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Title: A Few Words About the Devil - And Other Biographical Sketches and Essays
Author: Bradlaugh, Charles, 1833-1891
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Few Words About the Devil - And Other Biographical Sketches and Essays" ***



By Charles Bradlaugh

New York:

A. K. Butts & Co., 36 Dey Street.




At the request of many friends, and by way of farewell address on
leaving for America, I, for the first time in my life, pen a partial
autobiographical sketch. I do not pretend that the narrative will be a
complete picture of my life, I only vouch the accuracy of the facts
so far as I state them. I have not the right in some cases to state
political occurrences in which others now living are involved, nor have
I the courage of Jean Jacques Rousseau, to photograph my inner life. I
shall therefore state little the public may not already know. I was born
on the 26th September, 1833, in a small house in Bacchus Walk, Hoxton.
My father was a solicitor's clerk with a very poor salary, which he
supplemented by law writing. He was an extremely industrious man, and
a splendid penman. I never had the opportunity of judging his tastes or
thoughts, outside his daily labors, except in one respect, in which I
have followed in his footsteps. He was passionately fond of angling.
Until 1848 my life needs little relation. My schooling, like that of
most poor men's children, was small in quantity, and, except as to the
three R's, indifferent in quality. I remember at seven years of age
being at a national school in Abbey Street, Bethnel Green; between seven
and nine I was at another small private school in the same neighborhood,
and my "education" was completed before I was eleven years of age at a
boys' school in Coalharbor Street, Hackney Road. When about twelve years
of age I was first employed as errand lad in the solicitor's office
where my father remained his whole life through. After a little more
than two years in this occupation, I became wharf clerk and cashier to
a firm of coal merchants in Britannia Fields, City Road. While in their
employment the excitement of the Chartist movement was at its height in
England, and the authorities, frightened by the then huge continental
revolution wave, were preparing for the prosecution of some of
the leaders among the Chartists. Meetings used to be held almost
continuously all day on Sunday, and every week-night in the open air on
Bonner's Fields, near where the Consumption Hospital now stands. These
meetings were in knots from fifty to five hundred, sometimes many more,
and were occupied chiefly in discussions on theological, social, and
political questions, any bystander taking part. The curiosity of a
lad took me occasionally in the week evenings to the Bonner's Fields
gatherings. On the Sunday I, as a member of the Church of England, was
fully occupied as a Sunday-school teacher. This last-named fashion of
passing Sunday was broken suddenly. The Bishop of London was announced
to hold a confirmation in Bethnal Green. The incumbent of St. Peter's,
Hackney Road, the district in which I resided, was one John Graham
Packer, and he, desiring to make a good figure when the Bishop came,
pressed me to prepare for confirmation, so as to answer any question
the Bishop might put. I studied a little the Thirty-nine Articles of the
Church of England, and the four Gospels, and came to the conclusion
that they differed. I ventured to write the Rev. Mr. Packer a respectful
letter, asking him for aid and explanation. All he did was to denounce
my letter to my parents as Atheistical, although at that time I should
have shuddered at the very notion of becoming an Atheist, and he
suspended me for three months from my office of Sunday-school teacher.
This left me my Sundays free, for I did not like to go to church while
suspended from my teacher's duty, and I, instead, went to Bonner's
Fields, at first to listen, but soon to take part in some of the
discussions which were then always pending there.

At the commencement I spoke on the orthodox Christian side, but after
a debate with Mr. J. Savage, in the Warner Place Hall, in 1849, on the
"Inspiration of the bible," I found that my views were getting very
much tinged with Freethought, and in the winter of that year, at the
instigation of Mr. Packer, to whom I had submitted the "Diegesis" of
Robert Taylor, I--having become a teetotaler, which in his view brought
out my infidel tendencies still more vigorously--had three days given
me by my employers, after consultation with my father, to "change my
opinions or lose my situation." I am inclined to think now that the
threat was never intended to have been enforced, but was used to terrify
me into submission. At that time I hardly knew what, if any, opinions
I had, but the result was that sooner than make a show of recanting, I
left home and situation on the third day, and never returned to either.

I was always a very fluent speaker, and now lectured frequently at
the Temperance Hall, Warner Place, Hackney Road, at the small Hall in
Philpot Street, and in the open air in Bonner's Fields, where at last
on Sunday afternoons scores of hundreds congregated to hear me. My views
were then Deistical, but rapidly tending to the more extreme phase in
which they ultimately settled. I now took part in all the gatherings
held in London on behalf of the Poles and Hungarians, and actually
fancied that I could write poetry on Kossuth and Mazzini.

It was at this time I made the acquaintance of my friend and co-worker,
Mr. Austin Holyoake, at his printing office in Queen's Head Passage, and
I remember him taking me to John Street Institution, where, at one
of the pleasant Saturday evening gatherings, I met the late Mrs. Emma
Martin. At Mr. Austin Holyoake's request, Mr. George Jacob Holyoake, to
my great delight, presided at one of my lectures in Philpot Street, and
I felt special interest in the number of the _Reasoner_ which contained
a brief reference to myself and that lecture.

I wrote my first pamphlet, "A Few Words on the Christian's Creed," about
the middle of 1850, and was honored by Dr. Campbell of the _British
Banner_ with a leading article vigorously assailing me for the lectures
I had then delivered. After leaving home I was chiefly sheltered by Mrs.
Sharpies Carlile, with whose children, Hypatia, Theophila, and Julian,
I shared such comforts as were at her disposal. Here I studied hard
everything which came in my way, picking up a little Hebrew and an
imperfect smattering of other tongues. I tried to earn my living as a
coal merchant, but at sixteen, and without one farthing in my pocket,
the business was not extensive enough to be profitable. I got very poor,
and at that time was also very proud. A subscription offered me by a few
Freethinkers shocked me, and awakened me to a sense of my poverty;
so telling no one where I was going, I went away, and on the 17th of
December, 1850, was, after some difficulty, enlisted in the Seventh
Dragoon Guards. With this corps I remained until October, 1853, being
ultimately appointed orderly-room clerk; the regiment, during the whole
of the time I remained in it, being quartered in Ireland. While I was in
the regiment I was a teetotaler, and used often to lecture to the men
in the barrack-room at night, and I have more than once broken out of
Portobello barracks to deliver teetotal speeches in the small French
Street Hall, Dublin. Many times have I spoken there in my scarlet
jacket, between James Haughton and the good old father, the Rev. Dr.
Spratt, a Roman Catholic priest, then very active in the cause of
temperance. While I was in the regiment my father died, and in the
summer of 1853 an aunt's death left me a small sum, out of which
I purchased my discharge, and returned to England, to aid in the
maintenance of my mother and family.

I have now no time for the full story of my army life, which, however,
I may tell some day. Before I left the regiment I had won the esteem
of most of the privates, and of some of the officers. I quitted the
regiment with a "very good character" from the Colonel, but I am bound
to add, that the Captain would not have concurred in this character had
he had any voice in the matter. The Lieutenant-Colonel, C. P. Ainslie,
earned an eternal right to grateful mention at my hands by his
gentlemanly and considerate treatment. I can not say the same for my
Captain, who did his best to send me to jail, and whom I have not yet
quite forgiven.

On returning to civilian life I obtained employment in the daytime with
a solicitor named Rogers, and in the evening as clerk to a Building
Society; and soon after entering this employ I began again to write and
speak, and it was then I, to in some degree avoid the efforts which were
afterward made to ruin me, took the name "Iconoclast," under which all
my anti-theological work down to 1868 was done. I give Mr. Rogers'
name now for he is dead, and malice can not injure him. Many anonymous
letters were sent to him to warn him of my irreligious opinions; he
treated them all with contempt, only asking me not to let my propaganda
become an injury to his business.

Soon after my discharge from the army I had a curious adventure. While
I was away a number of poor men had subscribed their funds together and
had erected a Working Man's Hall, in Goldsmith's Row, Hackney Road. Not
having any legal advice, it turned out that they had been entrapped
into erecting their building on freehold ground without any lease or
conveyance from the freeholder, who asserted his legal right to the
building. The men consulted me, and finding that under the Statute of
Frauds they had no remedy, I recommended them to offer a penalty rent of
£20 a year. This being refused, I constituted myself into a law court,
and without any riot or breach of the peace, I, with the assistance of
a hundred stout men, took every brick of the building bodily away, and
divided the materials, so far as was possible, among the proper owners.
I think I can see now the disappointed rascal of a freeholder when he
only had his bare soil left once more. He did not escape unpunished, for
to encourage the others to contribute, he had invested some few pounds
in the building. He had been too clever; he had relied on the letter of
the law, and I beat him with a version of common-sense justice.

I lectured once or twice a week in the small Philpot Street Hall, very
often then in the Hall of Science, City Road, and then in the old John
Street Institution, until I won myself a name in the party throughout
the country. In 1855 had my first notable adventure with the authorities
in reference to the right of meeting in Hyde Park, and subsequently gave
evidence before the Royal Commission ordered by the House of Commons,
presided over by the Right Hon. Stuart Wortley. I was very proud that
day at Westminster, when, at the conclusion of my testimony against the
authorities, the Commissioner publicly thanked me, and the people who
crowded the Court of Exchequer cheered me, for the manner in which I
denied the right of Sir Richard Mayne, the then Chief Commissioner of
Police, to issue the notices forbidding the people to meet in the Park.
This was the first step in a course in which I have never flinched or

In 1855 I undertook, with others, the publication of a series of papers,
entitled "Half-Hours with Freethinkers," the late John Watts being
one of my co-workers. I also by myself commenced the publication of my
"Commentary on the Pentateuch," which has since been entirely re-written
and now forms my "Bible: what it is."

During the autumn of 18571 paid my first lecture visit to Northampton.
Early in 1858, when Mr. Edward Truelove was suddenly arrested for
publishing the pamphlet, "Is Tyrannicide Justifiable?" I became
Honorary Secretary to the Defense, and was at the same time associated
with the conduct of the defense of Simon Bernard, who was arrested at
the instigation of the French Government for alleged complicity in the
Orsini tragedy. It was at this period I gained the friendship of poor
Bernard, which, without diminution, retained until he died; and also
the valued frendship of Thomas Allsop, which I still preserve. My
associations were from thenceforward such as to encourage in me a strong
and bitter feeling against the late Emperor Napoleon. While he was in
power I hated him, and never lost an opportunity of working against him
until the _decheance_ came. I am not sure now that I always judged him
fairly; but nothing, I think, could have tempted me to either write
or speak of him with friendliness during his life. _Le sang de mes amis
etait sur son ame_. Now that the tomb covers his remains, my hatred has
ceased; but no other feeling has arisen in its place. Should any of his
family seek to resume the Imperial purple, I should remain true to my
political declarations of sixteen years since, and should exert myself
to the uttermost to prevent France falling under another Empire. I
write this with much sadness, as 1870 to 1873 have dispelled some of
my illusions held firmly during the fifteen years which preceded. I
had believed in such men as Louis Blanc, Lodru Rollin, Victor Hugo,
as possible statesmen of France. I was mistaken. They were writers,
talkers, and poets; good men to ride on the stream, or to drown in
honest protest, but lacking force to swim against, or turn back, the
tide by the might of their will. I had believed too in a Republican
France, which is yet only in the womb of time, to be born after many
pangs and sore travailing.

In 1859 I saw Joseph Mazzini for the first time, and remained on terms
of communication with the great Italian patriot until the year 1869,
from time to time bringing him correspondence from Italy, where my
business sometimes took me. After 1869 we found ourselves holding
diverse opinions on the Franco-Prussian question--Mazzini went for
Prussia, I for France--and I never saw him again.

In June, 1858, I held my first public formal theological debate with
the Rev. Brewin Grant, B.A., at that time a Dissenting Minister at
Sheffield. Mr. Grant was then a man of some ability, and if he could
have forgotten his aptitudes as a circus jester, would have been a
redoubtable antagonist. During this year I was elected President of the
London Secular Society, in lieu of Mr. George Jacob Holyoake, who had
theretofore led the English Free-thought party, but who has of late
years devoted himself more completely to general journalistic work.

In November, 1858, I commenced editorial duties with the _Investigator_,
formerly conducted by the late Robert Cooper, which I continued until
August, 1859. It had but a small circulation, and was financially a very
great failure. For the encouragement of young propagandists, I may
here insert a little anecdote of my early lecturing experience. I had
lectured in Edinburgh in mid-winter, the audience was small, the profits
microscopical. I, alter paying my bill at the Temperance Hotel, where I
then stayed, had only a few shillings more than my Parliamentary fare
to Bolton, where I was next to lecture. I was out of bed at five on a
freezing morning, and could have no breakfast, as the people were not
up. I carried my luggage (a big tin box, corded round, which then held
books and clothes, and a small black bag), for I could not spare any
of my scanty cash for a conveyance or porter. The train from Edinburgh
being delayed by a severe snow-storm, the corresponding Parliamentary
had left Carlisle long before our arrival. In order to reach Bolton in
time for my lecture, I had to book by a quick train, starting in about
three-quarters of an hour, but could only book to Preston, as the
increased fare took all my money, except 4 1/2d. With this small sum
I could get no refreshment in the station, but in a little shop in
the street outside I got a mug of tea and a little hot meat pie. From
Preston, I got with great difficulty on to Bolton, handing my black bag
to the station-master there as security for my fare from Preston, until
the morning. I arrived in Bolton about quarter to eight; the lecture
commenced at eight, and I, having barely time to run to my lodgings, and
wash and change, went onto the platform cold and hungry. I shall never
forget that lecture; it was in an old Unitarian Chapel. We had no gas,
the building seemed full of a foggy mist, and was imperfectly lit with
candles. Everything appeared cold, cheerless, and gloomy. The most
amusing feature was that an opponent, endowed with extra piety
and forbearance, chose that evening to specially attack me for the
money-making and easy life I was leading. Peace to that opponent's
memory, I have never seen him since. It was while in Scotland on this
journey I made the acquaintance, and ultimately won the frendship, of
the late Alexander Campbell, of Glasgow--a generous, kindly-hearted old
Socialist Missionary, who, at a time when others were hostile, spoke
encouragingly to me, and who afterward worked with me for a long period
on this journal [_The National Reformer_]. Occasionally the lectures
were interfered with by the authorities, but this happened oftener in
the provinces than in London. In March, 1859, I was to have lectured
in Saint Martin's Hall on "Louis Napoleon," but the Government--on
a remonstrance by Count Walewski, as to language used at a previous
meeting, at which I had presided for Dr. Bernard--interfered; the hall
was garrisoned by police, and the lecture prevented. Mr. Hullah, the
then proprietor, being indemnified by the authorities, paid damages
for his breach of contract, to avoid a suit which I at once commenced
against him. Later in the same month I held a debate in Northampton with
Mr. John Bowes, a rather heavy, but well-meaning, old gentleman, utterly
unfitted for platform controversy. The press now began to deal with
me tolerably freely, and I find "boy," "young man," and "juvenile
appearance" very frequent in the comments. My want of education was an
especial matter for hostile criticism, the more particularly so when the
writer had neither heard nor seen me.

Discussions now grew on me so thick and fast that even some of the
most important debates may perhaps escape notice in this imperfect
chronicling. At Sheffield I debated with a Reverend Dr. Mensor, who
styled himself a Jewish Rabbi. He was then in the process of gaining
admission to the Church of England, and had been put forward to show my
want of scholarship. We both scrawled Hebrew characters for four nights
on a black board, to the delight and mystification of the audience,
who gave me credit for erudition, because I chalked the square letter
characters with tolerable rapidity and clearness. At Glasgow I debated
with a Mr. Court, representing the Glasgow Protestant Association, a
glib-tongued missionary, who has since gone to the bad; at Paisley with
a Mr. Smart, a very gentlemanly antagonist; and at Halifax with the Rev.
T. D. Matthias, a Welsh Baptist Minister, unquestionably very sincere.
All these were formal debates, and were reported with tolerable fullness
in the various journals. In the early part of 1860 I, aided by my
friends at Sheffield, Halifax, and other parts of England, projected the
_National Reformer_ in small shares. Unfortunately just after the
issue of its prospectus, Joseph Barker returned from America, and was
associated with me in the editorship. The arrangement was peculiar, Mr.
Barker editing the first half of the paper and I the second. It was not
precisely a happy union, and the unnatural alliance came to an end in
a very brief period. In August.1861, I officially parted company with
Joseph Barker as editor. We had been practically divorced for months
before: the first part of the paper usually contained abuse of those
who wrote in the second half. He came to me originally at Sheffield,
pretending to be an Atheist and a Republican, and soon after pretended
to be a Christian, and spoke in favor of slavery. I am sometimes
doubtful as to how far Mr. Barker deluded himself, as well as others,
in his various changes of theological and political opinions. If he
had had the slightest thoroughness in his character, he would have been
a great man; as it is, he is only a great turn-coat.

In June, 1860, I debated again with the Reverend Brewin Grant, every
Monday for four weeks, at Bradford, and during this debate had a narrow
escape of my life. In one of my journeys to London, the great Northern
train ran through the station at King's Cross, and many persons were
seriously injured. I got off with some trifling bruises and a severe

Garibaldi having at this time made his famous Marsala effort, I
delivered a series of lectures in his aid, and am happy to be able
to record that, though at that time very poor, I sent him one hundred
guineas as my contribution by my tongue. This money was chiefly sent
through W. H. Ashurst, Esq., now Solicitor to the General Post
Office, and among the letters I preserve I have one of thanks from "G.
Garibaldi," for what I was then doing for Italy.

In this year I debated for four nights with Dr. Brindley, an old
antagonist of the Socialists, at Oldham; for two nights with the Rev.
Dr. Baylee, the President of St. Aidan's College, at Birkenhead, where
a Church of England curate manufactory was for some time carried on;
and for two nights with the Rev. Dr. Rutherford, of Newcastle. Dr.
Rutherford has since so identified himself with the cause of the
Tyneside workers, that I read with regret any harsh words that escaped
me in that debate. Although during late years I have managed to keep all
my meetings free from violence or disorder, this was not always so. In
October, 1860, I paid my first visit to Wigan, and certainly lectured
there under considerable difficulty, and incurred personal clanger, the
resident clergy actually inciting the populace to physical violence, and
part destruction of the building I lectured in. I, however, supported by
one courageous woman and her husband, persevered, and despite bricks
and kicks, visited Wigan again and again, until I had, _bon gre malgre_
improved the manners and customs of the people, so that now 1 am a
welcome speaker there. I could not improve the morals of the clergy, as
the public journals have recently shown, but that was their misfortune
not my fault. In the winter of 1860, I held two formal debates in Wigan,
all of which were fully reported in the local journals; one with Mr.
Hutchings, a respectable Nonconformist layman, and the other with the
Rev. Woodville Woodman, a Swedenborgian divine.

Early in 1861 I visited Guernsey in consequence of an attempt made by
the Law Courts of the Island to enforce the blasphemy laws against a
Mr. Stephen Bendall, who had distributed some or my pamphlets to the
Guernseyites, and had been condemned to imprisonment in default of
finding sureties not to repeat the offense. Not daring to prosecute
me, although challenged in writing, the authorities permitted drink and
leave of absence to be given to soldiers in the garrison on condition
they would try to prevent the lecture, and the house in which I lectured
was broken into by a drunken and pious mob, shouting "Kill the Infidel."
My antagonists were fortunately as cowardly as they were intolerant, and
I succeeded in quelling the riot, delivering my lecture in spite of all
opposition, although considerable damage was done to the building.

Shortly after this I visited Plymouth, where the Young Men's Christian
Association arranged to prosecute me. They were, however, a little too
hasty, and had me arrested at an open air meeting when I had scarcely
commenced my speech, having only uttered the words: "Friends, I am about
to address you on the bible." Having locked me up all night, and refused
bail, it was found by their legal adviser that a blunder had been
committed, and a charge of "exciting a breach of the peace,
and assaulting the constable in the execution of his duty," was
manufactured. It was tolerably amusing to see the number of dinners,
suppers, and breakfasts, all accompanied with pots or cups of Devonshire
cream, sent in to the Devonport Lock-up, where I was confined, by
various friends who wanted to show their sympathy. The invented charge,
though well sworn to, broke down after two days' hearing, under the
severe cross-examination to which I subjected the witnesses. I defended
myself, two lawyers appeared against me, and seven magistrates sat on
the bench, predetermined to convict me. Finding that the evidence of
the whole of the witnesses whom I wished to call was to be objected
to, because un-believers in hell were then incompetent as witnesses
according to English law, I am pleased to say that several
Nonconformists, disgusted with the bigotry and pious perjury of my
prosecutors, came forward. The result was a triumphant victory, and
a certificate of dismissal, which I wrung from the reluctant bench of
great unpaid. I was not yet satisfied; some of the magistrates had
tried to browbeat me, and I announced in court that I would deliver the
lecture I had been prevented from delivering to an audience assembled in
the borough, and that I should sue at law the Superintendent of Police
who had arrested me. The first portion of my defiance was the most
difficult to give effect to; not a hall could be hired in Devonport,
and nearly all the convenient open land being under military
jurisdiction, it was impossible to procure the tenancy of a field for
an open-air meeting. I, however, fulfilled my promise, and despite the
police and military authorities combined, delivered my lecture to an
audience assembled in their very teeth. Devonport, Stonehouse, and
Plymouth form one garrisoned and fortified town, divided by the River
Tamar. All the water to the sea is under the separate jurisdiction
of Saltash, some miles distant. I obtained a large boat on which a
temporary platform was built, and this boat was quietly moored in the
River Tamar on the Devonport side, about two fathoms from the shore.
Placards were issued stating that, acting under legal advice, I should
address the meeting and deliver the prevented lecture "near to the
Devonport Park Gates." Overwhelming force was prepared by the Devonport
authorities, and having already erred by too great haste, this time they
determined to let me fairly commence my lecture before they arrested me.
To their horror I quietly walked past the Park Gates where the crowd was
waiting, and passing down a by-lane to the river side, stepped into a
little boat, was rowed to the large one, and then delivered my lecture,
the audience who had followed me standing on an open wharf, all within
the jurisdiction of the Borough of Devonport, and I being about 9 feet
outside the borough. The face of the Mayor ready to read the riot act,
the superintendent with twenty-eight picked policemen to make sure or my
arrest, and a military force in readiness to overawe any popular
demonstration--all these were sights to remember. I am afraid the
Devonport Young Men's Christian Association did not limit themselves to
prayers and blessings on that famous Sunday.

As I had promised, the authorities refusing any apology for the wrongful
arrest, I commenced an action against Superintendent Edwards, by whom I
had been taken into custody. The borough magistrates indemnified their
officer and found funds to resist me. I fought with very little help
save from one tried, though anonymous friend, for Joseph Barker,
my co-editor, but not co-worker, in our own paper, discouraged any
pecuniary support. The cause was made a special jury one, and came on
for trial at Exeter Assizes. Unfortunately I was persuaded to brief
counsel, and Sir Robert Collier, my leader, commenced his speech with
an expression of sorrow for my opinions. This damaged me very much,
although I won the case easily after a long trial. The jury, composed
of Devonshire landowners, only gave me a farthing damages, and Mr. Baron
Channell refused to certify for costs. I was determined not to let the
matter rest here, and myself carried it to the Court _in Banco_, where
I argued it in person for two whole days, before Lord Chief Justice Erie
and a full bench of Judges. Although I did not succeed in improving my
own position, I raised public opinion in favor of free speech, and the
enormous costs incurred by the borough authorities, and which they had
to bear, have deterred them from ever again interfering either with my
lectures or those of any other speaker, and I now have crowded audiences
in the finest hall whenever I visit the three towns. These proceedings
cost me several hundred pounds, and burdened me with a debt which took
long clearing off.

In 1802, I held a four nights' discussion with a Dissenting clergyman,
the Rev. W. Barker. My opponent was probably one of the most able and
straightforward among my numerous antagonists. About this time a severe
attack of acute rheumatism prostrated me, and having soon after to visit
Italy, I, at first under medical advice, adopted the habit of drinking
the light Continental wines, and although continuing an advocate of
sobriety, I naturally ceased to take part in any teetotal gatherings.

In the struggle between the Northern and Southern States of America, my
advocacy and sympathies went with what I am glad to say was the feeling
of the great mass of the English people--in favor of the North; and
my esteemed friend, and then contributor, W. E. Adams, furnished most
valuable aid with his pen in the enlightenment of public opinion, at
a time when many of our aristocracy were openly exulting in what they
conceived to be the probable break-up of the United States Republic.
During the Lancashire cotton famine I lectured several times in aid of
the fund.

I began now also to assume a much more prominent position in the various
English political movements, and especially to speak on the Irish Church
and Irish Land questions. On the Irish questions, I owe much to my late
co-worker and contributor, poor Peter Fox Andre, a thoroughly honest
and whole-souled man, whose pen was always on the side of struggling

One of the disadvantages connected with a public career is, that every
vile scoundrel who is too cowardly to face you openly can libel
you anonymously. I have had, I think, my full share of this kind of
annoyance. Most of the slanders I have treated with utter contempt, and
if I had alone consulted my own feelings, should probably never have
pursued any other course. Twice, however, I have had recourse to the
judgment of the law--once in the case of a clergyman of the Church of
England, who indulged in a foul libel affecting my wife and children.
This fellow I compelled to retract every word he had uttered, and to
pay £100, which, after deducting the costs, was divided among various
charitable institutions. The reverend libeler wrote me an abject letter,
begging me not to ruin his prospects in the Church by publishing his
name; I consented, and he has since repaid my mercy by losing no
opportunity of being offensive. He is a prominent contributor to the
_Rock_, and a fierce ultra-Protestant. He must have greater confidence
in my honor than in his own, or fear of exposure would compel him to
greater reticence. The other case arose during the election, and will be
dealt with in its proper order.

It was my fortune to be associated with the Reform League from its
earliest moments until its dissolution. It is hardly worth while to
repeat the almost stereotyped story of the successful struggle made by
the League for Parliamentary Reform. E. Beales, Esq., was the President
of the League, and I was one of its Vice-Presidents, and continued
nearly the whole time of its existence a member of its executive. The
whole of my services and journeys were given to the League without the
slightest remuneration, and I repeatedly, and according to my means,
contributed to its funds. When I resigned my position on the executive I
received from Mr. George Howell, the Secretary, and from Mr. Beales,
the President, the most touching and flattering letters as to what Mr.
Beales was pleased to describe as the loyalty and utility of my services
to the League. Mr. George Howell concluded a long letter as follows:
"Be pleased to accept my assurance of sincere regards for your manly
courage, consistent and honorable conduct in our cause, and for your
kindly consideration for myself as Secretary of this great movement on
all occasions." These letters have additional value from the fact that
Mr. Beales, whom I sincerely respect, differs widely from me in matters
of faith, and Mr. Howell is, fortunately, far from having any friendly
feeling toward me. It was while on the Executive of this League that I
first became intimately acquainted with Mr. George Odger, and had reason
to be pleased with the straightforward course he pursued, and the honest
work he did as one of the Executive Committee. Mr. John Baxter Langley
and Mr. R. A. Cooper were also among my most prominent co-workers.

My sympathy with Ireland, and open advocacy of justice for the Irish,
nearly brought me into serious trouble. Some who were afterward indicted
as the chiefs of the so-called Fenian movement, came to me for advice.
So much I see others have written, and the rest of this portion of my
autobiography I may write some day. At present there are men not out of
danger whom careless words might imperil, and as regards myself I shall
not be guilty of the folly of printing language which a government might
use against me. My pamphlet on the Irish Question, published in 1866,
won a voluntary letter of warm approval from Mr. Gladstone, the only
friendly writing I ever received from him in my life.

At Huddersfield, the Philosophical Hall having been duly hired for my
lectures, pious influence was brought to bear on the lessee to
induce him to break the contract. Fortunately what in law amounted to
possession had been given, and on the doors being locked against me, I
broke them open, and delivered my lecture to a crowded and most orderly
audience. I was arrested, and an attempt was made to prosecute me before
the Huddersfield magistrates; but I defended myself with success, and
defeated with ease the Conservative solicitor, N. Learoyd, who had been
specially retained to insure my committal to jail.

In 1868 I entered into a contest with the Conservative Government which,
having been continued by the Gladstone Government, finished in 1869 with
a complete victory for myself. According to the then law every newspaper
was required to give sureties to the extent of £800 against blasphemous
or seditious libel. I had never offered to give these sureties, as they
would have probably been liable to forfeiture about once a month. In
March, 1868, the Disraeli Government insisted on my compliance with
the law. I refused. The Government then required me to stop my paper.
I printed on the next issue, "Printed in Defiance of Her Majesty's
Government." I was then served with an Attorney-General's information,
containing numerous counts, and seeking to recover enormous penalties.
I determined to be my own barrister, and while availing myself in
consultation of the best legal advice, I always argued my own case. The
interlocutory hearings before the Judges in Chambers were numerous,
for I took objection to nearly every step made by the government, and
I nearly always succeeded. I also brought the matter before Parliament,
being specially backed in this by Mr. Milner Gibson, Mr. John Stuart
Mill, and Mr. E. H. J. Crawford. When the information was called on for
trial in a crowded court before Mr. Baron Martin, the Government backed
out, and declined to make a jury; so the prosecution fell to the ground.
Strange to say, it was renewed by the Gladstone Government, who had the
coolness to offer me, by the mouth of Attorney-General Collier, that
they would not enforce any penalties if I would stop the paper, and
admit that I was in the wrong. This I declined, and the prosecution now
came on for trial before Baron Bramwell and a special jury. Against me
were the Attorney-General, Sir R. Collier, the Solicitor-General, Sir J.
D. Coleridge, and Mr. Crompton Hutton. I found that these legal worthies
were blundering in their conduct of the trial, and at _nisi prius_ I
let them obtain a verdict, which however, I reversed on purely technical
grounds, after a long argument, which I sustained before Lord Chief
Baron Kelly and a full court sitting in Banco. Having miserably failed
to enforce the law against me, the Government repealed the statute, and
I can boast that I got rid of the last shackle of the obnoxious English
press laws. Mr. J. S. Mill wrote me: "You have gained a very honorable
success in obtaining a repeal of the mischievous Act by your persevering
resistance." The Government, although beaten, refused to reimburse me
any portion of the large outlay incurred in fighting them.

It has always been my ambition to enter Parliament, and at the General
Election for 1808 I, for the first time, entered the arena as a
candidate. I was beaten; but this is scarcely wonderful. I had all the
journals in England except three against me. Every idle or virulent tale
which folly could distort or calumny invent was used against me. Despite
all, I polled nearly 1,100 votes, and I obtained unasked, but not
ungratefully listened to, the public acknowledgments from the Mayor of
the borough, also from one of my competitors, Mr. Charles Gilpin, as to
the loyal manner in which I had fought the contest through.

During the election struggle libels rained from all sides. One by the
late Mr Capper, M. P., seeking reelection at Sandwich, was the monstrous
story, that in the open square at Northampton I had taken out my watch
and defied God to show his power by striking me dead in five minutes.
Challenged for his authority Mr. Capper pretended to have heard the
story from Mr. C. Gilpin, M. P., who indignantly denied being any party
to the falsehood. I insisted on an apology from Mr. Capper, which being
refused I sued him, but he died soon after the writ was served. The
story was not an original invention by Mr. Capper; it had been reported
of Abner Kneeland thirty years before, and is still a favorite one with
pious missionaries at street corners. A still more outrageous slander
was inserted in the _Razor_, a pseudo-comic weekly. I compelled
this journal to give a full apology, but not until after two years'
litigation, and a new trial had been ordered. When obliged to recant,
the Christian proprietor became insolvent, to avoid payment of the
costs. Unfortunately born poor, my life had been one continued struggle,
and the burden of my indebtedness was sorely swollen in this and similar

Probably the most severe, and to me certainly the most costly, struggle
has been on the oath question. Formerly it was a fatal objection against
the competency of a witness who did not believe in a Deity and in a
future state of rewards and punishments. Several attempts had been made
to alter the law, but they had all failed; and indeed Sir J. Trevelyan's
measures only provided for affirmation, and did not seek to abolish the
incompetency. In a case in which I was plaintiff in the Court of Common
Pleas, my evidence was objected to, and I determined to fight the matter
through every possible court, and to get the law changed if possible.

I personally argued the case before Lord Chief Justice Bovill and a full
Bench, in the Court of Common Pleas, and with the aid of the present Mr.
Justice Denman and the late Lord Chancellor Hatherly, the law was twice
altered in Parliament. Before victory was ultimately obtained I had to
carry the case into the Court of Error, and I prepared and sent out at
my own cost more than two hundred petitions to Parliament. Ultimately
the Evidence Amendment Act, 1869, and the Evidence Further Amendment
Act, 1870, gave Freethinkers the right to enter the witness box, and I
won my suit. The Christian defendant finished by becoming bankrupt, and
I lost a terribly large sum in debt and costs. The original debt and
interest were over £300, and the costs of the various proceedings were
very heavy.

In the winter of 1870 the Mirfield Town Hall, which had been properly
taken and paid for for two nights' lectures, was refused by the
proprietors, who barricaded the hall, and obtained a great force of
police from the neighborhood. In order that the law might be clearly
settled on this matter, I brought an action to try the question, and
although the late Mr. Justice Willis expressed himself strongly in my
favor, it was held by Mr. Justice Mellor at _nisi prius_ that nothing,
except a deed under seal or an actual demise, would avail. A mere
agreement for a user of a hall was a license revocable at will, even
when for a valuable consideration. This convinced me that when hall
proprietors break their contracts, I must enforce my rights as I did at
Huddersfield, and have done in other places.

During the Franco-Prussian struggle I remained neutral until the 4th of
September. I was against Bismark and his blood-and-iron theory, but I
was also against the Empire and the Emperor; so I took no part
with either. I was lecturing at Plymouth the day the _decheance_ was
proclaimed, and immediately after wrote my first article in favor of
Republican France. I now set to work and organized a series of meetings
in London and the provinces, some of which were cooperated in by
Dr. Congreve, Professor Beesly, and other prominent members of the
Positivist party. These meetings exercised some little effect on the
public opinion in this country, but unfortunately the collapse on the
part of France was so complete, and the resources commanded by Bismark
and Moltke so vast, that, except as expressing sympathy, the results
were barren. In October, 1870, I, without any previous communication
from myself to them, received from the Republican Government at Tours a
long and flattering letter, signed by Leon Gambetta, Adolphe Cremieux,
Al Glais Bizoin, and Admiral Fourichon, declaring that they, as members
of the "Gouvernement de la Defense Nationale, reunis en delegation a
Tours," "tiennent a honneur de vous remercier chalereusement du noble
concours que vous apportez a la cause de la France." On the 2d of
February, 1871, M. Tissot, the Charge d'Affaires of France in England,
wrote me: "Quant a moi, mon cher ami, le ne puis que constater ici,
comme je l'ai deja fait, comme je le feraien toute occasion, la dette
que nous avons contracted envers vous. Vous nous avez donne votre temps,
votre activite, votre eloquence, votre ame, la meilleure partie de
vous meme, en un mot; la France que vous avez ete seule a defendre ne
l'oubliera jamais." This is probably a too flattering estimate of my
services to France, but coming from the official representative of
the French Republic, I feel entitled to insert it. In September, 1871,
Monsieur Emmanuel Arago, member of the Provisional Government of the 4th
of September, wrote the following words upon the letter which had
been sent me, as above mentioned, in October, 1870, by the Delegate
Government of Tours: "En lisant cette lettre, j'eprouve tres vivement le
regret de n'avoir pu, en-ferme dans Paris, joindre ma signature a celles
de mes collegues de la delegation de Tours. Mr. Bradlaugh est et sera
toujours dans la Republique notre concitoyen."

During 1870, 1871, and 1872, 1 held several debates with the Rev. A.
J. Harrison, formerly of Huddersfield. The first at Newcastle, in the
splendid Town Hall of that place, was attended by about 5,000 persons.
The second debate at Bristol, was notable from being presided over by
Professor Newman. The third discussion was at Birmingham, and was an
attempt at the Socratic method, and the last platform encounter, was in
the New Hall of Science, London. Of the Rev. Mr. Harrison it is enough I
should say that, a few weeks since, when rumor put my life in danger, he
was one of the first to write a kindly and unaffected letter of sympathy
to Mrs. Bradlaugh.

When the great cry of thanksgiving was raised for the recovery of the
Prince of Wales, I could not let it pass without protest. While he lay
dangerously ill I had ceased to make any attack on himself or family,
but I made no pretense of a grief I did not feel. When the thanksgiving
day was fixed, and tickets for St. Paul's were sent by the Lord
Chamberlain to working men representatives, I felt it right to hold a
meeting of protest, which was attended by a crowded audience in the New
Hall of Science.

The "right of meeting" has given me three important occasions of
measuring swords with the Government during the last few years, and
each time defeat has attended the Government. The first, the Hyde Park
meeting, where I acted in accord with Mr. Beales, to whom as chief, let
the honor go of this conflict. The second was on the 31st July, 1871,
under the following circumstances. A meeting had been held by Mr. G.
Odger and some of his friends in Hyde Park, on Sunday the 30th of
July, to protest against the grant to Prince Arthur; this meeting was
adjourned until the following evening. Late on the Sunday afternoon,
the adjourned meeting was forbidden by the Government. Early on Monday
morning Mr. Odger applied to me to give the friends the benefit of my
legal knowledge and personal influence. I consented, and the Government
persevering, I took my share of the responsibility of the gathering,
and signed with Mr. Odger a new notice convening the meeting. The
Home Office not only served us also with a written prohibition, but
threatened and prepared to use force. I immediately gave Mr. Bruce
notice that the force would be illegal, and that it would be resisted.
At the last moment, and in fact only some half hour before the meeting
commenced, the Government abandoned its prohibition, and an enormous
meeting of a most orderly character was held in absolute defiance of the

The more recent case was in December, 1872, when finding that Mr. Odger,
Mr. Bailey, and others, had been prosecuted under some monstrous
and ridiculous regulations invented by Mr. Ayrton, I, on my own
responsibility, determined to throw down the gauntlet to the Government.
I did this most successfully, and soon after the opening of Parliament
the obnoxious regulations were annulled.

It is at present too early to speak of the Republican movement in
England, which I have sought, and not entirely without success,
to organize on a thoroughly legal basis. It is a fair matter for
observation that my lectures on "The Impeachment of the House of
Brunswick," have been delivered to crowded audiences assembled in some
of the finest halls in England and Scotland, notably the Free Trade
Hall, Manchester, the Town Hall, Birmingham, the Town Hall, Northampton,
and the City Hall, Glasgow. It is, as far as I am aware, the first time
any English citizen has, without tumult or disorder and in buildings
belonging to various Municipalities, directly challenged the
hereditary right of the reigning family.

In penning the foregoing sketch I had purposely to omit many facts
connected with branches of Italian, Irish, and French politics. I have
also entirely omitted my own struggles for existence. The political
parts are left out because there are secrets which are not my own alone,
and which may not bear full telling for many years to come. The second,
because I hope that another year or two of hard work may enable me to
free myself from the debt load which for some time has hung heavily
round me.


To have written under this head in the reign of James Rex, of pious
memory, would have, probably, procured for me, without even the perusal
of my pamphlet, the reputation of Dr. Faustus, and a too intimate
acquaintance with some of the pleasant plans of torturing to death
practiced by the clever witch-finders of that day. I profess, however,
no knowledge of the black art, and am entirely unskilled in _diablerie_,
and feel quite convinced that the few words I shall say about his
Satanic Majesty will not be cause of any unholy compacts in which bodies
or souls are signed away in ink suspiciously red.

In many countries, dealing with the Devil has been a perilous
experiment. In 1790, an unfortunate named Andre Dubuisson was confined
in the Bastile, charged with raising the Devil. To prevent even the
slightest apprehension on the part of my reader that I have any
desire or intent toward placing him unpleasantly near a black-visaged,
sulphureous-constitutioned individual, horned like an old goat, with
satyr-like legs, a tail of unpleasant length, and a disposition to buy
a body from any unfortunate wight ready to dispose of it, I have only
to assert my intention of treating the subject entirely from a biblical
point of view. Doubtless I ought to do this; the Christian Devil is
a bible institution. I say, \ advisedly, the Christian Devil, because
other religions have boasted their Devil, and it is well to prevent
confusion. But I frankly admit that none of these religions have the
honor of a Devil so devilish as our own. Indeed our Devil ought to be
the best: it costs the most. No other religion besides our own can boast
the array of Popes, Bishops, Conferences, Rectors, Incumbents, and paid
preachers of various titles. And all these to preach against the Devil!

It is necessary, before entering upon my subject, that I should confess
my little ability to do it justice. I am unable to say, certainly,
whether I am writing about a singular Devil or a plurality of Devils. In
one text "Devils" are mentioned,* recognizing a plurality; in another,
"the Devil,"** as if there was but one. We may, however, fairly assume
that either there is one Devil, more than one, or less than one; and,
having thus cleared our path from mere numerical difficulties, we will
proceed to give the Devil his due. Satan appears either to have been
a child of God, or, at any rate, a most intimate acquaintance of the
family; for we find that on "a day when the children of God came to
present themselves before the Lord, that Satan came also among them;"***
and no surprise or disapprobation is manifested at his presence. The
conversation narrated in the Book of Job as occurring between God and
the Devil has, for us, a value proportioned to the rarity of the scene,
and to the high character of the personages concerned.

     * Leviticus xvii, 7.

     ** Luke iv, 2.

     *** Job i, 6

We are, therefore, despite the infidel criticism of Martin Luther, who
condemns the Book of Job as "a sheer _argumentum fabulæ_" determined to
examine carefully the whole particulars for ourselves; and, in so doing,
we are naturally surprised to find God, the omniscient, putting to Satan
the query, Whence comest thou? We cannot suppose God, the all-wise,
ignorant upon the subject, and we can not avoid a feeling of
astonishment that such an interrogatory should have been made. Satan's
reply, assuming its correctness--and this the text leaves us no reason
to doubt--increases our surprise and augments our astonishment. The
answer given is, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from going up
and down it," In remarking on this answer, I do not address myself to
those wretched persons who, relying on their reason and common sense,
ignore the divine truth. I address myself to the true believer, and I
ask, is he not astonished to find, from his bible, that Satan could
have gone to and fro in the earth, and walked up and down, and yet not
have met God, the omnipresent, occasionally during his journeying?
The Lord makes no comment on Satan's reply, but says, "Hast thou not
considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a
perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil?" It
is rather extraordinary that God should wish to have the Devil's opinion
on the only good man recorded as then living in the world: the more
extraordinary when we know that God is all-wise, and knew Satan's
opinion without asking it, and that God is immutable, and, therefore,
would not be influenced by the expression of the Devil's opinion when
uttered. Satan's answer is, "Doth Job fear God for naught? Hast thou
not made an hedge about him, and about all that he hath on every side?
Thou hast blest the work of his hand, and his substance is increased in
the land; but put forth thine hand now and touch all that he hath, and
he will curse thee to thy face." What is God's reply to this audacious
assertion? Does he express his determination to protect the righteous
Job? Does he use his power to rebuke the evil tempter? No. "The Lord
said unto Satan, Behold all that he hath is in thy power; only upon
himself put forth not thine hand." And this was Job's reward for being
a perfect and upright man, one that feared God and eschewed evil. He was
not sent to the Devil, but the Devil was sent to all that he had. And
he lost all without repining--sons, daughters, oxen, asses, camels and
sheep, all destroyed, and yet Job sinned not. Some divines have urged
that we here get a beautiful picture of patience and contentment
under wrong and misfortune. But I reply that it is not good to submit
patiently to wrong, or to rest contented under misfortune. I urge that
it is manlier far to resist wrong, nobler far to wage war against wrong,
better far to carefully investigate the causes of wrong and misfortune,
with a view to their removal. Contentment under wrong is a crime,
voluntary submission under oppression is not the virtue some would have
it to be.

"Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves
before the Lord [as if God's children could ever be absent from him],
and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And
the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered
the Lord and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking
up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my
servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth? a perfect and
an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil? and still he
holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against HIM TO

Can God be moved against a man to destroy him without a cause? If so,
God is neither immutable nor all-wise. Yet the bible puts into God's
mouth the terrible admission that the Devil had moved God against Job
to destroy him without cause. If true, it destroys God's goodness; if
false, then the bible is no revelation.

But Satan answered the Lord and said, "Skin for skin, yea, all that a
man hath will he give for his life; put forth thine hand now and touch
his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face."

Does the Lord now drive the Devil from his presence? Is there any
expression of wrath or indignation against his tempter? Not so. "The
Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand, but save his life."
And Job, being better than everybody else, finds himself smitten in
consequence with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
The ways of the Lord are not as our ways, or this would seem the reverse
of an encouragement to virtue.

We turn over the pages of our bible for further information on this
diabolic theme.

After reading the account of the numbering by David attentively, one is
puzzled by the apparent contradiction, that in one place "God" and in
another "Satan" occurs.*

     * 1 Chron. xxi, 1; 2 Sam. xxiv, 1

But it may be that there is more harmony between God and the Devil than
ordinary men are aware. Unfortunately, we have not the advantage of
great scholarship, but one erudite commentator on the bible tells us, in
speaking of the Hebrew word Azazel: "This terrible and venerable name
of God, through the pens of biblical glossers, has been _a Devil, a
mountain_, a wilderness, and a he-goat."* Well may incomprehensibility be
an attribute of Deity, when, even to holy and reverend fathers, God has
been sometimes undistinguishable from a he-goat or a Devil. Goats
and Devils are alike represented with horns and tails. We trust
that profanity will not enlarge on this sad confusion of ideas. Not
possessing great lingual acquirements, we adhere to the English bible,
believing that religion can never be improved by mere common sense,
or human effort. We admire, without understanding, the skill of the
Missionary, who makes the word "Mooigniazimoongo" an equivalent for
God in the Sooahelee dialect, and who represents "original sin" to
the Ottomi Indian by the word "Teacatzintiliztlatlacolli," and who
recommends the Delaware to repentance as "Schiwelendamowitchewagan."

We do not wonder that in these translating thaumaturgic exploits God and
Devil get mistaken for each other.

God is a spirit. Jesus was led up of the Spirit to be tempted of the
Devil; and it is also true that spirits are very likely to lead men
to the Devil. Too intimate acquaintance with whisky toddy overnight is
often followed by the _delirium tremens_ and blue-devils on the morrow.
We advise our readers to eschew alike spirituous and spiritual mixtures.
They interfere sadly with sober thinking, and play the Devil with your

The history of the temptation of Jesus by the Devil has been dealt with
in another essay.** Yet it may be well to add the opinion of a Church of
England divine in this place: "That the Devil should appear personally
_to_ the Son of God _is certainly not more wonderful_ than that he
should, in a more remote age, have appeared _among_ the sons of God, in
the presence of God himself, to tempt and torment the righteous Job."

     * G. R. Gliddon's extract from "Land's Sagra Scritura,"
     chap. iii, sec. 1.

     ** "Who was Jesus Christ?" p. 8.

But that Satan should carry Jesus, bodily and literally, through the
air--first to the top of a high mountain, and then to the topmost
pinnacle of the temple--is wholly inadmissible, it is an insult to our
understanding.* It is pleasant to be able to find so many clergymen, in
these days, zealously repudiating their own creeds. I am not prepared to
speak strongly as to the color of the Devil; white men paint him black,
black men white; but, allowing for the prejudices of dark-colored and
fair-skinned believers, an invisible green would not be an unreasonable
tint. We presume that he is not colorless, as otherwise the Evangelists
or the persons present would have labored under considerable
difficulties in witnessing the casting out of the Devil from the man in
the synagogue.** This Devil is described as an unclean Devil, and it is,
therefore, a fair inference that there are some clean Devils as well as
dirty Devils. Printer's Devils are mostly unclean Devils, but then they
are only little Devils, and we must not make too much of them. Nearly
all the Devils seem to talk, and it has therefore been conjectured by
some bachelor metaphysicians that they are of the feminine gender, but
I see no reason to agree in this, and my wife is of a contrary opinion.
The Devils are probably good Christians--one text tells us that they
believe and tremble. It is a fact with some poor Devils that the more
they believe the more they tremble. We are told in another text that the
Devil goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He
will have extremely bad taste, however, if he eat up the lean and bony
working-classes, while so many fat bishops and stout archdeacons remain

     *"Christian Records," by the Rev. Dr. Giles, p. 144.

     ** Luke iv, 35, 36.

Devils should be a sort of eternal salamander, for we are told there is
everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels,* and that
there is a lake of brimstone and fire, into which the Devil was cast.**
Perhaps instead of being salamander they will, while in the fire, be
rather of the 'otter tribe; but this is a question which Mr. C. H.
Spurgeon, who is a far better judge of brimstone than myself, would
be more competent to settle. The Devil has, at least upon one occasion,
figured as a controversialist. He disputed with the archangel Michael,
contending about the body of Moses;*** and in these degenerate days
of personality in debate it is pleasant to know that the religious
champion, unlike the Grants, Coopers, and Brindleys of the present
period, was very civil toward his Satanic opponent. The Devil was once
imprisoned for 1,000 years in a bottomless pit.**** If a pit has no
bottom, it seems but little confinement to shut the top; but with faith
and prayer, even a good foundation may be obtained for a bottomless pit.

It is urged by some that the Devil was the serpent of Genesis--that is,
that it was really Satan who, in this guise, tempted Eve. There is this
difficulty in the matter: the Devil is a liar,***** but in the interview
with Eve the serpent seems to have confined himself to the strict
truth.****** There is, in fact, no point of resemblance--no horns, no
hoof, nothing except the tail--which can be in any way identified.

     * Matt, xxv, 41.

     ** Jude, 9.

     *** John viii, 44.

     **** Rev. xxi, 10.

     ***** Rev. xxi, 2.

     ****** Genesis iii, 4, 5, 22.

The Old Testament speaks a little of the Devils, sometimes of Satan, but
never of "The Devil," and it seems almost too much, in Matthew, to usher
him in, in the temptation scene, without introduction, and as if he were
an old acquaintance. I do not remember reading, in the Old Testament,
anything about the lake of brimstone and fire; this feature of faith
was reserved for the warmth of Christian love to inspire; the Pentateuch
makes no reference to it. Zechariah, in a vision, saw "Joshua, the
High-Priest, standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing
at his right hand to resist him."* Why the Devil wanted to resist Joshua
is not clear; but as Joshua's garments were in a very filthy state, it
may be that he was preaching to the Priest the virtues of cleanliness.
It is often said that cleanliness is next to godliness; I honestly
confess that I should prefer a clean sinner to a dirty saint. Jesus said
that one of the twelve disciples was a Devil,** but I am not prepared
to say whether he meant the unfaithful and cowardly Peter, to whom he
intrusted the keys of Heaven, or Judas who sold him for money, just as
would nearly any bishop of the present day. The bishops preach that it
is as difficult for a rich man to get into Heaven as for a camel to
go through the eye of a needle; yet they enrich themselves, and their
families, as greedily and carelessly as if they, at any rate, never
expected to smell brimstone as a consequence. You are told to resist the
Devil, and he will flee from you;*** if this be true, he is a cowardly
Devil, and thus does not agree quite with Milton's picture of his grand,
defiant, almost heroism. But then Milton was a poet, and true religion
has but little poetry in it.

     * Zechariah iii, 1.

     **John vi, 70.

     ***James iv, 7.

Jeroboam, one of the Jewish monarchs, ordained priests for the Devils,*
and this may be the reason why, at the present day, all the orthodox
clergy are gentlemen in black. In the time of Jesus, Satan must, when
not in the body of some mad, deaf, dumb, blind, or paralytic person,
have been in Heaven; for Jesus, on one occasion, told his disciples that
he saw Satan, as lightning, fall from Heaven.** Of course, this would
betoken a rapid descent, but although a light affair, it is no laughing
matter, and we reverently leave it to the clergy to explain the text.
Jesus told Simon Peter that Satan desired to have him, that he might
sift him as wheat;*** in this text it may be urged that Jesus was
chaffing his disciple. Paul, the apostle, seems to have looked on the
Devil much as the magistrates of Guernsey, Devonport, and Yarmouth look
on the police, for Paul delivered Hymeneus and Alexander unto Satan,
that they may learn not to blaspheme.****

Revivalists are much indebted for their evanescent successes to Hell and
the Devil, if the following extract from the experience of a Christian
preacher be reliable:

"Thomas English was one of those very noisy and active preachers who do
so much in promoting revivals." he would tell his hearers of "dwelling
with devouring fire, bearing everlasting burning, roasting on the
Devil's spit, broiling on his gridiron, being pitched about with his
fork, drinking the liquid fire, breathing the brimstone fumes, drowning
in a red-hot sea, lying on fiery beds,"***** etc.

     * 2 Chron: xi, 15.

     ** Luke x, 18.

     *** Luke xxii, 31.

     **** 1 Tim. i, 20.

     ***** "Pilgrim's Progress from Methodism to Christianity."

In the present year the vulgar tirades of Reginald Radcliffe, Richard
Weaver, and C. H. Spurgeon (some of them delivered in Exeter Hall) will
serve to evidence that the above quotation is not the exaggeration
which some might think. In London, before crowded audiences, Mr. Weaver,
without originality, and with only the merit of copied coarseness, has
called upon the Lord to "shake the ungodly for five minutes over the
mouth of Hell." Mr. Spurgeon has drawn pictures of Hell which, if true
and revealed to him by God, are most disgustingly frightful, and which
being, as we believe, false, and but the creation of his own vulgar,
morbid fancies, induce, on our part, a feeling of contempt as well as

The Wesleyans, some years since, made the Devil a prominent feature in
the famous "Fly-Sheet" controversy, so much so that a Wesleyan,
speaking and writing on the subject, suggested that the authors of the
"Fly-Sheets" were Devils, and another once-Wesleyan writer says: "The
first thing which made me inquire about the Devil was that I thought him
abused. I thought him bad enough, but could not help fearing that people
told lies about him. R. S------, a very zealous prayer-leader, stole
some oats, and imputed the blame to the Devil. T. C------ got drunk, and
complained in the love-feast that the Devil had been very busy with him
for some time, and then took him in an unguarded moment. B. S----- was
detected in lying, and complained that Satan had gained the advantage
over him. Old George White burned his fingers in lighting his pipe,
and declared that it was the Devil that caused him to do it; and Farmer
Duffy horsewhipped his wife, and said that he did it to beat the Devil
out of her. This make me desirous to know what influence the Devil
really had, and I was stimulated to this inquiry by my friend, Mr.
Trelevan, who assured mo that the Devil was as necessary as the Almighty
to the orthodox faith."* The fashionable preachers in the neighborhood
of Belgravia mostly eschew the Devil, and avoid the taint of brimstone;
treacle is the commodity they dispense.

     * "Pilgrim's Progress from Methodism to Christianity."

For myself, the only Devil I know is that black Devil ignorance,
fostered by knavery and tyranny; a Devil personified by the credulous
many, and kept up in the past by the learned but treacherous few, who
preferred to rule the masses by their fears, rather than to guide them
through their love. This devil has, indeed, not been a roaring lion,
but a cowardly and treacherous boa constrictor; it has enveloped in its
massive folds glorious truths, and in the fierceness of its brute power
has crushed them in its writhings. But oh! a glorious day is coming:
amid the heretofore gloom of night the bright rays of the rising sun
are piercing, the light of truth dispels the mists of ignorance. Bright
facts drive out dark delusions; mighty truths triumph over pious frauds,
and no longer need men be affrighted by the notion of an omnipotent
fiend, wandering through the earth, ever seeking their damnation.

Yes--to partially adopt the phraseology of a writer in "Macmillan's
Magazine"--I do refuse to see in God a being omniscient as omnipotent,
who puts us into this world without our volition, leaves us to struggle
through it as we can, unequally pitted against an almost omnipotent and
supersubtile Devil, and then, if we fail, finally drops us out of this
world into Hell-fire, where a legion of inferior Devils find constant
and never-ending employment in inventing fresh tortures for us; our
crime being that we have not succeeded where success was rendered
impossible. No high, no manly, no humane thinkings are developed in the
doctrine of Devils and damnation. If a potent faith, it degrades alike
the teacher and the taught, by its abhorrent mercilessness; and if a
form, instead of a faith, then is the Devil doctrine a misleading sham,
which frightens weak minds and never developes strong men.


In compiling a biographical account of any ancient personage,
impediments mostly arise from the uncertainty of the various traditions
out of which we gather our biography, and from the party bias and
coloring which often pervade and detract from their value. In the
present case no such obstacle is met with, no such bias can be imagined,
for, in giving the life of David, we extract it from an all-wise God's
perfect and infallible revelation to man, and thus are enabled
to present it to our readers free from any doubt, uncertainty,
or difficulty. The father of David was Jesse, an Ephrathite of
Bethlehem-judah. Jesse had either eight sons (1 Samuel xvi, 10, 11, and
xvii, 12) or only seven (1 Chron. ii, 13 to 15), and David was either
the eighth son or the seventh. Some may think this a difficulty to
commence with, but such persons will only be those who rely on their own
intellectual faculties, or who have been misled by Colenso's arithmetic.
If you, my dear reader, are in any doubt, at once consult some qualified
divine, and he will explain to you that there is really no difference
between eight and seven when rightly understood with prayer and faith,
by the help of the spirit. Arithmetic is an utterly infidel acquirement,
and one which all true believers should eschew. In proof of this, I may
observe that the proposition three times one are one is a fundamental
article of the Christian faith. David's great grandmother was the holy
harlot Rahab, and his grandmother was a lady who when unmarried went in
the night and lay at the feet of Boaz, and left in the morning before
it was light enough for any one to recognize her like her grandson she
was "prudent in matters." When young, David tended his father's sheep,
and apparently while so doing he obtained the reputation for being
cunning in playing, a mighty valiant man, and a man of war and
prudent in matters. He obtained his reputation as a soldier early and
wonderfully, for he was "but a youth," and God's most holy word asserts
that when going to fight with Goliath he tried to walk in armor, and
could not, for he was not accustomed to it (1 Samuel xvii, 39, Douay
version). Samuel shortly prior to this anointed David, and the spirit of
the Lord came upon him from that day forward. If a man takes to spirits
his life will probably be one of vice, misery, and misfortune, and if
spirits take to him the result in the end is nearly the same. Saul being
King of Israel, an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him. The devil has
no ear for music, and Saul was recommended to have David to play on a
harp in order that harmony might drive this evil spirit back to the Lord
who sent it. The Jews' harp was played successfully, and Saul was often
relieved from the evil spirit by the aid of David's ministrations. There
is nothing miraculous in this; at the people's concerts many a working
man has been released from the "blue devils" by a stirring chorus, a
merry song, or patriotic anthem. David was appointed armor-bearer to
the king, but curiously enough this office does not appear to have
interfered with his duties as a shepherd; indeed the care of his
father's sheep took precedence over the care of the king's armor, and
in the time of war he "went and returned to feed his father's sheep."
Perhaps his "prudence in matters" induced him thus to take care of

A Philistine, one Goliath of Gath (whose hight was six cubits and a
span, or about nine feet six inches, at a low computation) had defied
the armies of Israel. This Goliath was (to use the vocabulary of the
reverend sporting correspondent of a certain religious newspaper) a
veritable champion of the heavy weights. He carried in all two cwt. of
armor, offensive and defensive, upon his person, and his challenge had
great weight. None dared accept it among the soldiers of Saul until the
arrival of David with some food for his brethren. David volunteered to
fight the giant, but Saul objecting that he was not competent to take
part in a conflict so dangerous, David related how he pursued a _lion
and a bear_, how he caught _him_ by his beard and slew _him_. David's
offer was accepted, he was permitted to fight the giant. In one verse
David slew the Philistine with a stone, in another verse he slew him
with the giant's own sword, while in 2 Samuel, c. xxi, v. 19, we are
told that Goliath the Gittite was slain by Elhanan. Our transalators,
who have great regard for our faiths and more for their pulpits, have
kindly inserted the words "the brother of" before Goliath. This saves
the true believer from the difficulty of understanding how Goliath of
Gath could have been killed by different men at different times. David
was previously well known to Saul, and was much loved and favored by
that monarch. He was also seen by the king before he went forth to do
battle with the gigantic Philistine. Yet Saul had forgotten his own
armor-bearer and much-loved harpist, and was obliged to ask Abner who
David was. Abner, captain of the king's host, familiar with the person
of the armor-bearer to the king, of course knew David well; he therefore
answered, "As thy soul liveth, O king, I can not tell." One day the
evil spirit from the Lord came upon Saul and he prophesied. Men who are
spiritually inclined often talk great nonsense under the influence of
spirits, which they sometimes regret when sober. It is, however, an
interesting fact in ancient spiritualism to know that Saul prophesied
with a devil in him. Under the joint influence of the devil and
prophecy, he tried to kill David, and when this was repeated, even after
David had married the king's daughter (for whose wedding trousseau he
had procured an interesting and delicate offering by the slaughter of two
hundred men), then to save his own life David fled to Naioth, and Saul
sent there messengers to arrest him, but the king's messengers having
all become prophets, in the end Saul went himself, and this time the
spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he stripped off his clothes and
prophesied as hard as the rest. What he phrophesied about we do not
know. In fact, the priests have made so great deduction from the profits
during the plenitude of their power, that there has been little which is
profitable in connection with religion left for the people.

David lived in exile for some time, having collected around him every
one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one
that was discontented. Saul made several fruitless attempts to effect
his capture, with no better result than that he twice placed himself in
the power of David, who twice showed the mercy to a cruel king which he
never conceded to an unoffending people. David having obtruded himself
upon Achish, King of Gath, and doubtful of his safety, feigned madness
to cover his retreat. He then lived a precarious life, sometimes levying
a species of blackmail upon defenseless farmers. Having applied to
one farmer to make him some compensation for permitting the farm to go
unrobbed, and his demand not having been complied with, David, who is
a man after the heart of the God of mercy, immediately determined to
murder the farmer and all his household for their wicked reluctance in
submitting to his extortions. The wife of farmer Nabal compromised the
matter. David "accepted her person" and ten days afterward Nabal was
found dead in his bed. David afterward went with six hundred men and
lived under the protection of Achish, king of Gath; and while thus
residing (being the anointed one of a God who says "Thou shalt not
steal,") he robbed the inhabitants of the surrounding places; being also
obedient to the statute "Thou 1 shalt do no murder," he slaughtered, and
left neither man nor woman alive to report his robberies to King Achish;
and as he "always walked in the ways" of a God to whom "lying lips are
an abomination," he made false reports to Achish in relation to his
actions. Of course this was all for the glory of God, whose ways are
not as our ways. Soon the Philistines were engaged in another of the
constantly recurring conflicts with the Israelites. Who offered them the
help of himself and band? Who offered to make war on his own countrymen?
David, the man after God's own heart, who obeyed his statutes and who
walked in his ways to do only that which was right in the sight of God.
The Philistines rejected the traitor's aid, and saved David from the
consummation of this baseness. While David was making this unpatriotic
proffer of his services to the Philistines, his own city of Ziglag was
captured by the Amalekites, who were doubtless endeavoring to avenge
some of the most unjustifiable robberies and murders perpetrated by
David and his followers in their country. David's own friends evidently
thought that this misfortune was a retribution for David's crimes, for
they spoke of stoning him. The Amalekites had captured and carried off
every thing, but they do not seem to have maltreated or killed any of
their enemies. David was less merciful. He pursued them, recaptured the
spoil, and spared not a man of them, save 400 who escaped on camels. In
consequence of the death of Saul, David soon after was elevated to the
throne of Judah, while Ishbosheth, son of Saul, was made King of Israel.
But Ishbosheth, having been assassinated, David slew the assassins, when
they, hoping for reward, brought him the news, and he reigned ultimately
over Israel also.

As my religious readers are doubtless aware, the Lord God of Israel,
after the time of Moses, usually dwelt on the top of an ark or box,
between two figures of gold, and on one occasion David made a journey
with his followers to Baal, to bring thence the ark of God. They placed
it on a new cart drawn by oxen. On their journey the oxen stumbled and
consequently shook the cart, and one of the drivers, whose name was
Uzzah, fearing that God might be tumbled to the ground, took hold of the
ark, apparently in order to steady it, and prevent it from overturning.
God, who is a God of love, was much displeased that any one should
presume to do any such act of kindness, and killed Uzzah on the spot as
a punishment for his error. This shows that if a man sees the Church
of God tumbling down, he should never try to prop it up; if it be not
strong enough to save itself the sooner it falls the better for human
kind--that is, if they keep away from it while it is falling. David was
much displeased that the Lord had killed Uzzah; in fact, David seems
to have wished for a monopoly of slaughter, and always manifested
displeasure when killing was done unauthorized by himself. Being
displeased, David would not take the ark to Jerusalem; he left it in the
house of Obed Edom, but as the Lord proved more kind to Obed Edom than
he had done to Uzzah, David determined to bring it away, and he did so,
and David danced before the ark in a state of semi-nudity, for which he
was reproached by Michal. The story is one which, by itself, would be as
entertaining to a depraved mind as any Holywell-Street pamphlet, if Lord
Campbell's act did not prevent the publication of indecencies. The pages
of God's most holy word, we believe, do not come within the scope of
the act, and lovers of obscene language may therefore have legal
gratification so long as the bible shall exist. The God of Israel, who
had been leading a wandering life for many years, and who had "walked
in a tent and in a tabernacle," and "from tent to tent," and "from one
tabernacle to another," and who "had not dwelt in any house" since the
time that he brought the Isrealites out of Egypt, was offered "an house
for him to dwell in," but he declined to accept it during the lifetime
of David, although he promised to permit the son of David to erect him
such an abode. David being now a powerful monarch, and having many wives
and concubines, saw one day the beautiful wife of one of his soldiers.
To see, with this licentious monarch, was to crave for the gratification
of his lust. The husband, Uriah, was fighting for the king, yet David
was base enough to steal his wife's virtue during Uriah's absence in
the field of battle. "Thou shalt not commit adultery," was one of
the commandments, yet we are told by God of this David, "who kept my
commandments, and who followed me with all his heart to do only that
which was right in mine eyes" (1 Kings, c. xiv, v. 8). David having
seduced the wife, sent for her husband, wishing to make him condone his
wife's dishonor, as many a man has done in other lands, when a king or
prince has been the seducer. Some hold that virtue in rags is less worth
than vice when coroneted. Uriah would not be thus tricked, and David,
the pious David, coolly planned, and without mercy caused to be
executed, the treacherous murder of Uriah. God is all just; and David
having committed adultery and murder, God punished and killed an
innocent child, which had no part or share in David's crime, and never
chose that it should be born from the womb of Bathsheba. After this the
king David was even more cruel and merciless than before. Previously
he had systematically slaughtered the inhabitants of Moab, now he sawed
people with saws, cut them with harrows and axes, and made them pass
through brick-kilns. Yet of this man God said he "did that which was
right in mine eyes." So bad a king, so treacherous a man, a lover so
inconstant, a husband so adulterous, of course was a bad father, having
bad children. We are little surprised, therefore, to read that his son
Ammon robbed his sister, David's daughter Tamar, of her virtue; and that
Ammon was afterward slain by his own brother, David's son Absalom, and
are scarcely astonished that Absalom himself, on the house-top, in the
sight of all Israel, should complete his father's shame by an act worthy
a child of God's selected people. Yet these are God's chosen race, and
this is the family of the man "who walked in God's ways all the days of
his life."

God, who is all-wise and all-just, and who is not a man that he should
repent, had repented that he, had made Saul king because Saul spared
one man. In the reign of David the same good God sent a famine for three
years on the decendants of Abraham, and upon being asked his reason for
thus starving his chosen ones, the reply of the Deity was that he sent
the famine on the subjects of David because Saul slew the Gibeonites.
Satisfactory reason!--because Oliver Cromwell slew the Royalists, God
will punish the subjects of Charles the Second. One reason is to profane
eyes equivalent to the other, but a bishop or even a rural dean
would show how remarkably God's justice was manifested. David was not
behindhand in justice. He had sworn to Saul that he would not cut off
his seed--i.e. that he would not destroy Saul's family. He therefore
took two of Saul's sons, and five of Saul's grandsons, and gave them up
to the Gibeonites, who hung them. Strangely wonderful are the ways
of the Lord! Saul slew the Gibeonites, therefore years afterward God
starves Judah. The Gibeonites hang men who had nothing to do with the
crime of Saul, except that they are his decendants, and then we are told
"the Lord was intreated for the land." Perhaps David wanted to get rid
of the royal family of Saul. The anger of the Lord being kindled against
Israel, and he wanting some excuse for punishing the decendants of
Jacob, moved David to number his people. The Chronicles say that it was
Satan, and pious people may thus learn that there is little
difference between God and the Devil when rightly understood. Both
are personifications founded in the ignorance of the masses, and their
continuance will cease with their credulousness. David caused a census
to be taken of the tribes of Israel and Judah. There is a trivial
disagreement to the extent of about 270,000 soldiers between Samuel and
Chronicles, but the readers must not allow so slight an inaccuracy as
this to stand between them and heaven. What are 270,000 men when looked
at prayerfully? The idea that any doubt should arise is to a devout
mind at the same time profane and preposterous. Infidels suggest that
1,570,000 soldiers form a larger army than the Jews are likely to have
possessed. I can only add that as God is omnipotent, there is no reason
to limit his power of increasing or decreasing miraculously the armament
of the Jewish nation. David, it seems, did wrong in numbering his
people, although we are never told that he did wrong in robbing or
murdering their neighbors, or in pillaging peaceful agriculturists.
David said, "I have sinned." The king having done wrong, an all-merciful
God brought a pestilence on the people, and murdered 70,000 Israelites for
an offense which their ruler had committed. The angel who was engaged
in this terrible slaughter stood somewhere between heaven and earth, and
stretched forth his hand with a drawn sword in it to destroy Jerusalem
itself, but even the blood-thirsty Deity of the bible "repented him of
the evil," and said to the angel, "It is enough." Many volumes might be
written to answer the inquiries--Where did the angel stand, and on what?
Of what metal was the sword, and where was it made? As it was a drawn
one, where was the scabbard? and did the angel wear a sword belt?
Examined in a pious frame of mind, much holy instruction may be derived
from the attempt at solution of these problems.

David now grows old and weak, and at last, notwithstanding that he has
the advantage of a pretty maiden to cherish him, he wears out, and his
death hour comes. Oh! for the dying words of the Psalmist! What pious
instruction shall we derive from the deathbed scene of the man after
God's own heart! Listen to the last words of Judah's expiring
monarch. You who have been content with the pious frauds and forgeries
perpetrated with reference to the deathbeds and dying words of the
great, the generous, the witty Voltaire, the manly, the self-denying,
the incorruptible Thomas Paine, the humane, simple, child-like man, yet
mighty poet, Shelley--you who have turned away from these with horror,
unfounded if real, come with me to the death couch of the special
favorite of God. Bathsheba's child stands by his side. Does any thought
of the murdered Uriah rack old David's brain, or has a tardy repentance
effaced the bloody stain from the pages of his memory? What does the
dying David say? Does he talk of cherubs, angels, and heavenly choirs?
Nay, none of these things pass his lips. Does he make a confession
of his crime-stained life, and beg his son to be a better king, a truer
man, a more honest citizen, a wiser father? Nay, not so--no word or
sigh of regret, no expression of remorse or repentance escaped his lips.
What does the dying David say? This foul adulterer, whom God has made
king; this red-handed robber, whose life has been guarded by "our Father
which art in Heaven;" this perjured king, whose lying lips have found
favor in the sight of God, and who when he dies is safe for Heaven. Does
David repent? Nay--like the ravenous tiger or wolf, which once tasting
blood is made more eager for the prey, he yearns for blood; he dies, and
with his dying breath begs his son to bring the grey hairs of two old
men down to the grave with blood. Yet this is the life of God's anointed
king, the chief one of God's chosen people.

David is alleged to have written several Psalms. In one of these he
addresses God in the phraseology of a member of the P. R. praising Deity
that he had smitten all of his enemies on the cheek bone and broken the
teeth of the ungodly. In these days, when "muscular Christianity" is
not without advocates, the metaphor which presents God as a sort of
magnificent Benicia Boy may find many admirers. In the eighteenth Psalm,
David describes God as with "smoke coming out of his nostrils and fire
out of his mouth," by which "coals were kindled." He represents God as
coming down from heaven, and says "he rode upon a cherub." The learned
Parkhurst gives a likeness of a one-legged, four-winged, four-faced
animal, part lion, part bull, part eagle, part man, and if a cloven foot
be any criterion, part devil also. This description, if correct,
will give some idea to the faithful of the wonderful character of the
equestrian feats of Deity.

In the twenty-sixth Psalm, the writer, if David, exposes his own
hypocrisy in addition to his other vices. He has the impudence to tell
God that he has been a man of integrity and truth; that he has avoided
evildoers, although if we are to believe the thirty-eighth Psalm, the
vile hypocrite must have already been subject to a loathsome disease--a
penalty consequent on his licentiousness and criminality. In another
Psalm, David the liar tells God that "he that telleth lies shall not
tarry in my sight." To understand his malevolent nature we can not do
better than quote his prayer to God against an enemy (Psalm cix, 6-14):

"6. Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right

"7. When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer
become sin.

"8. Let his days be few: and let another take his office.

"9. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.

"10. Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek
their bread also out of their desolate places.

"11. Let the extortioner catch all that he hath: and let the strangers
spoil his labor.

"12. Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be
any to favor his fatherless children.

"13. Let his posterity be cut off: and in the generation following let
their name be blotted out.

"14. Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the Lord: and
let not the sin of his mother be blotted out."

A full consideration of the life of David must give great help to each
orthodox reader in promoting and sustaining his faith. While he is
spoken of by Deity as obeying all the statutes and keeping all the
commandments, we are astonished to find that murder, theft, lying,
adultery, licentiousness, and treachery are among the crimes which may
be laid to his charge. David was a liar, God is a God of truth; David
was merciless, God is merciful, and of long suffering; David was a
thief, God says "Thou shalt not steal;" David was a murderer, God says
"Thou shalt do no murder;" David took the wife of Uriah, and "accepted"
the wife of Nabal, God says "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife;"
Yet, notwithstanding all these things, David was a man after God's own

Had this Jewish monarch any redeeming traits in his character? Was he
a good citizen? If so, the bible has carefully concealed every action
which would entitle him to such an appellation, and in lieu has given
us the record of his attempted extortion in the case of Nabal, and
furnished us with a notice of his horde of followers--outlawed,
discontented, and in debt. Was he a kind and constant husband? Was
he grateful to those who aided him in his hour of need? Nay; like the
wounded serpent which, half frozen by the wayside, is warmed into new
life in the traveler's breast, and then treacherously stabs him with his
poisoned fangs, so David robbed and murdered the friends and allies of
the King of Gath, who had afforded him refuge against the pursuit of
Saul. Does his patriotism outshine his many vices? Does his love of
country efface his many misdoings? Not even this. David was a heartless
traitor who volunteered to serve against his own countrymen, and would
have done so had not the Philistines rejected his treacherous help. Was
he a good king? So say the priesthood now; but where is the evidence of
his virtue? His crimes brought a plague and pestilence on his
subjects, and his reign is a continued succession of wars, revolts, and
assassinations, plottings and counterplots.

The life of David is a dark blot on the page of human history, and our
best hope is that if a spirit from God inspired the writer, then that it
was a lying spirit, and that he has given us fiction instead of truth.


It is pleasant work to present to the reader sketches of God's chosen
people. More especially is it an agreeable task to recapitulate the
interesting events occurring during the life of a man whom God has
loved. Jacob was the son of Isaac; the grandson of Abraham. These three
men were so free from fault, their lives so unobjectionable, that the
God of the bible delighted to be called the "God of Abraham, the God of
Isaac, and the God of Jacob." It is true, Abraham owned slaves, was not
exact as to the truth, and, on one occasion, turned his wife and child
out to the mercies of a sandy desert. That Isaac in some sort followed
his father's example and disingenuous practices, and that Jacob was
without manly feeling, a sordid, selfish, unfraternal cozener, a
cowardly trickster, a cunning knave, but they must nevertheless have
been good men, for God was "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and
the God of Jacob." The name Jacob is not inappropriate. Kalisch says:
"This appellation, if taken in its obvious etymological meaning, implies
a deep ignominy; for the root from which it is derived signifies _to
deceive, to defraud,_ and in such a despicable meaning the same form
of the word is indeed used elsewhere (Jeremiah ix, 3). Jacob would,
therefore, be nothing else but the crafty _impostor_; in this sense
Esau, in the heat of his animosity, in fact clearly explains the word,
justly is his name called Jacob (cheat) because he has cheated me
twice" (Genesis xxvii, 30). According to the ordinary orthodox bible
chronology, Jacob was born about 1836 or 1837 B. C, that is, about 2,168
years from "in the beginning," his father Isaac being then sixty years
of age. There is a difficulty connected with Holy Scripture chronology
which would be insuperable were it not that we have the advantage of
spiritual aids in elucidation of the text. This difficulty arises from
the fact that the chronology of the bible, in this respect, like the
major portion of bible history, is utterly unreliable. But we do not
look to the Old or New Testament for mere commonplace, everyday facts;
or if we do, severe will be the disappointment of the truthseeker; we
look there for mysteries, miracles, paradoxes, and perplexities, and
have no difficulties in finding the objects of our search. Jacob was
born, together with his twin brother, Esau, in consequence of special
entreaty addressed by Isaac to the Lord on behalf of Rebekah, to whom
he had been married about nineteen years, and who was yet childless.
Infidel physiologists (and it is a strange, though not unaccountable,
fact that all who are physiologists are also in so far infidel) assert
that prayer would do little to repair the consequence of such disease,
or such abnormal organic structure, as would compel sterility. But our
able clergy are agreed that the bible was not intended to teach us
science; or, at any rate, we have learned that its attempts in that
direction are most miserable failures. Its mission is to teach the
unteachable; to enable us to comprehend the incomprehensible. Before
Jacob was born God decreed that he and his descendants should obtain
the mastery over Esau and his descendants--"the elder shall serve the
younger."* The God of the bible is a just God, but it is hard for
weak flesh to discover the justice of this proemial decree, which so
sentenced to servitude the children of Esau before their father's birth.

     *Gen. xxv, 23.

Jacob came into the world holding by his brother's heel, like some
cowardly knave in the battle of life, who, not daring to break a gap in
the hedge of conventional prejudice, which bars his path, is yet ready
enough to follow some bolder warrior, and to gather the fruits of his
courage. "And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of
the field: and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents." One day Esau
returned from his hunting faint and wearied to the very point of death.
He was hungry, and came to Jacob, his twin and only brother, saying,
"Feed me, I pray thee,"* "for I am exceedingly faint."** In a like case
would not any man so entreated immediately offer to the other the best
at his command, the more especially when that other is his only brother,
born at the same time, from the same womb, suckled at the same breast,
fed under the same roof? But Jacob was not a man and a brother, he
was one of God's chosen people, and one who had been honored by God's
prenatal selection. "If a man come unto me and hate not his brother, he
can not be my disciple." So taught Jesus the Jew, in after time, but
in this earlier age Jacob the Jew, in practice, anticipated the later
doctrine. It is one of the misfortunes of theology, if not its crime,
that profession of love to God is often accompanied with bitter and
active hate of man. Jacob was one of the founders of the Jewish race,
and even in this their pre-historic age, the instinct for driving a hard
bargain seems strongly developed. "Jacob said" to Esau, "Sell me this
day thy birthright." The famished man vainly expostulated, and the
birthright was sold for a mess of pottage.

     * Gen. xxv, 30

     **Douay version.

If to-day one man should so meanly and cruelly take advantage of his
brother's necessities to rob him of his birthright, all good and honest
men would shun him as an unbrotherly scoundrel and most contemptible
knave; yet, less than 4,000 years ago, a very different standard of
morality must have prevailed. Indeed, if God is unchangeable, divine
notions of honor and honesty must to-day be widely different from those
of our highest men. God approved and endorsed Jacob's conduct. His
approval is shown by his love afterward expressed for Jacob, his
endorsement by his subsequent attention to Jacob's welfare. We may learn
from this tale, so pregnant with instruction, that any deed which to
the worldly and sensible man appears like knavery while understood
literally, becomes to the devout and prayerful man an act of piety when
understood spiritually. Much faith is required to thoroughly understand
this; _for example_, it looks like swindling to collect poor children's
halfpence and farthings in the Sunday schools for missionary purposes
abroad, and to spend thereout two or three hundred pounds in an annual
jubilatory dinner for well-fed pauper parsons at home; and so thought
the noble lord who wrote to the _Times_ under the initials S. G. O. If
he had possessed more faith and less sense, he would have seen the
piety and completely overlooked the knavery of the transaction. Pious
preachers and clever commentators declare that Esau despised his
birthright. I do not deny that they might back their declaration by
scripture quotations, but I do deny that the narrative ought to convey
any such impression. Esau's words were, "Behold I am at the point to
die: and what profit shall this birthright be to me?"

Isaac growing old, and fearing from his physical infirmities the near
approach of death, was anxious to bless Esau before he died, and
directed him to take quiver and bow and go out in the field to hunt some
venison for a savory meat, such as old Isaac loved. Esau departed, but
when he had left his father's presence in order to fulfill his request,
Jacob appeared on the scene. Instigated by his mother, he, by an abject
stratagem, passed himself off as Esau. With a savory meat prepared by
Rebekah, he came into his father's presence, and Isaac said, "Who art
thou, my son?" Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. The Lord loved
Jacob, yet Jacob lied to his old blind father, saying, "I am Esau,
thy first-born." Isaac had some doubts: these are manifested by his
inquiring how it was that the game was killed so quickly. Jacob, whom
God loved, in a spirit of shameless blasphemy replied, "Because the
Lord thy God brought it to me." Isaac still hesitated, fancying that he
recognized the voice to be the voice of Jacob, and again questioned him,
saying, "Art thou my very son Esau?" God is the God of truth and loved
Jacob, yet Jacob said, "I am." Then Isaac blessed Jacob, believing that
he was blessing Esau: and God permitted the fraud to be successful, and
himself also blessed Jacob. In that extraordinary composition known
as the Epistle to the Hebrews, we are told that by faith Isaac blessed
Jacob. But what faith had Isaac? Faith that Jacob was Esau? His belief
was produced by deceptive appearances. His faith resulted from false
representations. And there are very many men in the world who have
no better foundation for their religious faith than had Isaac when he
blessed Jacob, believing him to be Esau. In the Douay bible I find the
following note on this remarkable narrative: "St. Augustine (X. contra
mendacium c. 10), treating at large upon this place, excuseth Jacob from
a lie, because thi's whole passage was mysterious, as relating to the
preference which was afterward to be given to the Gentiles before the
carnal Jews, which Jacob, by prophetic light, might understand. So far
it is certain that the first birthright, both by divine election and by
Esau's free cession, belonged to Jacob; so that if there were any lie
in the case, it would be no more than an officious and venial one." How
glorious to be a pa triarch, and to have a real saint laboring years
after your death to twist your lies into truth by aid of prophetic
light. Lying is at all times most disreputable, but at the deathbed the
crime is rendered more heinous. The death hour would have awed many men
into speaking the truth, but it had little effect on Jacob. Although
Isaac was about to die, this greedy knave cared not, so that he got from
the dying man the sought-for prize. God is said to love righteousness
and hate iniquity, yet he loved the iniquitous Jacob, and hated the
honest Esau. All knaves are tinged more or less with cowardice. Jacob
was no exception to the rule. His brother enraged at the deception
practiced upon Isaac, threatened to kill Jacob. Jacob was warned by his
mother and fled. Induced by Rebekah, Isaac charged Jacob to marry one of
Laban's daughters. On the way to Haran, where Laban dwell, Jacob rested
and slept. While sleeping he dreamed; ordinarily dreams have little
significance, but in the bible they are more important. Some of the most
weighty and vital facts (?) of the bible are communicated in dreams,
and rightly so; if the men had been wide awake, they would have probably
rejected the revelation as absurd. So much does that prince of darkness,
the devil, influence mankind against the bible in the daytime, that it
is when all is dark, and our eyes are closed, and the senses dormant,
that God's mysteries are most clearly seen and understood. Jacob "saw
in his sleep a ladder standing upon the earth, and the top thereof
touching heaven; the angels of God ascending and descending by it, and
_the Lord leaning upon the ladder_." In the ancient temples of India,
and in the mysteries of Mithra, the seven-stepped ladder by which the
spirits ascended to heaven is a prominent feature, and one of probably
far higher antiquity than the age of Jacob. Did paganism furnish the
groundwork for the patriarch's dream? "No man hath seen God at any
time." God is "invisible." Yet Jacob saw the invisible God, whom no man
hath seen or can see, either standing above a ladder or leaning upon it.
True, it was all a dream. Yet God spoke to Jacob; but perhaps that was
a delusion too. We find by scripture that God threatens to send to some
"strong delusions, that they might believe a lie and be damned." Poor
Jacob was much frightened, as any one might be, to dream of God leaning
on so long a ladder. What if it had broken and the dreamer underneath it?
Jacob's fears were not so powerful but that his shrewdness and
avarice had full scope in a sort of half-vow, half-contract, made in the
morning. Jacob said, "If God will be with me and will keep me in this
way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so
that I shall come again to my father's house in peace, then shall the
Lord be my God." The inference deducible from this conditional statement
is, that if God failed to complete the items enumerated by Jacob, then
the latter would have nothing to do with him. Jacob was a shrewd Jew,
who would have laughed to scorn the preaching, "Take no thought, saying,
what shall we eat? or, what shall we drink? or, wherewithal shall we
be clothed?"

After this contract, Jacob went on his journey, and reached the house of
his mother's brother, Laban, into whose service he entered. "Diamond
cut diamond" would be an appropriate heading to the tale which gives the
transactions between Jacob the Jew and Laban the son of Nahor. Laban had
two daughters. Rachel, the youngest, was "beautiful and well-favored;"
Leah, the elder, was "blear-eyed." Jacob served for the pretty one;
but on the wedding-day Laban made a feast, and gave Jacob the ugly Leah
instead of the pretty Rachel. Jacob being (according to Josephs) both in
drink and in the dark, it was morning ere he discovered his error. After
this Jacob served for Rachel also, and then the remainder of the chapter
of Jacob's servitude to Laban is but the recital of a series of
frauds and trickeries. Jacob embezzled Laban's property, and Laban
misappropriated and changed Jacob's wages. In fact, if Jacob had not
possessed the advantage of divine aid, he would probably have failed
in the endeavor to cheat his master; but God, who says "Thou shalt
not covet thy neighbor's house, nor anything that is thy neighbor's,"
encouraged Jacob in his career of criminality. At last, Jacob, having
amassed a large quantity of property, determined to abscond from
his employment, and taking advantage of his uncle's absence at
sheepshearing, "he stole away unawares," taking with him his wives, his
children, flocks, herds, and goods. To crown the whole, Rachel, worthy
wife of a husband so fraudulent, stole her father's gods. In the present
day the next phase would be the employment of Mr. Sergeant Vericute, of
the special detective department, and the issue of bills as follows:


     Absconded, with a large amount of property,


     Information to be given to Laban, the Syrian, at Haran, in the

     East, or to Mr. Serjeant Vericute, Scotland Yard."

But in those days God's ways were not as our ways. God came to Laban
in a dream and compounded the felony, saying, "Take heed thou speak
not anything harshly against Jacob."* This would probably prevent Laban
giving evidence in a police court against Jacob, and thus save him from
transportation or penal servitude. After a reconciliation and treaty had
been effected between Jacob and Laban, the former went on his way "and
the angel of God met him." Angels are not included in the circle with
which I have at present made acquaintance, and I hesitate, therefore, to
comment on the meeting between Jacob and the angels. Balaam's ass, at
a later period, shared the good fortune which was the lot of Jacob, for
that animal also had a meeting with an angel. Jacob was the grandson
of the faithful Abraham to whom angels also appeared. Perhaps angelic
apparitions are limited to asses and the faithful. On this point I
do not venture to assert, and but timidly suggest. It is somewhat
extraordinary that Jacob should have manifested no surprise at meeting
a host of angels. Still more worthy of note is it that our good
translators elevate the same words into "angels" in verse 1, which they
degrade into "messengers" in verse 3. John Bellamy, in his translation,
says the "angels were not immortal angels," and it is very probable John
Bellamy was right.

     * Genesis xxxi, 24, Douay version.

Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau, and heard that the latter was
coming to meet him followed by 400 men. Jacob, a timorous knave at best,
became terribly afraid. He, doubtless, remembered the wrongs inflicted
upon Esau, the cruel extortion of the birthright, and the fraudulent
obtainment of the dying Isaac's blessing. He, therefore, sent forward
to his brother Esau a large present as a peace offering. He also divided
the remainder of his flocks, herds, and goods, into two divisions, that
if one were smitten, the other might escape; sending these on, he was
left alone. While alone he wrestled with either a man, or an angel, or
God. The text says "a man," the heading to the chapter says "an angel,"
and Jacob himself says that he has "seen God face to face." Whether God,
angel, or man, it was not a fair wrestle, and were the present editor of
_Bell's Life_ referee, he would, unquestionably, declare it to be most
unfair to touch "the hollow of Jacob's thigh" so as to put it "out
of joint," and, consequently, award the result of the match to Jacob.
Jacob, notwithstanding the injury, still kept his grip, and the
apocryphal wrestler, finding himself no match at fair struggling, and
that foul play was unavailing, now tried entreaty, and said, "Let me
go, for the day breaketh." Spirits never appear in the daytime, when,
if they did appear, they could be seen and examined; they are more often
visible in the twilight, in the darkness, and in dreams. Jacob would
not let go, his life's instinct for bargaining prevailed, and probably,
because he could get nothing else, he insisted on his opponent's
blessing before he let him go. In the Roman Catholic version of the
bible there is the following note: Chap, xxxii, 24. _A man, etc._

"This was an angel in human shape, as we learn from _Osee_ (xii, 4). He
is called _God_ (xv, 28 and 30), because he represented the son of
God. This wrestling in which Jacob, assisted by God, was a match for an
angel, was so ordered (v. 28) that he might learn by this experiment of
the divine assistance, that neither Esau nor any other man should have
power to hurt him." How elevating it must be to the true believer to
conceive God helping Jacob to wrestle with his own representative. Read
prayerfully, doubtless, the spiritual and inner meaning of the text (if
it have one) is most transcendental. Read sensibly, the literal and only
meaning the text conveys is that of an absurd tradition of an ignorant
age. On the morrow Jacob met Esau:

"And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and
kissed him; and they wept.

"And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he
said these are to find grace in the sight of my lord.

"And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto

The following expressive comment, from the able pen of Mr. Holyoake,
deserves transcription: "The last portion of the history of Jacob and
Esau is very instructive. The coward fear of Jacob to meet his brother
is well delineated. He is subdued by a sense of his treacherous guilt.
The noble forgiveness of Esau invests his memory with more respect than
all the wealth Jacob won, and all the blessings of the Lord he received.
Could I change my name from Jacob to Esau, I would do it in honor of
him. The whole incident has a dramatic interest. There is nothing in
the Old or New Testament equal to it. The simple magnanimity of Esau is
scarcely surpassed by anything in Plutarch. In the conduct of Esau we
see the triumph of time, of filial affection, and generosity over a deep
sense of execrable treachery, unprovoked and irrevocable injury." Was
not Esau a merciful, generous man? Yet God hated him, and shut him out
of all share in the promised land. Was not Jacob a mean, prevaricating
knave, a crafty, abject cheat? Yet God loved and rewarded him. How
great are the mysteries in this bible representation of an all-good
and all-loving God thus hating good and loving evil. At the time of the
wrestling, a promise was made, which is afterward repeated by God to
Jacob, that the latter should not be any more called Jacob, but
Israel. This promise was not strictly kept; the name "Jacob" being used
repeatedly, mingled with that of Israel in the after part of Jacob's
history. Jacob had a large family; his sons are reputedly the heads of
the twelve Jewish tribes. We have not much space to notice them: suffice
it to say that one Joseph, who was much loved by his father, was sold by
his brethren into slavery. This transaction does not seem to have called
for any special reproval from God. Joseph, who from early life was
skilled in dreams, succeeded by interpreting the visions of Pharaoh in
obtaining a sort of premiership in Egypt; while filling this office he
managed to act like the Russells and the Greys of our own time. We are
told that he "_placed_ his father and his brethren, and gave them a
possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land." Joseph made
the parallel still stronger between himself and a more modern head of
the Treasury Bench; he not only gave his own family the best place in
the land, but he also, by a trick of statecraft, obtained the land for
the king, made slaves of the people, and made it a law over the land
of Egypt that the king should be entitled to one-fifth of the produce,
always, of course, excepting and saving the rights of the priest. Judah,
another brother, sought to have burned a woman by whom he had a child.
A third, named Reuben, was guilty of the grossest vice, equaled only
by that of Absalon the son of David; of Simeon and Levi, two more of
Jacob's sons, it is said that "Instruments of cruelty were in their
habitations;" their conduct, as detailed in the 34th chapter of Genesis,
alike shocks by its treachery and its mercilessness. After Jacob had
heard that his son Joseph was governor in Egypt, but before he had
journeyed farther than Beer-sheba, God spake unto him in the visions of
the night, and probably forgetting that he had given him a new name,
or being more accustomed to the old one, said, "Jacob, Jacob," and then
told him to go down into Egypt, where Jacob died after a residence
of about seventeen years, when 147 years of age. Before Jacob died he
blessed, first the sons of Joseph, and then his own children, and at
the termination of his blessing to Ephraim and Manasseh we find the
following speech addressed to Joseph: "Moreover, I have given to thee
one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the
Amorite with my sword and with my bow." This speech implies warlike
pursuit on the part of Jacob, of which the bible gives no record, and
which seems incompatible with his recorded life. The sword of craft
and the bow of cunning are the only weapons in the use of which he was
skilled. When his sons murdered and robbed the Hivites, fear seems to
have been Jacob's most prominent characteristic. It is not my duty, nor
have I space here, to advocate any theory of interpretation, but it may
be well to mention that many learned men contend that the whole history
of Jacob is but an allegory. That the twelve patriarchs but typify the
twelve signs of the zodiac, as do the twelve great gods of the Pagans,
and twelve apostles of the gospels.

From the history of Jacob it is hard to draw any conclusions favorable
to the man whose life is narrated. To heap additional epithets on his
memory would be but waste of time and space. I conclude by regretting
that if God loved one brother and hated another, he should have so
unfortunately selected for his love the one whose whole career shows him
in a most despicable light.


Most undoubtedly father Abraham is a personage whose history should
command our attention, if only because he figures as the founder of the
Jewish race--a race which, having been promised protection and favor by
Deity, appear to have experienced little else besides the infliction, or
sufferance of misfortune and misery. Men are taught to believe that
God, following out a solemn covenant made with Abraham, suspended the
operations of Nature to aggrandize the Jews; that he promised always
to bless and favor them if they adhered to his worship and obeyed the
priests. The promised blessings were, usually, political authority,
individual happiness and sexual power, long life, and great wealth;
the threatened curses for idolatry or disobedience: disease, loss of
property and children, mutilation, death. Among the blessings: the
right to kill, plunder, and ravish their enemies, with protection, while
pious, against any subjection to retaliatory measures. And all this
because they were Abraham's children!

Abraham is an important personage. Without Abraham, no Jesus, no
Christianity, no Church of England, no bishops, no tithes, no church
rates. But for Abraham England would have lost all these blessings.
Abraham was the great-grandfather of Judah, the head of the tribe to
which God's father, Joseph, belonged.

In gathering materials for a short biographical sketch, we are at the
same time comforted and dismayed by the fact that the only reliable
account of Abraham's career is that furnished by the book of Genesis,
supplemented by a few brief references in other parts of the bible, and
that, outside "God's perfect and infallible revelation to man," there is
no reliable account of Abraham's existence at all. We are comforted
by the thought that Genesis is unquestioned by the faithful, and is at
present protected by Church and State against heretic assaults; but we
are dismayed when we think that, if Infidelity, encouraged by Colenso
and Kalisch, upsets Genesis, Abraham will have little historical claim
on our attention Some philologists have asserted that Brama and Abraham
are alike corruptions of Abba Rama, or Abrama, and that Sarah is
identical with Sarasvati. Abram, is a Chaldean compound, meaning father
of the elevated, or exalted father [------] is a compound of Chaldee
and Arabic, signifying father of a multitude. In part V of his work
Colenso mentions that Adonis was formerly identified with Abram, "high
father," Adonis being the personified sun.

Leaving incomprehensible philology for the ordinary authorized version
of our bibles, we find that Abraham was the son of Terah. The text does
not expressly state where Abraham was born, and I can not therefore
describe his birthplace with that accuracy of detail which a true
believer might desire, but I may add that he "dwelt in old time on the
other side of the flood." (Joshua xxiv, 2, 3.) The situation of such
dwelling involves a geographical problem most unlikely to be solved
unless the inquirer is "half seas over." Abraham was born when Terah,
his father, was seventy years of age; and, accord-ing to Genesis, Terah
and his family came forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and went to Haran
and dwelt there. We turn to the map to look for Ur of the Chaldees,
anxious to discover it as possibly Abraham's place of nativity, but find
that the translators of God's inspired word have taken a slight liberty
with the text by substituting "Ur of the Chaldees" for "Aur Kasdim," the
latter being, in plain English, _the light of the magi, or conjurers, or
astrologers_. [------] is stated by Kalisch to have been made the basis
for many extraordinary legends, as to Abraham's rescue from the flames.

Abraham, being born--according to Hebrew chronology, 2,083 years after
the creation, and according to the Septuagint 3,549 years after the
event--when his father was seventy, grew so slowly that when his father
reached the good old age of 205 years, Abraham had only arrived at 75
years, having, apparently, lost no less than 60 year's growth during
his father's lifetime. St. Augustine and St Jerome gave this up as a
difficulty inexplicable. Calmet endeavors to explain it, and makes it
worse. But what real difficulty is there? Do you mean, dear reader,
that it is impossible Abraham could have lived 135 years, and yet be
only 75 years of age? Is this your objection? It is a sensible one,
I admit, but it is an Infidel one. Eschew sense, and, retaining only
religion, ever remember that with God all things are possible. Indeed,
I have read myself that gin given to young children stunts their growth;
and who shall say what influence of the spirit prevented the full
development of Abraham's years? It is a slight question whether Abraham
and his two brothers were not born the same year; if this be so, he
might have been a small child, and not grown so quickly as he would have
otherwise done. "The Lord" spoke to Abraham, and promised to make of him
a great nation, to bless those who blessed Abraham, and to curse those
who cursed him. I do not know precisely which Lord it was that spake
unto Abraham. In the Hebrew it says it was [------] Jeue, or, as our
translators call it, Jehovah; but as God said (Exodus vi, 2) that by the
name "Jehovah was I not known" to either Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, we
must conclude either that the omniscient Deity had forgotten the matter,
or that a counterfeit Lord had assumed a title to which he had no right.
The word Jehovah, which the book of Exodus says Abraham did not know,
is nearly always the name by which Abraham addresses or speaks of the
Jewish Deity.

Abraham having been promised protection by the God of Truth, initiated
his public career with a diplomacy of statement worthy of Talleyrand,
Thiers, or Gladstone. He represented his wife Sarah as his sister,
which, if true, is a sad reproach to the marriage. The ruling Pharaoh,
hearing the beauty of Sarah commended, took her into his house, she
being at that time a fair Jewish dame, between 60 and 70 years of age,
and he entreated Abraham well for her sake, and he had sheep and oxen,
asses and servants, and camels. We do not read that Abraham objected in
any way to the loss of his wife. The Lord, who is all-just, finding
out that Pharaoh had done wrong, not only punished the king, but also
punished the king's household, who could hardly have interfered with his
misdoings. Abraham got his wife back, and went away much richer by the
transaction. Whether the conduct of father Abraham in pocketing quietly
the price of the insult--or honor--offered to his wife is worthy of
modern imitation, is a question I leave to be discussed by Convocation
when it has finished with the Athanasian Creed. After this transaction
we are not surprised to hear that Abraham was very rich in "silver
and gold." So was the Duke of Marlborough after the King had taken his
sister in similar manner into his house. In verse 19 of chapter xii,
there is a curious mistranslation in our version. The text is: "It is
for that I had taken her for my wife," our version has: "_I might have
taken_ her." The Douay so translates as to take a middle phrase, leaving
it doubtful whether or not Pharaoh actually took Sarah as his wife.
In any case, the Egyptian king acted well throughout. Abraham plays the
part of a timorous, contemptible hypocrite. Strong enough to have fought
for his wife, he sold her. Yet Abraham was blessed for his faith, and
his conduct is our pattern!

Despite his timorousness in the matter of his wife, Abraham was a man
of wonderful courage and warlike ability. To rescue his relative,
Lot:--with whom he could not live on the same land without quarreling,
both being religious--he armed 318 servants, and fought with four
powerful kings, defeating them and recovering the spoil. Abraham's
victory was so decisive that the king of Sodom, who fled and fell (xiv,
10) in a previous encounter, now met Abraham alive (see v, 17), to
congratulate him on his victory. Abraham was also offered bread and wine
by Melchisedek, King of Salem, priest of the Most High God. Where was
Salem? Some identify it with Jerusalem, which it can not be, as Jebus
was not so named until after the time of the Judges (Judges xix, 10).
How does this King, of this unknown Salem, never heard of before or
after, come to be priest of the Most High God? These are queries for
divines--orthodox disciples believe without inquiring. Melchisedek was
most unfortunate as far as genealogy is concerned. He had no father. I
do not mean by this that any bar sinister defaced his escutcheon. He not
only was without a father, but without mother also; he had no beginning
of days or end of life, and is therefore probably at the present time an
extremely old gentleman, who would be an invaluable acquisition to any
antiquarian association fortunate enough to cultivate his acquaintance.
God having promised Abraham a numerous family, and the promise not
having been in any part fulfilled, the patriarch grew uneasy and
remonstrated with the Lord, who explained the matter thoroughly to
Abraham when the latter was in a deep sleep, and a dense darkness
prevailed. Religions explanations come with greater force under these
or similar conditions. Natural or artificial light and clear-sightedness
are always detrimental to spiritual manifestations.

Abraham's wife had a maid named Hagar, and she bore to Abraham a child
named Ishmael; at the time Ishmael was born, Abraham was 86 years of
age. Just before Ishmael's birth Hagar was so badly treated that she ran
away. As she was only a slave, God persuaded Hagar to return, and humble
herself to her mistress.

Thirteen years afterward God appeared to Abraham, and instituted the
rite of circumcision--which rite had been practiced long before by other
nations--and again renewed the promise. The rite of circumcision was
not only practiced by nations long anterior to that of the Jews, but
appears, in many cases, not even to have been pretended as a religious
rite. (See Kalisch, Genesis, p. 386; Cahen, Genese, p. 43) After God
had "left off talking with him, God went up from Abraham." As God is
infinite, he did not, of course, go up; but still the bible says God
went up, and it is the duty of the people to believe that he did so,
especially as the infinite Deity then and now resides habitually in
"heaven," wherever that may be. Again the Lord appeared to Abraham,
either as three men or angels, or as one of the three; and Abraham, who
seemed hospitably inclined, invited the three to wash their feet, and to
rest under the tree, and gave butter and milk and dressed calf, tender
and good, to them, and they did eat; and after the inquiry as to where
Sarah then was, the promise of a son is repeated. Sarah--then by her own
admission an old woman, stricken in years--laughed when she heard this,
and the Lord said, "Wherefore did Sarah laugh?" and Sarah denied it,
but the Lord said, "Nay, but thou didst laugh." The three then went
toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them as a guide; and the Lord
explained to Abraham that some sad reports had reached him about Sodom
and Gomorrah, and that he was then going to find out whether the report
was reliable. God is infinite, and was always therefore at Sodom and
Gomorrah, but had apparently been temporarily absent; he is omniscient,
and therefore knew everything which was happening at Sodom and Gomorrah,
but he did not know whether or not the people were as wicked as they
had been represented to him. God, Job tells us, "put no trust in his
servants, and his angels he charged with folly." Between the rogues and
the fools, therefore, the all-wise and all-powerful God seems to be as
liable to be mistaken in the reports made to him as any monarch might be
in reports made by his ministers. Two of the three men, or angels, went
on to Sodom, and left the Lord with Abraham, who began to remonstrate
with Deity on the wholesale destruction contemplated, and asked him to
spare the city if fifty righteous should be found within it. God said,
"If I find fifty righteous within the city, then will I spare the place
for their sakes." God being all-wise, he knew there were not fifty
in Sodom, and was deceiving Abraham. By dint of hard bargaining, in
thorough Hebrew fashion, Abraham, whose faith seemed tempered by
distrust, got the stipulated number reduced to ten, and then "the Lord
went his way."

Jacob Ben Chajim, in his introduction to the Rabbinical bible, p. 28,
tells us that the Hebrew text used to read in verse 22: "And Jehovah
still stood before Abraham;" but the scribes altered it, and made
Abraham stand before the Lord, thinking the original text offensive to

The 18th chapter of Genesis has given plenty of work to the divines.
Augustin contended that God can take food, though he does not require
it. Justin compared "the eating of God with the devouring power of the
fire." Kalisch sorrows over the holy fathers "who have taxed all their
ingenuity to make the act of eating compatible with the attributes of

In the Epistle to the Romans, Abraham's faith is greatly praised. We are
told, iv, 19, 20, that:

"Being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when
he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's

"He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong
in faith, giving glory to God."

Yet, so far from Abraham giving God glory, we are told in Genesis, xvii,
17, that:

"Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, shall
a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old, and shall Sarah,
that is ninety years old, bear?"

The Rev. Mr. Boutell says that "the declaration which caused Sarah to
'laugh,' shows the wonderful familiarity which was then permitted to
Abraham in his communications with God."

After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham journeyed south
and sojourned in Gerar, and either untaught or too well taught by his
previous experience, again represented his wife as his sister, and
Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent and took Sarah. As before, we find
neither remonstrance nor resistance recorded on the part of Abraham.
This time God punished, _a la_ Malthus, the women in Abimelech's house
for an offense they did not commit, and Sarah was again restored to her
husband, with sheep, oxen, men-servants, and women-servants, and money.
Infidels object that the bible says Sarah "was old and well stricken
in age;" that "it had ceased to be with her after the manner of women;"
that she was more than ninety years of age; and that it is not likely
King Abimelech would fall in love with an ugly old woman. We reply,
"_chacun a son gout?_" It is clear that Sarah had not ceased to be
attractive, as God resorted to especial means to protect her virtue
from Abimelech. At length Isaac is born, and his mother Sarah now urges
Abraham to expel Hagar and her son, "and the thing was very grievous in
Abraham's sight because of his son;" the mother being only a bondwoman
does not seem to have troubled him. God, however, approving Sarah's
notion, Hagar is expelled, "and she departed and wandered in the
wilderness, and the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the
child under one of the shrubs." She had apparently carried the
child, who being at least more than fourteen, and according to some
calculations as much as seventeen years of age, must have been a heavy
child to carry in a warm climate.

God never did tempt any man at any time, but he "did tempt Abraham" to
kill Isaac by offering him as a burnt offering. The doctrine of human
sacrifice is one of the holy mysteries of Christianity, as taught in the
Old and New Testament. Of course, judged from a religious or biblical
standpoint, it can not be wrong, as, if it were, God would not have
permitted Jephtha to sacrifice his daughter by offering her as a burnt
offering, nor have tempted Abraham to sacrifice his son, nor have said
in Leviticus, "None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be
redeemed; but shall surely be put to death" (xxvii, 29), nor have in the
New Testament worked out the monstrous sacrifice of his only son Jesus,
at the same time son and begetting father.

Abraham did not seem to be entirely satisfied with his own conduct when
about to kill Isaac, for he not only concealed from his servants his
intent, but positively stated that which was not true, saying, "I and
the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." If he
meant that he and Isaac would come again to them, then he knew that the
sacrifice would not take place. Nay, Abraham even deceived his own son,
who asked him where was the lamb for the burnt offering? But we learn
from the New Testament that Abraham acted in this and other matters "by
faith," so his falsehoods and evasions, being results and aids of faith,
must be dealt with in an entirely different manner from transactions
of every-day life. Just as Abraham stretched forth his hand to slay his
son, the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and prevented the
murder, saying, "Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast
not withheld thy son." This would convey the impression that up to that
moment the angel of the Lord was not certain upon the subject.

In Genesis xiii, God says to Abraham, "Lift up now thine eyes, and look
from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward and
westward. For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and
to thy seed for ever. Arise, walk through the land, in the length of
it, and in the breadth of it, for I will give it unto thee." Yet, as is
admitted by the Rev. Charles Boutell, in his "Bible Dictionary," "The
only portion of territory in that land of promise, of which Abraham
became possessed" was a graveyard, which he had bought and paid for.
Although Abraham was too old to have children _before_ the birth of
Isaac, he had many children _after_ Isaac is born. He lived to "a good
old age," and died "full of years," but was yet younger than any of
those who preceded him, and whose ages are given in the bible history,
except Nahor.

Abraham gave "all that he had to Isaac," but appears to have distributed
the rest of the property among his other children, who were sent to
enjoy it somewhere down East.

According to the New Testament, Abraham is now in Paradise, but Abraham
in heaven is scarcely an improvement upon Abraham on-earth. When he
was entreated by an unfortunate in hell for a drop of water to cool his
tongue, father Abraham replied, "Son, remember that in thy life-time
thou receivedst thy good things, and now thou art tormented," as if the
reminiscence of past good would alleviate present and future continuity
of evil.


The "Life of Abraham" was presented to our readers, because, as the
nominal founder of the Jewish race, his position entitled him to that
honor. The "Life of David," because, as one of the worst men and worst
kings ever known, his history might afford matter for reflection to
admirers of monarchical institutions and matter for comment to the
advocates of a republican form of government. The "Life of Jacob" served
to show how basely mean and contemptibly deceitful a man might become,
and yet enjoy God's love. Having given thus a brief outline of the
career of the patriarch, the king, and the knave, the life of a priest
naturally presents itself as the most fitting to complement the present
quadrifid series.

Moses, the great grandson of Levi, was born in Egypt, not far distant
from the banks of the Nile, a river world-famous for its inundations,
made familiar to ordinary readers by the travelers who have journeyed to
discover its source, and held in bad repute by strangers, especially on
account of the carnivorous Saurians who infest its waters. The mother
and father of our hero were both of the tribe of Levi, and were named
Jochebed and Amram. The infant Moses was, at the age of three months,
placed in an ark of bulrushes by the river's brink. This was done in
order to avoid the decree of extermination propounded by the reigning
Pharaoh against the male Jewish children. The daughter of Pharaoh,
coming down to the river to bathe, found the child and took compassion
upon him, adopting him as her son. Of the early life of Moses we have
but scanty record. We are told in the New Testament that he was learned
in the wisdom of the Egyptians,* and that, "when he was come to years
he refused by faith** to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter."
Perhaps the record from which the New Testament writers quoted has been
lost; it is certain that the present version of the Old Testament does
not contain those statements. The record which is lost _may_ have been
God's original revelation to man, and of which our bible _may_ be
an incomplete version. I am little grieved by the supposition that a
revelation may have been lost, being, for my own part, more inclined to
think that no revelation has ever been made. Josephus says that, when
quite a baby, Moses trod contemptuously on the crown of Egypt. The
Egyptian monuments and Exodus are both silent on this point. Josephus
also tells us that Moses led the Egyptians in war against the
Ethiopians, and married Tharbis, the daughter of the Ethiopian monarch.
This also is omitted both in Egyptian history and in the sacred record.
When Moses was grown, according to the Old Testament, or when he was 40
years of age according to the New, "it came into his heart to visit his
brethren the children of Israel." "And he spied an Egyptian smiting
a Hebrew." "And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that
there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand." The
New Testament says that he did it, "for he supposed that his brethren
would understand how that God, by his hand, would deliver them."***

     * Acts, vii, 21.

     ** Hebrews, xi, 24.

     *** Acts, vii, 25.

But this is open to the following objections: The Old Testament says
nothing of the kind; there was no man to see the homicide, and as Moses
hid the body, it is hard to conceive how he could expect the Israelites
to understand a matter of which they not only had no knowledge whatever,
but which he himself did not think was known to them; if there were
really no man present, the story of the after accusation against Moses
needs explanation: it might be further objected that it does not
appear that Moses at that time did even himself conceive that he had
any mission from God to deliver his people. Moses fled from the wrath
of Pharaoh, and dwelt in Midian, where he married the daughter of one
Reuel, or Jethro. This name is not of much importance, but it is strange
that if Moses wrote the books of the Pentateuch he was not more exact
in designating so near a relation. While acting as shepherd to his
father-in-law, "he led the flock to the back side of the desert," and
"the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire:" that is, the
angel was either a flame, or was the object which was burning, for this
angel appeared in the midst of a bush which burned with fire, but was
not consumed. This flame appears to have been a luminous one, for it was
a "great sight," and attracted Moses, who turned aside to see it.
But the luminosity would depend on substance ignited and rendered
inacandescent. Is the angel of the Lord a substance susceptible of
ignition and incandescence? Who knoweth? If so, will the fallen angels
ignite and burn in hell! God called unto Moses out of the midst of the
bush. It is hard to conceive an infinite God in the middle of a
bush; yet as the law of England says that we must not "deny the Holy
Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be of divine authority," in
order not to break the law, I advise all to believe that, in addition
to being in the middle of a bush, the infinite and all-powerful God
also sat on the top of a box, dwelt sometimes in a tent, afterward in
a temple; although invisible, appeared occasionally; and being a spirit
without body or parts, was hypostatically incarnate as a man. Moses,
when spoken to by God, "hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon
God." If Moses had known that God was _invisible_ he would have escaped
this fear.

God told Moses that the cry of the children of Israel had reached him,
and that he had _come down_ to deliver them, and that Moses was to lead
them out of Egypt. Moses does not seem to have placed entire confidence
in the phlegmonic divine communication, and asked, when the Jews should
question him on the name of the Deity, what answer should he make?
It does not appear from this that the Jews, if they had so completely
forgotten God's name, had much preserved the recollection of the promise
comparatively so recently made to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. The
answer given according to our version is "I am that I am;" according
to the Douay, "I am who am." God, in addition, told Moses that the Jews
should spoil the Egyptians of their wealth; but even this promise of
plunder so congenial to the nature of a bill-discounting Jew of the
bible type, did not avail to overcome the scruples of Moses. God
therefore taught him to throw his rod on the ground, and thus transform
it into a serpent, from which pseudo-serpent Moses at first fled in
fear, but on his taking it by the tail it resumed its original shape,
Moses, with even other wonders at command, still hesitated; he had an
impediment in his speech. God cured this by the appointment of Aaron,
who was eloquent, to aid his brother. God directed Moses to return
to Egypt, but his parting words must somewhat have damped the future
legislator's hope of any speedy or successful ending to his mission. God
said, "I will harden Pharaoh's heart that he shall not let the people
go." On the journey back to Egypt God met Moses "by the way in the inn,
and sought to kill him." I am ignorant as to the causes which prevented
the omnipotent Deity from carrying out his intention; the text does
not explain the matter, and I am not a bishop or a D. D., and I do not
therefore feel justified in putting my assumptions in place of God's
revelation. Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh, and asked that the Jews
might be permitted to go three days' journey in the wilderness; but the
King of Egypt not only refused their request, but gave them additional
tasks, and in consequence Moses and Aaron went again to the Lord, who
told them, "I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob by the
name of God Almighty; but by my name Jehovah was I not known unto them."
Whether God had forgotten that the name of Jehovah was known to Abraham,
or whether he was here deceiving Moses and Aaron, are points the
solution of which I leave to the faithful, referring them to the fact
that Abraham called a place* Jehovah-Jireh.

     * Genesis xxii, 14

After this Moses and Aaron again went to Pharaoh and worked wonderfully
in his presence. Thaumaturgy is coming into fashion again, but the
exploits of Moses far exceeded any of those performed by Mr. Home or the
Davenport brothers. Aaron flung down his rod, and it became a serpent;
the Egyptian magicians flung down their rods, which became serpents
also; but the rod of Aaron, as though it had been a Jew money-lender or
a tithe collecting parson, swallowed up these miraculous competitors,
and the Jewish leaders could afford to laugh at their defeated rival
conjurors. Moses and Aaron carried on the miracle-working for some time.
All the water of the land of Egypt was turned by them into blood, but
the magicians did so with their enchantments, and it had no effect on
Pharaoh. Then showers of frogs, at the instance of Aaron, covered the
land of Egypt; but the Egyptians did so with their enchantments, and
frogs abounded still more plentifully. The Jews next tried their hands
at the production of lice, and here--to the glory of God be it
said--the infidel Egyptians failed to imitate them. It is written that
"cleanliness is next to godliness," but we can not help thinking that
godliness must have been far from cleanliness when the former so soon
resulted in lice. The magicians were now entirely discomfited. The
preceding wonders seem to have affected all the land of Egypt; but in
the next miracle the swarms of flies sent were confined to Egyptians
only, and were not extended to Goshen, in which the Israelites dwelt.

The next plague in connection with the ministration of Moses and Aaron
was that "all the cattle of Egypt died." After "all the cattle" were
dead, a boil was sent, breaking forth with blains upon man and beast.
This failing in effect, Moses afterward stretched forth his hand
and smote "both man and beast" with hail, then covered the land with
locusts, and followed this with a thick darkness throughout the land--a
darkness which _might_ have been felt. Whether it was felt is a matter
on which I am unable to pass an opinion. After this, the Egyptians being
terrified by the destruction of their first-born children, the Jews,
at the instance of Moses, borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver,
jewels of gold, and raiment; and they spoiled the Egyptians. The fact
is, that the Egyptians were in the same position as the payers of church
rates, tithes, vicars' rates, and Easter dues: they lent to the Lord's
people, who are good borrowers, but slow when repayment is required.
They prefer promising you a crown of glory to paying you at once five
shillings in silver. Moses led the Jews through the Red Sea, which
proved a ready means of escape, as may be easily read in Exodus, which
says that the Lord "made the sea dry land" for the Israelites, and
afterward not only overwhelmed in it the Egyptians who sought to follow
them, but, as Josephus tells us, the current of the sea actually carried
to the camp of the Hebrews the arms of the Egyptians, so that the
wandering Jews might not be destitute of weapons. After this the
Israelities were led by Moses into Shur, where they were without water
for three days, and the water they afterward found was too bitter to
drink until a tree had been cast into the well. The Israelites were then
fed with manna, which, when gathered on Friday, kept for the Sabbath,
but rotted if kept from one week day to another. The people grew tired
of eating manna, and complained, and God sent fire among them and burned
them up in the uttermost parts of the camp; and after this the people
wept and said, "Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish we
did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and
the onions and the garlic; but now there is nothing at all beside this
manna before our eyes." This angered the Lord, and he gave them a feast
of quails, and while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it
was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled, and he smote the Jewish
people with a very great plague.*

* Numbers xi.

The people again in Rephidim were without water, and Moses therefore
smote the Rock of Horeb with his rod, and water came out of the rock.
At Rephidim the Amalekites and the Jews fought together, and while
they fought, Moses, like a prudent general, went to the top of a hill,
accompanied by Aaron and Hur, and it came to pass that when Moses held
up his hands Israel prevailed, and when he let down his hands Amalek
prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy, and they took a stone and put
it under him, and he sat thereon, and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands,
the one on the one side and the other on the other side, and his hands
were steady until the going down of the sun, and Joshua discomfited
Amalek, and his people with the edge of the sword. How the true believer
ought to rejoice that the stone was so convenient, as otherwise the Jews
might have been slaughtered, and there might have been no royal line of
David, no Jesus, no Christianity. That stone should be more valued than
the precious black stone of the Moslem; it is the corner-stone of the
system, the stone which supported the Mosaic rule. God is everywhere,
but Moses went _up_ unto him, and the Lord called to him _out_ of a
mountain and came to him _in_ a thick cloud, and descended on Mount
Sinai _in_ a fire, in consequence of which the mountain smoked, and the
Lord _came down upon the top_ of the mountain and called Moses _up_ to
him; and then the Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments, and also
those precepts which follow, in which Jews are permitted to buy their
fellow-countrymen for six years, and in which it is provided that, if
the slave-master shall give his six-year slave a wife, and she bear him
sons or daughters, that the wife and the children shall be the property
of her master. In these precepts it is also permitted that a man may
sell his own daughter for the most base purposes. Also that a master
may beat his slave so that if he do not die until a few days after the
ill-treatment, the master shall escape justice because the slave is
his money. Also that Jews may buy strangers and keep them as slaves for
ever. While Moses was up in the mount the people clamored for Aaron to
make them gods. Moses had stopped away so long that the people gave him
up for lost. Aaron, whose duty it was to have pacified and restrained
them, and to have kept them in the right faith, did nothing of the kind.
He induced them to bring all their gold, and then made it into a calf,
before which he built an altar, and then proclaimed a feast. Manners and
customs change. In those days the Jews did see the God that Aaron took
their gold for, but now the priests take the people's gold, and the poor
contributors do not even see a calf for their pains, unless indeed
they are near a mirror at the time when they are making their voluntary
contributions. And the Lord told Moses what happened, and said, "I
have seen this people, and behold it is a stiff-necked people. Now,
therefore, let me alone that my wrath may wax hot against them, and
that I may consume them." Moses would not comply with God's request,
but remonstrated, and expostulated, and begged him not to afford the
Egyptians an opportunity of speaking against him. Moses succeeded in
changing the unchangeable, and the Lord repented of the evil which he
thought to do unto his people.

Although Moses would not let God's "wrath wax hot" his own "anger waxed
hot," and he broke, in his rage, the two tables of stone which God had
given him, and on which the Lord had graven and written with his own
finger. We have now no means of knowing in what language God wrote,
or whether Moses afterward took any pains to rivet together the broken
pieces. It is almost to be wondered at that the Christian Evidence
Societies have not sent missionaries to search for these pieces of the
tables, which may even yet remain beneath the mount. Moses took the calf
which they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and
strewed it upon water and made the children of Israel drink of it.
After this Moses armed the priests and killed 3,000 Jews, "and the
Lord plagued the people because they had made the calf which Aaron had
made."* Moses afterward pitched the tabernacle without the camp; and the
cloudy pillar in which the Lord went, descended and stood at the door
of the tabernacle; and the Lord talked to Moses "face to face, as a man
would to his friend."** And the Lord then told Moses, "Thou canst not
see my face, for there shall no man see me and live."*** Before this
Moses and Aaron and Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of
Israel, "saw the God of Israel, and there was under his feet, as it
were, a paved work of sapphire stone,... and upon the nobles of the
children of Israel he laid not his hand; also they saw God, and did eat
and drink."****

     * Exodus xxxii, 35.

     ** Ib. xxxiii, 11.

     *** Ib. xxxiii, 20.

     **** Ib. xxiv,9.

Aaron, the brother of Moses, died under very strange circumstances. The
Lord said unto Moses, "Strip Aaron of his garments and put them upon
Eleazar, his son, and Aaron shall be gathered unto his people and shall
die there." And Moses did as the Lord commanded, and Aaron died there on
the top of the mount, where Moses had taken him. There does not appear
to have been any coroner's inquest in the time of Aaron, and the
suspicious circumstances of the death of the brother of Moses have been
passed over by the faithful.

When Moses was leading the Israelites over Moab, Balak the King of the
Moabites sent to Balaam in order to get Balaam to curse the Jews. When
Balak's messengers were with Balaam, God came to Balaam also, and asked
what men they were. Of course God knew, but he inquired for his own
wise purposes, and Balaam told him truthfully. God ordered Balaam not to
curse the Jews, and therefore the latter refused, and sent the Moabitish
messengers away. Then Balak sent again high and mighty princes under
whose influence Balaam went mounted on an ass, and God's anger was
kindled against Balaam, and he sent an angel to stop him by the way; but
the angel did not understand his business well, and the ass first ran
into a field, and then close against the wall, and it was not until
the angel removed to a narrower place that he succeeded in stopping the
donkey; and when the ass saw the angel she fell down. Balaam did not see
the angel at first; and, indeed we may take it as a fact of history that
asses have always been the most ready to perceive angels.

Moses may have been a great author, but we have little means of
ascertaining what he wrote in the present day. Divines talk of Genesis
to Deuteronomy as the five books of Moses, but Eusebius, in the fourth
century, attributed them to Ezra, and Saint Chrysostom says that the
name of Moses has been affixed to the books without authority, by
persons living long after him. It is quite certain that if Moses lived
3,300 years ago, he did not write in square letter Hebrew, and this
because the character has not existed so long. It is indeed doubtful if
it can be carried back 2,000 years. The ancient Hebrew character, though
probably older than this, yet is comparatively modern among the ancient
languages of the earth.

It is urged by orthodox chronologists that Moses was born about 1450
B. C., and that the Exodus took place about 1401 B. C. Unfortunately
"there are no recorded dates in the Jewish Scriptures that are
trustworthy." Moses, or the Hebrews, not being mentioned upon Egyptian
monuments from the twelfth to the seventeenth century B. C. inclusive,
and never being alluded to by any extant writer who lived prior to the
Septuagint translation at Alexandria (commencing in the third century
B. C.), there are no extraneous aids, from sources alien to the Jewish
Books through which any information, worthy of historical acceptance,
can be gathered elsewhere about him or them.*

Moses died in the land of Moab when he was 120 years of age. The Lord
buried Moses in a valley of Moab, over against Bethpeor, but no man
knoweth of his sepulcher unto this day. Josephus says that "a cloud
came over him on the sudden and he disappeared in a certain valley." The
devil disputed about the body of Moses, contending with the Archangel
Michael;** but whether the devil or the angel had the best of the
discussion, the bible does not tell us.

De Beauvoir Priaulx,*** looking at Moses as a counselor, leader, and
legislator, says: "Invested with this high authority, he announced to
the Jews their future religion, and announced it to them as a state
religion, and as framed for a particular state, and that state only.

     * Gliddon's Types of Mankind:  Mankind's Chronology, p. 711.

     ** Jude, v. 9.

     *** Questiones Mosaicæ, p. 488.

He gave this religion, moreover, a creed so narrow and negative--he
limited it to objects so purely temporal, he crowded it with observances
so entirely ceremonial or national--that we find it difficult to
determine whether Moses merely established this religion in order
that by a community of worship he might induce in the tribe-divided
Israelites that community of sentiment which would constitute them a
nation; or, whether he only roused them to a sense of their national
dignity, in the hope that they might then more faithfully perform the
duties of priests and servants of Jehovah. In other words, we hesitate
to decide whether in the mind of Moses the state was subservient to the
purposes of religion, or religion to the purposes of state."

The same writer observes* that, according to the Jewish writings, Moses
"is the friend and favorite of the Deity. He is one whose prayers and
wishes the Deity hastens to fulfill, one to whom the Deity makes
known his designs. The relations between God and the prophet are most
intimate. God does not disdain to answer the questions of Moses, to
remove his doubts, and even occasionally to receive his suggestions, and
to act upon them even in opposition to his own predetermined decrees."

     * Questiones Mosaicæ p. 418.


Jonah was the son of Amittai of Gath-hepher, which place divines
identify with Gittah-hepher of the Children of Zebulun. Dr. Iuman says
that Gath-hepher means "the Heifer's trough." Gesenius translates it
"the wine-press of the well." Bible dictionaries say that Gath-hepher
is the same as el-Meshhad, and affirm that the tomb of Jonah was "long
shown on a rocky hill near the town." The blood of Saint Januarius is
shown in Naples to this day. Nothing is known of the sex or life of
Amittai, except that Jonah was his or her son, and that Gath-hepher was
her or his place of residence; but to a true believer these two facts,
even though standing utterly alone, will be pregnant with instruction.
To the skeptic and railer, Amittai is as an unknown quantity in an
algebraic problem. Jonah was not a very common proper name, [------]
means a dove, and some derive it from the Arabic root--to be weak,
gentle; so that one meaning of Jonah, according to Gesenius, would be
feeble, gentle bird. The prophet Jonah was by no means a feeble, gentle
bird; he was rather a bird of prey. Certainly it was his intention to
become a bird of passage. The date of the birth of Jonah is not given;
the margin of my bible dates the book of Jonah B. C. cir. 862, and my
bible dictionary fixes the date of the matter to which the book relates
at "about B. C. 830." If from any reason either of these dates should be
disagreeable to the reader, he can choose any other date without fear
of anachronism. Jonah was a prophet; so is Dr. Cumming, so is Brigham
Young; there is no evidence that Jonah followed any other profession.
Jonah's profit probably hardly equaled that realized by the Archbishop
of Canterbury, but he had money enough to pay his fare "from the
presence of the Lord" to Tarshish. The exact distance of this voyage may
be easily calculated by remembering that the Lord is omnipresent, and
then measuring from his boundary to Tarshish. The fare may be worked out
by the differential calculus after evening prayer.

The word of the Lord came to Jonah; when or how the word came the text
does not record, and to any devout mind it is enough to know that it
came. The first time in the world's history that the word of the Lord
ever came to anybody, may be taken to be when Adam and Eve "heard the
voice of the Lord" "walking in the Garden" of Eden "in the cool of the
day." Between the time of Adam and Jonah a long period had elapsed; but
human nature, having had many prophets, was very wicked. The Lord wanted
Jonah to go with a message to Nineveh. Nineveh was apparently a city of
three days' journey in size. Allowing twenty miles for each day,
this would make the city about 60 miles across, or about 180 miles
in circumference. Some faint idea may be formed of this vast city,
by adding together London, Paris, and New York, and then throwing
in Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Marseilles, Naples,
Spurgeon's Tabernacle. Jonah knowing that the Lord did not always carry
out his threats or perform his promises, did not wish to go to Nineveh,
and "rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord," The
Tarshish for which Jonah intended his flight was either in Spain or
India or elsewhere. I am inclined, after deep reflection and examination
of the best authorities, to give the preference to the third-named
locality. When Cain went "out of the presence of the Lord," he went into
the Land of Nod, but whether Tarshish is in that or some other country
there is no evidence to determine. To get to Tarshish, Jonah--instead
of going to the port of Tyre, which was the nearest to his reputed
dwelling, and by far the most commodious--went to the more distant and
less convenient port of Joppa, where he found a ship going to Tarshish;
"so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them
into Tarshish, from the presence of the Lord." Jonah was, however, very
short-sighted. Just as in the old Greek mythology, winds and waves are
made warriors for the gods, so the God of the Hebrews "sent out a great
wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that
the ship was like to be broken." Luckily she was not an old leaky
vessel, over-laden and heavily insured; one which the sanctimonious
owners desired to see at the bottom, and which the captain did not care
to save. Christianity and civilization were yet to bring forth that
glorious resultant, a pious English ship-owner, with a newly-painted,
but, under the paint, a worn and rusty iron vessel, long abandoned
as unfit, but now fresh named, and so insured that Davy Jones' locker
becomes the most welcome haven of refuge. "The mariners were afraid....
and cast forth the wares" into the sea to lighten the ship. But where
was Jonah during this noise? Men trampling on deck, hoarse and harsh
words of command, and the fury of the storm troubled not our prophet.
Sea-sickness, which spares not the most pious, had no effect upon him.
"Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship, and he lay and was fast
asleep." The battering of the waves against the sides disturbed not his
devout slumbers; the creaking of the vessel's timbers spoiled not his
repose. Despite the pitching and rolling of the vessel Jonah "was fast
asleep." Had he been in the comfortable berth of a Cunarder, it would
not have been easy to sleep through such a storm. Had he been in the
hold of a smaller vessel on the Bay of Biscay, finding himself now with
his head lower than his heels, and now with his body playing hide and
seek among loose articles of cargo, it would have required great absence
of mind to prevent waking. Had he only been on an Irish steamer carrying
cattle on deck, between Bristol and Cork, with a portion of the bulwarks
washed away, and a squad of recruits "who cried every man to his God,"
he would have found the calmness of undisturbed slumber difficult.
But Jonah was on board the Joppa and Tarshish boat, and he "was fast
asleep." As the crew understood the theory of storms, they of course
knew that when there is a tempest at sea it is sent by God, because he
is offended by some one on board the vessel. Modern scientists scout
this notion, and pretend to track storm waves across the world, and to
affix storm signals in order to warn mariners. They actually profess to
predict atmospheric changes, and to explain how such changes take place.
Church clergymen know how futile science is, and how potent prayers are,
for vessels at sea. The men on the Joppa vessel said, "every one to his
fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause
this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah."
It was always a grave question in sacred metaphysics as to whether
God directed Jonah's lot, and, if yes, whether the casting of lots
is analogous to playing with loaded dice. The Bishop of Lincoln, who
understands how far cremation may render resurrection awkward, is the
only divine capable of thoroughly resolving this problem. For ordinary
Christians it is enough to know that the lot fell upon Jonah.

Before the crew commenced casting lots to find out, they had cast lots
of their wares overboard, so that when the lot fell on Jonah it was much
lighter than it would have been had the lot fallen upon him during his
sleep. Still, if not stunned by the lot which fell upon him, he stood
convicted as the cause of the tempest and the crews. "Then said they
unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us;
What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country?
and of what people art thou? And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew;
and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the
dry land. Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why
hast thou done this? For the men-knew that he fled from the presence of
the Lord, because he had told them. Then said they unto him, What shall
we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought,
and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me
forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you; for I know that
for my sake this great tempest is upon you. Nevertheless the men rowed
hard to bring it to the land; but they could not; for the sea wrought,
and was tempestuous against them. Wherefore they cried unto the Lord,
and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish
for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O
Lord, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast
him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging." No pen can
improve this story; it is so simple, so natural, so child-like. Every
one has heard of casting oil on troubled waters. It stands to reason
that a fat prophet would produce the same effect. What a striking
illustration of the power of faith it will be when bishops leave their
own sees in order to be in readiness to calm an ocean storm. Or if not
a bishop, at least a curate; and even a lean curate, for with sea air,
a ravenous appetite, and a White Star Line cabin bill of fare of
breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea, and supper, fatness would soon be arrived
at. In the interests of science I should like to see an episcopal
prophet occasionally thrown overboard during a storm. The experiment
must in any case be advantageous to humanity; should the tempest be
stilled, then the ocean would be indeed the broad way, not leading to
destruction; should the storm not be conquered, there would even then be
promotion in the Church, and happiness to many at the mere cost of one
bishop. "Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah."
Jesus says the fish was a whale. A whale would have needed preparation,
and the statement has an air of _vraisemblance_. The fish did swallow
Jonah. "Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights."
Poor Jonah! and poor fish! Poor Jonah, for it can scarcely be pleasant,
even if you escape suffocation, to be in a fish's belly with too much
to drink, and no room to swallow, and your solids either raw or too much
done. Poor fish! for even after preparation it must be disagreeable to
have one's poor stomach turned into a sort of prayer meeting. Jonah was
taken in; but the fish found that taking in a parson was a feat neither
easy nor healthy. After Jonah had uttered guttural sounds from inside
the fish's belly for three days and three nights, the Lord spake unto
the fish, and the fish was sick of Jonah, "and it vomited out Jonah upon
the dry land." Some skeptics urged that a whale could not have swallowed
Jonah; but once, at Todmorden, a Church of England clergyman, who had
been curate to the Reverend Charles Kingsley, got rid of this as an
objection by assuring us that he should have equally believed the story
had it stated that Jonah had swallowed the whale. And then the word of
the Lord came to Jonah once more, and this time Jonah obeyed. He was to
take God's message to the citizens of Nineveh. "And Jonah began to enter
into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days,
and Nineveh shall be overthrown." Should Jonah come to London in the
present day with a similar message, he would meet scant courtesy from
our clergy. A foreigner and using a strange tongue, he would probably
find himself in Colney Hatch or Hanwell. To come to England in the name
of Mahomet or Buddha, or Osiris or Jupiter, would have little effect.
But the Ninevites do not seem even to have raised the question that the
God of the Hebrews was not their God. They listened to Jonah, and
"the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on
sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word
came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid
his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth and sat in ashes.
And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the
decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast,
herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, nor drink water: but
let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God:
yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence
that is in their hands." The consumption of sackcloth for covering
every man and beast must have been rather large, and the Nineveh
sackcloth manufacturers must have had enormous stocks on hand to supply
the sudden demand. The city article of the _Nineveh Times_, if such a
paper existed, would probably have described "sackcloth firm, with
a tendency to rise." Man and beast, all dressed in or covered with
sackcloth! It would be sometimes difficult to distinguish a Ninevite
man from a Ninevite beast, the dress being similar for all. This is a
difficulty, however, other nations have shared with the Ninevites. Men
and women may sometimes be seen in London dressed in broadcloth and
satins, and, though their clothing is distinguishable enough, their
conduct is sometimes so beastly that the naked beasts are the more

Nineveh was frightened, and Nineveh moaned, and Nineveh determined to
do wrong: no more. "And God saw their works, that they turned from their
evil way; and God repented of the evil that he had said that he would
do unto them; and he did it not." God, the unchangeable, changed his
purpose, and spared the city, which in his infinite wisdom he had
doomed. "But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry." It
was enough to vex a saint to be sent to prophesy the destruction of the
city in six weeks, and then nothing at all to happen. "And he prayed
unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying,
when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish."
Jonah did not like to be a discredited prophet and cried, "Therefore
now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for
me to die than to live. Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry?"
Jonah, knowing the Lord, was still curious and uncertain as well as
angry. He was a prophet and a skeptic. "So Jonah went out of the city,
and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and
sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the
city. And the Lord God 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. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. But God prepared a
worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it
withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared
a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he
fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to
die than to live. And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for
the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. Then
said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou
hast not labored, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and
perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city,
wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that can not discern
between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?"
The Lord seems to have overlooked that Jonah had more pity on himself
than the gourd, whose only value to him was as a shade from the sun.
Jonah, too, might have reminded the Lord that there were more than
120,000 persons similarly situated at the deluge and at the slaughter
of the Midianites, and that the "much cattle" had never theretofore been
reckoned in the divine decrees of mercy.

Here ends the new life of Jonah. Of the prophet's childhood we know
nothing; of his middle age no more than we have here related; of his old
age and death we have nothing to say. It is enough for good Christians
to know that "Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly;
so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of
the earth." According to Jesus the story of Jonah is as true as Gospel.


Many persons will consider the question heading this pamphlet as one to
which the Gospels have given a sufficient answer, and that no further
inquiry is necessary. We, in reply, point out that while the general
Christian body affirm that Jesus was God incarnate on earth, the
Unitarian Christians, less in numerical strength, but numbering a large
proportion of the more intelligent and humane, absolutely deny this
divinity; and even in the earliest ages of the Christian Church
heretics were found who scrupled not to deny that Jesus had ever existed
in the flesh. Under these circumstances, it is well to prosecute the
inquiry to the uttermost, that our faith may rest on sure foundations.

The history of Jesus Christ is contained in four books, or gospels. We
know not with any degree of certainty, and have now no means of knowing,
when these gospels were written, we know not where they were written,
and we know not by whom they were written. Until after the year A. D.
200, no author, except Irenæus, professes to mention any gospels by
Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, and there is no sufficient evidence to
identify the gospels we have with the writings to which Irenseus refers.
The Church has, however, kindly provided us with an author for each
gospel, and the early Fathers have proved there ought to be four
gospels, because there are four seasons, four principal points to the
compass, etc. Our duty is simply to believe. With regard to the gospel
first in order, it is true that divines themselves disagree as to the
language in which it was written. Some allege that the original was in
Hebrew, others deny that our Greek version has any of the characters
of a translation. This increases our difficulty, but if we wish
for temporal welfare we must believe with the party which is most
fashionable, and if we simply wish for truth, we had better disregard
all parties and avoid their creeds. Our authorized English translation
of the four gospels is made from the received Greek version; this
version was made at Alcala in Spain, and the MSS. from which it was
obtained were afterward sold by the pious Christians and manufactured
into sky-rockets by one Torjo, a firework maker. So that the same
Christians who threaten us with the pains of hell if we reject the
gospels, actually condemned their own books to brimstone and fire. The
only variation in the mode of burning is this--the holy MSS., when made
into sky-rockets, were shot upward and burnt in their ascent to the
heavenly regions, and we are to burn in our descent into the lower
regions of the bottomless pit.

We do not know the hour, the day, the month, or the year, in which Jesus
was born. The only point on which divines generally agree is, that he
was not born on Christmas Day. The Oxford chronology places the matter
in no clearer light, and more than thirty learned authorities give us a
period of over seven years difference in their reckoning. The place of
his birth is also uncertain, as may be ascertained by careful reference
to the text. For instance, the Jews in the very presence of Jesus
reproached him that he ought to have been born at Bethlehem, and he
never ventured to say, "I was born there." (John vii, 41, 42, 52.)

Jesus was the son of David the son of Abraham (Matthew i), and his
descent from Abraham is traced through Isaac, who was born of Sarai
(whom the writer of the Epistle to Galatians, chap, iv, v. 24, says was
a covenant and not a woman), and ultimately through Joseph, who was not
only not his father, but is not shown to have had any relationship to
Jesus at all, and through whom the genealogy should not be traced.
There are two genealogies in the four gospels which have the merit of
contradicting each other, and these in part may be collated with the Old
Testament genealogy, which has the advantage of agreeing with neither.
Much prayer and faith will be required in this introduction to the
history of Jesus. The genealogy of Matthew possesses peculiar points
of interest to a would-be believer. It is self-contradictory, counts
thirteen names as fourteen without explanation, and omits the names of
three kings without apology. Matthew (i, 13), says Abiud was the son
of Zorobabel. Luke says Zorobabel's son was Rhesa. The Old Testament
contradicts both, and gives Meshullam and Hananiah and Shelomith, their
sister (1 Chron. iii, 19), as the names of Zorobabel's children. Some
Greek MSS. insert "Joram" into Luke iii, 33. I do not know whether we
shall be damned for omitting or for inserting Joram: those who believe
had better look to this. Jesus was born without a father after his
mother had been visited by the angel Gabriel, who "came in unto her"
with a message from God. His reputed father, Joseph, had two fathers,
one named Jacob, the other named Heli. The divines feeling this to be a
difficulty, have kindly invented a statement that Heli was the father
of Mary. The birth of Jesus was miraculously announced to Mary and to
Joseph by visits of an angel, but they so little regarded the miraculous
annunciation that they marveled soon after at things spoken by Simeon,
which were much less wonderful in character. Jesus was the Son of God,
or God manifest in the flesh, and his birth was first discovered by
some wise men or astrologers. The God of the bible, who is a spirit, had
previously said that these men were an abomination in his sight, and
he therefore, doubtless, preferred them to be his first visitors in the
flesh to keep up his character for incomprehensibility. These men saw
_his_ star in the East, but it did not tell them much, for they were
obliged to come and ask information from Herod the king. Herod inquired
of the chief priests and scribes; and it is evident Jeremiah was right,
if he said, "The prophets prophecy falsely and the priests bear rule by
their means," for these chief priests, like the Brewin Grants and the
Brindleys of the present day, misquoted to suit their purposes, and
invented a false prophecy by omitting a few words from, and adding a
few words to, a text until it suited their purpose. The star, after they
knew where to go, and no longer required its aid, led the wise men and
went before them, until it came and stood over where the young child
was. The story will be better understood if the reader will walk out
at night and notice some star, and then see how many houses it will be
over. The writer of the third gospel does not appear to have been aware
of the star story, and he therefore invents an angel who tells some
shepherds; but as this last named adventure does not appear to have
happened in the reign of Herod at all, perhaps Jesus was born twice.
After the wise men had left Jesus, an angel warned Joseph to flee with
him and Mary into Egypt, and Joseph did fly and remained there with the
young child and his mother until the death of Herod; and this was done
to fulfill a prophecy. On referring to Hosea (xi, 1), we find the words
have no reference whatever to Jesus, and that, therefore, either the
tale of the flight is invented as a fulfillment of the prophecy, or the
prophecy manufactured to support the tale of the flight. The Jesus of
the third gospel never went into Egypt at all in his childhood; perhaps
there were two Jesus Christs?

When Jesus began to be about thirty years of age he was baptized by John
in the river Jordan. John, who knew him, according to the writer of the
first gospel, forbade him directly he saw him; but, according to the
writer of the fourth gospel, he knew him not, and had, therefore, no
occasion to forbid him. God is an "invisible" "spirit," whom no man hath
seen (John i, 18), or can see. (Exodus xxxiii, 20); but John, who was
a man, saw the spirit of God descending like a dove. God is everywhere,
but at that time was in heaven, from whence he said, "This is my beloved
Son, in whom I am well pleased." Although John heard this from God's own
mouth, he did not always believe it, but sometime after sent two of his
disciples to Jesus to inquire if he were really the Christ (Matthew xi,
2, 3).

Immediately after the baptism, Jesus was led up of the spirit into the
wilderness to be tempted of the devil. I do not know anything about
either "the spirit" or "the devil" here mentioned, and the writer does
not explain anything about them; he speaks of them familiarly, as old
acquaintances. Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights, and in those
days he did eat nothing. Of course it would be difficult to find a more
severe fast--forty days and nights is a long period to abstain from
food. Moses fasted twice that period. Such fasts take place in religious
books, but they are seldom found in every-day life. Such fasts are
nearly miraculous. Miraculous events are events which never happened in
the past, do not take place in the present, and never will occur in the
future. Jesus was God, and by his power as God fasted. This all must
believe. The only difficulty is, to understand on the hypothesis of his
divinity, what made him hungry. When Jesus was hungry the devil tempted
him by offering him stones, and asking him to make them bread. We
have heard of men having hard nuts to crack, but that stones should
be offered to a hungry man for extempore bread-making hardly seems a
probable temptation. Which temptation came next is a matter of doubt.
The Holy Ghost, which the clergy assert inspired Matthew and Luke, does
not appear to have inspired them both alike, and they relate the story
of the temptation in different order. According to one, the devil next
taketh Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and tempts him to throw
himself to the bottom, by quoting Scripture that angels should bear him
in their arms. Jesus was, however, either a disbeliever in Scripture,
or remembered that the devil, like other gentlemen in black, grossly
misquoted to suit his purpose, and the temptation failed. The devil then
took Jesus to an exceedingly high mountain, from whence he showeth him
all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory thereof, in a moment of
time, which was very quick. It is urged that this did not include a view
of the antipodes, but only referred to the kingdoms then known. If this
be true, it must have been a long look from Judea to China, which was
then a known kingdom. The eye of faith will, however, see things afar
off and sometimes will also see things which are not. The mountain must
have been very high--much higher than the diameter of the earth; it must
have been solid in proportion, therefore would have capsized the earth
in its revolutions, if even temporarily placed upon it. The devil then
offered Jesus, who was the same as God, and therefore omnipotent, all
the kingdoms of the world, if he, Jesus the omnipotent God, would fall
down and worship his own creature, the devil. Some object that if God is
the creator and omnipotent ruler of the world, then the devil would have
no control over the kingdoms of the world, and that the offer could be
no temptation as it was made to Jesus, who was both God omnipotent and
all-wise, as well as man. These objectors may easily be answered by
asserting that it requires a proper submission of the intellect, and
an abhorrence of worldly reason, in order properly to understand these
books. After this Jesus taught the multitudes. His teachings will form
the subject of a separate tract. We are here only endeavoring to answer
our preliminary question by a narration of his history.

After the temptation, Jesus is alleged to have worked many miracles,
casting out devils, and otherwise creating marvels among the inhabitants
of Judea. Bedevilment is now at a sad discount, and if a second Jesus of
Nazareth were in this heretical age to boast that he possessed the power
of casting out devils, he would stand a fair chance of expiating
his offense by a three months' penance with hard labor in the highly
polished interior of some borough jail. Now if men be sick and they have
a little wisdom, the physician is resorted to, who administers medicine
to cure the disease. If men have much wisdom they study physiology,
while they have health, in order to prevent sickness altogether. In the
time of the early Christians prayer and faith (James v, 14, 15) occupied
the position of utility since usurped by rhubarb, jalap, _et similibus_.
Men who had lost their sight in the time of Christ were attacked not by
disease but by the devil; we have heard of men seeing double who have
allowed spirits to get into their heads. In the days of Jesus one spirit
would make a man blind, or deaf, or dumb; occasionally a number of
devils would get into a man and drive him mad. We do not doubt this, nor
do we ask our readers to doubt. We are grieved to be obliged to add
that although we do not doubt the story of devils, neither do we believe
them. Our state of mind is neither that of doubt, nor of absolute
conviction of their correctness. On one occasion, Jesus met either one
man (Mark v, 2) or two men (Matthew viii, 28) possessed with devils. I
am not in a position to advance greater reasons for believing that it
was one man who was possessed than for believing there were two in the
clutches of the devils. The probabilities are equal--that is, the
amount of probability is not greater upon the one side than upon the
other--that is, there is no probability on either side. The devils knew
Jesus and addressed him by name. Jesus was not so familiar with the imp,
or imps, and we find inquired the name of the particular devil he was
addressing. The answer given in Latin would induce a belief that the
devils usually spoke in that tongue. This may be an error, but, of
course, it is well to give consideration to every particular when we
know we are to be eternally damned if we happen to believe the wrong
statement. Jesus wanted to cast out the devils, this they do not seem
to have cared about, but they appear to have had a decided objection to
being cast out of the country. Whether Palestine was the native country
of the devils, and that therefore they were loth to quit it, I know not,
but it is likely enough, as Christianity is alleged to have had its rise
there. A compromise was agreed to, and at their own request the devils
were transferred to a herd of swine. People who believe this may be said
to "go the whole hog." The Jesus of the four gospels is also alleged
to have fed large multitudes of people under circumstances of a most
ultra-thaumaturgic character. To the first book of Euclid is, prefixed
an axiom that "the whole is greater than its part." John Wesley
is alleged to have eschewed mathematics lest it should lead him to
Infidelity. John Wesley was wise, for if any man be foolish enough to
accept Euclid's axiom, he will be compelled to reject the miraculous
feeding of 5,000 people with five loaves and two small fishes. It is
difficult under any circumstances to perform a miracle. The original
difficulty is rather increased than diminished by the assertion that
after the multitude had been fed, twelve baskets full of fragments
remained. Perhaps the loaves were very large or the baskets very small.

Jesus is related to have walked on the sea at a time when it was very
stormy, and when, to use the words of the text, "the sea arose by reason
of a great wind that blew." Walking on the water is a great feat if it
be calm, but when the waves run high it is still more wonderful. Perhaps
it was because Jesus must have been often engulfed by the angry waves,
that one sect prefers baptism by complete immersion. We admire this
miracle; we know how difficult it is for a man to keep his head above
water in the affairs of life.

The miracle of turning water into wine at Cana, in Galilee, is worthy of
considerable attention, in the endeavor to answer the question, Who
was Jesus Christ? Jesus and his disciples had been called to a marriage
feast, and when there the company fell short of wine. The mother of
Jesus to whom the Catholics offer worship, and pay great adoration,
informed Jesus of the deficiency. Jesus, who was very meek and gentle,
answered her in the somewhat uncourteous and unmeaning phrase, "Woman,
what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." His mother
seemed to have expected a miracle by her conduct, yet if the fourth
gospel speak the truth, that was the beginning of miracle working on the
part of Jesus. Perhaps something had previously happened which is not
recorded, and which would explain this apparent inconsistency. We must
exert our faith to fill up any little gap which may be in the way of
salvation. Jesus having obtained six waterpots full of water, turned
them into wine. Teetotalers who reject spirits in bottles, but accept
spiritual teachings, and who can not believe God would specially provide
means of drunkenness, urge that this wine was not of intoxicating
quality. We will hope their hypothesis is a correct one, but there
is nothing to justify it in our text. In fact, the curious connection
between the phrase "well drunk" and the time at which the miracle was
performed, would almost warrant the allegation that the guests were
already in such a state as to render unnecessary the administration of
further intoxicants. The moral effects of this miracle are not easily
conceivable by carnal minds.

Shortly after this Jesus went to the temple, and in a meek and quiet
manner, with a scourge of small curds drove thereout the cattle dealers
and money changers who had assembled there in the ordinary course of
their business. It is hardly probable that the Jews would have permitted
this without violent resistance to so rough a course of procedure. The
writer of the fourth gospel placed this event very early in the public
life of Jesus. The writer of the third gospel fixes the occurrence
much later. Perhaps it happened twice, or perhaps they have both made a
mistake in the time.

The Jesus of the four gospels is alleged to have been God all-wise;
being hungry, he went to a fig-tree, when the season of figs was not yet
come. Of course there were no figs upon the tree, and Jesus then caused
the tree to wither away. This is an interesting account to a true
orthodox trinitarian. Such a one will believe: first, that Jesus was
God, who made the tree, and prevented it from bearing figs; second, that
God the all-wise, who is not subject to human passions, being hungry,
went to the fig-tree, on which he knew there would be no figs, expecting
to find some there; third, that God the all-just then punished the tree
because it did not bear figs in opposition to God's eternal ordination.
This account is a profound mystery to a truly religious man. He bow's
his head, flings his carnal reason away, and looks at the matter in a
prayerful spirit, with an eye of faith. Faith as a grain of mustard
seed will remove a mountain. The only difficulty is to get the grain
of faith; all is easy when that is done. The "eye of faith" is a great
help, it sometimes enables men to see that which does not exist. Jesus
had a disciple named Peter, who, having much faith, was a great rascal
and denied his leader in his hour of need. Jesus was previously aware
that Peter would be a rascal, and he gave him the keys of the kingdom of
heaven, and told him that whatsoever be bound on earth should be bound
in heaven. Many an honest man has been immured in a dungeon, and has had
the key turned on him by a rascally jailor. It is to be regretted that
the like should be promised for all eternity. Peter was to have denied
Jesus three times before the cock should crow (Matt. 26, 34). The cock
was doubtless an infidel cock, and would not wait. He crowed before
Peter's second denial (Mark xiv, 68).

Commentators urge that the words used do not refer to the crowing of any
particular cock, but to a special hour of the morning called "cockcrow."
The commentators have but one difficulty to get over, and that is, that
if the gospel be true, their explanation is false.

Peter's denial becomes the more extraordinary when we remember that he
had seen Moses, Jesus, and Elias talking together, and had heard a voice
from a cloud say, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased."
If Peter could thus deny Jesus after having heard God vouch his
divinity, and if Peter not only escapes punishment but gets the office
of gatekeeper to heaven, how much should we escape punishment and
obtain reward, who only deny because we can not help it, and who have no
corroborative evidence of sight or hearing to compel our faith?

The Jesus of the first gospel promised that, as Jonas was three days and
three nights in the whale's belly, so he (Jesus) would be three days
and three nights in the heart of the earth. Yet he was buried on Friday
evening, and was out of the grave before Saturday was over. Of course
this is susceptible of explanation; you must have faith and believe
that in some other language something else was said which ought to be
translated differently. Or, if you can not believe thus, then you must
have faith until you stretch the one day and part of another day, and
one night and part of another night, into three days and three nights.

Our orthodox translators have made Jesus perform a curious equestrian
feat on his entry into Jerusalem. The text says, they "brought the ass
and the colt and put on them their clothes and set him thereon." Perhaps
this does not mean that he rode on both at one time.

On the cross, the Jesus of the four gospels, who was God, cried out, "My
God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" God can not forsake himself.
Jesus was God himself. Yet God forsook Jesus, and the latter cried out
to know why he was forsaken. This is one of the mysteries of the holy
Christian religion which, "unless a man rightly believe without doubt he
shall perish everlastingly."

At the crucifixion of Jesus wonderful miracles took place. "The graves
were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose and came
out of the grave after his resurrection and appeared unto many." We do
not know which saints these were. Whether they numbered among them St.
Abraham, who permitted his wife to incur the risk of dishonor, and who
accepted riches to gild his shame; who turned his wife into the desert
with one bottle of water and some bread. Saint Lot, of whom the less
said the purer our pages; Saint Judah, who wanted to burn alive a woman
he had gotten with child; Saint Jacob, the liar and cheat; Saint Joseph,
the model prime minister, who bought the people's rights with their own
corn; Saint Moses, the conjuror, who killed 3,000 Jews because his own
brother Aaron had persuaded them to make a golden calf; Saint Jael, the
blessed above all women, because she drove most treacherously a nail
into the skull of a sleeping guest; Saint Samson, who slew one thousand
men with the jawbone of an ass; Saint Gideon, who frightened a
large body of Midianites, with trumpets, pitchers, and lanterns. Poor
Midianites, they had all been exterminated long before Gideon's time;
it must have been an extraordinary providence to bring them into life
in order to frighten them; but God's ways are not as our ways. This is
a digression--in plain language, we do not know who "the saints" were.
They "appeared unto many," but there is not the slightest evidence that
any one ever saw them. Their "bodies" came out of the graves, so we
suppose that the bodies of the saints do not decompose like those of
ordinary human beings. As the saints rose, so did Jesus. As they had
their bodies, so had he. He must have much changed in the grave, for his
disciples did not know him when he stood on the shore (John xxi, 4).

According to the first gospel Jesus appeared to two women after his
resurrection, and afterward met eleven of his disciples by appointment
on a mountain in Galilee. We do not know when the appointment was made;
the only verse on which divines rely as being capable of bearing this
construction is Matt, xxxi, 32, and that voice is silent both as to
place and time--in fact, gives no promise of any meeting whatever.
According to the second gospel, he appeared first to one women, and
when she told the disciples they did not believe it. Yet we are bound
to unhesitatingly accept that which the disciples of Jesus rejected. We
have an advantage which perhaps the disciples lacked. We have several
different stories of the same event, and we can select that which
appears to us the most probable. The disciples might have been so
unfortunate as to have only one account. By the second gospel we learn
that instead of the eleven going to Galilee after Jesus, he came to
them as they sat at meat. In the third gospel, wo are told that he first
appeared to two of his disciples at Emmaus, and they did not know him
until they had been a long time in his company--in fact, according to
the text, it was evening before they recognized him, so we suppose the
light of faith supplied the want of the light of day. Unfortunately
directly they saw him they did not see him, for as soon as they knew him
he vanished out of their sight. He immediately afterward appeared to the
eleven at Jerusalem, and not at Galilee, as stated in the first Gospel.
Jesus asked for some meat, and the disciples gave him a portion of a
broiled fish and of a honeycomb, and he did eat. In these degenerate
days it is hard to believe in a ghost eating fried fish, yet we must try
to do it for our soul's sake, which otherwise may be burned for ever
in the fire that is never quenched. There is certainly nothing more
improbable in God the Son eating broiled fish after he was dead, than
there is in believing God the Father ate dressed calf, tender and good,
prepared for him by Abraham (_vide_ Genesis xviii). A truly pious and
devout mind will not look at the letter which killeth, but for the
spirit which maketh alive. Jesus was afterward taken up into heaven, a
cloud received him, and he was missed. God of course is everywhere,
and heaven is not more above than below, but it is necessary we should
believe that Jesus has ascended into heaven to sit on the right hand
of God, who is infinite and has no right hand. Our question at the
commencement was, "Who was Jesus Christ?" Was he a man?--surely not.
Born without a father, in the lifetime of Herod, according to Luke.
Residing in Egypt, according to Matthew, at a period in which, if Luke
be true, he never could have visited Egypt at all. His whole career
is, not simply a series of improbabilities, not simply a series of
absurdities, but, in truth, a series of fables destitute of foundation
in fact.

Who was Christ? born of a virgin. So was Chrishna, the Hindoo god
incarnate. The story of Chrishna is identical in many respects with that
of Jesus. The story of Chrishna was current long prior to the birth of
Jesus. The story of Chrishna is believed by the inhabitants of Hindostan
and disbelieved by the English, who say it is a myth, a fable. We add
that both are equally true, and that both are equally false.

Who was Jesus Christ? A man or a myth? His history being a fable, is
the hero a reality? Do you allege that it was impossible to forge
books so large as the gospels? then the answer is that Christians
were skilled in the art of forging epistles, gospels, acts, decrees of
councils, etc. Will you urge that this only applies to the Romish Church?
Then you will admit that your stream runs from a polluted fountain?
Who was Jesus Christ? Who was Saint Patrick, who excelled the reptiles
from Ireland? Who was Fin ma coul? Who was Odin? Perhaps there was
a man who really lived and performed some special actions attracting
popular attention, but beyond this Jesus Christ is a fiction.


The doctrines of Jesus may be sought for and found in a small compass.
Four thin gospels are alleged to contain nearly the entirety of his
sayings, and as most Englishmen are professedly Christians, it might be
fairly supposed that the general public were conversant with Christ's
teachings. This, however, is not the case. The bulk of professors
believe from custom rather than from reading. They profess a faith as
they follow a fashion--because others have done so before them. What
did Jesus teach? Manly self-reliant resistance of wrong, and practice
of right? No; the key-stone of his whole teaching may be found in the
text, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of

     * Matthew v, 3.

Is poverty of spirit the chief among virtues, that Jesus gives it the
prime place in his teaching? Is poverty of spirit a virtue at all?
Surely not. Manliness of spirit, honesty of spirit, fullness of rightful
purpose, these are virtues; but poverty of spirit is a crime. When men
are poor in spirit, then do the proud and haughty in spirit oppress and
trample upon them, but when men are true in spirit and determined (as
true men should be) to resist and prevent evil, wrong, and injustice
whenever they can, then is their greater opportunity for happiness here,
and no lesser fitness for the enjoyment of further happiness, in some
may-be heaven, hereafter. Are you poor in spirit, and are you smitten;
in such case what did Jesus teach? "Unto whom that smiteth thee on the
one cheek, offer also the other."* 'Twere better far to teach that "he
who courts oppression shares the crime." Rather say, if smitten once,
take careful measure to prevent a future smiting. I have heard men
preach passive resistance, but this teaches actual invitation of injury,
a course degrading in the extreme.

Shelley breathed higher humanity in his noble advice:

     "Stand ye calm and resolute,
     Like a forest close and mute,
     With folded arms and looks, which are
     Weapons of an unvanquished war."

There is a wide distinction between the passive resistance to wrong and
the courting of further injury at the hands of the wrongdoer. I have in
no case seen this better illustrated than in Mr. George Jacob Holyoake's
history of his imprisonment in Gloucester Jail,** where passive
resistance saved him from the indignity of a prison dress, and also from
compulsory attendance at morning prayer in the prison chapel, which in
his case would have been to him an additional insult. But the teaching
of Jesus goes much beyond this kind of conduct; the poverty of spirit
principle is enforced to the fullest extent--"Him that taketh away thy
cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that
asketh of thee, and from him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not
again."*** Poverty of person is the only possible sequence to this
extraordinary manifestation of poverty of spirit.

     * Luke vi, 29.

     ** "Last trail by Jury for Atheism."

     *** Luke vi, 29, 30.

Poverty of person is attended with many unpleasantnesses; and if Jesus
knew that poverty of goods would result from his teaching, we might
expect some notice of this. And so there is--as if he wished to keep the
poor content through their lives with poverty, he says, "Blessed be ye
poor for yours is the kingdom of God."* "But woe unto you that are rich,
for you have received your consolation."** He pictures one in hell,
whose only related vice is that in life he was rich; and another in
heaven, whose only related virtue is that in life he was poor.*** He at
another time tells his hearers that it is as difficult for a rich man
to get into heaven as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.****
The only intent of such teaching could be to induce the poor to remain
content with the want and misery attendant on their wretched state in
this life, in the hope of a higher recompense in some future life. Is
it good to be content with poverty? Nay, 'tis better far to investigate
the cause of such poverty, with a view to its cure and prevention. The
doctrine is a most horrid one which declares that the poor shall not
cease from the face of the earth. Poor in spirit and poor in pocket.
With no courage to work for food, or money to purchase it! We might well
expect to find the man who held these doctrines with empty stomach also;
and what does Jesus teach?--"Blessed are ye that hunger now, for ye
shall be filled."***** He does not say when the filling shall take
place, but the date is evidently postponed until the time when you will
have no stomachs to replenish. It is not in this life that the hunger
is to be sated. Do you doubt me, turn again to your Testament and read,
"Woe unto you that are full, for ye shall hunger."****** This must
surely settle the point.

     * Luke vi, 20.

     ** Luke vi, 24.

     *** Luke xvi, 19--81.

     **** Luke xviii, 25.

     ***** Luke vi, 21.

     ****** Luke vi, 25.

It would be but little vantage to the hungry man to bless him by filling
him, if, when he had satisfied his appetite, he were met by a curse
which had awaited the completion of his repast. Craven in spirit,
with an empty purse and hungry mouth--what next? The man who has not
manliness enough to prevent wrong will probably bemoan his hard fate,
and cry bitterly that so sore are the misfortunes he endures. And what
does Jesus teach?--"Blessed are ye that weep now, for ye shall laugh."*
Is this true, and if true, when? "Blessed are they that mourn, for they
shall be comforted."** Aye, but when? Not while they mourn and weep.
Weeping for the past is vain; 'tis past, and a deluge of tears will
never wash away its history. Weeping for the present is worse than
vain--it obstructs your sight. In each minute of your life the aforetime
future is present-born, and you need dry and keen eyes to give it and
yourself a safe and happy deliverance. When shall they that mourn be
comforted? Are slaves that weep salt teardrops on their steel shackles
comforted in their weeping? Nay, but each pearly overflow, as it falls,
rusts mind as well as fetter. Ye who are slaves and weep, will never
be comforted until ye dry your eyes and nerve your arms, and, in the
plenitude of your manliness,

     "Shake your chains to earth like dew,
     Which in sleep have fallen on you."

Jesus teaches that the poor, the hungry and the wretched shall be
blessed? This is not so. The blessing only comes when they have ceased
to be poor, hungry and wretched. Contentment under poverty, hunger and
misery is high treason, not to yourself alone, but to your fellows.
These three, like foul diseases, spread quickly wherever humanity is
stagnant and content with wrong.

     * Luke vi, 31.

     ** Matthew v, 4.

What did Jesus teach? "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."* So
far well, but how if thy neighbor will not hear thy doctrine when thou
preacheth the "glad tidings of great joy" to him? Then forgetting all
thy love, and with bitter hatred that a theological disputant alone can
manifest, thou "shalt shake off the dust from your feet," and by so
doing make it more tolerable in the day of judgment for the land of
Sodom and Gomorrah than for your unfortunate neighbor who has ventured
to maintain an opinion of his own, and who will not let you be his
priest.** It is, indeed, a mockery to speak of love, as if love to one
another could result from the dehumanizing and isolating faith required
from the disciple of Jesus. Ignatius Loyola in this, at least, was more
consistent than his Protestant brethren,*** "If any man come unto
me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and
brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he can not be my
disciple."**** "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth. I came
not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set men at variance
against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the
daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's foes they shall
be of his own household.*****" "Every one that hath forsaken houses, or
brethren, or sisters, or father or mother, or wife or children, or
lands for my sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall inherit
everlasting life."****** The teaching of Jesus is, in fact, save
yourself by yourself. The teaching of humanity should be, to save
yourself save your fellow.

     * Matthew xix, 19.

     ** Matthew x, 14,15.

     *** Luke xiv, 26.

     **** Matthew x, 84--86.

     ***** Matthew xix, 29.

The human family is a vast chain, each man and woman a link. There is
no snapping off one link and preserving for it an entirety of happiness;
our joy depends on our brother's also. But what does Jesus teach? That
"many are called, but few are chosen;" that the majority will inherit
an eternity of misery, while it is but the minority who obtain eternal
happiness. And on what is the eternity of bliss to depend? On a
truthful course of life? Not so. Jesus puts Father Abraham in Heaven,
whose reputation for faith outstrips his character for veracity. The
passport througli Heaven's portals is faith. "He that believeth and
baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not, shall be damned."*
Are you married? Have you a wife you love? She dies and you. You from
your first speech to your last had ever said, "I believe," much as a
clever parrot might say it, if well taught. You had never examined your
reasons for your faith for, like a true believer should, you distrusted
the efficacy of your carnal reason. You said, therefore, "I believe in
God and Jesus Christ," because you had been taught to say it, and you
would have as glibly said, "I believe in Allah, and in Mahomet his
prophet," had your birthplace been a few degrees more eastward, and your
parents and instructors Turks. You believed in this life and awake in
Heaven. Your much-loved wife did not think as you did--she could not.
Her organization, education and temperament were all different from your
own. She disbelieved because she could not believe. She was a good
wife, but she disbelieved, A good and affectionate mother, but she
disbelieved. A virtuous and kindly woman, but she disbelieved. And you
are to be happy for an eternity in Heaven, while she is writhing in
agony in Hell.

     * Mark xvi,16.

If true, I could say with Shelley, of this Christianity, that it

     "Peoples earth with demons, hell with men,
     And heaven with slaves."

It is often urged that Jesus is the Savior of the world, that he brought
redemption without let or stint to the whole human race. But what did
Jesus teach? "Go not into any way of the Gentiles, and into any city of
the Samaritan enter ye not."* These were his injunctions to those whom
he first sent out to preach. "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of
the house of Israel," is his hard answer to the poor Syrophenician woman
who is entreating succor for her child. Christianity, as first taught by
Jesus, was for the Jews alone, and it is only upon his rejection by them
that the world at large has the opportunity of salvation afforded it.
"He came unto his own and his own received him not,"** Why should the
Jews be more God's own than the Gentiles? Is God the creator of all?
and did he create the descendant of Abraham with greater right and
privilege than all other men? Then, indeed, is great and grievous
injustice done. You and I had no choice whether we would be born Jews
or Gentiles; yet to the accident of such a birth is attached the first
offer of a salvation which if accepted, shuts out all beside. The
Kingdom of Heaven is a prominent feature in the teachings of Jesus, and
it may be well to ascertain, as precisely as we can, the picture drawn
by God incarnate of his own special domain. 'Tis likened to a wedding
feast, to which the invited guests coming not, servants are sent out
into the highways to gather all they can find--both good and bad. The
King comes in to see his motley array of guests, and findeth one without
a wedding garment.

     * Matt. x, 5.

     ** John i, 11.

The King inquired why he came into the feast without one, and the man,
whoso attendance has been compulsorily enforced, is speechless. And who
can wonder? he is a guest from necessity, not choice, he neither chose
the fashion of his coming or his attiring. Then comes the King's decree,
the command of the all-merciful and loving King of Heaven: "Bind him
hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping
and gnashing of teeth." Commentators urge that it was the custom to
provide wedding garments for all guests, and that this man is punished
for his nonacceptance of the customary and ready robe. The text does not
warrant this position, but assigns, as an explanation of the parable,
that an invitation to the heavenly feast will not insure its partakal,
for that many are called, but few are chosen. What more of the
Kingdom of Heaven? "There shall be joy in Heaven over one sinner that
repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no
repentance."* Nay, it is urged that the greater sinner one has been, the
better saint he makes, and the more he has sinned, so much the more he
loves God. "To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little."** Is
not this indeed asserting that a life of vice, with its stains washed
away by a death-bed repentance, is better than a life of consistent and
virtuous conduct? Why should the fatted calf be killed for the prodigal
son?*** Why should men be taught to make to themselves friends of the
mammon of unrighteousness?

These ambiguities, these assertions of punishment and forgiveness of
crime, instead of directions for its prevention and cure, are serious
detractions from a system alleged to have been inculcated by one for
whom his followers claim divinity.

     * Luke xv, 7.

     ** Luke 7, 47.

     *** Luke xv, 27.

Will you again turn back to the love of Jesus as the redeeming feature
of the whole? Then, I ask you, read the story of the fig-tree* withered
by the hungry Jesus. The fig-tree, if he were all-powerful God, was
made by him, he limited its growth and regulated its development. He
prevented it from bearing figs, expected fruit where he had rendered
fruit impossible, and in his _infinite love_ was angry that the tree had
not upon it that which it could not have. Tell me the love expressed in
that remarkable speech which follows one of his parables, and in which
he says: "For, I say unto you, that unto every one which hath shall
be given, and from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be
taken away from him. But those, mine enemies, which would not that I
should reign over them, bring them hither, and slay them before me."**
What love is expressed by that Jesus who, if he were God, represents
himself as saying to the majority of his unfortunate creatures (for it
is the few who are chosen): 'Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting
fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.'***

     * Matt xxi, 18-22; Mark xi, 12-24.

     ** Luke xix, 26,17.

     *** Matt, xxv, 41.

Far from love is this horrid notion of eternal torment. And yet the
popular preachers of to-day talk first of love and then of

     "Hell, a red gulf of everlasting fire,
     Where poisonous and undying worms prolong
     Eternal misery to those hapless slaves,
     Whose life has been a penance for its crimes."

In reading the sayings attributed to Jesus, all must be struck by the
passage which so extraordinarily influenced the famous Origen.* If he
understood it aright, its teachings are most terrible. If he understood
it wrongly, what are we to say for the wisdom of teaching which
expresses so vaguely the meaning which it rather hides than discovers
by its words? The general intent of Christ's teaching seems to be an
inculcation of neglect of this life, in the search for another. "Labor
not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which en-dureth unto
everlasting life."** "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat,
or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on....
take no thought, saying, what shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or
wherewithal shall we be clothed?.... But seek ye first the Kingdom of
God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto
you." The effect of these texts, if fully carried out, would be most
disastrous; they would stay all scientific discoveries, prevent all
development of man's energies. It is in the struggle for existence here
that men are compelled to become acquainted with the conditions which
compel happiness or misery. It is only by the practical application of
that knowledge, that the wants of society are understood and satisfied,
and disease, poverty, hunger, and wretchedness, prevented. Jesus
substitutes "I believe," for "I think," and puts "watch and pray,"
instead of "think and act." Belief is made the most prominent feature,
and is, indeed, the doctrine which pervades, permeates, and governs all
Christianity. It is represented that, at the judgment, the world will
be reproved "Of sin because they believe not." This teaching is most
disastrous; man should be incited to active thought: belief is a cord
which would bind him to the teachings of an uneducated past.

     * Matt. xix, 12.

     ** Matt, xxiv, 41.

Thought, mighty thought, mighty in making men most manly, will
burst this now rotting cord, and then--shaking off the cobwebbed and
dust-covered traditions of dark old times, humanity shall stand crowned
with a most glorious diadem of facts, which, like gems worn on a bright
summer's day, shall grow more resplendent as they reflect back the rays
of truth's meridian sun. Fit companion to blind belief in slave-like
prayer. Men pray as though God needed most abject entreaty ere he
would grant them justice. What does Jesus teach on this? What is his
direction on prayer? "After this manner pray ye: Our Father, which art
in heaven." Do you think that God is the Father of all, when you pray
that he will enable you to defeat some other of his children, with whom
your nation is at war? And why "which art in Heaven?" Where is Heaven?
you look upward, and if you were at the antipodes, would look upward
still. But that upward would be downward to us. Do you know where Heaven
is, if not, why say "which art in Heaven?" Is God infinite, then he is
in earth also, why limit him to Heaven? "Hallowed be thy name." What is
God's name? and if you know it not, how can you hallow it? How can God's
name be hallowed even if you know it? "Thy kingdom come." What is God's
kingdom, and will your praying bring it quicker? Is it the Judgment day,
and do you say "Love one another," pray for the more speedy arrival of
that day on which God may say to your fellow, "depart ye cursed into
everlasting fire?" "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." How
is God's will done in heaven? If the devil be a fallen angel, there must
have been rebellion even there. "Give us this day our daily bread," Will
the prayer get it without work? No. Will work get it without the prayer?
Yes? Why pray then for bread to God, who says, "Blessed be ye that
hunger.... woe unto you that are full?" "And forgive us our debts, as we
forgive our debtors." What debts have you to God? Sins? Samuel Taylor
Coleridge says, "A sin is an evil which has its ground or origin in the
agent, and not in the compulsion of circumstances. Circumstances are
compulsory, from the absence of a power to resist or control them: and
if the absence likewise be the effect of circumstances.... the evil
derives from the circumstances.... and such evil is not sin."* Do you
say that you are independent of all circumstances, that you can control
them, that you have a free will? Mr. Buckle says that the assertion
of a free will "involves two assumptions, of which the first, though
possibly true, has never been proved, and the second is unquestionably
false. These assumptions are that there is an independent faculty,
called consciousness, and that the dictates of that faculty are
infallible."** "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from
evil." Do you think God will possibly lead you into temptation? if so,
you can not think him all-good, if not all-good he is not God, if God,
the prayer is a blasphemy.

     * "Aids to Reflection," 1843, p. 200.

     ** "History of Civilization," vol. i, p. 14.

I close this paper with the last scene in Jesus' life, not meaning that
I have--in these few pages--fully examined his teachings; but hoping
that enough is even here done to provoke inquiry and necessitate debate,
Jesus, according to the general declaration of Christian divines, came
to die, and what does he teach by his death? The Rev. F. D. Maurice it
is, I think, who well says, "That he who kills for a faith must be
weak, that he who dies for a faith must be strong." How did Jesus die?
Giordano Bruno, and Julius Caesar Vanini, were burned for Atheism. They
died calm, heroic defiant of wrong. Jesus, who could not die, courted
death, that he, as God, might accept his own atonement, and might pardon
man for a sin which he had not committed, and in which he had no share.
The death he courted came, and when it came he could not face it, but
prayed to himself that he might not die. And then, when on the cross,
if two of the gospels do him no injustice, his last words--as there
recorded--were a bitter cry of deep despair, "My God, my God, why hast
thou forsaken me?" The Rev. Enoch Mellor, in his work on the Atonement,
says, "I seek not to fathom the profound mystery of these words. To
understand their full import would require one to experience the agony
of desertion they express." Do the words, "My God, my God, why hast
thou forsaken me?" express an "agony" caused by a consciousness of
"desertion?" Doubtless they do; in fact, if this be not the meaning
conveyed by the despairing death-cry, then there is in it no meaning
whatever. And if those words do express a "bitter agony of desertion,"
then they emphatically contradict the teachings of Jesus. "Before
Abraham was, I am." "I and my father are one." "Thou shalt not tempt the
Lord thy God." These were the words of Jesus, words conveying (together
with many other such texts) to the reader an impression that divinity
was claimed by the man who uttered them. If Jesus had indeed been God,
the words "My God, my God," would have been a mockery most extreme. God
could not have deemed himself forsaken by himself. The dying Jesus, in
that cry, confessed himself either the dupe of some other teaching, a
self-deluded enthusiast, or an arch-imposter, who, in the bitter cry,
with the wide-opening of the flood-gates through which life's stream ran
out, confessed aloud that he, at least, was no deity, and deemed himself
a God-forsaken man. The garden scene of agony is fitting prelude to this
most terrible act. Jesus, who is God, prays to himself, in "agony he
prayed most earnestly."* He refuses to hear his own prayers, and he,
the omnipotent, is forearmed against his coming trial by an angel from
heaven, who "strengthened" the great Creator. Was Jesus the son of God?
Praying, he said, "Father, the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that
thy Son also may glorify thee."** And was he glorified? His death
and resurrection most strongly disbelieved in the very city where they
happened, if, indeed, they ever happened at all. His doctrines rejected
by the only people to whom he preached them. His miracles denied by
the only nation where they are alleged to have been performed; and he
himself thus on the cross, crying out, "My God, my God, why hast thou
forsaken me?" Surely no further comment is needed on this head, to
point more distinctly to the most monstrous mockery the text reveals.

     * Luke, xxii, 44.

     ** John, xvii, 2.

To those who urge that the course I take is too bold, or that the
problems I deal with are two deep or sacred, I will reply in Herschel's
version of Schiller,

     Wouldst thou reach perfection's goal,
     Stay not! rest not!
     Forward strain,
     Hold not hand, and draw not rein.

     Perseverance strikes the mark,
     Expansion clears whatever is dark,
     Truth in the abyss doth dwell,
     My say is said--now fare the well.


All, good Christians, indeed all Christians--for are there any who are
not models of goodness?--will desire that their fellow-creatures
who are unbelievers should have the fullest possible information,
biographical or otherwise, as to the twelve persons specially chosen by
Jesus to be his immediate followers. It is not for the instruction of
the believer that I pen this brief essay; he would be equally content
with his faith in the absence of all historic vouchers. Indeed a pious
worshiper would cling to his creed not only without testimony in its
favor, but despite direct testimony against it. It is to those not
within the pale of the church that I shall seek to demonstrate
the credibility of the history of the twelve apostles. The short
biographical sketch here presented is extracted from the first five
books of the New Testament, two of which at least are attributed to two
of the twelve. It is objected by heretical men who go as far in their
criticisms on the Gospels as Colenso does with the Pentateuch, that not
one of the gospels is original or written by any of the apostles; that,
on the contrary, they were preceded by numerous writings, since lost or
rejected, these in their turn having for their basis the oral tradition
which preceded them. It is alleged that the four gospels are utterly
anonymous, and that the fourth gospel is subject to strong suspicions
of spuriousness. It would be useless to combat, and I therefore boldly
ignore these attacks on the authenticity of the text, and proceed with
my history. The names of the twelve are as follows: Simon, surnamed
Peter; Andrew, his brother; James and John, the sons of Zebedee; Andrew;
Philip; Bartholomew; Matthew; James, the son of Alphaeus; Simon, the
Canaanite; Judas Iscariot; and a twelfth, as to whose name there is
some uncertainty; it was either Lebbaeus, Thaddaeus, or Judas. It is
in Matthew alone (x, 3) that the name of Lebbaeus is mentioned thus:
"Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus." We are told, on this point, by
able biblicists, that the early MSS. have not the words "whose surname
was Thaddaeus," and that these words have probably been inserted to
reconcile the gospel according to Matthew with that attributed to Mark.
How good must have been the old fathers who sought to improve upon the
Holy Ghost by making clear that which inspiration had left doubtful! In
the English version of the Rheims Testament used in this country by our
Roman Catholic brethren, the reconciliation between Matthew and Mark is
completed by omitting the words "Lebbaeus whose surname was," leaving
only the name "Thaddaeus" in Matthew's text. This omission must be
correct, being by the authority of an infallible church. If Matthew x,
3, and Mark iii, 18, be passed as reconciled, although the first
calls the twelfth disciple Lebbaeus, and the second gives him the name
Thaddaeus, there is yet the difficulty that in Luke vi, 16, corroborated
by John xiv, 22, there is a disciple spoken of as "Judas, not Iscariot."
"Judas, the brother of James." Commentators have endeavored to clear
away this last difficulty by declaring that Thaddaeus is a Syriac word,
having much the same meaning as Judas. This has been answered by the
objection that if Matthew's Gospel uses Thaddæus in lieu of Judas, then
he ought to speak of Thaddaeus Iscariot, which he does not; and it is
further objected also that while there are some grounds for suggesting
a Hebrew original for the gospel attributed to Matthew, there is not the
slightest pretense for alleging that Matthew wrote in Syriac. It is to
be hoped that the unbelieving reader will not stumble on the threshold
of his study because of a little uncertainty as to a name. What is in a
name? The Jewish name which we read as Jesus is really Joshua, but the
name to which we are most accustomed seems the one we should adhere to.

Simon Peter being the first named among the disciples of Jesus, deserves
the first place in this notice. The word "Simon" may be rendered, if
taken as a Greek name, _flatnose_ or _ugly_. Some of the ancient Greek
and Hebrew names are characteristic of peculiarities in the individual,
but no one knows whether Peter's nose had anything to do with his name.
Simon is rather a Hebrew name, but Peter is Greek, signifying a _rock_
or _stone_. Peter is supposed to have the keys of the kingdom of heaven,
and his second name may express his stony insensibility to all appeals
by infidels for admittance to the celestial regions. Lord Byron's
"Vision of Judgment" is the highest known authority as to Saint Peter's
celestial duties, but this nobleman's poems are only fit for very pious
readers. Peter, ere he became a parson, was by trade a fisher, and
when Jesus first saw Peter, the latter was in a vessel fishing with his
brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea of Galilee, Jesus walking by
the sea said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of
men."* The two brothers did so, and they became Christ's disciples. The
successors of Peter have since reversed the apostles' early
practice: instead of now casting their nets into the sea, the modern
representatives of the disciples of Jesus draw the sees into their nets,
and, it is believed, find the result much more profitable. When Jesus
called Peter no one was with him but his brother Andrew; a little
further on, the two sons of Zebedee were in a ship with their father
mending nets. This is the account of Peter's call given in the gospel
according to Matthew, and as Matthew was inspired by the Holy Ghost, who
is identical with God the Father, who is one with God the Son, who is
Jesus, the account is doubtless free from error. In the Gospel according
to John, which is likewise inspired in the same manner, from the
same source, and with similar infallibility, we learn that Andrew was
originally a disciple of John the Baptist, and that when Andrew first
saw Jesus, Peter was not present, but Andrew went and found Peter who,
if fishing, must have been angling on land, telling him "we have found
the Messiah," and that Andrew then brought Peter to Jesus, who said,
"Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas." There
is no mention in this gospel narrative of the sons of Zebedee being a
little further on, or of any fishing in the sea of Galilee. This call is
clearly on land, whether or not near the sea of Galilee does not appear.
In the Gospel according to Luke, which is as much inspired as either of
the two before-mentioned gospels, and, therefore equally authentic with
each of them, we are told** that when the call took place, Jesus and
Peter were both at sea. Jesus had been preaching to the people, who,
pressing upon him, he got into Simon's ship, from which he preached.

     * Matthew iv, 18-22.

     ** Luke v,1-11.

After this he directed Simon to put out into the deep and let down
the nets. Simon answered, "Master, we have toiled all night and taken
nothing; nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net." No sooner
was this done than the net was filled to breaking, and Simon's partners,
the two sons of Zebedee, came to help, when, at the call of Jesus, they
brought their ships to land, and followed him. From these accounts the
unbeliever may learn that when Jesus called Peter, either both Jesus and
Peter were on the land, or one was on land and the other on sea, or both
of them were at sea. He may also learn that the sons of Zebedee were
present at the time, having come to help to get in the great catch, and
were called with Peter; or that they were further on, sitting mending
nets with their father, and were called afterward; or that they were
neither present nor near at hand. He may also be assured that Simon was
in his ship when Jesus came to call him, and that Jesus was on land
when Andrew, Simon's brother, found Simon and brought him to Jesus to
be called. The unbeliever must not hesitate because of any apparent
incoherence or contradiction in the narrative. With faith it is easy to
harmonize the three narratives above quoted, especially when you know
that Jesus had visited Simon's house before the call of Simon,* but did
not go to Simon's house until after Simon had been called.** Jesus
went to Simon's house and cured his wife's mother of a fever. Robert
Taylor,*** commenting on the fever-curing miracle, says: "St. Luke tells
us that this fever had taken the woman, not that the woman had taken the
fever, and not that the fever was a very bad fever, or a yellow fever,
or a scarlet fever, but that it was a great fever--that is, I suppose,
a fever six feet high at least; a personal fever, a rational and
intelligent fever, that would yield to the power of Jesus' argument, but
would never have given way to James' powder. So we are expressly told
that Jesus rebuked the fever--that is, he gave it a good scolding; asked
it, I dare say, how it could be so unreasonable as to plague the poor
old woman so cruelly, and whether it wasn't ashamed of itself; and
said, perhaps, _Get out you naughty, wicked fever, you_; and such like
objurgatory language, which the fever, not used to being rebuked in such
a manner, and being a very sensible sort of fever, would not stand, but
immediately left the old woman in high dudgeon." This Robert Taylor,
although a clergyman of the Church of England, has been convicted of
blasphemy and imprisoned for writing in such wicked language about the
bible. Simon Peter, as a disciple, performed many miracles, some when in
company with Jesus, and more when separately by himself. These miracles,
though themselves un-vouched by any reliable testimony, and disbelieved
by the people among whom they worked, are strong evidence in favor of
the apostolic character claimed for Peter.

          * Luke iv, 88.

          ** Matthew viii, 14.

          *** Devil's Pulpit, vol. i., p. 148.

On one occasion the whole of the disciples were sent away by Jesus in a
ship, the Savior remaining behind to pray. About the fourth watch of the
night, when the ship was in the midst of the sea, Jesus went unto his
disciples, walking on the sea. Though Jesus went unto his disciples, and
as an expeditious way, I suppose, of arriving with them, he would have
passed by them, but they saw him, and supposing him to be a spirit,
cried out. Jesus bid them be of good cheer, to which Peter answered,
"Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee."* Jesus said, "Come," and
Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus. But the sea being wet and
the wind boisterous, Peter became afraid, and instead of walking on
the water began to sink into it, and cried out "Lord save me," and
immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter.

Some object that the two gospels according to John and Mark, which both
record the feat of water-walking by Jesus, omit all mention of Peter's
attempt. Probably the Holy Ghost had good reasons for omitting it.
A profane mind might make a jest of an Apostle "half seas over," and
ridicule an apostolic gatekeeper who could not keep his head above

Peter's partial failure in this instance should drive away all unbelief,
as the text will show that it was only for lack of faith that Peter lost
his buoyancy. Simon is called Bar-Jonah, that is, son of Jonah; but I
am not aware if he is any relation to the Jonah who lived under water in
the belly of a fish three days and three nights.

It was Simon Peter who, having told Jesus he was the Son of God, was
answered, "Blessed art thou Simon Bar-Jonah, flesh and blood hath not
revealed it unto thee."** We find a number of disciples shortly before
this, and in Peter's presence, telling Jesus that he was the Son of
God,*** but there is no real contradiction between the two texts. It
was on this occasion that Jesus said to Simon, "Thou art Peter, and
upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not
prevail against it, and I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of
Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in
Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in

     * Matt, xiv, 23; Mark vi, 45.

     ** Matt. xvi, 17.

     *** Matt, xiv, 33.

Under these extraordinary declarations from the mouth of God the Son,
the Bishops of Rome have claimed, as successors of Peter, the same
privileges, and their pretensions have been, acceded to by some of the
most powerful monarchs of Europe.

Under this claim the Bishops, or Popes of Rome, have at various times
issued Papal Bulls, by which they have sought to bind the entire world.
Many of these have been very successful, but in 1302, Philip the Fair,
of France, publicly burned the Pope Boniface's Bull after an address in
which the States-General had denounced, in words more expressive than
polite, the right of the Popes of Rome to Saint Peter's keys on earth.
Some deny that the occupiers of the episcopal seat in the seven-hilled
city are really of the Church of Christ, and they point to the bloody
quarrels which have raged between men contending for the Papal dignity.
They declare that those Vicars of Christ have more than once resorted to
fraud, treachery, and murder, to secure the Papal dignity. They point to
Stephen VII, the son of an unmarried priest, who cut off the head of his
predecessor's corpse; to Sergius III, convicted of assassination; to
John X, who was strangled in the bed of his paramour Theodora; to John
XI, son of Pope Sergius III, famous only for his drunken debauchery;
to John XII, found assassinated in the apartments of his mistress; to
Benedict IX, who both purchased and sold the Pontificate; to Gregory VII,
_pseudo_ lover of the Countess Matilda, and the author of centuries of
war carried on by his successors. And if these suffice not, they point
to Alexander Borgia, whose name is but the echo of crime, and whose
infamy will be as lasting as history.

It is answered, "by the fruit ye shall judge of the tree." It is useless
to deny the vine's existence because the grapes are sour. Peter,
the favored disciple, it is declared was a rascal, and why not his
successors? They have only to repent, and there is more joy in heaven
over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine righteous
men. Such language is very terrible, and arises from allowing the carnal
reason too much freedom.

All true believers will be familiar with the story of Peter's sudden
readiness to deny his Lord and teacher in the hour of danger, and will
easily draw the right moral from the mysterious lesson here taught, but
unbelievers may be a little puzzled by the common infidel objections on
this point. These objections, therefore, shall be first stated, and
then refuted in the most orthodox fashion. It is objected that all the
denials were to take place before the cock should crow,* but that only
one denial actually took place before the cock crew.** That the first
denial by Peter that he knew Jesus, or was one of his disciples, was at
the door to the damsel,*** but was inside while sitting by the fire,****
that the second denial was to a man, and apparently still sitting by the
fire,***** but was to a maid when he was gone out into the porch.
That these denials, or, at any rate, the last denial, were all in the
presence of Jesus,****** who turned and looked at Peter, but that the
first denial was at the door, Jesus being inside the palace, the second
denial out in the porch, Jesus being still inside,******* and the third
denial also outside.

     * Matt. xxvi, 34.

     ** Luke xxii, 34.

     *** John xiii, 38.

     **** Mark xiv, 68.

     ***** John xviii, 17.

     ****** Luke xxii, 57., Luke xxii, 58., Luke xxii, 61.

     ******* Mark xiv, 69.

The refutation of these paltry objections is simple, but as none but an
infidel would need to hear it, we refrain from penning it. None but a
disciple of Paine, or follower of Voltaire, would permit himself to be
drawn to the risk of damnation on the mere question of when some cock
happened to crow, or the particular spot on which a recreant apostle
denied his master.

Two of the twelve apostles, whose names are not, given, saw Jesus after
he was dead, on the road to Emmaus, but they did not know him; toward
evening they knew him, and he vanished out of their sight. In broad
daylight they did not know him; at evening time they knew him. While
they did not know him they could see him; when they did know him they
could not see him. Well may true believers declare that the ways of the
Lord are wonderful. One of the apostles, Thomas called Didymus, set the
world an example of unbelief. He disbelieved the other disciples when
they said to him "we have seen the Lord," and required to see Jesus,
though dead, alive in the flesh, and touch the body of his crucified
master. Thomas the apostle had his requirements complied with--he saw,
he touched, and he believed. The great merit is to believe without any
evidence-- "He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved, he that
believeth not shall be damned." How it was that Thomas the Apostle did
not know Jesus when he saw him shortly after near the sea of Tiberias,
is another of the mysteries of the Holy Christian religion. The acts of
the apostles after the death of Jesus deserve treatment in a separate
paper; the present essay is issued in the meantime to aid the Bishop of
London in his labors to stem the rising tide of infidelity.


     "Quel est donc ce Dieu qui fait mourir Dieu pour apaiser

Adam's sin is the corner-stone of Christianity; the keystone of the
arch. Without the fall there is no redeemer, for there is no fallen one
to be redeemed. It is, then, to the history of Adam that the examinant
of the atonement theory should first direct his attention. To try
the doctrine of the atonement by the aid of science would be fatal to
Christianity. As for the man, Adam, 6,000 years ago the first of the
human race, his existence is not only unvouched for by science, but is
actually questioned by the timid, and challenged by the bolder exponents
of modern ethnology. The human race is traced back far beyond the period
fixed for Adam's sin. Egypt and India speak for humanity busy with wars,
cities and monuments, prior to the date given for the garden scene in
Eden. The fall of Adam could not have brought sin upon mankind, and
death by sin, if hosts of men and women had lived and died ages before
the words "thou shalt surely die" were spoken by God to man. Nor could
all men inherit Adam's misfortune, if it be true that it is not to one
center, but to many centers of origin that we ought to trace back the
various races of mankind. The theologian who finds no evidence of death
prior to the offense shared by Adam and Eve is laughed to scorn by the
geologist who point to the innumerable petrifactions on the earth's
bosom, which with a million tongues declare more potently than
loudest speech thai organic life in myriads of myriads was destroyed
incalculable ages before man's era on our world.

Science, however, has so little to offer in support of any religious
doctrine, and so much to advance against all purely theologic tenets,
that we turn to a point giving the Christian greater vantage ground;
and, accepting for the moment his premises, we deny that he can maintain
the possibility of Adam's sin, and yet consistently affirm the existence
of an All-wise, All-powerful, and All-good God. Did Adam sin? We will
take the Christian's bible in our hands to answer the question, first
defining the word sin. What is sin? Samuel Taylor Coleridge says, "A
sin is an evil which has its ground or origin in the agent, and not in
the compulsion of circumstances...." An act to be sin must be original,
and a state or act that has not its origin in the will may be calamity,
deformity, or disease, but sin it can not be. It is not enough that
the act appears voluntary, or that it has the most hateful passions or
debasing appetite for its proximate cause and accompaniment. All these
may be found in a madhouse, where neither law nor humanity permit us to
condemn the actor of sin. The reason of law declared the maniac not a
free agent, and the verdict follows, of course _Not guilty?_ Did Adam

The bible story is that a Deity created one man and one woman; that he
placed them in a garden wherein he had also placed a tree which was good
for food, pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one
wise. That although he had expressly given the fruit of every tree
bearing seed for food, he, nevertheless, commanded them not to eat of
the fruit of this attractive tree, under penalty of death. Supposing
Adam to have at once disobeyed this injunction, would it have been sin?
The fact that God had made the tree good for food, pleasant to the
eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, would have surely been
sufficient circumstance of justification on the God-created inducement
to partake of its fruit. The inhibition lost its value as against the
enticement. If the All-wise had intended the tree to be avoided, would
he have made its allurements so overpowering to the senses? But the
case does not rest here. In addition to all the attractions of the tree,
and as though there were not enough, there is a subtle serpent, gifted
with suasive speech, who, either wiser or more truthful than the
All-perfect Deity, says that although God has threatened immediate death
as the consequence of disobedience to his command, yet they "shall not
die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof your eyes shall be
opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." The tempter is
stronger than the tempted, the witchery of the serpent is too great for
the spellbound woman, the decoy tree is too potent in its temptations;
overpersuaded herself by the honey-tongued voice of the seducer,
she plucks the fruit and gives to her husband also. And for this their
offspring are to suffer! The yet unborn children are to be the victims
of God's vengeance on their parents' weakness--though he had made them
weak; though, indeed, he had created the tempter sufficiently strong to
practice upon this weakness, and had arranged the causes predisposing
man and woman to commit the offense--if, indeed, it be an offense to
pluck the fruit of a tree which gives knowledge to the eater. It is for
this fall that Jesus is to atone. He is sacrificed to redeem the world's
inhabitants from the penalties for a weakness (for sin it was not)
they had no share in. It was not sin, for the man was influenced by
circumstances pre-arranged by Deity, and which man was powerless to
resist or control. But if man was so influenced by such circumstances,
then it was God who influenced man--God who punished the human race for
an action to the commission of which he impelled their progenitor.

Adam did not sin. He ate of the fruit of a tree which God had made good
to be eaten. He was induced to this through the indirect persuasion of
a serpent God had made purposely to persuade him. But even if Adam did
sin, and even he and Eve, his wife, were the first parents of the whole
human family, what have we to do with their sin? We, unborn when the
act was committed and without choice as to coming into the world. Does
Jesus atone for Adam's sin? Adam suffered for his own offense; he,
according to the curse, was to eat in sorrow of the fruit of the earth
all his life as punishment for his offense. Atonement, after punishment,
is surely a superfluity. Did the sacrifice of Jesus serve as atonement
for the whole world, and, if yes, for all sin, or for Adam's sin only?
If the atonement is for the whole world, does it extend to unbelievers
as well as to believers in the efficacy? If it only includes believers,
then what has become of those generations who, according to the bible,
for 4,000 years succeeded each other in the world without faith in
Christ because without knowledge of his mission? Should not Jesus have
come 4,000 years earlier, or, at least, should he not have come when the
ark on Ararat served as monument of God's merciless vengeance, which had
made the whole earth a battle-field, whereon the omnipotent had crushed
the feeble, and had marked his prowess by the innumerable myriads of
decayed dead? If it be declared that, though the atonement by Jesus
only applies to believers in his mission so far as regards human beings
born since his coming, yet that it is wider in its retrospective effect,
then the answer is that it is unfair to those born after Jesus to make
faith the condition precedent to the saving efficacy of atonement,
especially if belief be required from all mankind posterior to the
Christian era, whether they have heard of Jesus or not. Japanese,
Chinese, savage Indians, Kaffirs, and others, have surely a right to
complain of this atonement scheme, which insures them eternal damnation
by making it requisite to believe in a Gospel of which they have no
knowledge. If it be contended that belief shall only be required from
those to whom the gospel of Jesus has been preached, and who have had
afforded to them the opportunity of its acceptance, then how great a
cause of complaint against Christian missionaries have those peoples
who, without such missions, might have escaped damnation for unbelief.
The gates of hell are opened to them by the earnest propagandist, who
professes to show the road to heaven.

But does this atonement serve only to redeem the human family from the
curse inflicted by Deity in Eden's garden for Adam's sin, or does
it operate as satisfaction for all sin? If the salvation is from the
punishment for Adam's sin alone, and if belief and baptism are, as
Jesus himself affirms, to be the sole conditions precedent to any saving
efficacy in the much-lauded atonement by the Son of God, then what
becomes of a child that only lives a few hours, is never baptized,
and, never having any mind, consequently never has any belief? Or what
becomes of one idiot born who, throughout his dreary life, never has
mental capacity for the acceptance, or examination of, or credence in,
any religious dogmas whatever? Is the idiot saved who can not believe?
Is the infant saved that can not believe? I, with some mental faculties
tolerably developed, can not believe. Must I be damned? If so,
fortunate short-lived babe! lucky idiot! That the atonement should not
be effective until the person to be saved has been baptized is at least
worthy of comment; that the sprinkling a few drops of water should
quench the flames of hell is a remarkable feature in the Christian's

     "One can't but think it somewhat droll
     Pump-water thus should cleanse a soul."

How many fierce quarrels have raged on the formula of baptism among
those loving brothers in Christ who believe he died for them! How
strange an idea that, though God has been crucified to redeem mankind,
it yet needs the font of water to wash away the lingering stain of
Adam's crime.

One minister of the Church of England, occupying the presidential chair
of a well-known training college for church clergymen in the north of
England, seriously declared, in the presence of a large auditory and of
several church dignitaries, that the sin of Adam was so potent in its
effect that if a man _had never been born, he would yet have been damned
for sin!_ That is, he declared that man existed before birth, and
that he committed sin before he was born; and if never born, would,
notwithstanding, deserve to suffer eternal torment for that sin!

It is almost impossible to discuss seriously a doctrine so monstrously
absurd, and yet it is not one whit more ridiculous than the ordinary
orthodox and terrible doctrine that God, the undying, in his infinite
love, killed himself under the form of his son to appease the cruel
vengeance of God, the just and merciful, who, without this, would have
been ever vengeful, unjust and merciless. The atonement theory, as
presented to us by the bible, is in effect as follows: God creates
man, surrounded by such circumstances as the divine mind chose, in the
selection of which man had no voice, and the effects of which on man
were all foreknown and predestined by Deity. The result is man's fall
on the very first temptation, so frail the nature with which he was
endowed, or so powerful the temptation to which he was subjected. For
this fall not only does the All-merciful punish Adam, but also his
posterity; and this punishment went on for many centuries, until God,
the immutable, changed his purpose of continual condemnation of men
for sins they had no share in, and was wearied with his long series of
unjust judgments on those whom he created in order that he might judge
them. That, then, God sent his son, who was himself and was also his
own father, and who was immortal, to die upon the cross, and, by this
sacrifice, to atone for the sin which God himself had caused Adam to
commit, and thus to appease the merciless vengeance of the All-merciful,
which would otherwise have been continued against men yet unborn for an
offense they could not have been concerned in or accessory to. Whether
those who had died before Christ's coming are redeemed the bible does
not clearly tell us. Those born after are redeemed only on condition of
their faith in the efficacy of the sacrifice offered, and in the truth
of the history of Jesus's life. The doctrine of salvation by sacrifice
of human life is the doctrine of a barbarous and superstitous age; the
outgrowth of a brutal and depraved era. The God who accepts the bloody
offering of an innocent victim in lieu of punishing the guilty culprit
shows no mercy in sparing the offender: he has already satiated his lust
for vengeance on the first object presented to him.

Yet sacrifice is an early and prominent, and, with slight exception,
an abiding feature in the Hebrew record--sacrifice of life finds
appreciative acceptance from the Jewish Deity. Cain's offering of fruits
is ineffective but Abel's altar, bearing the firstlings of his flock,
and the fat thereof, finds respect in the sight of the Lord. While the
face of the earth was disfigured by the rotting dead, after God in his
infinite mercy had deluged the world, then it was that the ascending
smoke from Noah's burnt sacrifice of bird and beast produced pleasure in
heaven, and God himself smelled a sweet savor from the roasted meats.
To reach atonement for the past by sacrifice is worse than folly--it
is crime. The past can never be recalled, and the only reference to it
should be that, by marking its events, we may avoid its evil deeds and
improve upon its good ones. For Jesus himself--can man believe in him?
--in his history contained in anonymous pamphlets uncorroborated by
contemporary testimony?--this history, in which, in order to fulfill
a prophecy which does not relate to him, his descent from David is
demonstrated by tracing through two self-contradictory genealogies the
descent of Joseph who was not his father--this history, in which the
infinite God grows, from babyhood and hus cradle through childhood to
manhood, as though he were not God at all--this history, full of absurd
wonders, devils, magicians, and evil spirits, rather fit for an Arabian
Night's legend than the word of God to his people--this history,
with its miraculous raisings of the dead to life, disbelieved and
contradicted by the people among whom they are alleged to have been
performed; but, nevertheless, to be accepted by us to-day with all
humility--this history, with the Man-God subject to human passions and
infirmities, who comes to die, and who prays to his heavenly father
(that is, to himself) that he will spare him the bitter cup of
death--who is betrayed, having himself, ere he laid the foundations
of the world, predestined Judas to betray him, and who dies, being God
immortal crying with his almost dying breath, "My God! my God! why hast
thou forsaken me?"


This question, Were Adam and Eve our first parents? is indeed one of
most grave importance. If the answer be a negative one, it is, in fact,
a denial of the whole scheme of Christianity. The Christian theory is
that Adam, the common father of the whole human race, sinned, and that
by his sin he dragged down all his posterity to a state from which
redemption was needed; and that Jesus is, and was, the Redeemer, by
whom all mankind are and were saved from the consequences of the fall
of Adam. If Adam, therefore, be proved not to be the first man--if it be
shown that it is not to Adam the various races of mankind are indebted
for their origin, then the whole hypothesis of fall and redemption is

In a pamphlet like the present it is impossible to give any statement
and analysis of the various hypotheses as to the origin of the human
race. I frankly admit that my only wish and intent is, to compel people
to examine the bible record for themselves, instead of making it their
fetich, bowing down before it without thought. I am inclined to the
opinion that the doctrine of a plurality of sources for the various
types of the human race is a correct one; that wherever the conditions
for life have been found, there also has been the degree of life
resultant on those conditions. My purpose in this essay is not to
demonstrate the correctness of my own thinking, but rather to illustrate
the incorrectness of the Geneiacal teaching. Were Adam and Eve our
first parents? On the one hand an answer in the affirmative to this
question can be obtained from the bible, which asserts Adam and Eve
to be the first man and woman made by God, and fixes the date of their
making about 6,000 years, little more or less, from the present time. On
the other hand, it seems to me that science emphatically declares man to
have existed on the earth for a far more extended period; affirms that,
as far as we can trace man, we find him in isolated groups, diverse in
type, till we lose him in the ante-historic period; and, with nearly
equal distinctness, denies that the various existing races find their
common parentage in one pair. It is only on the first point that
I attack the bible chronology of man's existence. I am aware that
compilations based upon the authorized version of the Old Testament
Scriptures are open to objection, and that while from the Hebrew
1,656 years represent the period from Adam to the Deluge generally
acknowledged, the Samaritan Pentateuch only yields for the same period
1,307 years, while the Septuagint version furnishes 2,242 years; there
is, I am also informed, on the authority of a most erudite Egyptologist,
a fatal objection to the Septuagint chronology--_i. e._, that it makes
Methusaleh outlive the flood.*

The deluge occurred, according to the Septuagint, in the year of
the world 2,242, and, by adding up the generations previous to









     * Sharpe's History of Egypt, page 196.

--we shall find that he was born in the year of the world 1,287. He
lived 969 years, and therefore died in 2,256. But this is fourteen years
after the deluge.

The Rev. Dr. Lightfoot, who wrote about 1,644, fixes the month of the
creation at September, 5,572 years preceding the date of his book,
and says that Adam was expelled from Eden on the day in which he was
created.* In the London _Ethnological Journal_, for which I am indebted
to the kindness of its Editor, an able ethnologist and careful thinker,
the reader will find a chronology of Genesis ably and elaborately
examined. At present, for our immediate purpose, we will take the
ordinary. English bible, which gives the following result:

   From Adam to Abraham (Gen. v and xi).............    2008

   From Abraham to Isaac (Gen. xxi, 5)...............    100

   From Isaac to Jacob (Gen. xxv, 26)..................   60

   From Jacob going into Egypt (Gen. xlvii, 9).........  130

   Sojourn in Egypt (Exod. xii, 41)..................... 480

   Duration of Moses* leadership (Exod. vii, 7; xxxi, 2). 40

   Thence to David, about.............................   400

   From David to Captivity, fourteen generations (27),
        about twenty-two reigns..........................478

   Captivity to Jesus, fourteen generations, about...... 593

   4234 Less disputed 230 years of sojourn in Egypt......230

4004 From Adam to Abraham the dates are certain, if we take the bible
statement, and there is certainly no portion of the orthodox text,
except the period of the Judges, which will admit any considerable
extension of the ordinary Oxford chronology.

     * Harmony of the Four Evangelists, and Harmony of the Old

The book of Judges is not a book of history. Everything in it is
recounted without chronological order. It will suffice to say, that the
ciphers which we find in the book of Judges, and in the first book of
Samuel, yield us, from the death of Joshua to the commencement of the
reign of Saul, the sum total of 500 years, which would make, since the
exode from Egypt, 565 years; whereas the first book of Kings counts but
480 years, from the going out of Egypt down to the foundation of the
temple under Solomon. According to this we must suppose that several of
the Judges governed simultaneously.*

     * Munk's Palestine, p. 231.

In reading Alfred Maury's profound essay on the classification of
tongues, I was much struck with the fact that he, in his philological
researches, traces back some of the ancient Greek mythologies to
a Sanscrit source. He has the following remark, worthy of earnest
attention: "The God of Heaven, or the sky, is called by the Greeks _Zeus
Pater_; and let us here notice that the pronunciation of Z resembles
very much that of D, inasmuch as the word Zeus becomes in the genitive
_Dios_. The Latins termed the same God _Dies-piter_, or Jupiter Now in
the Veda the God of Heaven is called Dyash-pitai." What is this but the
original of our own Christian God, the father, the [------] (_Jeue_)
pater of the Old Testament? I introduce this remark for the purpose
of shaking a very commonly entertained opinion that the Hebrew Records,
whether or not God-inspired, are at any rate the most antique, and are
written in a primitive tongue. Neither is it true that Hebrew mythology
is the most ancient, nor the Hebrew language the most primitive; on
the contrary, the mythology is clearly derived, and the language in a
secondary or tertiary state.

What is the value of this book of Genesis, which is the sole authority
for the hypothesis that Adam and Eve, about 5,865 years ago, were
the sole founders of the peoples now living on the face of the earth?
Written we know not by whom, we know not when, and we know not in what
language. If we respect the book, it must be from its internal
merits; its author is to us unknown. Eusebius, Chrysostom, and Clemens
Alexandrinus alike agree that the name of Moses should not stand at
the head of Genesis as the author of the book. As to its internal merit
Origen did not hesitate to declare the contents of the first and second
chapters of Genesis to be purely figurative. Our translation of it has
been severely criticised by the learned and pious Bellamy, and by
the more learned and less pious Sir William Drummond. Errors almost
innumerable have been pointed out, the correctness of the Hebrew
text itself questioned, and yet this book is an unerring guide to the
students of ethnology. They may do anything, everything, except stray
out of the beaten track. We have, therefore, on the one hand, an
anonymous book, which indeed does not take you back so much as 6,000
years, for at least 1,600 years must be deducted for the Noachian
deluge, when the world's inhabitants were again reduced to one family,
one race, one type. On the other hand, we have now existing Eskimo men,
of the Arctic realm; Chinamen, of the Asiatic realm; Englishmen, of the
European realm; Sahara negroes, of the African realm; Fuegians, of
the American realm; New Zealanders, of the Polynesian realm; the Malay,
representative of the realm which bears his name; the Tasmanian, of the
Australian realm, with other families of each realm too numerous
for mention here; dark and fair, black-skinned and white-skinned,
woolly-haired and straight-haired; low forehead, high forehead;
Hottentot limb, Negro limb, Caucasian limb. Do all these different and
differing structures and colors trace their origin to one pair? To Adam
and Eve, or rather to Noah and his family? Or are they (the various
races) indigenous to their nature, soils, and climates? And are these
various types naturally resultant, with all their differences, from the
differing conditions for life persistent to and consistent with them?

The question, then, really is this: Have the different races of men all
found their common parent in Noah, about 4,300 years ago? Assuming the
unity of the races or species of men now existing, there are but three
suppositions on which the diversity now seen can be accounted for:

"1. A miracle, or direct act of the Almighty, in changing one type into

"2. The gradual action of physical causes, such as climate, food, mode
of life, etc.

"3. Congenital or accidental varieties."*

We may fairly dismiss entirely from our minds the question of miracle.
Such a miracle is nowhere recorded in the bible, and it lies upon any
one hardy enough to assert that the present diversity has a miraculous
origin to show some kind of reasons for his faith, some kind of evidence
for our conviction, and until this is done we have no reason to dwell on
the first hypothesis.

Of the permanence of type under its own climatic conditions--that is, in
the country to which it is indigenous--we have overwhelming proof in
the statue of an ancient Egyptian scribe, taken from a tomb of the fifth
dynasty, 5,000 years old, and precisely corresponding to the Fellah of
the present day.**

     * "Types of Mankind," Dr. Nott, p. 57.

     ** M. Pulzsky on Iconography--"Indigenous Races," p. 111.

The sand had preserved the color of the statuette, which, from its
portrait-like beauty, marks a long era of art-progress preceding its
production. It antedates the orthodox era of the flood, carries us back
to a time when, if the bible were true, Adam was yet alive, and still we
find before it kings reigning and ruling in mighty Egypt. Can the reader
wonder that these facts are held to impeach the orthodox faith?

On the second point Dr. Nott writes: "It is a commonly received error
that the influence of a hot climate is gradually exerted on successive
generations, until one species of mankind is completely changed into
another.... This idea is proven to be false.... A sunburnt cheek is
never handed down to succeeding generations. The exposed parts of the
body are alone tanned by the sun, and the children of the white-skinned
Europeans in New Orleans, Mobile, and the West Indies are born as fair
as their ancestors, and would remain so if carried back to a colder

Pure negroes and negresses, transported from Central Africa to England,
and marrying among themselves, would never acquire the characteristics
of the Caucasian races; nor would pure Englishmen and Englishwomen,
emigrating to Central Africa, and in like manner intermarrying, ever
become negroes or negresses. The fact is, that while you don't bleach
the color of the dark-skinned African by placing him in London, you
bleach the life out of him; and _vice versa_ with the Englishman.**

     * "Types of Mankind," p. 58.

     ** "Indigenous Races of the Earth," p. 458. The alleged
     discovery of white-skinned negroes in Western Africa does
     not affect this question: it is not only to the color of the
     skin, but also the general negro characteristics that the
     above remarks apply.

For a long time there has been ascribed to man the faculty of adapting
himself to every climate. The following facts will show the ascription a
most erroneous one: "In Egypt the austral negroes are, and the Caucasian
Memlooks were, unable to raise up even a third generation; in
Corsica French families vanish beneath Italian summers. Where are the
descendants of the Romans, the Vandals, or the Greeks in Africa? In
Modern Arabia, 1830 years after Mahomed Ali had got clear of the Morea
war, 18,000 Arnaots (Albanians) were soon reduced to some 400 men.
At Gibraltar, in 1817, a negro regiment was almost annihilated by
consumption. In 1841, during the three weeks on the Niger, 130 Europeans
out of 145 caught African fever, and 40 died; out of 158 negro sailors
only eleven were affected, and not one died. In 1809 the British
Expedition to Walchereen failed in the Netherlands through marsh fever.
About the same time, in St. Domingo, about 15,000 French soldiers died
from malaria. Of 30,000 Frenchmen, only 8,000 survived exposure to that
Antillian island; while the Dominicanized African negro, Tous-saint
L'Overture, retransported to Europe, was perishing from the chill of his
prison in France."

On the third point we again quote Dr. Nott: "The only argument left,
then, is that of congenital varieties or peculiarities, which are said
to spring up and be transmitted from parent to child, so as to form new
races. Let us pause for a moment to illustrate this fanciful idea. The
negroes of Africa, for example, are admitted not to be offsets from some
other race which have been gradually blackened and changed in a moral
and physical type by the action of climate, but it is asserted that
'once, in the flight of ages,' some genuine little negro, or rather many
such, were born of Caucasian, Mongol, or other light-skinned parents,
and then have turned about and changed the type of the inhabitants of a
whole continent. So, in America, the countless aborigines found on this
continent, which we have reason to believe were building mounds before
the time of Abraham, are the offspring of a race changed by accidental
or congenital varieties. Thus, too, old China, India, Australia, Oceana,
etc., all owe their types, physical and mental, to congenital and
accidental varieties, and are descended from Adam and Eve! Can human
credulity go further, or human ingenuity invent any argument more

But even supposing these objections to the second and third suppositions
set aside, there are two other propositions which, if affirmed, as I
believe they may be, entirely overthrow the orthodox assertion "that
Adam and Eve, six thousand years ago, were the first pair; and that all
diversities now existing must find their common source in Noah--less
than four thousand three hundred years from the present time." These two
are as follows.

1. That man may be traced back on the earth long prior to the alleged
Adamic era.

2. That there are diversities traceable as existing among the human race
four thousand five hundred years ago as marked as in the present day.

To illustrate the position that man may be traced back to a period long
prior to the Adamic era, we refer our readers to the chronology of the
late Baron Bunsen, who, while allowing about 22,000 years for man's
existence on earth, fixes the following dates, after a patient
examination of the Nilotic antiquities:

     Egyptians under a republican form..............   10,000 B. C.

     Ascension of Bytis, the Theban, first Priest King. 9,085

     Elective Kings in Egypt.........................   7,280

     Hereditary Kings in Upper and Lower Egypt (a
     double empire) form.........................       5,143*

     * Nott and Gliddon, "Indigenous Races," page 687.

The assertion of such an antiquity for Egypt is no modern hypothesis.
Plato puts language into the mouth of an Egyptian first claiming in that
day an antecedent 10,000 years for painting and sculpture in Egypt. This
has long been regarded as fabulous because it was contrary to the Hebrew

If this be the result of the researches into Egyptian archæology, the
reader will scarcely be surprised to find me endeavoring from other
sources to get corroborative evidence of a still more astonishing

There are few who now pretend that the whole _creation (?)_ took place
6,000 years ago, although if it be true that God made all in six days,
and man on the sixth, then the universe would only be more ancient than
Adam by some five days. To state the age of the earth at 6,000 years
is simply preposterous, when we ascertain that it would require about
4,000,000 of years for the formation of the fossiliferous rocks alone,
and that 15,000,000 of years have been stated as a moderate estimate
for the antiquity of our globe. The deltas of the great rivers afford
corroboration to our position as to man's duration. The delta of the
Nile, formed by immense quantities of sedimentary matter, which in
like manner is still carried down and deposited, has not perceptibly
increased during the last 3,000 years. "In the days of the earliest
Pharaohs, the delta, as it now exists, was covered with ancient cities
and filled with a dense population, whose civilization must have
required a period going back far beyond any date that has yet been
assigned to the deluge of Noah, or even to the creation of the world."*

From borings which have been made at New Orleans to the depth of 600
feet, from excavations for public works, and from examinations in parts
of Louisiana, where the range between high and low water is much greater
than it is at New Orleans, no less than ten distinct cypress forests
divided from each other by eras of aquatic plants, etc., have been
traced, arranged vertically above each other; and from these and other
data it is estimated by Dr. Benet Dowler that the age of the delta is
at least 158,000 years; and in the excavations above referred to human
remains have been found below the further forest level, making it appear
that the human race existed in the delta of the Mississippi more than
57,000 years ago.**

It is further urged, by the same competent writer, that human bones
discovered on the coast of Brazil near Santas, and on the borders of
a lake called Lagoa Santa, by Captain Elliott and Dr. Lund, thoroughly
incorporated with a very hard breccia, every one in a fossil state,
demonstrate that aboriginal man in America antedates the Mississippi
alluvia, and that he can even boast a geological antiquity, because
numerous species of animals have become extinct since American
humanity's first appearance.***

     * Gliddon's "Types of Mankind," page 335.

     ** "Types," pages 336 to 369.

     *** "Types," pages 350 and 357.

With reference to the second point, as to the possibility of tracing
back the diversities of the Human Race to an antediluvian date, it
is simply sufficient to point on the one side to the remains of the
American Indian disentombed from the Mississippi forests, and on
the other to the Egyptian monuments, tombs, pyramids, and stuccoes,
revealing to us Caucasian men, and Negro men, their diversities as
marked as in the present day. Sir William Jones, in his day, claimed for
Sanscrit literature a vast antiquity, and asserted the existence of the
religions of Egypt, Greece, India, and Italy, prior to the Mosaic
era. So far as Egypt is concerned the researches of Lepsius, Bunsen,
Champollion, Lenormant, Gliddon, and others, have fully verified the
position of the learned president of the Asiatic Society.

We have Egyptian statues of the third dynasty, going back far beyond
the 4,300 years, which would give the orthodox era of the deluge, and
taking us over the 4,500 years fixed by our second proposition. The
fourth dynasty is rich in pyramids, tombs, and statues; and, according
to Lepsius, this dynasty commenced 3,426 B. C, or about 5,287 years from
the present date.

In reading a modern work on the orthodox side,* I have been much pained
by the constant assumption that the long chronologists must be in error,
because their views do not coincide with orthodox teachings. Orthodox
authors treat their heterodox brethren as unworthy of credit, because
of their heterodoxy. The writer asserts** that the earliest reference
to the Negro tribes is in the era of the 12th dynasty. Supposing for a
moment this to be correct, I ask what even then will be the state of
the argument? The 12th dynasty, according to Lepsius, ends about 4,000
years ago. The orthodox chronology fixes the deluge about 300 years
earlier. Will any sane man argue that there was sufficient lapse of
time in three centuries for the development of Caucasian and Negro man
from one family?

     * "Archaia," by Dr. Dawson.

     ** "Archaia," page 306.

The fact is that we trace back the various types of man now known, not
to one center, not to one country, not to one family, not to one pair,
but we trace them to different centers, to distinct countries, to
separate families, probably to many pairs. Wherever the conditions for
life are found, there are living beings also. The conditions of
climate, soil, etc., of Central Africa, differ from those of Europe. The
indigenous races of Central Africa differ from those of Europe.

Without pretending, in the present limited essay, to do more than index
some of the most prominent features of the case, I yet hope that enough
is here stated to interest my readers in the prosecution of future
inquiry upon the important question which serves as the title to these
pages. I put forward no knowledge from myself, but am ready to listen
to the teachings of wiser men; and while I shrink from the ordinary
orthodox assertion of Adamic unity of origin, accompanied as it is by
threats of pains and penalties if rejected, I am yet ready to receive
it, if it can be presented to me associated with facts, and divested
of those future hell-fire torments and present societarian persecutions
which now form its chief, if not sole, supports.

The rejection of the bible account of the peopling of the world involves
also the rejection, as has been already remarked, of the entire scheme
of Christianity. According to the orthodox rendering of both New and
Old Testament teaching, all men are involved in the curse which followed
Adam's sin. But if the account of the Fall be mythical, not historical;
if Adam and Eve--supposing them to have ever existed--were preceded on
the earth by many nations and empires, what becomes of the doctrine that
Jesus came to redeem mankind from a sin committed by one who was not the
common father of all humanity?

Reject Adam, and you can not accept Jesus. Refuse to believe Genesis,
and you can not give credence to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul. The
Old and New Testaments are so connected together that to dissolve the
union is to destroy the system. The account of the Creation and Fall of
Man is the foundation-stone of the Christian Church. If this stone
be rotten, the superstructure can not be stable. It is therefore most
important that those who profess a faith in Christianity should consider
facts which so vitally and materially affect the creed they hold.


Gillespie says that "an Atheist propagandist seems a nondescript monster
created by Nature in a moment of madness." Despite this opinion, it is
as the propagandist of Atheism that I pen the following lines, in the
hope that I may succeed in removing some few of the many prejudices
which have been created against not only the actual holders of Atheistic
opinions, but also against those wrongfully suspected of entertaining
such ideas. Men who have been famous for depth of thought, for excellent
wit, or great genius, have been recklessly assailed as Atheists by
those who lacked the high qualifications against which the spleen of
the calumniators was directed. Thus, not only has Voltaire been without
ground accused of Atheism, but Bacon, Locke, and Bishop Berkeley
himself, have, among others, been denounced by thoughtless or
unscrupulous pietists as inclining to Atheism, the ground for the
accusation being that they manifested an inclination to improve human

It is too often the fashion with persons of pious reputation to speak in
unmeasured language of Atheism as favoring immorality, and of Atheists
as men whose conduct is necessarily vicious, and who have adopted
atheistic views as a disparate defiance against a Deity justly offended
by the badness of their lives. Such persons urge that among the
proximate causes of Atheism are vicious training, immoral and profligate
companions, licentious living, and the like. Dr. John Pye Smith, in his
"Instructions on Christian Theology," goes so far as to declare that
"nearly all the Atheists upon record have been men of extremely
debauched and vile conduct." Such language from the Christian advocate
is not surprising, but there are others who, professing great desire for
the spread of Freethought, and with pretensions to rank among acute and
liberal thinkers, declare Atheism impracticable, and its teachings cold,
barren, and negative. In this brief essay I shall except to each of the
above allegations, and shall endeavor to demonstrate that Atheism
affords greater possibility for human happiness than any system yet
based on Theism, or possible to be founded thereon, and that the lives
of true Atheists must be more virtuous, because more human, than those
of the believers in Deity, the humanity of the devout believer often
finding itself neutralized by a faith with which it is necessarily in
constant collision. The devotee piling the faggots at the _auto de fe_
of a heretic, and that heretic his son, might, notwithstanding, be a
good father in every respect but this. Heresy, in the eyes of the
believer, is highest criminality, and outweighs all claims of family or

Atheism, properly understood, is in nowise a cold, barren negative; it
is, on the contrary, a hearty, fruitful affirmation of all truth, and
involves the positive assertion and action of highest humanity.

Let Atheism be fairly examined, and neither condemned--its defense
unheard--on the _ex parte_ slanders of the professional preachers of
fashionable orthodoxy, whose courage is bold enough while the pulpit
protects the sermon, but whose valor becomes tempered with discretion
when a free platform is afforded and discussion claimed; nor misjudged
because it has been the custom to regard Atheism as so unpopular as to
render its advocacy impolitic. The best policy against all prejudice is
to assert firmly the verity. The Atheist does not say "There is no God,"
but he says, "I know not what you mean by God: I am without idea of
God; the word 'God' is to me a sound conveying no clear or distinct
affirmation. I do not deny God, because I can not deny that of which I
have no conception, and the conception of which by its affirmer is so
imperfect that he is unable to define it to me." If you speak to the
Atheist of God as a creator, he answers that the conception of creation
is impossible. We are utterly unable to construe it in thought as
possible that the complement of existence has been either increased
or diminished, much less can we conceive an absolute origination of
substance. We can not conceive either, on the one hand, nothing becoming
something, or on the other, something becoming nothing. The Theist who
speaks of God creating the universe, must either suppose that Deity
evolved it out of himself, or that he produced it from nothing. But the
Theist can not regard the universe as evolution of Deity, because this
would identify Universe and Deity, and be Pantheism rather than Theism.
There would be no distinction of substance--in fact, no creation. Nor
can the Theist regard the universe as created out of nothing, because
Deity is, according to him, necessarily eternal and infinite. His
existence being eternal and infinite, precludes the possibility of the
conception of vacuum to be filled by the universe if created. No one can
even think of any point of existence in extent or duration and say here
is the point of separation between the creator and the created.
Indeed, it is not possible for the Theist to imagine a beginning to
the universe. It is not possible to conceive either an absolute
commencement, or an absolute termination of existence; that is, it is
impossible to conceive a beginning before which you have a period when
the universe has yet to be: or to conceive an end, after which the
universe, having been, no longer exists. It is impossible in thought
to originate or annihilate the universe. The Atheist affirms that he
cognizes to-day effects, that these are at the same time causes and
effects--causes to the effects they precede, effects to the causes they
follow. Cause is simply everything without which the effect would not
result, and with which it must result. Cause is the means to an end,
consummating itself in that end. The Theist who argues for creation must
assert a point of time, that is, of duration, when the created did not
yet exist. At this point of time either something existed or nothing;
but something must have existed, for out of nothing nothing can come.
Something must have existed, because the point fixed upon is that of the
duration of something. This something must have been either finite or
infinite; if finite, it could not have been God; and if the something
were infinite, then creation was impossible, as it is impossible to add
to infinite existence.

If you leave the question of creation and deal with the government of
the universe, the difficulties of Theism are by no means lessened. The
existence of evil is then a terrible stumbling-block to the Theist.
Pain, misery, crime, poverty, confront the advocate of eternal goodness,
and challenge with unanswerable potency his declaration of Deity as
all-good, all-wise, and all-powerful. Evil is either caused by God, or
exists independently; but it can not be caused by God, as in that case
he would not be all-good; nor can it exist independently, as in
that case he would not be all-powerful. Evil must either have had a
beginning, or it must be eternal; but, according to the Theist, it can
not be eternal, because God alone is eternal. Nor can it have had a
beginning, for if it had it must either have originated in God,
or outside of God; but, according to the Theist, it can not have
originated in God, for he is all-good, and out of all-goodness evil
can not originate; nor can evil have originated outside of God, for,
according to the Theist, God is infinite, and it is impossible to go
outside of or beyond infinity.

To the Atheist this question of evil assumes an entirely different
aspect. He declares that evil is a result, but not a result from God or
Devil. He affirms that by conduct founded on knowledge of the laws of
existence it is possible to ameliorate and avoid present evil, and, as
our knowledge increases, to prevent its future recurrence.

Some declare that the belief in God is necessary as a check to crime.
They allege that the Atheist may commit murder, lie, or steal, without
fear of any consequences. To try the actual value of this argument, it
is not unfair to ask, Do Theists ever steal? If yes, then in each such
theft, the belief in God and his power to punish has been inefficient as
a preventive of the crime. Do Theists ever lie or murder? If yes, the
same remark has farther force--hell-fire failing against the lesser
as against the greater crime. The fact is that these who use such an
argument overlook a great truth--i.e., that all men seek happiness,
though in very diverse fashions. Ignorant and miseducated men often
mistake the true path to happiness, and commit crime in the endeavor to
obtain it. Atheists hold that by teaching mankind the real road to human
happiness, it is possible to keep them from the by-ways of criminality
and error. Atheists would teach men to be moral now, not because God
offers as an inducement reward by and by, but because in the virtuous
act itself immediate good is insured to the doer and the circle
surrounding him. Atheism would preserve man from lying, stealing,
murdering now, not from fear of an eternal agony after death, but
because these crimes make this life itself a course of misery.

While Theism, asserting God as the creator and governor of the
universe, hinders and checks man's efforts by declaring God's will to
be the sole directing and controlling power, Atheism, by declaring all
events to be in accordance with natural laws--that is, happening in
certain ascertainable sequences--stimulates man to discover the best
conditions of life, and offers him the most powerful inducements to
morality. While the Theist provides future happiness for a scoundrel
repentant on his death bed, Atheism affirms present and certain
happiness for the man who does his best to live here so well as to have
little cause for repenting hereafter.

Theism declares that God dispenses health and inflicts disease, and
sickness and illness are regarded by the Theist as visitations from an
angered Deity, to be borne with meekness and content. Atheism declares
that physiological knowledge may preserve us from disease by preventing
our infringing the law of health, and that sickness results not as
the ordinance of offended Deity, but from ill-ventilated dwellings and
workshops, bad and insufficient food, excessive toil, mental suffering,
exposure to inclement weather, and the like--all these finding root in
poverty, the chief source of crime and disease; that prayers and piety
afford no protection against fever, and that if the human being be kept
without food he will starve as quickly whether he be Theist or Atheist,
theology being no substitute for bread.

When the Theist ventures to affirm that his God is an existence other
than and separate from the so-called material universe, and when
he invests this separate, hypothetical existence with the several
attributes of omniscence, omnipresence, omnipotence, eternity, infinity,
immutability, and perfect goodness, then the Atheist, in reply says, "I
deny the existence of such a being."

It becomes very important, in order that injustice may not be done
to the Theistic argument, that we should have--in lieu of a clear
definition, which it seems useless to ask for--the best possible clue to
the meaning intended to be conveyed by the word God. If it were not
that the word is an arbitrary term, invented for the ignorant, and
the notions suggested by which are vague and entirely contingent upon
individual fancies, such a clue could be probably most easily and
satisfactorily obtained by tracing back the word "God," and ascertaining
the sense in which it was used by the uneducated worshipers who have
gone before us; collating this with the more modern Theism, qualified
as it is by the superior knowledge of to-day. Dupuis says: "The word God
appears intended to express the force universal, and eternally active,
which endows all nature with motion according to the laws of a constant
and admirable harmony; which develops itself in the diverse forms of
organized matter, which mingles with all, gives life to all; which seems
to be one through all its infinitely varied modifications, and inheres
in itself alone."

In the "Bon Sens" of Cure Meslier, it is asked, "Qu'est ce que Dieu?"
and the answer is: "It is an abstract word coined to designate the
hidden force of Nature, or rather it is a mathematical point having
neither length, breadth, nor thickness."

The orthodox fringe of the Theism of to-day is Hebraistic in its
origion--that is, it finds its root in the superstition and ignorance
of a petty and barbarous people nearly destitute of literature, poor in
language, and almost entirely wanting in high conceptions of humanity.
It might, as Judaism is the foundation of Christianity, be fairly
expected that the ancient Jewish Records would aid us in our search
after the meaning to be attached to the word "God." the most prominent
words in Hebrew rendered God or Lord in English are [------] _Jeue_, and
[------] _Aleim_. The first word, Jeue, called by our orthodox Jehovah,
is equivalent to "that which exists," and indeed embodies in itself the
only possible trinity in unity--i. e. past, present, and future. There
is nothing in this Hebrew word to help you to any such definition as is
required for the sustenance of modern Theism. The most you can make of
it by any stretch of imagination is equivalent to the declaration "I
am, I have been, I shall be." The word [----] is hardly ever spoken by
religious Jews, who actually in reading substitute for it, Adonai, an
entirely different word. Dr. Wall notices the close resemblance in
sound between the word _Yehowa_ or _Yeue_, or Jehovah, and Jove. In
fact [--------], Jupiter and Jeue, pater, (God the father) present still
closer resemblance in sound. Jove is also [----] or [----] or [----],
whence the word Deus and our Deity. The Greek mythology, far more
ancient than that of the Hebrews, has probably found for Christianity
many other and more important features of coincidence than that of a
similarly sounding name. The word [----] traced back affords us no help
beyond that it identifies Deity with the universe. Plato says that the
early Greeks thought that the only Gods were the sun, moon, earth, stars
and heaven. The word Aleim, assists us still less in defining the
word God, for Parkhurst translates it as a plural noun signifying "the
curser," deriving it from the verb _to curse_. Finding that philology
aids us but little, we must endeavor to arrive at the meaning of the
word "God" by another rule. It is utterly impossible to fix the
period of the rise of Theism among any particular people, but it is,
notwithstanding, comparatively easy, if not to trace out the development
of Theistic ideas, at any rate to point to their probable course of
growth among all peoples.

Keightley, in his "Origin of Mythology," says: "Supposing, for the sake
of hypothesis, a race of men in a state of total or partial ignorance
of Deity, their belief in many gods may have thus commenced. They saw
around them various changes brought about by human agency, and hence
they knew the power of intelligence to produce effects. When they beheld
other and greater effects, they ascribed them to some unseen being,
similar but superior to man." They associated particular events with
special unknown beings (gods), to each of whom they ascribed either a
peculiarity of power, or a sphere of action not common to other gods.
Thus one was god of the sea, anothor god of war, another god of love,
another ruled the thunder and lightning; and thus through the various
elements of the universe and passions of humankind, so far as they were
then known.

This mythology became modified with the advancement of human knowledge.
The ability to think has proved itself oppugnant to and destructive of
the desire to worship. Science has razed altar after altar heretofore
erected to the unknown gods, and pulled down deity after deity from
the pedestals on which ignorance and superstition had erected them. The
priest who had formerly spoken as the oracle of God lost his sway, just
in proportion as the scientific teacher succeeded in impressing mankind
with a knowledge of the facts around them. The ignorant who had hitherto
listened unquestioning during centuries of abject submission to their
spiritual preceptors, at last commenced to search and examine for
themselves, and were guided by experience rather than by church
doctrine. To-day it is that advancing intellect which challenges the
reserve guard of the old armies of superstition, and compels a
conflict which humankind, must in the end have great gain by the forced
enunciation of the truth.

From the word "God" the Theist derives no argument in his favor;
it teaches nothing, defines nothing, demonstrates nothing, explains
nothing. The Theist answers that this is no sufficient objection, that
there are many words which are in common use to which the same objection
applies. Even admitting that this were true, it does not answer the
Atheist's objection. Alleging a difficulty on the one side is not a
removal of the obstacle already pointed out on the other.

The Theist declares his God to be not only immutable, but also
infinitely intelligent, and says: "Matter is either essentially
intelligent, or essentially non-intelligent; if matter were essentially
intelligent, no matter could be without intelligence; but matter can
not be essentially intelligent, because some matter is not intelligent,
therefore matter is essentially non-intelligent: but there is
intelligence, therefore there must be a cause for the intelligence,
independent of matter; this must be an intelligent being--i.e.., God."
The Atheist answers, I do not know what is meant, in the mouth of the
Atheist, by "matter." "Matter," "substance," "existence," are three
words having the same signification in the Atheist's vocabulary. It is
not certain that the Theist expresses any very clear idea when he uses
the words "matter" and "intelligence." Reason and understanding are
sometimes treated as separate faculties, yet it is not unfair to presume
that the Theist would include them both under the word intelligence.
Perception is the foundation of the intellect. The perceptive faculty,
or perceptive faculties, differs or differ in each animal, yet in
speaking of matter that Theist uses the word "intelligence" as though
the same meaning were to be understood in every case. The recollection
of the perceptions is the exercise of a different faculty from the
perceptive faculty, and occasionally varies disproportionately; thus an
individual may have great perceptive faculties, and very little memory,
or the reverse, yet memory, as well as perception, is included in
intelligence. So also the faculty of comparing between two or more
perceptions; the faculty of judging and the faculty of reflecting--all
these are subject to the same remarks, and all these and other faculties
are included in the word intelligence. We answer, then, that "God"
(whatever that word may mean) can not be intelligent. He can never
perceive; the act of perception results in the obtaining a new idea,
but if God be omniscient his ideas have been eternally the same. He
has either been always and always will be perceiving, or he has never
perceived at all. But God can not have been always perceiving, because
if he had he would always have been obtaining fresh knowledge, in which
case he must have some time had less knowledge than now; that is he
would have been less perfect; that is, he would not have been God: he
can never recollect or forget, he can never compare, reflect nor
judge. There can not be perfect intelligence without understanding; but
following Coleridge, "understanding is the faculty of judging according
to sense." The faculty of whom? Of some person, judging according to
that person's senses? But has "God" senses? Is there anything beyond
"God" for "God" to sensate? There can not be perfect intelligence
without reason. By reason we mean that faculty or aggregation of
faculties which avails itself of past experience to predetermine, more
or less accurately, experience in the future, and to affirm truths which
sense perceives, experiment verifies, and experience confirms. To
God there can be neither past nor future, therefore to him reason is
impossible. There can not be perfect intelligence without will, but
has God will? If God wills, the will of the all-powerful must be
irresistible; the will of the infinite must exclude all other wills.

God can never perceive. Perception and sensation are identical. Every
sensation is accompanied by pleasure or pain. But God, if immutable, can
neither be pleased nor pained. Every fresh sensation involves a change
in mental and perhaps in physical condition. God, if immutable, can not
change. Sensation is the source of all ideas, but it is only objects
external to the mind which can be sensated. If God be infinite there can
be no objects external to him, and therefore sensation must be to him
impossible. Yet without perception where is intelligence?

God can not have memory or reason--memory is of the past, reason for the
future, but to God immutable there can be no past, no future. The words
past, present, and future, imply change; they assert progression of
duration. If God be immutable, to him change is impossible. Can you have
intelligence destitute of perception, memory, and reason? God can not
have the faculty of judgment--judgment implies in the act of judging
a conjoining or disjoining of two or more thoughts, but this involves
change of mental condition. To God, the immutable, change is impossible.
Can you have intelligence, yet no perception, no memory, no reason, no
judgment? God can not think. The law of the thinkable is that the thing
thought must be separated from the thing which is not thought. To think
otherwise would be to think of nothing--to have an impression with no
distinguishing mark, would be to have no impression. Yet this separation
implies change, and to God, immutable, change is impossible. Can you
have intelligence without thought? If the Theist replies to this that
he does not mean by infinite intelligence as an attribute of Deity an
infinity of the intelligence found in a finite degree of humankind,
then he is bound to explain, clearly and distinctly, what other
"intelligence" he means, and until this be done the foregoing statements
require answer.

The Atheist does not regard "substance" as either essentially
intelligent or the reverse. Intelligence is the result of certain
conditions of existence. Burnished steel is bright--that is, brightness
is the necessity of a certain condition of existence. Alter the
condition, and the characteristic of the condition no longer exists. The
only essential of substance is its existence. Alter the wording of the
Theist's objection. Matter is either essentially bright, or essentially
non-bright. If matter were essentially bright, brightness should be the
essence of all matter; but matter can not be essentially bright, because
some matter is not bright, therefore matter is essentially non-bright;
but there is brightness, therefore there must be a cause for this
brightness independent of matter; that is, there must be an essentially
bright being--i.e., God.

Another Theistic proposition is thus stated: "Every effect must have
a cause; the first cause universal must be eternal: _ergo_, the first
cause universal must be God." This is equivalent to saying that "God"
is "first cause." But what is to be understood by cause? Defined in
the absolute, the word has no real value. "Cause," therefore, cannot be
eternal. What can be understood by "first cause?" To us the two words
convey no meaning greater than would be conveyed by the phrase "round
triangle." Cause and effect are correlative terms--each cause is the
effect of some precedent; each effect the cause of its consequent. It
is impossible to conceive existence terminated by a primal or initial
cause. The "beginning," as it is phrased, of the universe, is not
thought out by the Theist, but conceded without thought. To adopt the
language of Montaigne, "Men make themselves believe that they believe."
The so-called belief in _Creation_ is nothing more than the prostration
of the intellect on the threshold of the unknown. We can only cognize
the ever-succeeding phenomena of existence as a line in continuous and
eternal evolution. This line has to us no beginning; we trace it back
into the misty regions of the past but a little way; and however far
we may be able to journey, there is still the great beyond Then what is
meant by "universal cause?" Spinoza gives the following definition
of cause, as used in its absolute signification: "By cause of itself I
understand that, the essence of which involves existence, or that, the
nature of which can only be considered as existent." That is, Spinoza
treats "cause" absolute and "existence" as two words having the same
meaning. If his mode of defining the word be contested, then it has no
meaning other than its relative signification, of a means to an end.
"Every effect must have a cause." Every effect implies the plurality of
effects, and necessarily that each effect must be finite; but how is
it possible from a finite effect to logically deduce a universal, i.e.,
infinite, cause?

There are two modes of argument presented by Theists, and by which,
separately or combined, they seek to demonstrate the being of a
God. These are familiarly known as the arguments _a priori_ and _a

The a posteriori argument has been popularized in England by Paley, who
has ably endeavored to bide the weakness of his demonstration under an
abundance of irrelevant illustration. The reasoning of Paley is very
deficient in the essential points where it most needed strength. It is
utterly impossible to prove by it the eternity or infinity of Deity. As
an argument founded on analogy, the design argument, at the best, could
only entitle its propounder to infer the existence of a finite cause,
or, rather, of a multitude of finite causes. It ought not to be
forgotten that the illustrations of the eye, the watch, and the man,
even if admitted as instances of design, or, rather, of adaptation,
are instances of eyes, watches, and men, designed or adapted out of
pre-existing substance, by a being of the same kind of substance, and
afford, therefore, no demonstration in favor of a designer, alleged to
have actually created substance out of nothing, and also alleged to have
created a substance entirely different from himself. The _a posteriori_
argument can never demonstrate infinity for Deity. Arguing from an
effect finite in extent, the most it could afford would be a cause
sufficient for that effect, such cause being possibly finite in extent
and duration. And as the argument does not demonstrate God's infinity,
neither can it, for the same reason, make out his omniscience, as it is
clearly impossible to logically claim infinite wisdom for a God possibly
only finite. God's omnipotence remains unproved for the same reason, and
because it is clearly absurd to argue that God exercises power where
he may not be. Nor can the _a posteriori_ argument show God's absolute
freedom, for, as it does nothing more than seek to prove a finite God,
it is quite consistent with the argument that God's existence is limited
and controlled in a thousand ways. Nor does this argument show that God
always existed; at the best the proof is only that some cause, enough
for the effect, existed before it, but there is no evidence that this
cause differs from any other causes, which are often as transient as
the effect itself. And as it does not demonstrate that God has always
existed, neither does it demonstrate that he will always exist, or even
that he now exists. It is perfectly in accordance with the arguement,
and with the analagy of cause and effect that the effect may remain
after the cause has ceased to exist. Nor does the argument from design
demonstrate one God. It is quite consistent with this argument that a
separate cause existed for each effect, or mark of design, discovered,
or that several causes contributed to some or one of such effects. So
that if the argument be true, it might result in a multitude of petty
deities, limited in knowledge, extent, duration, and power; and, still
worse, each one of this multitude of gods may have had a cause which
would also be finite in extent and duration, and would require another,
and so on, until the design argument loses the reasoner among an
innumerable crowd of deities, none of whom can have the attributes
claimed for God.

The design argument is defective as an argument from analogy, because it
seeks to prove a Creator God who designed, but does not explain whether
this God has been eternally designing, which would be absurd; or,
if he at some time commenced to design, what then induced him so to
commence. It is illogical, for it seeks to prove an immutable Deity by
demonstrating a mutation on the part of Deity.

It is unnecessary to deal specially with each of the many writers who
have used from different standpoints the _a posteriori_ form of argument
in order to prove the existence of Deity. The objections already stated
apply to the whole class; and, although probably each illustration
used by the theistic advocate is capable of an elucidation entirely at
variance with his argument, the main features of objection are the same.
The argument _a posteriori_ is a method of proof in which the premises
are composed of some position of existing facts, and the conclusion
asserts a position antecedent to those facts. The argument is from given
effects to their causes. It is one form of this argument which asserts
that man has a moral nature, and from this seeks to deduce the existence
of a moral governor. This form has the disadvantage that its premises
are illusory. In alleging a moral nature for man, the Theist overlooks
the fact that the moral nature of man differs somewhat in each
individual, differs considerably in each nation, and differs entirely in
some peoples. It is dependent on organization and education: these are
influenced by climate, food, and mode of life. If the argument from
man's nature could demonstrate anything, it would prove a murdering God
for the murderer, a lascivious God for the licentious man, a dishonest
God for the thief, and so through the various phases of human
inclination. The _a priori_ arguments are methods of proof in which the
matter of the premises exists in the order of conception antecedently to
that of the conclusion. The argument is from cause to effect. Among the
prominent Theistic advocates relying upon the _a priori_ argument
in England are Dr. Samuel Clarke, the Rev. Moses Lowman, and William
Gillespie. As this last gentleman condemns his predecessors for having
utterly failed to demonstrate God's existence, and as his own treatise
on the "Necessary Existence of God" comes to us certified by the praise
of Lord Brougham and the approval of Sir William Hamilton, it is to Mr.
William Gillespie that the reader shall be directed.

The propositions are first stated entirely, so that Mr. Gillespie may
not complain of misrepresentation:

1. Infinity of extension is necessarily existing.

2. Infinity of extension is necessarily indivisible.
Corollary.--Infinity of extension is necessarily immovable.

3. There is necessarily a being of infinity of extension.

4. The being of infinity of extension is necessarily of unity and

Sub-proposition.--The material universe is finite in extension.

5. There is necessarily but one being of infinity of expansion.

Part 2, Proposition 1.--Infinity of duration is necessarily existing.

2. Infinity of duration is necessarily indivisible. Corollary.--Infinity
of duration is necessarily immovable.

3. There is necessarily a being of infinity of duration.

4. The being of infinity of duration is necessarily of unity and

Sub-proposition.--The material universe is finite in duration.

Corollary.--Every succession of substances is finite in duration.

5. There is necessarily but one being of infinity of duration.

Part 3, Proposition 1.--There is necessarily a being of infinity of
expansion and infinity of duration.

2. The being of infinity of expansion and infinity of duration is
necessarily of unity and simplicity.

Division 2, Part 1.--The simple sole being of infinity of expansion and
of duration is necessarily intelligent and all-knowing.

Part 2.--The simple sole being of infinity of expansion and of duration,
who is all-knowing, is necessarily all-powerful.

Part 3.--The simple sole being of infinity of expansion and of duration,
who is all-knowing and all-powerful, is necessarily entirely free.

Division 3.--The simple sole being of infinity of expansion and of
duration, who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and entirely free, is
necessarily completely happy.

Sub-proposition.--The simple sole being of infinity of expansion and
of duration, who is all-knowing, all-powerful, entirely free, and
completely happy, is necessarily perfectly good.

The first objection against the foregoing arguments is that it seeks to
prove too much. It affirms one existence (God) infinite in extent and
duration, and another entirely different and distinct existence (the
material universe) finite in extent and duration. It therefore seeks
to substantiate everything and something more. The first proposition
is curiously worded, and the argument to demonstrate it is undoubtedly
open to more than one objection.

Mr. Gillespie has not defined infinity, and it is possible therefore his
argument may be misapprehended in this paper. Infinite signifies nothing
more than indefinite. When a person speaks of infinite extension he can
only mean to refer to the extension of something to which he has been
unable to set limits. The mind can not conceive extension _per se_,
either absolute or finite. It can only conceive something extended. It
might be impossible mentally to define the extension of some substance.
In such a case its extension would be indefinite; or, as Mr. Gillespie
uses the word, infinite. No one can therefore possibly have any idea of
infinity of extension. Yet it is upon the existence of such an idea, and
on the impossibility of getting rid of it, that Mr. Gillespie grounds
his first proposition. If the idea does not exist, the argument is
destroyed at the first step.

Mr. Gillespie argues that it is utterly beyond the power of the human
mind to conceive infinity of extension non-existent. He would have been
more correct in asserting that it is utterly beyond the power of the
human mind to conceive infinity of extension at all, either existent or
non-existent. Extension can only be conceived as quality of substance.
It is possible to conceive substance extended. It is impossible in
thought to limit the possible extension of substance. Mr. Gillespie
having asserted that we can not but believe that infinity of extension
exists, proceeds to declare that it exists necessarily. For, he says,
everything the existence of which we can not but believe, exists
necessarily. It is not necessary at present to examine what Mr.
Gillespie means by existing necessarily; it is sufficient to have
shown that we do not believe in the existence of infinity of extension,
although we may and do believe in the existence of substance, to
the extension of which we may be unable to set limits. But, says Mr.
Gillespie, "everything the existence of which we can not but believe is
necessarily existing." Then as we can not but believe in the existence
of the universe (or, to adopt Mr. Gillespie's phrase, the material
universe), the material universe exists necessarily. If by "anything
necessarily existing," he means anything the essence of which involves
existence, or the nature of which can only be considered as existent,
then Mr. Gillespie, by demonstrating the necessary existence of the
universe, refutes his own later argument, that God is its creator. Mr.
Gillespie's argument, as before remarked, is open to misconception,
because he has left us without any definition of some of the most
important words he uses. To avoid the same objection, it is necessary to
state that by substance or existence I mean that which is in itself and
is conceived per se--that is, the conception of which does not involve
the conception of anything else as antecedent to it. By quality, that by
which I cognize any mode of existence. By mode, each cognized condition
of existence. Regarding extension as quality of mode of substance, and
not as substance itself, it appears absurd to argue that the quality
exists otherwise than as quality of mode.

The whole of the propositions following the first are so built upon
it, that if it fails they are baseless. The second proposition is, that
infinity of extension is necessarily indivisible. In dealing with
this proposition, Mr. Gillespie talks of the _parts_ of infinity of
extension, and winds up by saying that he means parts in the sense of
partial consideration only. Now not only is it denied that you can have
any idea of infinity of extension, but it is also denied that infinity
can be the subject of partial consideration. Mr. Gillespie's whole proof
of this proposition is intended to affirm that the parts of infinity of
extension are necessarily indivisible from each other.

I have already denied the possibility of conceiving infinity in parts;
and, indeed, if it were possible to conceive infinity in parts, then
that infinity could not be indivisible, for Mr. Gillespie says that, by
indivisible, he means indivisible, either really or mentally. Now
each part of anything conceived is, in the act of conceiving, mentally
separated from, either other parts of, or from the remainder of, the
whole of which it is part. It is clearly impossible to have a partial
consideration of infinity, because the part considered must be mentally
distinguished from the unconsidered remainder, and, in that case, you
have, in thought, the part considered finite, and the residue certainly
limited, at least, by the extent of the part under consideration.

If any of the foregoing objections are well-founded, they are fatal to
Mr. Gillespie's argument.

The argument in favor of the corollary to the second proposition is
that the parts of infinity of extension are necessarily immovable among
themselves; but if there be no such thing as infinity of extension--that
is, if extension be only a quality and not necessarily infinite; if
infinite mean only indefiniteness or illimitability, and if infinity can
not have parts--this argument goes for very little. The acceptance of
the argument that the parts of infinity of extension are immovable
is rendered difficult when the reader considers Mr. Gillespie's
sub-proposition (4) that the parts of the material universe are movable
and divisible from each other. He urges that a part of the infinity of
extension or of its substratum must penetrate the material universe and
every atom of it. But if infinity can have no parts, no part of it
can penetrate the material universe. If infinity have parts (which is
absurd), and if some part penetrate every atom of the material universe,
and if the part so penetrating be immovable, how can the material
universe be considered as movable, and yet as penetrated in every atom
by immovability? If penetrated be a proper phrase, then, at the moment
when the part of infinity was penetrating the material universe,
the part of infinity so penetrating must have been in motion. Mr.
Gillespie's logic is faulty. Use his own language, and there is either
no penetration, or there is no immovability.

In his argument for the fourth proposition, Mr. Gillespie--having by his
previous proposition demonstrated (?) what he calls a substratum for the
before demonstrated (?) infinity of extension--says, "it is intuitively
evident that the substratum of infinity of extension can be no more
divisible than infinity of extension." Is this so? Might not a complex
and divisible substratum be conceived by us as possible to underlie a
(to us) simple and indivisible indefinite extension, if the conception
of the latter were possible to us? There can not be any intuition. It
is mere assumption, as, indeed, is the assumption of extension at
all, other than as the extension of substance. In his argument for
proposition 5, Gillespie says that "any one who asserts that he can
suppose two or more necessarily existing beings, each of infinity of
expansion, is no more to be argued with than one who denies, Whatever
is, is." Why is it more difficult to suppose this than to suppose
one being of infinity, and, in addition to this infinity, a material
universe? Is it impossible to suppose a necessary being of heat, one
of light, and one of electricity, all occupying the same indefinite
expansion? If it be replied that you can not conceive two distinct and
different beings occupying the same point at the same moment, then it
must be equally impossible to conceive the material universe and God
existing together.

The second division of Mr. Gillespie's argument is also open to grave
objection. Having demonstrated to his own satisfaction an infinite
substance, and also having assumed in addition a finite substance,
and having called the first an infinite "being"--perhaps from a devout
objection to speak of God as substance--Mr. Gillespie seeks to prove
that the infinite being is intelligent. He says: "Intelligence either
began to be, or it never began to be. That is never began to be is
evident in this, that if it began to be, it must have had a cause; for
whatever begins to be must have a cause. And the cause of intelligence
must be of intelligence; for what is not of intelligence can not make
intelligence begin to be. Now intelligence being before intelligence
began to be is a contradiction. And this absurdity following from
the supposition that intelligence began to be, it is proved that
intelligence never began to be: to wit, is of infinity of duration."
Mr. Gillespie does not condescend to tell us why "what is not of
intelligence cannot make intelligence begin to be;" but it is not unfair
to suppose that he means that of things which have nothing in common one
can not be the cause of the other. Let us apply Mr. Gillespie's argument
to the material universe, the existence of which is to him so certain
that he has treated it as a self-evident proposition.

The material universe--that is, matter--either began to be, or it never
began to be. That it never began to be is evident in this, that if it
began to be, it must have had a cause; for whatever begins to be must
have a cause. And the cause of matter must be of matter; for what is
not of matter can not make matter begin to be. Now matter being before
matter began to be is contradiction. And this absurdity following from
the supposition that matter--i. e., the material universe--began to be,
it is proved that the material universe never began to be--to wit, is of
indefinite duration.

The argument as to the eternity of matter is at least as logical as the
argument for the eternity of intelligence. Mr. Gillespie may reply that
he affirms the material universe to be finite in duration, and that
by the argument for his proposition, part 2, he proves that the one
infinite being (God) is the creator of matter. His words are:

"As the material universe is finite in duration, or began to be, it must
have had a cause; for whatever begins to be must have a cause. And this
cause must be [Mr. Gillespie does not explain why], in one respect or
other, the simple sole being of infinity of expansion and duration, who
is all-knowing [the all-knowing or intelligence rests on the argument
which has just been shown to be equally applicable to matter], inasmuch
as what being, or cause independent of that being, could there be? And,
therefore, that being made matter begin to be." Taking Mr. Gillespie's
own argument, that which made matter begin to be must be of matter, for
what is not matter can not make matter begin to be, then Mr. Gillespie's
infinite being (God) must be matter. But there is yet another
exception to the preposition, which is that the infinite being (God) is
all-powerful. Having, as above, argued that the being made matter, he
proceeds, "and this being shown, it must be granted that the being is,
necessarily, all-powerful." Nothing of the kind need be granted. If it
were true that it was demonstrated that the infinite being (God) made
matter, it would not prove him able to make anything else; it might show
the being cause enough for that effect, but does not demonstrate him
cause for all effects. So that if no better argument can be found to
prove God all-powerful, his omnipotence remains unproved.

Mr. Gillespie's last proposition is that the being (God) whose existence
he has so satisfactorily (?) made out is necessarily completely happy.
In dealing with this proposition, Mr. Gillespie talks of unhappiness as
existing in various kinds and degrees. But, to adopt his own style of
argument, unhappiness either began to be, or it never began to be. That
it never began to be is evident in this, that whatever began to be must
have had a cause, for whatever begins to be must have a cause. And
the cause of unhappiness must be of unhappiness, for what is not of
unhappiness can not make unhappiness begin to be. But unhappiness being
before unhappiness began to be is a contradiction; therefore unhappiness
is of infinity of duration. But proposition 5, part 2, says there is but
one being of infinity of duration. The one being of infinity of duration
is therefore necessarily unhappy. Mr. Gillespie's arguments recoil on
himself, and are destructive of his own affirmations.

In his argument for the sub-proposition, Mr. Gillespie says that God's
motive, or one of his motives, to create, must be believed to have been
a desire to make happiness, besides his own consummate happiness, begin
to be. That is, God, who is consummate happiness everywhere forever,
_desired_ something. That is, he wanted more than then existed. That is,
his happiness was not complete. That is, Mr. Gillespie refutes himself.
But what did infinite and eternal complete happiness desire? It desired
(says Mr. Gillespie) to make more happiness--that is, to make more than
an infinity of complete happiness. Mr. Gillespie's proof, on the whole,
is at most that there exists necessarily substance, the extension and
duration which we can not limit. Part of his argument involves of the
use of the very _a posteriori_ reasoning just considered, regarded by
himself as utterly worthless for the demonstration of the existence of a
being with such attributes as orthodox Theism tries to assert.

If Sir William Hamilton meant no flattery in writing that Mr.
Gillespie's works was one of the "very ablest" on the Theistic side, how
wretched indeed must, in his opinion, have been the logic of the less
able advocates for Theism. Every Theist must admit that if a God exists,
he could have so convinced all men of the fact of his existence that
doubt, disagreement, or disbelief would be impossible. If he could not
do this, he would not be omnipotent, or he would not be omniscient--that
is, he would not be God. Every Theist must also agree that if a God
exists, he would wish all men to have such a clear consciousness of his
existence and attributes that doubt, disagreement, or belief on this
subject would be impossible. And this, if for no other reason, because
that out of doubts and disagreements on religion have too often resulted
centuries of persecution, strife, and misery, which a good God would
desire to prevent. If God would not desire this, then he is not
all-good--that is he is not God. But as many men have doubts, a large
majority of mankind have disagreements, and some men have disbeliefs as
to God's existence and attributes, it follows either that God does not
exist, or that he is not all-wise, or that he is not all-powerful, or
that he is not all-good.

Every child is born into the world an Atheist; and if he grows into a
Theist, his Deity differs with the country in which the believer
may happen to be born, or the people among whom he may happen to
be educated. The belief is the result of education or organization.
Religious belief is powerful in proportion to the want of scientific
knowledge on the part of the believer. The more ignorant, the more
credulous. In the mind of the Theist "God" is equivalent to the sphere
of the unknown; by the use of the Word he answers without thought
problems which might otherwise obtain scientific solution. The more
ignorant the Theist, the greater his God. Belief in God is not a faith
founded on reason, but a prostration of the reasoning faculties on the
threshold of the unknown. Theism is worse than illogical; its teachings
are not only without utility; but of itself it has nothing to teach.
Separated from Christianity with its almost innumerable sects, from
Maliometanism with its numerous divisions, and separated also from every
other preached system, Theism is a Will-o'-the-wisp, without reality.
Apart from orthodoxy, Theism is a boneless skeleton; the various
mythologies give it alike flesh and bone, otherwise coherence it hath
none. What does Christian Theism teach? That the first man made perfect
by the all-powerful, all-wise, all-good God, was nevertheless imperfect,
and by his imperfection brought misery into the world, when the all-good
God must have intended misery should never come. That this God made men
to share this misery--men whose fault was their being what he made them.
That this God begets a son, who is nevertheless his unbegotten self, and
that by belief in the birth of God's eternal son, and in the death of
the undying who died to satisfy God's vengeance, man may escape the
consequences of the first man's error. Christian Theism declares that
belief alone can save man, and yet recognizes the fact that man's belief
results from teaching, by establishing missionary societies to spread
the faith. Christian Theism teaches that God, though no respecter of
persons, selected as his favorites one nation in preference to all
others: that man can do no good of himself or without God's aid, but yet
that each man has a free will; that God is all-powerful, but that few
go to heaven and the majority to hell; that all are to love God, who has
predestined from eternity that by far the largest number of human beings
are to be burning in hell for ever. Yet the advocates for Theism venture
to upbraid those who argue against such a faith.

Either Theism is true or false. If true, discussion must help to spread
its influence; if false, the sooner it ceases to influence human
conduct the better for human kind. It will be useless for the clergy to
urge that such a pamphlet deserves no reply. It is true the writer is
unimportant, and the language in which his thoughts find expression
lacks the polish of a Macaulay, and the fervor of a Burke; but they are
nevertheless his thoughts, uttered because it is not only his right, but
his duty, to give them utterance. And this Plea for Atheism is put forth
challenging the Theists to battle for their cause, and in the hope that
the strugglers being sincere, truth may give laurels to the victor and
the vanquished; laurels to the victor in that he has upheld the truth;
laurels still welcome to the vanquished, whose defeat crowns him with a
truth he knew not of before.


Some of those who have heard me venture to examine the question of the
existence of Deity _viva voce_, have desired to have my reasons for
holding the Atheistic position briefly stated, and while I do not
pretend to exhaust the subject in these few pages, I trust to say enough
to provoke thought and inquiry. I do not say, "There is no God," and
the scarcely polite rejoinder of those who quote the Psalmist can not,
therefore, be applied with justice toward myself. I have never yet heard
living man give me a clear, coherent definition of the word "God," and I
have never read any definition from either dead or living man expressing
a definite and comprehensible idea of Deity. In fact, it has always
appeared to me that men use that word rather to hide their ignorance
than to express their knowledge.*

     * In Sir William Hamilton's Essay on Cousin, I find a note
     quoting Mr. Piesse on Kant, in which the word God stands
     as the equivalent for a phase of the unknowable.

Climatic conditions often, and diversity of human race always, govern
and modify the meaning conveyed by the word. By "God" one nation or
sect expresses love; another, vengeance; another, good; another, wisdom;
another, fire; another, water; another, air; another, earth; and
some even confound their notion of Deity with that of devil. Elihu Palmer
well observes: "The Christian world worships three infinite gods, and
one omniscient devil." I do not deny "God," because that word conveys
to me no idea, and I can not deny that which presents to me no distinct
affirmation, and of which the would-be affirmer has no conception. I can
not war with a nonentity. If, however, God is affirmed to represent an
existence which is distinct from the existence of which I am a mode,
and which it is alleged is not the _noumenon_, of which the word "I"
represents only a specialty of _phenomena_, then I deny "God," and
affirm that it is impossible "God" can be. That is, I affirm that there
is one existence, and deny that there can be more than one. Atheists
are sometimes content to say to their opponents, your "proofs" are no
proofs, your "evidences" are failures, you do not and can not prove
the existence of Deity. This ground may be safe, but the conduct of its
occupier is not daring. The swordsman who always guarded and parried,
but never ventured cut or thrust, might himself escape unwounded, but he
would thus make but little progress toward victory over his opponent.

It is well to show that the position of your antagonist is weak, but it
is better to prove that you are strong.

In a paper as limited as the present, it is necessary to be brief both
in answer to opponents and in the statements of my own opinions. This is
rather intended as the challenging speech of a debate, not as a complete
essay on the existence of Deity.

There are two modes in which Theists endeavor to prove the existence
of God, and each of these modes is in its turn denounced by Theistic
writers--1st, the _a priori_; 2d, the _a posteriori_. Of the former,
Pearson, in his "Prize Essay on Infidelity," says: "The _a priori_ mode
of reasoning is the exclusive idol of many of the German logicians....
But in their hands this kind of reasoning has completely failed. It
conducts the mind to no firm resting place; it bewilders instead of
elucidating our notions of God, of man, and the universe. It gives us
no divine personal existence, and leaves us floating in a region of mere
vague abstractions. Such reasonings are either altogether vain or are
not really what they profess to be. In our country the name of Dr.
Clarke is chiefly associated with the _a priori_ argument.... Clarke
himself found it necessary to stoop to the argument _a posteriori_, and
thereby acknowledged the fallacy of attempting to reason exclusively _a
priori_.... The fate of Dr. Clarke's pretended demonstration, and
the result, in so far as theology is concerned, of the transcendental
reasoning of the continental philosophers, show the futility of
attempting to rise up to the height of the great argument of the
existence of God by the _a priori_ method alone."

Of the latter, William Gillespie, in his "Treatise on the Necessary
Existence of Deity," writes that it "can never make it appear that
infinity belongs in any way to God." It "can only entitle us to infer
the existence of a being of finite extension, for, by what rule in
philosophy can we deduce from the existence of an object finite in
extent (and nothing is plainer than that the marks of design which we
can discover must be finite in their extent) the existence of a cause of
infinity of extension? What, then, becomes of the omnipresence of the
Deity, according to those who are content to rest satisfied from the
reasoning of experience?... It will be vain to talk of the Deity being
present by his energy? although he may not be present by his substance,
to the whole universe. For, 'tis natural to ask not so much how it is
proved that God is virtually present, though not substantially present,
in every part of nature, as what can be meant by being everywhere
present by mere energy?" This reasoning can no more make out that the
Deity is omnipresent by his virtue, than that he is omnipresent as
to his substance.... And, from the inaptitude of the reasoning under
consideration to show that immensity, or omnipresence, belongs to God,
it will be found to follow, directly and immediately, that his wisdom
and power can not be shown to be more than finite, and that he can never
be proved to be a free agent.... Omnipresence (let it be only by energy)
is absolutely necessary in a being of infinity of wisdom. And therefore,
'the design argument' is unable to evince that the Deity is in
possession of this attribute. It likewise plainly follows, from the
inaptitude of this argument to show that God is omnipresent, that
thereby we can not prove infinity of power to belong to him. For, if
the argument can not make out that the being it discovers is everywhere
present, how can it ever make out that he is everywhere powerful? By
careful reflection, too, we may perceive that omnipotence of another
kind than power, winch can exert itself in all places, requires the
existence of immensity. "The design argument" can never evince that God
is a free agent....

If we can not prove the immensity or omnipresence of the Deity, we can
for that reason never show that he is omniscient, that he is omnipotent,
that he is entirely free.... If the Deity can not be proved to be of
infinity in any given respect, it would be nothing less than absurd to
suppose that he could be proved to be of infinity in any other respect.
It "can do no more than prove that at the commencement of the phenomena
which pass under its review, there existed a cause exactly sufficient to
make the effects begin to be. That this cause existed from eternity, the
reasonings from experience by no means show. Nay, for aught they make
known, the designer himself may not have existed long before those marks
of design which betoken his workmanship." This reasoning "can not prove
that the God whom it reveals has existed from all eternity, therefore,
for anything it intimates, God may at some time cease to be, and the
workmanship may have an existence when the workman hath fallen into
annihilation.... Such reasonings can never assure us of the unity of the
Deity." Whether there be one God or not, the argument from experience
doth by no means make clear. It discovers marks of design in the
phenomena of nature, and infers the existence of at least one
intelligent substance sufficient to produce them. Further, however, it
advances not our knowledge. Whether the cause of the phenomena be one
God or many Gods, it pretends not to determine past all doubt.... But
did this designer create the matter in which the design appeared? Of
this the argument can not convince us, for it does no more than infer a
designing cause from certain appearances, in the same way we would infer
from finding some well-contrived machine in a desert that a human being
had left it there.... Now, because this reasoning can not convince us
of such a creation, it can not convince us there is not a plurality of
deities, or of the causes of things.... If we can not prove the eternity
of God, it is not possible we can prove the unity of God. To say that,
for anything we know to the contrary, he may have existed from all
eternity, being much the same as saying that, for anything we know to
the contrary, there may be another God or many Gods beside." Sir W.
Hamilton considered that the only valid arguments for the existence of
a God, and for the immortality of the human soul, rest on the ground of
man's moral nature.

Dr. Lyman Beecher issued, some few years since, a series of lectures on
Atheism, without merit or fairness, and which are here only alluded
to as fairly illustrating a certain class of orthodox opposition. His
statements of Atheistic opinions are monstrous perversions, and his
answers are directed against the straw man built together by himself.
The doctrine of "almighty chance" which Dr. Beecher attacks, is one
which I never heard an educated Atheist teach, and the misrepresentation
of Freethought objects is so obvious that it can only be effectual with
those who have never freed themselves from the trammels which habit
and fashion-faith bound upon them in their infancy, and which have
strengthened with their growth. The Rev. J. Orr, in his "Treatise on
Theism," says, "All inquiry about chance is, however, impertinent in
the present day. The idea is an infantine one, possible of entertainment
only in the initial state of human knowledge. Chance is _not_ the
position relied upon by modern Atheism. And when, therefore, the Theist
expends the artillery of his argument upon this broken down and obsolete
notion, he is intermeddling with the dead, and after accomplishing the
destruction of the venerable fallacy, the modern Atheist will likely ask
him to come down to the nineteenths century and meet him there."

The only attempt at argument in Dr. Beecher's book is founded on the

1st. That there is an existence called matter.

2d. That there are certain effects perceivable which can not result from

3d. That therefore there is a God the cause for these effects. Where are
there any Materialists who accept Dr. Beecher's limitation of matter?
It is a word I do not use myself.

On the question of evil, Coleridge, in his "Aids to Reflection," says:
"1st. That evil must have had a beginning, since otherwise it must
either be God or a co-eternal and co-equal rival with God. 2d. That it
could not originate in God; for if so, it would at once be evil and not
evil, or God would be at once God--that is, infinite goodness--and
not God." If God be infinite goodness, can evil exist at all? It is
necessary above all that we should understand the meaning of each word
we use. Some men talk as if their words were intended rather to conceal
than to express their ideas. So far as this essay is concerned I will
endeavor to avoid this difficulty by explicitly defining each special
word I use. Dugald Stewart, indeed, says, "That there are many
words used in philosophical discourse which do not admit of logical
definition, is abundantly manifest. This is the case with all those
words that signify things un-compounded, and consequently unsusceptible
of analysis--a proposition, one should think, almost self-evident;
and yet it is surprising how very generally it has been overlooked by

The advantages, however, accruing from frequent definitions are very
great; at the least they serve to explain what was meant by the persons
using the word, whereas sometimes two men confuse each word by using
words to which each attaches an opposite or a dissimilar value.

Men will talk of "First Cause," and "Intelligent First Cause." Do they
know what they mean? I confess I do not, and from the manner in which
they use the words, the most charitable conclusion is that they use them
because others have done so, and for no worse or better reason. They
talk of the "Beauties of Creation," and "Works of the Great Creator." If
by creation is meant the origin of existence, then each utterance of the
phrase is an absurdity. The human mind is utterly incapable of
construing it in thought as possible that the complement of existence
has either been increased or diminished. Man can neither conceive
nothing becoming something nor something becoming nothing.

Definitions.--1. By existence, or substance, I mean that which is in
itself and is conceived _per se_--that is, the conception of which
does not require the conception of anything else as antecedent to it.
Whenever I use the words universe or matter, I use them in the same
sense as representing the totality of existence. Existence can only be
known in its modes, and these by their attributes. 2. By attribute,
I understand that by which I cognize any mode of existence. Hardness,
brightness, color, life, form, etc., are attributes of conditional
existence. 3. By mode, I understand each cognized condition or accident
of existence. 4. By eternity I mean indefinite duration; that is
duration which is to me illimitable. 5. By infinity, I mean indefinite
extension. The axioms, so far as I shall give them, are in the precise
language of Spinoza. "1. Everything which is, is in itself, or in some
other thing.. 2. That which cannot be conceived through another _per
aliud_, must be conceived _per se_. 3. From a given determinate cause,
the effect necessarily follows; and, _vice versa_, if no determinate
cause be given, no effect can follow. 4. The knowledge of an effect
depends on a knowledge of the cause, and includes it. 5. Things that
have nothing in common with each other, can not be understood by means
of each other--that is, the conception of one does not involve the
conception of the other."

Propositions.--Existence is prior to its modes. This follows from
definitions 1 and 3, because modes of existence are conceived relatively
and in dependence on existence, which is absolutely precedent in such
conception. Existences having different attributes have nothing in
common with each other. This is founded on definition 1. Existences have
nothing in common with each other, can not be the cause of, or affect
one another. If they have nothing in common, they can not be conceived
by means of each other (per axiom 5), and they can not be conceived as
relating to each other, but must be conceived _per se_ (per definition
1); and as (per axiom 4) the knowledge of an effect depends on the
knowledge of the cause and includes it, it is impossible to conceive any
existence as an effect, so long as you can not conceive it in relation
to any other existence. By "cause" in the absolute, I mean "existence."
In its popular or relative sense, I use "cause" as an effect of some
precedent causative influence, itself the cause of some consequent
effect, as the means toward an end, in the accomplishment of which end
it completes itself.

What fact is there so certain that I may base all my reasonings upon it?
My existence is this primary fact; this, to me, indubitable certainty. I
am. This logic can neither prove nor disprove. The very nature of proof
is to make a proposition more clear to the mind than it was before, and
no amount of evidence can in-crease my conviction of the certainty of my
own existence. I do not affirm that I am in existence, but I affirm that
there is existence. This existence is either eternal, that is, unlimited
in duration, that is, indefinite in duration; or else it had a
beginning, that is, it has been created. If created, then such creation
must be by some existence the same as itself, or by some existence
differing from itself. But it can not have been created by any existence
the same as itself, because to imagine such, would be to conceive
no more than a continuance of the same existence--there would be
no discontinuity. "But," says S. T. Coleridge, "where there is no
discontinuity, there can be no origination." And it can not have been
created by any existence differing from itself, because things which
have nothing in common with one another can not be the cause of, or
affect, one another. Therefore, this existence has not been created,
that is, its duration is indefinite--that is, you can not conceive a
beginning--that is, it is eternal. This eternal existence is either
infinite in extent, that is, is unlimited in extent, or it is finite,
that is, limited. If limited, it must be limited by an existence the
same as itself, or by an existence differing from itself. But the same
arguments which applied to a limitation of duration, also apply to
a limitation of extension. Therefore, this existence is unlimited in
extent; that is, is infinite and eternal--that is, there is only one
existence. It is at this point that Atheism separates from Pantheism.
Pantheism demonstrates one existence, but affirms for it infinite
attributes. Atheism denies that attributes can be infinite. Attributes
are but the distinguishing characteristics of modes, and how can that
be infinite which is only the quality of finity? Men do not talk of
infinite hardness or of infinite softness; yet they talk of infinite
intelligence. Intelligence is not an existence, and the word is without
value unless it strictly comprehend, and is included in, that which
is intelligent. The hardness of the diamond, the brilliancy of the
burnished steel, have no existence apart from the diamond or the steel.
I, in fact, affirm that there is only one existence, and that all we
take cognizance of is mode, or attribute of mode, of that existence.

I have carefully abstained from using the words "matter" and "spirit."
Dr. Priestly says: "It has generally been supposed that there are
_two distinct kinds of substance_ in human nature, and they have been
distinguished by the terms _matter_, and _spirit_, or _mind_. The former
of these has been said to be possessed of the property of _extension_,
viz., of length, breadth and thickness, and also of _solidity_ or
impenetrability, and consequently of a _vis inertiæ_; but it is said to
be naturally destitute of all other powers whatever. The latter has of
late been defined to be a substance entirely destitute of all extension,
or relation to space, so as to have no property in common with matter;
and therefore to be properly _immaterial_, but to be possessed of the
powers of perception, intelligence, and self-motion. Matter is alleged
to be that kind of substance of which our bodies are composed, whereas
the principle of perception and thought belonging to us is said to
reside in a spirit, or immaterial principle, intimately united to the
body; while higher orders of intelligent beings, and especially the
Divine Being, are said to be purely immaterial. It is maintained that
neither matter nor spirit (meaning by the latter the subject of sense
and thought) correspond to the definitions above mentioned. For that
matter is not that _inert_ substance that it has been supposed to be;
that powers of _attraction or repulsion_ are necessary to its very
being, and that no part of it appears to be _impenetrable_ to other
parts; I therefore define it to be a substance possessed of the property
of extension, and powers of attraction or repulsion; and since it has
never yet been asserted that the powers of _sensation_ and _thought_
are incompatible with these (_solidity or impenetrability_, and,
consequently, a _vis inertiæ_, only having been thought to be repugnent
to them), I therefore maintain that we have no reason to suppose that
there are in man two substances so distinct from each other as have been
represented. It is likewise maintained that the notion of two substances
that have no common property, and yet are capable of intimate connection
and mutual action, is absurd."

I do not conceive _spirit or mind_ as an existence. By the word _mind_,
I simply express the totality of perception, observation, collection,
and recollection of perceptions, reflection and various other mental
processes. Dugald Stewart, in his "Essay on Locke," says: "We are
conscious of sensation, thought, desire, volition, but we are not
conscious of the existence of the mind itself."

It is urged that the idea of God is universal. This is not only not
true, but I, in fact, deny that any coherent idea exists in connection
with the word "God." The chief object to which the emotions of any
people were directed in ancient times became their God. When these
emotions were combined with vague traditions, and a priesthood became
interested in handing down the traditions, and increasing the emotions,
then the object becoming sacred was hallowed and adored, and uncertain
opinions formed the basis of a creed. Any prominent phenomenon in the
universe, which was not understood, was personified, as were also the
various passions and phases of humanity. These, in time, were preached
as religious truths, and thus diverted the people from inquiry into the
natural causes of phenomena, which they accounted for as ordained by
God, and when famine or pestilence occurred, instead of endeavoring to
remove its cause or using preventive measures against a recurrence
of the evil, they sought to discover why the supernatural power was
offended, and how it might be appeased, and ascribing to it their own
passions and emotions, they offered prayers and sacrifices. These errors
becoming institutions of the country, the people, prompted by their
priests, regarded all those who endeavored to overturn them by free and
scientific thought and speech as blasphemers, and the Religion of
each State has, therefore, always been opposed to the education of the

Archbishop Whately, in his "Elements of Rhetoric," part 1, chap, ii,
sec. 5, urges that "those who represent God or Gods as malevolent,
capricious, or subject to human passions and vices, are invariably to
be found among those who are brutal and uncivilized." We admit this, but
ask is it not the fact that both the Old and New Testament teachings do
represent God as malevolent, capricious, and subject to human passions
and vices--that is, are not these bible views of God relics of a brutal
and uncivilized people?

There is, of course, not room in a short essay like the present to say
much upon the morality of Atheism, and it should therefore suffice to
say, that truth and morality go hand in hand. That that is moral which
tends to the permanent happiness of all. The continuance of falsehood
never can result in permanent happiness; and therefore if Atheism be
truthful, it must be moral, if it be against falsehood, it must tend to
human happiness.

Yet if quoting great names will have effect, Lord Bacon, who is often
quoted against Atheism, also says: "Atheism leaves a man to sense, to
philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation, all of which may
be guides to an outward moral virtue, _though religion were not_; but
superstition dismounts all these, and erecteth an absolute monarchy
in the mind of men; therefore Atheism never did perturb states, for it
makes men wary of themselves as looking no further; and we see the times
inclined to Atheism, as the times of Augustus Caesar were civil times;
but superstition has been the confusion of many states." George
Combe says: "I have known men in whom the reasoning organs were amply
developed and well cultivated, who assured me that they could not reach
the conviction of the being of a God. I have known such men equal
in point of integrity and practical benevolence to the most orthodox
believers." In the West Riding of Yorkshire, among the men themselves,
a wealthy employer bore favorable testimony to the conduct and
intelligence of Atheistic working men. Nay, even the fanatical Dr. Lyman
Beecher is obliged to concede that Atheism made converts among "females
of education and refinement--females of respectable standing in


     [This lecture was originally delivered to the Sheffield
     Secular Society, and was printed from the reporter's notes
     without efficient correction from myself, I, at that time,
     suffering under a severe attack of acute rheumatism. The
     lecture has since been often re-delivered; and three
     editions having been exhausted, I have again corrected and
     revised the present edition. It is not intended as an answer
     to the question which forms the title, but it is intended to
     provoke thought upon this important subject.]

What do you mean by soul? What is the soul? Is it I? Is it the body?
Is it apart from the body? Is it an attribute of the body? Has it a
separate and distinct existence from the body? What is the soul? If I
ask one of those who claim to be considered orthodox men, they will
tell me that the soul is a spirit--that the soul lives after the body is
dead. They will tell me that the soul is immortal, and that the body is
mortal; that the soul has nothing whatever in common with the body; that
it has an existence entirely independent of the body. They will tell me
that after the body has decayed--after the body has become re-absorbed
in the universe, of which it is but a part, that the soul still exists.
Is there any proof of the existence of the same individual soul apart
from all material conditions? I have endeavored to examine this
subject, and, up to the present time, I have not found one iota of proof
in support of the positions thus put forward. I have no idea of any
existence except that of which I am part. I am. Of my own existence I am
certain I think. I am. But what is it that thinks? Is it my soul? Is
it "me," and yet distinct from me? I am but a mode of existence. I am
only part of the great universe. The elements of which I am composed are
indissolubly connected with that great existence which is around me and
within me, and which I help to make up. If men tell me I am a compound,
and not a compound--a mixture, and not a mixture--a joining together,
and not a joining together--of two entirely different existences, which
they call "matter" and "spirit," I am compelled to doubt those men.
The ability to think is but an attribute of a certain modification of
existence. Intelligence is a word by which we express the sum of
certain abilities, always attending a certain mode of existence. I find
intelligence manifested so far as organization is developed. I never
find intelligence without animal organization. I find intelligence
manifested in degree, only so far as I find a higher or lower type of
organization--that is, I find man's intellectual faculties limited
by his organization. But the orthodox tell me that my soul has an
immaterial existence, independent of all organization--independent of
all climatic conditions--independent of all education. Is that so? When
does the soul come into man? When does it go out of man? If the soul
is immortal, why is it that standing here, in the prime of health and
strength, if part of that roof should fall fracturing my skull, and
pressing upon my brain--how is it, if my soul is not subject to material
conditions, that it then ceases to act? Is the plaster roof more
powerful than my immortal soul? Or is it that intelligence is the
necessary result of a certain condition of existence, and that
the moment you destroy that condition--the moment you destroy the
organization--the result ceases to be realizable? By the course of
reasoning you adopt (says the orthodox objector) you reduce man to the
same level as the beasts. And why not? I stand on the river's bank, I
see there a man full grown, possessed of the physical figure of man, but
an idiot--an idiot from his birth upward--one who could not, even if he
would, think and act as other men. A little child is there playing on
the bank, and the idiot, having large destructive propensities, has
thrust the child into the water, and he stands there jabbering and
gesticulating while the little child is drowning in the river. And see
how half-vacantly, half-triumphantly, he points to the helpless child. A
Newfoundland dog has come to the bank; it jumps in and brings the child
out and saves its life. Yet theologians tell me that the idiot has a
soul, and that the Newfoundland dog has not one. I can not understand
these nice distinctions, which make the man so superior to the beast
in matters in which he is positively inferior. Man has doubtless an
organization on the whole far superior intellectually to that of
any other animal, but he is only superior by virtue of his superior
organization and its consequent susceptibility for development or
education. Many brutes can see more clearly than man; but they possess
not the capability for the manufacture of telescopes to aid their
vision. Many brutes can run more swiftly, but they manifest no capacity
for the subjugation of a steam power which far outstrips their
speed. But man himself, a well-organized, thoughtful, intelligent,
well-educated man, by a fall from a horse, by a tile from a roof, may
receive an injury to his nervous encephalic apparatus, and may be,
even while a man in shape, as low as the brute in the imbecility of his
reason, and inferior to the brute in physical strength. There is as
much difference between different races of men, there is, in fact, more
difference between a pure Caucasian and a Sahara negro, than between the
Sahara negro and the infant chimpanzee.

When did the soul come into the body? Has it been waiting from all
eternity to occupy each body the moment of birth? Is this the theory
that is put forward to man--that there are many millions of souls still
waiting, perhaps, in mid air, 'twixt heaven and earth, to occupy the
still unborn babes? Is that the theory? Or do you allege that God
specially creates souls for each little child at the moment it is born
or conceived? Which is the theory put forward? Is it that the soul
being immortal--being destined to exist for ever, has existed from all
eternity? If not, how do you know that the soul is to exist for ever;
when it only comes into existence with the child? May not that which
has recently begun to be, soon cease to be? In what manner does the
soul come into the child? Is it a baby's soul, and does it grow with
the child? or, does it possess its full power the moment the child is
born? When does it come into the child? Does it come in the moment
the child begins to form, or is it the moment the child is born into the
world? Whence is it this soul comes? Dr. Cooper, quoting Lawrence
on the "Functions of the Brain," says: "Sir Everard Home, with the
assistance of Mr. Bauer and his microscope, has shown us a man eight
days old from the time of conception, about as broad and a little
longer than a pin's head. He satisfied himself that the brain of
this homunculus was discernible. Could the immaterial mind have been
connected with it at this time? Or was the tenement too small even for
so etherial a lodger? Even at the full period of uterogestation, it is
still difficult to trace any vestiges of mind: and the believers in its
separate existence have left us quite in the dark on the precise time
when they suppose this union of soul and body to take place." Many of
those who tell me that man has a soul, and that it is immortal--that man
has a soul, and that the beast has not one--forget or ignore the fact
that at a very early stage in the formation of the brain the state of
the brain corresponds to that of the avertebrated animal, or animal
that is without vertebra. If the brain had stopped in its first month's
course of formation, would the child have had a soul? If it would have
had a soul, then have avertebrated animals souls also? If you tell me
it would not have had a soul, then I ask, How do you know it? and I
ask you what ground you have for assuming that the soul did not begin
to form with the formation of the brain? I ask you whether it was
pre-existing, or at what stage it came? In the second month this
brain corresponds then to the brain of an osseous fish. Supposing the
development of the child had been then stopped, had it a soul at that
time? If so, have fishes souls? Again, if you tell me that the child
had not a soul, then, I ask, why not? How do you know it had not? What
ground have you for alleging that the soul did not exist in the child?
We go on still further, and in the third month we find that brain
corresponds then to that of a turtle, and in the fourth to that of a
bird; and in the fifth month, to an order termed _rodentia_; sixth,
to that of the _ruminantia_; seventh, to that of the _dugitigrada_;
eighth, to that of the _quadrumana_; and not till the ninth month does
the brain of the child attain a full human character. I, of course, here
mean to allege no more than Dr. Fletcher, who says, in his "Rudiments of
Physiology," quoted by the author of the "Vestiges of Creation": "This
is only an approximation to the truth; since neither is the brain of all
osseous fishes, of all turtles, of all birds, nor of all the species of
any of the above order of mammals, by any means precisely the same;
nor does the brain of the human fetus at any time precisely resemble,
perhaps, that of any individual whatever among the lower animals.
Nevertheless it may be said to represent, at each of the above-named
periods, the aggregate, as it were, of the brains of each of the tribes

Now, should a birth have taken place at any of the eight stages, would
the child thus prematurely born have had a soul? That is the question
I propose to you. You who affirm that man has a soul, it lies upon
you, here, without charging me with blasphemy--without charging me with
ignorance--without charging me with presumption--it lies upon you who
affirm, to state the grounds for your belief. At which stage, if at any,
did the soul come into the child? At the moment of the birth? Why when
a child is born into the world it can scarcely see--it can not speak--it
can not think--but after a short time I jingle my keys, and it begins
to give faint smiles; and after a few weeks, it is pleased with the
jingling of my keys. Is it the soul which is learning to appreciate the
sound of the jingling keys, and pleased with them? Is it the immaterial
and immortal soul amused and pleased with my bundle of keys? Where is
the soul? How is it that the soul can not speak the moment the child is
born--can not even think? How is it, that if I keep that child without
telling it any thing of its soul until it become fourteen or fifteen
years of age, it would then speak and think as I had taught it to speak
and think; and if I kept it without the knowledge of a soul, it would
have no knowledge of a soul at that age? How is that? Rajah Brooke,
at a missionary meeting in Liverpool, told his hearers there that the
Dyaks, a people with whom he was connected, had no knowledge of God, of
a soul, or of any future state. How is it that the Dyaks have got this
soul and yet live knowing nothing whatever about it? And the Dyaks
are by no means the only people who live and die knowing nothing of
any immortal and immaterial soul. Again you tell me that this soul is
immortal. Do you mean that it has eternally existed--has never been
created? If so, you deny a God who is the creator of all things. If the
soul began at some time to exist, where is the evidence that it will not
also at some time cease to exist? It it came into existence with the
body's birth, why not cease with the body's death? You say the soul is
immaterial; do you mean that it is susceptible to material conditions
or do you not? If susceptible to material conditions, what do you mean
by its being immortal and immaterial? If not susceptible to material
conditions, then explain to me how it is that under good conditions
it prospers and advances, and under bad conditions deteriorates and
recedes. If a child is born in some of the back streets of our city,
and lives on bad food in a wretched cellar, it grows up a weak and puny
pale-faced child. If allowed to crawl into existence on the edge of a
gutter, imperfectly educated, in fact mis-educated, it steals--steals,
perhaps, to live--and it becomes an outcast from society. Is this
immortal soul affected by the bodily conditions? or is the soul
originally naturally depraved? And if the soul is primarily naturally
depraved, why is God so unjust as to give a naturally depraved soul to
any body? If not, how is it that this immortal soul, when the body
is kept without food, permits the man who has no money to buy food, to
steel to satisfy his hunger? You allege that the soul moves my body.
You assert that matter is inert, unintelligent; that it is my active,
intelligent soul that moves and impels my inert and non-intelligent
body. Is my immortal soul hindered and controlled by the state of my
body's general health? Does my soul feel hungry and compel my body to
steal? Some theologians declare that my soul is immaterial--that there
is no means by which I can take any cognizance whatever of it. What
does that mean, except that they know nothing whatever about it? Sir
W. Hamilton admits that we are entirely ignorant as to the connection
between soul and body. Yet many who in so many words admit that they
have no knowledge, but only faith in the soul's existence, are most
presumptuous in affirming it, and in denouncing those who dispute their
affirmation. It is an easy method to hide ignorance, by denouncing your
opponent as an ignorant blasphemer.

Joseph Priestley, in his book upon matter and spirit, quotes from
Hallet's discourses, as follows; "I see a man move and hear him speak
for some years. From his speech I certainly infer that he thinks, as I
do. I then see that man is a being who thinks and acts. After some time
the man falls down in my sight, grows cold and stiff, and speaks and
acts no more. Is it not then natural to conclude that he thinks no more;
as the only reason I had to believe that he did think was his motion and
his speech. And now that his motion and speech have ceased, I have lost
the only way of proving that he had the power of thought. Upon this
sudden death, one visible thing, the one man, has greatly changed.
Whence could I infer that the same being consisted of two parts, and
that the inward part continues to live and think, and flies away from
the body? When the outward part ceases to live and move, it looks as
if the whole _man_ was gone, and that he, with all his powers, ceases at
the same time. His motion and thought both die together, as far as I
can discern. The powers of thought, of speech and motion, equally depend
upon the body, and run the same fate in case of declining age. When a
man dies through old age, I perceive his powers of speech, motion, and
thought decay and die together, and by the same degrees. That moment he
ceases to move and breathe he appears to cease to think, too. When I
am left to my reason it seems to me that my power of thought depends
as much upon the body as my sight and hearing. I could not think in
infancy; my power of thought, of sight, and of feeling are equally
liable to be obstructed by the body. A blow on the head has deprived a
man of thought, who could yet see, and feel and move; so naturally the
power of thinking seems as much to belong to the body as any power of
man whatsoever. Naturally there appears no more reason to suppose that a
man can think out of the body than he can hear sounds and feel cold out
of the body."

What do those mean who say that man is made up of two parts--matter and
mind? I know of only one existence. I find that existence manifested
variously, each mode having certain variations of attributes by which
it is cognized. One of these attributes, or a collection of certain
attributes, I find in, or with, certain modifications of that existence,
that is, in or with animal life--this attribute, or these attributes, we
call intelligence. In the same way that I find upon the blade of a knife
brightness, consequent upon a certain state of the metal, so do I find
in man, in the beast, different degrees, not of brightness, but of
intelligence, according to their different states of organization. I am
told that the mind and the body are separate from one another. Are
the brightness and steel of the knife separate? Is not brightness the
quality attaching to a certain modification of existence--steel? Is
not intelligence a quality attaching to a certain modification of
existence--man? The word brightness has no meaning, except as relating
to some bright thing. The word intelligence, no meaning, except as
relating to some intelligent thing. I take some water and drop it upon
the steel, in due course the process of oxidation takes place and the
brightness is gone. I drop into man's brain a bullet; the process
of destruction of life takes place, and his intelligence is gone.
By changing the state of the steel we destroy its brightness, and by
disorganizing the man destroy his intelligence. Is mind an entity or
result? an existence or a condition? Surely it is but the result of
organic activity, a phenomenon of animal life. Dr. Engledue says: "In
the same way as organism generally has the power of manifesting, when
the necessary stimuli are applied, the phenomena which are designated
life; so one individual portion--brain, having peculiar and distinct
properties, manifests on the application of its appropriate stimuli
a peculiar and distinct species of action. If the sum of all bodily
function--life, be not an entity, how can the product of the action of
one portion of the body--brain, be an entity? Feeling and intelligence
are but fractional portions of life." I ask those who are here to prove
that man has a soul, to do so apart from revelation. If the soul is a
part of ourselves, we require no supernatural revelation to demonstrate
its existence to us. D'Holbach says: "The doctrine of spirituality,
such as it now exists, affords nothing but vague ideas; it is rather a
poisoner of all ideas. Let me draw your attention to this: The advocates
of spirituality do not tell you anything, but in fact prevent you
from knowing anything. They say that spirit and matter have nothing in
common, and that mortal man can not take cognizance of immortality. An
ignorant man may set himself up as an orator upon such a matter. He says
you have a soul--an immortal soul. Take care you don't lose your soul.
When you ask him what is my soul, he says he does not know--nobody
knows--nobody can tell you. This is really that which they do. What is
this doctrine of spirituality? What does it present to the mind?
A substance unsubstantial that possesses nothing of which our senses
enable us to take cognizance." Theologians urge that each of us has a
soul superior to all material conditions, and yet a man who speaks can
not communicate by his speaking soul so freely with that man who is deaf
and dumb; the conditions cramp that which is said to be uncontrolled
by any conditions. If you cut out a man's tongue, the soul no longer
speaks. If you put a gag in his mouth, and tie it with a handkerchief,
so that he can not get it out, his soul ceases to speak. The immaterial
soul is conquered by a gag, it can not utter itself, the gag is in the
way. The orthodox say that the soul is made by God; and what do you know
about God? Why just as much as we know about the soul. And what do you
know about the soul? Nothing whatever. How is it that if the soul
is immaterial, having nothing in common with matter, that it is only
manifest by material means? and how is it that it is incased
and inclosed in my material frame? They affirm that my soul is a
spirit--that I receive the same spirit from God. How is it that
my spirit is now by myself, and by my mortal body, denying its own
existence? Is my mortal soul acting the hypocrite, or is it ignorant of
its own existence, and can not help itself to better knowledge? And if
it can not help itself, why not, if it is superior to the body? and if
you think it a hypocrite, tell me why.

What is meant by the declaration that man is a compound of matter and
spirit?--things which the orthodox assert have nothing in common with
one another. Of the existence of what you call matter you are certain,
because you and I, material beings, are here. Are you equally certain
of the existence of mind, as an existence independent and separate from
matter? and if you are, tell me why. Have you ever found it apart from
matter? If so, when and where? Have you found that the mind has a
separate and distinct existence? if so, under what circumstances? and
tell me--you who define matter as unintelligent, passive, inert, and
motionless--who talk of the _vis inertiæ_ of matter--tell me what you
mean when you give these definitions to it? You find the universe, and
this small portion of it on which we are, ceaselessly active. Why do you
call it passive, except it be that you want courage to search for true
knowledge as to the vast capabilities of existence, and, therefore,
invent such names as God and Soul to account for all difficulties, and
to hide your ignorance? What do you mean by passive and inert matter?
You tell me of this world--part of a system--that system part of
another--that of another--and point out to me the innumerable planets,
the countless millions of worlds, in the universe. You, who tell me of
the vast forces of the universe, what do you mean by telling me
that that is motionless? What do you mean by yet pointing to the
immeasurable universe and its incalculably mighty forces and affirming
that they are incapable of every perceptible effect? You, without one
fact on which to base your theory, strive to call into existence another
existence which must be more vast, and which you allege produces this
existence and gives its powers to it. Sir Isaac Newton says: "We are
to admit no more causes of things than are sufficient to explain
appearances." What effect is there which the forces of existence are
incapable of producing?

Why do you come to the conclusion that the forces of the universe are
incapable of producing every effect of which I take cognizance? Why do
you come to the conclusion that intelligence is not an attribute--why?
What is there which enables you to convert it into a separate and
distinct existence? Is there anything? Is it spirit? What is spirit?
That of which the mortal man can know nothing, you tell me--that it
is nothing which his senses can grasp--that is, no man, but one who
disregards his senses, can believe in it, and that it is that which no
man's senses can take cognizance of. If a man who uses his senses can
never by their aid take cognizance of spirit, then as it is through the
senses alone man knows that which is around him, you can know nothing
about spirit until you go out of your senses. When I speak of the
senses, I do not limit myself to what are ordinarily termed man's five
senses--I include all man's sensitive faculties, and admit that I do not
know the extent of, and am not prepared to set a limit to, the sensitive
capabilities of man. I have had personal experience in connection with
psycho-magnetic phenomena of faculties in man and woman not ordinarily
recognized, and am inclined to the opinion that many men have been
made converts to the theories of spiritualism because their previous
education had induced them to set certain arbitrary limits to the
domains of the natural. When they have been startled by phenomena
outside these conventional limitations they at once ascribed them to
supernatural influences rather than reverse their previous rules of

Some urge that the soul is life. What is life? Is it not the word by
which we express the aggregate normal functional activity of vegetable
and animal organisms necessarily differing in degree, if not in kind,
with each different organization? To talk of immortal life and yet to
admit the decay and destruction of the organization, is much the same as
to talk of a square circle. You link together two words which contradict
each other. The solution of the soul problem is not so difficult as many
imagine. The greatest difficulty is, that we have been trained to
use certain words as "God," "matter," "mind," "spirit," "soul,"
"intelligence," and we have been further trained to take these words as
representatives of realities, which, in fact, they do not represent. We
have to unlearn much of our school lore. We have specially to carefully
examine the meaning of each word we use. The question, lies in a
small compass. Is there one existence or more? Of one existence I am
conscious, because I am a mode of it. I know of no other existence. I
know of no existence but that existence of which I am a mode. I hold it
to be capable of producing every effect. It is for the man who alleges
that there is another, to prove it. I know of one existence. I do
not endeavor to demonstrate to you my existence, it needs no
demonstration--I am My existence is undeniable. I am speaking to you You
are conscious of my existence. You and I are not separate entities, but
modes of the same existence. We take cognizance of the existence which
is around us and in us, and which is the existence of which we are
modes. Of the one existence we are certain. It is for those who affirm
that the universe is "matter," and who affirm that there also exists
"spirit," to remember that they admit the one existence I seek to prove,
and that the onus lies on them to demonstrate a second existence--in
fact, to prove there is the other existence which they term spiritual.
There can not exist two different substances or existences having the
same attributes, or qualities. There can not be two existences of
the same essence, having different attributes, because it is by the
attributes alone that we can distinguish the existences. We can only
judge of the substance by its modes. We may find a variety of modes
of the same substance, and we shall find points of union which help to
identify them, the one with the other--the link which connects them with
the great whole. We can only judge of the existence of which we are a
part (in consequence of our peculiar organization) under the form of
a continuous chain of causes and effects--each effect a cause to the
effect it precedes, each cause an effect of the causative influence
which heralded its advent. The remote links of that line are concealed
by the darkness of the far off past. Nay, more than this, the mightiest
effort of mind can never say, _This is the first cause_. Weakness and
ignorance have said it--but why? To cloak their weakness, to hide
their ignorance. Knaves have said it--but why? To give scope to their
cunning, and to enable them to say to the credulous, "Thus far shalt
thou go and no farther." The termination is in the as yet unknowable
future; and I ask you, presumptuous men, who dare to tell me of God
and soul, of matter and creation--when possessed you the power to sunder
links of that great chain and write, "In the beginning?" I deny that by
the mightiest effort of the strongest intellect man can ever say of any
period, at this point substance began to be--before this existence was

Has man a soul? You who tell me he has a soul, a soul independent
of material conditions, I ask you how it is that these immortal souls
strive with one another to get mortal benefits? Has man a soul? If
man's soul is not subject to material conditions, why do I find knavish
souls?--Why slavish souls?--tyrannous souls? Your doctrine that man has
a soul prevents him from rising. When you tell him that his soul is not
improvable by material conditions, you prevent him from making
himself better than he is. Man's intelligence is a consequence of his
organization. Organization is improvable, the intelligence becomes more
powerful as the organization is fully developed, and the conditions
which surround man are made more pure. And the man will become higher,
truer, and better when he knows that his intelligence is an attribute,
like other attributes, capable of development, susceptible of
deterioration, he will strive to effect the first and to guard against
the latter.

Look at the number of people putting power into the hands of one man,
because he is a lord--surely they have no souls. See the mass cringing
to a wretched idol--surely these have no souls. See men forming a
pyramid of which the base is a crushed and worn-out people, and the apex
a church, a throne, a priest, a king, and the frippery of a creed--have
those men souls? Society should not be such a pyramid, it should be
one brotherly circle, in which men should be linked together by a
consciousness that they are only happy so linked, conscious that when
the chain is broken, then the society and her peace is destroyed. What
we teach is not that man has a soul apart and independent of the body,
but that he has an ability, an intelligence, an attribute of his
body, capable of development, improvable, more useful, according as he
elevates himself and his fellows. Give up blind adhesion to creeds and
priests, strive to think and follow out in action the result of your
thoughts. Each mental struggle is an enlargement of your mind, an
addition to your brain power, an increase of your soul--the only soul
you have.


"Give us this day our daily bread" is the entreaty addressed by the
tiller of the soil to the "Our Father," who has promised to answer
prayer. And what answer cometh from heaven to this the bread
winner's petition? Walk among the cotton workers of Lancashire,
the cloth-weavers of Yorkshire, the Durham pitmen, the Staffordshire
puddlers, the Cornish miners, the London dock laborers, go anywhere
where hands are roughened with toil, where foreheads are bedewed with
sweat of work, and see the Lord's response to the prayer, the father's
answer to his children! The only bread they get is the bread they take;
in their hard struggle for life-sustenance the loaves come but slowly,
and heaven adds not a crust, even though the worker be hungry, when he
rises from his toil-won meal. Not even the sight of pale-faced wife, and
thin forms of half-starved infants can move to generosity the Ruler of
the world. The laborer may pray, but, if work be scant and wages low, he
pines to death while praying. His prayer gives no relief, and misery's
answer is the mocking echo to his demand.

It is said by many a pious tongue that God helps the poor; the
wretchedness of some of their hovel houses, found alas! too often,
in the suburbs of our wealthiest cities, grimy black, squalid,
and miserable; the threadbare raggedness of their garments; the
unwholesomeness of the food they eat; the poisoned air they breathe in
their narrow wynds and filthy alleys; all these tell how much God helps
the poor. Do you want to see how God helps the poor? go into any police
court when some little child-thief is brought up for hearing; see him
shoeless, with ragged trousers, threadbare, grimy, vest hardly hanging
to his poor body, shirt that seems as though it never could have been
white, skin dull brown with dirt, hair innocent of comb or brush,
eye ignorantly, sullenly-defiant, yet downcast; born poor, born wretched,
born in ignorance, educated among criminals, crime the atmosphere in
which he moved; and society his nurse and creator, is now virtuously
aghast at the depravity of this its own neglected nursling, and a poor
creature whom God alone hath helped. Go where the weakly wife in a
narrow room huddles herself and little children day after day; and where
the husband crowds in to lie down at night; they are poor and honest,
but their honesty bars not the approach of disease, fever, sorrow,
death--God helps not the line of health to their poor wan cheeks. Go
to the county workhouse in which is temporarily housed the wornout farm
laborer, who, while, strength enough remained, starved through weary
years with wife and several children on eight shillings per week--it
is thus God helps the poor. And the poor are taught to pray for a
continuance of this help, and to be thankful and content to pray that
to-morrow may be like to-day, thankful that yesterday was no worse than
it was, and content that to-day is as good as it is. Are there many
repining at their miseries, the preacher, with gracious intonation,
answers rebukingly that God, in his wisdom, has sent these troubles
upon them as chastisement for their sins. So, says the church, all
are sinners, rich its well as poor; but rich sinners feel that the
chastising rod is laid more lightly on their backs than it is upon those
of their meaner brethren. Weekday and Sunday it is the same contrast;
one wears fustian, the other broadcloth; one prepares for heaven in the
velvet cushioned pew, the other on the wooden benches of the free seats.
In heaven it will be different--all there above are to wear crowns of
gold and fine linen, and, therefore, here below the poor man is to be
satisfied with the state of life into which it has pleased God to
call him. The pastor, who tells him this, looks upon the laborer as an
inferior animal, and the laborer by force of habit regards the landowner
and peer, who patronizes his endeavors, as a being of a superior order.
Is there no new form of prayer that labor might be taught to utter, no
other power to which his petition might be addressed? Prayer to the
unknown for aid gives no strength to the prayer. In each beseeching he
loses dignity and self-reliance, he trusts to he knows not what, for an
answer which cometh he knows not when, and mayhap may never come at all.
Let labor pray in the future in another fashion and at another altar.
Let laborer pray to laborer that each may know labor's rights, and be
able to fulfill labor's duties. The size of the loaf of daily bread must
depend on the amount of the daily wages, and the laborer must pray for
better wages. But his prayer must take the form of earnest, educated
endeavor to obtain the result desired. Let workmen, instead of praying
to God in their distress, ask one another why are wages low? how can
wages be raised? can we raise our own wages? having raised them, can
we keep them fixed at the sum desired? What causes produce a rise and
fall in wages? are high wages beneficial to the laborer? These are
questions the pulpit has no concern with. The reverend pastor will tell
you that the "wages of sin is death," and will rail against "filthy
lucre;" but he has no inclination for answering the queries here
propounded. Why are wages low? Wages are low because the wage-winners
crowd too closely. Wages are low because too many seek to share one
fund. Wages are lower still because the laborer fights against unfair
odds; the laws of the country, overriding the laws of humanity, have
been enacted without the laborer's consent, although his obedience to
them is enforced. The fund is unfairly distributed as well as too widely
divided. Statutes are gradually being modified, and the working man may
hope for ampler justice from the employer in the immediate future than
was possible in the past, but high and healthy wages depend on the
working man himself. Wages can be raised by the work-ing classes
exercising a moderate degree of caution in increasing their numbers.
Wages must increase when capital increases more rapidly than population,
and it is the duty of the working man, therefore, to take every
reasonable precaution to check the increase of population and to
accelerate the augmentation of capital.

Can working-men, by combination, permanently raise the rate of wages?
One gentleman presiding at a meeting of the National Association for the
Promotion of Social Science for the discussion of the labor question,
very fairly said, "It is not in the power of the men alone, or of the
masters alone, or of both combined, to say what shall be the amount of
wages at any particular time in any trade or country. The men and the
masters are, at most, competitors for the division, at a certain rate,
of a certain fund, provided by [themselves and] others--that is, by the
consumers. If that fund is small, no device can make the rate of profit
or rate of wages higher." This is in theory quite correct, if it means
that no device can make the total divisible greater than it is, but not
if it refers to the increase of profit or wages by partial distribution.
In practice, although it is true that if the fund be small and the
seekers to share it be many, the quotient to each must be necessarily
very small, yet it is also true that a few of the competitors--_i.e._
the capitalists, may and do absorb for their portions of profits an
improper and unfairly large amount, thus still further reducing
the wretchedly small pittance in any case receivable by the mass of
laborers. It is warmly contended that the capitalist and laborer contend
for division of the fund appropriable in fair and open field; that the
capitalist has his money to employ, the man his labor to sell; that
if workmen are in excess of the capitalist's requirements, so that the
laborer has to supplicate for employment, wages can not rise, and will
probably fall; but that if, on the contrary, capital has need to invite
additional laborers, then wages must rise. That is the law of supply and
demand brought prominently forward. In great part this is true, but it
is not true that capital and labor compete in fair and open field, any
more than it is true that an iron-clad war vessel, with heavy ordnance,
would compete in fair field with a wooden frigate, equipped with the
material in use thirty years ago. Capital is gold-plated, and carries
too many guns for unprotected labor.

The intelligent capitalist makes the laws affecting master and servant,
which the uneducated laborer must obey, but has no effective voice to
alter. The capitalist forms the government of the country, which in
turn protects capital against labor; this government the laborer must
sustain, and dares not modify. The capitalist does combine, and
has combined, and the result of this combination has been an unfair
appropriation of the divisible fund. Why should not the laborer combine
also? The answer is truly that no combination of workmen can increase
the rate of wages, if at the same time the number of laborers increases
more rapidly than the capital out of which their wages must be paid.
But the men may combine to instruct one another in the laws of political
economy; they may combine to apply their knowledge of those laws to the
contracts between employer and employed. They may combine to compel the
repeal of unjust enactments under which an unfair distribution of the
labor fund is not only possible but certain. Organizations of laborers
are, therefore, wise and necessary; the object of such organizations
should be the permanent elevation and enfranchisement of the members. No
combination of workmen, which merely dictates a temporary cessation
from labor, can ultimately and permanently benefit the laborer; while it
certainly immediately injures him and deteriorates his condition,
making his home wretched, his family paupers. Nor can even co-operative
combination, praiseworthy as it certainly is, to procure for the laborer
a larger share of the profits of his labor permanently benefit him,
except in so far that temporarily alleviating his condition, and giving
him leisure for study, it enables him to educate himself; unless, at the
same time, the co-operator is conscious that the increase or reduction
in the amount of wages depends entirely on the ratio of relation
preserved between population and its means of subsistence, the former
always having a tendency to increase more rapidly than the latter. It
is with the problem of too many mouths for too little bread that the
laborer has really to deal: if he must pray, it should be for more bread
and for fewer mouths. The answer often given by the workman himself to
the advocate of Malthusian views is, that the world is wide enough for
all, that there are fields yet unplowed broad enough to bear more corn
than man at present could eat, and that there is neither too little
food nor are there too many mouths; that there is, in fact, none of that
over-population with which it is sought to affright the working man.
Over-population in the sense that the whole world is too full to contain
its habitants, or that it will ever become too full to contain them,
is certainly a fallacy, but overpopulation is a lamentable truth in
its relative sense. We find evidences of over-population in every old
country of the world. The pest of over-population is the existence of
poverty, squalor, wretchedness, disease, ignorance, misery, and crime.
Low rate of wages, and food dear, here you have two certain indices of
relative over-population. Wages depending on the demand for and supply
of laborers, wherever wages are low it is a certain sign that there are
too many candidates for employment in that phase of the labor market.
The increased cost of production of food, and its consequent higher
price, also mark that the cultivation has been forced, by the numbers of
the people to descend to less productive soils. Poverty is the test and
result of over-population.

It is not against some possible increase of their numbers, which may
produce possibly greater affliction, that the working men are entreated
to agitate. It is against the existing evils which afflict their ranks,
evils alleged by sound students of political economy to have already
resulted from inattention to the population question, that the energies
of the people are sought to be directed, The operation of the law of
population has been for centuries entirely ignored by those who have
felt its adverse influence most severely. It is only during the last
thirty years that any of the working classes have turned their attention
to the question; and only during the last few years that it has to any
extent been discussed among them. Yet all the prayers that labor ever
uttered since the first breath of human life, have not availed so much
for human happiness as will the earnest examination by one generation
of this, the greatest of all social questions, the root of all political
problems, the foundation of all civil progress. Poor, man must be
wretched. Poor, he must be ignorant. Poor, he must be criminal; and poor
he must be till the cause of poverty has been ascertained by the poor
man himself and its cure planned by the poor man's brain, and effected
by the poor man's hand.

Outside his own rank none can save the poor. Others may show him the
abyss, but he must avoid its dangerous brink himself. Others may point
out to him the chasm, but he must build his own bridge over. Labor's
prayer must be to labor's head for help from labor's hand to strike
the blow that severs labor's chain, and terminates the too long era of
labor's suffering.

During the last few years our daily papers, and various periodicals,
magazines, and reviews have been more frequently, and much less
partially, devoted than of old to the discussion of questions relating
to the laborer's condition, and the means of ameliorating it. In the
Legislative Assembly debates have taken place which would have been
impossible fifty years since. Works on political economy are now more
easily within the reach of the working man than they were some years
ago. People's editions are now published of treatises on political
economy which half a century back the people were unable to read. It
is now possible for the laborer, and it is the laborer's duty, to make
himself master of the laws which govern the production and distribution
of wealth. Undoubtedly there is much grievous wrong in the mode of
distribution of wealth, by which the evils that afflict the poorest
stragglers are often specially and tenfold aggravated. The monopoly of
land, the serf state of the laborer, are points requiring energetic
agitation. The grave and real question is, however, that which lies at
the root of all, the increase of wealth as against the increase of those
whom it subsists. The leaders of the great trades unions of the country,
if they really desire to permanently increase the happiness of the
classes among whom they exercise influence, can speedily promote this
object by encouraging their members to discuss freely the relations of
labor to capital; not moving in one groove, as if labor and capital
were necessarily antagonistic, and that therefore labor must always have
rough-armed hand to protect itself from the attacks of capital; but,
taking new ground, to inquire if labor and capital are bound to each
other by any and what ties, ascertaining if the share of the laborer
in the capital fund depends, except so far as affected by inequality in
distribution, on the proportion between the number of laborers and the
amount of the fund. The discussing, examining, and dealing generally
with these topics, would necessarily compel the working man to a more
correct appreciation of his position.

Any such doctrine as that "the poor shall never cease out of the land;"
or that we are to be content with the station in life into which it has
pleased God to call us; or that we are to ask and we shall receive,
must no longer avail. Schiller most effectively answers the advocates of

     "Help, Lord, help!
     Look with pity down!
     A paternoster pray;
     What God does, that is justly done,
     His grace endures for aye."

     "Oh, mother! empty mockery,
     God hath not justly dealt by me:
     Have I not begged and prayed in vain;
     What boots it now to pray again?"

Labor's only and effective prayer must be in life action for its own
redemption; action founded on thought, crude thought, and sometimes
erring at first, but ultimately developed into useful thinking, by much
patient experimenting for the right and true.


"Political Economy does not itself instruct how to make a nation rich,
but whoever would be qualified to judge of the means of making a nation
rich must first be a political economist."--John Stuart Mill.

"The object of political economy is to secure the means of subsistence
of all the inhabitants, to obviate every circumstance which might render
this precarious, to provide everything necessary for supplying the wants
of society, and to employ the inhabitants so as to make the interests
accord with their supplying each other's wants."--Sir James Stewart.

On one occasion in the world's history, a people rose searching for
upright life, who had previously, for several generations, depressed by
poverty and its attendant hand-maidens of misery, prowled hunger-striken
and disconsolate, stooping and stumbling through the byways of
existence. A mighty revolution resulted in much rough justice and some
brutal vengeance, much rude right, and some terrific wrong. Among the
writers who have since narrated the history of this people's struggle,
some penmen have been assiduous and hasty to search for, and chronicle
the errors, and have even not hesitated to magnify the crimes of the
rebels; while they have been slow to recognize the previous demoralizing
tendency of the system rebelled against. In this pamphlet it is proposed
to very briefly deal with the state of the people in France immediately
prior to the grand convulsion which destroyed the Bastile Monarchy, and
set a glorious example of the vindication of the rights of man against
opposition the most formidable that can be conceived; believing that
even in this slight illustration of the condition of the masses in
France who sought to erect on the ruins of arbitrary power the glorious
edifice of civil and religious liberty, an answer may be found to the
question: "What is the effect of poverty on the political condition of
the people."

In taking the instance of France, it is not that the writer for one
moment imagines that poverty is a word without meaning in our own lands.
The clamming factory hands in the Lancanshire valleys, the distressed
ribbon weavers of Conventry, and the impoverished laborers in various
parts of Ireland and Scotland would be able to give us a definition of
the word fearful in its distinctness. But in England poverty is happily
partial, while in France in the eighteenth century poverty was universal
outside the palaces of the nobles and the mansions of the church, where
luxury, voluptuousness, and effeminacy were regnant. In the seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries travelers in France could learn from "the
sadness, the solitude, the miserable poverty, the dismal nakedness of
the empty cottages, and the starving, ragged population, how much men
could endure without dying." On the one side a discontented, wretched,
hungry mass of tax-providing slaves, and on the other a rapacious,
pampered, licentious, spendthrift monarchy. This culminated in the
refusal of the laborers to cultivate the fertile soil because, the
tax-gatherer's rapacity left an insufficient remnant to provide
the cultivator with the merest necessaries of life. Then followed
"uncultivated fields, unpeopled villages, and houses dropping to decay;"
the great cities--as Paris, Lyons, and Bordeaux--crowded with begging
skeletons, frightful in their squallid disease and loathsome aspect.

Even after the National Assembly had passed some measures of temporary
alleviation, the distress in Paris itself was so great that at the
gratuitious distributions of bread "old people have been seen to expire
with their hand stretched out to receive the loaf, and women waiting in
their turn in front of the baker's shop were prematurely delivered of
dead children in the open streets." The great mass of the people were as
ignorant as they were poor; were ignorant indeed because they were poor.
Ignorance is the pauper's inalienable heritage. When the struggle is
for the means of subsistence, and these are only partially obtained,
there is little hope for the luxury of a leisure hour in which other
emotions can be cultivated than those of the mere desires for food and
rest--sole results of the laborious monotonousness of machine work; a
round of toil and sleep closing in death--the only certain refuge for
the worn out laborer. Without the opportunity afforded by the possession
of more than will satisfy the immediate wants, there can be little or no
culture of the mental faculties. The toiler badly paid and ill-fed, is
separated from the thinker. Nobly-gifted, highly-cultured though the
poet may be, his poesy has no charms for the father to whom one hour's
leisure means short food for his hungry children clamoring for bread.
The picture gallery, replete with the finest works of our greatest
masters, is forbidden ground to the pitman, the plowman, the poor
pariahs to whom the conceptions of the highest art-treasures are
impossible. The beauties of nature are almost equally inaccessible to
the dwellers in the narrow lanes of great cities. Out of your narrow
wynds in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and on to the moor and mountain-side, ye
poor, and breathe the pure life-renewing breezes. Not so; the moors are
for the sportsmen and peers, not peasants; and a Scotch Duke--emblem
of the worst vices of a corrupt and selfish, but fast-decaying House of
Lords--closes miles of heather against the pedestrian's foot. But
even this paltry oppression is unneeded. Duke Despicable is in unholy
alliance with King Poverty, who mocks at the poor mother and her
wretched, ragged family, when from the garret or cellar in a great
Babylon wilderness they set out to find green fields and new life.
Work days are sacred to bread, and clothes, and rent; hunger, inclement
weather, and pressing landlord forbid the study of nature 'twixt Monday
morn and Saturday night, and on Sunday God's ministers require to
teach a weary people how to die, as if the lesson were not unceasingly
inculcated in their incessant toil. Oh! horrid mockery; men need
teaching how to live. According to religionists, this world's bitter
misery is a dark and certain preface, "just published," to a volume of
eternal happiness, which for 2,000 years has been advertised as in the
press and ready for publication, but which after all may never appear.
And notwithstanding that every-day misery is so very potent, mankind
seem to heed it but very little. The second edition of a paper
containing the account of a battle in which some 5,000 were killed and
10,000 wounded, is eagerly perused, but the battle in which poverty
kills and maims hundreds of thousands, is allowed to rage without the
uplifting of a weapon against the common enemy.

The poor in France were awakened by Rousseau's startling declaration
that property was spoliation, they knew they had been spoiled, the logic
of the stomach was conclusive, empty bellies and aching brains were the
predecessors of a revolution which sought vengeance when justice was
denied, but which full-stomached and empty-headed Tories of later days
have calumniated and denounced.

Warned by the past, ought we not to-day to give battle to that curse of
all old countries--poverty? The fearful miseries of the want of food
and leisure which the poor have to endure are such as to seriously
hinder their political enfranchisement. Those who desire that men and
women shall have their rights of citizens, should be conscious how low
the poor are trampled down, and how incapable poverty renders them for
the performance of the duties of citizenship. So that the question of
political freedom is really determined by the wealth or poverty of the
masses; to this extent, at any rate, that a poverty-stricken people
must necessarily, after that state of pauperism has existed for several
generations, be an ignorant and enslaved people.

The problem is, how to remove poverty, as it is only by the removal of
poverty that the political emancipation of the nation can be rendered
possible. It has been ascertained that the average food of the
agricultural laborer in England is about half that alloted by the jail
dietary to sustain criminal life. So that the peasant who builds and
guards his master's haystack gets worse fed and worse lodged than the
incendiary convicted for burning it down.

How can this poverty be removed and prevented?

I quote the reply from one who has written most elaborately in
elucidation of the views of Malthus and Mill: "There is but one possible
mode of preventing any evil--namely, to seek for and remove its cause.
The cause of low wages, or in other words of Poverty, is overpopulation;
that is, the existence of too many people in proportion to the food,
of too many laborers in proportion to the capital. It is of the very
first importance that the attention of all who seek to remove poverty
should never be diverted from this great truth. The disproportion
between the numbers and the food is the _only real cause_ of social
poverty. Individual cases of poverty may be produced by individual
misconduct, such as drunknness, ignorance, laziness, or disease; but
these and all other accidental influences must be wholly thrown out
of the question in considering the permanent cause, and aiming at the
prevention of poverty. Drunknness and ignorance, moreover, are far more
frequently the _effect_ than the cause of poverty. Population and food,
like two runners of unequal swiftness chained together, advance side by
side; but the ratio of increase of the former is so immensely superior
to that of the latter, that it is necessarily greatly _checked_; and the
checks are of course either more deaths or fewer births--that is, either
positive or preventive."

Unless the _necessity_ of the preventive or positive checks to
population be perceived; unless it be clearly seen, that they must
operate in one form, if not in another; and that _though individuals
may escape them, the race can not_; human society is a hopeless and
insoluble riddle.

Quoting John Stuart Mill, the writer from whom the foregoing extracts
have been made, proceeds:

"The great object of statesmanship should be to raise the habitual
standard of comfort among the working classes, and to bring them into
such a position as shows them most clearly that their welfare depends
upon themselves. For this purpose he advises that there should be,
first, an extended scheme of national emigration, so as to produce a
striking and sudden improvement in the condition of the laborers left
at home, and raise their standard of comfort; also that the population
truths should be disseminated as widely as possible, so that a powerful
public feeling should be awakened among the working classes against
undue procreation on the part of any individual among them--a feeling
which could not fail greatly to influence individual conduct; and also
that we should use every endeavor to get rid of the present system of
labor--namely, that of employers, and employed, and adopt to a great
extent that of independent or associated industry. His reason for this
is, that a hired laborer, who has no personal interest in the work he
is engaged in, is generally reckless and without foresight, living
from hand to mouth, and exerting little control over his powers of
procreation; whereas the laborer who has a personal stake in his work,
and the feeling of independence and self-reliance which the possession
of property gives, as, for instance, the peasant proprietor, or member
of a copartnership, has far stronger motives for self-restraint, and can
see much more clearly the evil effects of having a large family."

The end in view in all this is the attainment of a greater amount of
happiness for humankind. The rendering life more worth the living, by
distributing more equally than at present its love, its beauties, and
its charms. In one of his most recent publications, Mr. John Stuart Mill

"In a world in which there is so much to interest, so much to enjoy, and
so much also to correct and improve, every one who has a moderate amount
of moral and intellectual requisites is capable of an existence which
may be called enviable; and unless such a person, through bad laws,
or subjection to the will of others, is denied the liberty to use the
sources of happiness within his reach, he will not fail to find tins
enviable existence, if he escape the positive evils of life, the great
sources of physical and mental suffering, such as indigence, disease,
and the unkindness, worthlessness, or premature loss of objects of
affection. Yet no one whose opinion deserves a moment's consideration,
can doubt that most of the great positive evils of the world are in
themselves removable, and will, if human affairs continue to improve, be
in the end reduced within narrow limits. Poverty, in any sense implying
suffering, may be completely extinguished by the wisdom of society,
combined with the good sense and providence of individuals. Even that
most intractable of enemies, disease, may be indefinitely reduced in
dimensions by good physical and moral education and proper control of
noxious influences, while the progress of science holds out a promise
for the future of still more direct conquests over this detestable foe."

In a former pamphlet, "Jesus, Shelly, and Malthus," the reader's
attention was entreated to this grave question. In a few pages it is
impossible to do more than erect a fingerpost to point out a possible
road to a given end. To attempt in a narrow compass to give complete
details, would be as unwise as it would be unavailing. My desire is
rather to provoke discussion among the masses than to obtain willing
auditors among the few, and I affirm it, therefore, as a proposition
which I am prepared to support, "That the political conditions of the
people can never be permanently reformed until the cause of poverty has
been discovered and the evil itself prevented and removed."


Why is it that human beings are starved to death, in a wealthy country
like England, with its palaces, its cathedrals, and its abbeys; with its
grand mansions, and luxurious dwellings, with its fine inclosed parks,
and strictly guarded preserves; with its mills, mines, and factories;
with its enormous profits to the capitalist; and with its broad acres
and great rent rolls to the landholder? The feet that men, old, young,
and in the prime of life; that women, and that children, do so die, is
indisputable. The paragraph in the daily journals, headed "Death from
Starvation," or "Another Death from Destitution," is no uncommon one to
the eyes of the careful reader.

In a newspaper of one day, December 24, 1864, may be read the verdict
of a London jury that "the deceased, Robert Bloom, died from the mortal
effects of effusion on the brain and disease of the lungs, arising from
natural causes, but the said death was accelerated by destitution, and
by living in an ill-ventilated room, and in a court wanting in sanitary
requirements;" and the verdict of another jury, presided over by the
very Coroner who sat on the last case, "that the deceased, Mary Hale,
was found dead in a certain room from the mortal effects of cold and
starvation;" as also the history of a poor wanderer from the Glasgow
City Poor House found dead in the snow.

In London, the hive of the world, with its merchant millionaires, even
under the shadow of the wealth pile, starvation is as busy as if in
the most wretched and impoverished village; busy, indeed, not always
striking the victim so obtrusively that the coroner's inquest shall
preserve a record of the fact, but more often busy quietly, in the
wretched court and narrow lane, up in the garret, and down in the
cellar, stealing by slow degrees the life of the poor.

Why does it happen that Christian London, with its magnificent houses
for God, has so many squalid holes for the poor? Christianity from its
thousand pulpits teaches, "Ask and it shall be given to you," "who if
his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?" yet with much prayer the
bread is too frequently not enough, and it is, alas! not seldom that the
prayer for bread gets the answer in the stone of the paved street, where
he lays him down to die. The prayer of the poor outcast is answered
by hunger, misery, disease, crime and death, and yet the Bible says,
"Blessed be ye poor."' Ask the orthodox clergyman why men starve, why
men are poor and miserable; he will tell you that it is God's will; that
it is a punishment for man's sins. And so long as men are content to
believe that it is God's will that the majority of humankind should have
too little happiness, so long will it be impossible effectually to get
them to listen to the answer to this great question.

Men starve because the great bulk of them are ignorant of the great
law of population, the operation of which controls their existence and
determines its happiness or misery. They starve because pulpit teachers
have taught them for centuries to be content with the state of life in
which it has pleased God to call them, instead of teaching them how to
extricate themselves from the misery, degradation, and ignorance which a
continuance of poverty entails.

Men starve because the teachers have taught heaven instead of earth, the
next world instead of this. It is now generally admitted by those who
have investigated the subject that there is a tendency in all animated
life to increase beyond the nourishment nature produces. In the human
race, there is a constant endeavor on the part of its members to
increase beyond the means of subsistence within their reach. The want
of food to support this increase operates, in the end, as a positive
obstacle to the further spread of population, and men are starved
because the great mass of them have neglected to listen to one of
nature's clearest teachings. The unchecked increase of population is in
a geometrical ratio, the increase of food for their subsistence is in
an arithmetical ratio. That is, while humankind would increase in
proportion as 1, 2, 4, 8,16, 32, 64, 128, 256, food would only increase
as 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. The more the mouths the less the proportion
of food. While the restraint to an increase of population is thus a want
of food, and starvation is the successful antagonist of struggling human
life, it is seldom that this obstacle operates immediately--its dealing
is more often indirectly against its victims. Those who die of actual
famine are few indeed compared with those who die from various forms of
disease, induced by scarcity of the means of subsistence. If any of my
readers doubt this, their doubts may be removed by a very short series
of visits to the wretched homes of the paupers of our great cities.
Suicide is the refuge mainly of those who are worn out in a bitter,
and, to them, a hopeless struggle against accumulated ills. Disease,
suffering, and misery are the chief causes of the prevalence of
suicide in our country, and suicide is therefore one form, although
comparatively minute, in which the operation of the law of population
may be traced.

From dread of the pangs of poverty, men, women, and children are driven
to unwholesome occupations, which destroy not only the health of the man
and woman actually employed, but implant the germs of physical disease
in their offspring. A starving woman seeking food mixes white lead with
oil and turpentine for a paltry pittance, which provides bare existence
for her and those who share it; in a few weeks, she is so diseased she
can work no longer, and the hospital and grave in turn receive her.
Men and women are driven to procure bread by work in lead mines; they
rapidly dig their own graves, and not alone themselves, but their
wretched offspring, are death-stricken as the penalty; the lead poisons
the blood of parent and child alike. Young women and children work
at artificial flower-making, and soon their occupation teaches that
Scheele's and Schweenfurth green, bright and pleasing colors to the eye,
are death's darts too often fatally aimed.

The occupation may be objected to as unhealthy; but the need for food is
great, and the woman's or child's wages, wretchedly little though they
are, yet help to fill the mouths at home: so the wage is taken till the
worker dies. Here, again, the checks to an increase of population all
stop short of starvation--the victims are poisoned instead of starved.
So where some forty or fifty young girls are crowded into a badly
ventilated work-room, not large enough for half the number, from early
in the morning till even near midnight, when orders press; or in some
work-room where slop clothes are made, and twenty-five tailors are
huddled together in a little parlor scarce wide enough for three--they
work to live, and die slowly while they work. They are not starved, but
is this sort of asphyxiation much better? The poor, are not only driven
to unhealthy, but also to noisome, dwellings. There are in London,
Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, and other large cities,
fearful alleys, with wretched houses, and small ill-ventilated rooms,
each room containing a family, the individuals of which are crowded
together under conditions so wretched that disease, and often speedy
death, is the only possible result. In the East of London, ten, eleven,
and, in some cases, fourteen persons have been found sleeping in one
wretched little room. Is it wonderful that some of these misery-stricken
ones die before they have time to starve? From poverty the mother,
obliged to constantly work that the miserable pittance she gets may
yield enough to sustain bare life, is unable properly to nurse and care
for baby-child, and often quick death, or slow but certain disease,
ending ultimately in the grave, is the result.

The poor live by wages. Wages popularly signify the amount of money
earned by the laborer in a given time; but the real value of the
money-wages is the amount in quantity and quality of the means of
subsistence which the laborer can purchase with that money. Wages may
be nominally high, but really low, if the food and commodities to be
purchased are, at the same time, dear in price. An undue increase
of population reduces wages in more than one way; it reduces them in
effect, if not in nominal amount, by increasing the price of the food
to be purchased; and it also reduces the nominal amount, because the
nominal amount depends on the amount of capital at disposal for employ,
and the number of laborers seeking employment. No remedies for low
wages, no scheme for the prevention and removal of poverty, can ever be
efficacious until they operate on and through the minds and habits of
the masses.

It is not from rich men that the poor must hope for deliverance from
starvation. It is not to charitable associations the wretched must
appeal. Temporary alleviation of the permanent evil is the best that can
be hoped for from such aids. It is by the people that the people must be
saved. Measures which increase the dependence of the poor on charitable
aid can only temporarily benefit one portion of the laboring class while
injuring another in the same proportion; and charity, if carried far,
must inevitably involve the recipients in ultimate ruin and degradation
by destroying their mutual self-reliance. The true way to improve the
worker, in all cases short of actual want of the necessaries of life,
is to throw him entirely on his own resources, but at the same time to
teach him how he may augment those resources to the utmost. It is only
by educating the ignorant poor to a consciousness of the happiness
possible to them, as a result of their own exertions, that you can
induce them effectually to strive for it. But, alas! as Mr. Mill justly
observes, "Education is not compatible with extreme poverty. It is
impossible effectually to teach an indigent population." The time
occupied in the bare struggle to exist leaves but few moments and fewer
opportunities for mental cultivation to the very poor.

The question of wages and their relation to capital and population, a
question which interests a poor man so much, is one on which he formerly
hardly ever thought at all, and on which even now he thinks much too
seldom. It is necessary to impress on the laborer that the rate of wages
depends on the proportion between population and capital. If population
increases without an increase of capital, wages fall; the number or
competitors in the labor market being greater, and the fund to provide
for them not having increased proportionately, and, if capital increases
without an increase of population, wages rise. Many efforts have been
made to increase wages, but none of them can be permanently successful
which do not include some plan for preventing a too rapid increase
of laborers. Population has a tendency to increase, and has increased
faster than capital; this is evidenced by the poor and miserable
condition of the great body of the people in most of the old countries
of the world, a condition which can only be accounted for upon one of
two suppositions, either that there is a natural tendency in population
to increase faster than capital, or that capital has, by some means,
been prevented from increasing as rapidly as it might have done. That
population has such a tendency to increase that, unchecked, it would
double itself in a small number of years--say twenty-five--is a
proposition which most writers of any merit concur in, and which may be
easily proven. In some instances, the increase has been even still more
rapid. That capital has not increased sufficiently is evident from
the existing state of society. But that it could increase under any
circumstances with the same rapidity as is possible to population is
denied. The increase of capital is retarded by an obstacle which does
not exist in the case of population.. The augmentation of capital is
painful. It can only be effected by abstaining from immediate enjoyment.
In the case of augmentation of population precisely the reverse obtains.
There the temporary and immediate pleasure is succeeded by the
permanent pain. The only possible mode of raising wages permanently, and
effectually benefiting the poor, is by so educating them that they shall
be conscious that their welfare depends upon the exercise of a greater
control over their passions.

In penning this brief paper, my desire has been to provoke among the
working classes a discussion and careful examination of the teachings of
political economy, as propounded by Mr. J. S. Mill and those other
able men who, of late, have devoted themselves to elaborating and
popularizing the doctrines enunciated by Malthus. While I am glad to
find that there are some among the masses who are inclined to preach
and put in practice the teachings of the Malthusian School of political
economists, I know that they are yet few in comparison with the great
body of the working classes who have been taught to look upon the
political economist as the poor man's foe. It is nevertheless among
the working men alone, and, in the very ranks of the starvers, that the
effort must be made to check starvation. The question is again before
us: How are men to be prevented from starving? Not by strikes, during
the continuance of which food is scarcer than before. No combinations of
workmen can obtain high wages if the number of workers is too great.
It is not by a mere struggle of class against class that the poor
man's ills can be cured. The working classes can alleviate their own
sufferings. They can, by co-operative schemes, which have the advantage
of being educational in their operation, temporarily and partially
remedy some of the evils, if not by increasing the means of subsistence,
at any rate by securing a larger portion of the result of labor to the
proper sustenance of the laborer. Systems of associated industry are of
immense benefit to the working classes, not alone or so much from the
pecuniary improvement they result in, but because they develop in each
individual a sense of dignity and independence which he lacks as a mere
hired laborer. They can permanently improve their condition by taking
such steps as shall prevent too rapid an increase of their numbers, and,
by thus checking the supply of laborers, they will, as capital augments,
increase the rate of wages paid to the laborer. The steady object
of each working man should be to impress on his fellow-worker the
importance of this subject. Let each point out to his neighbor not only
the frightful struggle in which a poor man must engage who brings up a
large family, but also that the result is to place in the labor market
more claimants tor a share of the fund which has hitherto been found
insufficient to keep the working classes from death by starvation.

The object of this pamphlet will be amply attained if it serve as the
means of inducing some of the working classes to examine for themselves
the teachings of Political Economy. All that is at present needed is
that laboring men and women should be accustomed, both publicly and at
home, to the consideration and discussion of the views and principles
first openly propounded by Mr. Malthus, and since elaborated by Mr. Mill
and other writers. The mere investigation of the subject will of itself
serve to bring to the notice of the masses many facts hitherto entirely
ignored by them. All must acknowledge the terrible ills resulting from
poverty, and all therefore are bound to use their faculties to discover
if possible its cause and cure. It is more than folly for the working
man to permit himself to be turned away from the subject by the cry
that the Political Economists have no sympathy with the poor. If
the allegation were true, which it is not, it would only afford an
additional reason why this important science should find students among
those who most need aid from its teachings.



Property in land differs from ordinary property. Wealth, which is the
accumulated result of labor, is sometimes, but not often, accumulated
in the hands of the laborer, and is more frequently accumulated in the
hands of some person who has purchased the result of the laborers
toil. Such personal wealth is capable of indefinite increase; and
the exclusive right to its disposal is protected in the hands of its
possessor, so long as he does not avail himself of this legal protection
to use the wealth mischievously to his fellows. There would be no
incentive in the laborer to economy, or to increased exertion, unless
the State gave him reasonable protection in the enjoyment of his
savings. Unfortunately, to obtain the protection of the authorities,
he has in this country to give up an unreasonably large portion of his
earnings to defray the cost of local and imperial Government. During the
reign of her present Majesty, imperial taxation alone has increased from
about £48,000,000 to £73,833,000. The State has no right to interfere
with a man's daily disposition of his personal wealth, merely on the
ground that he might have used it more advantageously for his fellows.
With land it is quite different; it is limited in extent, and the
portions of it capable of producing food with ease to the cultivator are
still more limited. Every individual member of the commonwealth has an
indefeasible interest in the totality of the land, and no man ought
to assert an absolute freehold in land hostile to the interest of his
fellow. The land is part of the general soil of the State, and should be
held subject to the general welfare of the citizens. No man has a right
so to hold land that his tenure is detrimental to the happiness of the
dwellers upon it or around it. This principle is already recognized in
much of our legislation. A man can not say to a railway company--which
has obtained the usual compulsory powers of taking land--"You shall not
cross my private estate;" the law would answer, if he did, by saying,
"The railway is for the good of the State; you as an individual must
give way to the general good, and must lose your land, receiving a fair
and reasonable money value for it." This principle should be applied
more widely: and if it be for the good of the commonwealth that some
of the enormous land monopolies of this country should be broken up, no
statesman ought to be deterred by the mere dread of interfering with the
so-called rights of private property.

Mr. Mill says: "When the 'sacredness of property' is talked of, it
should always be remembered that any such sacredness does not belong
in the same degree to landed property. No man made the land. It is the
original inheritance of the whole species. Its appropriation is wholly
a question of general expediency. When private property in land is not
expedient it is unjust." The possession of land involves and carries
with it the duty of cultivating that land, and, in fact, individual
proprietorship of soil is only defensible so long as the possessor can
show improvement and cultivation of the land he holds. To quote again
from Mr. John Stuart Mill: "The essential principle of property being
to assure to all persons what they have produced by their labor, and
accumulated by their abstinence, this principle can not apply to that
which is not the produce of labor, the raw material of the earth."
Mr. Mill urges that property in land "is only valid in so far as the
proprietor of the land is its improver." "In no sound theory of private
property was it ever contemplated that the proprietor of land should be
merely a sinecurist quartered upon it." Yet, in England and Wales alone,
the landlords who received for rent, in the year 1800, £22,500,000, now
receive about £67,000,000, and for this have no obligation on them to
cultivate. The holding cultivable land in an uncultivated condition in
this overcrowded country ought to be made a statutory misdemeanor, the
penalty for which should be the forfeiture to the State of the land
so left uncultivated, at, say, a twenty years' purchase of its annual
return in the neglected or misapplied state in which it was found at the
time of conviction. The true theory of landholding should be that the
State should be the only freeholder, all other tenures being limited
in character; and cultivation ought to be a special condition of
tenancy.... The holder of land should either cultivate it with his own
hands, or, as would be most frequently the case, by the hands of others;
but in the latter case, the landed proprietor is bound to allow the
agricultural laborer to live by his labor. By living I mean that the
laborer should have healthy food, shelter, and clothing, and sufficient
leisure in which to educate himself and his family, besides the
necessary leisure for rest from his labors. At present agricultural
laborers do not live; they only drag wearily through a career but little
higher in any respect than--and often not half so comfortable as--that
of many of the other animals on the estate....

Little boys and girls, in the Midland, Eastern, Southern, and
Southwestern counties of England, go into the fields to work, in some
instances, soon after six years of age; in very many cases before they
are seven years old, and in nearly all cases before they have attained
eight. It is true, that the work at first may be the comparatively idle
work of scaring birds or tending sheep, but it involves exposure of the
child's yet delicate frame in the cold and damp of spring, and then to
the heat of the summer sun, from day-dawn to evening. This too often
results in the stunted growth and diseased frame found so frequently
among the English poor. I say nothing of the demoralization of children
consequent on their employment, without regard to sex, in the
field gangs. I pass by the fact that work at this early age utterly
incapacitates them, as a body, for mental effort. It is enough to
declare that no child ought to have to work on the land until he is ten
years of age, and if I am told that the fathers--only earning, in the
majority of instances, from nine to thirteen shillings per week--need
the additional petty wage these wretched babes may bring home, then
again I answer, that it is to the landholder's enormous income that the
State ought to look for the means of educating the too often worse than
savages who are reared on his estate, and who by their labors swell his

That a few landed proprietors should have gigantic incomes, while the
mass of the people are so poor--that in Gloucester, the Rev. Mr. Frazer
describes "type after type of social life almost degraded to the level
of barbarism"--that near Lavenham, "the cottages are unfit for human
habitation"--that in Norfolk the Parliamentary returns speak of their
dwellings in one as "miserable," in a second as "deplorable," in a third
as "detestable," in a fourth as "a disgrace to a Christian community;"
while near Docking, we are told, in consequence of the overcrowding of
the wretched poor, "the whole atmosphere is sensual, and human nature is
degraded into something below the level of the swine." This is a state
of things that if the landholders will not redress willingly they must
be made to remedy before it is too late.

A few men have vast estates and excessive incomes; the millions
have seldom an inch of land until they inherit the grave, and have a
starvation wage out of which a proportion is taken back for rent.
Take the vast property of the Marquis of Westminster, whose income is
credibly stated at something near a million a year; or that of the Duke
of Devonshire, amounting to 96,000 acres in the county of Derby alone,
without regarding his Irish or other estates; or that of the Duke of
Norfolk, whose Sussex estate is fifteen miles in circuit; or that of
the Duke of Sutherland, which stretches across and contains the whole
of Sutherlandshire from sea to sea; or that of the Marquis of Bute,
on which £2,000,-000 sterling were spent by his trustees during his
minority; or that of the Marquis of Breadalbane, who is said to be able
to ride from his own door one hundred miles straight to the sea on his
own freehold land; or those of the Duke of Richmond and Lord Leconfield,
who between them own nearly the whole of the eastern portion of the
county of Sussex, containing nearly 800 square miles. And such estates
have a tendency to increase rather than to diminish. In Northumberland,
the Ducal proprietor, whose titular rank is derived from the county, is
a constant purchaser of any lands put up for sale. Mr. Bright, in 1864,
spoke of one nobleman who devoted £80,000 a year of his income to the
purchase of additional land.

These large properties must all be broken up; they paralyze the people,
and they corrupt their possessors. We prefer that the breaking up shall
be voluntary and gradual, but it must begin at once, for hungry bellies
are multiplying daily.

The State ought to put the peasantry in possession of the land, and this
might be done in several ways at the same time.

1. There is the Prussian Land System, a modification of which might be
made to work well here, and which since 1850 has enabled the smallest
occupiers of peasants' land to acquire the proprietorship at twenty
years' purchase; the amount of which is paid to the landlord, not in
money, but in rent debentures issued by authority of the State, and
bearing four per cent, interest, and gradually redeemable by means of
the one per cent, difference, which at compound interest extinguishes
the principal in a little over forty-one years. The Prussian peasant
has, however, two other options: he may pay less by one-tenth to the
State bank than the rent he formerly paid to his landlord, in which case
the purchase debentures take fifty-six years to redeem; or he may, if
he can raise the cash, compel his landlord to accept eighteen years'
purchase money of the annual rent. By this means nearly 100,000 peasant
proprietors have been created in Prussia. Kent debentures to the extent
of many millions have been issued to the landholders, and in less than
nineteen years more than one-eighth of the debentures issued have been
entirely redeemed and extinguished.

2. The Legislature should declare that leaving cultivable land
uncultivated gave the Government the right to take possession of such
land, assessing it by its actual return for the last live years, and
not by its real value, and handing to the proprietor the amount of, say,
twenty years' purchase in Consolidated Stock, redeemable in a limited
term of years. The land so taken should not be sold at all, but should
be let out to persons willing to become cultivators, on sufficiently
long terms of tenancy to fairly recoup his labor and capital to the
cultivator, who should yearly pay into the National Treasury, in lieu
of all other imperial taxes, a certain proportion of the value of the
annual produce.

3. The game laws should be abolished. Game preserving in England is not
only injurious, in that it diverts land capable of corn-bearing from the
purpose it should fulfill, of growing corn to feed the starving, but
it is injurious in that it prevents proper cultivation of surrounding
farms, and demoralizes and makes criminals of the neighboring
agriculturial laborers, creating for them a kind and degree of crime
which would be otherwise unknown. Poaching, which is so severely
punished, is actually fostered and encouraged by the very landholders
who punish it. Pheasants and partridges' eggs are bought to stock
preserves; the gamekeepers who buy these eggs shut their eyes to the
mode in which they have been procured. The lad who was encouraged to
procure the eggs finds himself in jail when he learns that shooting or
trapping pheasants gains a higher pecuniary reward than leading the plow
horse, or trimming the hedge, or grubbing the plantation. Poaching is
the natural consequence of rearing a large number of rabbits, hares,
partridges, and pheasants, in the midst of an underpaid, underfed,
badly-housed, and deplorably ignorant body of people. The brutal
outrages of gamekeepers of which we read so much are the regretable but
easily-traceable measure of retaliation for a system which takes a baby
child to work in the fields soon after six years of age, which
trains all his worst propensities and deadens and degrades his better
faculties, which keeps him in constant wretchedness, and tantalizes
him with the sight of hundreds of acres on which game runs and flies
well-fed, under his very nose, while he limps ill-fed along the muddy
lane which skirts the preserve--game, which is at liberty to come out of
its covert and eat and destroy the farmer's crop, but which is even then
made sacred by the law, and fenced round by covenants, as in a Leitrim
lease. The game laws must go; they starve our population by using land
which might be golden to the autumn sun with the waving crop of wheat,
barley, and rye; they feed our prisons, and rear a criminal class in
our midst, who have to be prosecuted and guarded at great cost, and
all because hares and pheasants are higher in the landowners' eyes than
human beings.

5. Any person holding more than, say, 5,000 acres of land, should be
taxed at a far heavier rate than those having smaller holdings. That
is, presuming, in order to take a figure as basis, the land-tax on 5,000
acres to be at the rate of 1s. per acre, then on every acre above that
quantity it should be 2s. per acre up to 10,000 acres, and from thence
5s. per acre up to 15,000 acres, and from thence 10s. per acre up to
20,000 acres, so as to discourage all extravagantly large holdings.

6. The law of primogeniture should be repealed; the settlement of
property, except for a widow and her children, be entirely prohibited
and some limitation should be put on the power of devise, so as to
prevent, say, the Marquis of Westminster from leaving the bulk of his
property to his eldest son, while the younger ones are left as noble
paupers, to be provided with places and pensions by the nation. Land
should be made as easily and as cheaply transferable as any personal

The present land monopoly must be broken by legislation, or it will be
destroyed by revolution.

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