack-cloth and sat
down in some ashes. He then caused a decree to
be issued that every man and beast should abstain
from food and water; and further, that every man and
beast should be covered with sack-cloth. This was
done in the hope that Jonah’s God would repent, and
turn away his fierce anger. When we take into con-
sideration the fact that the people of Nineveh were
not Hebrews, and had not the slightest confidence in
the God of the Jews—knew no more of, and cared no
more for, Jehovah than we now care for Jupiter, or
Neptune; the effect produced by the proclamation of
Jonah is, to say the least of it, almost incredible.

We are also informed, in this book, that the
moment God saw all the people sitting in the ashes,
and all the animals covered with sack-cloth, he
repented. This failure on the part of God to destroy
the unbelievers displeased Jonah exceedingly, and
he was very angry. Jonah was much like the
modern minister, who seems always to be personally
aggrieved if the pestilence and famine prophesied by
him do not come. Jonah was displeased to that
degree, that he asked God to kill him. Jonah then
went out of the city, even after God had repented,
made him a booth and sat under it, in the shade,
waiting to see what would become of the city. God
then “prepared a gourd, and made it to come up
“over Jonah that it might be a shadow over his
“head to deliver him from his grief.” And then we
have this pathetic line: “So Jonah was exceedingly
“glad of the gourd.”

God having prepared a fish, and also prepared
a gourd, proposed next morning to prepare a worm.
And when the sun rose next day, the worm that
God had prepared, “smote the gourd, so that
“it withered.” I can hardly believe that an in-
finite being prepared a worm to smite a gourd
so that it withered, in order to keep the sun from
the bald head of a prophet. According to the
account, after sunrise, and after the worm had
smitten the gourd, “God prepared a vehement east
“wind.” This was not an ordinary wind, but one
prepared expressly for that occasion. After the wind
had been prepared, “the sun beat upon the head of
“Jonah, and he fainted, and wished in himself to
“die.” All this was done in order to convince
Jonah that a man who would deplore the loss of a
gourd, ought not to wish for the destruction of a city.

Is it possible for any intelligent man now to
believe that the history of Jonah is literally true?
For my part, I cannot see the necessity either of
believing it, or of preaching it. It has nothing to do
with honesty, with mercy, or with morality. The
bad may believe it, and the good may hold it in
contempt. I do not see that civilization has the
slightest interest in the fish, the gourd, the worm, or
the vehement east wind.

Does Mr. Talmage think that it is absolutely neces-
sary to believe all the story? Does he not think it
probable that a God of infinite mercy, rather than
damn the soul of an honest man to hell forever, would
waive, for instance, the worm,—provided he believed
in the vehement east wind, the gourd and the fish?

Mr. Talmage, by insisting on the literal truth of
the Bible stories, is doing Christianity great harm.
Thousands of young men will say: “I can’t become
“a Christian if it is necessary to believe the adven-
“tures of Jonah.” Mr. Talmage will put into the
paths of multitudes of people willing to do right,
anxious to make the world a little better than it is,—
this stumbling block. He could have explained it,
called it an allegory, poetical license, a child of the
oriental imagination, a symbol, a parable, a poem, a
dream, a legend, a myth, a divine figure, or a great
truth wrapped in the rags and shreds and patches of
seeming falsehood. His efforts to belittle the miracle,
to suggest the mouth instead of the stomach,—to
suggest that Jonah took deck passage, or lodged in
the forecastle instead of in the cabin or steerage,—
to suggest motion as a means of avoiding digestion,
is a serious theological blunder, and may cause the
loss of many souls.

If Mr. Talmage will consult with other ministers,
they will tell him to let this story alone—that he will
simply “provoke investigation and discussion”—two
things to be avoided. They will tell him that they
are not willing their salary should hang on so slender
a thread, and will advise him not to bother his gourd
about Jonah’s. They will also tell him that in this
age of the world, arguments cannot be answered by
“a vehement east wind.”

Some people will think that it would have been
just as easy for God to have pulled the gourd up, as
to have prepared a worm to bite it.

Question. Mr. Talmage charges that you have
said there are indecencies in the Bible. Are you
still of that opinion?

Answer. Mr. Talmage endeavors to evade the
charge, by saying that “there are things in the Bible
“not intended to be read, either in the family circle,
“or in the pulpit, but nevertheless they are to be
“read.” My own judgment is, that an infinite being
should not inspire the writing of indecent things.
It will not do to say, that the Bible description of sin
“warns and saves.” There is nothing in the history
of Tamar calculated to “warn and save and the
same may be said of many other passages in the
Old Testament. Most Christians would be glad
to know that all such passages are interpolations.
I regret that Shakespeare ever wrote a line that
could not be read any where, and by any person.
But Shakespeare, great as he was, did not rise en-
tirely above his time. So of most poets. Nearly all
have stained their pages with some vulgarity; and I
am sorry for it, and hope the time will come when
we shall have an edition of all the great writers and
poets from which every such passage is elimi-

It is with the Bible as with most other books. It
is a mingling of good and bad. There are many
exquisite passages in the Bible,—many good laws,—
many wise sayings,—and there are many passages
that should never have been written. I do not pro-
pose to throw away the good on account of the
bad, neither do I propose to accept the bad on
account of the good. The Bible need not be taken
as an entirety. It is the business of every man who
reads it, to discriminate between that which is good
and that which is bad. There are also many passages
neither good nor bad,—wholly and totally indifferent
—conveying 110 information—utterly destitute of
ideas,—and as to these passages, my only objection
to them is that they waste time and paper.

I am in favor of every passage in the Bible that
conveys information. I am in favor of every wise
proverb, of every verse coming from human ex-
perience and that appeals to the heart of man. I am
in favor of every passage that inculcates justice,
generosity, purity, and mercy. I am satisfied that
much of the historical part is false. Some of it
is probably true. Let us have the courage to take
the true, and throw the false away. I am satisfied
that many of the passages are barbaric, and many of
them are good. Let us have the wisdom to accept
the good and to reject the barbaric.

No system of religion should go in partnership
with barbarism. Neither should any Christian feel
it his duty to defend the savagery of the past. The
philosophy of Christ must stand independently of the
mistakes of the Old Testament. We should do jus-
tice whether a woman was made from a rib or from
“omnipotence.” We should be merciful whether
the flood was general, or local. We should be kind
and obliging whether Jonah was swallowed by a fish
or not. The miraculous has nothing to do with the
moral. Intelligence is of more value than inspiration.
Brain is better than Bible. Reason is above all
religion. I do not believe that any civilized human
being clings to the Bible on account of its barbaric
passages. I am candid enough to believe that every
Christian in the world would think more of the Bible,
if it had not upheld slavery, if it had denounced
polygamy, if it had cried out against wars of exter-
mination, if it had spared women and babes, if it had
upheld everywhere, and at all times, the standard of
justice and mercy. But when it is claimed that the
book is perfect, that it is inspired, that it is, in fact,
the work of an infinitely wise and good God,—then
it should be without a defect. There should not be
within its lids an impure word; it should not express
an impure thought. There should not be one word
in favor of injustice, not one word in favor of slavery,
not one word in favor of wars of extermination.
There must be another revision of the Scriptures.
The chaff must be thrown away. The dross must
be rejected; and only that be retained which is in
exact harmony with the brain and heart of the
greatest and the best.

Question. Mr. Talmage charges you with unfair-
ness, because you account for the death of art in
Palestine, by the commandment which forbids the
making of graven images.

Answer. I have said that that commandment was
the death of art, and I say so still. I insist that by
reason of that commandment, Palestine produced no
painter and no sculptor until after the destruction of
Jerusalem. Mr. Talmage, in order to answer that
statement, goes on to show that hundreds and thou-
sands of pictures were produced in the Middle Ages.
That is a departure in pleading. Will he give us the
names of the painters that existed in Palestine from
Mount Sinai to the destruction of the temple? Will
he give us the names of the sculptors between those
times? Mohammed prohibited his followers from
making any representation of human or animal life,
and as a result, Mohammedans have never produced
a painter nor a sculptor, except in the portrayal and
chiseling of vegetable forms. They were confined
to trees and vines, and flowers. No Mohammedan
has portrayed the human face or form. But the
commandment of Jehovah went farther than that of
Momammed, and prevented portraying the image of
anything. The assassination of art was complete.

There is another thing that should not be forgotten.

We are indebted for the encouragement of
art, not to the Protestant Church; if indebted to any,
it is to the Catholic. The Catholic adorned the cathedral

with painting and statue—not the Protestant.
The Protestants opposed music and painting, and
refused to decorate their temples. But if Mr. Tal-
mage wishes to know to whom we are indebted for

art, let him read the mythology of Greece and Rome.
The early Christians destroyed paintings and statues.
They were the enemies of all beauty. They hated
and detested every expression of art. They looked
upon the love of statues as a form of idolatry. They
looked upon every painting as a remnant of Pagan-
ism. They destroyed all upon which they could lay
their ignorant hands. Hundred of years afterwards,
the world was compelled to search for the fragments
that Christian fury had left. The Greeks filled the
world with beauty. For every stream and mountain
and cataract they had a god or goddess. Their
sculptors impersonated every dream and hope, and
their mythology feeds, to-day, the imagination of
mankind. The Venus de Milo is the impersonation
of beauty, in ruin—the sublimest fragment of the
ancient world. Our mythology is infinitely unpoetic
and barren—our deity an old bachelor from eternity,
who once believed in indiscriminate massacre. Upon
the throne of our heaven, woman finds no place.
Our mythology is destitute of the maternal.

Question. Mr. Talmage denies your statement
that the Old Testament humiliates woman. He also
denies that the New Testament says anything
against woman. How is it?

Answer. Of course, I never considered a book up-
holding polygamy to be the friend of woman. Eve,
according to that book, is the mother of us all, and
yet the inspired writer does not tell us how long she
lived,—does not even mention her death,—makes
not the slightest reference as to what finally became
of her. Methuselah lived nine hundred and sixty-
nine years, and yet, there is not the slightest mention
made of Mrs. Methuselah. Enoch was translated,
and his widow is not mentioned. There is not a
word about Mrs. Seth, or Mrs. Enos, or Mrs. Cainan,
or Mrs. Mahalaleel, or Mrs. Jared. We do not
know the name of Mrs. Noah, and I believe not the
name of a solitary woman is given from the creation
of Eve—with the exception of two of Lamech’s
wives—until Sarai is mentioned as being the wife
of Abram.

If you wish really to know the Bible estimation of
woman, turn to the fourth and fifth verses of the
twelfth chapter of Leviticus, in which a woman, for
the crime of having borne a son, is unfit to touch a
hallowed thing, or to come in the holy sanctuary for
thirty-three days; but if a woman was the mother
of a girl, then she became totally unfit to enter the
sanctuary, or pollute with her touch a hallowed thing,
for sixty-six days. The pollution was twice as great
when she had borne a daughter.

It is a little difficult to see why it is a greater crime
to give birth to a daughter than to a son. Surely, a
law like that did not tend to the elevation of woman.
You will also find in the same chapter that a woman
had to offer a pigeon, or a turtle-dove, as a sin offer-
ing, in order to expiate the crime of having become a
mother. By the Levitical law, a mother was unclean.
The priest had to make an atonement for her.

If there is, beneath the stars, a figure of complete
and perfect purity, it is a mother holding in her arms
her child. The laws respecting women, given by
commandment of Jehovah to the Jews, were born of
barbarism, and in this day and age should be re-
garded only with detestation and contempt. The
twentieth and twenty-first verses of the nineteenth
chapter of Leviticus show that the same punishment
was not meted to men and women guilty of the
same crime.

The real explanation of what we find in the Old
Testament degrading to woman, lies in the fact, that
the overflow of Love’s mysterious Nile—the sacred
source of life—was, by its savage authors, deemed

Question. But what have you to say about the
women of the Bible, mentioned by Mr. Talmage,
and held up as examples for all time of all that is
sweet and womanly?

Answer. I believe that Esther is his principal
heroine. Let us see who she was.

According to the book of Esther, Ahasuerus who
was king of Persia, or some such place, ordered
Vashti his queen to show herself to the people
and the princes, because she was “exceedingly fair
“to look upon.” For some reason—modesty per-
haps—she refused to appear. And thereupon the
king “sent letters into all his provinces and to every
“people after their language, that every man should
“bear rule in his own house;” it being feared that
if it should become public that Vashti had disobeyed,
all other wives might follow her example. The king
also, for the purpose of impressing upon all women
the necessity of obeying their husbands, issued a
decree that “Vashti should come no more before
“him,” and that he would “give her royal estate
“unto another.” This was done that “all the
“wives should give to their husbands honor, both to
“great and small.”

After this, “the king appointed officers in all the
“provinces of his kingdom that they might gather
“together all the fair young virgins,” and bring
them to his palace, put them in the custody of
his chamberlain, and have them thoroughly washed.
Then the king was to look over the lot and take
each day the one that pleased him best until he found
the one to put in the place of Vashti. A fellow by
the name of Mordecai, living in that part of the
country, hearing of the opportunity to sell a girl,
brought Esther, his uncle’s daughter,—she being an
orphan, and very beautiful—to see whether she
might not be the lucky one.

The remainder of the second chapter of this
book, I do not care to repeat. It is sufficient to say
that Esther at last was chosen.

The king at this time did not know that Esther
was a Jewess. Mordecai her kinsman, however,
discovered a plot to assassinate the king, and Esther
told the king, and the two plotting gentlemen were
hanged on a tree.

After a while, a man by the name of Haman was
made Secretary of State, and everybody coming in
his presence bowed except Mordecai. Mordecai was
probably depending on the influence of Esther.
Haman finally became so vexed, that he made up
his mind to have all the Jews in the kingdom
destroyed. (The number of Jews at that time
in Persia must have been immense.) Haman there-
upon requested the king to have an order issued to
destroy all the Jews, and in consideration of the
order, proposed to pay ten thousand talents of silver.
And thereupon, letters were written to the governors
of the various provinces, sealed with the king’s ring,
sent by post in all directions, with instructions to kill
all the Jews, both young and old—little children and
women,—in one day. (One would think that the
king copied this order from another part of the Old
Testament, or had found an original by Jehovah.) The
people immediately made preparations for the killing.
Mordecai clothed himself with sack-cloth, and Esther
called upon one of the king’s chamberlains, and she
finally got the history of the affair, as well as a copy
of the writing, and thereupon made up her mind to
go in and ask the king to save her people.

At that time, Bismarck’s idea of government being
in full force, any one entering the king’s presence with-
out an invitation, was liable to be put to death. And
in case any one did go in to see the king, if the king
failed to hold out his golden sceptre, his life was not
spared. Notwithstanding this order, Esther put on
her best clothes, and stood in the inner court of the
king’s house, while the king sat on his royal throne.
When the king saw her standing in the court, he
held out his sceptre, and Esther drew near, and he
asked her what she wished; and thereupon she
asked that the king and Haman might take dinner
with her that day, and it was done. While they were
feasting, the king again asked Esther what she
wanted; and her second request was, that they
would come and dine with her once more.


Haman left the palace that day, he saw Mordecai
again at the gate, standing as stiffly as usual, and it
filled Haman with indignation. So Haman, taking
the advice of his wife, made a gallows fifty cubits
high, for the special benefit of Mordecai. The next
day, when Haman went to see the king, the king,
having the night before refreshed his memory in
respect to the service done him by Mordecai, asked
Haman what ought to be done for the man whom
the king wished to honor. Haman, supposing of
course that the king referred to him, said that royal
purple ought to be brought forth, such as the king
wore, and the horse that the king rode on, and the
crown-royal should be set on the man’s head;—that
one of the most noble princes should lead the horse,
and as he went through the streets, proclaim: “Thus
“shall it be done to the man whom the king de-
“lighteth to honor.”

Thereupon the king told Haman that Mordecai
was the man that the king wished to honor. And
Haman was forced to lead this horse, backed by
Mordecai, through the streets, shouting: “This shall
“be done to the man whom the king delighteth to
“honor.” Immediately afterward, he went to the
banquet that Esther had prepared, and the king
again asked Esther her petition. She then asked
for the salvation of her people; stating at the same
time, that if her people had been sold into slavery,
she would have held her tongue; but since they
were about to be killed, she could not keep silent.
The king asked her who had done this thing; and
Esther replied that it was the wicked Haman.

Thereupon one of the chamberlains, remembering
the gallows that had been made for Mordecai, men-
tioned it, and the king immediately ordered that
Haman be hanged thereon; which was done. And
Mordecai immediately became Secretary of State.
The order against the Jews was then rescinded; and
Ahasuerus, willing to do anything that Esther de-
sired, hanged all of Haman’s folks. He not only did
this, but he immediately issued an order to all the
Jews allowing them to kill the other folks. And the
Jews got together throughout one hundred and
twenty-seven provinces, “and such was their power,
“that no man could stand against them; and there-
“upon the Jews smote all their enemies with the
“stroke of the sword, and with slaughter and de-
“struction, and did whatever they pleased to those
“who hated them.” And in the palace of the king,
the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men, besides
ten sons of Haman; and in the rest of the provinces,
they slew seventy-five thousand people. And after
this work of slaughter, the Jews had a day of glad-
ness and feasting.

One can see from this, what a beautiful Bible
character Esther was—how filled with all that is
womanly, gentle, kind and tender!

This story is one of the most unreasonable, as well
as one of the most heartless and revengeful, in the
whole Bible. Ahasuerus was a monster, and Esther
equally infamous; and yet, this woman is held up for
the admiration of mankind by a Brooklyn pastor.
There is this peculiarity about the book of Esther:
the name of God is not mentioned in it, and the
deity is not referred to, directly or indirectly;—yet
it is claimed to be an inspired book. If Jehovah
wrote it, he certainly cannot be charged with

I most cheerfully admit that the book of Ruth is
quite a pleasant story, and the affection of Ruth for
her mother-in-law exceedingly touching, but I am of
opinion that Ruth did many things that would be re-
garded as somewhat indiscreet, even in the city of

All I can find about Hannah is, that she made a
little coat for her boy Samuel, and brought it to him
from year to year. Where he got his vest and
pantaloons we are not told. But this fact seems
hardly enough to make her name immortal.

So also Mr. Talmage refers us to the wonderful
woman Abigail. The story about Abigail, told in
plain English, is this: David sent some of his fol-
lowers to Nabal, Abigail’s husband, and demanded
food. Nabal, who knew nothing about David, and
cared less, refused. Abigail heard about it, and took
food to David and his servants. She was very much
struck, apparently, with David and David with her.
A few days afterward Nabal died—supposed to have
been killed by the Lord—but probably poisoned;
and thereupon David took Abigail to wife. The

whole matter should have been investigated by the
grand jury.

We are also referred to Dorcas, who no doubt was a
good woman—made clothes for the poor and gave
alms, as millions have done since then. It seems
that this woman died. Peter was sent for, and there-
upon raised her from the dead, and she is never men-
tioned any more. Is it not a little strange that a
woman who had been actually raised from the dead,
should have so completely passed out of the memory
of her time, that when she died the second time, she
was entirely unnoticed?

Is it not astonishing that so little is in the New
Testament concerning the mother of Christ? My
own opinion is, that she was an excellent woman, and
the wife of Joseph; and that Joseph was the actual
father of Christ. I think there can be no reasonable
doubt that such was the opinion of the authors of the
original gospels. Upon any other hypothesis, it is
impossible to account for their having given the
genealogy of Joseph to prove that Christ was of the
blood of David. The idea that he was the Son of
God, or in any way miraculously produced, was an
afterthought, and is hardly entitled now to serious
consideration. The gospels were written so long after
the death of Christ, that very little was known of him,
and substantially nothing of his parents. How is it
that not one word is said about the death of Mary—
not one word about the death of Joseph? How did
it happen that Christ did not visit his mother after his
resurrection? The first time he speaks to his mother
is when he was twelve years old. His mother having
told him that she and his father had been seeking
him, he replied: “How is it that ye sought me: wist
“ye not that I must be about my Father s business?”

The second time was at the marriage feast in Cana,
when he said to her: “Woman, what have I to do
“with thee?” And the third time was at the cross,
when “Jesus, seeing his mother standing by the
“disciple whom he loved, said to her: Woman, be-
“hold thy son;” and to the disciple: “Behold thy
“mother.” And this is all.

The best thing about the Catholic Church is
the deification of Mary,—and yet this is denounced
by Protestantism as idolatry. There is something
in the human heart that prompts man to tell his faults
more freely to the mother than to the father. The
cruelty of Jehovah is softened by the mercy of

Is it not strange that none of the disciples of Christ
said anything about their parents,—that we know
absolutely nothing of them? Is there any evidence
that they showed any particular respect even for the
mother of Christ?

Mary Magdalen is, in many respects, the tenderest
and most loving character in the New Testament.
According to the account, her love for Christ knew
no abatement,—no change—true even in the hopeless
shadow of the cross. Neither did it die with his
death. She waited at the sepulchre; she hasted in
the early morning to his tomb, and yet the only
comfort Christ gave to this true and loving soul lies
in these strangely cold and heartless words: “Touch
“me not.”

There is nothing tending to show that the women
spoken of in the Bible were superior to the ones we
know. There are to-day millions of women making
coats for their sons,—hundreds of thousands of
women, true not simply to innocent people, falsely
accused, but to criminals. Many a loving heart is
as true to the gallows as Mary was to the cross.
There are hundreds of thousands of women accept-
ing poverty and want and dishonor, for the love they
bear unworthy men; hundreds and thousands, hun-
dreds and thousands, working day and night, with
strained eyes and tired hands, for husbands and
children,—clothed in rags, housed in huts and hovels,
hoping day after day for the angel of death. There are
thousands of women in Christian England, working in
iron, laboring in the fields and toiling in mines. There
are hundreds and thousands in Europe, everywhere,
doing the work of men—deformed by toil, and who
would become simply wild and ferocious beasts,
except for the love they bear for home and child.

You need not go back four thousand years for
heroines. The world is filled with them to-day.
They do not belong to any nation, nor to any religion,
nor exclusively to any race. Wherever woman is
found, they are found.

There is no description of any women in the Bible
that equal thousands and thousands of women known
to-day. The women mentioned by Mr. Talmage fall
almost infinitely below, not simply those in real life, but
the creations of the imagination found in the world of
fiction. They will not compare with the women born
of Shakespeare’s brain. You will find none like
Isabella, in whose spotless life, love and reason
blended into perfect truth; nor Juliet, within whose
heart passion and purity met, like white and red within
the bosom of a rose; nor Cordelia, who chose to
suffer loss rather than show her wealth of love with
those who gilded dross with golden words in hope
of gain; nor Miranda, who told her love as freely
as a flower gives its bosom to the kisses of the sun;
nor Imogene, who asked: “What is it to be false?”
nor Hermione, who bore with perfect faith and hope
the cross of shame, and who at last forgave with all
her heart; nor Desdemona, her innocence so perfect
and her love so pure, that she was incapable of sus-
pecting that another could suspect, and sought with
dying words to hide her lover’s crime.

If we wish to find what the Bible thinks of
woman, all that is necessary to do is to read it.
We will find that everywhere she is spoken of
simply as property,—as belonging absolutely to the
man. We will find that whenever a man got tired
of his wife, all he had to do was to give her a writing
of divorcement, and that then the mother of his
children became a houseless and a homeless wanderer.
We will find that men were allowed to have as
many wives as they could get, either by courtship,
purchase, or conquest. The Jewish people in the
olden time were in many respects like their barbarian

If we read the New Testament, we will find in the

epistle of Paul to Timothy, the following gallant

“Let the woman learn in silence, with all

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

And for these kind, gentle and civilized remarks,
the apostle Paul gives the following reasons:

“For Adam was first formed, then Eve.”

“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman
“being deceived was in the transgression.”

Certainly women ought to feel under great obli-
gation to the apostle Paul.

In the fifth chapter of the same epistle, Paul,
advising Timothy as to what kind of people he
should admit into his society or church, uses the
following language:

“Let not a widow be taken into the number under
“threescore years old, having been the wife of one

“But the younger widows refuse, for when they
“have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will

This same Paul did not seem to think polygamy
wrong, except in a bishop. He tells Timothy that:

“A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one

He also lays down the rule that a deacon should be
the husband of one wife, leaving us to infer that the
other members might have as many as they could get.

In the second epistle to Timothy, Paul speaks of
“grandmother Lois,” who was referred to in such
extravagant language by Mr. Talmage, and nothing
is said touching her character in the least. All her
virtues live in the imagination, and in the imagina-
tion alone.

Paul, also, in his epistle to the Ephesians, says:

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own hus-
“bands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the
“head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the

“Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ,
“so let the wives be to their own husbands, in

You will find, too, that in the seventh chapter of
First Corinthians, Paul laments that all men are not
bachelors like himself, and in the second verse of
that chapter he gives the only reason for which he
was willing that men and women should marry. He
advised all the unmarried, and all widows, to remain
as he was. In the ninth verse of this same chapter
is a slander too vulgar for repetition,—an estimate
of woman and of woman’s love so low and vile, that
every woman should hold the inspired author in
infinite abhorrence.

Paul sums up the whole matter, however, by telling
those who have wives or husbands, to stay with
them—as necessary evils only to be tolerated—but
sincerely regrets that anybody was ever married;
and finally says that:

“They that have wives should be as though they
“had none;” because, in his opinion:

“He that is unmarried careth for the things that
“belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord;
“but he that is married careth for the things that are
“of the world, how he may please his wife.”

“There is this difference also,” he tells us, “be-
“tween a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman
“careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be
“holy both in body and in spirit; but she that is
“married careth for the things of the world, how she
” may please her husband.”

Of course, it is contended that these things have
tended to the elevation of woman.

The idea that it is better to love the Lord than to
love your wife, or your husband, is infinitely absurd.
Nobody ever did love the Lord,—nobody can—until
he becomes acquainted with him.

Saint Paul also tells us that “Man is the image
“and glory of God; but woman is the glory of
“man;” and for the purpose of sustaining this posi-
tion, says:

“For the man is not of the woman, but the woman
“of the man; neither was the man created for the
“woman, but the woman for the man.”

Of course, we can all see that man could have
gotten along well enough without woman, but woman,
by no possibility, could have gotten along without
man. And yet, this is called “inspired;” and this
apostle Paul is supposed to have known more than
all the people now upon the earth. No wonder Paul
at last was constrained to say: “We are fools for
“Christ’s sake.”

Question. How do you account for the present
condition of woman in what is known as “the civilized
“world,” unless the Bible has bettered her condition?

Answer. We must remember that thousands of
things enter into the problem of civilization. Soil,
climate, and geographical position, united with count-
less other influences, have resulted in the civilization
of our time. If we want to find what the influence of
the Bible has been, we must ascertain the condition
of Europe when the Bible was considered as abso-
lutely true, and when it wielded its greatest influence.

Christianity as a form of religion had actual posses-
sion of Europe during the Middle Ages. At that
time, it exerted its greatest power. Then it had the
opportunity of breaking the shackles from the limbs
of woman. Christianity found the Roman matron a
free woman. Polygamy was never known in Rome;
and although divorces were allowed by law, the
Roman state had been founded for more than five
hundred years before either a husband or a wife
asked for a divorce. From the foundation of Chris-
tianity,—I mean from the time it became the force in
the Roman state,—woman, as such, went down in
the scale of civilization. The sceptre was taken from
her hands, and she became once more the slave and
serf of man. The men also were made slaves, and
woman has regained her liberty by the same means
that man has regained his,—by wresting authority
from the hands of the church. While the church had
power, the wife and mother was not considered as
good as the begging nun; the husband and father
was far below the vermin-covered monk; homes
were of no value compared with the cathedral; for
God had to have a house, no matter how many of
his children were wanderers. During all the years in
which woman has struggled for equal liberty with
man, she has been met with the Bible doctrine that
she is the inferior of the man; that Adam was made
first, and Eve afterwards; that man was not made for
woman, but that woman was made for man.

I find that in this day and generation, the meanest
men have the lowest estimate of woman; that the
greater the man is, the grander he is, the more he
thinks of mother, wife and daughter. I also find that
just in the proportion that he has lost confidence in the
polygamy of Jehovah and in the advice and philosophy
of Saint Paul, he believes in the rights and liberties of
woman. As a matter of fact, men have risen from a
perusal of the Bible, and murdered their wives. They
have risen from reading its pages, and inflicted cruel
and even mortal blows upon their children. Men
have risen from reading the Bible and torn the flesh
of others with red-hot pincers. They have laid
down the sacred volume long enough to pour molten
lead into the ears of others.


They have stopped
reading the sacred Scriptures for a sufficient time to
incarcerate their fellow-men, to load them with chains,
and then they have gone back to their reading,
allowing their victims to die in darkness and despair.
Men have stopped reading the Old Testament long
enough to drive a stake into the ground and collect a
few fagots and burn an honest man. Even ministers
have denied themselves the privilege of reading the
sacred book long enough to tell falsehoods about
their fellow-men. There is no crime that Bible
readers and Bible believers and Bible worshipers and
Bible defenders have not committed. There is no
meanness of which some Bible reader, believer, and
defender, has not been guilty. Bible believers and
Bible defenders have filled the world with calumnies
and slanders. Bible believers and Bible defenders
have not only whipped their wives, but they have
murdered them; they have murdered their children.
I do not say that reading the Bible will necessarily
make men dishonest, but I do say, that reading the
Bible will not prevent their committing crimes. I do
not say that believing the Bible will necessarily make
men commit burglary, but I do say that a belief in the
Bible has caused men to persecute each other, to
imprison each other, and to burn each other.

Only a little while ago, a British clergyman mur-
dered his wife. Only a little while ago, an American
Protestant clergyman whipped his boy to death be-
cause the boy refused to say a prayer.

The Rev. Mr. Crowley not only believed the Bible,
but was licensed to expound it. He had been
“called” to the ministry, and upon his head had
been laid the holy hands; and yet, he deliberately
starved orphans, and while looking upon their
sunken eyes and hollow cheeks, sung pious hymns
and quoted with great unction: “Suffer little chil-
“dren to come unto me.”

As a matter of fact, in the last twenty years,
more money has been stolen by Christian cashiers,
Christian presidents, Christian directors, Christian
trustees and Christian statesmen, than by all other
convicts in all the penitentiaries in all the Christian

The assassin of Henry the Fourth was a Bible reader
and a Bible believer. The instigators of the massacre
of St. Bartholomew were believers in your sacred
Scriptures. The men who invested their money in the
slave-trade believed themselves filled with the Holy
Ghost, and read with rapture the Psalms of David and
the Sermon on the Mount. The murderers of Scotch
Presbyterians were believers in Revelation, and the

Presbyterians, when they murdered others, were also
believers. Nearly every man who expiates a crime
upon the gallows is a believer in the Bible. For a
thousand years, the daggers of assassination and the
swords of war were blest by priests—by the believers
in the sacred Scriptures. The assassin of President
Garfield is a believer in the Bible, a hater of infidelity,
a believer in personal inspiration, and he expects in a
few weeks to join the winged and redeemed in

If a man would follow, to-day, the teachings of the
Old Testament, he would be a criminal. If he would
follow strictly the teachings of the New, he would be


Son. There is no devil.

Mother. I know there is.

Son. How do you know?

Mother. Because they make pictures that look just
like him.

Son. But, mother—

Mother. Don’t “mother” me! You are trying to
disgrace your parents.

Question. I want to ask you a few questions about
Mr. Talmage’s fourth sermon against you, entitled:
“The Meanness of Infidelity,” in which he compares
you to Jehoiakim, who had the temerity to throw
some of the writings of the weeping Jeremiah into
the fire?

Answer. So far as I am concerned, I really re-
gret that a second edition of Jeremiah’s roll was
gotten out. It would have been far better for us all,
if it had been left in ashes. There was nothing but
curses and prophecies of evil, in the sacred roll that
Jehoiakim burned. The Bible tells us that Jehovah
became exceedingly wroth because of the destruction
of this roll, and pronounced a curse upon Jehoiakim
and upon Palestine. I presume it was on account of
the burning of that roll that the king of Babylon
destroyed the chosen people of God. It was on
account of that sacrilege that the Lord said of
Jehoiakim: “He shall have none to sit upon the
“throne of David; and his dead body shall be cast
“out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the
“frost.” Any one can see how much a dead body
would suffer under such circumstances. Imagine an
infinitely wise, good and powerful God taking ven-
geance on the corpse of a barbarian king! What
joy there must have been in heaven as the angels
watched the alternate melting and freezing of the
dead body of Jehoiakim!

Jeremiah was probably the most accomplished
croaker of all time. Nothing satisfied him. He was
a prophetic pessimist,—an ancient Bourbon. He
was only happy when predicting war, pestilence and
famine. No wonder Jehoiakim despised him, and
hated all he wrote.

One can easily see the character of Jeremiah from
the following occurrence: When the Babylonians
had succeeded in taking Jerusalem, and in sacking
the city, Jeremiah was unfortunately taken prisoner;
but Captain Nebuzaradan came to Jeremiah, and told
him that he would let him go, because he had pro-
phesied against his own country. He was regarded
as a friend by the enemy.

There was, at that time, as now, the old fight
between the church and the civil power. Whenever
a king failed to do what the priests wanted, they
immediately prophesied overthrow, disaster, and de-
feat. Whenever the kings would hearken to their
voice, and would see to it that the priests had plenty
to eat and drink and wear, then they all declared
that Jehovah would love that king, would let him live
out all his days, and allow his son to reign in his
stead. It was simply the old conflict that is still being
waged, and it will be carried on until universal civil-
ization does away with priestcraft and superstition.

The priests in the days of Jeremiah were the same
as now. They sought to rule the State. They pre-
tended that, at their request, Jehovah would withhold
or send the rain; that the seasons were within their
power; that they with bitter words could blight the
fields and curse the land with want and death. They
gloried then, as now, in the exhibition of God’s wrath.

In prosperity, the priests were forgotten. Success
scorned them; Famine flattered them; Health laughed
at them; Pestilence prayed to them; Disaster was
their only friend.

These old prophets prophesied nothing but evil,
and consequently, when anything bad happened, they
claimed it as a fulfillment, and pointed with pride to
the fact that they had, weeks or months, or years
before, foretold something of that kind. They were
really the originators of the phrase, “I told you so!”

There was a good old Methodist class-leader that
lived down near a place called Liverpool, on the
Illinois river. In the spring of 1861 the old man,
telling his experience, among other things said, that he
had lived there by the river for more than thirty
years, and he did not believe that a year had passed
that there were not hundreds of people during the
hunting season shooting ducks on Sunday; that he
had told his wife thousands of times that no good
would come of it; that evil would come of it; “And
“now, said the old man, raising his voice with the
importance of the announcement, “war is upon us!”

Question. Do you wish, as Mr. Talmage says, to de-
stroy the Bible—to have all the copies burned to ashes?
What do you wish to have done with the Bible?

Answer. I want the Bible treated exactly as we
treat other books—preserve the good and throw
away the foolish and the hurtful. I am fighting the
doctrine of inspiration. As long as it is believed that
the Bible is inspired, that book is the master—no
mind is free. With that belief, intellectual liberty is
impossible. With that belief, you can investigate
only at the risk of losing your soul. The Catholics
have a pope. Protestants laugh at them, and yet the
pope is capable of intellectual advancement. In
addition to this, the pope is mortal, and the church
cannot be afflicted with the same idiot forever. The
Protestants have a book for their pope. The book
cannot advance. Year after year, and century after
century, the book remains as ignorant as ever. It is
only made better by those who believe in its inspira-
tion giving better meanings to the words than their
ancestors did. In this way it may be said that the
Bible grows a little better.

Why should we have a book for a master? That
which otherwise might be a blessing, remains a curse.
If every copy of the Bible were destroyed, all that is
good in that book would be reproduced in a single
day. Leave every copy of the Bible as it is, and
have every human being believe in its inspiration,
and intellectual liberty would cease to exist. The
whole race, from that moment, would go back to-
ward the night of intellectual death.

The Bible would do more harm if more people
really believed it, and acted in accordance with its
teachings. Now and then a Freeman puts the knife
to the heart of his child. Now and then an assassin
relies upon some sacred passage; but, as a rule, few
men believe the Bible to be absolutely true.

There are about fifteen hundred million people in
the world. There are not two million who have read
the Bible through. There are not two hundred
million who ever saw the Bible. There are not five
hundred million who ever heard that such a book

Christianity is claimed to be a religion for all
mankind. It was founded more than eighteen cen-
turies ago; and yet, not one human being in three
has ever heard of it. As a matter of fact, for more
than fourteen centuries and-a-half after the crucifixion
of Christ, this hemisphere was absolutely unknown.
There was not a Christian in the world who knew
there was such a continent as ours, and all the
inhabitants of this, the New World, were deprived
of the gospel for fourteen centuries and-a-half, and
knew nothing of its blessings until they were in-
formed by Spanish murderers and marauders. Even
in the United States, Christianity is not keeping pace
with the increase of population. When we take
into consideration that it is aided by the momentum
of eighteen centuries, is it not wonderful that it is not
to-day holding its own?


The reason of this is, that
we are beginning to understand the Scriptures. We
are beginningto see, and to see clearly, that they are
simply of human origin, and that the Bible bears
the marks of the barbarians who wrote it. The best
educated among the clergy admit that we know but
little as to the origin of the gospels; that we do not
positively know the author of one of them; that it is
really a matter of doubt as to who wrote the five
books attributed to Moses. They admit now, that
Isaiah was written by more than one person; that
Solomon’s Song was not written by that king; that
Job is, in all probability, not a Jewish book; that
Ecclesiastes must have been written by a Freethinker,
and by one who had his doubts about the immortality
of the soul. The best biblical students of the so-
called orthodox world now admit that several stories
were united to make the gospel of Saint Luke; that
Hebrews is a selection from many fragments, and
that no human being, not afflicted with delirium
tremens, can understand the book of Revelation.

I am not the only one engaged in the work of
destruction. Every Protestant who expresses a doubt
as to the genuineness of a passage, is destroying the
Bible. The gentlemen who have endeavored to treat
hell as a question of syntax, and to prove that eternal
punishment depends upon grammar, are helping to
bring the Scriptures into contempt. Hundreds of
years ago, the Catholics told the Protestant world that
it was dangerous to give the Bible to the people.
The Catholics were right; the Protestants were
wrong. To read is to think. To think is to investi-
gate. To investigate is, finally, to deny. That book
should have been read only by priests. Every copy
should have been under the lock and key of bishop,
cardinal and pope. The common people should have
received the Bible from the lips of the ministers.
The world should have been kept in ignorance. In
that way, and in that way only, could the pulpit have
maintained its power. He who teaches a child
the alphabet sows the seeds of heresy. I have lived
to see the schoolhouse in many a village larger than
the church. Every man who finds a fact, is the
enemy of theology. Every man who expresses an
honest thought is a soldier in the army of intellectual

Question. Mr. Talmage thinks that you laugh too
much,—that you exhibit too much mirth, and that no
one should smile at sacred things?

Answer. The church has always feared ridicule.
The minister despises laughter. He who builds upon
ignorance and awe, fears intelligence and mirth. The
theologians always begin by saying: “Let us be
“solemn.” They know that credulity and awe are
twins. They also know that while Reason is the
pilot of the soul, Humor carries the lamp. Whoever
has the sense of humor fully developed, cannot, by
any possibility, be an orthodox theologian. He would
be his own laughing stock. The most absurd stories,
the most laughable miracles, read in a solemn, stately
way, sound to the ears of ignorance and awe like
truth. It has been the object of the church for
eighteen hundred years to prevent laughter.

A smile is the dawn of a doubt.

Ministers are always talking about death, and
coffins, and dust, and worms,—the cross in this life,
and the fires of another. They have been the
enemies of human happiness. They hate to hear

even the laughter of children. There seems to have
been a bond of sympathy between divinity and
dyspepsia, between theology and indigestion. There
is a certain pious hatred of pleasure, and those who
have been “born again” are expected to despise
“the transitory joys of this fleeting life.” In this,
they follow the example of their prophets, of whom
they proudly say: “They never smiled.”

Whoever laughs at a holy falsehood, is called a
“scoffer.” Whoever gives vent to his natural feel-
ings is regarded as a “blasphemer,” and whoever
examines the Bible as he examines other books, and
relies upon his reason to interpret it, is denounced
as a “reprobate.”

Let us respect the truth, let us laugh at miracles,
and above all, let us be candid with each other.

‘Question. Mr. Talmage charges that you have, in
your lectures, satirized your early home; that you
have described with bitterness the Sundays that were
forced upon you in your youth; and that in various
ways you have denounced your father as a “tyrant,”
or a “bigot,” or a “fool”?

Answer. I have described the manner in which
Sunday was kept when I was a boy. My father for
many years regarded the Sabbath as a sacred day.
We kept Sunday as most other Christians did. I think
that my father made a mistake about that day. I
have no doubt he was honest about it, and really
believed that it was pleasing to God for him to keep
the Sabbath as he did.

I think that Sunday should not be a day of gloom,
of silence and despair, or a day in which to hear that
the chances are largely in favor of your being eternally
damned. That day, in my opinion, should be one of
joy; a day to get acquainted with your wife and
children; a day to visit the woods, or the sea, or the
murmuring stream; a day to gather flowers, to visit
the graves of your dead, to read old poems, old
letters, old books; a day to rekindle the fires of
friendship and love.

Mr. Talmage says that my father was a Christian,
and he then proceeds to malign his memory. It
seems to me that a living Christian should at least
tell the truth about one who sleeps the silent sleep
of death.

I have said nothing, in any of my lectures, about
my father, or about my mother, or about any of my
relatives. I have not the egotism to bring them
forward. They have nothing to do with the subject
in hand. That my father was mistaken upon the
subject of religion, I have no doubt. He was a good,
a brave and honest man. I loved him living, and
I love him dead. I never said to him an unkind
word, and in my heart there never was of him an
unkind thought. He was grand enough to say to
me, that I had the same right to my opinion that he
had to his. He was great enough to tell me to read
the Bible for myself, to be honest with myself, and if
after reading it I concluded it was not the word of
God, that it was my duty to say so.

My mother died when I was but a child; and from
that day—the darkest of my life—her memory has
been within my heart a sacred thing, and I have felt,
through all these years, her kisses on my lips.

I know that my parents—if they are conscious now
—do not wish me to honor them at the expense of
my manhood. I know that neither my father nor my
mother would have me sacrifice upon their graves my
honest thought. I know that I can only please them by
being true to myself, by defending what I believe is
good, by attacking what I believe is bad. Yet this min-
ister of Christ is cruel enough, and malicious enough,
to attack the reputation of the dead. What he says
about my father is utterly and unqualifiedly false.

Right here, it may be well enough for me to say,
that long before my father died, he threw aside, as
unworthy of a place in the mind of an intelligent
man, the infamous dogma of eternal fire; that he
regarded with abhorrence many passages in the Old
Testament; that he believed man, in another world,
would have the eternal opportunity of doing right,
and that the pity of God would last as long as the
suffering of man. My father and my mother were
good, in spite of the Old Testament. They were mer-
ciful, in spite of the one frightful doctrine in the New.
They did not need the religion of Presbyterianism.
Presbyterianism never made a human being better.
If there is anything that will freeze the generous
current of the soul, it is Calvinism. If there is any
creed that will destroy charity, that will keep the
tears of pity from the cheeks of men and women, it
is Presbyterianism. If there is any doctrine calcu-
lated to make man bigoted, unsympathetic, and
cruel, it is the doctrine of predestination. Neither
my father, nor my mother, believed in the damnation
of babes, nor in the inspiration of John Calvin.

Mr. Talmage professes to be a Christian. What
effect has the religion of Jesus Christ had upon him?
Is he the product—the natural product—of Chris-
tianity? Does the real Christian violate the sanctity
of death? Does the real Christian malign the
memory of the dead? Does the good Christian
defame unanswering and unresisting dust?

But why should I expect kindness from a Chris-
tian? Can a minister be expected to treat with
fairness a man whom his God intends to damn? If
a good God is going to burn an infidel forever, in
the world to come, surely a Christian should have
the right to persecute him a little here.

What right has a Christian to ask anybody to love
his father, or mother, or wife, or child? According
to the gospels, Christ offered a reward to any one
who would desert his father or his mother. He
offered a premium to gentlemen for leaving their
wives, and tried to bribe people to abandon their
little children. He offered them happiness in this
world, and a hundred fold in the next, if they would
turn a deaf ear to the supplications of a father, the
beseeching cry of a wife, and would leave the out-
stretched arms of babes. They were not even
allowed to bury their fathers and their mothers. At
that time they were expected to prefer Jesus to their
wives and children. And now an orthodox minister
says that a man ought not to express his honest

thoughts, because they do not happen to be in accord
with the belief of his father or mother.

Suppose Mr. Talmage should read the Bible care-
fully and without fear, and should come to the honest
conclusion that it is not inspired, what course would
he pursue for the purpose of honoring his parents?
Would he say, “I cannot tell the truth, I must lie,
“for the purpose of shedding a halo of glory around
“the memory of my mother”? Would he say: “Of
“course, my father and mother would a thousand
“times rather have their son a hypocritical Christian
“than an honest, manly unbeliever”? This might
please Mr. Talmage, and accord perfectly with his
view, but I prefer to say, that my father wished me to
be an honest man. If he is in “heaven” now, I am
sure that he would rather hear me attack the
“inspired” word of God, honestly and bravely, than
to hear me, in the solemn accents of hypocrisy, defend
what I believe to be untrue.

I may be mistaken in the estimate angels put upon
human beings. It may be that God likes a pretended
follower better than an honest, outspoken man—one
who is an infidel simply because he does not under-
stand this God. But it seems to me, in my unregenerate
condition, touched and tainted as I am by original sin,
that a God of infinite power and wisdom ought to be
able to make a man brave enough to have an opinion
of his own. I cannot conceive of God taking any
particular pride in any hypocrite he has ever made.
Whatever he may say through his ministers, or
whatever the angels may repeat, a manly devil
stands higher in my estimation than an unmanly
angel. I do not mean by this, that there are any
unmanly angels, neither do I pretend that there
are any manly devils. My meaning is this: If I have
a Creator, I can only honor him by being true to
myself, and kind and just to my fellow-men. If I wish
to shed lustre upon my father and mother, I can
only do so by being absolutely true to myself.
Never will I lay the wreath of hypocrisy upon the
tombs of those I love.

Mr. Talmage takes the ground that we must defend
the religious belief of our parents. He seems to
forget that all parents do not believe exactly alike,
and that everybody has at least two parents. Now,
suppose that the father is an infidel, and the mother
a Christian, what must the son do? Must he “drive
“the ploughshare of contempt through the grave of
“the father,” for the purpose of honoring the mother;
or must he drive the ploughshare through the grave
of the mother to honor the father; or must he com-
promise, and talk one way and believe another? If
Mr. Talmage’s doctrine is correct, only persons who
have no knowledge of their parents can have liberty
of opinion. Foundlings would be the only free
people. I do not suppose that Mr. Talmage would
go so far as to say that a child would be bound by
the religion of the person upon whose door-steps he
was found. If he does not, then over every foundling
hospital should be these words: “Home of Intel-
“lectual Liberty.”

Question. Do you suppose that we will care
nothing in the next world for those we loved in this?
Is it worse in a man than in an angel, to care nothing
for his mother?

Answer. According to Mr. Talmage, a man can
be perfectly happy in heaven, with his mother in hell.
He will be so entranced with the society of Christ,
that he will not even inquire what has become of his
wife. The Holy Ghost will keep him in such a state
of happy wonder, of ecstatic joy, that the names,
even, of his children will never invade his memory.
It may be that I am lacking in filial affection, but
I would much rather be in hell, with my parents
in heaven, than be in heaven with my parents in hell.
I think a thousand times more of my parents than I
do of Christ. They knew me, they worked for me,
they loved me, and I can imagine no heaven, no
state of perfect bliss for me, in which they have no
share. If God hates me, because I love them,
I cannot love him.

I cannot truthfully say that I look forward with any
great degree of joy, to meeting with Haggai and
Habakkuk; with Jeremiah, Nehemiah, Obadiah,
Zechariah or Zephaniah; with Ezekiel, Micah, or
Malachi; or even with Jonah. From what little
I have read of their writings, I have not formed a
very high opinion of the social qualities of these

I want to meet the persons I have known; and if
there is another life, I want to meet the really and
the truly great—men who have been broad enough to
be tender, and great enough to be kind.

Because I differ with my parents, because I am
convinced that my father was wrong in some of
his religious opinions, Mr. Talmage insists that I dis-
grace my parents. How did the Christian religion
commence? Did not the first disciples advocate
theories that their parents denied? Were they
not false,—in his sense of the word,—to their
fathers and mothers? How could there have been
any progress in this world, if children had not
gone beyond their parents? Do you consider that
the inventor of a steel plow cast a slur upon his
father who scratched the ground with a wooden
one? I do not consider that an invention by the
son is a slander upon the father; I regard each
invention simply as an improvement; and every
father should be exceedingly proud of an ingenious
son. If Mr. Talmage has a son, it will be impossible
for him to honor his father except by differing with

It is very strange that Mr. Talmage, a believer in
Christ, should object to any man for not loving his
mother and his father, when his Master, according
to the gospel of Saint Luke, says: “If any man
“come to me, and hate not his father, and mother,
“and wife, and children, and brethren, and sis-
“ters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my

According to this, I have to make my choice be-
tween my wife, my children, and Jesus Christ. I have
concluded to stand by my folks—both in this world,
and in “the world to come.”

Question. Mr. Talmage asks you whether, in your
judgment, the Bible was a good, or an evil, to your

Answer. I think it was an evil. The worst thing
about my father was his religion. He would have
been far happier, in my judgment, without it. I
think I get more real joy out of life than he did.
He was a man of a very great and tender heart. He
was continually thinking—for many years of his
life—of the thousands and thousands going down to
eternal fire. That doctrine filled his days with
gloom, and his eyes with tears. I think that my
father and mother would have been far happier had
they believed as I do. How any one can get any
joy out of the Christian religion is past my compre-
hension. If that religion is true, hundreds of mil-
lions are now in hell, and thousands of millions yet
unborn will be. How such a fact can form any part
of the “glad tidings of great joy,” is amazing to me.
It is impossible for me to love a being who would
create countless millions for eternal pain. It is
impossible for me to worship the God of the Bible,
or the God of Calvin, or the God of the Westminster

Question. I see that Mr. Talmage challenges you
to read the fourteenth chapter of Saint John. Are
you willing to accept the challenge; or have you
ever read that chapter?

Answer. I do not claim to be very courageous,
but I have read that chapter, and am very glad that
Mr. Talmage has called attention to it. According
to the gospels, Christ did many miracles. He healed
the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the lame
walk, and raised the dead. In the fourteenth chapter
of Saint John, twelfth verse, I find the following:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you: He that believeth
“on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and
“greater works than these shall he do, because I go
“unto my Father.”

I am willing to accept that as a true test of a
believer. If Mr. Talmage really believes in Jesus
Christ, he ought to be able to do at least as great
miracles as Christ is said to have done. Will Mr.
Talmage have the kindness to read the fourteenth
chapter of John, and then give me some proof, in
accordance with that chapter, that he is a believer in
Jesus Christ? Will he have the kindness to perform
a miracle?—for instance, produce a “local flood,”
make a worm to smite a gourd, or “prepare a fish”?

Can he do anything of that nature? Can he even
cause a “vehement east wind”? What evidence,
according to the Bible, can Mr. Talmage give of his
belief? How does he prove that he is a Christian?
By hating infidels and maligning Christians? Let
Mr. Talmage furnish the evidence, according to the
fourteenth chapter of Saint John, or forever after
hold his peace.

He has my thanks for calling my attention to the
fourteenth chapter of Saint John.

Question. Mr. Talmage charges that you are at-
tempting to destroy the “chief solace of the world,”
without offering any substitute. How do you answer

Answer. If he calls Christianity the “chief solace
“of the world,” and if by Christianity he means that all
who do not believe in the inspiration of the Scrip-
tures, and have no faith in Jesus Christ, are to be
eternally damned, then I admit that I am doing the
best I can to take that “solace” from the human
heart. I do not believe that the Bible, when prop-
erly understood, is, or ever has been, a comfort to
any human being. Surely, no good man can be
comforted by reading a book in which he finds that
a large majority of mankind have been sentenced to
eternal fire. In the doctrine of total depravity there
is no “solace.” In the doctrine of “election” there can
be no joy until the returns are in, and a majority
found for you.

Question. Mr. Talmage says that you are taking
away the world’s medicines, and in place of anaes-
thetics, in place of laudanum drops, you read an
essay to the man in pain, on the absurdities of mor-
phine and nervines in general.

Answer. It is exactly the other way. I say, let
us depend upon morphine, not upon prayer. Do
not send for the minister—take a little laudanum.
Do not read your Bible,—chloroform is better. Do
not waste your time listening to meaningless ser-
mons, but take real, genuine soporifics.

I regard the discoverer of ether as a benefactor.
I look upon every great surgeon as a blessing to
mankind. I regard one doctor, skilled in his profes-
sion, of more importance to the world than all the
orthodox ministers.

Mr. Talmage should remember that for hundreds
of years, the church fought, with all its power, the
science of medicine. Priests used to cure diseases
by selling little pieces of paper covered with cabalistic
marks. They filled their treasuries by the sale of
holy water. They healed the sick by relics—the teeth
and ribs of saints, the finger-nails of departed wor-
thies, and the hair of glorified virgins. Infidelity
said: “Send for the doctor.” Theology said: “Stick
“to the priest.” Infidelity,—that is to say, science,—
said: “Vaccinate him.” The priest said: “Pray;—
“I will sell you a charm.” The doctor was regarded
as a man who was endeavoring to take from God his
means of punishment. He was supposed to spike
the artillery of Jehovah, to wet the powder of the
Almighty, and to steal the flint from the musket of
heavenly retribution.

Infidelity has never relied upon essays, it has
never relied upon words, it has never relied upon
prayers, it has never relied upon angels or gods; it
has relied upon the honest efforts of men and women.
It has relied upon investigation, observation, experi-
ence, and above all, upon human reason.

We, in America, know how much prayers are
worth. We have lately seen millions of people upon
their knees. What was the result?

In the olden times, when a plague made its ap-
pearance, the people fell upon their knees and died.

When pestilence came, they rushed to their ca-
thedrals, they implored their priests—and died. God
had no pity upon his ignorant children. At last,
Science came to the rescue. Science,—not in the
attitude of prayer, with closed eyes, but in the atti-
tude of investigation, with open eyes,—looked for and
discovered some of the laws of health. Science
found that cleanliness was far better than godliness. It
said: Do not spend your time in praying;—clean your
houses, clean your streets, clean yourselves. This pest-
ilence is not a punishment. Health is not simply a favor
of the gods. Health depends upon conditions, and
when the conditions are violated, disease is inevitable,
and no God can save you. Health depends upon
your surroundings, and when these are favorable,
the roses are in your cheeks.

We find in the Old Testament that God gave
to Moses a thousand directions for ascertaining
the presence of leprosy. Yet it never occurred
to this God to tell Moses how to cure the disease.
Within the lids of the Old Testament, we have no
information upon a subject of such vital importance
to mankind.

It may, however, be claimed by Mr. Talmage, that
this statement is a little too broad, and I will therefore
give one recipe that I find in the fourteenth chapter
of Leviticus:

“Then shall the priest command to take for him
” that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and
“cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop; and the priest
“shall command that one of the birds be killed in an
“earthen vessel over running water. As for the
“living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood,
“and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them
“and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was
“killed over the running water. And he shall
“sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the
“leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean,
“and shall let the living bird loose into the open

Prophets were predicting evil—filling the country
with their wails and cries, and yet it never occurred
to them to tell one solitary thing of the slightest
importance to mankind. Why did not these inspired
men tell us how to cure some of the diseases that
have decimated the world? Instead of spending
forty days and forty nights with Moses, telling him
how to build a large tent, and how to cut the gar-
ments of priests, why did God not give him a little
useful information in respect to the laws of health?

Mr. Talmage must remember that the church has
invented no anodynes, no anaesthetics, no medicines,
and has affected no cures. The doctors have not
been inspired. All these useful things men have
discovered for themselves, aided by no prophet and
by no divine Savior. Just to the extent that man
has depended upon the other world, he has failed to
make the best of this. Just in the proportion that he
has depended on his own efforts, he has advanced.
The church has always said:

“Consider the lilies of the field; they toil not,
“neither do they spin.” “Take no thought for the
“morrow.” Whereas, the real common sense of this
world has said: “No matter whether lilies toil and
spin, or not, if you would succeed, you must work;
you must take thought for the morrow, you must
look beyond the present day, you must provide for
your wife and your children.”

What can I be expected to give as a substitute for
perdition? It is enough to show that it does not
exist. What does a man want in place of a disease?
Health. And what is better calculated to increase
the happiness of mankind than to know that the
doctrine of eternal pain is infinitely and absurdly

Take theology from the world, and natural Love
remains, Science is still here, Music will not be lost,
the page of History will still be open, the walls of
the world will still be adorned with Art, and the
niches rich with Sculpture.

Take theology from the world, and we all shall
have a common hope,—and the fear of hell will be
removed from every human heart.

Take theology from the world, and millions of
men will be compelled to earn an honest living.
Impudence will not tax credulity. The vampire of
hypocrisy will not suck the blood of honest toil.

Take theology from the world, and the churches
can be schools, and the cathedrals universities.

Take theology from the world, and the money
wasted on superstition will do away with want.

Take theology from the world, and every brain
will find itself without a chain.

There is a vast difference between what is called
infidelity and theology.

Infidelity is honest. When it reaches the confines
of reason, it says: “I know no further.”

Infidelity does not palm its guess upon an ignorant
world as a demonstration.

Infidelity proves nothing by slander—establishes
nothing by abuse.

Infidelity has nothing to hide. It has no “holy
“of holies,” except the abode of truth. It has no
curtain that the hand of investigation has not the
right to draw aside. It lives in the cloudless light,
in the very noon, of human eyes.

Infidelity has no bible to be blasphemed. It does
not cringe before an angry God.

Infidelity says to every man: Investigate for
yourself. There is no punishment for unbelief.

Infidelity asks no protection from legislatures. It
wants no man fined because he contradicts its doc-

Infidelity relies simply upon evidence—not evi-
dence of the dead, but of the living.

Infidelity has no infallible pope. It relies only
upon infallible fact. It has no priest except the
interpreter of Nature. The universe is its church.
Its bible is everything that is true. It implores every
man to verify every word for himself, and it implores
him to say, if he does not believe it, that he does

Infidelity does not fear contradiction. It is not
afraid of being laughed at. It invites the scrutiny
of all doubters, of all unbelievers. It does not rely
upon awe, but upon reason. It says to the whole
world: It is dangerous not to think. It is dan-
gerous not to be honest. It is dangerous not to
investigate. It is dangerous not to follow where
your reason leads.

Infidelity requires every man to judge for himself.
Infidelity preserves the manhood of man.

Question. Mr. Talmage also says that you are
trying to put out the light-houses on the coast of the
next world; that you are “about to leave everybody
“in darkness at the narrows of death”?

Answer. There can be no necessity for these
light-houses, unless the God of Mr. Talmage has
planted rocks and reefs within that unknown sea.
If there is no hell, there is no need of any light-
house on the shores of the next world; and only
those are interested in keeping up these pretended
light-houses who are paid for trimming invisible
wicks and supplying the lamps with allegorical oil.
Mr. Talmage is one of these light-house keepers,
and he knows that if it is ascertained that the coast
is not dangerous, the light-house will be abandoned,
and the keeper will have to find employment else-
where. As a matter of fact, every church is a use-
less light-house. It warns us only against breakers
that do not exist. Whenever a mariner tells one of
the keepers that there is no danger, then all the
keepers combine to destroy the reputation of that

No one has returned from the other world to tell
us whether they have light-houses on that shore or
not; or whether the light-houses on this shore—one
of which Mr. Talmage is tending—have ever sent a
cheering ray across the sea.

Nature has furnished every human being with
a light more or less brilliant, more or less powerful.
That light is Reason; and he who blows that light
out, is in utter darkness. It has been the business of
the church for centuries to extinguish the lamp of the
mind, and to convince the people that their own
reason is utterly unreliable. The church has asked
all men to rely only upon the light of the church.

Every priest has been not only a light-house but
a guide-board. He has threatened eternal damna-
tion to all who travel on some other road. These
guide-boards have been toll-gates, and the principal
reason why the churches have wanted people to go
their road is, that tolls might be collected. They
have regarded unbelievers as the owners of turnpikes
do people who go ‘cross lots. The toll-gate man
always tells you that other roads are dangerous—
filled with quagmires and quicksands.

Every church is a kind of insurance society, and
proposes, for a small premium, to keep you from
eternal fire. Of course, the man who tells you that
there is to be no fire, interferes with the business,
and is denounced as a malicious meddler and blas-
phemer. The fires of this world sustain the same
relation to insurance companies that the fires of the
next do to the churches.

Mr. Talmage also insists that I am breaking up the
“life-boats.” Why should a ship built by infinite
wisdom, by an infinite shipbuilder, carry life-boats?
The reason we have life-boats now is, that we are
not entirely sure of the ship. We know that man
has not yet found out how to make a ship that can
certainly brave all the dangers of the deep. For this
reason we carry life-boats. But infinite wisdom must
surely build ships that do not need life-boats. Is there
to be a wreck at last? Is God’s ship to go down in
storm and darkness? Will it be necessary at last to
forsake his ship and depend upon life-boats?

For my part, I do not wish to be rescued by a life-
boat. When the ship, bearing the whole world, goes
down, I am willing to go down with it—with my
wife, with my children, and with those I have loved.
I will not slip ashore in an orthodox canoe with
somebody else’s folks,—I will stay with my own.

What a picture is presented by the church! A few
in life’s last storm are to be saved; and the saved,
when they reach shore, are to look back with joy
upon the great ship going down to the eternal depths!
This is what I call the unutterable meanness of or-
thodox Christianity.

Mr. Talmage speaks of the “meanness of in-

The meanness of orthodox Christianity permits the
husband to be saved, and to be ineffably happy, while
the wife of his bosom is suffering the tortures of hell.

The meanness of orthodox Christianity tells the
boy that he can go to heaven and have an eternity
of bliss, and that this bliss will not even be clouded
by the fact that the mother who bore him writhes in
eternal pain.

The meanness of orthodox Christianity allows
a soul to be so captivated with the companionship
of angels as to forget all the old loves and friend-
ships of this world.

The meanness of orthodox Christianity, its un-
speakable selfishness, allows a soul in heaven to exult
in the fact of its own salvation, and at the same time
to care nothing for the damnation of all the rest.

The orthodox Christian says that if he can only
save his little soul, if he can barely squeeze into
heaven, if he can only get past Saint Peter’s gate,
if he can by hook or crook climb up the opposite
bank of Jordan, if he can get a harp in his hand, it
matters not to him what becomes of brother or
sister, father or mother, wife or child. He is willing
that they should burn if he can sing.

Oh, the unutterable meanness of orthodox Chris-
tianity, the infinite heartlessness of the orthodox
angels, who with tearless eyes will forever gaze upon
the agonies of those who were once blood of their
blood and flesh of their flesh!

Mr. Talmage describes a picture of the scourging
of Christ, painted by Rubens, and he tells us that
he was so appalled by this picture—by the sight of
the naked back, swollen and bleeding—that he could
not have lived had he continued to look; yet this
same man, who could not bear to gaze upon a
painted pain, expects to be perfectly happy in heaven,
while countiess billions of actual—not painted—men,
women, and children writhe—not in a pictured flame,
but in the real and quenchless fires of hell.

Question. Mr. Talmage also claims that we are
indebted to Christianity for schools, colleges, univer-
sities, hospitals and asylums?

Answer. This shows that Mr. Talmage has not
read the history of the world. Long before Chris-
tianity had a place, there were vast libraries. There
were thousands of schools before a Christian existed
on the earth. There were hundreds of hospitals
before a line of the New Testament was written.
Hundreds of years before Christ, there were hospitals
in India,—not only for men, women and children, but
even for beasts. There were hospitals in Egypt long
before Moses was born. They knew enough then
to cure insanity with music. They surrounded the
insane with flowers, and treated them with kindness.

The great libraries at Alexandria were not Chris-
tian. The most intellectual nation of the Middle
Ages was not Christian. While Christians were
imprisoning people for saying that the earth is round,
the Moors in Spain were teaching geography with
globes. They had even calculated the circumference
of the earth by the tides of the Red Sea.

Where did education come from? For a thousand

years Christianity destroyed books and paintings and
statues. For a thousand years Christianity was filled
with hatred toward every effort of the human mind.
We got paper from the Moors. Printing had been
known thousands of years before, in China. A few
manuscripts, containing a portion of the literature of
Greece, a few enriched with the best thoughts of
the Roman world, had been preserved from the
general wreck and ruin wrought by Christian hate.
These became the seeds of intellectual progress.
For a thousand years Christianity controlled Europe.
The Mohammedans were far in advance of the
Christians with hospitals and asylums and institutions
of learning.

Just in proportion that we have done away with
what is known as orthodox Christianity, humanity
has taken its place. Humanity has built all the asy-
lums, all the hospitals. Humanity, not Christianity,
has done these things. The people of this country
are all willing to be taxed that the insane may be
cared for, that the sick, the helpless, and the desti-
tute may be provided for, not because they are
Christians, but because they are humane; and they
are not humane because they are Christians.

The colleges of this country have been poisoned by
theology, and their usefulness almost destroyed. Just
in proportion that they have gotten from ecclesiastical
control, they have become a good. That college, to-
day, which has the most religion has the least true
learning; and that college which is the nearest free,
does the most good. Colleges that pit Moses against
modern geology, that undertake to overthrow the
Copernican system by appealing to Joshua, have
done, and are doing, very little good in this world.

Suppose that in the first century Pagans had said
to Christians: Where are your hospitals, where are
your asylums, where are your works of charity, where
are your colleges and universities?

The Christians undoubtedly would have replied:
We have not been in power. There are but few
of us. We have been persecuted to that degree
that it has been about as much as we could do to
maintain ourselves.

Reasonable Pagans would have regarded such an
answer as perfectly satisfactory. Yet that question
could have been asked of Christianity after it had
held the reins of power for a thousand years, and
Christians would have been compelled to say: We
have no universities, we have no colleges, we have
no real asylums.

The Christian now asks of the atheist: Where
is your asylum, where is your hospital, where is your
university? And the atheist answers: There have
been but few atheists. The world is not yet suffi-
ciently advanced to produce them. For hundreds
and hundreds of years, the minds of men have been
darkened by the superstitions of Christianity. Priests
have thundered against human knowledge, have de-
nounced human reason, and have done all within
their power to prevent the real progress of mankind.

You must also remember that Christianity has
made more lunatics than it ever provided asylums
for. Christianity has driven more men and women
crazy than all other religions combined. Hundreds
and thousands and millions have lost their reason in
contemplating the monstrous falsehoods of Chris-
tianity. Thousands of mothers, thinking of their
sons in hell—thousands of fathers, believing their
boys and girls in perdition, have lost their reason.

So, let it be distinctly understood, that Christianity
has made ten lunatics—twenty—one hundred—
where it has provided an asylum for one.

Mr. Talmage also speaks of the hospitals. When
we take into consideration the wars that have been
waged on account of religion, the countless thou
sands who have been maimed and wounded, through
all the years, by wars produced by theology—then I
say that Christianity has not built hospitals enough
to take care of her own wounded—not enough to
take care of one in a hundred. Where Christianity
has bound up the wounds of one, it has pierced the
bodies of a hundred others with sword and spear,
with bayonet and ball. Where she has provided
one bed in a hospital, she has laid away a hundred
bodies in bloody graves.

Of course I do not expect the church to do
anything but beg. Churches produce nothing. They
are like the lilies of the field. “They toil not, neither
“do they spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not
“arrayed like most of them.”

The churches raise no corn nor wheat. They
simply collect tithes. They carry the alms’ dish.
They pass the plate. They take toll. Of course
a mendicant is not expected to produce anything.
He does not support,—he is supported. The church
does not help. She receives, she devours, she
consumes, and she produces only discord. She ex-
changes mistakes for provisions, faith for food,
prayers for pence. The church is a beggar. But we
have this consolation: In this age of the world, this
beggar is not on horseback, and even the walking is
not good.

Question. Mr. Talmage says that infidels have
done no good?

Answer. Well, let us see. In the first place,
what is an “infidel”? He is simply a man in advance
of his time. He is an intellectual pioneer. He is
the dawn of a new day. He is a gentleman with an
idea of his own, for which he gave no receipt to the
church. He is a man who has not been branded as
the property of some one else. An “infidel” is one
who has made a declaration of independence. In
other words, he is a man who has had a doubt. To
have a doubt means that you have thought upon
the subject—that you have investigated the question;
and he who investigates any religion will doubt.

All the advance that has been made in the religious
world has been made by “infidels,” by “heretics,”
by “skeptics,” by doubters,—that is to say, by
thoughtful men. The doubt does not come from the
ignorant members of your congregations. Heresy is
not born of stupidity,—it is not the child of the brain-
less. He who is so afraid of hurting the reputation
of his father and mother that he refuses to advance,

is not a “heretic.” The “heretic” is not true to
falsehood. Orthodoxy is. He who stands faithfully
by a mistake is “orthodox.” He who, discovering
that it is a mistake, has the courage to say so, is an

An infidel is an intellectual discoverer—one who
finds new isles, new continents, in the vast realm of
thought. The dwellers on the orthodox shore de-
nounce this brave sailor of the seas as a buccaneer.

And yet we are told that the thinkers of new
thoughts have never been of value to the world.
Voltaire did more for human liberty than all the
orthodox ministers living and dead. He broke a
thousand times more chains than Luther. Luther
simply substituted his chain for that of the Catholics.
Voltaire had none. The Encyclopaedists of France
did more for liberty than all the writers upon theology.
Bruno did more for mankind than millions of “be-
“lievers.” Spinoza contributed more to the growth
of the human intellect than all the orthodox theolo-

Men have not done good simply because they have
believed this or that doctrine. They have done good
in the intellectual world as they have thought and
secured for others the liberty to think and to ex-
press their thoughts. They have done good in the
physical world by teaching their fellows how to
triumph over the obstructions of nature. Every
man who has taught his fellow-man to think, has
been a benefactor. Every one who has supplied his
fellow-men with facts, and insisted upon their right
to think, has been a blessing to his kind.

Mr. Talmage, in order to show what Christians
have done, points us to Whitefield, Luther, Oberlin,
Judson, Martyn, Bishop Mcllvaine and Hannah
More. I would not for one moment compare George
Whitefield with the inventor of movable type, and
there is no parallel between Frederick Oberlin and
the inventor of paper; not the slightest between
Martin Luther and the discoverer of the New World;
not the least between Adoniram Judson and the in-
ventor of the reaper, nor between Henry Martyn
and the discoverer of photography. Of what use to
the world was Bishop Mcllvaine, compared with
the inventor of needles? Of what use were a
hundred such priests compared with the inventor
of matches, or even of clothes-pins? Suppose that
Hannah More had never lived? about the same
number would read her writings now. It is hardly fair
to compare her with the inventor of the steamship?

The progress of the world—its present improved
condition—can be accounted for only by the discov-
eries of genius, only by men who have had the
courage to express their honest thoughts.

After all, the man who invented the telescope
found out more about heaven than the closed eyes of
prayer had ever discovered. I feel absolutely certain
that the inventor of the steam engine was a greater
benefactor to mankind than the writer of the Presby-
terian creed. I may be mistaken, but I think that
railways have done more to civilize mankind, than any
system of theology. I believe that the printing press
has done more for the world than the pulpit. It is
my opinion that the discoveries of Kepler did a
thousand times more to enlarge the minds of men
than the prophecies of Daniel. I feel under far
greater obligation to Humboldt than to Haggai.
The inventor of the plow did more good than the
maker of the first rosary—because, say what you
will, plowing is better than praying; we can live by
plowing without praying, but we can not live by
praying without plowing. So I put my faith in the

As Jehovah has ceased to make garments for his
children,—as he has stopped making coats of skins,

I have great respect for the inventors of the spinning-
jenny and the sewing machine. As no more laws
are given from Sinai, I have admiration for the real
statesmen. As miracles have ceased, I rely on
medicine, and on a reasonable compliance with the
conditions of health.

I have infinite respect for the inventors, the
thinkers, the discoverers, and above all, for the un-
known millions who have, without the hope of fame,
lived and labored for the ones they loved.


Parson. You had belter join the church; it is
the safer way.

Sinner. I can’t live up to your doctrines, and you
know it.

Parson. Well, you can come as near it in the
church as out; and forgiveness

will be easier if you join us.

Sinner. What do you mean by that?

Parson. I will tell you. If you join the church,
and happen to back-slide now and then, Christ will
say to his Father: “That man is a “friend of mine,
and you may charge his account to me.”

Question. What have you to say about the
fifth sermon of the Rev. Mr. Talmage in reply
to you?

Answer. The text from which he preached is:
“Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”
I am compelled to answer these questions in the
negative. That is one reason why I am an infidel.
I do not believe that anybody can gather grapes of
thorns, or figs of thistles. That is exactly my doctrine.
But the doctrine of the church is, that you can. The
church says, that just at the last, no matter if you
have spent your whole life in raising thorns and thistles,
in planting and watering and hoeing and plowing
thorns and thistles—that just at the last, if you will
repent, between hoeing the last thistle and taking the
last breath, you can reach out the white and palsied
hand of death and gather from every thorn a cluster
of grapes and from every thistle an abundance of
figs. The church insists that in this way you can
gather enough grapes and figs to last you through all

My doctrine is, that he who raises thorns must
harvest thorns. If you sow thorns, you must reap
thorns; and there is no way by which an innocent
being can have the thorns you raise thrust into his
brow, while you gather his grapes.

But Christianity goes even further than this. It
insists that a man can plant grapes and gather thorns.
Mr. Talmage insists that, no matter how good you
are, no matter how kind, no matter how much you
love your wife and children, no matter how many
self-denying acts you do, you will not be allowed to
eat of the grapes you raise; that God will step be-
tween you and the natural consequences of your
goodness, and not allow you to reap what you sow.

Mr. Talmage insists, that if you have no faith in the
Lord Jesus Christ, although you have been good
here, you will reap eternal pain as your harvest; that
the effect of honesty and kindness will not be peace
and joy, but agony and pain. So that the church
does insist not only that you can gather grapes from
thorns, but thorns from grapes.

I believe exactly the other way. If a man is a
good man here, dying will not change him, and he
will land on the shore of another world—if there is
one—the same good man that he was when he left
this; and I do not believe there is any God in this
universe who can afford to damn a good man. This
God will say to this man: You loved your wife,
your children, and your friends, and I love you.
You treated others with kindness; I will treat you
in the same way. But Mr. Talmage steps up to
his God, nudges his elbow, and says: Although he
was a very good man, he belonged to no church;
he was a blasphemer; he denied the whale story, and
after I explained that Jonah was only in the whale’s
mouth, he still denied it; and thereupon Mr. Tal-
mage expects that his infinite God will fly in a
passion, and in a perfect rage will say: What! did
he deny that story? Let him be eternally damned!

Not only this, but Mr. Talmage insists that a man
may have treated his wife like a wild beast; may have
trampled his child beneath the feet of his rage; may
have lived a life of dishonesty, of infamy, and yet,
having repented on his dying bed, having made his
peace with God through the intercession of his Son,
he will be welcomed in heaven with shouts of joy.
I deny it. I do not believe that angels can be so
quickly made from rascals. I have but little confi-
dence in repentance without restitution, and a hus-
band who has driven a wife to insanity and death by
his cruelty—afterward repenting and finding himself
in heaven, and missing his wife,—were he worthy to
be an angel, would wander through all the gulfs of
hell until he clasped her once again..

Now, the next question is, What must be done with
those who are sometimes good and sometimes bad?
That is my condition. If there is another world, I
expect to have the same opportunity of behaving
myself that I have here. If, when I get there, I fail
to act as I should, I expect to reap what I sow. If,
when I arrive at the New Jerusalem, I go into the
thorn business, I expect to harvest what I plant. If
I am wise enough to start a vineyard, I expect to
have grapes in the early fall. But if I do there as I
have done here—plant some grapes and some thorns,
and harvest them together—I expect to fare very
much as I have fared here. But I expect year by
year to grow wiser, to plant fewer thorns every
spring, and more grapes.

Question. Mr. Talmage charges that you have
taken the ground that the Bible is a cruel book, and
has produced cruel people?

Answer. Yes, I have taken that ground, and I
maintain it. The Bible was produced by cruel people,
and in its turn it has produced people like its authors.
The extermination of the Canaanites was cruel.
Most of the laws of Moses were bloodthirsty and
cruel. Hundreds of offences were punishable by
death, while now, in civilized countries, there are only
two crimes for which the punishment is capital. I
charge that Moses and Joshua and David and Samuel
and Solomon were cruel. I believe that to read and
believe the Old Testament naturally makes a man
careless of human life. That book has produced
hundreds of religious wars, and it has furnished the
battle-cries of bigotry for fifteen hundred years.

The Old Testament is filled with cruelty, but its
cruelty stops with this world, its malice ends with
death; whenever its victim has reached the grave,
revenge is satisfied. Not so with the New Testament.
It pursues its victim forever. After death, comes
hell; after the grave, the worm that never dies. So
that, as a matter of fact, the New Testament is in-
finitely more cruel than the Old.

Nothing has so tended to harden the human heart
as the doctrine of eternal punishment, and that
passage: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be
“saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned,”
has shed more blood than all the other so-called
“sacred books” of all this world.

I insist that the Bible is cruel. The Bible invented
instruments of torture. The Bible laid the foundations
of the Inquisition. The Bible furnished the fagots and
the martyrs. The Bible forged chains not only for the
hands, but for the brains of men. The Bible was at
the bottom of the massacre of St. Bartholomew.
Every man who has been persecuted for religion’s
sake has been persecuted by the Bible. That sacred
book has been a beast of prey.

The truth is, Christians have been good in spite of
the Bible. The Bible has lived upon the reputations of
good men and good women,—men and women who
were good notwithstanding the brutality they found
upon the inspired page. Men have said: “My mother
“believed in the Bible; my mother was good; there-
“fore, the Bible is good,” when probably the mother
never read a chapter in it.

The Bible produced the Church of Rome, and
Torquemada was a product of the Bible. Philip of
Spain and the Duke of Alva were produced by the
Bible. For thirty years Europe was one vast battle-
field, and the war was produced by the Bible. The re-
vocation of the Edict of Nantes was produced by the
sacred Scriptures. The instruments of torture—the
pincers, the thumb-screws, the racks, were produced
by the word of God. The Quakers of New England
were whipped and burned by the Bible—their children
were stolen by the Bible. The slave-ship had for its
sails the leaves of the Bible. Slavery was upheld in
the United States by the Bible. The Bible was the
auction-block. More than this, worse than this,
infinitely beyond the computation of imagination, the
despotisms of the old world all rested and still rest
upon the Bible. “The powers that be” were sup-
posed to have been “ordained of God;” and he who
rose against his king periled his soul.

In this connection, and in order to show the state
of society when the church had entire control of civil
and ecclesiastical affairs, it may be well enough to
read the following, taken from the New York Sun of
March 21, 1882. From this little extract, it will be
easy in the imagination to re-organize the government
that then existed, and to see clearly the state of so-
ciety at that time. This can be done upon the same
principle that one scale tells of the entire fish, or one
bone of the complete animal:

“From records in the State archives of Hesse-
“Darmstadt, dating back to the thirteenth century,
“it appears that the public executioner’s fee for boiling
“a criminal in oil was twenty-four florins; for decapi-
“tating with the sword, fifteen florins and-a-half; for
“quartering, the same; for breaking on the wheel,
“five florins, thirty kreuzers; for tearing a man to
“pieces, eighteen florins. Ten florins per head was
“his charge for hanging, and he burned delinquents
“alive at the rate of fourteen florins apiece. For ap-
“plying the ‘Spanish boot’ his fee was only two
“florins. Five florins were paid to him every time he
“subjected a refractory witness to the torture of the
“rack. The same amount was his due for ‘branding
“‘the sign of the gallows with a red-hot iron upon
“‘the back, forehead, or cheek of a thief,’ as well as
“for ‘cutting off the nose and ears of a slanderer or
“‘blasphemer.’ Flogging with rods was a cheap
“punishment, its remuneration being fixed at three
“florins, thirty kreuzers.”

The Bible has made men cruel. It is a cruel book.
And yet, amidst its thorns, amidst its thistles, amidst
its nettles and its swords and pikes, there are some
flowers, and these I wish, in common with all good
men, to save.

I do not believe that men have ever been made
merciful in war by reading the Old Testament. I do
not believe that men have ever been prompted to
break the chain of a slave by reading the Pentateuch.
The question is not whether Florence Nightingale and
Miss Dix were cruel. I have said nothing about
John Howard, nothing about Abbott Lawrence.
I say nothing about people in this connection. The
question is: Is the Bible a cruel book? not: Was
Miss Nightingale a cruel woman? There have been
thousands and thousands of loving, tender and char-
itable Mohammedans. Mohammedan mothers love
their children as well as Christian mothers can.
Mohammedans have died in defence of the Koran—
died for the honor of an impostor. There were
millions of charitable people in India—millions in
Egypt—and I am not sure that the world has ever
produced people who loved one another better than
the Egyptians.

I think there are many things in the Old Testament
calculated to make man cruel. Mr. Talmage asks:
“What has been the effect upon your children? As
“they have become more and more fond of the
“Scriptures have they become more and more fond
“of tearing off the wings of flies and pinning grass-
“hoppers and robbing birds’ nests?”

I do not believe that reading the bible would make
them tender toward flies or grasshoppers. According
to that book, God used to punish animals for the
crimes of their owners. He drowned the animals in
a flood. He visited cattle with disease. He bruised
them to death with hailstones—killed them by the
thousand. Will the reading of these things make
children kind to animals? So, the whole system of
sacrifices in the Old Testament is calculated to harden
the heart. The butchery of oxen and lambs, the killing
of doves, the perpetual destruction of life, the con-
tinual shedding of blood—these things, if they have
any tendency, tend only to harden the heart of child-

The Bible does not stop simply with the killing of
animals. The Jews were commanded to kill their
neighbors—not only the men, but the women; not
only the women, but the babes. In accordance with
the command of God, the Jews killed not only their
neighbors, but their own brothers; and according to
this book, which is the foundation, as Mr. Talmage
believes, of all mercy, men were commanded to kill
their wives because they differed with them on the
subject of religion.

Nowhere in the world can be found laws more un-
just and cruel than in the Old Testament.

Question. Mr. Talmage wants you to tell where
the cruelty of the Bible crops out in the lives of Chris-

Answer. In the first place, millions of Christians
have been persecutors. Did they get the idea of
persecution from the Bible? Will not every honest
man admit that the early Christians, by reading the
Old Testament, became convinced that it was not
only their privilege, but their duty, to destroy heathen
nations? Did they not, by reading the same book,
come to the conclusion that it was their solemn duty
to extirpate heresy and heretics? According to the
New Testament, nobody could be saved unless he
believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. The early Chris-
tians believed this dogma. They also believed that
they had a right to defend themselves and their
children from “heretics.”

We all admit that a man has a right to defend his
children against the assaults of a would-be murderer,
and he has the right to carry this defence to the
extent of killing the assailant. If we have the right
to kill people who are simply trying to kill the bodies
of our children, of course we have the right to kill
them when they are endeavoring to assassinate, not
simply their bodies, but their souls. It was in this
way Christians reasoned. If the Testament is right,
their reasoning was correct. Whoever believes the
New Testament literally—whoever is satisfied that it
is absolutely the word of God, will become a perse-
cutor. All religious persecution has been, and is, in
exact harmony with the teachings of the Old and
New Testaments. Of course I mean with some of
the teachings. I admit that there are passages in
both the Old and New Testaments against persecu-
tion. These are passages quoted only in time of
peace. Others are repeated to feed the flames of

I find, too, that reading the Bible and believing the
Bible do not prevent even ministers from telling false-
hoods about their opponents. I find that the Rev.
Mr. Talmage is willing even to slander the dead,—
that he is willing to stain the memory of a Christian,
and that he does not hesitate to give circulation
to what he knows to be untrue. Mr. Talmage
has himself, I believe, been the subject of a church
trial. How many of the Christian witnesses against
him, in his judgment, told the truth? Yet they were
all Bible readers and Bible believers. What effect, in
his judgment, did the reading of the Bible have upon
his enemies? Is he willing to admit that the testi-
mony of a Bible, reader and believer is true? Is he
willing to accept the testimony even of ministers?
—of his brother ministers? Did reading the Bible
make them bad people? Was it a belief in the Bible
that colored their testimony? Or, was it a belief in
the Bible that made Mr. Talmage deny the truth of
their statements?

Question. Mr. Talmage charges you with having
said that the Scriptures are a collection of polluted

Answer. I have never said such a thing. I have
said, and I still say, that there are passages in the
Bible unfit to be read—passages that never should
have been written—passages, whether inspired or
uninspired, that can by no possibility do any human
being any good. I have always admitted that there
are good passages in the Bible—many good, wise
and just laws—many things calculated to make men
better—many things calculated to make men worse.
I admit that the Bible is a mixture of good and bad,
of truth and falsehood, of history and fiction, of sense
and nonsense, of virtue and vice, of aspiration and
revenge, of liberty and tyranny.

I have never said anything against Solomon’s
Song. I like it better than I do any book that pre-
cedes it, because it touches upon the human. In the
desert of murder, wars of extermination, polygamy,
concubinage and slavery, it is an oasis where the
trees grow, where the birds sing, and where human
love blossoms and fills the air with perfume. I do
not regard that book as obscene. There are many
things in it that are beautiful and tender, and it is
calculated to do good rather than harm.

Neither have I any objection to the book of Eccle-
siastes—except a few interpolations in it. That book
was written by a Freethinker, by a philosopher.
There is not the slightest mention of God in it, nor
of another state of existence. All portions in which
God is mentioned are interpolations. With some of
this book I agree heartily. I believe in the doctrine
of enjoying yourself, if you can, to-day. I think it
foolish to spend all your years in heaping up treas-
ures, not knowing but he who will spend them is to
be an idiot. I believe it is far better to be happy with
your wife and child now, than to be miserable here,
with angelic expectations in some other world.

Mr. Talmage is mistaken when he supposes that all
Bible believers have good homes, that all Bible readers
are kind in their families. As a matter of fact, nearly all
the wife-whippers of the United States are orthodox.
Nine-tenths of the people in the penitentiaries are
believers. Scotland is one of the most orthodox
countries in the world, and one of the most intem-
perate. Hundreds and hundreds of women are
arrested every year in Glasgow for drunkenness.
Visit the Christian homes in the manufacturing dis-
tricts of England. Talk with the beaters of children
and whippers of wives, and you will find them be-
lievers. Go into what is known as the “Black
“Country,” and you will have an idea of the Chris-
tian civilization of England.

Let me tell you something about the “Black
“Country.” There women work in iron; there women
do the work of men. Let me give you an instance:
A commission was appointed by Parliament to ex-
amine into the condition of the women in the “Black
“Country,” and a report was made. In that report
I read the following:

“A superintendent of a brickyard where women
“were engaged in carrying bricks from the yard to
“the kiln, said to one of the women:

“‘Eliza, you don’t appear to be very uppish this

“‘Neither would you be very uppish, sir,’ she re-
“plied, ‘if you had had a child last night.'”

This gives you an idea of the Christian civilization
of England.

England and Ireland produce most of the prize-
fighters. The scientific burglar is a product of Great
Britain. There is not the great difference that Mr.
Talmage supposes, between the morality of Pekin
and of New York. I doubt if there is a city in
the world with more crime according to the population
than New York, unless it be London, or it may be
Dublin, or Brooklyn, or possibly Glasgow, where
a man too pious to read a newspaper published on
Sunday, stole millions from the poor.

I do not believe there is a country in the world
where there is more robbery than in Christian lands—
no country where more cashiers are defaulters, where
more presidents of banks take the money of depositors,
where there is more adulteration of food, where
fewer ounces make a pound, where fewer inches make
a yard, where there is more breach of trust, more
respectable larceny under the name of embezzlement,
or more slander circulated as gospel.

Question. Mr. Talmage insists that there are no
contradictions in the Bible—that it is a perfect har-
mony from Genesis to Revelation—a harmony as
perfect as any piece of music ever written by
Beethoven or Handel?

Answer. Of course, if God wrote it, the Bible
ought to be perfect. I do not see why a minister
should be so perfectly astonished to find that an
inspired book is consistent with itself throughout.
Yet the truth is, the Bible is infinitely inconsistent.

Compare the two systems—the system of Jehovah
and that of Jesus. In the Old Testament the doctrine
of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” was
taught. In the New Testament, “forgive your
“enemies,” and “pray for those who despitefully
“use you and persecute you.” In the Old Testament
it is kill, burn, massacre, destroy; in the New forgive.
The two systems are inconsistent, and one is just
about as far wrong as the other. To live for and
thirst for revenge, to gloat over the agony of an
enemy, is one extreme; to “resist not evil” is the
other extreme; and both these extremes are equally
distant from the golden mean of justice.

The four gospels do not even agree as to the terms
of salvation. And yet, Mr. Talmage tells us that
there are four cardinal doctrines taught in the Bible—
the goodness of God, the fall of man, the sympathetic
and forgiving nature of the Savior, and two desti-
nies—one for believers and the other for unbelievers.
That is to say:

1. That God is good, holy and forgiving.

2. That man is a lost sinner.

3. That Christ is “all sympathetic,” and ready to
take the whole world to his heart.

4. Heaven for believers and hell for unbelievers.

First. I admit that the Bible says that God is

good and holy. But this Bible also tells what God
did, and if God did what the Bible says he did, then I
insist that God is not good, and that he is not holy,
or forgiving. According to the Bible, this good
God believed in religious persecution; this good

God believed in extermination, in polygamy, in con-
cubinage, in human slavery; this good God com-
manded murder and massacre, and this good God
could only be mollified by the shedding of blood.
This good God wanted a butcher for a priest. This
good God wanted husbands to kill their wives—
wanted fathers and mothers to kill their children.
This good God persecuted animals on account of the
crimes of their owners. This good God killed the
common people because the king had displeased him.
This good God killed the babe even of the maid
behind the mill, in order that he might get even with
a king. This good God committed every possible

Second. The statement that man is a lost sinner
is not true. There are thousands and thousands of
magnificent Pagans—men ready to die for wife, or
child, or even for friend, and the history of Pagan
countries is filled with self-denying and heroic acts.
If man is a failure, the infinite God, if there be one,
is to blame. Is it possible that the God of Mr. Tal-
mage could not have made man a success? Accord-
ing to the Bible, his God made man knowing that in
about fifteen hundred years he would have to drown
all his descendants.

Why would a good God create a man that he
knew would be a sinner all his life, make hundreds
of thousands of his fellow-men unhappy, and who at
last would be doomed to an eternity of suffering?
Can such a God be good? How could a devil have
done worse?

Third. If God is infinitely good, is he not fully as
sympathetic as Christ? Do you have to employ
Christ to mollify a being of infinite mercy? Is Christ
any more willing to take to his heart the whole world
than his Father is? Personally, I have not the
slightest objection in the world to anybody believing
in an infinitely good and kind God—not the slightest
objection to any human being worshiping an infi-
nitely tender and merciful Christ—not the slightest
objection to people preaching about heaven, or about
the glories of the future state—not the slightest.

Fourth. I object to the doctrine of two destinies
for the human race. I object to the infamous false-
hood of eternal fire. And yet, Mr. Talmage is en-
deavoring to poison the imagination of men, women
and children with the doctrine of an eternal hell.
Here is what he preaches, taken from the “Constitu-
“tion of the Presbyterian Church of the United

“By the decrees of God, for the manifestation of
“his glory, some men and angels are predestinated
“to everlasting life, and others foreordained to ever-
“lasting death.”

That is the doctrine of Mr. Talmage. He wor-
ships a God who damns people “for the manifesta-
“tion of his glory,”—a God who made men, knowing
that they would be damned—a God who damns
babes simply to increase his reputation with the
angels. This is the God of Mr. Talmage. Such a
God I abhor, despise and execrate.

Question. What does Mr. Talmage think of man-
kind? What is his opinion of the “unconverted”?
How does he regard the great and glorious of the
earth, who have not been the victims of his particular
superstition? What does he think of some of the
best the earth has produced?

Answer. I will tell you how he looks upon all
such. Read this from his “Confession of Faith:”

“Our first parents, being seduced by the subtlety
“of the tempter, sinned in eating the forbidden fruit.
“By this sin, they fell from their original righteous-
“ness and communion with God, and so became
“dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties
“and parts of soul and body; and they being the
“root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was
“imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted
“nature conveyed to all their posterity. From this
“original corruption—whereby we are utterly indis-
“posed, disabled, and made opposite to all good,
“and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual

This is Mr. Talmage’s view of humanity.

Why did his God make a devil? Why did he
allow the devil to tempt Adam and Eve? Why did
he leave innocence and ignorance at the mercy of
subtlety and wickedness? Why did he put “the
“tree of the knowledge of good and evil” in the
garden? For what reason did he place temptation
in the way of his children? Was it kind, was it just,
was it noble, was it worthy of a good God? No
wonder Christ put into his prayer: “Lead us not
“into temptation.”

At the time God told Adam and Eve not to eat,
why did he not tell them of the existence of Satan?
Why were they not put upon their guard against the
serpent? Why did not God make his appearance
just before the sin, instead of just after. Why did
he not play the role of a Savior instead of that of a
detective? After he found that Adam and Eve had
sinned—knowing as he did that they were then
totally corrupt—knowing that all their children
would be corrupt, knowing that in fifteen hundred
years he would have to drown millions of them, why
did he not allow Adam and Eve to perish in accord-
ance with natural law, then kill the devil, and make a
new pair?

When the flood came, why did he not drown all?
Why did he save for seed that which was “perfectly
“and thoroughly corrupt in all its parts and facul-
“ties”? If God had drowned Noah and his sons
and their families, he could have then made a new
pair, and peopled the world with men not “wholly
“defiled in all their faculties and parts of soul and

Jehovah learned nothing by experience. He per-
sisted in his original mistake. What would we think
of a man who finding that a field of wheat was
worthless, and that such wheat never could be
raised with profit, should burn all of the field with the
exception of a few sheaves, which he saved for seed?
Why save such seed? Why should God have pre-
served Noah, knowing that he was totally corrupt,
and that he would again fill the world with infamous

people—people incapable of a good action? He
must have known at that time, that by preserving
Noah, the Canaanites would be produced, that these
same Canaanites would have to be murdered, that
the babes in the cradles would have to be strangled.
Why did he produce them? He knew at that time,
that Egypt would result from the salvation of Noah,
that the Egyptians would have to be nearly de-
stroyed, that he would have to kill their first-born,
that he would have to visit even their cattle with
disease and hailstones. He knew also that the
Egyptians would oppress his chosen people for two
hundred and fifteen years, that they would upon the
back of toil inflict the lash. Why did he preserve
Noah? He should have drowned all, and started
with a new pair. He should have warned them
against the devil, and he might have succeeded, in
that way, in covering the world with gentlemen and
ladies, with real men and real women.

We know that most of the people now in the
world are not Christians. Most who have heard the
gospel of Christ have rejected it, and the Presby-
terian Church tells us what is to become of all these
people. This is the “glad tidings of great joy.”
Let us see:
“All mankind, by their fall, lost communion with
“God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made
“liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself,
“and to the pains of hell forever.”

According to this good Presbyterian doctrine, all
that we suffer in this world, is the result of Adam’s
fall. The babes of to-day suffer for the crime of the
first parents. Not only so; but God is angry at us
for what Adam did. We are under the wrath of an
infinite God, whose brows are corrugated with eternal

Why should God hate us for being what we are
and necessarily must have been? A being that God
made—the devil—for whose work God is responsible,
according to the Bible wrought this woe. God of his
own free will must have made the devil. What did
he make him for? Was it necessary to have a devil
in heaven? God, having infinite power, can of
course destroy this devil to-day. Why does he per-
mit him to live? Why did he allow him to thwart his
plans? Why did he permit him to pollute the inno-
cence of Eden? Why does he allow him now to
wrest souls by the million from the redeeming hand
of Christ?

According to the Scriptures, the devil has always
been successful. He enjoys himself. He is called
“the prince of the power of the air.” He has no
conscientious scruples. He has miraculous power.
All miraculous power must come of God, otherwise
it is simply in accordance with nature. If the devil
can work a miracle, it is only with the consent and
by the assistance of the Almighty. Is the God of
Mr. Talmage in partnership with the devil? Do
they divide profits?

We are also told by the Presbyterian Church—
I quote from their Confession of Faith—that “there
“is no sin so small but it deserves damnation.” Yet
Mr. Talmage tells us that God is good, that he is filled
with mercy and loving-kindness. A child nine or ten
years of age commits a sin, and thereupon it deserves
eternal damnation. That is what Mr. Talmage calls,
not simply justice, but mercy; and the sympathetic
heart of Christ is not touched. The same being who
said: “Suffer little children to come unto me,” tells
us that a child, for the smallest sin, deserves to be
eternally damned. The Presbyterian Church tells us
that infants, as well as adults, in order to be saved,
need redemption by the blood of Christ, and regen-
eration by the Holy Ghost.

I am charged with trying to take the consolation
of this doctrine from the world. I am a criminal
because I am endeavoring to convince the mother
that her child does not deserve eternal punishment.
I stand by the graves of those who “died in their
“sins,” by the tombs of the “unregenerate,” over the
ashes of men who have spent their lives working for
their wives and children, and over the sacred dust of
soldiers who died in defence of flag and country,
and I say to their friends—I say to the living who
loved them, I say to the men and women for whom
they worked, I say to the children whom they edu-
cated, I say to the country for which they died:
These fathers, these mothers, these wives, these
husbands, these soldiers are not in hell.

Question. Mr. Talmage insists that the Bible is
scientific, and that the real scientific man sees no
contradiction between revelation and science; that,
on the contrary, they are in harmony. What is your
understanding of this matter?

Answer. I do not believe the Bible to be a sci-
entific book. In fact, most of the ministers now admit
that it was not written to teach any science. They
admit that the first chapter of Genesis is not geo-
logically true. They admit that Joshua knew nothing
of science. They admit that four-footed birds did
not exist in the days of Moses. In fact, the only
way they can avoid the unscientific statements of the
Bible, is to assert that the writers simply used the
common language of their day, and used it, not with
the intention of teaching any scientific truth, but for
the purpose of teaching some moral truth. As a
matter of fact, we find that moral truths have been
taught in all parts of this world. They were taught
in India long before Moses lived; in Egypt long be-
fore Abraham was born; in China thousands of
years before the flood. They were taught by hundreds
and thousands and millions before the Garden of
Eden was planted.

It would be impossible to prove the truth of a
revelation simply because it contained moral truths.
If it taught immorality, it would be absolutely certain
that it was not a revelation from an infinitely good
being. If it taught morality, it would be no reason
for even suspecting that it had a divine origin. But
if the Bible had given us scientific truths; if the
ignorant Jews had given us the true theory of our
solar system; if from Moses we had learned the
nature of light and heat; if from Joshua we had
learned something of electricity; if the minor pro-
phets had given us the distances to other planets;
if the orbits of the stars had been marked by the
barbarians of that day, we might have admitted that
they must have been inspired. If they had said any-
thing in advance of their day; if they had plucked
from the night of ignorance one star of truth, we
might have admitted the claim of inspiration; but
the Scriptures did not rise above their source, did
not rise above their ignorant authors—above the
people who believed in wars of extermination, in
polygamy, in concubinage, in slavery, and who taught
these things in their “sacred Scriptures.”

The greatest men in the scientific world have not
been, and are not, believers in the inspiration of the
Scriptures. There has been no greater astronomer
than Laplace. There is no greater name than
Humboldt. There is no living scientist who stands
higher than Charles Darwin. All the professors in
all the religious colleges in this country rolled into
one, would not equal Charles Darwin. All the cow-
ardly apologists for the cosmogony of Moses do not
amount to as much in the world of thought as Ernst
Haeckel. There is no orthodox scientist the equal
of Tyndall or Huxley. There is not one in this
country the equal of John Fiske. I insist, that the
foremost men to-day in the scientific world reject the
dogma of inspiration. They reject the science of the
Bible, and hold in utter contempt the astronomy of
Joshua, and the geology of Moses.

Mr. Talmage tells us “that Science is a boy and
“Revelation is a man.” Of course, like the most he
says, it is substantially the other way. Revelation,
so-called, was the boy. Religion was the lullaby of
the cradle, the ghost-story told by the old woman,
Superstition. Science is the man. Science asks for
demonstration. Science impels us to investigation,
and to verify everything for ourselves. Most pro-
fessors of American colleges, if they were not afraid
of losing their places, if they did not know that
Christians were bad enough now to take the bread
from their mouths, would tell their students that the
Bible is not a scientific book.

I admit that I have said:

1. That the Bible is cruel.

2. That in many passages it is impure.

3. That it is contradictory.

4. That it is unscientific.

Let me now prove these propositions one by one.

First. The Bible is cruel.

I have opened it at random, and the very first
chapter that has struck my eye is the sixth of First
Samuel. In the nineteenth verse of that chapter, I
find the following:

“And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because
“they had looked into the ark of the Lord; even he
“smote of the people fifty thousand and three-score
“and ten men.”

All this slaughter was because some people had
looked into a box that was carried upon a cart. Was
that cruel?

I find, also, in the twenty-fourth chapter of Second
Samuel, that David was moved by God to number
Israel and Judah. God put it into his heart to take
a census of his people, and thereupon David said to
Joab, the captain of his host:

“Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from
“Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people,
“that I may know the number of the people.”

At the end of nine months and twenty days, Joab
gave the number of the people to the king, and
there were at that time, according to that census,
“eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the
“sword,” in Israel, and in Judah, “five hundred
“thousand men,” making a total of thirteen hundred
thousand men of war. The moment this census was
taken, the wrath of the Lord waxed hot against
David, and thereupon he sent a seer, by the name of
Gad, to David, and asked him to choose whether he
would have seven years of famine, or fly three
months before his enemies, or have three days of
pestilence. David concluded that as God was so
merciful as to give him a choice, he would be more
merciful than man, and he chose the pestilence.

Now, it must be remembered that the sin of taking
the census had not been committed by the people,
but by David himself, inspired by God, yet the
people were to be punished for David’s sin. So,,
when David chose the pestilence, God immediately
killed “seventy thousand men, from Dan even to

“And when the angel stretched out his hand upon
“Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord repented him of
“the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the
“people, It is enough; stay now thine hand.”

Was this cruel?

Why did a God of infinite mercy destroy seventy
thousand men? Why did he fill his land with widows
and orphans, because King David had taken the cen-
sus? If he wanted to kill anybody, why did he not
kill David? I will tell you why. Because at that
time, the people were considered as the property of
the king. He killed the people precisely as he killed
the cattle. And yet, I am told that the Bible is not a
cruel book.

In the twenty-first chapter of Second Samuel, I
find that there were three years of famine in the days
of David, and that David inquired of the Lord the
reason of the famine; and the Lord told him that it
was because Saul had slain the Gibeonites. Why did
not God punish Saul instead of the people? And
David asked the Gibeonites how he should make
atonement, and the Gibeonites replied that they
wanted no silver nor gold, but they asked that seven
of the sons of Saul might be delivered unto them, so
that they could hang them before the Lord, in Gibeah.
And David agreed to the proposition, and thereupon
he delivered to the Gibeonites the two sons of Rizpah,
Saul’s concubine, and the five sons of Michal, the
daughter of Saul, and the Gibeonites hanged all
seven of them together. And Rizpah, more tender
than them all, with a woman’s heart of love kept
lonely vigil by the dead, “from the beginning of har-
“vest until water dropped upon them out of heaven,
“and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest upon
“them by day, nor the beast of the field by night.”

I want to know if the following, from the fifteenth
chapter of First Samuel, is inspired:

“Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I remember that
“which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for
“him in the way when he came up from Egypt. Now
“go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that
“they have, and spare them not, but slay both man
“and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep,
“camel and ass.”

We must remember that those he was commanded
to slay had done nothing to Israel. It was something
done by their forefathers, hundreds of years before;
and yet they are commanded to slay the women and
children and even the animals, and to spare none.

It seems that Saul only partially carried into exe-
cution this merciful command of Jehovah. He spared
the life of the king. He “utterly destroyed all the
“people with the edge of the sword,” but he kept
alive the best of the sheep and oxen and of the fat-
lings and lambs. Then God spake unto Samuel and
told him that he was very sorry he had made Saul
king, because he had not killed all the animals, and
because he had spared Agag; and Samuel asked
Saul: “What meaneth this bleating of sheep in mine
“ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”

Are stories like this calculated to make soldiers

So I read in the sixth chapter of Joshua, the fate
of the city of Jericho: “And they utterly destroyed
“all that was in the city, both man and woman,
“young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the
“edge of the sword. And they burnt the city with
“fire, and all that was therein.” But we are told that
one family was saved by Joshua, out of the general
destruction: “And Joshua saved Rahab, the harlot,
“alive, and her father’s household, and all that she
“had.” Was this fearful destruction an act of

It seems that they saved the money of their
victims: “the silver and gold and the vessels of brass
“and of iron they put into the treasury of the house
“of the Lord.”

After all this pillage and carnage, it appears
that there was a suspicion in Joshua’s mind that
somebody was keeping back a part of the treasure.
Search was made, and a man by the name of Achan
admitted that he had sinned against the Lord, that he
had seen a Babylonish garment among the spoils, and
two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold of
fifty shekels’ weight, and that he took them and hid

them in his tent. For this atrocious crime it seems
that the Lord denied any victories to the Jews until
they found out the wicked criminal. When they dis-
covered poor Achan, “they took him and his sons
“and his daughters, and his oxen and his asses and
“his sheep, and all that he had, and brought them unto
“the valley of Achor; and all Israel stoned him with
“stones and burned them with fire after they had
“stoned them with stones.”

After Achan and his sons and his daughters and
his herds had been stoned and burned to death, we
are told that “the Lord turned from the fierceness of
“his anger.”

And yet it is insisted that this God “is merciful,
“and that his loving-kindness is over all his works.”
In the eighth chapter of this same book, the infi-
nite God, “creator of heaven and earth and all that is
“therein,” told his general, Joshua, to lay an ambush
for a city—to “lie in wait against the city, even be-
“hind the city; go not very far from the city, but be
“ye all ready.” He told him to make an attack and
then to run, as though he had been beaten, in order
that the inhabitants of the city might follow, and
thereupon his reserves that he had ambushed might
rush into the city and set it on fire. God Almighty

planned the battle. God himself laid the snare. The
whole programme was carried out. Joshua made
believe that he was beaten, and fled, and then the
soldiers in ambush rose out of their places, enter-
ed the city, and set it on fire. Then came the
slaughter. They “utterly destroyed all the inhabit-
“ants of Ai,” men and maidens, women and babes,
sparing only their king till evening, when they
hanged him on a tree, then “took his carcase down
“from the tree and cast it at the entering of the
“gate, and raised thereon a great heap of stones
“which remaineth unto this day.” After having
done all this, “Joshua built an altar unto the Lord
“God of Israel, and offered burnt offerings unto the
“Lord.” I ask again, was this cruel?

Again I ask, was the treatment of the Gibeonites
cruel when they sought to make peace but were
denied, and cursed instead; and although permitted
to live, were yet made slaves? Read the mandate
consigning them to bondage: “Now therefore ye
“are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed
“from being bondmen and hewers of wood and
“drawers of water for the house of my God.”

Is it possible, as recorded in the tenth chapter of
Joshua, that the Lord took part in these battles, and
cast down great hail-stones from the battlements of
heaven upon the enemies of the Israelites, so that
“they were more who died with hail-stones, than
“they whom the children of Israel slew with the

Is it possible that a being of infinite power would
exercise it in that way instead of in the interest of
kindness and peace?

I find, also, in this same chapter, that Joshua took
Makkedah and smote it with the edge of the sword,
that he utterly destroyed all the souls that were
therein, that he allowed none to remain.

I find that he fought against Libnah, and smote
it with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed
all the souls that were therein, and allowed none to
remain, and did unto the king as he did unto the king
of Jericho.

I find that he also encamped against Lachish, and
that God gave him that city, and that he “smote it
“with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that
“were therein,” sparing neither old nor young, help-
less women nor prattling babes.

He also vanquished Horam, King of Gezer, “and
“smote him and his people until he left him none

He encamped against the city of Eglon, and killed
every soul that was in it, at the edge of the sword,
just as he had done to Lachish and all the others.

He fought against Hebron, “and took it and
“smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king
“thereof,”—and it appears that several cities, their
number not named, were included in this slaughter,
for Hebron “and all the cities thereof and all the
“souls that were therein,” were utterly destroyed.

He then waged war against Debir and took it, and
more unnumbered cities with it, and all the souls that
were therein shared the same horrible fate—he did
not leave a soul alive.

And this chapter of horrors concludes with this
song of victory:

“So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and
“of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs,
“and all their kings: he left none remaining, but
“utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord
“God of Israel commanded. And Joshua smote
“them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the
“country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon. And all these
“kings and their land did Joshua take at one time,
“because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel.”
Was God, at that time, merciful?

I find, also, in the twenty-first chapter that many
Icings met, with their armies, for the purpose of
overwhelming Israel, and the Lord said unto Joshua:
“Be not afraid because of them, for to-morrow about
“this time I will deliver them all slain before Israel.
“I will hough their horses and burn their chariots
“with fire.” Were animals so treated by the com-
mand of a merciful God?

Joshua captured Razor, and smote all the souls
that were therein with the edge of the sword, there
was not one left to breathe; and he took all the
cities of all the kings that took up arms against him,
and utterly destroyed all the inhabitants thereof.
He took the cattle and spoils as prey unto himself,
and smote every man with the edge of the sword;
and not only so, but left not a human being to

I find the following directions given to the Israel-
ites who were waging a war of conquest. They are
in the twentieth chapter of Deuteronomy, from the
tenth to the eighteenth verses:

“When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight
“against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it
“shall be, if it make thee an answer of peace, and
“open unto thee, then it shall be that all the people
“that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee,
“and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no
“peace with thee, but will war against thee, then
“thou shalt besiege it. And when the Lord thy
“God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt
“smite every male thereof with the edge of the
“sword; but the women, and the little ones, and
“the cattle, and all that is in the city, even the spoil
“thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou
“shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the
“Lord thy God hath given thee. Thus shalt thou
“do unto all the cities which are very far off from
“thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.”
It will be seen from this that people could take
their choice between death and slavery, provided
these people lived a good ways from the Israelites.
Now, let us see how they were to treat the inhabit-
ants of the cities near to them:

“But of the cities of these people which the Lord
“thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou
“shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. But thou
“shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites,
“and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites,
“the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord thy God
“hath commanded thee.”

It never occurred to this merciful God to send
missionaries to these people. He built them no
schoolhouses, taught them no alphabet, gave them
no book; they were not supplied even with a copy of
the Ten Commandments. He did not say “Reform,”
but “Kill;” not “Educate,” but “Destroy.” He gave
them no Bible, built them no church, sent them no
preachers. He knew when he made them that he
would have to have them murdered. When he
created them he knew that they were not fit to live;
and yet, this is the infinite God who is infinitely
merciful and loves his children better than an earthly
mother loves her babe.

In order to find just how merciful God is, read the
twenty-eighth chapter of Deuteronomy, and see what
he promises to do with people who do not keep all of
his commandments and all of his statutes. He curses
them in their basket and store, in the fruit of their
body, in the fruit of their land, in the increase of their
cattle and sheep. He curses them in the city and in
the field, in their coming in and their going out. He
curses them with pestilence, with consumption, with
fever, with inflammation, with extreme burning, with
sword, with blasting, with mildew.


He tells them
that the heavens shall be as brass over their heads
and the earth as iron under their feet; that the rain
shall be powder and dust and shall come down on
them and destroy them; that they shall flee seven
ways before their enemies; that their carcasses shall
be meat for the fowls of the air, and the beasts of the
earth; that he will smite them with the botch of
Egypt, and with the scab, and with the itch, and with
madness and blindness and astonishment; that he
will make them grope at noonday; that they shall be
oppressed and spoiled evermore; that one shall be-
troth a wife and another shall have her; that they
shall build a house and not dwell in it; plant a vine-
yard and others shall eat the grapes; that their
sons and daughters shall be given to their enemies;
that he will make them mad for the sight of their
eyes; that he will smite them in the knees and in the
legs with a sore botch that cannot be healed, and
from the sole of the foot to the top of the head;
that they shall be a by-word among all nations; that
they shall sow much seed and gather but little; that
the locusts shall consume their crops; that they shall
plant vineyards and drink no wine,—that they shall
gather grapes, but worms shall eat them; that they
shall raise olives but have no oil; beget sons and
daughters, but they shall go into captivity; that all
the trees and fruit of the land shall be devoured by
locusts, and that all these curses shall pursue them
and overtake them, until they be destroyed; that they
shall be slaves to their enemies, and be constantly in
hunger and thirst and nakedness, and in want of all


And as though this were not enough, the
Lord tells them that he will bring a nation against
them swift as eagles, a nation fierce and savage, that
will show no mercy and no favor to old or young,
and leave them neither corn, nor wine, nor oil, nor
flocks, nor herds; and this nation shall besiege them
in their cities until they are reduced to the necessity
of eating the flesh of their own sons and daughters;
so that the men would eat their wives and their
children, and women eat their husbands and their
own sons and daughters, and their own babes.

All these curses God pronounced upon them if they
did not observe to do all the words of the law that
were written in his book.

This same merciful God threatened that he would
bring upon them all the diseases of Egypt—every
sickness and every plague; that he would scatter
them from one end of the earth to the other; that
they should find no rest; that their lives should hang
in perpetual doubt; that in the morning they would
say: Would God it were evening! and in the even-
ing, Would God it were morning! and that he would
finally take them back to Egypt where they should
be again sold for bondmen and bondwomen.

This curse, the foundation of the Anathema
; this curse, used by the pope of Rome to
prevent the spread of thought; this curse used even
by the Protestant Church; this curse born of barba-
rism and of infinite cruelty, is now said to have
issued from the lips of an infinitely merciful God. One
would suppose that Jehovah had gone insane; that
he had divided his kingdom like Lear, and from the
darkness of insanity had launched his curses upon a

In order that there may be no doubt as to the
mercy of Jehovah, read the thirteenth chapter of

“If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy
“son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or
“thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee
“secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods,
“which thou hast not known, thou nor thy fathers;
” * * * thou shalt not consent unto him, nor
“hearken unto him; neither shall thine eyes pity him,
“neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal
“him; but thou shalt surely kill him: thine hand
“shall be first upon him to put him to death, and
“afterwards the hand of all the people; and thou
“shalt stone him with stones that he die, because he
“hath sought to entice thee away from the Lord thy

This, according to Mr. Talmage, is a commandment
of the infinite God. According to him, God ordered
a man to murder his own son, his own wife, his own
brother, his own daughter, if they dared even to sug-
gest the worship of some other God than Jehovah.
For my part, it is impossible not to despise such
a God—a God not willing that one should worship
what he must. No one can control his admiration,
and if a savage at sunrise falls upon his knees and
offers homage to the great light of the East, he can-
not help it. If he worships the moon, he cannot help
it. If he worships fire, it is because he cannot control
his own spirit. A picture is beautiful to me in spite
of myself. A statue compels the applause of my
brain. The worship of the sun was an exceedingly
natural religion, and why should a man or woman be
destroyed for kneeling at the fireside of the world?

No wonder that this same God, in the very next
chapter of Deuteronomy to that quoted, says to his
chosen people: “Ye shall not eat of anything that
“dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger
“that is within thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou
“mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art a holy
“people unto the Lord thy God.”

What a mingling of heartlessness and thrift—the
religion of sword and trade!

In the seventh chapter of Deuteronomy, Jehovah
gives his own character. He tells the Israelites that
there are seven nations greater and mightier than
themselves, but that he will deliver them to his chosen
people, and that they shall smite them and utterly
destroy them; and having some fear that a drop of
pity might remain in the Jewish heart, he says:

“Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor
“show mercy unto them. * * * Know therefore
“that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God,
“which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that
“love him and keep his commandments to a thousand
“generations, and repayeth them that hate him to
“their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to
“him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.”
This is the description which the merciful, long-suffer-
ing Jehovah gives of himself.

So, he promises great prosperity to the Jews if
they will only obey his commandments, and says:
“And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness,
“and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt
“upon thee, but will lay them upon all them that
“hate thee. And thou shalt consume all the people
“which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee; thine
“eye shall have no pity upon them.”

Under the immediate government of Jehovah,
mercy was a crime. According to the law of God,
pity was weakness, tenderness was treason, kindness
was blasphemy, while hatred and massacre were

In the second chapter of Deuteronomy we find
another account tending to prove that Jehovah is a
merciful God. We find that Sihon, king of Heshbon,
would not let the Hebrews pass by him, and the
reason given is, that “the Lord God hardened his
“spirit and made his heart obstinate, that he might
“deliver him into the hand” of the Hebrews. Sihon,
his heart having been hardened by God, came out
against the chosen people, and God delivered him to
them, and “they smote him, and his sons, and all his
“people, and took all his cities, and utterly destroyed
“the men and the women, and the little ones of
“every city: they left none to remain.” And in this
same chapter this same God promises that the dread
and fear of his chosen people should be “upon all the
“nations that are under the whole heaven,” and that
“they should “tremble and be in anguish because of”
the Hebrews.

Read the thirty-first chapter of Numbers, and see
how the Midianites were slain. You will find that
“the children of Israel took all the women of Midian
“captives, and their little ones,” that they took “all
“their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods,”
that they slew all the males, and burnt all their cities
and castles with fire, that they brought the captives
and the prey and the spoil unto Moses and Eleazar
the priest; that Moses was wroth with the officers
of his host because they had saved all the women
alive, and thereupon this order was given: “Kill
“every male among the little ones, and kill every
“woman, * * * but all the women children
“keep alive for yourselves.”

After this, God himself spake unto Moses, and
said: “Take the sum of the prey that was taken,
“both of man and of beast, thou and Eleazar the
“priest * * * and divide the prey into two
“parts, between those who went to war, and between
“all the congregation, and levy a tribute unto the

“Lord, one soul of five hundred of the persons,
“and the cattle; take it of their half and give it to
“the priest for an offering * * * and of the
“children of Israel’s half, take one portion of fifty of
“the persons and the animals and give them unto
“the Levites. * * * And Moses and the priest
“did as the Lord had commanded.” It seems that
they had taken six hundred and seventy-five thou-
sand sheep, seventy-two thousand beeves, sixty-one
thousand asses, and thirty-two thousand women
children and maidens. And it seems, by the fortieth
verse, that the Lord’s tribute of the maidens was thirty-
,—the rest were given to the soldiers and to the
congregation of the Lord.

Was anything more infamous ever recorded in the
annals of barbarism? And yet we are told that the
Bible is an inspired book, that it is not a cruel book,
and that Jehovah is a being of infinite mercy.

In the twenty-fifth chapter of Numbers we find
that the Israelites had joined themselves unto Baal-
Peor, and thereupon the anger of the Lord was
kindled against them, as usual. No being ever lost
his temper more frequently than this Jehovah. Upon
this particular occasion, “the Lord said unto Moses,
“Take all the heads of the people, and hang them
“up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce
“anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.”
And thereupon “Moses said unto the judges of Israel,
“Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto

Just as soon as these people were killed, and their
heads hung up before the Lord against the sun, and
a horrible double murder of a too merciful Israelite
and a Midianitish woman, had been committed by
Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, “the plague was stayed
“from the children of Israel.” Twenty-four thousand
had died. Thereupon, “the Lord spake unto Moses
“and said”—and it is a very merciful commandment
—”Vex the Midianites and smite them.”

In the twenty-first chapter of Numbers is more evi-
dence that God is merciful and compassionate.

The children of Israel had become discouraged.
They had wandered so long in the desert that they
finally cried out: “Wherefore have ye brought us
“up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There
“is no bread, there is no water, and our soul loatheth
“this light bread.” Of course they were hungry and
thirsty. Who would not complain under similar cir-
cumstances? And yet, on account of this complaint,
the God of infinite tenderness and compassion sent
serpents among them, and these serpents bit them—
bit the cheeks of children, the breasts of maidens,
and the withered faces of age. Why would a God
do such an infamous thing? Why did he not, as the
leader of this people, his chosen children, feed them
better? Certainly an infinite God had the power
to satisfy their hunger and to quench their thirst.
He who overwhelmed a world with water, certainly
could have made a few brooks, cool and babbling,
to follow his chosen people through all their jour-
neying. He could have supplied them with miracu-
lous food.

How fortunate for the Jews that Jehovah was not
revengeful, that he was so slow to anger, so patient,
so easily pleased. What would they have done had
he been exacting, easily incensed, revengeful, cruel,
or blood-thirsty?

In the sixteenth chapter of Numbers, an account is
given of a rebellion. It seems that Korah, Dathan
and Abiram got tired of Moses and Aaron. They
thought the priests were taking a little too much
upon themselves. So Moses told them to have two
hundred and fifty of their men bring their censers
and put incense in them before the Lord, and stand
in the door of the tabernacle of the congregation
with Moses and Aaron. That being done, the Lord
appeared, and told Moses and Aaron to separate
themselves from the people, that he might consume
them all in a moment. Moses and Aaron, having a
little compassion, begged God not to kill everybody.
The people were then divided, and Dathan and
Abiram came out and stood in the door of their
tents with their wives and their sons and their little
children. And Moses said:

“Hereby ye shall know that the Lord hath sent
“me to do all these works; for I have not done them
“of my mine own mind. If these men die the
“common death of all men, or if they be visited
“after the common visitation of all men, then the
“Lord hath not sent me. But if the Lord make a
“new thing, and the earth open her mouth and
“swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them,
“and they go down quick into the pit, then ye shall
“understand that these men have provoked the
“Lord.” The moment he ceased speaking, “the
“ground clave asunder that was under them; and
“the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up,
“and their houses, and all the men that appertained
“unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that
“appertained to them went down alive into the pit,
“and the earth closed upon them, and they perished
“from among the congregation.”

This, according to Mr. Talmage, was the act of an
exceedingly merciful God, prompted by infinite kind-
ness, and moved by eternal pity. What would he
have done had he acted from motives of revenge?
What would he Jiave done had he been remorse-
lessly cruel and wicked?

In addition to those swallowed by the earth, the
two hundred and fifty men that offered the incense
were consumed by “a fire that came out from the
“Lord.” And not only this, but the same merciful
Jehovah wished to consume all the people, and he
would have consumed them all, only that Moses pre-
vailed upon Aaron to take a censer and put fire
therein from off the altar of incense and go quickly
to the congregation and make an atonement for them.
He was not quick enough. The plague had already
begun; and before he could possibly get the censers
and incense among the people, fourteen thousand and
seven hundred had died of the plague. How many
more might have died, if Jehovah had not been so
slow to anger and so merciful and tender to his
children, we have no means of knowing.

In the thirteenth chapter of the same book of
Numbers, we find that some spies were sent over
into the promised land, and that they brought back
grapes and figs and pomegranates, and reported that
the whole land was flowing with milk and honey, but
that the people were strong, that the cities were
walled, and that the nations in the promised land
were mightier than the Hebrews. They reported that
all the people they met were men of a great stature,
that they had seen “the giants, the sons of Anak
“which come of giants,” compared with whom the
Israelites were “in their own sight as grasshoppers,
“and so were we in their sight.” Entirely discour-
aged by these reports, “all the congregation lifted up
“their voice and cried, and the people wept that
“night * * * and murmured against Moses and
“against Aaron, and said unto them: Would God
“that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would
“God we had died in this wilderness!” Some of
them thought that it would be better to go back,—
that they might as well be slaves in Egypt as to be
food for giants in the promised land. They did not
want their bones crunched between the teeth of the
sons of Anak.

Jehovah got angry again, and said to Moses:
“How long will these people provoke me? * * *

“I will smite them with pestilence, and disinherit
“them.” But Moses said: Lord, if you do this,
the Egyptians will hear of it, and they will say that
you were not able to bring your people into the
promised land. Then he proceeded to flatter him by
telling him how merciful and long-suffering he had
been. Finally, Jehovah concluded to pardon the
people this time, but his pardon depended upon the
violation of his promise, for he said: “They shall
“not see the land which I sware unto their fathers,
“neither shall any of them that provoked me see it;
“but my servant Caleb, * * * him will I bring
“into the land.” And Jehovah said to the people:
“Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness, and all
“that were numbered of you according to your
“whole number, from twenty years old and upward,
“which have murmured against me, ye shall not
“come into the land concerning which I sware to
“make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of
“Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your
“little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them
“will I bring in, and they shall know the land
“which ye have despised. But as for you, your
“carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. And your
“children shall wander in the wilderness forty

“years * * * until your carcasses be wasted in
“the wilderness.”

And all this because the people were afraid of
giants, compared with whom they were but as grass-

So we find that at one time the people became
exceedingly hungry. They had no flesh to eat.
There were six hundred thousand men of war, and
they had nothing to feed on but manna. They
naturally murmured and complained, and thereupon a
wind from the Lord went forth and brought quails
from the sea, (quails are generally found in the sea,)
“and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day’s
“journey on this side, and as it were a day’s journey
“on the other side, round about the camp, and as it
“were two cubits high upon the face of the earth.
“And the people stood up all that day, and all that
“night, and all the next day, and they gathered the
“quails. * * * And while the flesh was yet be-
“tween their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of
“the Lord was kindled against the people, and the
“Lord smote the people with a very great plague.”

Yet he is slow to anger, long-suffering, merciful
and just.

In the thirty-second chapter of Exodus, is the ac-
count of the golden calf. It must be borne in mind
that the worship of this calf by the people was before
the Ten Commandments had been given to them.
Christians now insist that these commandments must
have been inspired, because no human being could
have constructed them,—could have conceived of

It seems, according to this account, that Moses had
been up in the mount with God, getting the Ten Com-
mandments, and that while he was there the people
had made the golden calf. When he came down and
saw them, and found what they had done, having in
his hands the two tables, the work of God, he cast
the tables out of his hands, and broke them beneath
the mount. He then took the calf which they had
made, ground it to powder, strewed it in the water,
and made the children of Israel drink of it. And in the
twenty-seventh verse we are told what the Lord did:
“Thus saith the Lord God of Israel: Put every man
“his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate
“to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man
“his brother, and every man his companion, and
“every man his neighbor. And the children of Levi
“did according to the word of Moses; and there fell
“of the people that day about three thousand men.”

The reason for this slaughter is thus given: “For
“Moses had said: Consecrate yourselves to-day to
“the Lord, even every man upon his son, and upon
” his brother, that he may bestow upon you a blessing
“this day.”

Now, it must be remembered that there had not
been as yet a promulgation of the commandment
u Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” This
was a punishment for the infraction of a law before
the law was known—before the commandment had
been given. Was it cruel, or unjust?

Does the following sound as though spoken by a
God of mercy: “I will make mine arrows drunk
“with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh”?
And yet this is but a small part of the vengeance and
destruction which God threatens to his enemies, as
recorded in the thirty-second chapter of the book of

In the sixty-eighth Psalm is found this merciful
passage: “That thy foot may be dipped in the blood
“of thine enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in the

So we find in the eleventh chapter of Joshua the
reason why the Canaanites and other nations made
war upon the Jews. It is as follows: “For it was of
“the Lord to harden their hearts that they should
“come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy
“them utterly, and that they might have no favor, but
“that he might destroy them.”

Read the thirtieth chapter of Exodus and you will
find that God gave to Moses a recipe for making
the oil of holy anointment, and in the thirty-second
verse we find that no one was to make any oil like it
and in the next verse it is declared that whoever
compounded any like it, or whoever put any of it on
a stranger, should be cut off from the Lord’s people.

In the same chapter, a recipe is given for per-
fumery, and it is declared that whoever shall make
any like it, or that smells like it, shall suffer death.

In the next chapter, it is decreed that if any one fails
to keep the Sabbath “he shall be surely put to death.”

There are in the Pentateuch hundreds and hun-
dreds of passages showing the cruelty of Jehovah.
What could have been more cruel than the flood?
What more heartless than to overwhelm a world?
What more merciless than to cover a shoreless sea
with the corpses of men, women and children?

The Pentateuch is filled with anathemas, with
curses, with words of vengeance, of jealousy, of
hatred, and brutality. By reason of these passages,
millions of people have plucked from their hearts the
flowers of pity and justified the murder of women
and the assassination of babes.

In the second chapter of Second Kings we find
that the prophet Elisha was on his way to a place
called Bethel, and as he was going, there came forth
little children out of the city and mocked him and
said: “Go up thou bald head; Go up thou bald
“head! And he turned back and looked on them
“and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And
“there came forth two she bears out of the wood and
“tare forty and two children of them.”

Of course he obtained his miraculous power from
Jehovah; and there must have been some communi-
cation between Jehovah and the bears. Why did the
bears come? How did they happen to be there?
Here is a prophet of God cursing children in the
name of the Lord, and thereupon these children
are torn in fragments by wild beasts.

This is the mercy of Jehovah; and yet I am told
that the Bible has nothing cruel in it; that it preaches
only mercy, justice, charity, peace; that all hearts
are softened by reading it; that the savage nature of
man is melted into tenderness and pity by it, and that
only the totally depraved can find evil in it.

And so I might go on, page after page, book after
book, in the Old Testament, and describe the cruelties
committed in accordance with the commands of

But all the cruelties in the Old Testament are ab-
solute mercies compared with the hell of the New
Testament. In the Old Testament God stops with
the grave. He seems to have been satisfied when he
saw his enemies dead, when he saw their flesh rotting
in the open air, or in the beaks of birds, or in the teeth
of wild beasts. But in the New Testament, ven-
geance does not stop with the grave. It begins there,
and stops never. The enemies of Jehovah are to be
pursued through all the ages of eternity. There is to
be no forgiveness—no cessation, no mercy, nothing
but everlasting pain.

And yet we are told that the author of hell is a
being of infinite mercy.

Second; All intelligent Christians will admit that
there are many passages in the Bible that, if found in
the Koran, they would regard as impure and immoral.

It is not necessary for me to specify the passages,
nor to call the attention of the public to such things.
I am willing to trust the judgment of every honest
reader, and the memory of every biblical student.

The Old Testament upholds polygamy. That is
infinitely impure. It sanctions concubinage. That
is impure; nothing could or can be worse. Hun-
dreds of things are publicly told that should have re-
mained unsaid. No one is made better by reading
the history of Tamar, or the biography of Lot, or
the memoirs of Noah, of Dinah, of Sarah and
Abraham, or of Jacob and Leah and Rachel and others
that I do not care to mention. No one is improved
in his morals by reading these things.

All I mean to say is, that the Bible is like other
books produced by other nations in the same stage
of civilization. What one age considers pure, the
next considers impure. What one age may consider
just, the next may look upon as infamous. Civiliza-
tion is a growth. It is continually dying, and continu-
ally being born. Old branches rot and fall, new buds
appear. It is a perpetual twilight, and a perpetual
dawn—the death of the old, and the birth of the new.

I do not say, throw away the Bible because there
are some foolish passages in it, but I say, throw away
the foolish passages. Don’t throw away wisdom
because it is found in company with folly; but do not
say that folly is wisdom, because it is found in its
company. All that is true in the Bible is true whether
it is inspired or not. All that is true did not need to
be inspired. Only that which is not true needs the
assistance of miracles and wonders. I read the Bible
as I read other books. What I believe to be good,
I admit is good; what I think is bad, I say is bad;
what I believe to be true, I say is true, and what I
believe to be false, I denounce as false.

Third. Let us see whether there are any contra-
dictions in the Bible.

A little book has been published, called “Self
“Contradictions of the Bible,” by J. P. Mendum, of
The Boston Investigator. I find many of the apparent
contradictions of the Bible noted in this book.

We all know that the Pentateuch is filled with the
commandments of God upon the subject of sacrificing
animals. We know that God declared, again and
again, that the smell of burning flesh was a sweet
savor to him. Chapter after chapter is filled with direc-
tions how to kill the beasts that were set apart for
sacrifices; what to do with their blood, their flesh and
their fat. And yet, in the seventh chapter of Jeremiah,
all this is expressly denied, in the following language:
“For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded
“them in the day that I brought them out of the land
“of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices.”

And in the sixth chapter of Jeremiah, the same
Jehovah says; “Your burnt offerings are not ac-
“ceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.”

In the Psalms, Jehovah derides the idea of
sacrifices, and says: “Will I eat of the flesh of
“bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God
“thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the Most

So I find in Isaiah the following: “Bring no more
“vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me;
“the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of as-
“semblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even
“the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your
“appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble
“to me; I am weary to bear them.” “To what
“purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me?
“saith the Lord. I am full of the burnt offerings of
“rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not
“in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
“When ye come to appear before me, who hath re-
“quired this at your hand?”

So I find in James: “Let no man say when he is
“tempted: I am tempted of God; for God cannot be
“tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man;”
and yet in the twenty-second chapter of Genesis I
find this: “And it came to pass after these things,
“that God did tempt Abraham.”

In Second Samuel we see that he tempted David.
He also tempted Job, and Jeremiah says: “O Lord,
“thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived.” To
such an extent was Jeremiah deceived, that in the
fourteenth chapter and eighteenth verse we find him
crying out to the Lord: “Wilt thou be altogether
“unto me as a liar?”

So in Second Thessalonians: “For these things
“God shall send them strong delusions, that they
“should believe a lie.”

So in First Kings, twenty-second chapter: “Behold,
“the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all
“these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil
“concerning thee.”

So in Ezekiel: “And if the prophet be deceived
“when he hath spoken a thing, I, the Lord, have de-
“ceived that prophet.”

So I find: “Thou shalt not bear false witness;”
and in the book of Revelation: “All liars shall have
“their part in the lake which burneth with fire and
“brimstone;” yet in First Kings, twenty-second
chapter, I find the following: “And the Lord said:
“Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and
“fall at Ramoth-Gilead? And one said on this
“manner, and another said on that manner. And
“there came forth a spirit and stood before the Lord,
“and said: I will persuade him. And the Lord said
“unto him: Wherewith? And he said: I will go
“forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all
“his prophets. And he said: Thou shalt persuade
“him, and prevail also. Go forth, and do so.”

In the Old Testament we find contradictory laws
about the same thing, and contradictory accounts of
the same occurrences.

In the twentieth chapter of Exodus we find the first
account of the giving of the Ten Commandments. In
the thirty-fourth chapter another account of the same
transaction is given. These two accounts could not
have been written by the same person. Read them,
and you will be forced to admit that both of them
cannot by any possibility be true. They differ in so
many particulars, and the commandments themselves
are so different, that it is impossible that both can be

So there are two histories of the creation. If you
will read the first and second chapters of Genesis,
you will find two accounts inconsistent with each
other, both of which cannot be true. The first account
ends with the third verse of the second chapter of
Genesis. By the first account, man and woman were
made at the same time, and made last of all. In the
second account, not to be too critical, all the beasts
of the field were made before Eve was, and Adam
was made before the beasts of the field; whereas in
the first account, God made all the animals before he
made Adam. In the first account there is nothing
about the rib or the bone or the side,—that is only
found in the second account. In the first account,
there is nothing about the Garden of Eden, nothing
about the four rivers, nothing about the mist that
went up from the earth and watered the whole face
of the ground; nothing said about making man from
dust; nothing about God breathing into his nostrils
the breath of life; yet according to the second ac-
count, the Garden of Eden was planted, and all the
animals were made before Eve was formed. It is
impossible to harmonize the two accounts.

So, in the first account, only the word God is
used—”God said so and so,—God did so and so.”
In the second account he is called Lord God,—”the
“Lord God formed man,”—”the Lord God caused
“it to rain,”—”the Lord God planted a garden.” It
is now admitted that the book of Genesis is made up
of two stories, and it is very easy to take them apart
and show exactly how they were put together.

So there are two stories of the flood, differing
almost entirely from each other—that is to say, so
contradictory that both cannot be true.

There are two accounts of the manner in which
Saul was made king, and the accounts are inconsistent
with each other.

Scholars now everywhere admit that the copyists
made many changes, pieced out fragments, and made
additions, interpolations, and meaningless repetitions.
It is now generally conceded that the speeches of
Elihu, in Job, were interpolated, and most of the
prophecies were made by persons whose names even
are not known.

The manuscripts of the Old Testament were not
alike. The Greek version differed from the Hebrew,
and there was no generally received text of the Old
Testament until after the beginning of the Christian
era. Marks and points to denote vowels were in-
vented probably in the seventh century after Christ;
and whether these marks and points were put in the
proper places, is still an open question. The Alex-
andrian version, or what is known as the Septuagint,
translated by seventy-two learned Jews assisted by
miraculous power, about two hundred years before
Christ, could not, it is now said, have been translated
from the Hebrew text that we now have. This can
only be accounted for by supposing that we have a
different Hebrew text. The early Christians adopted
the Septuagint and were satisfied for a time; but so
many errors were found, and so many were scanning
every word in search of something to assist their
peculiar views, that new versions were produced,
and the new versions all differed somewhat from the
Septuagint as well as from each other.


These ver-
sions were mostly in Greek. The first Latin Bible
was produced in Africa, and no one has ever found
out which Latin manuscript was original. Many were
produced, and all differed from each other. These
Latin versions were compared with each other and
with the Hebrew, and a new Latin version was made
in the fifth century, and the old ones held their own
for about four hundred years, and no one knows
which version was right. Besides, there were Ethi-
opie, Egyptian, Armenian and several other ver-
sions, all differing from each other as well as from all
others. It was not until the fourteenth century that
the Bible was translated into German, and not until
the fifteenth that Bibles were printed in the principal
languages of Europe; and most of these Bibles
differed from each other, and gave rise to endless
disputes and to almost numberless crimes.

No man in the world is learned enough, nor has
he time enough, even if he could live a thousand
years, to find what books belonged to and consti-
tuted the Old Testament. He could not ascertain
the authors of the books, nor when they were written,
nor what they mean. Until a man has sufficient
time to do all this, no one can tell whether he be-
lieves the Bible or not. It is sufficient, however, to
say that the Old Testament is filled with contradic-
tions as to the number of men slain in battle, as to
the number of years certain kings reigned, as to the
number of a woman’s children, as to dates of events,
and as to locations of towns and cities.

Besides all this, many of its laws are contradictory,
often commanding and prohibiting the same thing.

The New Testament also is filled with contradic-
tions. The gospels do not even agree upon the
terms of salvation. They do not even agree as to
the gospel of Christ, as to the mission of Christ.
They do not tell the same story regarding the be-
trayal, the crucifixion, the resurrection or the ascen-
sion of Christ. John is the only one that ever heard
of being “born again.” The evangelists do not give
the same account of the same miracles, and the
miracles are not given in the same order. They do
not agree even in the genealogy of Christ.

Fourth. Is the Bible scientific? In my judgment
it is not

It is unscientific to say that this world was “cre-
“ated that the universe was produced by an infinite
being, who had existed an eternity prior to such
“creation.” My mind is such that I cannot possibly
conceive of a “creation.” Neither can I conceive of
an infinite being who dwelt in infinite space an infi-
nite length of time.

I do not think it is scientific to say that the uni-
verse was made in six days, or that this world is only
about six thousand years old, or that man has only
been upon the earth for about six thousand years.

If the Bible is true, Adam was the first man. The
age of Adam is given, the age of his children, and
the time, according to the Bible, was kept and known
from Adam, so that if the Bible is true, man has only
been in this world about six thousand years. In my
judgment, and in the judgment of every scientific
man whose judgment is worth having or quoting,
man inhabited this earth for thousands of ages prior
to the creation of Adam. On one point the Bible is
at least certain, and that is, as to the life of Adam.
The genealogy is given, the pedigree is there, and it
is impossible to escape the conclusion that, according
to the Bible, man has only been upon this earth
about six thousand years. There is no chance there
to say “long periods of time,” or “geological ages.”
There we have the years. And as to the time of the
creation of man, the Bible does not tell the truth.

What is generally called “The Fall of Man” is
unscientific. God could not have made a moral
character for Adam. Even admitting the rest of the
story to be true, Adam certainly had to make char-
acter for himself.

The idea that there never would have been any
disease or death in this world had it not been for the
eating of the forbidden fruit is preposterously unsci-
entific. Admitting that Adam was made only six
thousand years ago, death was in the world millions of
years before that time. The old rocks are filled with re-
mains of what were once living and breathing animals.
Continents were built up with the petrified corpses of
animals. We know, therefore, that death did not enter
the world because of Adam’s sin. We know that life
and death are but successive links in an eternal chain.

So it is unscientific to say that thorns and brambles
were produced by Adam’s sin.

It is also unscientific to say that labor was pro-
nounced as a curse upon man. Labor is not a curse.
Labor is a blessing. Idleness is a curse.

It is unscientific to say that the sons of God,
living, we suppose, in heaven, fell in love with the
daughters of men, and that on account of this a
flood was sent upon the earth that covered the
highest mountains.

The whole story of the flood is unscientific, and no
scientific man worthy of the name, believes it.

Neither is the story of the tower of Babel a scien-
tific thing. Does any scientific man believe that
God confounded the language of men for fear they
would succeed in building a tower high enough to
reach to heaven?

It is not scientific to say that angels were in the
habit of walking about the earth, eating veal dressed
with butter and milk, and making bargains about the
destruction of cities.

The story of Lot’s wife having been turned into a
pillar of salt is extremely unscientific.

It is unscientific to say that people at one time lived
to be nearly a thousand years of age. The history
of the world shows that human life is lengthening
instead of shortening.

It is unscientific to say that the infinite God
wrestled with Jacob and got the better of him, put-
ting his thigh out of joint.

It is unscientific to say that God, in the likeness of
a flame of fire, inhabited a bush.

It is unscientific to say that a stick could be
changed into a living snake. Living snakes can not
be made out of sticks. There are not the necessary
elements in a stick to make a snake.

It is not scientific to say that God changed water
into blood. All the elements of blood are not in

It is unscientific to declare that dust was changed
into lice.

It is not scientific to say that God caused a thick
darkness over the land of Egypt, and yet allowed it
to be light in the houses of the Jews.

It is not scientific to say that about seventy people
could, in two hundred and fifteen years increase to
three millions.

It is not scientific to say that an infinitely good
God would destroy innocent people to get revenge
upon a king.

It is not scientific to say that slavery was once
right, that polygamy was once a virtue, and that ex-
termination was mercy.

It is not scientific to assert that a being of infinite
power and goodness went into partnership with in-
sects,—granted letters of marque and reprisal to

It is unscientific to insist that bread was really
rained from heaven.

It is not scientific to suppose that an infinite being
spent forty days and nights furnishing Moses with plans
and specifications for a tabernacle, an ark, a mercy seat,
cherubs of gold, a table, four rings, some dishes, some
spoons, one candlestick, several bowls, a few knobs,
seven lamps, some snuffers, a pair of tongs, some cur-
tains, a roof for a tent of rams’ skins dyed red, a few
boards, an altar with horns, ash pans, basins and flesh
hooks, shovels and pots and sockets of silver and
ouches of gold and pins of brass—for all of which this
God brought with him patterns from heaven.

It is not scientific to say that when a man commits
a sin, he can settle with God by killing a sheep.

It is not scientific to say that a priest, by laying
his hands on the head of a goat, can transfer the sins
of a people to the animal.

Was it scientific to endeavor to ascertain whether
a woman was virtuous or not, by compelling her to
drink water mixed with dirt from the floor of the

Is it scientific to say that a dry stick budded,
blossomed, and bore almonds; or that the ashes of a
red heifer mixed with water can cleanse us of sin;
or that a good being gave cities into the hands of the
Jews in consideration of their murdering all the in-

Is it scientific to say that an animal saw an angel,
and conversed with a man?

Is it scientific to imagine that thrusting a spear
through the body of a woman ever stayed a plague?

Is it scientific to say that a river cut itself in two
and allowed the lower end to run off?

Is it scientific to assert that seven priests blew
seven rams’ horns loud enough to blow down the
walls of a city?

Is it scientific to say that the sun stood still in the
midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down for
about a whole day, and that the moon also stayed?

Is it scientifically probable that an angel of the
Lord devoured unleavened cakes and broth with
fire that came out of the end of a stick, as he sat
under an oak tree; or that God made known his
will by letting dew fall on wool without wetting the
ground around it; or that an angel of God appeared
to Manoah in the absence of her husband, and that
this angel afterwards went up in a flame of fire, and
as the result of this visit a child was born whose
strength was in his hair?

Is it scientific to say that the muscle of a man de-
pended upon the length of his locks?

Is it unscientific to deny that water gushed from a
hollow place in a dry bone?

Is it evidence of a thoroughly scientific mind to
believe that one man turned over a house so large
that three thousand people were on its roof?

Is it purely scientific to say that a man was once
fed by the birds of the air, who brought him bread
and meat every morning and evening, and that after-
ward an angel turned cook and prepared two sup-
pers in one night, for the same prophet, who ate
enough to last him forty days and forty nights?

Is it scientific to say that a river divided because
the water had been struck with a cloak; or that a
man actually went to heaven in a chariot of fire
drawn by horses of fire; or that a being of infinite
mercy would destroy children for laughing at a bald-
headed prophet; or curse children and childrens
children with leprosy for a father’s fault; or that he
made iron float in water; or that when one corpse
touched another it came to life; or that the sun went
backward in heaven so that the shadow on a sun-
dial went back ten degrees, as a sign that a miserable
barbarian king would get well?

Is it scientific to say that the earth not only
stopped in its rotary motion, but absolutely turned
the other way,—that its motion was reversed simply
as a sign to a petty king?

Is it scientific to say that Solomon made gold and
silver at Jerusalem as plentiful as stones, when we
know that there were kings in his day who could
have thrown away the value of the whole of Palestine
without missing the amount?

Is it scientific to say that Solomon exceeded all
the kings of the earth in glory, when his country
was barren, without roads, when his people were
few, without commerce, without the arts, without the
sciences, without education, without luxuries?

According to the Bible, as long as Jehovah attended
to the affairs of the Jews, they had nothing but war,
pestilence and famine; after Jehovah abandoned them,
and the Christians ceased, in a measure, to persecute
them, the Jews became the most prosperous of people.
Since Jehovah in his anger cast them away, they have
produced painters, sculptors, scientists, statesmen,
composers, soldiers and philosophers.

It is not scientific to believe that God ever pre-
vented rain, that he ever caused famine, that he ever
sent locusts to devour the wheat and corn, that he
ever relied on pestilence for the government of man-
kind; or that he ever killed children to get even with
their parents.

It is not scientific to believe that the king of Egypt
invaded Palestine with seventy thousand horsemen
and twelve hundred chariots of war. There was not,
at that time, a road in Palestine over which a chariot
could be driven.

It is not scientific to believe that in a battle between
Jeroboam and Abijah, the army of Abijah slew in
one day five hundred thousand chosen men.

It is not scientific to believe that Zerah, the Ethio-
pian, invaded Palestine with a million of men who
were overthrown and destroyed; or that Jehoshaphat
had a standing army of nine hundred and sixty
thousand men.

It is unscientific to believe that Jehovah advertised
for a liar, as is related in Second Chronicles.

It is not scientific to believe that fire refused to
burn, or that water refused to wet.

It is not scientific to believe in dreams, in visions,
and in miracles.

It is not scientific to believe that children have
been born without fathers, that the dead have ever
been raised to life, or that people have bodily as-
cended to heaven taking their clothes with them.

It is not scientific to believe in the supernatural.
Science dwells in the realm of fact, in the realm of
demonstration. Science depends upon human ex-
perience, upon observation, upon reason.

It is unscientific to say that an innocent man can
be punished in place of a criminal, and for a criminal,
and that the criminal, on account of such punishment,
can be justified.

It is unscientific to say that a finite sin deserves
infinite punishment.

It is unscientific to believe that devils can inhabit
human beings, or that they can take possession of
swine, or that the devil could bodily take a man, or
the Son of God, and carry him to the pinnacle of a

In short, the foolish, the unreasonable, the false,
the miraculous and the supernatural are unscientific.

Question. Mr. Talmage gives his reason for
accepting the New Testament, and says: “You
“can trace it right out. Jerome and Eusebius in the
“first century, and Origen in the second century,
“gave lists of the writers of the New Testament.
“These lists correspond with our list of the writers
“of the New Testament, showing that precisely as
“we have it, they had it in the third and fourth cen-
“turies. Where did they get it? From Irenæus.
“Where did he get it? From Polycarp. Where did
“Polycarp get it? From Saint John, who was a per-
“sonal associate of Jesus. The line is just as clear
“as anything ever was clear.” How do you under-
stand this matter, and has Mr. Talmage stated the

Answer. Let us examine first the witnesses pro-
duced by Mr. Talmage. We will also call attention
to the great principle laid down by Mr. Talmage for
the examination of evidence,—that where a witness
is found false in one particular, his entire testimony
must be thrown away.

Eusebius was born somewhere about two hundred
and seventy years after Christ. After many vicissi-
tudes he became, it is said, the friend of Constantine.
He made an oration in which he extolled the virtues
of this murderer, and had the honor of sitting at the
right hand of the man who had shed the blood of his
wife and son. In the great controversy with regard
to the position that Christ should occupy in the Trinity,
he sided with Arius, “and lent himself to the perse-
“cution of the orthodox with Athanasius.” He in-
sisted that Jesus Christ was not the same as God,
and that he was not of equal power and glory. Will
Mr. Talmage admit that his witness told the truth in
this? “He would not even call the Son co-eternal
“with God.”

Eusebius must have been an exceedingly truthful
man. He declared that the tracks of Pharaoh’s chariots
were in his day visible upon the shores of the Red
Sea; that these tracks had been through all the years
miraculously preserved from the action of wind and
wave, as a supernatural testimony to the fact that
God miraculously overwhelmed Pharaoh and his

Eusebius also relates that when Joseph and Mary
arrived in Eygpt they took up their abode in Hermopolis,

a city of Thebæus, in which was the superb
temple of Serapis. When Joseph and Mary entered
the temple, not only the great idol, but all the lesser
idols fell down before him.

“It is believed by the learned Dr. Lardner, that
“Eusebius was the one guilty of the forgery in the
“passage found in Josephus concerning Christ. Un-
“blushing falsehoods and literary forgeries of the
“vilest character darkened the pages of his historical
“writings.” (Waites History.)

From the same authority I learn that Eusebius
invented an eclipse, and some earthquakes, to agree
with the account of the crucifixion. It is also be-
lieved that Eusebius quoted from works that never
existed, and that he pretended a work had been
written by Porphyry, entitled: “The Philosophy of
“Oracles,” and then quoted from it for the purpose
of proving the truth of the Christian religion.

The fact is, Eusebius was utterly destitute of truth.
He believed, as many still believe, that he could
please God by the fabrication of lies.

Irenæus lived somewhere about the end of the
second century. “Very little is known of his early
“history, and the accounts given in various biogra-
“phies are for the most part conjectural.” The
writings of Irenæus are known to us principally
through Eusebius, and we know the value of his

Now, if we are to take the testimony of Irenæus,
why not take it? He says that the ministry of Christ
lasted for twenty years, and that Christ was fifty years
old at the time of his crucifixion. He also insisted
that the “Gospel of Paul” was written by Luke, “a
“statement made to give sanction to the gospel of

Irenæus insisted that there were four gospels, that
there must be, and “he speaks frequently of these
“gospels, and argues that they should be four in
“number, neither more nor less, because there are
“four universal winds, and four quarters of the
“world;” and he might have added: because
donkeys have four legs.

These facts can be found in “The History of the
“Christian Religion to A. D. 200,” by Charles B.
Waite,—a book that Mr. Talmage ought to read.

According to Mr. Waite, Irenæus, in the thirty-
third chapter of his fifth book, Adversus Hæreses,
cites from Papias the following sayings of Christ:
“The days will come in which vines shall grow
“which shall have ten thousand branches, and on
“each branch ten thousand twigs, and in each twig
“ten thousand shoots, and in each shoot ten thousand
“clusters, and in every one of the clusters ten
“thousand grapes, and every grape when pressed
“will give five and twenty metrets of wine.” Also
that “one thousand million pounds of clear, pure, fine
“flour will be produced from one grain of wheat.”
Irenæus adds that “these things were borne witness
“to by Papias the hearer of John and the companion
“of Polycarp.”

Is it possible that the eternal welfare of a human
being depends upon believing the testimony of Poly-
carp and Irenæus? Are people to be saved or lost
on the reputation of Eusebius? Suppose a man is
firmly convinced that Polycarp knew nothing about
Saint John, and that Saint John knew nothing about
Christ,—what then? Suppose he is convinced that
Eusebius is utterly unworthy of credit,—what then?
Must a man believe statements that he has every
reason to think are false?

The question arises as to the witnesses named by
Mr. Talmage, whether they were competent to decide
as to the truth or falsehood of the gospels. We have
the right to inquire into their mental traits for the
purpose of giving only due weight to what they have

Mr. Bronson C. Keeler is the author of a book
called: “A Short History of the Bible.” I avail
myself of a few of the facts he has there collected. I
find in this book, that Irenæus, Clement and Origen
believed in the fable of the Phoenix, and insisted that
God produced the bird on purpose to prove the
probability of the resurrection of the body. Some
of the early fathers believed that the hyena changed
its sex every year. Others of them gave as a reason
why good people should eat only animals with a
cloven foot, the fact that righteous people lived not
only in this world, but had expectations in the next.
They also believed that insane people were pos-
sessed by devils; that angels ate manna; that some
angels loved the daughters of men and fell; that the
pains of women in childbirth, and the fact that ser-
pents crawl on their bellies, were proofs that the
account of the fall, as given in Genesis, is true; that
the stag renewed its youth by eating poisonous
snakes; that eclipses and comets were signs of God’s
anger; that volcanoes were openings into hell; that
demons blighted apples; that a corpse in a cemetery
moved to make room for another corpse to be placed
beside it. Clement of Alexandria believed that hail
storms, tempests and plagues were caused by demons.
He also believed, with Mr. Talmage, that the events
in the life of Abraham were typical and prophetical
of arithmetic and astronomy.

Origen, another of the witnesses of Mr. Talmage,
said that the sun, moon and stars were living crea-
tures, endowed with reason and free will, and occa-
sionally inclined to sin. That they had free will, he
proved by quoting from Job; that they were rational
creatures, he inferred from the fact that they moved.
The sun, moon and stars, according to him, were
“subject to vanity,” and he believed that they prayed
to God through his only begotten son.

These intelligent witnesses believed that the blight-
ing of vines and fruit trees, and the disease and de-
struction that came upon animals and men, were all
the work of demons; but that when they had entered
into men, the sign of the cross would drive them out.
They derided the idea that the earth is round, and
one of them said: “About the antipodes also, one
“can neither hear nor speak without laughter. It is
“asserted as something serious that we should be-
“lieve that there are men who have their feet oppo-
“site to ours. The ravings of Anaxagoras are more
“tolerable, who said that snow was black.”

Concerning these early fathers, Professor Davidson,
as quoted by Mr. Keeler, uses the following lan-
guage: “Of the three fathers who contributed
“most to the growth of the canon, Irenæus was
“credulous and blundering; Tertullian passionate
“and one-sided; and Clement of Alexandria, im-
“bued with the treasures of Greek wisdom, was
“mainly occupied with ecclesiastical ethics. Their
“assertions show both ignorance and exaggeration.”
These early fathers relied upon by Mr. Talmage,
quoted from books now regarded as apocryphal—
books that have been thrown away by the church
and are no longer considered as of the slightest
authority. Upon this subject I again quote Mr.
Keeler: “Clement quoted the ‘Gospel according to
“‘the Hebrews,’ which is now thrown away by the
“church; he also quoted from the Sibylline books
“and the Pentateuch in the same sentence. Origen
“frequently cited the Gospel of the Hebrews. Jerome
“did the same, and Clement believed in the ‘Gospel
“‘according to the Egyptians.’


The Shepherd of
“Hermas, a book in high repute in the early church,
“and one which distinctly claims to have been
“inspired, was quoted by Irenæus as Scripture.
“Clement of Alexandria said it was a divine revela-
“tion. Origen said it was divinely inspired, and
“quoted it as Holy Scripture at the same time that
“he cited the Psalms and Epistles of Paul. Jerome
“quoted the ‘Wisdom of Jesus, the Son of Sirach,’
“as divine Scripture. Origen quotes the ‘Wisdom
“of Solomon’ as the ‘Word of God’ and ‘the
“‘words of Christ himself.’ Eusebius of Cæsarea
“cites it as a * Divine Oracle,’ and St. Chrysostom
“used it as Scripture. So Eusebius quotes the
“thirteenth chapter of Daniel as Scripture, but as a
“matter of fact, Daniel has not a thirteenth chapter,—
“the church has taken it away. Clement spoke of
“the writer of the fourth book of Esdras as a prophet;
“he thought Baruch as much the word of God as
“any other book, and he quotes it as divine Scripture.
“Clement cites Barnabas as an apostle. Origen
“quotes from the Epistle of Barnabas, calls it ‘Holy
” ‘Scripture,’ and places it on a level with the Psalms
“and the Epistles of Paul; and Clement of Alexan-
“dria believed in the ‘Epistle of Barnabas,’ and the
“‘Revelation, of Peter,’ and wrote comments upon
“these holy books.”

Nothing can exceed the credulity of the early
fathers, unless it may be their ignorance. They be-
lieved everything that was miraculous. They believed
everything except the truth. Anything that really
happened was considered of no importance by them.
They looked for wonders, miracles, and monstrous
things, and—generally found them. They revelled
in the misshapen and the repulsive. They did not
think it wrong to swear falsely in a good cause.
They interpolated, forged, and changed the records to
suit themselves, for the sake of Christ. They quoted
from persons who never wrote. They misrepresented
those who had written, and their evidence is abso-
lutely worthless. They were ignorant, credulous,
mendacious, fanatical, pious, unreasonable, bigoted,
hypocritical, and for the most part, insane. Read the
book of Revelation, and you will agree with me that
nothing that ever emanated from a madhouse can
more than equal it for incoherence. Most of the
writings of the early fathers are of the same kind.

As to Saint John, the real truth is, that we know
nothing certainly of him. We do not know that he
ever lived.

We know nothing certainly of Jesus Christ. We
know nothing of his infancy, nothing of his youth,
and we are not sure that such a person ever existed.

We know nothing of Polycarp. We do not know
where he was born, or where, or how he died. We
know nothing for certain about Irenæus. All the
names quoted by Mr. Talmage as his witnesses
are surrounded by clouds and doubts, by mist and
darkness. We only know that many of their
statements are false, and do not know that any of
them are true.

Question. What do you think of the following state-
ment by Mr. Talmage: “Oh, I have to tell you that no
“man ever died for a lie cheerfully and triumphantly”?

Answer. There was a time when men “cheerfully
“and triumphantly died” in defence of the doctrine
of the “real presence” of God in the wafer and wine.
Does Mr. Talmage believe in the doctrine of “tran-
“substantiation”? Yet hundreds have died “cheer-
“fully and triumphantly” for it. Men have died for
the idea that baptism by immersion is the only
scriptural baptism. Did they die for a lie? If not,
is Mr. Talmage a Baptist?

Giordano Bruno was an atheist, yet he perished at
the stake rather than retract his opinions. He did
not expect to be welcomed by angels and by God.
He did not look for a crown of glory. He expected
simply death and eternal extinction. Does the fact
that he died for that belief prove its truth?

Thousands upon thousands have died in defence of
the religion of Mohammed. Was Mohammed an im-
postor? Thousands have welcomed death in defence
of the doctrines of Buddha. Is Buddhism true?

So I might make a tour of the world, and of all
ages of human history, and find that millions and
millions have died “cheerfully and triumphantly” in
defence of their opinions. There is not the slightest
truth in Mr. Talmage’s statement.

A little while ago, a man shot at the Czar of Russia.
On the day of his execution he was asked if he
wished religious consolation. He replied that he
believed in no religion. What did that prove? It
proved only the man’s honesty of opinion. All the
martyrs in the world cannot change, never did
change, a falsehood into a truth, nor a truth into
a falsehood. Martyrdom proves nothing but the
sincerity of the martyr and the cruelty and mean-
ness of his murderers. Thousands and thousands of
people have imagined that they knew things, that
they were certain, and have died rather than retract
their honest beliefs.

Mr. Talmage now says that he knows all about the
Old Testament, that the prophecies were fulfilled,
and yet he does not know when the prophecies were
made—whether they were made before or after the
fact. He does not know whether the destruction of
Babylon was told before it happened, or after. He
knows nothing upon the subject. He does not know
who made the pretended prophecies. He does not
know that Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or Habakkuk, or
Hosea ever lived in this world. He does not know
who wrote a single book of the Old Testament. He
knows nothing on the subject. He believes in the
inspiration of the Old Testament because ancient
cities finally fell into decay—were overrun and de-
stroyed by enemies, and he accounts for the fact that
the Jew does not lose his nationality by saying that
the Old Testament is true.

The Jews have been persecuted by the Christians,
and they are still persecuted by them; and Mr. Tal-
mage seems to think that this persecution was a part
of Gods plan, that the Jews might, by persecution,
be prevented from mingling with other nationalities,
and so might stand, through the instrumentality of
perpetual hate and cruelty, the suffering witnesses of
the divine truth of the Bible.

The Jews do not testify to the truth of the Bible,
but to the barbarism and inhumanity of Christians—
to the meanness and hatred of what we are pleased
to call the “civilized world.” They testify to the fact
that nothing so hardens the human heart as religion.

There is no prophecy in the Old Testament fore-
telling the coming of Jesus Christ. There is not one
word in the Old Testament referring to him in any
way—not one word. The only way to prove this
is to take your Bible, and wherever you find these
words: “That it might be fulfilled,” and “which
“was spoken,” turn to the Old Testament and
find what was written, and you will see that it had
not the slightest possible reference to the thing re-
counted in the New Testament—not the slightest.

Let us take some of the prophecies of the Bible,
and see how plain they are, and how beautiful they
are. Let us see whether any human being can tell
whether they have ever been fulfilled or not.

Here is a vision of Ezekiel: “I looked, and be-
“hold a whirlwind came out of the north, a great
“cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness
“was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the
“color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also
“out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four
“living creatures. And this was their appearance;
“they had the likeness of a man. And every one
“had four faces, and every one had four wings.
“And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of
“their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they
“sparkled like the color of burnished brass. And
“they had the hands of a man under their wings on
“their four sides; and they four had their faces and
“their wings. Their wings were joined one to
“another; they turned not when-they went; they
“went every one straight forward. As for the like-
“ness of their faces, they four had the face of a man,
“and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they
“four had the face of an ox on the left side; they
“four also had the face of an eagle.

“Thus were their faces: and their wings were
“stretched upward; two wings of every one were
“joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.
“And they went every one straight forward: whither
“the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not
“when they went.

“As for the likeness of the living creatures, their
“appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like
“the appearance of lamps: it went up and down
“among the living creatures; and the fire was bright,
“and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the
“living creatures ran and returned as the appearance
“of a flash of lightning.

“Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one
“wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with
“his four faces. The appearance of the wheels and
“their work was like unto the color of a beryl: and
“they four had one likeness: and their appearance
“and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle
“of a wheel. When they went, they went upon
“their four sides: and they turned not when they
“went. As for their rings, they were so high that
“they were dreadful; and their rings were full of
“eyes round about them four. And when the living
“creatures went, the wheels went by them: and
“when the living creatures were lifted up from the
“earth, the wheels were lifted up. Whithersoever
“the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their
“spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over
“against them: for the spirit of the living creature
“was in the wheels. When those went, these went;
“and when those stood, these stood; and when those
“were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were
“lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the
“living creature was in the wheels. And the like-
“ness of the firmament upon the heads of the living
“creature was as the color of the terrible crystal,
“stretched forth over their heads above. And under
“the firmament were their wings straight, the one
“toward the other; every one had two, which
“covered on this side, and every one had two,
“which covered on that side, their bodies.”

Is such a vision a prophecy? Is it calculated
to convey the slightest information? If so, what?

So, the following vision of the prophet Daniel is
exceedingly important and instructive:

“Daniel spake and said: I saw in my vision by
“night, and behold, the four winds of the heaven
“strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts
“came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
“The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings:
“I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it
“was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon
“the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to
“it. And behold another beast, a second, like to a
“bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had
“three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of
“it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much

“After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard,
“which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl;
“the beast had also four heads, and dominion was
“given to it.

“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold
“a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong ex-
“ceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured
“and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with
“the feet of it; and it was diverse from all the beasts
“that were before it, and it had ten horns. I con-
“sidered the horns, and, behold, there came up
“among them another little horn, before whom
“there were three of the first horns plucked up by
“the roots: and behold, in this horn were eyes like
“the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great

I have no doubt that this prophecy has been liter-
ally fulfilled, but I am not at present in condition to
give the time, place, or circumstances.

A few moments ago, my attention was called to
the following extract from The New York Herald of
the thirteenth of March, instant:

“At the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, Dr. Armi-
“tage took as his text, ‘A wheel in the middle of a
“‘wheel’—Ezekiel, i., 16. Here, said the preacher,
“are three distinct visions in one—the living crea-
“tures, the moving wheels and the fiery throne. We
“have time only to stop the wheels of this mystic
“chariot of Jehovah, that we may hold holy converse
“with Him who rides upon the wings of the wind.
“In this vision of the prophet we have a minute and
“amplified account of these magnificent symbols or
“hieroglyphics, this wondrous machinery which de-
“notes immense attributes and agencies and voli-
“tions, passing their awful and mysterious course of
“power and intelligence in revolution after revolu-
“tion of the emblematical mechanism, in steady and
“harmonious advancement to the object after which
“they are reaching. We are compelled to look
“upon the whole as symbolical of that tender and
“endearing providence of which Jesus spoke when
“He said, ‘The very hairs of your head are num-
“* bered.'”

Certainly, an ordinary person, not having been
illuminated by the spirit of prophecy, would never
have even dreamed that there was the slightest re-
ference in Ezekiel’s vision to anything like counting
hairs. As a commentator, the Rev. Dr. Armitage
has no equal; and, in my judgment, no rival. He
has placed himself beyond the reach of ridicule. It
is impossible to say anything about his sermon as
laughable as his sermon.

Question. Have you no confidence in any pro-
phecies? Do you take the ground that there never
has been a human being who could predict the

Answer. I admit that a man of average intelli-
gence knows that a certain course, when pursued
long enough, will bring national disaster, and it is
perfectly safe to predict the downfall of any and
every country in the world. In my judgment,
nations, like individuals, have an average life.
Every nation is mortal. An immortal nation cannot
be constructed of mortal individuals. A nation has
a reason for existing, and that reason sustains the
same relation to the nation that the acorn does to
the oak. The nation will attain its growth—other
things being equal. It will reach its manhood and
its prime, but it will sink into old age, and at last
must die. Probably, in a few thousand years, men
will be able to calculate the average life of nations,
as they now calculate the average life of persons.
There has been no period since the morning of his-
tory until now, that men did not know of dead and
dying nations. There has always been a national
cemetery. Poland is dead, Turkey is dying. In
every nation are the seeds of dissolution. Not only
nations die, but races of men. A nation is born,
becomes powerful, luxurious, at last grows weak, is
overcome, dies, and another takes its place, In this
way civilization and barbarism, like day and night,
alternate through all of history’s years.

In every nation there are at least two classes of
men: First, the enthusiastic, the patriotic, who be-
lieve that the nation will live forever,—that its flag
will float while the earth has air; Second, the owls
and ravens and croakers, who are always predicting
disaster, defeat, and death. To the last class belong
the Jeremiahs, Ezekiels, and Isaiahs of the Jews.
They were always predicting the downfall of Jeru-
salem. They revelled in defeat and captivity. They
loved to paint the horrors of famine and war. For
the most part, they were envious, hateful, misan-
thropic and unjust.

There seems to have been a war between church
and state. The prophets were endeavoring to pre-
serve the ecclesiastical power. Every king who would
listen to them, was chosen of God. He instantly
became the model of virtue, and the prophets assured
him that he was in the keeping of Jehovah. But if
the king had a mind of his own, the prophets im-
mediately called down upon him all the curses of
heaven, and predicted the speedy destruction of his

If our own country should be divided, if an empire
should rise upon the ruins of the Republic, it would
be very easy to find that hundreds and thousands of
people had foretold that very thing. If you will read
the political speeches of the last twenty-two years,
you will find prophecies to fit any possible future
state of affairs in our country. No matter what
happens, you will find that somebody predicted it.
If the city of London should lose her trade, if the
Parliament house should become the abode of moles
and bats, if “the New Zealander should sit upon the
“ruins of London Bridge,” all these things would be
simply the fulfillment of prophecy. The fall of every
nation under the sun has been predicted by hundreds
and thousands of people.

The prophecies of the Old Testament can be made
to fit anything that may happen, or that may not
happen. They will apply to the death of a king, or
to the destruction of a people,—to the loss of com-
merce, or the discovery of a continent. Each pro-
phecy is a jugglery of words, of figures, of symbols,
so put together, so used, so interpreted, that they
can mean anything, everything, or nothing.

Question. Do you see anything “prophetic” in
the fate of the Jewish people themselves? Do you
think that God made the Jewish people wanderers, so
that they might be perpetual witnesses to the truth
of the Scriptures?

Answer. I cannot believe that an infinitely good
God would make anybody a wanderer. Neither can
I believe that he would keep millions of people with-
out country and without home, and allow them to be
persecuted for thousands of years, simply that they
might be used as witnesses. Nothing could be more
absurdly cruel than this.

The Christians justify their treatment of the Jews
on the ground that they are simply fulfilling prophecy.
The Jews have suffered because of the horrid story
that their ancestors crucified the Son of God. Chris-
tianity, coming into power, looked with horror upon
the Jews, who denied the truth of the gospel. Each
Jew was regarded as a dangerous witness against
Christianity. The early Christians saw how neces-
sary it was that the people who lived in Jerusalem
at the time of Christ should be convinced that
he was God, and should testify to the miracles he
wrought. Whenever a Jew denied it, the Christian
was filled with malignity and hatred, and immediately
excited the prejudice of other Christians against the
man simply because he was a Jew. They forgot, in
their general hatred, that Mary, the mother of Christ,
was a Jewess; that Christ himself was of Jewish
blood; and with an inconsistency of which, of all
religions, Christianity alone could have been guilty,
the Jew became an object of especial hatred and

When we remember that Christianity pretends to
be a religion of love and kindness, of charity and for-
giveness, must not every intelligent man be shocked
by the persecution of the Jews? Even now, in learned
and cultivated Germany, the Jew is treated as though
he were a wild beast. The reputation of this great
people has been stained by a persecution spring-
ing only from ignorance and barbarian prejudice.
So in Russia, the Christians are anxious to shed
every drop of Jewish blood, and thousands are to-day
fleeing from their homes to seek a refuge from Chris-
tian hate. And Mr. Talmage believes that all these
persecutions are kept up by the perpetual intervention
of God, in order that the homeless wanderers of the
seed of Abraham may testify to the truth of the Old
and New Testaments. He thinks that every burning
Jewish home sheds light upon the gospel,—that
every gash in Jewish flesh cries out in favor of the
Bible,—that every violated Jewish maiden shows the
interest that God still takes in the preservation of
his Holy Word.

I am endeavoring to do away with religious
prejudice. I wish to substitute humanity for super-
stition, the love of our fellow-men, for the fear of
God. In the place of ignorant worship, let us put
good deeds. We should be great enough and grand
enough to know that the rights of the Jew are pre-
cisely the same as our own. We cannot trample
upon their rights, without endangering our own; and
no man who will take liberty from another, is great
enough to enjoy liberty himself.

Day by day Christians are laying the foundation
of future persecution. In every Sunday school little
children are taught that Jews killed the God of this
universe. Their little hearts are filled with hatred
against the Jewish people. They are taught as a
part of the creed to despise the descendants of the
only people with whom God is ever said to have had
any conversation whatever.

When we take into consideration what the Jewish
people have suffered, it is amazing that every one of
them does not hate with all his heart and soul and
strength the entire Christian world. But in spite of
the persecutions they have endured, they are to-day,
where they are permitted to enjoy reasonable liberty,
the most prosperous people on the globe. The idea
that their condition shows, or tends to show, that

upon them abides the wrath of Jehovah, cannot be
substantiated by the facts.

The Jews to-day control the commerce of the
world. They control the money of the world. It is
for them to say whether nations shall or shall not go
to war. They are the people of whom nations borrow
money. To their offices kings come with their hats
in their hands. Emperors beg them to discount their
notes. Is all this a consequence of the wrath of

We find upon our streets no Jewish beggars. It is
a rare sight to find one of these people standing as
a criminal before a court. They do not fill our alms-
houses, nor our penitentiaries, nor our jails. In-
tellectually and morally they are the equal of any
people. They have become illustrious in every de-
partment of art and science. The old cry against
them is at last perceived to be ignorant. Only a few
years ago, Christians would rob a Jew, strip him of
his possessions, steal his money, declare him an out-
cast, and drive him forth. Then they would point
to him as a fulfillment of prophecy.

If you wish to see the difference between some
Jews and some Christians, compare the addresses of
Felix Adler with the sermons of Mr. Talmage.

I cannot convince myself that an infinitely good
and wise God holds a Jewish babe in the cradle of
to-day responsible for the crimes of Caiaphas the
high priest. I hardly think that an infinitely good
being would pursue this little babe through all its life
simply to get revenge on those who died two thou-
sand years ago. An infinite being ought certainly to
know that the child is not to blame; and an infinite
being who does not know this, is not entitled to the
love or adoration of any honest man.

There is a strange inconsistency in what Mr. Tal-
mage says. For instance, he finds great fault with
me because I do not agree with the religious ideas
of my father; and he finds fault equally with the
Jews who do. The Jews who were true to the re-
ligion of their fathers, according to Mr. Talmage,
have been made a by-word and a hissing and a re-
proach among all nations, and only those Jews were
fortunate and blest who abandoned the religion of
their fathers. The real reason for this inconsistency
is this: Mr. Talmage really thinks that a man can
believe as he wishes. He imagines that evidence de-
pends simply upon volition; consequently, he holds
every one responsible for his belief. Being satisfied
that he has the exact truth in this matter, he meas-
ures all other people by his standard, and if they
fail by that measurement, he holds them personally
responsible, and believes that his God does the same.
If Mr. Talmage had been born in Turkey, he would
in all probability have been a Mohammedan, and
would now be denouncing some man who had denied
the inspiration of the Koran, as the “champion blas-
“phemer” of Constantinople. Certainly he would
have been, had his parents been Mohammedans;
because, according to his doctrine, he would have
been utterly lacking in respect and love for his father
and mother had he failed to perpetuate their errors.
So, had he been born in Utah, of Mormon parents,
he would now have been a defender of polygamy.
He would not “run the ploughshare of contempt
“through the graves of his parents,” by taking the
ground that polygamy is wrong.

I presume that all of Mr. Talmage’s forefathers
were not Presbyterians. There must have been
a time when one of his progenitors left the faith of
his father, and joined the Presbyterian Church. Ac-
cording to the reasoning of Mr. Talmage, that particular
progenitor was an exceedingly bad man; but had it
not been for the crime of that bad man, Mr. Talmage
might not now have been on the road to heaven.

I hardly think that all the inventors, the thinkers,
the philosophers, the discoverers, dishonored their
parents. Fathers and mothers have been made
immortal by such sons. And yet these sons demon-
strated the errors of their parents. A good father
wishes to be excelled by his children.


It is a contradiction in terms and ideas to call
anything a revelation that comes to us at second-
hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is
necessarily limited to the first communication—
after this, it is only an account of something
which that person says was a revelation made to
him; and though he may find himself obliged to
believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to
believe it in the same manner; for it was not a
revelation made to me, and I have only his word
for it that it was made to him.—Thomas Paine.

Question. What do you think of the argu-
ments presented by Mr. Talmage in favor of
the inspiration of the Bible?

Answer. Mr. Talmage takes the ground that
there are more copies of the Bible than of any
other book, and that consequently it must be in-

It seems to me that this kind of reasoning proves
entirely too much. If the Bible is the inspired word
of God, it was certainly just as true when there was
only one copy, as it is to-day; and the facts con-
tained in it were just as true before they were
written, as afterwards. We all know that it is a fact
in human nature, that a man can tell a falsehood so
often that he finally believes it himself; but I never
suspected, until now, that a mistake could be printed
enough times to make it true.

There may have been a time, and probably there
was, when there were more copies of the Koran
than of the Bible. When most Christians were ut-
terly ignorant, thousands of Moors were educated;
and it is well known that the arts and sciences
flourished in Mohammedan countries in a far greater
degree than in Christian. Now, at that time, it may
be that there were more copies of the Koran than of
the Bible. If some enterprising Mohammedan had
only seen the force of such a fact, he might have
established the inspiration of the Koran beyond
a doubt; or, if it had been found by actual count that
the Koran was a little behind, a few years of in-
dustry spent in the multiplication of copies, might
have furnished the evidence of its inspiration.

Is it not simply amazing that a doctor of divinity,
a Presbyterian clergyman, in this day and age, should
seriously rely upon the number of copies of the Bible
to substantiate the inspiration of that book? Is it
possible to conceive of anything more fig-leaflessly
absurd? If there is anything at all in this argument,
it is, that all books are true in proportion to the
number of copies that exist. Of course, the same
rule will work with newspapers; so that the news-
paper having the largest circulation can consistently
claim infallibility. Suppose that an exceedingly absurd
statement should appear in The New York Herald,
and some one should denounce it as utterly without
any foundation in fact or probability; what would
Mr. Talmage think if the editor of the Herald, as an
evidence of the truth of the statement, should rely
on the fact that his paper had the largest circulation
of any in the city? One would think that the whole
church had acted upon the theory that a falsehood re-
peated often enough was as good as the truth.

Another evidence brought forward by the reverend
gentleman to prove the inspiration of the Scriptures,
is the assertion that if Congress should undertake to
pass a law to take the Bible from the people, thirty,
millions would rise in defence of that book.

This argument also seems to me to prove too much,
and as a consequence, to prove nothing. If Con-
gress should pass a law prohibiting the reading of
Shakespeare, every American would rise in defence
of his right to read the works of the greatest man
this world has known. Still, that would not even
tend to show that Shakespeare was inspired. The
fact is, the American people would not allow Con-
gress to pass a law preventing them from reading
any good book. Such action would not prove the
book to be inspired; it would prove that the American
people believe in liberty.

There are millions of people in Turkey who would
peril their lives in defence of the Koran. A fact like
this does not prove the truth of the Koran; it simply
proves what Mohammedans think of that book, and
what they are willing to do for its preservation.

It can not be too often repeated, that martyrdom
does not prove the truth of the thing for which the
martyr dies; it only proves the sincerity of the martyr
and the cruelty of his murderers. No matter how
many people regard the Bible as inspired,—that fact
furnishes no evidence that it is inspired. Just as many
people have regarded other books as inspired; just as
many millions have been deluded about the inspiration
of books ages and ages before Christianity was born.

The simple belief of one man, or of millions of men,
is no evidence to another. Evidence must be based,
not upon the belief of other people, but upon facts.
A believer may state the facts upon which his belief
is founded, and the person to whom he states them
gives them the weight that according to the con-
struction and constitution of his mind he must. But
simple, bare belief is not testimony. We should build
upon facts, not upon beliefs of others, nor upon the
shifting sands of public opinion. So much for this

The next point made by the reverend gentleman
is, that an infidel cannot be elected to any office in
the United States, in any county, precinct, or ward.

For the sake of the argument, let us admit that this
is true. What does it prove? There was a time
when no Protestant could have been elected to any
office. What did that prove? There was a time
when no Presbyterian could have been chosen to fill
any public station. What did that prove? The
same may be said of the members of each religious
denomination. What does that prove?

Mr. Talmage says that Christianity must be true,
because an infidel cannot be elected to office. Now,
suppose that enough infidels should happen to settle
in one precinct to elect one of their own number to
office; would that prove that Christianity was not
true in that precinct? There was a time when no
man could have been elected to any office, who in-

sisted on the rotundity of the earth; what did that
prove? There was a time when no man who denied
the existence of witches, wizards, spooks and devils,
could hold any position of honor; what did that
prove? There was a time when an abolitionist could
not be elected to office in any State in this Union;
what did that prove? There was a time when they
were not allowed to express their honest thoughts;
what does that prove? There was a time when a
Quaker could not have been elected to any office;
there was a time in the history of this country when
but few of them were allowed to live; what does
that prove? Is it necessary, in order to ascertain the
truth of Christianity, to look over the election re-
turns? Is “inspiration” a question to be settled by
the ballot? I admit that it was once, in the first
place, settled that way. I admit that books were
voted in and voted out, and that the Bible was finally
formed in accordance with a vote; but does Mr.
Talmage insist that the question is not still open?
Does he not know, that a fact cannot by any possi-
bility be affected by opinion? We make laws for
the whole people, by the whole people. We agree
that a majority shall rule, but nobody ever pretended
that a question of taste could be settled by an appeal
to majorities, or that a question of logic could be
affected by numbers. In the world of thought, each
man is an absolute monarch, each brain is a king-
dom, that cannot be invaded even by the tyranny of

No man can avoid the intellectual responsibility of
deciding for himself.

Suppose that the Christian religion had been put
to vote in Jerusalem? Suppose that the doctrine of
the “fall” had been settled in Athens, by an appeal
to the people, would Mr. Talmage have been willing
to abide by their decision? If he settles the inspira-
tion of the Bible by a popular vote, he must settle the
meaning of the Bible by the same means. There are
more Methodists than Presbyterians—why does the
gentleman remain a Presbyterian? There are more
Buddhists than Christians—why does he vote against
majorities? He will remember that Christianity was
once settled by a popular vote—that the divinity of
Christ was submitted to the people, and the people
said: “Crucify him!”

The next, and about the strongest, argument Mr.
Talmage makes is, that I am an infidel because I was
defeated for Governor of Illinois.

When put in plain English, his statement is this:
that I was defeated because I was an infidel, and that
I am an infidel because I was defeated. This, I be-
lieve, is called reasoning in a circle. The truth is,
that a good many people did object to me because I
was an infidel, and the probability is, that if I had
denied being an infidel, I might have obtained an
office. The wonderful part is, that any Christian
should deride me because I preferred honor to po-
litical success. He who dishonors himself for the
sake of being honored by others, will find that two
mistakes have been made—one by himself, and the
other, by the people.

I presume that Mr.Talmage really thinks that I was
extremely foolish to avow my real opinions. After
all, men are apt to judge others somewhat by them-
selves. According to him, I made the mistake of
preserving my manhood and losing an office. Now,
if I had in fact been an infidel, and had denied it, for
the sake of position, then I admit that every Christian
might have pointed at me the finger of contempt.
But I was an infidel, and admitted it. Surely, I should
not be held in contempt by Christians for having
made the admission. I was not a believer in the
Bible, and I said so. I was not a Christian, and I said
so. I was not willing to receive the support of any
man under a false impression. I thought it better to
be honestly beaten, than to dishonestly succeed.
According to the ethics of Mr. Talmage I made a
mistake, and this mistake is brought forward as
another evidence of the inspiration of the Scriptures.
If I had only been elected Governor of Illinois,—that
is to say, if I had been a successful hypocrite, I might
now be basking in the sunshine of this gentleman’s
respect. I preferred to tell the truth—to be an
honest man,—and I have never regretted the course
I pursued.

There are many men now in office who, had they
pursued a nobler course, would be private citizens.
Nominally, they are Christians; actually, they are
nothing; and this is the combination that generally
insures political success.

Mr. Talmage is exceedingly proud of the fact that
Christians will not vote for infidels. In other words,
he does not believe that in our Government the
church has been absolutely divorced from the state.
He believes that it is still the Christian’s duty to
make the religious test. Probably he wishes to get
his God into the Constitution. My position is this:

Religion is an individual matter—a something for
each individual to settle for himself, and with which
no other human being has any concern, provided the
religion of each human being allows liberty to every
other. When called upon to vote for men to fill the
offices of this country, I do not inquire as to the re-
ligion of the candidates. It is none of my business.
I ask the questions asked by Jefferson: “Is he
“honest; is he capable?” It makes no difference to
me, if he is willing that others should be free, what
creed he may profess. The moment I inquire into his
religious belief, I found a little inquisition of my own;
I repeat, in a small way, the errors of the past, and
reproduce, in so far as I am capable, the infamy of
the ignorant orthodox years.

Mr. Talmage will accept my thanks for his frankness.
I now know what controls a Presbyterian when he
casts his vote. He cares nothing for the capacity,
nothing for the fitness, of the candidate to discharge
the duties of the office to which he aspires; he
simply asks: Is he a Presbyterian, is he a Protestant,
does he believe our creed? and then, no matter how
ignorant he may be, how utterly unfit, he receives the
Presbyterian vote. According to Mr. Talmage, he
would vote for a Catholic who, if he had the power,
would destroy all liberty of conscience, rather than
vote for an infidel who, had he the power, would

destroy all the religious tyranny of the world, and
allow every human being to think for himself, and
to worship God, or not, as and how he pleased.

Mr. Talmage makes the serious mistake of placing
the Bible above the laws and Constitution of his
country. He places Jehovah above humanity. Such
men are not entirely safe citizens of any republic.
And yet, I am in favor of giving to such men all the
liberty I ask for myself, trusting to education and the
spirit of progress to overcome any injury they may
do, or seek to do.

When this country was founded, when the Con-
stitution was adopted, the churches agreed to let the
State alone. They agreed that all citizens should have
equal civil rights. Nothing could be more dangerous
to the existence of this Republic than to introduce
religion into politics. The American theory is, that
governments are founded, not by gods, but by men,
and that the right to govern does not come from
God, but “from the consent of the governed.” Our
fathers concluded that the people were sufficiently
intelligent to take care of themselves—to make good
laws and to execute them. Prior to that time, all
authority was supposed to come from the clouds.
Kings were set upon thrones by God, and it was the
business of the people simply to submit. In all really
civilized countries, that doctrine has been abandoned.
The source of political power is here, not in heaven.
We are willing that those in heaven should control
affairs there; we are willing that the angels should
have a government to suit themselves; but while we
live here, and while our interests are upon this earth,
we propose to make and execute our own laws.

If the doctrine of Mr. Talmage is the true doctrine,
if no man should be voted for unless he is a Christian,
then no man should vote unless he is a Christian. It
will not do to say that sinners may vote, that an infidel
may be the repository of political power, but must not
be voted for. A decent Christian who is not willing
that an infidel should be elected to an office, would
not be willing to be elected to an office by infidel
votes. If infidels are too bad to be voted for, they
are certainly not good enough to vote, and no
Christian should be willing to represent such an
infamous constituency.

If the political theory of Mr. Talmage is carried
out, of course the question will arise in a little while,
What is a Christian? It will then be necessary to
write a creed to be subscribed by every person before
he is fit to vote or to be voted for. This of course
must be done by the State, and must be settled,
under our form of government, by a majority vote.
Is Mr. Talmage willing that the question, What is
Christianity? should be so settled? Will he pledge
himself in advance to subscribe to such a creed? Of
course he will not. He will insist that he has the
right to read the Bible for himself, and that he must
be bound by his own conscience. In this he would
be right. If he has the right to read the Bible for
himself, so have I. If he is to be bound by his con-
science, so am I. If he honestly believes the Bible to
be true, he must say so, in order to preserve his man-
hood; and if I honestly believe it to be uninspired,—
filled with mistakes,—I must say so, or lose my man-
hood. How infamous I would be should I endeavor
to deprive him of his vote, or of his right to be voted
for, because he had been true to his conscience! And
how infamous he is to try to deprive me of the right
to vote, or to be voted for, because I am true to my

When we were engaged in civil war, did Mr. Tal-
mage object to any man’s enlisting in the ranks who
was not a Christian? Was he willing, at that time,
that sinners should vote to keep our flag in heaven?
Was he willing that the “unconverted” should cover
the fields of victory with their corpses, that this nation
might not die? At the same time, Mr. Talmage
knew that every “unconverted” soldier killed, went
down to eternal fire. Does Mr. Talmage believe that
it is the duty of a man to fight for a government in
which he has no rights? Is the man who shoulders
his musket in the defence of human freedom good
enough to cast a ballot? There is in the heart of this
priest the safne hatred of real liberty that drew the
sword of persecution, that built dungeons, that forged
chains and made instruments of torture.

Nobody, with the exception of priests, would be
willing to trust the liberties of this country in the
hands of any church. In order to show the political
estimation in which the clergy are held, in order to
show the confidence the people at large have in the
sincerity and wisdom of the clergy, it is sufficient to
state, that no priest, no bishop, could by any possi-
bility be elected President of the United States. No
party could carry that load. A fear would fall upon
the mind and heart of every honest man that this
country was about to drift back to the Middle Ages,
and that the old battles were to be refought. If the
bishop running for President was of the Methodist
Church, every other church would oppose him. If
he was a Catholic, the Protestants would as a body
combine against him. Why? The churches have
no confidence in each other. Why? Because they
are acquainted with each other.

As a matter of fact, the infidel has a thousand
times more reason to vote against the Christian,
than the Christian has to vote against the infidel.
The Christian believes in a book superior to the
Constitution—superior to all Constitutions and all
laws. The infidel believes that the Constitution and
laws are superior to any book. He is not controlled
by any power beyond the seas or above the clouds.
He does not receive his orders from Rome, or Sinai.
He receives them from his fellow-citizens, legally and
constitutionally expressed. The Christian believes in
a power greater than man, to which, upon the peril
of eternal pain, he must bow. His allegiance, to say
the best of it, is divided. The Christian puts the for-
tune of his own soul over and above the temporal
welfare of the entire world; the infidel puts the good
of mankind here and now, beyond and over all.

There was a time in New England when only
church members were allowed to vote, and it may be
instructive to state the fact that during that time
Quakers were hanged, women were stripped, tied to
carts, and whipped from town to town, and their
babes sold into slavery, or exchanged for rum. Now
in that same country, thousands and thousands of
infidels vote, and yet the laws are nearer just, women
are not whipped and children are not sold.

If all the convicts in all the penitentiaries of the
United States could be transported to some island in
the sea, and there allowed to make a government for
themselves, they would pass better laws than John
Calvin did in Geneva. They would have clearer and
better views of the rights of men, than unconvicted
Christians used to have. I do not say that these
convicts are better people, but I do say that, in my
judgment, they would make better laws. They cer-
tainly could not make worse.

If these convicts were taken from the prisons of
the United States, they would not dream of uniting
church and state. They would have no religious
test. They would allow every man to vote and to be
voted for, no matter what his religious views might
be. They would not dream of whipping Quakers, of
burning Unitarians, of imprisoning or burning Uni-
versalists or infidels. They would allow all the people
to guess for themselves. Some of these convicts, of
course, would believe in the old ideas, and would
insist upon the suppression of free thought. Those
coming from Delaware would probably repeat with
great gusto the opinions of Justice Comegys, and
insist that the whipping-post was the handmaid of

It would be hard to conceive of a much worse
government than that founded by the Puritans.
They took the Bible for the foundation of their
political structure. They copied the laws given to
Moses from Sinai, and the result was one of the
worst governments that ever disgraced this world.
They believed the Old Testament to be inspired.
They believed that Jehovah made laws for all people
and for all time. They had not learned the hypoc-
risy that believes and avoids. They did not say:
This law was once just, but is now unjust; it was
once good, but now it is infamous; it was given by
God once, but now it can only be obeyed by the
devil. They had not reached the height of biblical
exegesis on which we find the modern theologian
perched, and who tells us that Jehovah has reformed.
The Puritans were consistent. They did what people
must do who honestly believe in the inspiration of
the Old Testament. If God gave laws from Sinai
what right have we to repeal them?

As people have gained confidence in each other,
they have lost confidence in the sacred Scriptures.
We know now that the Bible can not be used as the
foundation of government. It is capable of too many
meanings. Nobody can find out exactly what it
upholds, what it permits, what it denounces, what it
denies. These things depend upon what part you
read. If it is all true, it upholds everything bad and
denounces everything good, and it also denounces
the bad and upholds the good. Then there are
passages where the good is denounced and the bad
commanded; so that any one can go to the Bible
and find some text, some passage, to uphold anything
he may desire. If he wishes to enslave his fellow-
men, he will find hundreds of passages in his favor.
If he wishes to be a polygamist, he can find his
authority there. If he wishes to make war, to exter-
minate his neighbors, there his warrant can be found.
If, on the other hand, he is oppressed himself, and
wishes to make war upon his king, he can find a
battle-cry. And if the king wishes to put him down,
he can find text for text on the other side. So, too,
upon all questions of reform. The teetotaler goes
there to get his verse, and the moderate drinker
finds within the sacred lids his best excuse.

Most intelligent people are now convinced that the
bible is not a guide; that in reading it you must
exercise your reason; that you can neither safely
reject nor accept all; that he who takes one passage
for a staff, trips upon another; that while one text is
a light, another blows it out; that it is such a ming-
ling of rocks and quicksands, such a labyrinth of
clews and snares—so few flowers among so many
nettles and thorns, that it misleads rather than di-
rects, and taken altogether, is a hindrance and not
a help.

Another important point made by Mr. Talmage is,
that if the Bible is thrown away, we will have nothing
left to swear witnesses on, and that consequently the
administration of justice will become impossible.

There was a time when the Bible did not exist, and
if Mr. Talmage is correct, of course justice was im-
possible then, and truth must have been a stranger
to human lips. How can we depend upon the testi-
mony of those who wrote the Bible, as there was no
Bible in existence while they were writing, and con-
sequently there was no way to take their testimony,
and we have no account of their having been sworn
on the Bible after they got it finished. It is extremely
sad to think that all the nations of antiquity were left
entirely without the means of eliciting truth. No
wonder that Justice was painted blindfolded.

What perfect fetichism it is, to imagine that a man
will tell the truth simply because he has kissed an
old piece of sheepskin stained with the saliva of all
classes. A farce of this kind adds nothing to the
testimony of an honest man; it simply allows a rogue
to give weight to his false testimony. This is really
the only result that can be accomplished by kissing
the Bible. A desperate villain, for the purpose of
getting revenge, or making money, will gladly go
through the ceremony, and ignorant juries and su-
perstitious judges will be imposed upon. The whole
system of oaths is false, and does harm instead of
good. Let every man walk into court and tell his
story, and let the truth of the story be judged by its
reasonableness, taking into consideration the charac-
ter of the witness, the interest he has, and the posi-
tion he occupies in the controversy, and then let it
be the business of the jury to ascertain the real truth
—to throw away the unreasonable and the impossi-
ble, and make up their verdict only upon what they
believe to be reasonable and true. An honest man
does not need the oath, and a rascal uses it simply
to accomplish his purpose. If the history of courts
proved that every man, after kissing the Bible, told
the truth, and that those who failed to kiss it some-
times lied, I should be in favor of swearing all people
on the Bible; but the experience of every lawyer is,
that kissing the Bible is not always the preface of a
true story. It is often the ceremonial embroidery
of a falsehood.

If there is an infinite God who attends to the
affairs of men, it seems to me almost a sacrilege to
publicly appeal to him in every petty trial. If one
will go into any court, and notice the manner in
which oaths are administered,—the utter lack of
solemnity—the matter-of-course air with which the
whole thing is done, he will be convinced that it is a
form of no importance. Mr. Talmage would probably
agree with the judge of whom the following story is

A witness was being sworn. The judge noticed
that he was not holding up his hand. He said to the
clerk: “Let the witness hold up his right hand.”
“His right arm was shot off,” replied the clerk. “Let
“him hold up his left, then.” “That was shot off, too,
“your honor.” “Well, then, let him raise one foot;
“no man can be sworn in this court without holding
“something up.”

My own opinion is, that if every copy of the Bible
in the world were destroyed, there would be some
way to ascertain the truth in judicial proceedings;
and any other book would do just as well to swear
witnesses upon, or a block in the shape of a book
covered with some kind of calfskin could do equally
well, or just the calfskin would do. Nothing is more
laughable than the performance of this ceremony,
and I have never seen in court one calf kissing the
skin of another, that I did not feel humiliated that
such things were done in the name of Justice.

Mr. Talmage has still another argument in favor
of the preservation of the Bible. He wants to
know what book could take its place on the centre-

I admit that there is much force in this. Suppose
we all admitted the Bible to be an uninspired book,
it could still be kept on the centre-table. It would
be just as true then as it is now. Inspiration can not
add anything to a fact; neither can inspiration make
the immoral moral, the unjust just, or the cruel merci-
ful. If it is a fact that God established human slavery,
that does not prove slavery to be right; it simply
shows that God was wrong. If I have the right to
use my reason in determining whether the Bible is

inspired or not, and if in accordance with my reason
I conclude that it is inspired, I have still the right to
use my reason in determining whether the command-
ments of God are good or bad. Now, suppose we
take from the Bible every word upholding slavery,
every passage in favor of polygamy, every verse
commanding soldiers to kill women and children, it
would be just as fit for the centre-table as now. Sup-
pose every impure word was taken from it; suppose
that the history of Tamar was left out, the biography
of Lot, and all other barbarous accounts of a barbarous
people, it would look just as well upon the centre-
table as now.

Suppose that we should become convinced that
the writers of the New Testament were mistaken as
to the eternity of punishment, or that all the passages
now relied upon to prove the existence of perdition
were shown to be interpolations, and were thereupon
expunged, would not the book be dearer still to
every human being with a heart? I would like to
see every good passage in the Bible preserved. I
would like to see, with all these passages from the
Bible, the loftiest sentiments from all other books
that have ever been uttered by men in all ages and
of all races, bound in one volume, and to see that
volume, filled with the greatest, the purest and the
best, become the household book.

The average Bible, on the average centre-table, is
about as much used as though it were a solid block.
It is scarcely ever opened, and people who see its
covers every day are unfamiliar with its every page.

I admit that some things have happened some-
what hard to explain, and tending to show that the
Bible is no ordinary book. I heard a story, not long
ago, bearing upon this very subject.

A man was a member of the church, but after a
time, having had bad luck in business affairs, became
somewhat discouraged. Not feeling able to con-
tribute his share to the support of the church, he
ceased going to meeting, and finally became an
average sinner. His bad luck pursued him until he
found himself and his family without even a crust to
eat. At this point, his wife told him that she be-
lieved they were suffering from a visitation of God,
and begged him to restore family worship, and see if
God would not do something for them. Feeling that
he could not possibly make matters worse, he took
the Bible from its resting place on a shelf where
it had quietly slumbered and collected the dust of
many months, and gathered his family about him.

He opened the sacred volume, and to his utter as-
tonishment, there, between the divine leaves, was a
ten-dollar bill. He immediately dropped on his
knees. His wife dropped on hers, and the children on
theirs, and with streaming eyes they returned thanks
to God. He rushed to the butcher’s and bought
some steak, to the baker’s and bought some bread,
to the grocer’s and got some eggs and butter and tea,
and joyfully hastened home. The supper was cooked,
it was on the table, grace was said, and every face
was radiant with joy. Just at that happy moment a
knock was heard, the door was opened, and a police-
man entered and arrested the father for passing
counterfeit money.

Mr. Talmage is also convinced that the Bible is
inspired and should be preserved because there is no
other book that à mother could give her son as he
leaves the old home to make his way in the world.

Thousands and thousands of mothers have pre-
sented their sons with Bibles without knowing really
what the book contains. They simply followed the
custom, and the sons as a rule honored the Bible, not
because they knew anything of it, but because it was
a gift from mother. But surely, if all the passages
upholding polygamy were out, the mother would give
the book to her son just as readily, and he would re-
ceive it just as joyfully. If there were not one word
in it tending to degrade the mother, the gift would cer-
tainly be as appropriate. The fact that mothers have
presented Bibles to their sons does not prove that the
book is inspired. The most that can be proved by
this fact is that the mothers believed it to be inspired.
It does not even tend to show what the book is,
neither does it tend to establish the truth of one
miracle recorded upon its pages. We cannot believe
that fire refused to burn, simply because the state-
ment happens to be in a book presented to a son by
his mother, and if all the mothers of the entire world
should give Bibles to all their children, this would not
prove that it was once right to murder mothers, or to
enslave mothers, or to sell their babes.

The inspiration of the Bible is not a question of
natural affection. It can not be decided by the love
a mother bears her son. It is a question of fact, to
be substantiated like other facts. If the Turkish
mother should give a copy of the Koran to her
son, I would still have my doubts about the in-
spiration of that book; and if some Turkish soldier
saved his life by having in his pocket a copy of
the Koran that accidentally stopped a bullet just
opposite his heart, I should still deny that Mohammed
was a prophet of God.

Nothing can be more childish than to ascribe
mysterious powers to inanimate objects. To imagine
that old rags made into pulp, manufactured into
paper, covered with words, and bound with the skin
of a calf or a sheep, can have any virtues when thus
put together that did not belong to the articles out
of which the book was constructed, is of course
infinitely absurd.

In the days of slavery, negroes used to buy dried
roots of other negroes, and put these roots in their
pockets, so that a whipping would not give them
pain. Kings have bought diamonds to give them
luck. Crosses and scapularies are still worn for the
purpose of affecting the inevitable march of events.
People still imagine that a verse in the Bible can step
in between a cause and its effect; really believe that
an amulet, a charm, the bone of some saint, a piece
of a cross, a little image of the Virgin, a picture of a
priest, will affect the weather, will delay frost, will
prevent disease, will insure safety at sea, and in some
cases prevent hanging. The banditti of Italy have
great confidence in these things, and whenever they
start upon an expedition of theft and plunder, they

take images and pictures of saints with them, such
as have been blest by a priest or pope. They pray
sincerely to the Virgin, to give them luck, and see not
the slightest inconsistency in appealing to all the
saints in the calendar to assist them in robbing honest

Edmund About tells a story that illustrates the belief
of the modern Italian. A young man was gambling.
Fortune was against him. In the room was a little
picture representing the Virgin and her child. Before
this picture he crossed himself, and asked the assist-
ance of the child. Again he put down his money
and again lost. Returning to the picture, he told the
child that he had lost all but one piece, that he was
about to hazard that, and made a very urgent request
that he would favor him with divine assistance. He
put down the last piece. He lost. Going to the
picture and shaking his fist at the child, he cried out:
“Miserable bambino, I am glad they crucified you!”

The confidence that one has in an image, in a relic,
in a book, comes from the same source,—fetichism.
To ascribe supernatural virtues to the skin of a snake,
to a picture, or to a bound volume, is intellectually
the same.

Mr. Talmage has still another argument in favor
of the inspiration of the Scriptures. He takes the
ground that the Bible must be inspired, because so
many people believe it.

Mr. Talmage should remember that a scientific
fact does not depend upon the vote of numbers;—
it depends simply upon demonstration; it depends
upon intelligence and investigation, not upon an
ignorant multitude; it appeals to the highest, in-
stead of to the lowest. Nothing can be settled
by popular prejudice.

According to Mr. Talmage, there are about three
hundred million Christians in the world. Is this true?
In all countries claiming to be Christian—including
all of civilized Europe, Russia in Asia, and every
country on the Western hemisphere, we have nearly
four hundred millions of people. Mr. Talmage claims
that three hundred millions are Christians. I sup-
pose he means by this, that if all should perish to-
night, about three hundred millions would wake up
in heaven—having lived and died good and consist-
ent Christians.

There are in Russia about eighty millions of people
—how many Christians? I admit that they have re-
cently given more evidence of orthodox Christianity
than formerly. They have been murdering old men;
they have thrust daggers into the breasts of women;
they have violated maidens—because they were Jews.
Thousands and thousands are sent each year to the
mines of Siberia, by the Christian government of
Russia. Girls eighteen years of age, for having ex-
pressed a word in favor of human liberty, are to-day
working like beasts of burden, with chains upon
their limbs and with the marks of whips upon
their backs. Russia, of course, is considered by Mr.
Talmage as a Christian country—a country utterly
destitute of liberty—without freedom of the press,
without freedom of speech, where every mouth is
locked and every tongue a prisoner—a country filled
with victims, soldiers, spies, thieves and executioners.
What would Russia be, in the opinion of Mr. Tal-
mage, but for Christianity? How could it be worse,
when assassins are among the best people in it?
The truth is, that the people in Russia, to-day, who
are in favor of human liberty, are not Christians.
The men willing to sacrifice their lives for the good
of others, are not believers in the Christian religion.
The men who wish to break chains are infidels;
the men who make chains are Christians. Every
good and sincere Catholic of the Greek Church
is a bad citizen, an enemy of progress, a foe of
human liberty. Yet Mr. Talmage regards Russia
as a Christian country.

The sixteen millions of people in Spain are claimed
as Christians. Spain, that for centuries was the as-
sassin of human rights; Spain, that endeavored to
spread Christianity by flame and fagot; Spain, the
soil where the Inquisition flourished, where bigotry
grew, and where cruelty was worship,—where
murder was prayer. I admit that Spain is a Chris-
tian nation. I admit that infidelity has gained no
foothold beyond the Pyrenees. The Spaniards are
orthodox. They believe in the inspiration of the
Old and New Testaments. They have no doubts
about miracles—no doubts about heaven, no doubts
about hell. I admit that the priests, the highway-
men, the bishops and thieves, are equally true be-
lievers. The man who takes your purse on the
highway, and the priest who forgives the robber,
are alike orthodox.

It gives me pleasure, however, to say that even in
Spain there is a dawn. Some great men, some men
of genius, are protesting against the tyranny of Cath-
olicism. Some men have lost confidence in the
cathedral, and are beginningto ask the State to erect
the schoolhouse. They are beginning to suspect
that priests are for the most part impostors and

According to Mr. Talmage, the twenty-eight mil-
lions in Italy are Christians. There the Christian
Church was early established, and the popes are to-
day the successors of St. Peter. For hundreds and
hundreds of years, Italy was the beggar of the world,
and to her, from every land, flowed streams of gold
and silver. The country was covered with convents,
and monasteries, and churches, and cathedrals filled
with monks and nuns. Its roads were crowded with
pilgrims, and its dust was on the feet of the world.
What has Christianity done for Italy—Italy, its soil a
blessing, its sky a smile—Italy, with memories great
enough to kindle the fires of enthusiasm in any
human breast?

Had it not been for a few Freethinkers, for a few
infidels, for such men as Garibaldi and Mazzini, the
heaven of Italy would still have been without a star.

I admit that Italy, with its popes and bandits, with
its superstition and ignorance, with its sanctified
beggars, is a Christian nation; but in a little while,—
in a few days,—when according to the prophecy of
Garibaldi priests, with spades in their hands, will
dig ditches to drain the Pontine marshes; in a little

while, when the pope leaves the Vatican, and seeks
the protection of a nation he has denounced,—asking
alms of intended victims; when the nuns shall marry,
and the monasteries shall become factories, and the
whirl of wheels shall take the place of drowsy prayers
—then, and not until then, will Italy be,—not a
Christian nation, but great, prosperous, and free.

In Italy, Giordano Bruno was burned. Some day,
his monument will rise above the cross of Rome.

We have in our day one example,—and so far as I
know, history records no other,—of the resurrection
of a nation. Italy has been called from the grave of
superstition. She is “the first fruits of them that

I admit with Mr. Talmage that Portugal is a Chris-
tian country—that she engaged for hundreds of years
in the slave trade, and that she justified the infamous
traffic by passages in the Old Testament. I admit,
also, that she persecuted the Jews in accordance
with the same divine volume. I admit that all the
crime, ignorance, destitution, and superstition in that
country were produced by the Catholic Church. I
also admit that Portugal would be better if it were

Every Catholic is in favor of education enough to
change a barbarian into a Catholic; every Protestant
is in favor of education enough to change a Catholic
into a Protestant; but Protestants and Catholics alike
are opposed to education that will lead to any
real philosophy and science. I admit that Portugal
is what it is, on account of the preaching of the
gospel. I admit that Portugal can point with pride
to the triumphs of what she calls civilization within
her borders, and truthfully ascribe the glory to the
church. But in a litde while, when more railroads
are built, when telegraphs connect her people with
the civilized world, a spirit of doubt, of investigation,
will manifest itself in Portugal.

When the people stop counting beads, and go to
the study of mathematics; when they think more of
plows than of prayers for agricultural purposes; when
they find that one fact gives more light to the mind
than a thousand tapers, and that nothing can by any
possibility be more useless than a priest,—then Por-
tugal will begin to cease to be what is called a
Christian nation.

I admit that Austria, with her thirty-seven millions,
is a Christian nation—including her Croats, Hungar-
ians, Servians, and Gypsies. Austria was one of the
assassins of Poland. When we remember that John
Sobieski drove the Mohammedans from the gates of
Vienna, and rescued from the hand of the “infidel”
the beleagured city, the propriety of calling Austria a
Christian nation becomes still more apparent. If one
wishes to know exactly how “Christian” Austria is,
let him read the history of Hungary, let him read
the speeches of Kossuth. There is one good thing
about Austria: slowly but surely she is undermining
the church by education. Education is the enemy
of superstition. Universal education does away with
the classes born of the tyranny of ecclesiasticism—
classes founded upon cunning, greed, and brute
strength. Education also tends to do away with
intellectual cowardice. The educated man is his
own priest, his own pope, his own church.

When cunning collects tolls from fear, the church

Germany is another Christian nation. Bismarck is
celebrated for his Christian virtues.

Only a little while ago, Bismarck, when a bill was
under consideration for ameliorating the condition
of the Jews, stated publicly that Germany was a
Christian nation, that her business was to extend
and protect the religion of Jesus Christ, and that
being a Christian nation, no laws should be passed
ameliorating the condition of the Jews. Certainly a
remark like this could not have been made in any
other than a Christian nation. There is no freedom
of the press, there is no freedom of speech, in Ger-
many. The Chancellor has gone so far as to declare
that the king is not responsible to the people. Ger-
many must be a Christian nation. The king gets his
right to govern, not from his subjects, but from God.
He relies upon the New Testament. He is satisfied
that “the powers that be in Germany are ordained
“of God.” He is satisfied that treason against the
German throne is treason against Jehovah. There
are millions of Freethinkers in Germany. They are
not in the majority, otherwise there would be more
liberty in that country. Germany is not an infidel
nation, or speech would be free, and every man
would be allowed to express his honest thoughts.

Wherever I see Liberty in chains, wherever the
expression of opinion is a crime, I know that that
country is not infidel; I know that the people are not
ruled by reason. I also know that the greatest men
of Germany—her Freethinkers, her scientists, her
writers, her philosophers, are, for the most part, in-
fidel. Yet Germany is called a Christian nation, and
ought to be so called until her citizens are free.

France is also claimed as a Christian country. This
is not entirely true. France once was thoroughly
Catholic, completely Christian. At the time of the
massacre of Saint Bartholomew, the French were
Christians. Christian France made exiles of the
Huguenots. Christian France for years and years
was the property of the Jesuits. Christian France
was ignorant, cruel, orthodox and infamous. When
France was Christian, witnesses were cross-examined
with instruments of torture.

Now France is not entirely under Catholic control,
and yet she is by far the most prosperous nation in
Europe. I saw, only the other day, a letter from a
Protestant bishop, in which he states that there are
only about a million Protestants in France, and only
four or five millions of Catholics, and admits, in a
very melancholy way, that thirty-four or thirty-five
millions are Freethinkers. The bishop is probably
mistaken in his figures, but France is the best housed,
the best fed, the best clad country in Europe.

Only a little while ago, France was overrun, trampled
into the very earth, by the victorious hosts of Ger-
many, and France purchased her peace with the
savings of centuries. And yet France is now rich and
prosperous and free, and Germany poor, discontented

and enslaved. Hundreds and thousands of Germans,
unable to find liberty at home, are coming to the
United States.

I admit that England is a Christian country. Any
doubts upon this point can be dispelled by reading
her history—her career in India, what she has done
in China, her treatment of Ireland, of the American
Colonies, her attitude during our Civil war; all these
things show conclusively that England is a Christian

Religion has filled Great Britain with war. The
history of the Catholics, of the Episcopalians, of
Cromwell—all the burnings, the maimings, the brand-
ings, the imprisonments, the confiscations, the civil
wars, the bigotry, the crime—show conclusively that
Great Britain has enjoyed to the full the blessings of
“our most holy religion.”

Of course, Mr. Talmage claims the United States
as a Christian country. The truth is, our country is
not as Christian as it once was. When heretics were
hanged in New England, when the laws of Virginia
and Maryland provided that the tongue of any man
who denied the doctrine of the Trinity should be
bored with hot iron,, and that for the second offence
he should suffer death, I admit that this country was
Christian. When we engaged in the slave trade,
when our flag protected piracy and murder in every
sea, there is not the slightest doubt that the United
States was a Christian country. When we believed
in slavery, and when we deliberately stole the labor
of four millions of people; when we sold women
and babes, and when the people of the North
enacted a law by virtue of which every Northern
man was bound to turn hound and pursue a human
being who was endeavoring to regain his liberty, I
admit that the United States was a Christian nation.
I admit that all these things were upheld by the Bible
—that the slave trader was justified by the Old Testa-
ment, that the bloodhound was a kind of missionary
in disguise, that the auction block was an altar, the
slave pen a kind of church, and that the whipping-
post was considered almost as sacred as the cross.
At that time, our country was a Christian nation.

I heard Frederick Douglass say that he lectured
against slavery for twenty years before the doors
of a single church were opened to him. In New
England, hundreds of ministers were driven from
their pulpits because they preached against the
crime of human slavery. At that time, this country
was a Christian nation.

Only a few years ago, any man speaking in favor
of the rights of man, endeavoring to break a chain
from a human limb, was in danger of being mobbed
by the Christians of this country. I admit that Dela-
ware is still a Christian State. I heard a story about
that State the other day.

About fifty years ago, an old Revolutionary soldier
applied for a pension. He was asked his age, and he
replied that he was fifty years old. He was told that
if that was his age, he could not have been in the
Revolutionary War, and consequently was not en-
titled to any pension. He insisted, however, that he
was only fifty years old. Again they told him that
there must be some mistake. He was so wrinkled,
so bowed, had so many marks of age, that he must
certainly be more than fifty years old. “Well,” said
the old man, “if I must explain, I will: I lived forty
“years in Delaware; but I never counted that time,
“and I hope God won’t.”

The fact is, we have grown less and less Christian
every year from 1620 until now, and the fact is that
we have grown more and more civilized, more and
more charitable, nearer and nearer just.

Mr. Talmage speaks as though all the people in
what he calls the civilized world were Christians. Ad-
mitting this to be true, I find that in these countries
millions of men are educated, trained and drilled to
kill their fellow Christians. I find Europe covered
with forts to protect Christians from Christians, and
the seas filled with men-of-war for the purpose of
ravaging the coasts and destroying the cities of Chris-
tian nations. These countries are filled with prisons,
with workhouses, with jails and with toiling, ignorant
and suffering millions. I find that Christians have
invented most of the instruments of death, that
Christians are the greatest soldiers, fighters, de-
stroyers. I find that every Christian country is taxed
to its utmost to support these soldiers; that every
Christian nation is now groaning beneath the grievous
burden of monstrous debt, and that nearly all these
debts were contracted in waging war. These bonds,
these millions, these almost incalculable amounts,
were given to pay for shot and shell, for rifle and
torpedo, for men-of-war, for forts and arsenals, and
all the devilish enginery of death. I find that each
of these nations prays to God to assist it as against
all others; and when one nation has overrun, ravaged
and pillaged another, it immediately returns thanks
to the Almighty, and the ravaged and pillaged kneel
and thank God that it is no worse.

Mr. Talmage is welcome to all the evidence he can
find in the history of what he is pleased to call the
civilized nations of the world, tending to show the
inspiration of the Bible.

And right here it may be well enough to say again,
that the question of inspiration can not be settled by
the votes of the superstitious millions. It can not be
affected by numbers. It must be decided by each
human being for himself. If every man in this world,
with one exception, believed the Bible to be the in-
spired word of God, the man who was the exception
could not lose his right to think, to investigate, and to
judge for himself.

Question. You do not think, then, that any of the
arguments brought forward by Mr. Talmage for the
purpose of establishing the inspiration of the Bible,
are of any weight whatever?

Answer. I do not. I do not see how it is possible
to make poorer, weaker or better arguments than he
has made.

Of course, there can be no “evidence” of the in-
spiration of the Scriptures. What is “inspiration”?
Did God use the prophets simply as instruments?
Did he put his thoughts in their minds, and use their

hands to make a record? Probably few Christians
will agree as to what they mean by “inspiration.”
The general idea is, that the minds of the writers of
the books of the Bible were controlled by the divine
will in such a way that they expressed, independently
of their own opinions, the thought of God. I believe it
is admitted that God did not choose the exact words,
and is not responsible for the punctuation or syntax.
It is hard to give any reason for claiming more for
the Bible than is claimed by those who wrote it.
There is no claim of “inspiration” made by the writer
of First and Second Kings. Not one word about the
author having been “inspired” is found in the book
of Job, or in Ruth, or in Chronicles, or in the Psalms,
or Ecclesiastes, or in Solomon’s Song, and nothing is
said about the author of the book of Esther having
been “inspired.” Christians now say that Matthew,
Mark, Luke and John were “inspired” to write the
four gospels, and yet neither Mark, nor Luke, nor
John, nor Matthew claims to have been “inspired.”
If they were “inspired,” certainly they should have
stated that fact.


The very first thing stated in each
of the gospels should have been a declaration by the
writer that he had been “inspired,” and that he was
about to write the book under the guidance of God,
and at the conclusion of each gospel there should
have been a solemn statement that the writer had
put down nothing of himself, but had in all things
followed the direction and guidance of the divine
will. The church now endeavors to establish the
inspiration of the Bible by force, by social ostracism,
and by attacking the reputation of every man who
denies or doubts. In all Christian countries, they
begin with the child in the cradle. Each infant is
told by its mother, by its father, or by some of its
relatives, that “the Bible is an inspired book.” This
pretended fact, by repetition “in season and out of
“season,” is finally burned and branded into the
brain to such a degree that the child of average
intelligence never outgrows the conviction that the
Bible is, in some peculiar sense, an “inspired” book.
The question has to be settled for each generation.
The evidence is not sufficient, and the foundation of
Christianity is perpetually insecure. Beneath this great
religious fabric there is no rock. For eighteen centu-
ries, hundreds and thousands and millions of people
have been endeavoring to establish the fact that the
Scriptures are inspired, and since the dawn of science,
since the first star appeared in the night of the
Middle Ages, until this moment, the number of
people who have doubted the fact of inspiration
has steadily increased. These doubts have not been
born of ignorance, they have not been suggested by
the unthinking.


They have forced themselves upon
the thoughtful, upon the educated, and now the ver-
dict of the intellectual world is, that the Bible is not
inspired. Notwithstanding the fact that the church
has taken advantage of infancy, has endeavored to
control education, has filled all primers and spelling-
books and readers and text books with superstition—
feeding all minds with the miraculous and super-
natural, the growth toward a belief in the natural
and toward the rejection of the miraculous has been
steady and sturdy since the sixteenth century. There
has been, too, a moral growth, until many passages
in the Bible have become barbarous, inhuman and
infamous. The Bible has remained the same, while
the world has changed. In the light of physical and
moral discovery, “the inspired volume” seems in
many respects absurd. If the same progress is made
in the next, as in the last, century, it is very easy to
predict the place that will then be occupied by the
Bible. By comparing long periods of time, it is easy
to measure the advance of the human race. Com-
pare the average sermon of to-day with the average
sermon of one hundred years ago. Compare what
ministers teach to-day with the creeds they profess
to believe, and you will see the immense distance
that even the church has traveled in the last century.

The Christians tell us that scientific men have
made mistakes, and that there is very little certainty
in the domain of human knowledge. This I admit.
The man who thought the world was flat, and who
had a way of accounting for the movement of the
heavenly bodies, had what he was pleased to call a
philosophy. He was, in his way, a geologist and an
astronomer. We admit that he was mistaken; but
if we claimed that the first geologist and the first
astronomer were inspired, it would not do for us to
admit that any advance had been made, or that any
errors of theirs had been corrected. We do not
claim that the first scientists were inspired. We do
not claim that the last are inspired. We admit that
all scientific men are fallible. We admit that they do
not know everything. We insist that they know but
little, and that even in that little which they are sup-
posed to know, there is the possibility of error. The
first geologist said: “The earth is flat.” Suppose
that the geologists of to-day should insist that that
man was inspired, and then endeavor to show that
the word “flat,” in the “Hebrew,” did not mean
quite flat, but just a little rounded; what would we
think of their honesty? The first astronomer in-
sisted that the sun and moon and stars revolved
around this earth—that this little earth was the centre
of the entire system.


Suppose that the astronomers
of to-day should insist that that astronomer was in-
spired, and should try to explain, and say that he
simply used the language of the common people, and
when he stated that the sun and moon and stars re-
volved around the earth, he merely meant that they
“apparently revolved,” and that the earth, in fact,
turned over, would we consider them honest men?
You might as well say that the first painter was in-
spired, or that the first sculptor had the assistance of
God, as to say that the first writer, or the first book-
maker, was divinely inspired. It is more probable
that the modern geologist is inspired than that the an-
cient one was, because the modern geologist is nearer
right. It is more probable that William Lloyd Gar-
rison was inspired upon the question of slavery than
that Moses was. It is more probable that the author
of the Declaration of Independence spoke by divine
authority than that the author of the Pentateuch did.
In other words, if there can be any evidence of
“inspiration,” it must lie in the fact of doing or
saying the best possible thing that could have been
done or said at that time or upon that subject.

To make myself clear: The only possible evidence
of “inspiration” would be perfection—a perfection ex-
celling anything that man unaided had ever attained.
An “inspired” book should excel all other books; an
inspired statue should be the best in this world; an in-
spired painting should be beyond all others. If the Bible
has been improved in any particular, it was not, in that
particular, ”inspired.” If slavery is wrong, the Bible is
not inspired. If polygamy is vile and loathsome, the
Bible is not inspired. If wars of extermination are cruel
and heartless, the Bible is not “inspired.” If there is
within that book a contradiction of any natural fact; if
there is one ignorant falsehood, if there is one mistake,
then it is not “inspired.” I do not mean mistakes that
have grown out of translations; but if there was in
the original manuscript one mistake, then it is not
“inspired.” I do not demand a miracle; I do not
demand a knowledge of the future; I simply demand
an absolute knowledge of the past. I demand an ab-
solute knowledge of the then present; I demand a
knowledge of the constitution of the human mind—
of the facts in nature, and that is all I demand.

Question. If I understand you, you think that all
political power should come from the people; do you
not believe in any “special providence,” and do you
take the ground that God does not interest himself
in the affairs of nations and individuals?

Answer. The Christian idea is that God made the
world, and made certain laws for the government of
matter and mind, and that he never interferes except
upon special occasions, when the ordinary laws fail to
work out the desired end. Their notion is, that the
Lord now and then stops the horses simply to show
that he is driving. It seems to me that if an infinitely
wise being made the world, he must have made it
the best possible; and that if he made laws for the
government of matter and mind, he must have made
the best possible laws. If this is true, not one of
these laws can be violated without producing a posi-
tive injury. It does not seem probable that infinite
wisdom would violate a law that infinite wisdom had

Most ministers insist that God now and then in-
terferes in the affairs of this world; that he has not
interfered as much lately as he did formerly. When
the world was comparatively new, it required alto-
gether more tinkering and fixing than at present.

Things are at last in a reasonably good condition,
and consequently a great amount of interference is
not necessary. In old times it was found necessary fre-
quently to raise the dead, to change the nature of fire
and water, to punish people with plagues and famine,
to destroy cities by storms of fire and brimstone, to
change women into salt, to cast hailstones upon
heathen, to interfere with the movements of our
planetary system, to stop the earth not only, but
sometimes to make it turn the other way, to arrest
the moon, and to make water stand up like a wall.
Now and then, rivers were divided by striking them
with a coat, and people were taken to heaven in
chariots of fire. These miracles, in addition to curing
the sick, the halt, the deaf and blind, were in former
times found necessary, but since the “apostolic age,”
nothing of the kind has been resorted to except in
Catholic countries. Since the death of the last
apostle, God has appeared only to members of the
Catholic Church, and all modern miracles have been
performed for the benefit of Catholicism.


There is
no authentic account of the Virgin Mary having ever
appeared to a Protestant. The bones of Protestant
saints have never cured a solitary disease. Protest-
ants now say that the testimony of the Catholics can
not be relied upon, and yet, the authenticity of every
book in the New Testament was established by Cath-
olic testimony. Some few miracles were performed
in Scotland, and in fact in England and the United
States, but they were so small that they are hardly
worth mentioning. Now and then, a man was struck
dead for taking the name of the Lord in vain. Now
and then, people were drowned who were found in
boats on Sunday. Whenever anybody was about to
commit murder, God has not interfered—the reason
being that he gave man free-will, and expects to hold
him accountable in another world, and there is no
exception to this free-will doctrine, but in cases
where men swear or violate the Sabbath. They are
allowed to commit all other crimes without any in-
terference on the part of the Lord.

My own opinion is, that the clergy found it neces-
sary to preserve the Sabbath for their own uses, and
for that reason endeavored to impress the people
with the enormity of its violation, and for that purpose
gave instances of people being drowned and suddenly
struck dead for working or amusing themselves on that
day. The clergy have objected to any other places of
amusement except their own, being opened on that
day. They wished to compel people either to go to
church or stay at home. They have also known
that profanity tended to do away with the feelings
of awe they wished to cultivate, and for that reason
they have insisted that swearing was one of the most
terrible of crimes, exciting above all others the wrath
of God.

There was a time when people fell dead for having
spoken disrespectfully to a priest. The priest at that
time pretended to be the visible representative of
God, and as such, entitled to a degree of reverence
amounting almost to worship. Several cases are
given in the ecclesiastical history of Scotland where
men were deprived of speech for having spoken
rudely to a parson.

These stories were calculated to increase the im-
portance of the clergy and to convince people that
they were under the special care of the Deity. The
story about the bears devouring the little children
was told in the first place, and has been repeated
since, simply to protect ministers from the laughter
of children. There ought to be carved on each side
of every pulpit a bear with fragments of children in
its mouth, as this animal has done so much to protect
the dignity of the clergy.

Besides the protection of ministers, the drowning
of breakers of the Sabbath, and striking a few people
dead for using profane language, I think there is no
evidence of any providential interference in the affairs
of this world in what may be called modern times.
Ministers have endeavored to show that great calam-
ities have been brought upon nations and cities as a
punishment for the wickedness of the people. They
have insisted that some countries have been visited
with earthquakes because the people had failed to
discharge their religious duties; but as earthquakes
happened in uninhabited countries, and often at sea,
where no one is hurt, most people have concluded
that they are not sent as punishments. They have
insisted that cities have been burned as a punish-
ment, and to show the indignation of the Lord, but
at the same time they have admitted that if the
streets had been wider, the fire departments better
organized, and wooden buildings fewer, the design
of the Lord would have been frustrated.

After reading the history of the world, it is some-
what difficult to find which side the Lord is really on.
He has allowed Catholics to overwhelm and de-
stroy Protestants, and then he has allowed Protestants
to overwhelm and destroy Catholics. He has allowed
Christianity to triumph over Paganism, and he allowed
Mohammedans to drive back the hosts of the cross
from the sepulchre of his son. It is curious that this
God would allow the slave trade to go on, and yet
punish the violators of the Sabbath. It is simply
wonderful that he would allow kings to wage cruel
and remorseless war, to sacrifice millions upon the
altar of heartless ambition, and at the same time
strike a man dead for taking his name in vain.


It is
wonderful that he allowed slavery to exist for centu-
ries in the United States; that he allows polygamy
now in Utah; that he cares nothing for liberty in
Russia, nothing for free speech in Germany, nothing
for the sorrows of the overworked, underpaid millions
of the world; that he cares nothing for the innocent
languishing in prisons, nothing for the patriots con-
demned to death, nothing for the heart-broken
widows and orphans, nothing for the starving, and
yet has ample time to note a sparrow’s fall. If he
would only strike dead the would-be murderers; if
he would only palsy the hands of husbands’ uplifted
to strike their wives; if he would render speechless
the cursers of children, he could afford to overlook
the swearers and breakers of his Sabbath.

For one, I am not satisfied with the government
of this world, and I am going to do what little I can
to make it better. I want more thought and less
fear, more manhood and less superstition, less prayer
and more help, more education, more reason, more
intellectual hospitality, and above all, and over all,
more liberty and kindness.

Question. Do you think that God, if there be one,
when he saves or damns a man, will take into con-
sideration all the circumstances of the man’s life?

Answer. Suppose that two orphan boys, James
and John, are given homes. James is taken into a
Christian family and John into an infidel. James
becomes a Christian, and dies in the faith. John be-
comes an infidel, and dies without faith in Christ.
According to the Christian religion, as commonly
preached, James will go to heaven, and John to hell.

Now, suppose that God knew that if James had
been raised by the infidel family, he would have died
an infidel, and that if John had been raised by the
Christian family, he would have died a Christian.
What then? Recollect that the boys did not choose
the families in which they were placed.

Suppose that a child, cast away upon an island in
which he found plenty of food, grew to manhood;
and suppose that after he had reached mature years,
the island was visited by a missionary who taught a
false religion; and suppose that this islander was con-
vinced that he ought to worship a wooden idol; and
suppose, further, that the worship consisted in sacri-
ficing animals; and suppose the islander, actuated
only by what he conceived to be his duty and by
thankfulness, sacrificed a toad every night and every
morning upon the altar of his wooden god; that
when the sky looked black and threatening he sacri-
ficed two toads; that when feeling unwell he sacrificed
three; and suppose that in all this he was honest, that
he really believed that the shedding of toad-blood
would soften the heart of his god toward him? And
suppose that after he had become fully-convinced
of the truth of his religion, a missionary of the
“true religion” should visit the island, and tell the
history of the Jews—unfold the whole scheme of
salvation? And suppose that the islander should
honestly reject the true religion? Suppose he should
say that he had “internal evidence” not only, but
that many miracles had been performed by his god,
in his behalf; that often when the sky was black
with storm, he had sacrificed a toad, and in a few
moments the sun was again visible, the heavens blue,
and without a cloud; that on several occasions, having
forgotten at evening to sacrifice his toad, he found
himself unable to sleep—that his conscience smote
him, he had risen, made the sacrifice, returned to his
bed, and in a few moments sunk into a serene and
happy slumber? And suppose, further, that the man
honestly believed that the efficacy of the sacrifice
depended largely on the size of the toad? Now
suppose that in this belief the man had died,—what

It must be remembered that God knew when the
missionary of the false religion went to the island;
and knew that the islander would be convinced of the
truth of the false religion; and he also knew that the
missionary of the true religion could not, by any
possibility, convince the islander of the error of his
way; what then?

If God is infinite, we cannot speak of him as
making efforts, as being tired. We cannot con-
sistently say that one thing is easy to him, and
another thing is hard, providing both are possible.
This being so, why did not God reveal himself to
every human being? Instead of having an inspired
book, why did he not make inspired folks? Instead
of having his commandments put on tables of stone,
why did he not write them on each human brain?

Why was not the mind of each man so made that
every religious truth necessary to his salvation was
an axiom?

Do we not know absolutely that man is greatly
influenced by his surroundings? If Mr. Talmage
had been born in Turkey, is it not probable that
he would now be a whirling Dervish? If he had
first seen the light in Central Africa, he might now
have been prostrate before some enormous serpent;
if in India, he might have been a Brahmin, running a
prayer-machine; if in Spain, he would probably have
been a priest, with his beads and holy water. Had
he been born among the North American Indians,
he would speak of the “Great Spirit,” and solemnly
smoke the the pipe of peace.

Mr. Talmage teaches that it is the duty of children
to perpetuate the errors of their parents; conse-
quently, the religion of his parents determined his
theology. It is with him not a question of reason,
but of parents; not a question of argument, but of
filial affection. He does not wish to be a philoso-
pher, but an obedient son. Suppose his father had
been a Catholic, and his mother a Protestant,—what
then? Would he show contempt for his mother by
following the path of his father; or would he show
disrespect for his father, by accepting the religion of
his mother; or would he have become a Protestant
with Catholic proclivities, or a Catholic with Protest-
ant leanings? Suppose his parents had both been
infidels—what then?

Is it not better for each one to decide honestly for
himself? Admitting that your parents were good and
kind; admitting that they were honest in their views,
why not have the courage to say, that in your opinion,
father and mother were both mistaken? No one can
honor his parents by being a hypocrite, or an intellectu-
al coward. Whoever is absolutely true to himself, is
true to his parents, and true to the whole world. Who-
ever is untrue to himself, is false to all mankind. Re-
ligion must be an individual matter. If there is a God,
and if there is a day of judgment, the church that a man
belongs to will not be tried, but the man will be tried.

It is a fact that the religion of most people was made
for them by others; that they have accepted certain
dogmas, not because they have examined them, but
because they were told that they were true. Most of
the people in the United States, had they been born in
Turkey, would now be Mohammedans, and most of
the Turks, had they been born in Spain, would now
be Catholics.

It is almost, if not quite, impossible for a man to
rise entirely above the ideas, views, doctrines and re-
ligions of his tribe or country. No one expects to
find philosophers in Central Africa, or scientists
among the Fejees. No one expects to find philoso-
phers or scientists in any country where the church
has absolute control.

If there is an infinitely good and wise God, of
course he will take into consideration the surround-
ings of every human being. He understands the
philosophy of environment, and of heredity. He
knows exactly the influence of the mother, of all
associates, of all associations. He will also take into
consideration the amount, quality and form of each
brain, and whether the brain was healthy or diseased.
He will take into consideration the strength of the
passions, the weakness of the judgment. He will
know exactly the force of all temptation—what was
resisted. He will take an account of every effort
made in the right direction, and will understand
all the winds and waves and quicksands and shores
and shallows in, upon and around the sea of every

My own opinion is, that if such a being exists, and
all these things are taken into consideration, we will
be absolutely amazed to see how small the difference
is between the “good” and the “bad.” Certainly
there is no such difference as would justify a being
of infinite wisdom and benevolence in rewarding one
with eternal joy and punishing the other with eternal

Question. What are the principal reasons that
have satisfied you that the Bible is not an inspired

Answer. The great evils that have afflicted this
world are:

First. Human slavery—where men have bought
and sold their fellow-men—sold babes from mothers,
and have practiced) every conceivable cruelty upon
the helpless.

Second. Polygamy—an institution that destroys
the home, that treats woman as a simple chattel, that
does away with the sanctity of marriage, and with all
that is sacred in love.

Third. Wars of conquest and extermination—
by which nations have been made the food of the

Fourth. The idea entertained by each nation that
all other nations are destitute of rights—in other
words, patriotism founded upon egotism, prejudice,
and love of plunder.

Fifth. Religious persecution.

Sixth. The divine right of kings—an idea that
rests upon the inequality of human rights, and insists
that people should be governed without their con-
sent; that the right of one man to govern another
comes from God, and not from the consent of the
governed. This is caste—one of the most odious
forms of slavery.

Seventh. A belief in malicious supernatural be-
ings—devils, witches, and wizards.

Eighth. A belief in an infinite being who or-
dered, commanded, established and approved all
these evils.

Ninth. The idea that one man can be good for
another, or bad for another—that is to say, that one
can be rewarded for the goodness of another, or
justly punished for the sins of another.

Tenth. The dogma that a finite being can commit
an infinite sin, and thereby incur the eternal dis-
pleasure of an infinitely good being, and be justly
subjected to eternal torment.

My principal objection to the Bible is that it sus-
tains all of these ten evils—that it is the advocate of

human slavery, the friend of polygamy; that within
its pages I find the command to wage wars of ex-
termination; that I find also that the Jews were
taught to hate foreigners—to consider all human
beings as inferior to themselves; I also find persecu-
tion commanded as a religious duty; that kings were
seated upon their thrones by the direct act of God,
and that to rebel against a king was rebellion against
God. I object to the Bible also because I find within
its pages the infamous spirit of caste—I see the sons
of Levi set apart as the perpetual beggars and
governors of a people; because I find the air filled
with demons seeking to injure and betray the sons
of men; because this book is the fountain of modern
superstition, the bulwark of tyranny and the fortress
of caste. This book also subverts the idea of justice
by threatening infinite punishment for the sins of a
finite being.

At the same time, I admit—as I always have ad-
mitted—that there are good passages in the Bible—
good laws, good teachings, with now and then a true
line of history. But when it is asserted that every
word was written by inspiration—that a being of in-
finite wisdom and goodness is its author,—then
I raise the standard of revolt.

Question. What do you think of the declaration
of Mr. Talmage that the Bible will be read in heaven
throughout all the endless ages of eternity?

Answer. Of course I know but very little as to
what is or will be done in heaven. My knowledge
of that country is somewhat limited, and it may be
possible that the angels will spend most of their time
in turning over the sacred leaves of the Old Testa-
ment. I can not positively deny the statement of the
Reverend Mr. Talmage as I have but very little idea
as to how the angels manage to kill time.

The Reverend Mr. Spurgeon stated in a sermon
that some people wondered what they would do
through all eternity in heaven. He said that, as for
himself, for the first hundred thousand years he
would look at the wound in one of the Savior’s
feet, and for the next hundred thousand years he
would look at the wound in his other foot, and
for the next hundred thousand years he would
look at the wound in one of his hands, and for
the next hundred thousand years he would look at
the wound in the other hand, and for the next
hundred thousand years he would look at the wound
in his side.

Surely, nothing could be more delightful than this:
A man capable of being happy in such employment,
could of course take great delight in reading even
the genealogies of the Old Testament. It is very
easy to see what a glow of joy would naturally over-
spread the face of an angel while reading the history
of the Jewish wars, how the seraphim and cherubim
would clasp their rosy palms in ecstasy over the fate
of Korah and his company, and what laughter would
wake the echoes of the New Jerusalem as some one
told again the story of the children and the bears;
and what happy groups, with folded pinions, would
smilingly listen to the 109th Psalm.

An orthodox “state of mind”


As Mr. Talmage delivered the series of sermons
referred to in these interviews, for the purpose
of furnishing arguments to the young, so that they
might not be misled by the sophistry of modern
infi-delity, I have thought it best to set forth,
for use in Sunday schools, the pith and marrow of
what he has been pleased to say, in the form of


Question. Who made you?

Answer. Jehovah, the original Presbyterian.

Question. What else did he make?

Answer. He made the world and all things.

Question. Did he make the world out of nothing?

Answer. No.

Question. What did he make it out of?

Answer. Out of his “omnipotence.” Many infidels
have pretended that if God made the universe, and if
there was nothing until he did make it, he had nothing
to make it out of. Of course this is perfectly absurd
when we remember that he always had his “omnipo-
tence and that is, undoubtedly, the material used.

Question. Did he create his own “omnipotence”?

Answer. Certainly not, he was always omnipo-

Question. Then if he always had “omnipotence,”
he did not “create” the material of which the uni-
verse is made; he simply took a portion of his
“omnipotence” and changed it to “universe”?

Answer. Certainly, that is the way I under-
stand it.

Question. Is he still omnipotent, and has he as
much “omnipotence” now as he ever had?

Answer. Well, I suppose he has.

Question. How long did it take God to make the

Answer. Six “good-whiles.”

Question. How long is a “good-while”?

Answer. That will depend upon the future dis-
coveries of geologists. “Good-whiles” are of such
a nature that they can be pulled out, or pushed up;
and it is utterly impossible for any infidel, or scien-
tific geologist, to make any period that a “good-while”
won’t fit.

Question. What do you understand by “the
“morning and evening” of a “good-while”?

Answer. Of course the words “morning and
“evening” are used figuratively, and mean simply
the beginning and the ending, of each “good-while.”

Question. On what day did God make vegetation?

Answer. On the third day.

Question. Was that before the sun was made?

Answer. Yes; a “good-while” before.

Question. How did vegetation grow without sun-

Answer. My own opinion is, that it was either
“nourished by the glare of volcanoes in the moon
or “it may have gotten sufficient light from rivers
“of molten granite;” or, “sufficient light might have
“been emitted by the crystallization of rocks.” It
has been suggested that light might have been fur-
nished by fire-flies and phosphorescent bugs and
worms, but this I regard as going too far.

Question. Do you think that light emitted by
rocks would be sufficient to produce trees?

Answer. Yes, with the assistance of the “Aurora
“Borealis, or even the Aurora Australis;” but with
both, most assuredly.

Question. If the light of which you speak was
sufficient, why was the sun made?

Answer. To keep time with.

Question. What did God make man of?

Answer. He made man of dust and “omnipo-

Question. Did he make a woman at the same
time that he made a man?

Answer. No; he thought at one time to avoid
the necessity of making a woman, and he caused all
the animals to pass before Adam, to see what he
would call them, and to see whether a fit companion
could be found for him. Among them all, not one
suited Adam, and Jehovah immediately saw that he
would have to make an help-meet on purpose.

Question. What was woman made of?

Answer. She was made out of “man’s side, out of
his right side,” and some more “omnipotence.” Infi-
dels say that she was made out of a rib, or a bone, but
that is because they do not understand Hebrew.

Question. What was the object of making woman
out of man’s side?

Answer. So that a young man would think more
of a neighbor’s girl than of his own uncle or grand-

Question. What did God do with Adam and Eve
after he got them done?

Answer. He put them into a garden to see what
they would do.

Question. Do we know where the Garden of Eden
was, and have we ever found any place where a
“river parted and became into four heads”?

Answer. We are not certain where this garden
was, and the river that parted into four heads cannot
at present be found. Infidels have had a great deal
to say about these four rivers, but they will wish
they had even one, one of these days.

Question. What happened to Adam and Eve in
the garden?

Answer. They were tempted by a snake who was
an exceedingly good talker, and who probably came
in walking on the end of his tail. This supposition
is based upon the fact that, as a punishment, he was
condemned to crawl on his belly. Before that time,
of course, he walked upright.

Question. What happened then?

Answer. Our first parents gave way, ate of the
forbidden fruit, and in consequence, disease and
death entered the world. Had it not been for this,
there would have been no death and no disease.
Suicide would have been impossible, and a man
could have been blown into a thousand atoms by
dynamite, and the pieces would immediately have
come together again. Fire would have refused to
burn and water to drown; there could have been no
hunger, no thirst; all things would have been equally

Question. Do you mean to say that there would
have been no death in the world, either of animals,
insects, or persons?

Answer. Of course.

Question. Do you also think that all briers and
thorns sprang from the same source, and that had
the apple not been eaten, no bush in the world
would have had a thorn, and brambles and thistles
would have been unknown?

Answer. Certainly.

Question. Would there have been no poisonous
plants, no poisonous reptiles?

Answer. No, sir; there would have been none;
there would have been no evil in the world if Adam
and Eve had not partaken of the forbidden fruit.

Question. Was the snake who tempted them to
eat, evil?

Answer. Certainly. ‘

Question. Was he in the world before the for-
bidden fruit was eaten?

Answer. Of course he was; he tempted them to
eat it

Question. How, then, do you account for the fact
that, before the forbidden fruit was eaten, an evil
serpent was in the world?

Answer. Perhaps apples had been eaten in other

Question. Is it not wonderful that such awful con-
sequences flowed from so small an act?

Answer. It is not for you to reason about it; you
should simply remember that God is omnipotent.
There is but one way to answer these things, and
that is to admit their truth. Nothing so puts the
Infinite out of temper as to see a human being
impudent enough to rely upon his reason. The
moment we rely upon our reason, we abandon God,
and try to take care of ourselves. Whoever relies
entirely upon God, has no need of reason, and
reason has no need of him.

Question. Were our first parents under the im-
mediate protection of an infinite God?

Answer. They were.

Question. Why did he not protect them? Why
did he not warn them of this snake? Why did he
not put them on their guard? Why did he not
make them so sharp, intellectually, that they could
not be deceived? Why did he not destroy that
snake; or how did he come to make him; what did
he make him for?

Answer. You must remember that, although God
made Adam and Eve perfectly good, still he was very
anxious to test them. He also gave them the power
of choice, knowing at the same time exactly what they
would choose, and knowing that he had made them
so that they must choose in a certain way. A being
of infinite wisdom tries experiments. Knowing ex-
actly what will happen, he wishes to see if it will.

Question. What punishment did God inflict upon
Adam and Eve for the sin of having eaten the for-
bidden fruit?

Answer. He pronounced a curse upon the woman,
saying that in sorrow she should bring forth children,
and that her husband should rule over her; that she,
having tempted her husband, was made his slave;
and through her, all married women have been de-
prived of their natural liberty. On account of the
sin of Adam and Eve, God cursed the ground, saying
that it should bring forth thorns and thistles, and
that man should eat his bread in sorrow, and that he
should eat the herb of the field.

Question. Did he turn them out of the garden
because of their sin?

Answer. No. The reason God gave for turning
them out of the garden was: “Behold the man is
“become as one of us, to know good and evil; and
“now, lest he put forth his hand and take of the
“tree of life and eat and live forever, therefore, the
“Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden
“to till the ground from whence he was taken.”

Question. If the man had eaten of the tree of life,
would he have lived forever?

Answer. Certainly.

Question. Was he turned out to prevent his

Answer. He was.

Question. Then the Old Testament tells us how we
lost immortality, not that we are immortal, does it?

Answer. Yes; it tells us how we lost it.

Question. Was God afraid that Adam and Eve
might get back into the garden, and eat of the fruit
of the tree of life?

Answer. I suppose he was, as he placed “cher-
“ubim and a flaming sword which turned every
“way to guard the tree of life.”

Question. Has any one ever seen any of these

Answer. Not that I know of.

Question. Where is the flaming sword now?

Answer. Some angel has it in heaven.

Question. Do you understand that God made
coats of skins, and clothed Adam and Eve when
he turned them out of the garden?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Do you really believe that the infinite
God killed some animals, took their skins from them,
cut out and sewed up clothes for Adam and Eve?

Answer. The Bible says so; we know that he
had patterns for clothes, because he showed some
to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Question. About how long did God continue
to pay particular attention to his children in this

Answer. For about fifteen hundred years; and
some of the people lived to be nearly a thousand
years of age.

Question. Did this God establish any schools or
institutions of learning? Did he establish any church?
Did he ordain any ministers, or did he have any re-

Answer. No; he allowed the world to go on
pretty much in its own way. He did not even keep
his own boys at home. They came down and made

love to the daughters of men, and finally the world
got exceedingly bad.

Question. What did God do then?

Answer. He made up his mind that he would drown
them. You see they were all totally depraved,—in
every joint and sinew of their bodies, in every drop
of their blood, and in every thought of their brains.

Question. Did he drown them all?

Answer. No, he saved eight, to start with again.

Question. Were these eight persons totally de-

Answer. Yes.

Question. Why did he not kill them, and start
over again with a perfect pair? Would it not have
been better to have had his flood at first, before he
made anybody, and drowned the snake?

Answer. “God’s way are not our ways;” and
besides, you must remember that “a thousand years
“are as one day” with God.

Question. How did God destroy the people?

Answer. By water; it rained forty days and forty
nights, and “the fountains of the great deep were
“broken up.”

Question. How deep was the water?

Answer. About five miles.

Question. How much did it rain each day?

Answer. About eight hundred feet; though the
better opinion now is, that it was a local flood. In-
fidels have raised objections and pressed them to that
degree that most orthodox people admit that the
flood was rather local.

Question. If it was a local flood, why did they put
birds of the air into the ark? Certainly, birds could
have avoided a local flood?

Answer. If you take this away from us, what do
you propose to give us in its place? Some of the
best people of the world have believed this story.
Kind husbands, loving mothers, and earnest patriots
have believed it, and that is sufficient.

Question. At the time God made these people,
did he know that he would have to drown them all?

Answer. Of course he did.

Question. Did he know when he made them that
they would all be failures?

Answer. Of course.

Question. Why, then, did he make them?

Answer. He made them for his own glory, and
no man should disgrace his parents by denying it.

Question. Were the people after the flood just as
bad as they were before?

Answer. About the same.

Question. Did they try to circumvent God?

Answer. They did.

Question. How?

Answer. They got together for the purpose of build-
ing a tower, the top of which should reach to heaven,
so that they could laugh at any future floods, and go
to heaven at any time they desired.

Question. Did God hear about this?

Answer. He did.

Question. What did he say?

Answer. He said: “Go to; let us go down,” and
see what the people are doing; I am satisfied they
will succeed.

Question. How were the people prevented from

Answer. God confounded their language, so that
the mason on top could not cry “mort’!” to the
hod-carrier below; he could not think of the word
to use, to save his life, and the building stopped.

Question. If it had not been for the confusion of
tongues at Babel, do you really think that all the
people in the world would have spoken just the same
language, and would have pronounced every word
precisely the same?

Answer. Of course.

Question. If it had not been, then, for the con-
fusion of languages, spelling books, grammars and
dictionaries would have been useless?

Answer. I suppose so.

Question. Do any two people in the whole world
speak the same language, now?

Answer. Of course they don’t, and this is one of
the great evidences that God introduced confusion
into the languages. Every error in grammar, every
mistake in spelling, every blunder in pronunciation,
proves the truth of the Babel story.

Question. This being so, this miracle is the best
attested of all?

Answer. I suppose it is.

Question. Do you not think that a confusion of
tongues would bring men together instead of separa-
ting them? Would not a man unable to converse
with his fellow feel weak instead of strong; and
would not people whose language had been con-
founded cling together for mutual support?

Answer. According to nature, yes; according to
theology, no; and these questions must be answered
according to theology. And right here, it may be
well enough to state, that in theology the unnatural
is the probable, and the impossible is what has always
happened. If theology were simply natural, anybody
could be a theologian.

Question. Did God ever make any other special
efforts to convert the people, or to reform the world?

Answer. Yes, he destroyed the cities of Sodom
and Gomorrah with a storm of fire and brimstone.

Question. Do you suppose it was really brim-

Answer. Undoubtedly.

Question. Do you think this brimstone came from
the clouds?

Answer. Let me tell you that you have no right
to examine the Bible in the light of what people are
pleased to call “science.” The natural has nothing
to do with the supernatural. Naturally there would
be no brimstone in the clouds, but supernaturally
there might be. God could make brimstone out of
his “omnipotence.” We do not know really what
brimstone is, and nobody knows exactly how brim-
stone is made. As a matter of fact, all the brimstone
in the world might have fallen at that time.

Question. Do you think that Lot’s wife was
changed into salt?

Answer. Of course she was. A miracle was per-
formed. A few centuries ago, the statue of salt made
by changing Lot’s wife into that article, was standing.
Christian travelers have seen it.

Question. Why do you think she was changed
into salt?

Answer. For the purpose of keeping the event
fresh in the minds of men.

Question. God having failed to keep people in-
nocent in a garden; having failed to govern them
outside of a garden; having failed to reform them by
water; having failed to produce any good result by a
confusion of tongues; having failed to reform them
with fire and brimstone, what did he then do?

Answer. He concluded that he had no time to
waste on them all, but that he would have to select
one tribe, and turn his entire attention to just a few

Question. Whom did he select?

Answer. A man by the name of Abram.

Question. What kind of man was Abram?

Answer. If you wish to know, read the twelfth
chapter of Genesis; and if you still have any doubts
as to his character, read the twentieth chapter of the
same book, and you will see that he was a man who
made merchandise of his wife’s body. He had had
such good fortune in Egypt, that he tried the experi-
ment again on Abimelech.

Question. Did Abraham show any gratitude?

Answer. Yes; he offered to sacrifice his son, to
show his confidence in Jehovah.

Question. What became of Abraham and his

Answer. God took such care of them, that in
about two hundred and fifteen years they were all
slaves in the land of Egypt.

Question. How long did they remain in slavery?

Answer. Two hundred and fifteen years.

Question. Were they the same people that God
had promised to take care of?

Answer. They were.

Question. Was God at that time, in favor of

Answer. Not at that time. He was angry at the
Egyptians for enslaving the Jews, but he afterwards
authorized the Jews to enslave other people.

Question. What means did he take to liberate
the Jews?

Answer. He sent his agents to Pharaoh, and de-
manded their freedom; and upon Pharaoh s refusing,
he afflicted the people, who had nothing to do with
it, with various plagues,—killed children, and tor-
mented and tortured beasts.

Question. Was such conduct Godlike?

Answer. Certainly. If you have anything against
your neighbor, it is perfectly proper to torture his
horse, or torment his dog. Nothing can be nobler
than this. You see it is much better to injure his
animals than to injure him. To punish animals for
the sins of their owners must be just, or God would
not have done it. Pharaoh insisted on keeping the
people in slavery, and therefore God covered the
bodies of oxen and cows with boils. He also bruised
them to death with hailstones. From this we infer,
that “the loving kindness of God is over all his works.”

Question. Do you consider such treatment of ani-
mals consistent with divine mercy?

Answer. Certainly. You know that under the
Mosaic dispensation, when a man did a wrong, he
could settle with God by killing an ox, or a sheep,
or some doves. If the man failed to kill them, of
course God would kill them. It was upon this prin-
ciple that he destroyed the animals of the Egyptians.
They had sinned, and he merely took his pay.

Question. How was it possible, under the old dis-
pensation, to please a being of infinite kindness?

Answer. All you had to do was to take an innocent
animal, bring it to the altar, cut its throat, and sprinkle
the altar with its blood. Certain parts of it were to be
given to the butcher as his share, and the rest was to
be burnt on the altar. When God saw an animal thus
butchered, and smelt the warm blood mingled with
the odor of burning flesh, he was pacified, and the
smile of forgiveness shed its light upon his face.
Of course, infidels laugh at these things; but what
can you expect of men who have not been “born
“again”? “The carnal mind is enmity with God.”
Question. What else did God do in order to in-
duce Pharaoh to liberate the Jews?

Answer. He had his agents throw down a cane
in the presence of Pharaoh and thereupon Jehovah
changed this cane into a serpent.

Question. Did this convince Pharaoh?

Answer. No; he sent for his own magicians.
Question. What did they do?

Answer. They threw down some canes and they
also were changed into serpents.

Question. Did Jehovah change the canes of the
Egyptian magicians into snakes?

Answer. I suppose he did, as he is the only one
capable of performing such a miracle.

Question. If the rod of Aaron was changed into
a serpent in order to convince Pharaoh that God had
sent Aaron and Moses, why did God change the
sticks of the Egyptian magicians into serpents—why
did he discredit his own agents, and render worth-
less their only credentials?

Answer. Well, we cannot explain the conduct of
Jehovah; we are perfectly satisfied that it was for
the best. Even in this age of the world God allows
infidels to overwhelm his chosen people with argu-
ments; he allows them to discover facts that his
ministers can not answer, and yet we are satisfied
that in the end God will give the victory to us. All
these things are tests of faith. It is upon this prin-
ciple that God allows geology to laugh at Genesis,
that he permits astronomy apparently to contradict
his holy word.

Question. What did God do with these people
after Pharaoh allowed them to go?

Answer. Finding that they were not fit to settle
a new country, owing to the fact that when hungry
they longed for food, and sometimes when their lips
were cracked with thirst insisted on having water,
God in his infinite mercy had them marched round
and round, back and forth, through a barren wilder-
ness, until all, with the exception of two persons,

Question. Why did he do this?

Answer. Because he had promised these people
that he would take them “to a land flowing with
“milk and honey.”

Question. Was God always patient and kind and
merciful toward his children while they were in the

Answer. Yes, he always was merciful and kind
and patient. Infidels have taken the ground that he
visited them with plagues and disease and famine;
that he had them bitten by serpents, and now and
then allowed the ground to swallow a few thousands
of them, and in other ways saw to it that they were
kept as comfortable and happy as was consistent with
good government; but all these things were for their
good; and the fact is, infidels have no real sense of

Question. How did God happen to treat the Is-
raelites in this way, when he had promised Abraham
that he would take care of his progeny, and when he
had promised the same to the poor wretches while
they were slaves in Egypt?

Answer. Because God is unchangeable in his na-
ture, and wished to convince them that every being
should be perfectly faithful to his promise.

Question. Was God driven to madness by the
conduct of his chosen people?

Answer. Almost.

Question. Did he know exactly what they would
do when he chose them?

Answer. Exactly.

Question. Were the Jews guilty of idolatry?

Answer. They were. They worshiped other gods
—gods made of wood and stone.

Question. Is it not wonderful that they were not
convinced of the power of God, by the many mira-
cles wrought in Egypt and in the wilderness?

Answer. Yes, it is very wonderful; but the Jews,
who must have seen bread rained from heaven; who
saw water gush from the rocks and follow them up hill
and down; who noticed that their clothes did not
wear out, and did not even get shiny at the knees,
while the elbows defied the ravages of time, and
their shoes remained perfect for forty years; it is
wonderful that when they saw the ground open
and swallow their comrades; when they saw God
talking face to face with Moses as a man talks with
his friend; after they saw the cloud by day and the
pillar of fire by night,—it is absolutely astonishing
that they had more faith in a golden calf that they
made themselves, than in Jehovah.

Question. How is it that the Jews had no confi-
dence in these miracles?

Answer. Because they were there and saw them.

Question. Do you think that it is necessary for
us to believe all the miracles of the Old Testament
in order to be saved?

Answer. The Old Testament is the foundation of
the New. If the Old Testament is not inspired, then
the New is of no value. If the Old Testament is
inspired, all the miracles are true, and we cannot
believe that God would allow any errors, or false
statements, to creep into an inspired volume, and to
be perpetuated through all these years.

Question. Should we believe the miracles, whether
they are reasonable or not?

Answer. Certainly; if they were reasonable, they
would not be miracles. It is their unreasonableness
that appeals to our credulity and our faith. It is im-
possible to have theological faith in anything that
can be demonstrated. It is the office of faith to
believe, not only without evidence, but in spite of
evidence. It is impossible for the carnal mind to
believe that Samsons muscle depended upon the
length of his hair. “God has made the wisdom of
“this world foolishness.” Neither can the uncon-
verted believe that Elijah stopped at a hotel kept by
ravens. Neither can they believe that a barrel would
in and of itself produce meal, or that an earthen pot
could create oil. But to a Christian, in order that a
widow might feed a preacher, the truth of these
stories is perfectly apparent.

Question. How should we regard the wonderful
stories of the Old Testament?

Answer. They should be looked upon as “types”
and “symbols.” They all have a spiritual signifi-
cance. The reason I believe the story of Jonah is,
that Jonah is a type of Christ.

Question. Do you believe the story of Jonah to
be a true account of a literal fact?

Answer. Certainly. You must remember that
Jonah was not swallowed by a whale. God “pre-
“pared a great fish” for that occasion. Neither is it by
any means certain that Jonah was in the belly of
this whale. “He probably stayed in his mouth.”
Even if he was in his stomach, it was very easy
for him to defy the ordinary action of gastric juice
by rapidly walking up and down.

Question. Do you think that Jonah was really in
the whale’s stomach?

Answer. My own opinion is that he stayed in his
mouth. The only objection to this theory is, that it
is more reasonable than the other and requires less
faith. Nothing could be easier than for God to make
a fish large enough to furnish ample room for one
passenger in his mouth. I throw out this suggestion
simply that you may be able to answer the objections
of infidels who are always laughing at this story.

Question. Do you really believe that Elijah went
to heaven in a chariot of fire, drawn by horses of

Answer. Of course he did.

Question. What was this miracle performed for?

Answer. To convince the people of the power of

Question. Who saw the miracle?

Answer. Nobody but Elisha.

Question. Was he convinced before that time?

Answer. Oh yes; he was one of God’s prophets.

Question. Suppose that in these days two men
should leave a town together, and after a while one
of them should come back having on the clothes of
the other, and should account for the fact that he had
his friend’s clothes by saying that while they were
going along the road together a chariot of fire came
down from heaven drawn by fiery steeds, and there-
upon his friend got into the carriage, threw him his
clothes, and departed,—would you believe it?

Answer. Of course things like that don’t happen
in these days; God does not have to rely on wonders

Question. Do you mean that he performs no
miracles at the present day?

Answer. We cannot say that he does not perform
miracles now, but we are not in position to call atten-
tion to any particular one. Of course he supervises
the affairs of nations and men and does whatever in
his judgment is necessary.

Question. Do you think that Samson’s strength
depended on the length of his hair?

Answer. The Bible so states, and the Bible is true.
A physiologist might say that a man could not use
the muscle in his hair for lifting purposes, but these
same physiologists could not tell you how you move
a finger, nor how you lift a feather; still, actuated by
the pride of intellect, they insist that the length of a
man’s hair could not determine his strength. God
says it did; the physiologist says that it did not; we
can not hesitate whom to believe. For the purpose
of avoiding eternal agony I am willing to believe
anything; I am willing to say that strength depends
upon the length of hair, or faith upon the length of
ears. I am perfectly willing to believe that a man
caught three hundred foxes, and put fire brands be-
tween their tails; that he slew thousands with a bone,
and that he made a bee hive out of a lion. I will
believe, if necessary, that when this man’s hair was
short he hardly had strength enough to stand, and
that when it was long, he could carry away the gates
of a city, or overthrow a temple filled with people.
If the infidel is right, I will lose nothing by believing,
but if he is wrong, I shall gain an eternity of joy.
If God did not intend that we should believe these
stories, he never would have told them, and why
should a man put his soul in peril by trying to dis-
prove one of the statements of the Lord?

Question. Suppose it should turn out that some
of these miracles depend upon mistranslations of the
original Hebrew, should we still believe them?

Answer. The safe side is the best side. It is
far better to err on the side of belief, than on the
side of infidelity. God does not threaten anybody
with eternal punishment for believing too much.

Danger lies on the side of investigation, on the
side of thought. The perfectly idiotic are absolutely
safe. As they diverge from that point,—as they rise
in the intellectual scale, as the brain develops, as the
faculties enlarge, the danger increases. I know that
some biblical students now take the ground that
Samson caught no foxes,—that he only took sheaves
of wheat that had been already cut and bound, set
them on fire, and threw them into the grain still
standing. If this is what he did, of course there is
nothing miraculous about it, and the value of the
story is lost. So, others contend that Elijah was not
fed by the ravens, but by the Arabs. They tell us
that the Hebrew word standing for “Arab” also
stands for “bird,” and that the word really means
“migratory—going from place to place—homeless.”
But I prefer the old version. It certainly will do no
harm to believe that ravens brought bread and flesh
to a prophet of God. Where they got their bread
and flesh is none of my business; how they knew
where the prophet was, and recognized him; or how
God talks to ravens, or how he gave them directions,
I have no right to inquire. I leave these questions
to the scientists, the blasphemers, and thinkers.
There are many people in the church anxious to
get the miracles out of the Bible, and thousands,
I have no doubt, would be greatly gratified to learn
that there is, in fact, nothing miraculous in Scripture;
but when you take away the miraculous, you take
away the supernatural; when you take away the
supernatural, you destroy the ministry; and when
you take away the ministry, hundreds of thousands
of men will be left without employment.

Question. Is it not wonderful that the Egyptians
were not converted by the miracles wrought in their

Answer. Yes, they all would have been, if God
had not purposely hardened their hearts to prevent
it. Jehovah always took great delight in furnishing
the evidence, and then hardening the man’s heart so
that he would not believe it. After all the miracles
that had been performed in Egypt,—the most won-
derful that were ever done in any country, the
Egyptians were as unbelieving as at first; they pur-
sued the Israelites, knowing that they were protected
by an infinite God, and failing to overwhelm them,
came back and worshiped their own false gods just as
firmly as before. All of which shows the unreason-
ableness of a Pagan, and the natural depravity of
human nature.

Question. How did it happen that the Canaanites
were never convinced that the Jews were assisted by

Answer. They must have been an exceedingly
brave people to contend so many years with the
chosen people of God. Notwithstanding all their
cities were burned time and time again; notwith-
standing all the men, women and children were put
to the edge of the sword; notwithstanding the taking
of all their cattle and sheep, they went right on
fighting just as valiantly and desperately as ever.
Each one lost his life many times, and was just as
ready for the next conflict. My own opinion is, that
God kept them alive by raising them from the dead
after each battle, for the purpose of punishing the
Jews. God used his enemies as instruments for the
civilization of the Jewish people. He did not wish
to convert them, because they would give him much
more trouble as Jews than they did as Canaanites.
He had all the Jews he could conveniently take care
of. He found it much easier to kill a hundred
Canaanites than to civilize one Jew.

Question. How do you account for the fact that
the heathen were not surprised at the stopping of the
sun and moon?

Answer. They were so ignorant that they had
not the slightest conception of the real cause of
the phenomenon. Had they known the size of
the earth, and the relation it sustained to the other
heavenly bodies; had they known the magnitude of
the sun, and the motion of the moon, they would,
in all probability, have been as greatly astonished as
the Jews were; but being densely ignorant of as-
tronomy, it must have produced upon them not the
slightest impression. But we must remember that
the sun and moon were not stopped for the purpose
of converting these people, but to give Joshua more
time to kill them. As soon as we see clearly the
purpose of Jehovah, we instantly perceive how ad-
mirable were the means adopted.

Question. Do you not consider the treatment
of the Canaanites to have been cruel and ferocious?

Answer. To a totally depraved man, it does look
cruel; to a being without any good in him,—to one
who has inherited the rascality of many generations,
the murder of innocent women and little children
does seem horrible; to one who is “contaminated in
“all his parts,” by original sin,—who was “conceived
“in sin, and brought forth in iniquity,” the assassina-
tion of men, and the violation of captive maidens,
do not seem consistent with infinite goodness. But
when one has been “born again,” when “the love
“of God has been shed abroad in his heart,” when
he loves all mankind, when he “overcomes evil with
“good,” when he “prays for those who despite-
“fully use him and persecute him,”—to such a man,
the extermination of the Canaanites, the violation
of women, the slaughter of babes, and the destruc-
tion of countless thousands, is the highest evidence
of the goodness, the mercy, and the long-suffering
of God. When a man has been “born again,” all
the passages of the Old Testament that appear so
horrible and so unjust to one in his natural state,
become the dearest, the most consoling, and the
most beautiful of truths. The real Christian reads
the accounts of these ancient battles with the greatest
possible satisfaction. To one who really loves his
enemies, the groans of men, the shrieks of women,
and the cries of babes, make music sweeter than the
zephyr’s breath.

Question. In your judgment, why did God destroy
the Canaanites?

Answer. To prevent their contaminating his
chosen people. He knew that if the Jews were
allowed to live with such neighbors, they would
finally become as bad as the Canaanites themselves.
He wished to civilize his chosen people, and it was
therefore necessary for him to destroy the heathen.

Question. Did God succeed in civilizing the Jews
after he had “removed” the Canaanites?

Answer. Well, not entirely. He had to allow the
heathen he had not destroyed to overrun the whole
land and make captives of the Jews. This was done
for the good of his chosen people.

Question. Did he then succeed in civilizing them?

Answer. Not quite.

Question. Did he ever quite succeed in civilizing

Answer. Well, we must admit that the experi-
ment never was a conspicuous success. The Jews
were chosen by the Almighty 430 years before he
appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai. He was their
direct Governor. He attended personally to their
religion and politics, and gave up a great part of his
valuable time for about two thousand years, to the
management of their affairs; and yet, such was the
condition of the Jewish people, after they had had all
these advantages, that when there arose among them
a perfectly kind, just, generous and honest man, these
people, with whom God had been laboring for so
many centuries, deliberately put to death that good
and loving man.

Question. Do you think that God really endeav-
ored to civilize the Jews?

Answer. This is an exceedingly hard question.
If he had really tried to do it, of course he could
have done it. We must not think of limiting the
power of the infinite. But you must remember that
if he had succeeded in civilizing the Jews, if he had
educated them up to the plane of intellectual liberty,
and made them just and kind and merciful, like him-
self, they would not have crucified Christ, and you
can see at once the awful condition in which we
would all be to-day. No atonement could have
been made; and if no atonement had been made,
then, according to the Christian system, the whole
world would have been lost. We must admit that
there was no time in the history of the Jews from
Sinai to Jerusalem, that they would not have put a
man like Christ to death.

Question. So you think that, after all, it was not
God’s intention that the Jews should become civilized?

Answer. We do not know. We can only say
that “God’s ways are not our ways.” It may be
that God took them in his special charge, for the
purpose of keeping them bad enough to make the
necessary sacrifice. That may have been the divine
plan. In any event, it is safer to believe the explana-
tion that is the most unreasonable.

Question. Do you think that Christ knew the
Jews would crucify him?

Answer. Certainly.

Question. Do you think that when he chose
Judas he knew that he would betray him?

Answer. Certainly.

Question. Did he know when Judas went to the
chief priest and made the bargain for the delivery
of Christ?

Answer. Certainly.

Question. Why did he allow himself to be be-
trayed, if he knew the plot?

Answer. Infidelity is a very good doctrine to live
by, but you should read the last words of Paine and

Question. If Christ knew that Judas would betray
him, why did he choose him?

Answer. Nothing can exceed the atrocities of the
French Revolution—when they carried a woman
through the streets and worshiped her as the goddess
of Reason.

Question. Would not the mission of Christ have
been a failure had no one betrayed him?

Answer. Thomas Paine was a drunkard, and re-
canted on his death-bed, and died a blaspheming
infidel besides.

Question. Is it not clear that an atonement was
necessary; and is it not equally clear that the atone-
ment could not have been made unless somebody
had betrayed Christ; and unless the Jews had been
wicked and orthodox enough to crucify him?

Answer. Of course the atonement had to be
made. It was a part of the “divine plan” that Christ
should be betrayed, and that the Jews should be
wicked enough to kill him. Otherwise, the world
would have been lost.

Question. Suppose Judas had understood the
divine plan, what ought he to have done? Should
he have betrayed Christ, or let somebody else do it;
or should he have allowed the world to perish, in-
cluding his own soul?

Answer. If you take the Bible away from the
world, “how would it be possible to have witnesses
“sworn in courts;” how would it be possible to ad-
minister justice?

Question. If Christ had not been betrayed and
crucified, is it true that his own mother would be in
perdition to-day?

Answer. Most assuredly. There was but one
way by which she could be saved, and that was by
the death of her son—through the blood of the
atonement. She was totally depraved through the
sin of Adam, and deserved eternal death. Even her
love for the infant Christ was, in the sight of God,—
that is to say, of her babe,—wickedness. It can not
be repeated too often that there is only one way to
be saved, and that is, to believe in the Lord Jesus

Question. Could Christ have prevented the Jews
from crucifying him?

Answer. He could.

Question. If he could have saved his life and did
not, was he not guilty of suicide?

Answer. No one can understand these questions
who has not read the prophecies of Daniel, and has
not a clear conception of what is meant by “the full-
“ness of time.”

Question. What became of all the Canaanites, the
Egyptians, the Hindus, the Greeks and Romans and
Chinese? What became of the billions who died
before the promise was made to Abraham; of the
billions and billions who never heard of the Bible,
who never heard the name, even, of Jesus Christ—
never knew of “the scheme of salvation”? What
became of the millions and billions who lived in this
hemisphere, and of whose existence Jehovah himself
seemed perfectly ignorant?

Answer. They were undoubtedly lost. God
having made them, had a right to do with them as
he pleased. They are probably all in hell to-day, and
the fact that they are damned, only adds to the joy
of the redeemed. It is by contrast that we are able
to perceive the infinite kindness with which God has
treated us.

Question. Is it not possible that something can
be done for a human soul in another world as well as
in this?

Answer. No; this is the only world in which
God even attempts to reform anybody. In the
other world, nothing is done for the purpose of
making anybody better. Here in this world, where
man lives but a few days, is the only opportunity
for moral improvement. A minister can do a thou-
sand times more for a soul than its creator; and this
country is much better adapted to moral growth than
heaven itself. A person who lived on this earth a
few years, and died without having been converted,
has no hope in another world. The moment he arrives
at the judgment seat, nothing remains but to damn
him. Neither God, nor the Holy Ghost, nor Jesus
Christ, can have the least possible influence with
him there.

Question. When God created each human being,
did he know exactly what would be his eternal fate?

Answer. Most assuredly he did.

Question. Did he know that hundreds and millions
and billions would suffer eternal pain?

Answer. Certainly. But he gave them freedom
of choice between good and evil.

Question. Did he know exactly how they would
use that freedom?

Answer. Yes.

Question. Did he know that billions would use
it wrong?

Answer. Yes.

Question. Was it optional with him whether he
should make such people or not?

Answer. Certainly.

Question. Had these people any option as to
whether they would be made or not?

Answer, No.

Question. Would it not have been far better to
leave them unconscious dust?

Answer. These questions show how foolish it is
to judge God according to a human standard. What
to us seems just and merciful, God may regard in an
exactly opposite light; and we may hereafter be
developed to such a degree that we will regard the
agonies of the damned as the highest possible evi-
dence of the goodness and mercy of God.

Question. How do you account for the fact that
God did not make himself known except to Abra-
ham and his descendants? Why did he fail to
reveal himself to the other nations—nations that,
compared with the Jews, were learned, cultivated
and powerful? Would you regard a revelation now
made to the Esquimaux as intended for us; and
would it be a revelation of which we would be
obliged to take notice?

Answer. Of course, God could have revealed him-
self, not only to all the great nations, but to each
individual. He could have had the Ten Command-
ments engraved on every heart and brain; or he
could have raised up prophets in every land; but
he chose, rather, to allow countless millions of his
children to wander in the darkness and blackness of
Nature; chose, rather, that they should redden their
hands in each other’s blood; chose, rather, that they
should live without light, and die without hope;
chose, rather, that they should suffer, not only in this
world, but forever in the next. Of course we have
no right to find fault with the choice of God.

Question. Now you can tell a sinner to “believe
“on the Lord Jesus Christ;” what could a sinner have
been told in Egypt, three thousand years ago; and
in what language would you have addressed a Hindu
in the days of Buddha—the “divine scheme” at that
time being a secret in the divine breast?

Answer. It is not for us to think upon these
questions. The moment we examine the Christian
system, we begin to doubt. In a little while, we shall
be infidels, and shall lose the respect of those who
refuse to think. It is better to go with the majority.
These doctrines are too sacred to be touched. You
should be satisfied with the religion of your father
and your mother. “You want some book on the
“centre-table,” in the parlor; it is extremely handy
to have a Family Record; and what book, other than
the Bible, could a mother give a son as he leaves the
old homestead?

Question. Is it not wonderful that all the writers
of the four gospels do not give an account of the
ascension of Jesus Christ?

Answer. This question has been answered long
ago, time and time again.

Question. Perhaps it has, but would it not be
well enough to answer it once more? Some may
not have seen the answer?

Answer. Show me the hospitals that infidels
have built; show me the asylums that infidels
have founded.

Question. I know you have given the usual an-
swer; but after all, is it not singular that a miracle
so wonderful as the bodily ascension of a man, should
not have been mentioned by all the writers of that
man’s life? Is it not wonderful that some of them
said that he did ascend, and others that he agreed to
stay with his disciples always?

Answer. People unacquainted with the Hebrew,
can have no conception of these things. A story
in plain English, does not sound as it does in Hebrew.
Miracles seem altogether more credible, when told in
a dead language.

Question. What, in your judgment, became of
the dead who were raised by Christ? Is it not
singular that they were never mentioned afterward?

Would not a man who had been raised from the
dead naturally be an object of considerable interest,
especially to his friends and acquaintances? And
is it not also wonderful that Christ, after having
wrought so many miracles, cured so many lame and
halt and blind, fed so many thousands miraculously,
and after having entered Jerusalem in triumph as a
conqueror and king, had to be pointed out by one
of his own disciples who was bribed for the purpose?

Answer. Of course, all these things are exceed-
ingly wonderful, and if found in any other book,
would be absolutely incredible; but we have no
right to apply the same kind of reasoning to the
Bible that we apply to the Koran or to the sacred
books of the Hindus. For the ordinary affairs of
this world, God has given us reason; but in the
examination of religious questions, we should de-
pend upon credulity and faith.

Question. If Christ came to offer himself a sacri-
fice, for the purpose of making atonement for the
sins of such as might believe on him, why did he
not make this fact known to all of his disciples?

Answer. He did. This was, and is, the gospel.

Question. How is it that Matthew says nothing
about “salvation by faith,” but simply says that God
will be merciful to the merciful, that he will forgive
the forgiving, and says not one word about the
necessity of believing anything?

Answer. But you will remember that Mark says,
in the last chapter of his gospel, that “whoso be-
“lieveth not shall be damned.”

Question. Do you admit that Matthew says
nothing on the subject?

Answer. Yes, I suppose I must.

Question. Is not that passage in Mark generally
admitted to be an interpolation?

Answer. Some biblical scholars say that it is.

Question. Is that portion of the last chapter of
Mark found in the Syriac version of the Bible?

Answer. It is not.

Question. If it was necessary to believe on Jesus
Christ, in order to be saved, how is it that Matthew
failed to say so?

Answer. “There are more copies of the Bible
“printed to-day, than of any other book in the world,
“and it is printed in more languages than any other

Question. Do you consider it necessary to be
“regenerated”—to be “born again”—in order to be

Answer. Certainly.

Question. Did Matthew say anything on the sub-
ject of “regeneration”?

Answer. No.

Question. Did Mark?

Answer. No.

Question. Did Luke?

Answer. No.

Question. Is Saint John the only one who speaks
of the necessity of being “born again”?

Answer. He is.

Question. Do you think that Matthew, Mark and
Luke knew anything about the necessity of “regen-

Answer. Of course they did.

Question. Why did they fail to speak of it?

Answer. There is no civilization without the Bible.
The moment you throw away the sacred Scriptures,
you are all at sea—you are without an anchor and
without a compass.

Question. You will remember that, according to
Mark, Christ said to his disciples: “Go ye into all
“the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Did he refer to the gospel set forth by Mark?

Answer. Of course he did.

Question. Well, in the gospel set forth by Mark,
there is not a word about “regeneration,” and no
word about the necessity of believing anything—ex-
cept in an interpolated passage. Would it not seem
from this, that “regeneration” and a “belief in the
“Lord Jesus Christ,” are no part of the gospel?

Answer. Nothing can exceed in horror the last
moments of the infidel; nothing can be more ter-
rible than the death of the doubter. When the
glories of this world fade from the vision; when am-
bition becomes an empty name; when wealth turns
to dust in the palsied hand of death, of what use is
philosophy then? Who cares then for the pride of
intellect? In that dread moment, man needs some-
thing to rely on, whether it is true or not.

Question. Would it not have been more con-
vincing if Christ, after his resurrection, had shown
himself to his enemies as well as to his friends?
Would it not have greatly strengthened the evidence
in the case, if he had visited Pilate; had presented
himself before Caiaphas, the high priest; if he had
again entered the temple, and again walked the
streets of Jerusalem?

Answer. If the evidence had been complete and
overwhelming, there would have been no praise-
worthiness in belief; even publicans and sinners
would have believed, if the evidence had been suffi-
cient. The amount of evidence required is the test
of the true Christian spirit.

Question. Would it not also have been better
had the ascension taken place in the presence of
unbelieving thousands; it seems such a pity to have
wasted such a demonstration upon those already

Answer. These questions are the natural fruit of
the carnal mind, and can be accounted for only by
the doctrine of total depravity. Nothing has given
the church more trouble than just such questions.
Unholy curiosity, a disposition to pry into the divine
mysteries, a desire to know, to investigate, to explain
—in short, to understand, are all evidences of a re-
probate mind.

Question. How can we account for the fact that
Matthew alone speaks of the wise men of the East
coming with gifts to the infant Christ; that he alone
speaks of the little babes being killed by Herod? Is
it possible that the other writers never heard of these

Answer. Nobody can get any good out of the
Bible by reading it in a critical spirit. The contra-
dictions and discrepancies are only apparent, and melt
away before the light of faith. That which in other
books would be absolute and palpable contradiction,
is, in the Bible, when spiritually discerned, a perfect
and beautiful harmony. My own opinion is, that
seeming contradictions are in the Bible for the pur-
pose of testing and strengthening the faith of Chris-
tians, and for the further purpose of ensnaring infidels,
“that they might believe a lie and be damned.”
Question. Is it possible that a good God would
take pains to deceive his children?

Answer. The Bible is filled with instances of that
kind, and all orthodox ministers now know that
fossil animals—that is, representations of animals in
stone, were placed in the rocks on purpose to mis-
lead men like Darwin and Humboldt, Huxley and
Tyndall. It is also now known that God, for the
purpose of misleading the so-called men of science,
had hairy elephants preserved in ice, made stomachs
for them, and allowed twigs of trees to be found in
these stomachs, when, as a matter of fact, no such
elephants ever lived or ever died. These men who
are endeavoring to overturn the Scriptures with the
lever of science will find that they have been de-
ceived. Through all eternity they will regret their

philosophy. They will wish, in the next world, that
they had thrown away geology and physiology and
all other “ologies” except theology. The time is
coming when Jehovah will “mock at their fears and
“laugh at their calamity.”

Question. If Joseph was not the father of Christ,
why was his genealogy given to show that Christ
was of the blood of David; why would not the
genealogy of any other Jew have done as well?

Answer. That objection was raised and answered
hundreds of years ago.

Question. If they wanted to show that Christ was of
the blood of David, why did they not give the gene-
alogy of his mother if Joseph was not his father?

Answer. That objection was answered hundreds
of years ago.

Question. How was it answered?

Answer. When Voltaire was dying, he sent for a

Question. How does it happen that the two gene-
alogies given do not agree?

Answer. Perhaps they were written by different

Question. Were both these persons inspired by
the same God?

Answer. Of course.

Question. Why were the miracles recorded in the
New Testament performed?

Answer. The miracles were the evidence relied
on to prove the supernatural origin and the divine
mission of Jesus Christ.

Question. Aside from the miracles, is there any
evidence to show the supernatural origin or character
of Jesus Christ?

Answer. Some have considered that his moral
precepts are sufficient, of themselves, to show that
he was divine.

Question. Had all of his moral precepts been
taught before he lived?

Answer. The same things had been said, but they
did not have the same meaning.

Question. Does the fact that Buddha taught the
same tend to show that he was of divine origin?

Answer. Certainly not. The rules of evidence
applicable to the Bible are not applicable to other
books. We examine other books in the light of
reason; the Bible is the only exception. So, we
should not judge of Christ as we do of any other

Question. Do you think that Christ wrought
many of his miracles because he was good, charitable,
and filled with pity?

Answer. Certainly

Question. Has he as much power now as he had
when on earth?

Answer. Most assuredly.

Question. Is he as charitable and pitiful now, as
he was then?

Answer. Yes.

Question. Why does he not now cure the lame
and the halt and the blind?

Answer. It is well known that, when Julian the
Apostate was dying, catching some of his own blood
in his hand and throwing it into the air he exclaimed:
“Galileean, thou hast conquered!”

Question. Do you consider it our duty to love our

Answer. Certainly.

Question. Is virtue the same in all worlds?

Answer. Most assuredly.

Question. Are we under obligation to render good
for evil, and to “pray for those who despitefully use us”?

Answer. Yes.

Question. Will Christians in heaven love their

Answer. Y es; if their neighbors are not in hell.

Question. Do good Christians pity sinners in this

Answer. Yes.

Question. Why?

Answer. Because they regard them as being in
great danger of the eternal wrath of God.

Question. After these sinners have died, and
been sent to hell, will the Christians in heaven then
pity them?

Answer. No. Angels have no pity.

Question. If we are under obligation to love our
enemies, is not God under obligation to love his?
If we forgive our enemies, ought not God to forgive
his? If we forgive those who injure us, ought not
God to forgive those who have not injured him?

Answer. God made us, and he has therefore the
right to do with us as he pleases. Justice demands
that he should damn all of us, and the few that he
will save will be saved through mercy and without
the slightest respect to anything they may have done
themselves. Such is the justice of God, that those
in hell will have no right to complain, and those in
heaven will have no right to be there. Hell is justice,
and salvation is charity.

Question. Do you consider it possible for a law to
be jusdy satisfied by the punishment of an innocent

Answer. Such is the scheme of the atonement.
As man is held responsible for the sin of Adam, so
he will be credited with the virtues of Christ; and
you can readily see that one is exactly as reasonable
as the other.

Question. Suppose a man honestly reads the New
Testament, and honestly concludes that it is not an
inspired book; suppose he honestly makes up his
mind that the miracles are not true; that the devil
never really carried Christ to the pinnacle of the
temple; that devils were really never cast out of a
man and allowed to take refuge in swine;—I say,
suppose that he is honestly convinced that these
things are not true, what ought he to say?

Answer. He ought to say nothing.

Question. Suppose that the same man should read
the Koran, and come to the conclusion that it is not
an inspired book; what ought he to say?

Answer. He ought to say that it is not inspired;
his fellow-men are entitled to his honest opinion, and
it is his duty to do what he can do to destroy a per-
nicious superstition.

Question. Suppose then, that a reader of the Bible,
having become convinced that it is not inspired—
honestly convinced—says nothing—keeps his con-
clusion absolutely to himself, and suppose he dies in
that belief, can he be saved?

Answer. Certainly not.

Question. Has the honesty of his belief anything
to do with his future condition?

Answer. Nothing whatever.,

Question. Suppose that he tried to believe, that
he hated to disagree with his friends, and with his
parents, but that in spite of himself he was forced to
the conclusion that the Bible is not the inspired word
of God, would he then deserve eternal punishment?

Answer. Certainly he would.

Question. Can a man control his belief?

Answer. He cannot—except as to the Bible.

Question. Do you consider it just in God to
create a man who cannot believe the Bible, and then
damn him because he does not?

Answer. Such is my belief.

Question. Is it your candid opinion that a man
who does not believe the Bible should keep his
belief a secret from his fellow-men?

Answer. It is.

Question. How do I know that you believe the
Bible? You have told me that if you did not be-
lieve it, you would not tell me?

Answer. There is no way for you to ascertain,
except by taking my word for it.

Question. What will be the fate of a man who
does not believe it, and yet pretends to believe it?

Answer. He will be damned.

Question. Then hypocrisy will not save him?

Answer. No.

Question. And if he does not believe it, and ad-
mits that he does not believe it, then his honesty will
not save him?

Answer. No. Honesty on the wrong side is no
better than hypocrisy on the right side.

Question. Do we know who wrote the gospels?

Answer. Yes; we do.

Question. Are we absolutely sure who wrote

Answer. Of course; we have the evidence as it
has come to us through the Catholic Church.

Question. Can we rely upon the Catholic Church

Answer. No; assuredly no! But we have the
testimony of Polycarp and Irenæus and Clement,
and others of the early fathers, together with that of
the Christian historian, Eusebius.

Question. What do we really know about Polycarp?

Answer. We know that he suffered martyrdom un-
der Marcus Aurelius, and that for quite a time the fire
refused to burn his body, the flames arching over him,
leaving him in a kind of fiery tent; and we also know
that from his body came a fragrance like frankincense,
and that the Pagans were so exasperated at seeing
the miracle, that one of them thrust a sword through
the body of Polycarp; that the blood flowed out and
extinguished the flames and that out of the wound
flew the soul of the martyr in the form of a dove.

Question. Is that all we know about Polycarp?

Answer. Yes, with the exception of a few more
like incidents.

Question. Do we know that Polycarp ever met
St. John?

Answer. Yes; Eusebius says so.

Question. Are we absolutely certain that he ever

Answer. Yes, or Eusebius could not have written
about him.

Question. Do we know anything of the character
of Eusebius?

Answer. Yes; we know that he was untruthful
only when he wished to do good. But God can use
even the dishonest. Other books have to be sub-
stantiated by truthful men, but such is the power of
God, that he can establish the inspiration of the Bible
by the most untruthful witnesses. If God’s witnesses
were honest, anybody could believe, and what be-
comes of faith, one of the greatest virtues?

Question. Is the New Testament now the same as
it was in the days of the early fathers?

Answer. Certainly not. Many books now thrown
out, and not esteemed of divine origin, were esteemed
divine by Polycarp and Irenæus and Clement and
many of the early churches. These books are now
called “apocryphal.”

Question. Have you not the same witnesses in
favor of their authenticity, that you have in favor of
the gospels?

Answer. Precisely the same. Except that they
were thrown out.

Question. Why were they thrown out?

Answer. Because the Catholic Church did not es-
teem them inspired.

Question. Did the Catholics decide for us which
are the true gospels and which are the true epistles?

Answer. Yes. The Catholic Church was then the
only church, and consequently must have been the
true church.

Question. How did the Catholic Church select the
true books?

Answer. Councils were called, and votes were
taken, very much as we now pass resolutions in
political meetings.

Question. Was the Catholic Church infallible then?

Answer. It was then, but it is not now.

Question. If the Catholic Church at that time
had thrown out the book of Revelation, would it
now be our duty to believe that book to have been

Answer. No, I suppose not.

Question. Is it not true that some of these books
were adopted by exceedingly small majorities?

Answer. It is.

Question. If the Epistle to the Hebrews and to
the Romans, and the book of Revelation had been
thrown out, could a man now be saved who honestly
believes the rest of the books?

Answer. This is doubtful.

Question. Were the men who picked out the in-
spired books inspired?

Answer. We cannot tell, but the probability is
that they were.

Question. Do we know that they picked out the
right ones?

Answer. Well, not exactly, but we believe that
they did.

Question. Are we certain that some of the books
that were thrown out were not inspired?

Answer. Well, the only way to tell is to read
them carefully.

Question. If upon reading these apocryphal books
a man concludes that they are not inspired, will he be
damned for that reason?

Answer. No. Certainly not.

Question. If he concludes that some of them are
inspired, and believes them, will he then be damned
for that belief?

Answer. Oh, no! Nobody is ever damned for
believing too much.

Question. Does the fact that the books now com-
prising the New Testament were picked out by the
Catholic Church prevent their being examined now
by an honest man, as they were examined at the time
they were picked out?

Answer. No; not if the man comes to the con-
clusion that they are inspired.

Question. Does the fact that the Catholic Church
picked them out and declared them to be inspired,
render it a crime to examine them precisely as you
would examine the books that the Catholic Church
threw out and declared were not inspired?

Answer. I think it does.

Question. At the time the council was held in which
it was determined which of the books of the New
Testament are inspired, a respectable minority voted
against some that were finally decided to be inspired.
If they were honest in the vote they gave, and died
without changing their opinions, are they now in hell?

Answer. Well, they ought to be.

Question. If those who voted to leave the book
of Revelation out of the canon, and the gospel of
Saint John out of the canon, believed honestly that
these were not inspired books, how should they have

Answer. Well, I suppose a man ought to vote as
he honestly believes—except in matters of religion.

Question. If the Catholic Church was not infal-
lible, is the question still open as to what books are,
and what are not, inspired?

Answer. I suppose the question is still open—
but it would be dangerous to decide it.

Question. If, then, I examine all the books again,
and come to the conclusion that some that were
thrown out were inspired, and some that were ac-
cepted were not inspired, ought I to say so?

Answer. Not if it is contrary to the faith of your
father, or calculated to interfere with your own po-
litical prospects.

Question. Is it as great a sin to admit into the
Bible books that are uninspired as to reject those
that are inspired?

Answer. Well, it is a crime to reject an inspired
book, no matter how unsatisfactory the evidence is
for its inspiration, but it is not a crime to receive an
uninspired book. God damns nobody for believing
too much. An excess of credulity is simply to err in
the direction of salvation.

Question. Suppose a man disbelieves in the inspira-
tion of the New Testament—believes it to be entirely
the work of uninspired men; and suppose he also be-
lieves—but not from any evidence obtained in the New
Testament—that Jesus Christ was the son of God, and
that he made atonement for his soul, can he then be
saved without a belief in the inspiration of the Bible?

Answer. This has not yet been decided by
our church, and I do not wish to venture an

Question. Suppose a man denies the inspiration
of the Scriptures; suppose that he also denies the
divinity of Jesus Christ; and suppose, further, that
he acts precisely as Christ is said to have acted;
suppose he loves his enemies, prays for those who
despitefully use him, and does all the good he pos-
sibly can, is it your opinion that such a man will be

Answer. No, sir. There is “none other name
“given under heaven and among men,” whereby a
sinner can be saved but the name of Christ.

Question. Then it is your opinion that God
would save a murderer who believed in Christ, and
would damn another man, exactly like Christ, who
failed to believe in him?

Answer. Yes; because we have the blessed
promise that, out of Christ, “our God is a consuming

Question. Suppose a man read the Bible care-
fully and honestly, and was not quite convinced that
it was true, and that while examining the subject, he
died; what then?

Answer. I do not believe that God would allow
him to examine the matter in another world, or to
make up his mind in heaven. Of course, he would
eternally perish.

Question. Could Christ now furnish evidence
enough to convince every human being of the truth
of the Bible?

Answer. Of course he could, because he is in-

Question. Are any miracles performed now?

Answer. Oh, no!

Question. Have we any testimony, except human
testimony, to substantiate any miracle?

Answer. Only human testimony.

Question. Do all men give the same force to the
same evidence?

Answer. By no means.

Question. Have all honest men who have exam-
ined the Bible believed it to be inspired?

Answer. Of course they have. Infidels are not

Question. Could any additional evidence have
been furnished?

Answer. With perfect ease.

Question. Would God allow a soul to suffer
eternal agony rather than furnish evidence of the
truth of his Bible?

Answer. God has furnished plenty of evidence,
and altogether more than was really necessary. We
should read the Bible in a believing spirit.

Question. Are all parts of the inspired books
equally true?

Answer. Necessarily.

Question. According to Saint Matthew, God
promises to forgive all who will forgive others; not
one word is said about believing in Christ, or believ-
ing in the miracles, or in any Bible; did Matthew tell
the truth?

Answer. The Bible must be taken as a whole;
and if other conditions are added somewhere else,
then you must comply with those other conditions.
Matthew may not have stated all the conditions.

Question. I find in another part of the New
Testament, that a young man came to Christ and
asked him what was necessary for him to do in order
that he might inherit eternal life. Christ did not tell
him that he must believe the Bible, or that he must
believe in him, or that he must keep the Sabbath-
day; was Christ honest with that young man?

Answer. Well, I suppose he was.

Question. You will also recollect that Zaccheus
said to Christ, that where he had wronged any man
he had made restitution, and further, that half his
goods he had given to the poor; and you will re-
member that Christ said to Zaccheus: “This day
“hath salvation come to thy house.” Why did not
Christ tell Zaccheus that he “must be born again;”
that he must “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ”?

Answer. Of course there are mysteries in our
holy religion that only those who have been “born
“again” can understand. You must remember that
“the carnal mind is enmity with God.”

Question. Is it not strange that Christ, in his Ser-
mon on the Mount, did not speak of “regeneration,”
or of the “scheme of salvation”?

Answer. Well, it may be.

Question. Can a man be saved now by living
exactly in accordance with the Sermon on the Mount?

Answer. He can not.

Question. Would then a man, by following the
course of conduct prescribed by Christ in the Sermon
on the Mount, lose his soul?

Answer. He most certainly would, because there
is not one word in the Sermon on the Mount about
believing on the Lord Jesus Christ; not one word
about believing in the Bible; not one word about the
“atonement;” not one word about “regeneration.”
So that, if the Presbyterian Church is right, it is abso-
lutely certain that a man might follow the teachings
of the Sermon on the Mount, and live in accordance
with its every word, and yet deserve and receive the
eternal condemnation of God. But we must remem-
ber that the Sermon on the Mount was preached be-
fore Christianity existed. Christ was talking to Jews.

Question. Did Christ write anything himself, in
the New Testament?

Answer. Not a word.

Question. Did he tell any of his disciples to write
any of his words?

Answer. There is no account of it, if he did.

Question. Do we know whether any of the dis-
ciples wrote anything?

Answer. Of course they did.

Question. How do you know?

Answer. Because the gospels bear their names.

Question. Are you satisfied that Christ was abso-
lutely God?

Answer. Of course he was. We believe that
Christ and God and the Holy Ghost are all the same,
that the three form one, and that each one is three.

Question. Was Christ the God of the universe at
the time of his birth?

Answer. He certainly was.

Question. Was he the infinite God, creator
and controller of the entire universe, before he was

Answer. Of course he was. This is the mystery
of “God manifest in the flesh.” The infidels have
pretended that he was like any other child, and was
in fact supported by Nature instead of being the
supporter of Nature. They have insisted that like
other children, he had to be cared for by his mother.
Of course he appeared to be cared for by his mother.
It was a part of the plan that in all respects he should
appear to be like other children.

Question. Did he know just as much before he
was born as after?

Answer. If he was God of course he did.

Question. How do you account for the fact that
Saint Luke tells us, in the last verse of the second
chapter of his gospel, that “Jesus increased in wis-
“dom and stature”?

Answer. That I presume is a figure of speech;
because, if he was God, he certainly could not have
increased in wisdom. The physical part of him could
increase in stature, but the intellectual part must have
been infinite all the time.

Question. Do you think that Luke was mistaken?

Answer. No; I believe what Luke said. If it
appears untrue, or impossible, then I know that it is
figurative or symbolical.

Question. Did I understand you to say that Christ
was actually God?

Answer. Of course he was.

Question. Then why did Luke say in the same
verse of the same chapter that “Jesus increased in
“favor with God”?

Answer. I dare you to go into a room by your-
self and read the fourteenth chapter of Saint John!

Question. Is it necessary to understand the Bible
in order to be saved?

Answer. Certainly not; it is only necessary that
you believe it.

Question. Is it necessary to believe all the

Answer. It may not be necessary, but as it is im-
possible to tell which ones can safely be left out, you
had better believe them all.

Question. Then you regard belief as the safe

Answer. Of course it is better to be fooled in this
world than to be damned in the next.

Question. Do you think that there are any cruel-
ties on God’s part recorded in the Bible?

Answer. At first flush, many things done by God
himself, as well as by his prophets, appear to be
cruel; but if we examine them closely, we will find
them to be exactly the opposite.

Question. How do you explain the story of Elisha
and the children,—where the two she-bears destroyed
forty-two children on account of their impudence?

Answer. This miracle, in my judgment, estab-
lishes two things: 1. That children should be polite
to ministers, and 2. That God is kind to animals—
“giving them their meat in due season.” These
bears have been great educators—they are the
foundation of the respect entertained by the young
for theologians. No child ever sees a minister now
without thinking of a bear.

Question. What do you think of the story of
Daniel—you no doubt remember it? Some men
told the king that Daniel was praying contrary to
law, and thereupon Daniel was cast into a den of
lions; but the lions could not touch him, their
mouths having been shut by angels. The next
morning, the king, finding that Daniel was still
intact, had him taken out; and then, for the purpose
of gratifying Daniels God, the king had all the men
who had made the complaint against Daniel, and
their wives and their little children, brought and cast
into the lions’ den. According to the account, the
lions were so hungry that they caught these wives
and children as they dropped, and broke all their
bones in pieces before they had even touched the
ground. Is it not wonderful that God failed to pro-
tect these innocent wives and children?

Answer. These wives and children were heathen;
they were totally depraved. And besides, they were
used as witnesses. The fact that they were devoured
with such quickness shows that the lions were
hungry. Had it not been for this, infidels would
have accounted for the safety of Daniel by saying
that the lions had been fed.

Question. Do you believe that Shadrach, Meshach
and Abednego were cast “into a burning fiery furnace
“heated one seven times hotter than it was wont to
“be heated,” and that they had on “their coats, their
“hosen and their hats,” and that when they came
out “not a hair of their heads was singed, nor was
“the smell of fire upon their garments”?

Answer. The evidence of this miracle is exceed-
ingly satisfactory. It resulted in the conversion of

Question. How do you know he was converted?

Answer. Because immediately after the miracle
the king issued a decree that “every people, nation
“and language that spoke anything amiss against
“the God of Shadrach and Company, should be cut
“in pieces.” This decree shows that he had become
a true disciple and worshiper of Jehovah.

Question. If God in those days preserved from
the fury of the fire men who were true to him and
would not deny his name, why is it that he has failed
to protect thousands of martyrs since that time?

Answer. This is one of the divine mysteries.
God has in many instances allowed his enemies to
kill his friends. I suppose this was allowed for the
good of his enemies, that the heroism of the mar-
tyrs might convert them.

Question. Do you believe all the miracles?

Answer. I believe them all, because I believe the
Bible to be inspired.

Question. What makes you think it is inspired?

Answer. I have never seen anybody who knew
it was not; besides, my father and mother believed it.

Question. Have you any other reasons for be-
lieving it to be inspired?

Answer. Yes; there are more copies of the Bible
printed than of any other book; and it is printed in
more languages. And besides, it would be impossible
to get along without it.

Question. Why could we not get along without it?

Answer. We would have nothing to swear wit-
nesses by; no book in which to keep the family
record; nothing for the centre-table, and nothing for
a mother to give her son. No nation can be civilized
without the Bible.

Question. Did God always know that a Bible was
necessary to civilize a country?

Answer. Certainly he did.

Question. Why did he not give a Bible to
the Egyptians, the Hindus, the Greeks and the

Answer. It is astonishing what perfect fools in-
fidels are.

Question. Why do you call infidels “fools”?

Answer. Because I find in the fifth chapter of the
gospel according to Matthew the following: “Who-
“soever shall say ‘Thou fool!’ shall be in danger of
“hell fire.”

Question. Have I the right to read the Bible?

Answer. Yes. You not only have the right, but
it is your duty.

Question. In reading the Bible the words make
certain impressions on my mind. These impressions
depend upon my brain,—upon my intelligence. Is
not this true?

Answer. Of course, when you read the Bible, im-
pressions are made upon your mind.

Question. Can I control these impressions?

Answer. I do not think you can, as long as you
remain in a sinful state.

Question. How am I to get out of this sinful state?

Answer. You must believe on the Lord Jesus
Christ, and you must read the Bible in a prayerful
spirit and with a believing heart.

Question. Suppose that doubts force themselves
upon my mind?

Answer. Then you will know that you are a sin-
ner, and that you are depraved.

Question. If I have the right to read the Bible,
have I the right to try to understand it?

Answer. Most assuredly.

Question. Do you admit that I have the right to
reason about it and to investigate it?

Answer. Yes; I admit that. Of course you can-
not help reasoning about what you read.

Question. Does the right to read a book include
the right to give your opinion as to the truth of what
the book contains?

Answer. Of course,—if the book is not inspired.
Infidels hate the Bible because it is inspired, and
Christians know that it is inspired because infidels
say that it is not.

Question. Have I the right to decide for myself
whether or not the book is inspired?

Answer. You have no right to deny the truth of
God’s Holy Word.

Question. Is God the author of all books?

Answer. Certainly not.

Question. Have I the right to say that God did
not write the Koran?

Answer. Yes.

Question. Why?

Answer. Because the Koran was written by an

Question. How do you know?

Answer. My reason tells me so.

Question. Have you the right to be guided by
your reason?

Answer. I must be.

Question. Have you the same right to follow your
reason after reading the Bible?

Answer. No. The Bible is the standard of reason.
The Bible is not to be judged or corrected by your
reason. Your reason is to be weighed and measured
by the Bible. The Bible is different from other
books and must not be read in the same critical spirit,
nor judged by the same standard.

Question. What did God give us reason for?

Answer. So that we might investigate other
religions, and examine other so-called sacred books.

Question. If a man honestly thinks that the Bible
is not inspired, what should he say?

Answer. He should admit that he is mistaken.

Question. When he thinks he is right?

Answer. Yes. The Bible is different from other
books. It is the master of reason. You read the
Bible, not to see if that is wrong, but to see
whether your reason is right. It is the only book
about which a man has no right to reason. He must
believe. The Bible is addressed, not to the reason,
but to the ears: “He that hath ears to hear, let
“him hear.”

Question. Do you think we have the right to tell
what the Bible means—what ideas God intended to
convey, or has conveyed to us, through the medium
of the Bible?

Answer. Well, I suppose you have that right.
Yes, that must be your duty. You certainly ought
to tell others what God has said to you.

Question. Do all men get the same ideas from
the Bible?

Answer. No.

Question. How do you account for that?

Answer. Because all men are not alike; they
differ in intellect, in education, and in experience.

Question. Who has the right to decide as to the
real ideas that God intended to convey?

Answer. I am a Protestant, and believe in the
right of private judgment. Whoever does not is a
Catholic. Each man must be his own judge, but God
will hold him responsible.

Question. Does God believe in the right of private

Answer. Of course he does.

Question. Is he willing that I should exercise my
judgment in deciding whether the Bible is inspired or

Answer. No. He believes in the exercise of

private judgment only in the examination and rejec-
tion of other books than the Bible.

Question. Is he a Catholic?

Answer. I cannot answer blasphemy! Let me
tell you that God will “laugh at your calamity, and
“will mock when your fear cometh.” You will be

Question. Why do you curse infidels?

Answer. Because I am a Christian.

Question. Did not Christ say that we ought to
“bless those who curse us,” and that we should
“love our enemies”?

Answer. Yes, but he cursed the Pharisees and
called them “hypocrites” and “vipers.”

Question. How do you account for that?

Answer. It simply shows the difference between
theory and practice.

Question. What do you consider the best way to
answer infidels.

Answer. The old way is the best. You should
say that their arguments are ancient, and have been
answered over and over again. If this does not
satisfy your hearers, then you should attack the
character of the infidel—then that of his parents—
then that of his children.

Question. Suppose that the infidel is a good man,
how will you answer him then?

Answer. But an infidel cannot be a good man.
Even if he is, it is better that he should lose his
reputation, than that thousands should lose their
souls. We know that all infidels are vile and infa-
mous. We may not have the evidence, but we know
that it exists.

Question. How should infidels be treated? Should
Christians try to convert them?

Answer. Christians should have nothing to do
with infidels. It is not safe even to converse with
them. They are always talking about reason, and
facts, and experience. They are filled with sophistry
and should be avoided.

Question. Should Christians pray for the con-
version of infidels?

Answer. Yes; but such prayers should be made
in public and the name of the infidel should be given
and his vile and hideous heart portrayed so that the
young may be warned.

Question. Whom do you regard as infidels?

Answer. The scientists—the geologists, the as-
tronomers, the naturalists, the philosophers. No one
can overestimate the evil that has been wrought
by Laplace, Humboldt, Darwin, Huxley, Haeckel,
Renan, Emerson, Strauss, Bikhner, Tyndall, and
their wretched followers. These men pretended to
know more than Moses and the prophets. They
were “dogs baying at the moon.” They were
“wolves” and “fools.” They tried to “assassinate
“God,” and worse than all, they actually laughed
at the clergy,

Question. Do you think they did, and are doing
great harm?

Answer. Certainly. Of what use are all the
sciences, if you lose your own soul? People in hell
will care nothing about education. The rich man
said nothing about science, he wanted water.
Neither will they care about books and theories
in heaven. If a man is perfectly happy, it makes
no difference how ignorant he is.

Question. But how can he answer these scientists?

Answer. Well, my advice is to let their argu-
ments alone. Of course, you will deny all their
facts; but the most effective way is to attack their

Question. But suppose they are good men,—
what then?

Answer. The better they are, the worse they are.
We cannot admit that the infidel is really good. He
may appear to be good, and it is our duty to strip
the mask of appearance from the face of unbelief. If
a man is not a Christian, he is totally depraved, and
why should we hesitate to make a misstatement
about a man whom God is going to make miserable

Question. Are we not commanded to love our

Answer. Yes, but not the enemies of God.

Question. Do you fear the final triumph of infi-

Answer. No. We have no fear. We believe
that the Bible can be revised often enough to agree
with anything that may really be necessary to the
preservation of the church. We can always rely
upon revision. Let me tell you that the Bible is the
most peculiar of books. At the time God inspired his
holy prophets to write it, he knew exactly what the
discoveries and demonstrations of the future would
be, and he wrote his Bible in such a way that the
words could always be interpreted in accordance with
the intelligence of each age, and so that the words
used are capable of several meanings, so that, no
matter what may hereafter be discovered, the Bible
will be found to agree with it,—for the reason that
the knowledge of Hebrew will grow in the exact
proportion that discoveries are made in other depart-
ments of knowledge. You will therefore see, that all
efforts of infidelity to destroy the Bible will simply
result in giving a better translation.

Question. What do you consider is the strongest
argument in favor of the inspiration of the Scrip-

Answer. The dying words of Christians.

Question. What do you consider the strongest
argument against the truth of infidelity?

Answer. The dying words of infidels. You know
how terrible were the death-bed scenes of Hume,
Voltaire, Paine and Hobbes, as described by hundreds
of persons who were not present; while all Christians
have died with the utmost serenity, and with their
last words have testified to the sustaining power of
faith in the goodness of God.

Question. What were the last words of Jesus

Answer. “My God, my God, why hast thou for-
“saken me?”


“To argue with a man who has renounced the use and
authority of reason, is like administering
medicine to the dead.”—Thomas Paine.

Peoria, October 8, 1877.

To the Editor of the N Y. Observer:

Sir: Last June in San Francisco, I offered a
thousand dollars in gold—not as a wager, but as a
gift—to any one who would substantiate the absurd
story that Thomas Paine died in agony and fear,
frightened by the clanking chains of devils. I also
offered the same amount to any minister who would
prove that Voltaire did not pass away as serenely as
the coming of the dawn. Afterward I was informed
that you had accepted the offer, and had called upon
me to deposit the money. Acting upon this inform-
ation, I sent you the following letter:

Peoria, Ill., August 31st, 1877.

To the Editor of the New York Observer:

I have been informed that you accepted, in your
paper, an offer made by me to any clergyman in
San Francisco. That offer was, that I would pay
one thousand dollars in gold to any minister in that
city who would prove that Thomas Paine died in
terror because of religious opinions he had ex-
pressed, or that Voltaire did not pass away serenely
as the coming of the dawn.

For many years religious journals and ministers
have been circulating certain pretended accounts of
the frightful agonies endured by Paine and Voltaire
when dying; that these great men at the moment of
death were terrified because they had given their
honest opinions upon the subject of religion to their
fellow-men. The imagination of the religious world
has been taxed to the utmost in inventing absurd
and infamous accounts of the last moments of these
intellectual giants. Every Sunday school paper,
thousands of idiotic tracts, and countless stupidities
called sermons, have been filled with these calumnies.

Paine and Voltaire both believed in God—both
hoped for immortality—both believed in special
providence. But both denied the inspiration of the
Scriptures—both denied the divinity of Jesus Christ.
While theologians most cheerfully admit that most
murderers die without fear, they deny the possibility
of any man who has expressed his disbelief in the
inspiration of the Bible dying except in an agony of
terror. These stories are used in revivals and in
Sunday schools, and have long been considered of
great value.

I am anxious that these slanders shall cease. I
am desirous of seeing justice done, even at this late
day, to the dead.

For the purpose of ascertaining the evidence upon
which these death-bed accounts really rest, I make
to you the following proposition:—

First.—As to Thomas Paine: I will deposit with
the First National Bank of Peoria, Illinois, one thou-
sand dollars in gold, upon the following conditions:
This money shall be subject to your order when
you shall, in the manner hereinafter provided, sub-
stantiate that Thomas Paine admitted the Bible to be
an inspired book, or that he recanted his Infidel
opinions—or that he died regretting that he had dis-
believed the Bible—or that he died calling upon
Jesus Christ in any religious sense whatever.

In order that a tribunal may be created to try this
question, you may select one man, I will select
another, and the two thus chosen shall select a third,
and any two of the three may decide the matter.

As there will be certain costs and expenditures on
both sides, such costs and expenditures shall be paid
by the defeated party.

In addition to the one thousand dollars in gold, I
will deposit a bond with good and sufficient security
in the sum of two thousand dollars, conditioned for
the payment of all costs in case I am defeated. I
shall require of you a like bond.

From the date of accepting this offer you may
have ninety days to collect and present your testi-
mony, giving me notice of time and place of taking
depositions. I shall have a like time to take evi-
dence upon my side, giving you like notice, and you
shall then have thirty days to take further testimony
in reply to what I may offer. The case shall then
be argued before the persons chosen; and their
decisions shall be final as to us.

If the arbitrator chosen by me shall die, I shall
have the right to choose another. You shall have
the same right. If the third one, chosen by our two,
shall die, the two shall choose another; and all va-
cancies, from whatever cause, shall be filled upon the
same principle.

The arbitrators shall sit when and where a major-
ity shall determine, and shall have full power to pass
upon all questions arising as to competency of
evidence, and upon all subjects.

Second.—As to Voltaire: I make the same prop-
osition, if you will substantiate that Voltaire died
expressing remorse or showing in any way that he
was in mental agony because he had attacked Catholi-
cism—or because he had denied the inspiration of the
Bible—or because he had denied the divinity of Christ.

I make these propositions because I want you
to stop slandering the dead.

If the propositions do not suit you in any particu-
lar, please state your objections, and I will modify
them in any way consistent with the object in view.

If Paine and Voltaire died filled with childish and
silly fear, I want to know it, and I want the world to
know it. On the other hand, if the believers in
superstition have made and circulated these cruel
slanders concerning the mighty dead, I want the
world to know that.

As soon as you notify me of the acceptance of
these propositions I will send you the certificate of
the bank that the money has been deposited upon
the foregoing conditions, together with copies of
bonds for costs. Yours truly,

R. G. Ingersoll.

In your paper of September 27, 1877, you acknowl-
edge the receipt of the foregoing letter, and after
giving an outline of its contents, say: “As not one
of the affirmations, in the form stated in this letter,
was contained in the offer we made, we have no
occasion to substantiate them. But we are prepared
to produce the evidence of the truth of our own
statement, and even to go further; to show not only
that Tom Paine ‘died a drunken, cowardly, and
beastly death,’ but that for many years previous, and
up to that event he lived a drunken and beastly life.”
In order to refresh your memory as to what you
had published, I call your attention to the following,
which appeared in the N. Y. Observer, July 19, 1877:
“Put Down the Money.

“Col. Bob Ingersoll, in a speech full of ribaldry
and blasphemy, made in San Francisco recently, said:
“I will give $1,000 in gold coin to any clergyman
who can substantiate that the death of Voltaire was
not as peaceful as the dawn; and of Tom Paine whom
they assert died in fear and agony, frightened by the
clanking chains of devils—in fact frightened to death
by God. I will give $1,000 likewise to any one who
can substantiate this ‘absurd story’—a story without
a word of truth in it.”

“We have published the testimony, and the wit-
nesses are on hand to prove that Tom Paine died a
drunken, cowardly and beastly death. Let the Colo-
nel deposit the money with any honest man, and the
absurd story, as he terms it, shall be shown to be an
ower true tale. But he wont do it. His talk is Infi-
del ‘buncombe’ and nothing more.”

On the 31st of August I sent you my letter, and
on the 27th of September you say in your paper:
“As not one of the affirmations in the form stated
in this letter was contained in the offer we made, we
have no occasion to substantiate them.”

What were the affirmations contained in the offer
you made? I had offered a thousand dollars in gold
to any one who would substantiate “the absurd story”
that Thomas Paine died in fear and agony,frightened
by the clanking chains of devils—in fact, frightened to
death by God.

In response to this offer you said: “Let the Colo-
nel deposit the money with an honest man and the
‘absurd story’ as he terms it, shall be shown to be
an ‘ower true tale.’ But he won’t do it. His talk
is infidel ‘buncombe’ and nothing more.”

Did you not offer to prove that Paine died in fear
and agony, frightened by the clanking chains of
devils? Did you not ask me to deposit the money
that you might prove the “absurd story” to be an
“ower true tale” and obtain the money? Did you
not in your paper of the twenty-seventh of September
in effect deny that you had offered to prove this
“absurd story”? As soon as I offered to deposit
the gold and give bonds besides to cover costs, did
you not publish a falsehood?

You have eaten your own words, and, for my
part, I would rather have dined with Ezekiel than
with you.

You have not met the issue. You have know-
ingly avoided it. The question was not as to the
personal habits of Paine. The real question was
and is, whether Paine was filled with fear and horror
at the time of his death on account of his religious
opinions. That is the question. You avoid this.
In effect, you abandon that charge and make others.

To you belongs the honor of having made the
most cruel and infamous charges against Thomas
Paine that have ever been made. Of what you
have said you cannot prove the truth of one word.

You say that Thomas Paine died a drunken,
cowardly and beastly death.

I pronounce this charge to be a cowardly and
beastly falsehood.

Have you any evidence that he was in a drunken
condition when he died?

What did he say or do of a cowardly character
just before, or at about the time of his death?

In what way was his death cowardly? You must
answer these questions, and give your proof, or all
honest men will hold you in abhorrence. You have
made these charges. The man against whom you
make them is dead. He cannot answer you. I
can. He cannot compel you to produce your testi-
mony, or admit by your silence that you have
cruelly slandered the defenceless dead. I can and I
will. You say that his death was cowardly. In
what respect? Was it cowardly in him to hold the
Thirty-Nine Articles in contempt? Was it cowardly
not to call on your Lord? Was it cowardly not to
be afraid? You say that his death was beastly.
Again I ask, in what respect? Was it beastly to
submit to the inevitable with tranquillity? Was it
beastly to look with composure upon the approach
of death? Was it beastly to die without a com-
plaint, without a murmur—to pass from life without
a fear?

Did Thomas Paine Recant?

Mr. Paine had prophesied that fanatics would
crawl and cringe around him during his last mo-
ments. He believed that they would put a lie in
the mouth of Death.

When the shadow of the coming dissolution was
upon him, two clergymen, Messrs. Milledollar and
Cunningham, called to annoy the dying man. Mr.
Cunningham had the politeness to say, “You have
now a full view of death you cannot live long, and
whosoever does not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ
will asuredly be damned.” Mr. Paine replied, “Let
me have none of your popish stuff. Get away with
you. Good morning.”

On another occasion a Methodist minister ob-
truded himself when Willet Hicks was present.
This minister declared to Mr. Paine “that unless he
repented of his unbelief he would be damned.”
Paine, although at the door of death, rose in his bed
and indignantly requested the clergyman to leave
his room. On another occasion, two brothers by
the name of Pigott, sought to convert him. He was
displeased and requested their departure. After-
ward Thomas Nixon and Captain Daniel Pelton
visited him for the express purpose of ascertaining
whether he had, in any manner, changed his relig-
ious opinions. They were assured by the dying
man that he still held the principles he had expressed
in his writings.

Afterward, these gentlemen hearing that William
Cobbett was about to write a life of Paine, sent him
the following note:

New York, April 24, 1818.

“Sir: We have been informed that you have a de-
sign to write a history of the life and writings of
Thomas Paine. If you have been furnished with
materials in respect to his religious opinions, or
rather of his recantation of his former opinions before
his death, all you have heard of his recanting is false.
Being aware that such reports would be raised after
his death by fanatics who infested his house at the
time it was expected he would die, we, the subscrib-
ers, intimate acquaintances of Thomas Paine since
the year 1776, went to his house. He was sitting
up in a chair, and apparently in full vigor and use of
all his mental faculties. We interrogated him upon
his religious opinions, and if he had changed his
mind, or repented of anything he had said or wrote
on that subject. He answered, “Not at all,” and
appeared rather offended at our supposition that any
change should take place in his mind. We took
down in writing the questions put to him and his
answers thereto before a number of persons then in
his room, among whom were his doctor, Mrs.
Bonneville, etc. paper is mislaid and cannot
be found at present, but the above is the substance
which can be attested by many living witnesses.”

Thomas Nixon.

Daniel Pelton.

Mr. Jarvis, the artist, saw Mr. Paine one or two
days before his death. To Mr. Jarvis he expressed
his belief in his written opinions upon the subject of
religion. B. F. Haskin, an attorney of the city of
New York, also visited him and inquired as to his
religious opinions. Paine was then upon the thresh-
old of death, but he did not tremble. He was not a
coward. He expressed his firm and unshaken belief
in the religious ideas he had given to the world.

Dr. Manley was with him when he spoke his last
words. Dr. Manley asked the dying man if he did
not wish to believe that Jesus was the Son of God,
and the dying philosopher answered: “I have no
wish to believe on that subject.” Amasa Woodsworth

sat up with Thomas Paine the night before his
death. In 1839 Gilbert Vale hearing that Mr.
Woodsworth was living in or near Boston, visited
him for the purpose of getting his statement. The
statement was published in the Beacon of June 5,
1839, while thousands who had been acquainted with
Mr. Paine were living.

The following is the article referred to.

“We have just returned from Boston. One ob-
ject of our visit to that city, was to see a Mr. Amasa
Woodsworth, an engineer, now retired in a hand-
some cottage and garden at East Cambridge, Boston.
This gentleman owned the house occupied by Paine
at his death—while he lived next door. As an act
of kindness Mr. Woodsworth visited Mr. Paine every
day for six weeks before his death. He frequently
sat up with him, and did so on the last two nights of
his life. He was always there with Dr. Manley, the
physician, and assisted in removing Mr. Paine while
his bed was prepared. He was present when Dr.
Manley asked Mr. Paine “if he wished to believe
that Jesus Christ was the Son of God,” and he de-
scribes Mr. Paine’s answer as animated.


He says
that lying on his back he used some action and with
much emphasis, replied, “I have no wish to believe
on that subject.” He lived some time after this, but
was not known to speak, for he died tranquilly. He
accounts for the insinuating style of Dr. Manley’s
letter, by stating that that gentleman just after its
publication joined a church. He informs us that he
has openly reproved the doctor for the falsity con-
tained in the spirit of that letter, boldly declaring be-
fore Dr. Manley, who is yet living, that nothing
which he saw justified the insinuations. Mr. Woods-
worth assures us that he neither heard nor saw any-
thing to justify the belief of any mental change in
the opinions of Mr. Paine previous to his death; but
that being very ill and in pain chiefly arising from
the skin being removed in some parts by long lying,
he was generally too uneasy to enjoy conversation
on abstract subjects. This, then, is the best evidence
that can be procured on this subject, and we publish
it while the contravening parties are yet alive, and
with the authority of Mr. Woodsworth.

Gilbert Vale.

A few weeks ago I received the following letter
which confirms the statement of Mr. Vale:

Near Stockton, Cal., Green-
wood Cottage, July 9, 1877.

Col. Ingersoll: In 1842 I talked with a gentle-
man in Boston. I have forgotten his name; but he was
then an engineer of the Charleston navy yard. I am
thus particular so that you can find his name on the
books. He told me that he nursed Thomas Paine
in his last illness, and closed his eyes when dead. I
asked him if he recanted and called upon God to
save him. He replied, “No. He died as he had
taught. He had a sore upon his side and when we
turned him it was very painful and he would cry out
‘O God!’ or something like that.” “But,” said
the narrator, “that was nothing, for he believed in a
God.” I told him that I had often heard it asserted
from the pulpit that Mr. Paine had recanted in his
last moments. The gentleman said that it was not
true, and he appeared to be an intelligent, truthful
man. With respect, I remain, etc.

Philip Graves, M. D.

The next witness is Willet Hicks, a Quaker
preacher. He says that during the last illness of
Mr. Paine he visited him almost daily, and that
Paine died firmly convinced of the truth of the relig-
ious opinions he had given to his fellow-men. It
was to this same Willet Hicks that Paine applied for
permission to be buried in the cemetery of the
Quakers. Permission was refused. This refusal
settles the question of recantation. If he had re-
canted, of course there could have been no objection
to his body being buried by the side of the best
hypocrites on the earth.

If Paine recanted why should he be denied “a
little earth for charity”? Had he recanted, it
would have been regarded as a vast and splendid
triumph for the gospel. It would with much noise
and pomp and ostentation have been heralded
about the world.

I received the following letter to-day. The
writer is well know in this city, and is a man of
high character:

Peoria, Oct. 8th, 1877.

Robert G. Ingersoll, Esteemed Friend: My
parents were Friends (Quakers). My father died
when I was very young. The elderly and middle-
aged Friends visited at my mother’s house. We
lived in the city of New York. Among the number
I distinctly remember Elias Hicks, Willet Hicks,
and a Mr.-Day, who was a bookseller in Pearl
street. There were many others, whose names I
do not now remember. The subject of the recanta-
tion by Thomas Paine of his views about the Bible
in his last illness, or at any other time, was dis-
cussed by them in my presence at different times.
I learned from them that some of them had attended
upon Thomas Paine in his last sickness and minis-
tered to his wants up to the time of his death.
And upon the question of whether he did recant
there was but one expression. They all said that
he did not recant in any manner. I often heard
them say they wished he had recanted. In fact,
according to them, the nearer he approached death
the more positive he appeared to be in his con-

These conversations were from 1820 to 1822. I
was at that time from ten to twelve years old, but
these conversations impressed themselves upon me
because many thoughtless people then blamed the
Society of Friends for their kindness to that “arch
Infidel,” Thomas Paine..

Truly yours,

A. C. Hankinson.

A few days ago I received the following letter:
Albany, New York, Sept. 27, 1877.

Dear Sir: It is over twenty years ago that pro-
fessionally I made the acquaintance of John Hogeboom,

a Justice of the Peace of the county of
Rensselaer, New York. He was then over seventy
years of age and had the reputation of being a man
of candor and integrity. He was a great admirer of
Paine. He told me that he was personally ac-
quainted with him, and used to see him frequently
during the last years of his life in the city of New
York, where Hogeboom then resided. I asked him
if there was any truth in the charge that Paine was
in the habit of getting drunk. He said that it was
utterly false; that he never heard of such a thing
during the life-time of Mr. Paine, and did not believe
any one else did. I asked him about the recantation
of his religious opinions on his death-bed, and the
revolting death-bed scenes that the world had heard
so much about. He said there was no truth in
them, that he had received his information from
persons who attended Paine in his last illness, “and
that he passed peacefully away, as we may say, in
the sunshine of a great soul.”…

Yours truly,

W. J. Hilton,

The witnesses by whom I substantiate the fact
that Thomas Paine did not recant, and that he died
holding the religious opinions he had published, are:
First—Thomas Nixon, Captain Daniel Pelton,
B. F. Haskin. These gentlemen visited him during
his last illness for the purpose of ascertaining whether
he had in any respect changed his views upon relig-
ion. He told them that he had not.

Second—James Cheetham. This man was the
most malicious enemy Mr. Paine had, and yet he
admits that “Thomas Paine died placidly, and al-
most without a struggle.” (See Life of Thomas
Paine, by James Cheetham).

Third—The ministers, Milledollar and Cunning-
ham. These gentlemen told Mr. Paine that if he
died without believing in the Lord Jesus Christ he
would be damned, and Paine replied, “Let me have
none of your popish stuff. Good morning.” (See
Sherwin’s Life of Paine, p. 220).

Fourth—Mrs. Hedden. She told these same
preachers when they attempted to obtrude them-
selves upon Mr. Paine again, that the attempt to
convert Mr. Paine was useless—”that if God did not
change his mind no human power could.”

Fifth—Andrew A. Dean. This man lived upon
Paine’s farm at New Rochelle, and corresponded
with him upon religious subjects. (See Paine’s
Theological Works, p. 308.)

Sixth—Mr. Jarvis, the artist with whom Paine
lived. He gives an account of an old lady coming
to Paine and telling him that God Almighty had
sent her to tell him that unless he repented and be-
lieved in the blessed Savior, he would be damned.
Paine replied that God would not send such a foolish
old woman with such an impertinent message. (See
Clio Rickman’s Life of Paine.)

Seventh—Wm. Carver, with whom Paine boarded.
Mr. Carver said again and again that Paine did not
recant. He knew him well, and had every opportun-
ity of knowing. (See Life of Paine by Gilbert Vale.)

Eighth—Dr. Manley, who attended him in his last
sickness, and to whom Paine spoke his last words.
Dr. Manley asked him if he did not wish to believe in
Jesus Christ, and he replied, “I have no wish to
believe on that subject.”

Ninth—Willet Hicks and Elias Hicks, who were
with him frequently during his last sickness, and
both of whom tried to persuade him to recant. Ac-
cording to their testimony, Mr. Paine died as he had
lived—a believer in God, and a friend of man.
Willet Hicks was offered money to say something
false against Thomas Paine. He was even offered

money to remain silent and allow others to slander
the dead. Mr. Hicks, speaking of Thomas Paine,
said: “He was a good man—an honest man.”
(Vale’s Life of Paine.)

Tenth—Amasa Woodsworth, who was with him
every day for some six weeks immediately preceding
his death, and sat up with him the last two nights of
his life. This man declares that Paine did not recant
and that he died tranquilly. The evidence of Mr.
Woodsworth is conclusive.

Eleventh—Thomas Paine himself. The will of
Thomas Paine, written by himself, commences as

“The last will and testament of me, the subscriber,
Thomas Paine, reposing confidence in my creator
God, and in no other being, for I know of no other,
nor believe in any other;” and closes in these words;
“I have lived an honest and useful life to mankind;
my time has been spent in doing good, and I die in
perfect composure and resignation to the will of my
creator God.”

Twelfth—If Thomas Paine recanted, why do you
pursue him? If he recanted, he died substantially
in your belief, for what reason then do you denounce
his death as cowardly? If upon his death-bed he
renounced the opinions he had published, the busi-
ness of defaming him should be done by Infidels, not
by Christians.

I ask you if it is honest to throw away the testi-
mony of his friends—the evidence of fair and honor-
able men—and take the putrid words of avowed and
malignant enemies?

When Thomas Paine was dying, he was infested
by fanatics—by the snaky spies of bigotry. In the
shadows of death were the unclean birds of prey
waiting to tear with beak and claw the corpse of him
who wrote the “Rights of Man.” And there lurk-
ing and crouching in the darkness were the jackals
and hyenas of superstition ready to violate his grave.

These birds of prey—these unclean beasts are the
witnesses produced and relied upon by you.

One by one the instruments of torture have been
wrenched from the cruel clutch of the church, until
within the armory of orthodoxy there remains but
one weapon—Slander.

Against the witnesses that I have produced you
can bring just two—Mary Roscoe and Mary Hins-
dale. The first is referred to in the memoir of
Stephen Grellet. She had once been a servant in his
house. Grellet tells what happened between this
girl and Paine. According to this account Paine
asked her if she had ever read any of his writings,
and on being told that she had read very little of
them, he inquired what she thought of them, adding
that from such an one as she he expected a correct

Let us examine this falsehood. Why would Paine
expect a correct answer about his writings from one
who had read very little of them? Does not such a
statement devour itself? This young lady further
said that the “Age of Reason” was put in her hands
and that the more she read in it the more dark and
distressed she felt, and that she threw the book into
the fire. Whereupon Mr. Paine remarked, “I wish
all had done as you did, for if the devil ever had any
agency in any work, he had it in my writing that book.”

The next is Mary Hinsdale. She was a servant
in the family of Willet Hicks. She, like Mary Ros-
coe, was sent to carry some delicacy to Mr. Paine.
To this young lady Paine, according to her account,
said precisely the same that he did to Mary Roscoe,
and she said the same thing to Mr. Paine.

My own opinion is that Mary Roscoe and Mary
Hinsdale are one and the same person, or the same
story has been by mistake put in the mouth of both.

It is not possible that the same conversation should
have taken place between Paine and Mary Roscoe,
and between him and Mary Hinsdale.

Mary Hinsdale lived with Willet Hicks and he
pronounced her story a pious fraud and fabrication.
He said that Thomas Paine never said any such
thing to Mary Hinsdale. (See Vale’s Life of

Another thing about this witness. A woman by
the name of Mary Lockwood, a Hicksite Quaker,
died. Mary Hinsdale met her brother about that
time and told him that his sister had recanted, and
wanted her to say so at her funeral. This turned
out to be false.

It has been claimed that Mary Hinsdale made her
statement to Charles Collins. Long after the alleged
occurrence Gilbert Vale, one of the biographers of
Paine, had a conversation with Collins concerning
Mary Hinsdale. Vale asked him what he thought
of her. He replied that some of the Friends be-
lieved that she used opiates, and that they did not
give credit to her statements. He also said that he
believed what the Friends said, but thought that
when a young woman, she might have told the

In 1818 William Cobbett came to New York.
He began collecting materials for a life of Thomas
Paine. In this he became acquainted with Mary
Hinsdale and Charles Collins. Mr. Cobbett gave a
full account of what happened in a letter addressed
to the Norwich Mercury in 1819. From this ac-
count it seems that Charles Collins told Cobbett that
Paine had recanted. Cobbett called for the testi-
mony, and told Mr. Collins that he must give time,
place, and the circumstances. He finally brought a
statement that he stated had been made by Mary
Hinsdale. Armed with this document Cobbett, in
October of that year, called upon the said Mary
Hinsdale, at No. 10 Anthony street, New York, and
showed her the statement. Upon being questioned
by Mr. Cobbett she said, “That it was so long ago
that she could not speak positively to any part of the
matter—that she would not say that any part of the
paper was true—that she had never seen the paper
—and that she had never given Charles Collins
authority to say anything about the matter in her
name.” And so in the month of October, in the
year of grace 1818, in the mist and fog of forgetful-
ness disappeared forever one Mary Hinsdale—the
last and only witness against the intellectual honesty
of Thomas Paine.

Did Thomas Paine live the life of a drunken beast,
and did he die a drunken, cowardly and beastly death?

Upon you rests the burden of substantiating these
infamous charges.

You have, I suppose, produced the best evidence
in your possession, and that evidence I will now pro-
ceed to examine. Your first witness is Grant Thor-
burn. He makes three charges against Thomas
Paine, 1st. That his wife obtained a divorce from
him in England for cruelty and neglect. 2d. That
he was a defaulter and fled from England to Amer-
ica. 3d. That he was a drunkard.

These three charges stand upon the same evidence
—the word of Grant Thorburn. If they are not all
true Mr. Thorburn stands impeached.

The charge that Mrs. Paine obtained a divorce on
account of the cruelty and neglect of her husband is
utterly false. There is no such record in the world,
and never was. Paine and his wife separated by
mutual consent. Each respected the other. They
remained friends. This charge is without any foun-
dation in fact. I challenge the Christian world to
produce the record of this decree of divorce. Accord-
ing to Mr. Thorburn it was granted in England. In
that country public records are kept of all such de-
crees. Have the kindness to produce this decree
showing that it was given on account of cruelty or
admit that Mr. Thorburn was mistaken.

Thomas Paine was a just man. Although sepa-
rated from his wife, he always spoke of her with
tenderness and respect, and frequently sent her
money without letting her know the source from
whence it came. Was this the conduct of a drunken

The second charge, that Paine was a defaulter in
England and fled to America, is equally false. He
did not flee from England. He came to America,
not as a fugitive, but as a free man. He came with
a letter of introduction signed by another Infidel,
Benjamin Franklin. He came as a soldier of Free-
dom—an apostle of Liberty.

In this second charge there is not one word of truth.

He held a small office in England. If he was a
defaulter the records of that country will show that

Mr. Thorburn, unless the record can be produced
to substantiate him, stands convicted of at least two

Now, as to the third: He says that in 1802 Paine
was an “old remnant of mortality, drunk, bloated
and half asleep.”

Can any one believe this to be a true account of
the personal appearance of Mr. Paine in 1802? He
had just returned from France. He had been wel-
comed home by Thomas Jefferson, who had said that
he was entitled to the hospitality of every American.

In 1802 Mr. Paine was honored with a public din-
ner in the city of New York. He was called upon
and treated with kindness and respect by such men
as DeWitt Clinton.

In 1806 Mr. Paine wrote a letter to Andrew A.
Dean upon the subject of religion. Read that letter
and then say that the writer of it was an “old rem-
nant of mortality, drunk, bloated and half asleep.”
Search the files of the New York Observer from the
first issue to the last, and you will find nothing supe-
rior to this letter.

In 1803 Mr. Paine wrote a letter of considerable
length, and of great force, to his friend Samuel
Adams. Such letters are not written by drunken
beasts, nor by remnants of old mortality, nor by
drunkards. It was about the same time that he
wrote his “Remarks on Robert Hall’s Sermons.”

These “Remarks” were not written by a drunken
beast, but by a clear-headed and thoughtful man.

In 1804 he published an essay on the invasion of
England, and a treatise on gunboats, full of valuable
maritime information:—in 1805, a treatise on yellow
fever, suggesting modes of prevention. In short, he
was an industrious and thoughtful man. He sympa-
thized with the poor and oppressed of all lands. He
looked upon monarchy as a species of physical
slavery. He had the goodness to attack that form
of government. He regarded the religion of his day
as a kind of mental slavery. He had the courage to
give his reasons for his opinion. His reasons filled
the churches with hatred. Instead of answering his
arguments they attacked him. Men who were not
fit to blacken his shoes, blackened his character.

There is too much religious cant in the statement
of Mr. Thorburn. He exhibited too much anxiety
to tell what Grant Thorburn said to Thomas Paine.
He names Thomas Jefferson as one of the disreputa-
ble men who welcomed Paine with open arms. The
testimony of a man who regarded Thomas Jefferson
as a disreputable person, as to the character of any-
body, is utterly without value. In my judgment, the
testimony of Mr. Thorburn should be thrown aside
as wholly unworthy of belief.

Your next witness is the Rev. J. D. Wickham, D.
D., who tells what an elder in his church said. This
elder said that Paine passed his last days on his farm
at New Rochelle with a solitary female attendant.
This is not true. He did not pass his last days at
New Rochelle. Consequently this pious elder did
not see him during his last days at that place. Upon
this elder we prove an alibi. Mr. Paine passed his
last days in the city of New York, in a house upon

Columbia street. The story of the Rev. J. D. Wick-
ham, D.D., is simply false.

The next competent false witness is the Rev.
Charles Hawley, D.D., who proceeds to state that
the story of the Rev. J. D. Wickham, D.D., is cor-
roborated by older citizens of New Rochelle. The
names of these ancient residents are withheld. Ac-
cording to these unknown witnesses, the account
given by the deceased elder was entirely correct.
But as the particulars of Mr. Paine’s conduct “were
too loathsome to be described in print,” we are left
entirely in the dark as to what he really did.

While at New Rochelle Mr. Paine lived with Mr.
Purdy—with Mr. Dean—with Captain Pelton, and
with Mr. Staple. It is worthy of note that all of
these gentlemen give the lie direct to the statements
of “older residents” and ancient citizens spoken of
by the Rev. Charles Hawley, D.D., and leave him
with his “loathsome particulars” existing only in his
own mind.

The next gentleman you bring upon the stand is
W. H. Ladd, who quotes from the memoirs of
Stephen Grellet. This gentleman also has the mis-
fortune to be dead. According to his account, Mr.
Paine made his recantation to a servant girl of his
by the name of Mary Roscoe. To this girl, accord-
ing to the account, Mr. Paine uttered the wish that
all who read his book had burned it. I believe there
is a mistake in the name of this girl. Her name was
probably Mary Hinsdale, as it was once claimed that
Paine made the same remark to her, but this point
I shall notice hereafter. These are your witnesses,
and the only ones you bring forward, to support
your charge that Thomas Paine lived a drunken and
beastly life and died a drunken, cowardly and beastly
death. All these calumnies are found in a life of
Paine by a Mr. Cheetham, the convicted libeler
already referred to. Mr. Cheetham was an enemy
of the man whose life he pretended to write.

In order to show you the estimation in which Mr.
Cheetham was held by Mr. Paine, I will give you a
copy of a letter that throws light upon this point:

October 28, 1807.

“Mr. Cheetham: Unless you make a public apol-
ogy for the abuse and falsehood in your paper of
Tuesday, October 27th, respecting me, I will prose-
cute you for lying.”

Thomas Paine.

In another letter, speaking of this same man, Mr.
Paine says: “If an unprincipled bully cannot be re-
formed, he can be punished.” “Cheetham has been
so long in the habit of giving false information, that
truth is to him like a foreign language.”

Mr. Cheetham wrote the life of Paine to gratify
his malice and to support religion. He was prose-
cuted for libel—was convicted and fined.

Yet the life of Paine written by this man is referred
to by the Christian world as the highest authority.

As to the personal habits of Mr. Paine, we have
the testimony of William Carver, with whom he
lived; of Mr. Jarvis, the artist, with whom he lived;
of Mr. Staple, with whom he lived; of Mr. Purdy,
who was a tenant of Paine’s; of Mr. Burger, with
whom he was intimate; of Thomas Nixon and
Captain Daniel Pelton, both of whom knew him
well; of Amasa Woodsworth, who was with him
when he died; of John Fellows, who boarded at the
same house; of James Wilburn, with whom he
boarded; of B. F. Haskin, a lawyer, who was well
acquainted with him and called upon him during his
last illness; of Walter Morton, a friend; of Clio
Rickman, who had known him for many years; of
Willet and Elias Hicks, Quakers, who knew him in-
timately and well; of Judge Herttell, H. Margary,
Elihu Palmer, and many others. All these testified
to the fact that Mr. Paine was a temperate man. In
those days nearly everybody used spirituous liquors.
Paine was not an exception; but he did not drink to
excess. Mr. Lovett, who kept the City Hotel where
Paine stopped, in a note to Caleb Bingham, declared
that Paine drank less than any boarder he had.

Against all this evidence you produce the story of
Grant Thorburn—the story of the Rev. J. D. Wick-
ham that an elder in his church told him that Paine
was a drunkard, corroborated by the Rev. Charles
Hawley, and an extract from Lossing’s history to
the same effect. The evidence is overwhelmingly
against you. Will you have the fairness to admit it?
Your witnesses are merely the repeaters of the false-
hoods of James Cheetham, the convicted libeler.

After all, drinking is not as bad as lying. An
honest drunkard is better than a calumniator of the
dead. “A remnant of old mortality, drunk, bloated
and half asleep” is better than a perfectly sober
defender of human slavery.

To become drunk is a virtue compared with steal-
ing a babe from the breast of its mother.

Drunkenness is one of the beatitudes, compared
with editing a religious paper devoted to the defence
of slavery upon the ground that it is a divine insti-

Do you really think that Paine was a drunken
beast when he wrote “Common Sense”—a pamphlet
that aroused three millions of people, as people were
never aroused by a pamphlet before? Was he a
drunken beast when he wrote the “Crisis”? Was
it to a drunken beast that the following letter was

Rocky Hill, September 10, 1783.

“I have learned since I have been at this place,
that you are at Bordentown.—Whether for the sake
of retirement or economy I know not. Be it for
either or both, or whatever it may, if you will come
to this place and partake with me I shall be exceed-
ingly happy to see you at it. Your presence may
remind Congress of your past services to this country;
and if it is in my power to impress them, command
my best exertions with freedom, as they will be
rendered cheerfully by one who entertains a lively
sense of the importance of your works, and who with
much pleasure subscribes himself,

“Your Sincere Friend,

“George Washington.”

Did any of your ancestors ever receive a letter
like that?

Do you think that Paine was a drunken beast
when the following letter was received by him?

“You express a wish in your letter to return to
America in a national ship; Mr. Dawson, who brings
over the treaty, and who will present you with this
letter, is charged with orders to the captain of the
Maryland to receive and accommodate you back, if you
can be ready to depart at such a short warning. You
will in general find us returned to sentiments worthy
of former times; in these it will be your glory to have
steadily labored and with as much effect as any man
That you may live long to continue your
useful labors, and reap the reward in the thankfulness
of nations
, is my sincere prayer. Accept the assur-
ances of my high esteem and affectionate attachment.”

Thomas Jefferson.

Did any of your ancestors ever receive a letter
like that?

“It has been very generally propagated through
the continent that I wrote the pamphlet ‘Common
Sense.’ I could not have written anything in so
manly and striking a style.”—John Adams.

“A few more such flaming arguments as were
exhibited at Falmouth and Norfolk, added to the
sound doctrine and unanswerable reasoning con-
tained in the pamphlet ‘Common Sense,’ will not
leave numbers at a loss to decide on the propriety of
a separation.”—George Washington.

“It is not necessary for me to tell you how
much all your countrymen—I speak of the great
mass of the people—are interested in your welfare.

They have not forgotten the history of their own
Revolution and the difficult scenes through which
they passed; nor do they review its several stages
without reviving in their bosoms a due sensibility of
the merits of those who served them in that great
and arduous conflict. The crime of ingratitude has
not yet stained, and I trust never will stain, our
national character. You are considered by them as
not only having rendered important services in our
own Revolution, but as being on a more extensive
scale the friend of human rights, and a distinguished
and able defender of public liberty. To the welfare
of Thomas Paine the Americans are not, nor can
they be indifferent.”.. James Monroe.

Did any of your ancestors ever receive a letter
like that?

“No writer has exceeded Paine in ease and famil-
iarity of style, in perspicuity of expression, happiness
of elucidation, and in simple and unassuming lan-
guage.”‘—Thomas Jefferson.

Was ever a letter like that written about an editor
of the New York Observer?

Was it in consideration of the services of a
drunken beast that the Legislature of Pennsylvania
presented Thomas Paine with five hundred pounds

Did the State of New York feel indebted to a
drunken beast, and confer upon Thomas Paine an
estate of several hundred acres?

“I believe in the equality of man, and I believe
that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving
mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creat-
ures happy.”

“My own mind is my own church.”

“It is necessary to the happiness of man that he
be mentally faithful to himself.”

“Any system of religion that shocks the mind of
a child cannot be a true system.”

“The Word of God is the creation which we

“The age of ignorance commenced with the
Christian system.”

“It is with a pious fraud as with a bad action—it
begets a calamitous necessity of going on.”

“To read the Bible without horror, we must undo
everything that is tender, sympathizing and benev-
olent in the heart of man.”

“The man does not exist who can say I have per-
secuted him, or that I have in any case returned evil
for evil.”

“Of all tyrannies that afflict mankind, tyranny in
religion is the worst.”

“My own opinion is, that those whose lives have
been spent in doing good and endeavoring to make
their fellow-mortals happy, will be happy hereafter.”
“The belief in a cruel god makes a cruel man.”
“The intellectual part of religion is a private affair
between every man and his Maker, and in which no
third party has any right to interfere. The practical
part consists in our doing good to each other.”

“No man ought to make a living by religion. One
person cannot act religion for another—every person
must perform it for himself.”

“One good schoolmaster is of more use than a
hundred priests.”

“Let us propagate morality unfettered by super-

“God is the power, or first cause, Nature is the
law, and matter is the subject acted upon.”

“I believe in one God and no more, and I hope
for happiness beyond this life.”

“The key of heaven is not in the keeping of any
sect nor ought the road to it to be obstructed
by any.”

“My religion, and the whole of it, is the fear and
love of the Deity and universal philanthropy.”

“I have yet, I believe, some years in store, for I
have a good state of health and a happy mind. I
take care of both, by nourishing the first with tem-
perance and the latter with abundance.”

“He lives immured within the Bastile of a

How perfectly that sentence describes you! The
Bastile in which you are immured is the word

“Man has no property in man.”

What a splendid motto that would have made for
the New York Observer in the olden time!

“The world is my country; to do good, my

I ask you again whether these splendid utterances
came from the lips of a drunken beast?

Did Thomas Paine die in destitution and want?

The charge has been made, over and over again,
that Thomas Paine died in want and destitution—
that he was an abandoned pauper—an outcast with-
out friends and without money. This charge is just
as false as the rest.

Upon his return to this country in 1802, he was
worth $30,000, according to his own statement made
at that time in the following letter addressed to Clio

“My Dear Friend: Mr. Monroe, who is appointed
minister extraordinary to France, takes charge of

this, to be delivered to Mr. Este, banker in Paris, to
be forwarded to you.

“I arrived at Baltimore the 30th of October, and
you can have no idea of the agitation which my
arrival occasioned. From New Hampshire to
Georgia (an extent of 1,500 miles) every newspaper
was filled with applause or abuse.

“My property in this country has been taken care
of by my friends, and is now worth six thousand
pounds sterling; which put in the funds will bring
me £400 sterling a year.

“Remember me in affection and friendship to your
wife and family, and in the circle of your friends.”

Thomas Paine.

A man in those days worth thirty thousand dol-
lars was not a pauper. That amount would bring an
income of at least two thousand dollars per annum.
Two thousand dollars then would be fully equal to
five thousand dollars now.

On the 12th of July, 1809, the year in which he
died, Mr. Paine made his will. From this instru-
ment we learn that he was the owner of a valuable
farm within twenty miles of New York. He also
was the owner of thirty shares in the New York
Phoenix Insurance Company, worth upwards of fif-
teen hundred dollars. Besides this, some personal
property and ready money. By his will he gave to
Walter Morton, and Thomas Addis Emmett, brother
of Robert Emmett, two hundred dollars each, and
one hundred to the widow of Elihu Palmer.

Is it possible that this will was made by a pauper
—by a destitute outcast—by a man who suffered for
the ordinary necessaries of life?

But suppose, for the sake of the argument, that he
was poor and that he died a beggar, does that tend
to show that the Bible is an inspired book and that
Calvin did not burn Servetus? Do you really regard
poverty as a crime? If Paine had died a millionaire,
would you have accepted his religious opinions? If
Paine had drank nothing but cold water would you
have repudiated the five cardinal points of Calvin-
ism? Does an argument depend for its force upon
the pecuniary condition of the person making it?
As a matter of fact, most reformers—most men and
women of genius, have been acquainted with poverty.
Beneath a covering of rags have been found some of
the tenderest and bravest hearts.

Owing to the attitude of the churches for the last
fifteen hundred years, truth-telling has not been a
very lucrative business. As a rule, hypocrisy has
worn the robes, and honesty the rags. That day is
passing away. You cannot now answer the argu-
ments of a man by pointing at holes in his coat.
Thomas Paine attacked the church when it was
powerful—when it had what was called honors to
bestow—when it was the keeper of the public con-
science—when it was strong and cruel. The church
waited till he was dead then attacked his reputation
and his clothes.

Once upon a time a donkey kicked a lion. The
lion was dead.


From the persistence with which the orthodox
have charged for the last sixty-eight years that
Thomas Paine recanted, and that when dying he
was filled with remorse and fear; from the malignity
of the attacks upon his personal character, I had con-
cluded that there must be some evidence of some
kind to support these charges. Even with my ideas
of the average honor of believers in superstition—
the disciples of fear—I did not quite believe that all
these infamies rested solely upon poorly attested
lies. I had charity enough to suppose that some-
thing had been said or done by Thomas Paine capa-
ble of being tortured into a foundation for these
calumnies. And I was foolish enough to think that
even you would be willing to fairly examine the pre-
tended evidence said to sustain these charges, and

give your honest conclusion to the world. I sup-
posed that you, being acquainted with the history of
your country, felt under a certain obligation to
Thomas Paine for the splendid services rendered by
him in the darkest days of the Revolution. It was
only reasonable to suppose that you were aware that
in the midnight of Valley Forge the “Crisis,” by
Thomas Paine, was the first star that glittered in the
wide horizon of despair. I took it for granted that
you knew of the bold stand taken and the brave
words spoken by Thomas Paine, in the French Con-
vention, against the death of the king. I thought it
probable that you, being an editor, had read the
“Rights of Man;” that you knew that Thomas
Paine was a champion of human liberty; that he was
one of the founders and fathers of this Republic; that
he was one of the foremost men of his age; that he
had never written a word in favor of injustice; that
he was a despiser of slavery; that he abhorred tyr-
anny in all its forms; that he was in the widest and
highest sense a friend of his race; that his head was
as clear as his heart was good, and that he had the
courage to speak his honest thought.


Under these
circumstances I had hoped that you would for the
moment forget your religious prejudices and submit
to the enlightened judgment of the world the evi-
dence you had, or could obtain, affecting in any way
the character of so great and so generous a man. This
you have refused to do. In my judgment, you have
mistaken the temper of even your own readers. A
large majority of the religious people of this country
have, to a considerable extent, outgrown the preju-
dices of their fathers. They are willing to know the
truth and the whole truth, about the life and death of
Thomas Paine. They will not thank you for having
presented them the moss-covered, the maimed and dis-
torted traditions of ignorance, prejudice, and credulity.
By this course you will convince them not of the
wickedness of Paine, but of your own unfairness.

What crime had Thomas Paine committed that he
should have feared to die? The only answer you
can give is, that he denied the inspiration of the
Scriptures. If this is a crime, the civilized world is
filled with criminals. The pioneers of human thought
—the intellectual leaders of the world—the foremost
men in every science—the kings of literature and
art—those who stand in the front rank of investiga-
tion—the men who are civilizing, elevating, instruct-
ing, and refining mankind, are to-day unbelievers in
the dogma of inspiration. Upon this question, the
intellect of Christendom agrees with the conclusions
reached by the genius of Thomas Paine. Centuries
ago a noise was made for the purpose of frightening
mankind. Orthodoxy is the echo of that noise.

The man who now regards the Old Testament as
in any sense a sacred or inspired book is, in my judg-
ment, an intellectual and moral deformity. There is
in it so much that is cruel, ignorant, and ferocious
that it is to me a matter of amazement that it was
ever thought to be the work of a most merciful deity.

Upon the question of inspiration Thomas Paine
gave his honest opinion. Can it be that to give an
honest opinion causes one to die in terror and de-
spair? Have you in your writings been actuated by
the fear of such a consequence? Why should it be
taken for granted that Thomas Paine, who devoted
his life to the sacred cause of freedom, should have
been hissed at in the hour of death by the snakes of
conscience, while editors of Presbyterian papers who
defended slavery as a divine institution, and cheer-
fully justified the stealing of babes from the breasts of
mothers, are supposed to have passed smilingly from
earth to the embraces of angels? Why should you
think that the heroic author of the “Rights of Man”
should shudderingly dread to leave this “bank and
shoal of time,” while Calvin, dripping with the blood
of Servetus, was anxious to be judged of God? Is
it possible that the persecutors—the instigators of
the massacre of St. Bartholomew—the inventors and
users of thumb-screws, and iron boots, and racks—
the burners and tearers of human flesh—the stealers,
whippers and enslavers of men—the buyers and
beaters of babes and mothers—the founders of
inquisitions—the makers of chains, the builders of
dungeons, the slanderers of the living and the calum-
niators of the dead, all died in the odor of sanctity,
with white, forgiven hands folded upon the breasts
of peace, while the destroyers of prejudice—the
apostles of humanity—the soldiers of liberty—the
breakers of fetters—the creators of light—died sur-
rounded with the fierce fiends of fear?

In your attempt to destroy the character of Thomas
Paine you have failed, and have succeeded only in
leaving a stain upon your own. You have written
words as cruel, bitter and heartless as the creed of
Calvin. Hereafter you will stand in the pillory of
history as a defamer—a calumniator of the dead.
You will be known as the man who said that Thomas
Paine, the “Author Hero,” lived a drunken, coward-
ly and beastly life, and died a drunken and beastly
death. These infamous words will be branded upon
the forehead of your reputation. They will be re-
membered against you when all else you may have
uttered shall have passed from the memory of men.

Robert G. Ingersoll.


* From the NY. Observer of Nov. 1, 1877.


In the Observer of September 27th, in response
to numerous calls from different parts of the country
for information, and in fulfillment of a promise, we
presented a mass of testimony, chiefly from persons
with whom we had been personally acquainted,
establishing the truth of our assertions in regard to
the dissolute life and miserable end of Paine. It was
not a pleasing subject for discussion, and an apology,
or at least an explanation, is due to our readers for
resuming it, and for occupying so much space, or
any space, in exhibiting the truth and the proofs in
regard to the character of a man who had become so
debased by his intemperance, and so vile in his
habits, as to be excluded, for many years before and
up to the time of his death, from all decent society.

Our reasons for taking up the subject at all, and
for presenting at this time so much additional testi-
mony in regard to the facts of the case, are these:
At different periods for the last fifty years, efforts
have been made by Infidels to revive and honor the
memory of one whose friends would honor him most
by suffering his name to sink into oblivion, if that
were possible. About two years since, Rev. O. B.
Frothingham, of this city, came to their aid, and
undertook a sort of championship of Paine, making
in a public discourse this statement: “No private
character has been more foully calumniated in the
name of God than that of Thomas Paine.” (Mr.
Frothingham, it will be remembered, is the one who
recently, in a public discourse, announced the down-
fall of Christianity, although he very kindly made
the allowance that, “it may be a thousand years
before its decay will be visible to all eyes.” It is
our private opinion that it will be at least a thousand
and one.) Rev. John W. Chadwick, a minister of
the same order of unbelief, who signs himself, “Min-
ister of the Second Unitarian Society in Brooklyn,”
has devoted two discourses to the same end, eulogiz-
ing Paine.


In one of these, which we have before
us in a handsomely printed pamphlet, entitled,
“Method and Value of his (Paine’s) Religious
Teachings,” he says: “Christian usage has determ-
ined that an Infidel means one who does not believe
in Christianity as a supernatural religion; in the
Bible as a Supernatural book; in Jesus as a super-
natural person. And in this sense Paine was an
Infidel, and so, thank God, am I.” It is proper to
add that Unitarians generally decline all responsibil-
ity for the utterances of both of these men, and that
they compose a denomination, or rather two denom-
inations, of their own.

There is also a certain class of Infidels who are
not quite prepared to meet the odium that attaches
to the name; they call themselves Christians, but
their sympathies are all with the enemies of Chris-
tianity, and they are not always able to conceal it.
They have not the courage of their opinions, like
Mr. Frothingham and Mr. Chadwick, and they work
only sideways toward the same end. We have been
no little amused since our last article on this subject
appeared, to read some of the articles that have been
written on the other side, though professedly on no
side, and to observe how sincerely these men depre-
cate the discussion of the character of Paine, as an
unprofitable topic. It never appeared to them un-
profitable when the discussion was on the other side.

Then, too, we have for months past been receiving
letters from different parts of the country, asking
authentic information on the subject and stating that
the followers of Paine are making extraordinary
efforts to circulate his writings against the Christian
religion, and in order to give currency to these writ-
ings they are endeavoring to rescue his name from
the disgrace into which it sank during the latter
years of his life. Paine spent several of his last
years in furnishing a commentary upon his Infidel
principles. This commentary was contained in his
besotted, degraded life and miserable end, but his
friends do not wish the commentary to go out in
connection with his writings. They prefer to have
them read without the comments by their author.
Hence this anxiety to free the great apostle of
Infidelity from the obloquy which his life brought
upon his name; to represent him as a pure, noble,
virtuous man, and to make it appear that he died a
peaceful, happy death, just like a philosopher.

But what makes the publication of the facts in the
case still more imperative at this time is the whole-
sale accusation brought against the Christian public
by the friends and admirers of Paine. Christian
ministers as a class, and Christian journals are
expressly accused of falsifying history, of defaming
“the mighty dead!” (meaning Paine,) etc. In
the face of all these accusations it cannot be out of
place to state the facts and to fortify the statement
by satisfactory evidence, as we are abundantly able
to do.

The two points on which we proposed to produce
the testimony are, the character of Paine’s life (refer-
ring of course to his last residence in this country,
for no one has intimated that he had sunk into such
besotted drunkenness until about the time of his
return to the United States in 1802), and the real
character of his death as consistent with such a life,
and as marked further by the cowardliness, which
has been often exhibited by Infidels in the same

It is nothing at all to the purpose to show, as his
friends are fond of doing, that Paine rendered
important service to the cause of American Inde-
pendence. This is not the point under discussion
and is not denied. No one ever called in question
the valuable service that Benedict Arnold rendered
to the country in the early part of the Revolutionary
war; but this, with true Americans, does not suffice
to cast a shade of loveliness or even to spread a man-
tle of charity over his subsequent career. Whatever
share Paine had in the personal friendship of the
fathers of the Revolution he forfeited by his subse-
quent life of beastly drunkenness and degradation,
and on this account as well as on account of his
blasphemy he was shunned by all decent people.

We wish to make one or two corrections of mis-
statements by Paine’s advocates, on which a vast
amount of argument has been simply wasted. We
have never stated in any form, nor have we ever
supposed, that Paine actually renounced his Infidel-
ity. The accounts agree in stating that he died a
blaspheming Infidel, and his horrible death we regard
as one of the fruits, the fitting complement of his
Infidelity. We have never seen anything that
encouraged the hope that he was not abandoned of
God in his last hours. But we have no doubt, on
the other hand, that having become a wreck in body
and mind through his intemperance, abandoned of
God, deserted by his Infidel companions, and de-
pendent upon Christian charity for the attentions he
received, miserable beyond description in his condi-
tion, and seeing nothing to hope for in the future, he
was afraid to die, and was ready to call upon God
and upon Christ for mercy, and ready perhaps in the
next minute to blaspheme. This is what we referred
to in speaking of Paine’s death as cowardly. It is
shown in the testimony we have produced, and still
more fully in that which we now present. The most
wicked men are ready to call upon God in seasons
of great peril, and sometimes ask for Christian min-
istrations when in extreme illness; but they are
often ready on any alleviation of distress to turn to
their wickedness again, in the expressive language
of Scripture, “as the sow that was washed to her
wallowing in the mire.”

We have never stated or intimated, nor, so far as
we are aware, has any one of our correspondents
stated, that Paine died in poverty. It has been
frequently and truthfully stated that Paine was de-
pendent on Christian charity for the attentions he
received in his last days, and so he was. His Infidel
companions forsook him and Christian hearts and
hands ministered to his wants, notwithstanding the
blasphemies of his death-bed.

Nor has one of our correspondents stated, as
alleged, that Paine died at New Rochelle. The
Rev. Dr. Wickham, who was a resident of that place
nearly fifty years ago, and who was perfectly familiar
with the facts of his life, wrote that Paine spent “his
latter days” on the farm presented to him by
the State of New York, which was strictly true,
but made no reference to it as the place of his

Such misrepresentations serve to show how much
the advocates of Paine admire “truth.”

With these explanations we produce further evi-
dence in regard to the manner of Paine’s life and the
character of his death, both of which we have already
characterized in appropriate terms, as the following
testimony will show.

In regard to Paine’s “personal habits,” even before
his return to this country, and particularly his aver-
sion to soap and water, Elkana Watson, a gentleman
of the highest social position, who resided in France
during a part of the Revolutionary war, and who
was the personal friend of Washington, Franklin,
and other patriots of the period, makes some inci-
dental statements in his “Men and Times of the
Revolution.” Though eulogizing Paine’s efforts in
behalf of American Independence, he describes him
as “coarse and uncouth in his manners, loathsome
in his appearance, and a disgusting egotist.” On
Paine’s arrival at Nantes, the Mayor and other dis-
tinguished citizens called upon him to pay their
respects to the American patriot. Mr. Watson says:
“He was soon rid of his respectable visitors, who
left the room with marks of astonishment and dis-
gust.” Mr. W., after much entreaty, and only by
promising him a bundle of newspapers to read while
undergoing the operation, succeeded in prevailing
on Paine to “stew, for an hour, in a hot bath.” Mr.
W. accompanied Paine to the bath, and “instructed
the keeper, in French, (which Paine did not under-
stand,) gradually to increase the heat of the water
until ‘le Monsieur serait bien bouille (until the gentle-
man shall be well boiled;) and adds that “he became
so much absorbed in his reading that he was nearly-
parboiled before leaving the bath, much to his im-
provement and my satisfaction.”

William Carver has been cited as a witness in be-
half of Paine, and particularly as to his “personal
habits.” In a letter to Paine, dated December 2,
1776, he bears the following testimony:

“A respectable gentlemen from New Rochelle
called to see me a few days back, and said that
everybody was tired of you there, and no one would
undertake to board and lodge you. I thought this
was the case, as I found you at a tavern in a most
miserable situation. You appeared as if you had
not been shaved for a fortnight, and as to a shirt, it
could not be said that you had one on. It was only
the remains of one, and this, likewise, appeared not
to have been off your back for a fortnight, and was
nearly the color of tanned leather; and you had the
most disagreeable smell possible; just like that of
our poor beggars in England. Do you remember the
pains I took to clean you? that I got a tub of warm
water and soap and washed you from head to foot, and
this I had to do three times before I could get you
clean.” (And then follow more disgusting details.)

“You say, also, that you found your own liquors
during the time you boarded with me; but you
should have said, ‘I found only a small part of the
liquor I drank during my stay with you; this part I
purchased of John Fellows, which was a demijohn of
brandy containing four gallons, and this did not serve
me three weeks.’ This can be proved, and I mean
not to say anything that I cannot prove; for I hold
truth as a precious jewel. It is a well-known fact,
that you drank one quart of brandy per day, at my
expense, during the different times that you have
boarded with me, the demijohn above mentioned
excepted, and the last fourteen weeks you were sick.
Is not this a supply of liquor for dinner and supper?”
This chosen witness in behalf of Paine, closes his
letter, which is full of loathsome descriptions of
Paine’s manner of life, as follows:

“Now, sir, I think I have drawn a complete por-
trait of your character; yet to enter upon every
minutiae would be to give a history of your life, and
to develop the fallacious mask of hypocrisy and de-
ception under which you have acted in your political
as well as moral capacity of life.”

(Signed) “William Carver.”

Carver had the same opinion of Paine to his dying
day. When an old man, and an Infidel of the Paine
type and habits, he was visited by the Rev. E. F.
Hatfield, D.D., of this city, who writes to us of his
interview with Carver, under date of Sept. 27, 1877:
“I conversed with him nearly an hour. I took
special pains to learn from him all that I could about
Paine, whose landlord he had been for eighteen
months. He spoke of him as a base and shameless
drunkard, utterly destitute of moral principle. His
denunciations of the man were perfectly fearful, and
fully confirmed, in my apprehension, all that had been
written of Paine’s immorality and repulsiveness.”
Cheetham’s Life of Paine, which was published
the year that he died, and which has passed through
several editions (we have three of them now before
us) describes a man lost to all moral sensibility and
to all sense of decency, a habitual drunkard, and it is
simply incredible that a book should have appeared
so soon after the death of its subject and should have
been so frequently republished without being at once
refuted, if the testimony were not substantially true.
Many years later, when it was found necessary to
bolster up the reputation of Paine, Cheetham’s
Memoirs were called a pack of lies. If only one-
tenth part of what he publishes circumstantially in
his volume, as facts in regard to Paine, were true, all
that has been written against him in later years does
not begin to set forth the degraded character of the
man’s life. And with all that has been written on
the subject we see no good reason to doubt the sub-
stantial accuracy of Cheetham’s portrait of the man
whom he knew so well.

Dr. J. W. Francis, well-known as an eminent phy-
sician, of this city, in his Reminiscences of New York,
says of Paine:

“He who, in his early days, had been associated
with, and had received counsel from Franklin, was,
in his old age, deserted by the humblest menial; he,
whose pen has proved a very sword among nations,
had shaken empires, and made kings tremble, now
yielded up the mastery to the most treacherous of
tyrants, King Alcohol.”

The physician who attended Paine during his last
illness was Dr. James R. Manley, a gentleman of the
highest character. A letter of his, written in Octo-
ber of the year that Paine died, fully corroborates
the account of his state as recorded by Stephen
Grellet in his Memoirs, which we have already
printed. He writes:

“New York, October 2, 1809: I was called upon
by accident to visit Mr. Paine, on the 25th of Feb-
ruary last, and found him indisposed with fever, and
very apprehensive of an attack of apoplexy, as he
stated that he had that disease before, and at this
time felt a great degree of vertigo, and was unable
to help himself as he had hitherto done, on account
of an intense pain above the eyes. On inquiry of
the attendants I was told that three or four days
previously he had concluded to dispense with his
usual quantity of accustomed stimulus and that he
had on that day resumed it. To the want of his
usual drink they attributed his illness, and it is highly
probable that the usual quantity operating upon a
state of system more excited from the above priva-
tions, was the cause of the symptoms of which he
then complained…. And here let me be per-
mitted to observe (lest blame might attach to those
whose business it was to pay any particular attention
to his cleanliness of person) that it was absolutely
impossible to effect that purpose. Cleanliness ap-
peared to make no part of his comfort; he seemed
to have a singular aversion to soap and water; he
would never ask to be washed, and when he was he
would always make objections; and it was not un-
usual to wash and to dress him clean very much
against his inclinations. In this deplorable state,
with confirmed dropsy, attended with frequent cough,
vomiting and hiccough, he continued growing from
bad to worse till the morning of the 8th of June,
when he died.


Though I may remark that during
the last three weeks of his life his situation was such
that his decease was confidently expected every day,
his ulcers having assumed a gangrenous appearance,
being excessively fetid, and discolored blisters hav-
ing taken place on the soles of his feet without any
ostensible cause, which baffled the usual attempts to
arrest their progress; and when we consider his
former habits, his advanced age, the feebleness of his
constitution, his constant habit of using ardent spirits
ad libitum till the commencement of his last illness,
so far from wondering that he died so soon, we are
constrained to ask, How did he live so long? Con-
cerning his conduct during his disease I have not
much to remark, though the little I have may be
somewhat interesting. Mr. Paine professed to be
above the fear of death, and a great part of his con-
versation was principally directed to give the impres-
sion that he was perfectly willing to leave this world,
and yet some parts of his conduct were with difficulty
reconcilable with his belief. In the first stages of his
illness he was satisfied to be left alone during the
day, but he required some person to be with him at
night, urging as his reason that he was afraid that
he should die when unattended, and at this period
his deportment and his principle seemed to be con-
sistent; so much so that a stranger would judge from
some of the remarks he would make that he was an
Infidel. I recollect being with him at night, watch-
ing; he was very apprehensive of a speedy dissolu-
tion, and suffered great distress of body, and perhaps
of mind (for he was waiting the event of an applica-
tion to the Society of Friends for permission that his
corpse might be deposited in their grave-ground, and
had reason to believe that the request might be
refused), when he remarked in these words, ‘I think
I can say what they made Jesus Christ to say—”My
God, my God! why hast thou forsaken me?” He
went on to observe on the want of that respect which
he conceived he merited, when I observed to him
that I thought his corpse should be matter of least
concern to him; that those whom he would leave
behind him would see that he was properly interred,
and, further, that it would be of little consequence to
me where I was deposited provided I was buried;
upon which he answered that he had nothing else to
talk about, and that he would as lief talk of his death
as of anything, but that he was not so indifferent
about his corpse as I appeared to be.

“During the latter part of his life, though his con-
versation was equivocal, his conduct was singular;
he could not be left alone night or day; he not only
required to have some person with him, but he must
see that he or she was there, and would not allow
his curtain to be closed at any time; and if, as it
would sometimes unavoidably happen, he was left
alone, he would scream and halloo until some person
came to him. When relief from pain would admit,
he seemed thoughtful and contemplative, his eyes
being generally closed, and his hands folded upon
his breast, although he never slept without the assist-
ance of an anodyne. There was something remark-
able in his conduct about this period (which comprises
about two weeks immediately preceding his death),
particularly when we reflect that Thomas Paine was
the author of the ‘Age of Reason.’ He would call
out during his paroxysms of distress, without inter-
mission, ‘O Lord help me! God help me! Jesus
Christ help me! Lord help me!’ etc., repeating the
same expressions without the least variation, in a
tone of voice that would alarm the house. It was
this conduct which induced me to think that he had
abandoned his former opinions, and I was more
inclined to that belief when I understood from his
nurse (who is a very serious and, I believe, pious
woman), that he would occasionally inquire, when he
saw her engaged with a book, what she was reading,
and, being answered, and at the same time asked
whether she should read aloud, he assented, and
would appear to give particular attention.

“I took occasion during the nights of the fifth
and sixth of June to test the strength of his opinions
respecting revelation. I purposely made him a very
late visit; it was a time which seemed to suit exactly
with my errand; it was midnight, he was in great
distress, constantly exclaiming in the words above
mentioned, when, after a considerable preface, I
addressed him in the following manner, the nurse
being present: ‘Mr. Paine, your opinions, by a large
portion of the community, have been treated with
deference, you have never been in the habit of mix-
ing in your conversation words of coarse meaning;
you have never indulged in the practice of profane
swearing; you must be sensible that we are ac-
quainted with your religious opinions as they are
given to the world. What must we think of your
present conduct? Why do you call upon Jesus
Christ to help you? Do you believe that he can
help you? Do you believe in the divinity of Jesus
Christ? Come, now, answer me honestly. I want
an answer from the lips of a dying man, for I verily
believe that you will not live twenty-four hours.’ I
waited some time at the end of every question; he
did not answer, but ceased to exclaim in the above


Again I addressed him; ‘Mr. Paine, you
have not answered my questions; will you answer
them? Allow me to ask again, do you believe? or
let me qualify the question, do you wish to believe
that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?’ After a pause
of some minutes, he answered, ‘I have no wish to
believe on that subject.’ I then left him, and knew
not whether he afterward spoke to any person on
any subject, though he lived, as I before observed,
till the morning of the 8th. Such conduct, under
usual circumstances, I conceive absolutely unaccount-
able, though, with diffidence, I would remark, not so
much so in the present instance; for though the first
necessary and general result of conviction be a sin-
cere wish to atone for evil committed, yet it may be
a question worthy of able consideration whether
excessive pride of opinion, consummate vanity, and
inordinate self-love might not prevent or retard that
otherwise natural consequence. For my own part,
I believe that had not Thomas Paine been such a
distinguished Infidel he would have left less equivo-
cal evidences of a change of opinion. Concerning
the persons who visited Mr. Paine in his distress as
his personal friends, I heard very little, though I may
observe that their number was small, and of that
number there were not wanting those who endeavor-
ed to support him in his deistical opinions, and to
encourage him to ‘die like a man,’ to ‘hold fast his
integrity,’ lest Christians, or, as they were pleased to
term them, hypocrites, might take advantage of his
weakness, and furnish themselves with a weapon by
which they might hope to destroy their glorious sys-
tem of morals.


Numbers visited him from motives
of benevolence and Christian charity, endeavoring to
effect a change of mind in respect to his religious
sentiments. The labor of such was apparently lost,
and they pretty generally received such treatment
from him as none but good men would risk a second
time, though some of those persons called frequently.”
The following testimony will be new to most of
our readers. It is from a letter written by Bishop
Fenwick (Roman Catholic Bishop of Boston), con-
taining a full account of a visit which he paid to
Paine in his last illness. It was printed in the United
States Catholic Magazine
for 1846; in the Catholic
of Philadelphia, October 15, 1846; in a sup-
plement to the Hartford Courant, October 23, 1847;
and in Littell’s Living Age for January 22, 1848,
from which we copy. Bishop Fenwick writes:

“A short time before Paine died I was sent for by
him. He was prompted to this by a poor Catholic
woman who went to see him in his sickness, and
who told him, among other things, that in his
wretched condition if anybody could do him any
good it would be a Roman Catholic priest. This
woman was an American convert (formerly a Shak-
ing Quakeress) whom I had received into the church
but a few weeks before. She was the bearer of this
message to me from Paine. I stated this circum-
stance to F. Kohlmann, at breakfast, and requested
him to accompany me. After some solicitation on
my part he agreed to do so? at which I was greatly
rejoiced, because I was at the time quite young and
inexperienced in the ministry, and was glad to have
his assistance, as I knew, from the great reputation
of Paine, that I should have to do with one of the
most impious as well as infamous of men. We
shortly after set out for the house at Greenwich
where Paine lodged, and on the way agreed on a
mode of proceeding with him.

“We arrived at the house; a decent-looking elderly
woman (probably his housekeeper,) came to the
door and inquired whether we were the Catholic
priests, for said she, ‘Mr. Paine has been so much
annoyed of late by other denominations calling upon
him that he has left express orders with me to admit
no one to-day but the clergymen of the Catholic
Church. Upon assuring her that we were Catholic
clergymen she opened the door and showed us into
the parlor. She then left the room and shortly after
returned to inform us that Paine was asleep, and, at
the same time, expressed a wish that we would not
disturb him, ‘for,’ said she, ‘he is always in a bad
humor when roused out of his sleep. It is better we
wait a little till he be awake.’ We accordingly sat
down and resolved to await a more favorable moment.
‘Gentlemen,’ said the lady, after having taken her
seat also, ‘I really wish you may succeed with Mr.
Paine, for he is laboring under great distress of mind
ever since he was informed by his physicians that he
cannot possibly live and must die shortly. He sent
for you to-day because he was told that if any one
could do him good you might. Possibly he may
think you know of some remedy which his physicians
are ignorant of. He is truly to be pitied. His cries
when he is left alone are heart-rending. ‘O Lord
help me!’ he will exclaim during his paroxysms of
distress—’God help me—Jesus Christ help me!’
repeating the same expressions without the least
variation, in a tone of voice that would alarm the
house. Sometimes he will say, ‘O God, what have
I done to suffer so much!’ then, shortly after, ‘But
there is no God,’ and again a little after, ‘Yet if
there should be, what would become of me hereafter.’

Thus he will continue for some time, when on a sud-
den he will scream, as if in terror and agony, and
call out for me by name. On one of these occasions,
which are very frequent, I went to him and inquired
what he wanted. ‘Stay with me,’ he replied, ‘for
God’s sake, for I cannot bear to be left alone.’ I
then observed that I could not always be with him,
as I had much to attend to in the house. ‘Then,’ said
he, ‘send even a child to stay with me, for it is a
hell to be alone.’ ‘I never saw,’ she concluded, ‘a
more unhappy, a more forsaken man. It seems he
cannot reconcile himself to die.’

“Such was the conversation of the woman who
had received us, and who probably had been employ-
ed to nurse and take care of him during his illness.
She was a Protestant, yet seemed very desirous that
we should afford him some relief in his state of
abandonment, bordering on complete despair. Hav-
ing remained thus some time in the parlor, we at
length heard a noise in the adjoining passage-way,
which induced us to believe that Mr. Paine, who was
sick in that room, had awoke. We accordingly pro-
posed to proceed thither, which was assented to by
the woman, and she opened the door for us. On
entering, we found him just getting out of his
slumber. A more wretched being in appearance I
never beheld. He was lying in a bed sufficiently
decent of itself, but at present besmeared with filth;
his look was that of a man greatly tortured in mind;
his eyes haggard, his countenance forbidding, and
his whole appearance that of one whose better days
had been one continued scene of debauch. His only
nourishment at this time, as we were informed, was
nothing more than milk punch, in which he indulged
to the full extent of his weak state. He had par-
taken, undoubtedly, but very recently of it, as the
sides and corners of his mouth exhibited very un-
equivocal traces of it, as well as of blood, which had
also followed in the track and left its mark on the
pillow. His face, to a certain extent, had also been
besmeared with it.”

Immediately upon their making known the object
of their visit, Paine interrupted the speaker by say-
ing: “That’s enough, sir; that’s enough,” and again
interrupting him, “I see what you would be about.
I wish to hear no more from you, sir. My mind is
made up on that subject. I look upon the whole of
the Christian scheme to be a tissue of absurdities
and lies, and Jesus Christ to be nothing more than a
cunning knave and impostor.” He drove them out
of the room, exclaiming: Away with you and your
God, too; leave the room instantly; all that you
have uttered are lies—filthy lies; and if I had a
little more time I would prove it, as I did about
your impostor, Jesus Christ.”

This, we think, will suffice. We have a mass of
letters containing statements confirmatory of what
we have published in regard to the life and death of
Paine, but nothing more can be required.


Peoria, Nov. 2d, 1877.

To the Editor of the New York Observer:

You ought to have honesty enough to admit that
you did, in your paper of July 19th, offer to prove
that the absurd story that Thomas Paine died in
terror and agony on account of the religious opinions
he had expressed, was true. You ought to have
fairness enough to admit that you called upon me
to deposit one thousand dollars with an honest man,
that you might, by proving that Thomas Paine did
die in terror, obtain the money.

You ought to have honor enough to admit that
you challenged me and that you commenced the
controversy concerning Thomas Paine.

You ought to have goodness enough to admit
that you were mistaken in the charges you made.

You ought to have manhood enough to do what
you falsely asserted that Thomas Paine did:—you
ought to recant. You ought to admit publicly that
you slandered the dead; that you falsified history;
that you defamed the defenceless; that you deliber-
ately denied what you had published in your own
paper. There is an old saying to the effect that
open confession is good for the soul. To you is
presented a splendid opportunity of testing the truth
of this saying.

Nothing has astonished me more than your lack
of common honesty exhibited in this controversy. In
your last, you quote from Dr. J. W. Francis. Why
did you leave out that portion in which Dr. Francis
says that Cheetham with settled malignity wrote the
life of Paine?
Why did you leave out that part in
which Dr. Francis says that Cheetham in the same
way slandered Alexander Hamilton and De Witt
Is it your business to suppress the truth?
Why did you not publish the entire letter of Bishop
Fenwick? Was it because it proved beyond all
cavil that Thomas Paine did not recant? Was it
because in the light of that letter Mary Roscoe,
Mary Hinsdale and Grant Thorburn appeared un-
worthy of belief? Dr. J. W. Francis says in the
same article from which you quoted, “Paine clung to
his Infidelity until the last moment of his life!’
did you not publish that? It was the first line im-
mediately above what you did quote. You must
have seen it. Why did you suppress it? A lawyer,
doing a thing of this character, is denominated a
shyster. I do not know the appropriate word to
designate a theologian guilty of such an act.

You brought forward three witnesses, pretending
to have personal knowledge about the life and death
of Thomas Paine: Grant Thorburn, Mary Roscoe
and Mary Hinsdale. In my reply I took the ground
that Mary Roscoe and Mary Hinsdale must have
been the same person. I thought it impossible that
Paine should have had a conversation with Mary
Roscoe, and then one precisely like it with Mary
Hinsdale. Acting upon this conviction, I proceeded
to show that the conversation never could have hap-
pened, that it was absurdly false to say that Paine
asked the opinion of a girl as to his works who had
never read but little of them. I then showed by the
testimony of William Cobbett, that he visited Mary
Hinsdale in 1819, taking with him a statement con-
cerning the recantation of Paine, given him by Mr.
Collins, and that upon being shown this statement
she said that “it was so long ago that she could not
speak positively to any part of the matter—that she
would not say any part of the paper was true.” At
that time she knew nothing, and remembered noth-
ing. I also showed that she was a kind of standing
witness to prove that others recanted. Willett Hicks
denounced her as unworthy of belief.

To-day the following from the New York World
was received, showing that I was right in my

Tom Paine’s Death-Bed.

To the Editor of the World:

Sir: I see by your paper that Bob Ingersoll dis-
credits Mary Hinsdale’s story of the scenes which
occurred at the death-bed of Thomas Paine. No
one who knew that good lady would for one moment
doubt her veracity or question her testimony. Both
she and her husband were Quaker preachers, and
well known and respected inhabitants of New York
City, Ingersoll is right in his conjecture that Mary
Roscoe and Mary Hinsdale was the same person
. Her
maiden name was Roscoe, and she married Henry
Hinsdale. My mother was a Roscoe, a niece of
Mary Roscoe, and lived with her for some time. I
have heard her relate the story of Tom Paine’s dying
remorse, as told her by her aunt, who was a witness
to it. She says (in a letter I have just received from
her), “he (Tom Paine) suffered fearfully from remorse,
and renounced his Infidel principles, calling on God
to forgive him, and wishing his pamphlets and books
to be burned, saying he could not die in peace until
it was done.” (Rev.) A. W. Cornell.

Harpersville, New York.

You will notice that the testimony of Mary Hins-
dale has been drawing interest since 1809, and has
materially increased. If Paine “suffered fearfully
from remorse, renounced his Infidel opinions and
called on God to forgive him,” it is hardly generous
for the Christian world to fasten the fangs of malice
in the flesh of his reputation.

So Mary Roscoe was Mary Hinsdale, and as
Mary Hinsdale has been shown by her own admis-
sion to Mr. Cobbett to have known nothing of the
matter; and as Mary Hinsdale was not, according to
Willet Hicks, worthy of belief—as she told a false-
hood of the same kind about Mary Lockwood, and
was, according to Mr. Collins, addicted to the use of
opium—this disposes of her and her testimony.

There remains upon the stand Grant Thorburn.
Concerning this witness, I received, yesterday, from
the eminent biographer and essayist, James Parton,
the following epistle:

Newburyport, Mass.

Col. R. G. Ingersoll:

Touching Grant Thorburn, I personally know him
to have been a dishonest man. At the age of ninety-
two he copied, with trembling hand, a piece from a
newspaper and brought it to the office of the Home
Journal, as his own
. It was I who received it and
detected the deliberate forgery. If you are ever go-
ing to continue this subject, I will give you the exact

Fervently yours,

James Parton.

After this, you are welcome to what remains of
Grant Thorburn.

There is one thing that I have noticed during this
controversy regarding Thomas Paine. In no instance
that I now call to mind has any Christian writer
spoken respectfully of Mr. Paine. All have taken
particular pains to call him “Tom” Paine. Is it not
a little strange that religion should make men so
coarse and ill-mannered?

I have often wondered what these same gentle-
men would say if I should speak of the men eminent
in the annals of Christianity in the same way. What
would they say if I should write about “Tim”
Dwight, old “Ad” Clark, “Tom” Scott, “Jim”
McKnight, “Bill” Hamilton, “Dick” Whately, “Bill”
Paley, and “Jack” Calvin?

They would say of me then, just what I think of
them now.

Even if we have religion, do not let us try to get
along without good manners. Rudeness is exceed-
ingly unbecoming, even in a saint. Persons who
forgive their enemies ought, to say the least, to
treat with politeness those who have never injured

It is exceedingly gratifying to me that I have com-
pelled you to say that “Paine died a blaspheming
Infidel.” Hereafter it is to be hoped nothing will be
heard about his having recanted. As an answer to
such slander his friends can confidently quote the
following from the New York Observer of November
ist, 1877:


This for all coming time will refute the slanders of
the churches yet to be.

Right here allow me to ask: If you never supposed
that Paine renounced his Infidelity, why did you try
to prove by Mary Hinsdale that which you believed
to be untrue?

From the bottom of my heart I thank myself for
having compelled you to admit that Thomas Paine
did not recant.

For the purpose of verifying your own admission
concerning the death of Mr. Paine, permit me to call
your attention to the following affidavit:

Wabash, Indiana, October 27, 1877.

Col. R. G. Ingersoll:

Dear Sir: The following statement of facts is at
your disposal. In the year 1833 Willet Hicks made
a visit to Indiana and stayed over night at my father’s
house, four miles east of Richmond. In the morn-
ing at breakfast my mother asked Willet Hicks the
following questions:

“Was thee with Thomas Paine during his last

Mr. Hicks said: “I was with him every day dur-
ing the latter part of his last sickness.”

“Did he express any regret in regard to writing
the ‘Age of Reason,’ as the published accounts say
he did—those accounts that have the credit of ema-
nating from his Catholic housekeeper?”

Mr. Hicks replied: “He did not in any way by
word or action.”

“Did he call on God or Jesus Christ, asking either
of them to forgive his sins, or did he curse them or
either of them?”

Mr. Hicks answered: “He did not. He died as
easy as any one I ever saw die, and I have seen
many die in my time.” William B Barnes.

Subscribed and sworn to before me Oct. 27, 1877.

Warren Bigler, Notary Public.

You say in your last that “Thomas Paine was
abandoned of God.” So far as this controversy is
concerned, it seems to me that in that sentence you
have most graphically described your own condi-

Wishing you success in all honest undertakings, I

Yours truly,

Robert G. Ingersoll.