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´╗┐Title: Lectures of Col. R. G. Ingersoll, Volume I - Including His Answers to the Clergy, His Oration at His Brother's Grave, Etc., Etc.
Author: Ingersoll, Robert Green, 1833-1899
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lectures of Col. R. G. Ingersoll, Volume I - Including His Answers to the Clergy, His Oration at His Brother's Grave, Etc., Etc." ***

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  Including His Answers To The Clergy,
  His Oration At His Brother's Grave, Etc., Etc.

Complete In Two Volumes

Volume I


     Which Way
     The Great Infidels
     Talmagian Theology
     At a Child's Grave
     Ingersoll's Oration at His Brother's Grave
     Mistakes of Moses
     Skulls and Replies
     What Shall We Do To Be Saved?
     Ingersoll's Answer To Prof. Swing, Dr. Thomas, And Others


Ladies and Gentlemen: An honest god is the noblest work of man. Each
nation has created a god, and the god has always resembled his
creators. He hated and loved what they hated and loved, and he was
invariably found on the side of those in power.  Each god was intensely
patriotic, and detested all nations but his own.  All these Gods
demanded praise, flattery, and worship.  Most of them were pleased with
sacrifice, and the smell of innocent blood has ever been considered a
divine perfume. All these gods have insisted upon having a vast number
of priests, and the priests have always insisted upon being supported
by the people, and the principal business of these priests has been to
boast about their God, and to insist that he could easily vanquish all
the other gods put together.

These gods have been manufactured after numberless models, and
according to the most grotesque fashions.  Some have a thousand arms,
some a hundred heads, some are adorned with necklaces of living snakes,
some are armed with clubs, some with sword and shield, some with
bucklers, and some with wings as a cherub; some were invisible, some
would show themselves entire, and some would only show their backs;
some were jealous, some were foolish, some turned themselves into men,
some into swans, some into bulls, some into doves, and some into holy
ghosts, and made love to the beautiful daughters of men.  Some were
married--all ought to have been--and some were considered as old
bachelors from all eternity.  Some had children, and the children were
turned into gods and worshiped as their fathers had been.  Most of
these gods were revengeful, savage, lustful, and ignorant; as they
generally depended upon their priests for information, their ignorance
can hardly excite our astonishment.

These gods did not even know the shape of the worlds they had created,
but supposed them perfectly flat.  Some thought the day could be
lengthened by stopping the sun, that the blowing of horns could throw
down the walls of a city, and all knew so little of the real nature of
the people they had created, that they commanded the people to love
them.  Some were so ignorant as to suppose that man could believe just
as he might desire, or as might command, and to be governed by
observation, reason, and experience was a most foul and damning sin.
None of these gods could give a true account of the creation of this
little earth.  All were woefully deficient in geology and astronomy.
As a rule, they were most miserable legislators, and as executives,
they were far inferior to the average of American presidents.

The deities have demanded the most abject and degrading obedience. In
order to please them, man must lay his very face in the dust. Of
course, they have always been partial to the people who created them,
and they have generally shown their partiality by assisting those
people to rob and destroy others, and to ravish their wives and
daughters.  Nothing is so pleasing to these gods as the butchery of
unbelievers.  Nothing so enrages them, even now as to have some one
deny their existence.

Few nations have been so poor as to have but one god.  Gods were made
so easily, and the raw material cost so little, that generally the god
market was fairly glutted, and heaven crammed with these phantoms.
These gods not only attended to the skies, but were supposed to
interfere in all the affairs of men.  They presided over everybody and
everything.  They attended to every department. All was supposed to be
under their immediate control.  Nothing was too small--nothing too
large; the falling of sparrows and the motions of planets were alike
attended to by these industrious and observing deities.  From their
starry thrones they frequently came to the earth for the purpose of
imparting information to man.  It is related of one that he came amid
thunderings and lightnings in order to tell the people they should not
cook a kid in its mother's milk.  Some left their shining abode to tell
women that they should, or should not, have children, to inform a
priest how to cut and wear his apron, and to give directions as to the
proper manner for cleaning the intestines of a bird.

When the people failed to worship one of these gods, or failed to feed
and clothe his priests, (which was much the same thing,) he generally
visited them with pestilence and famine.  Sometimes he allowed some
other nation to drag them into slavery--to sell their wives and
children; but generally he glutted his vengeance by murdering their
first born.  The priests always did their whole duty, not only in
predicting these calamities, but in proving, when they did happen, that
they were brought upon the people because they had not given quite
enough to them.

These gods differed just as the nations differed; the greatest and most
powerful had the most powerful gods, while the weaker ones were obliged
to content themselves with the very off-scourings of the heavens.  Each
of these gods promised happiness here and hereafter to all his slaves,
and threatened to eternally punish all who either disbelieved in his
existence or suspected that some other God might be his superior; but
to deny the existence of all gods was, and is, the crime of crimes.
Redden your hands with human blood; blast by slander the fair fame of
the innocent; strangle the smiling child upon its mother's knees;
deceive, ruin and desert the beautiful girl who loves and trusts you,
and your case is not hopeless.  For all this, and for all these, you
may be forgiven. For all this, and for all these, that bankrupt court
established by the gospel, will give you a discharge; but deny the
existence of these divine ghosts, of these gods, and the sweet and
tearful face of Mercy becomes livid with eternal hate.  Heaven's golden
gates are shut, and you, with an infinite curse ringing in your ears,
with the brand of infamy upon your brow, commence your endless
wanderings in the lurid gloom of hell--an immortal vagrant--an eternal
outcast--a deathless convict.

One of these gods, and one who demands our love, our admiration and our
worship, and one who is worshiped, if mere heartless ceremony is
worship, gave to his chosen people for their guidance the following
laws of war: "When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it,
then proclaim peace unto it.  And it shall be if it make thee answer of
peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be that all the people that is
found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve
thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against
thee, then thou shalt besiege it. And when the Lord thy God hath
delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with
the edge of the sword.  But the women and the little ones, and the
cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt
thou take unto thyself, and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies
which the Lord thy God hath given thee.  Thus shalt thou do unto all
the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the
cities of these nations.  But of the cities of these people which the
Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shall save alive
nothing that breatheth."

Is it possible for man to conceive of anything more perfectly infamous?
Can you believe that such directions were given by any except an
infinite fiend?  Remember that the army receiving these instructions
was one of invasion.  Peace was offered on condition that the people
submitting should be the slaves of the invader; but if any should have
the courage to defend their home, to fight for the love of wife and
child, then the sword was to spare none--not even the prattling,
dimpled babe.

And we are called upon to worship such a god; to get upon our knees and
tell him that he is good, that he is merciful, that he is just, that he
is love.  We are asked to stifle every noble sentiment of the soul, and
to trample under foot all the sweet charities of the heart.  Because we
refuse to stultify ourselves--refuse to become liars--we are denounced,
hated, traduced and ostracized here, and this same god threatens to
torment us in eternal fire the moment death allows him to fiercely
clutch our naked helpless souls.  Let the people hate, let the god
threaten--we will educate them, and we will despise and defy him.

The book, called the bible, is filled with passages equally horrible,
unjust and atrocious.  This is the book to read in schools in order to
make our children loving, kind and gentle!  This is the book recognized
in our Constitution as the source of authority and justice!

Strange that no one has ever been persecuted by the Church for
believing God bad, while hundreds of millions have been destroyed for
thinking him good.  The orthodox church never will forgive the
Universalist for saying "God is love."   It has always been considered
as one of the very highest evidence of true and undefiled religion to
insist that all men, women and children deserve eternal damnation.  It
has always been heresy to say, "God will at last save all."

We are asked to justify these frightful passages, these infamous laws
of war, because the bible is the word of God.  As a matter of fact,
there never was, and there never can be, an argument, even tending to
prove the inspiration of any book whatever.  In the absence of positive
evidence, analogy and experience, argument is simply impossible, and at
the very best, can amount only to a useless agitation of the air.  The
instant we admit that a book is too sacred to be doubted, or even
reasoned about, we are mental serfs.  It is infinitely absurd to
suppose that a god would address a communication to intelligent beings,
and yet make it a crime, to be punished in eternal flames for them to
use their intelligence for the purpose of understanding his
communication.  If we have the right to use our reason, we certainly
have the right to act in accordance with it, and no god can have the
right to punish us for such action.

The doctrine that future happiness depends upon belief is monstrous. It
is the infamy of infamies.  The notion that faith in Christ is to be
rewarded by an eternity of bliss, while a dependence upon reason,
observation, and experience merits everlasting pain, is too absurd for
refutation, and can be relieved only by that unhappy mixture of
insanity and ignorance, called "faith."  What man, who ever thinks, can
believe that blood can appease God?  And yet, our entire system of
religion is based upon that belief.  The Jews pacified Jehovah with the
blood of animals, and according to the Christian system, the blood of
Jesus softened the heart of God a little, and rendered possible the
salvation of a fortunate few. It is hard to conceive how the human mind
can give assent to such terrible ideas, or how any sane man can read
the bible and still believe in the doctrine of inspiration.

Whether the bible is true or false, is of no consequence in comparison
with the mental freedom of the race.

Salvation through slavery is worthless.  Salvation from slavery is

As long as man believes the bible to be infallible, that is his master.
The civilization of this century is not the child of faith, but of
unbelief--the result of free thought.

All that is necessary, as it seems to me, to convince any reasonable
person that the bible is simply and purely of human invention--of
barbarian invention--is to read it.  Read it as you would any other
book; think of it as you would any other; get the bandage of reverence
from your eyes; drive from your heart the phantom of fear; push from
the throne of your brain the cowled form of superstition--then read the
holy bible, and you will be amazed that you ever, for one moment,
supposed a being of infinite wisdom, goodness and purity to be the
author of such ignorance and of such atrocity.

Our ancestors not only had their God-factories, but they made devils as
well.  These devils were generally disgraced and fallen gods. Some had
headed unsuccessful revolts; some had been caught sweetly reclining in
the shadowy folds of some fleecy clouds, kissing the wife of the God of
gods.  These devils generally sympathized with man.  There is in regard
to them a most wonderful fact: In nearly all the theologies, mythologic
and religious, the devils have been much more humane and merciful than
the gods.  No devil ever gave one of his generals an order to kill
children and to rip open the bodies of pregnant women.  Such
barbarities were always ordered by the good gods.  The pestilences were
sent by the most merciful gods.  The frightful famine, during which the
dying child with pallid lips sucked the withered bosom of a dead
mother, was sent by the loving gods.  No devil was ever charged with
such fiendish brutality.

One of these gods, according to the account, drowned an entire world,
with the exception of eight persons.  The old, the young, the beautiful
and the helpless were remorselessly devoured by the shoreless sea.
This, the most fearful tragedy that the imagination of ignorant priests
ever conceived, was the act not of a devil, but of God so-called, whom
men ignorantly worship unto this day.  What a stain such an act would
leave upon the character of a devil!  One of the prophets of one of
these gods, having in his power a captured king, hewed him in pieces in
the sight of all the people.  Was ever any imp of any devil guilty of
such savagery?

One of these gods is reported to have given the following directions
concerning human slavery:  "If thou buy a Hebrew servant six years
shall he serve, and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If
he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he were married,
then his wife shall go out with him.  If his master have given him a
wife, and she have borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her
children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself.  And if
the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife and my
children; I will not go out free; then his master shall bring him unto
the judges: he shall also bring him unto the door, or unto the
doorpost; and his Master shall bore his ear with an awl; and he shall
serve him forever."

According to this, a man was given liberty upon condition that he would
desert forever his wife and children.  Did any devil ever force upon a
husband, upon a father, so cruel and so heartless an alternative?  Who
can worship such a god?  Who can bend the knee to such a monster?  Who
can pray to such a fiend?

All these gods threatened to torment forever the souls of their
enemies. Did any devil ever make so infamous a threat?  The basest
thing recorded of the devil, is what he did concerning job and his
family, and that was done by the express permission of one of these
gods and to decide a little difference of opinion between their serene
highnesses as to the character of "my servant Job."

The first account we have of the devil is found in that purely
scientific book called Genesis, and is as follows: "Now the serpent was
more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made,
and he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of the
fruit of the trees of the garden?  And the woman said unto the serpent.
We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of
the tree which is in the midst of the garden God hath said,  Ye shall
not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.  And the serpent
said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.  For God doth know that
in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall
be as gods, knowing good and evil.  And when the woman saw that the
tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a
tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof and
did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat......
And the Lord God said, Behold the man has become as one of us, to know
good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of
the tree of life and eat, and live forever.  Therefore the Lord God
sent him forth from the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he
was taken.  So he drove out the man, and he placed at the east of the
garden of Eden cherubims and a flaming sword, which turned every way to
keep the way of the tree of life."

According to this account the promise of the devil was fulfilled to the
very letter.  Adam and Eve did not die, and they did become as gods,
knowing good and evil.   The account shows, however, that the gods
dreaded education and knowledge then just as they do now. The church
still faithfully guards the dangerous tree of knowledge, and has
exerted in all ages her utmost power to keep mankind from eating the
fruit thereof.  The priests have never ceased repeating the old
falsehood and the old threat: "Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye
touch it, lest ye die."  From every pulpit comes the same cry, born of
the same fear "Lest they eat and become as gods, knowing good and
evil."  For this reason, religion hates science, faith detests reason,
theology is the sworn enemy of philosophy, and the church with its
flaming sword still guards the hated tree, and like its supposed
founder, curses to the lowest depths the brave thinkers who eat and
become as gods.

If the account given in Genesis is really true, ought we not, after
all, to thank this serpent?  He was the first schoolmaster, the first
advocate of learning, the first enemy of ignorance, the first to
whisper in human ears the sacred word liberty, the creator of ambition,
the author of modesty, of inquiry, of doubt, of investigation, of
progress and of civilization.

Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the
dead calm of ignorance and faith.  Banish me from Eden when you will;
but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge!   Some
nations have borrowed their gods; of this number, we are compelled to
say, is our own.   The Jews having ceased to exist as a nation, and
having no further use for a god, our ancestors appropriated him and
adopted their devil at the same time.  This borrowed god is still an
object of some adoration, and this adopted devil still excites the
apprehensions of our people. He is still supposed to be setting his
traps and snares for the purpose of catching our unwary souls, and is
still, with reasonable success, waging the old war against our god.

To me, it seems easy to account for these ideas concerning gods and
devils.  They are a perfectly natural production.  Man has created them
all, and under the same circumstances will create them again.  Man has
not only created all these gods, but he has created them out of the
materials by which he has been surrounded. Generally he has modeled
them after himself, and has given them hands, heads, feet, eyes, ears,
and organs of speech.  Each nation made its gods and devils speak its
language not only, but put in their mouths the same mistakes in
history, geography, astronomy, and in all matters of fact, generally
made by the people.

No god was ever in advance of the nation that created him.  The negroes
represented their deities with black skins and curly hair. The
Mongolian gave to his a yellow complexion and dark almond-shaped eyes.
The Jews were not allowed to paint theirs, or we should have seen
Jehovah with a full beard, an oval face, and an aquiline nose. Zeus was
a perfect Greek and Jove looked as though a member of the Roman senate.
The gods of Egypt had the patient face and placid look of the loving
people who made them.  The gods of northern countries were represented
warmly clad in robes of fur; those of the tropics were naked.  The gods
of India were often mounted upon elephants, those of some islanders
were great swimmers, and the deities of the Arctic zone were
passionately fond of whale's blubber. Nearly all people have carved or
painted representations of their gods, and these representations were,
by the lower classes generally treated as the real gods, and to these
images and idols they addressed prayers and offered sacrifice.

In some countries, even at this day, if the people after long praying
do not obtain their desires, they turn their images off as impotent
gods, or upbraid them in a most reproachful manner, loading them with
blows and curses.  'How now, dog of a spirit,' they say,  'we give you
lodging in a magnificent temple, we gild you with gold, feed you with
the choicest food, and offer incense to you; yet, after all this care,
you are so ungrateful as to refuse us what we ask.'  Hereupon they will
pull the god down and drag him through the filth of the street.  If, in
the meantime, it happens that they obtain their request, then with a
great deal of ceremony, they wash him clean, carry him back and place
him in his temple again, where they fall down and make excuses for what
they have done.  'Of a truth,' they say,  'we were a little too hasty,
and you were a little too long in your grant.  Why should you bring
this beating on yourself.  But what is done cannot be undone.'   Let us
not think of it any more.  If you will forget what is past, we will
gild you over brighter again than before.

Man has never been at a loss for gods.  He has worshiped almost
everything, including the vilest and most disgusting beasts.  He has
worshiped fire, earth, air, water, light, stars, and for hundreds of
ages, prostrated himself before enormous snakes. Savage tribes often
make gods of articles they get from civilized people.  The Todas
worship a cow-bell.  The Kotas worship two silver plates, which they
regard as husband and wife, and another tribe manufactured a god out of
a king of hearts.

Man, having always been the physical superior of woman, accounts for
the fact that most of the high gods have been males.  Had woman been
the physical superior, the powers supposed to be the ruler of Nature
would have been woman, and instead of being represented in the apparel
of man, they would have luxuriated in trains, low necked dresses, laces
and back-hair.

Nothing can be plainer than that each nation gives to its god its
peculiar characteristics, and that every individual gives to his God
his personal peculiarities.

Man has no ideas, and can have none, except those suggested by his
surroundings.  He cannot conceive of anything utterly unlike what he
has seen or felt.  He can exaggerate, diminish, combine, separate,
deform, beautify, improve, multiply and compare what he sees, what he
feels, what he hears, and all of which he takes cognizance through the
medium of the senses; but he cannot create.  Having seen exhibitions of
power, he can say, omnipotent.  Having lived, he can say, immortality.
Knowing something of time, he can say, eternity. Conceiving something
of intelligence, he can say God.  Having seen exhibitions of malice, he
can say, devil.  A few gleams of happiness having fallen athwart the
gloom of his life, he can say, heaven. Pain, in its numberless forms,
having been experienced, he can say, hell.  Yet all these ideas have a
foundation in fact, and only a foundation.  The superstructure has been
reared by exaggerating, diminishing, combining, separating, deforming,
beautifying, improving or multiplying realities, so that the edifice or
fabric is but the incongruous grouping of what man has perceived
through the medium of the senses.  It is as though we should give to a
lion the wings of an eagle, the hoofs of a bison, the tail of a horse,
the pouch of a kangaroo, and the trunk of an elephant.  We have in
imagination created an impossible monster.  And yet the various parts
of this monster really exist.  So it is with all the gods that man has

Beyond nature man cannot go even in thought--above nature he cannot
rise--below nature he cannot fall.

Man, in his ignorance, supposed that all phenomena were produced by
some intelligent powers, and with direct reference to him.  To preserve
friendly relations with these powers was, and still is, the object of
all religions.  Man knelt through fear and to implore assistance, or
through gratitude for some favor which he supposed had been rendered.
He endeavored by supplication to appease some being who, for some
reason, had, as he believed become enraged. The lightning and thunder
terrified him.  In the presence of the volcano he sank upon his knees.
The great forests filled with wild and ferocious beasts, the monstrous
serpents crawling in mysterious depths, the boundless sea, the flaming
comets, the sinister eclipses, the awful calmness of the stars, and
more than all, the perpetual presence of death, convinced him that he
was the sport and prey of unseen and malignant powers.  The strange and
frightful diseases to which he was subject, the freezings and burnings
of fever, the contortions of epilepsy, the sudden palsies, the darkness
of night, and the wild, terrible and fantastic dreams that filled his
brain, satisfied him that he was haunted and pursued by countless
spirits of evil.  For some reason he supposed that these spirits
differed in power--that they were not all alike malevolent--that the
higher controlled the lower, and that his very existence depended upon
gaining the assistance of the more powerful.  For this purpose he
resorted to prayer, to flattery, to worship and to sacrifice.  These
ideas appear to have been almost universal in savage man.

For ages all nations supposed that the sick and insane were possessed
by evil spirits.  For thousands of years the practice of medicine
consisted in frightening these spirits away.  Usually the priests would
make the loudest and most discordant noises possible.  They would blow
horns, beat upon rude drums, clash cymbals, and in the meantime utter
the most unearthly yells.  If the noise-remedy failed, they would
implore the aid of some more powerful spirit.

To pacify these spirits was considered of infinite importance. The poor
barbarian, knowing that men could be softened by gifts, gave to these
spirits that which to him seemed of the most value. With bursting heart
he would offer the blood of his dearest child. It was impossible for
him to conceive of a god utterly unlike himself, and he naturally
supposed that these powers of the air would be affected a little at the
sight of so great and so deep a sorrow.  It was with the barbarian then
as with the civilized now--one class lived upon and made merchandise of
the fears of another. Certain persons took it upon themselves to
appease the gods, and to instruct the people in their duties to these
unseen powers. This was the origin of the priesthood.  The priest
pretended to stand between the wrath of the gods and the helplessness
of man.  He was man's attorney at the court of heaven.  He carried to
the invisible world a flag of truce, a protest and a request. He came
back with a command, with authority and with power.  Man fell upon his
knees before his own servant, and the priest, taking advantage of the
awe inspired by his supposed influence with the gods, made of his
fellow-man a cringing hypocrite and slave.  Even Christ, the supposed
son of God, taught that persons were possessed of evil spirits, and
frequently, according to the account, gave proof of his divine origin
and mission by frightening droves of devils out of his unfortunate
countrymen.  Casting out devils was his principal employment, and the
devils thus banished generally took occasion to acknowledge him as the
true Messiah; which was not only very kind of them, but quite fortunate
for him.  The religious people have always regarded the testimony of
these devils as perfectly conclusive, and the writers of the New
Testament quote the words of these imps of darkness with great

The fact that Christ could withstand the temptations of the devil was
considered as conclusive evidence that he was assisted by some god, or
at least by some being superior to man.  St. Matthew gives an account
of an attempt made by the devil to tempt the supposed son of God; and
it has always excited the wonder of Christians that the temptation was
so nobly and heroically withstood.  The account to which I refer is as

"Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted
of the devil.  And when the tempter came to him, he said: 'If thou be
the son of God command that these stones be made bread.' But he
answered, and said  'It is written: man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.'  Then the
devil taketh him up into the holy city and setteth him upon a pinnacle
of the temple and saith unto him: 'If thou be the son of God, cast
thyself down, for it is written.  He shall give his angels charge
concerning thee, lest at any time thou shalt dash thy foot against a
stone.'  Jesus said unto him  'It is written again, thou shalt not
tempt the Lord thy God.'  Again the devil taketh him up into an
exceeding high mountain and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world
and the glory of them, and saith unto him 'All these will I give thee
if thou wilt fall down and worship me.'"

The Christians now claim that Jesus was God.  If he was God, of course
the devil knew that fact, and yet, according to this account, the devil
took the omnipotent God and placed him upon a pinnacle of the temple,
and endeavored to induce him to dash himself against the earth.
Failing in that, he took the creator, owner and governor of the
universe up into an exceeding high mountain, and offered him this
world--this grain of sand--if he, the God of all the worlds, would fall
down and worship him, a poor devil, without even a tax title to one
foot of dirt!  Is it possible the devil was such an idiot?  Should any
great credit be given to this deity for not being caught with such
chaff?  Think of it!  The devil--the prince of sharpers--the king of
cunning--the master of finesse, trying to bribe God with a grain of
sand that belonged to God!

Is there in ail the religious literature of the world any thing more
grossly absurd than this?

These devils, according to the bible, were various kinds--some could
speak and hear, others were deaf and dumb.  All could not be cast out
in the same way.  The deaf and dumb spirits were quite difficult to
deal with.  St. Mark tells of a gentleman who brought his son to
Christ.  The boy, it seems, was possessed of a dumb spirit, over which
the disciples had no control.  "Jesus said unto the spirit: 'Thou dumb
and deaf spirit.  I charge thee come out of him, and enter no more into
him.'" Whereupon, the deaf spirit having heard what was said, cried out
(being dumb) and immediately vacated the premises.  The ease with which
Christ controlled this deaf and dumb spirit excited the wonder of his
disciples, and they asked him privately why they could not cast that
spirit out.  To whom he replied: "This kind can come forth by nothing
but prayer and fasting."  Is there a Christian in the whole world who
would believe such a story if found in any other book?  The trouble is,
these pious people shut up their reason, and then open their bible.

In the olden times the existence of devils was universally admitted.
The people had no doubt upon that subject, and from such belief it
followed as a matter of course, that a person, in order to vanquish
these devils, had either to be a god, or to be assisted by one. All
founders of religions have established their claims to divine origin by
controlling evil spirits--and suspending the laws of nature.  Casting
out devils was a certificate of divinity.  A prophet, unable to cope
with the powers of darkness, was regarded with contempt.  The utterance
of the highest and noblest sentiments, the most blameless and holy
life, commanded but little respect, unless accompanied by power to work
miracles and command spirits.

This belief in good and evil powers had its origin in the fact that man
was surrounded by what he was pleased to call good and evil phenomena.
Phenomena affecting man pleasantly were ascribed to good spirits, while
those affecting him unpleasantly or injuriously, were ascribed to evil
spirits.  It being admitted that all phenomena were produced by
spirits, the spirits were divided according to the phenomena, and the
phenomena were good or bad as they affected man. Good spirits were
supposed to be the authors of good phenomena, and evil spirits of the
evil--so that the idea of a devil has been as universal as the idea of
a god.

Many writers maintain that an idea to become universal must be true;
that all universal ideas are innate, and that innate ideas cannot be
false.  If the fact that an idea has been universal proves that it is
innate, and if the fact that an idea is innate proves that it is
correct, then the believer in innate ideas must admit that the evidence
of a god superior to nature, and of a devil superior to nature, is
exactly the same, and that the existence of such a devil must be as
self-evident as the existence of such a god.  The truth is, a god was
inferred from good, and a devil from bad, phenomena.  And it is just as
natural and logical to suppose that a devil would cause happiness as to
suppose that a god would produce misery.  Consequently, if an
intelligence, infinite and supreme, is the immediate author of all
phenomena, it is difficult to determine whether such intelligence is
the friend or enemy of man. If phenomena were all good, we might say
they were all produced by a perfectly beneficent being.  If they were
all bad, we, might say they were produced by a perfectly malevolent
power; but as phenomena are, as they affect man, both good and bad,
they must be produced by different and antagonistic spirits; by one who
is sometimes actuated by kindness, and sometimes by malice; or all must
be produced of necessity, and without reference to their consequences
upon man.

The foolish doctrine that all phenomena can be traced to the
interference of good and evil spirits, has been, and still is, almost
universal.  That most people still believe in some spirit that can
change the natural order of events, is proven by the fact that nearly
all resort to prayer.  Thousands, at this very moment, are probably
imploring some supposed power to interfere in their behalf.  Some want
health restored; some ask that the loved and absent be watched over and
protected, some pray for riches, some for rain, some want diseases
stayed, some vainly ask for food, some ask for revivals, a few ask for
more wisdom, and now and then one tells the Lord to do as he thinks
best. Thousands ask to be protected from the devil; some, like David,
pray for revenge, and some implore, even God, not to lead them into
temptation.  All these prayers rest upon, and are produced by the idea
that some power not only can, but probably will, change the order of
the universe.  This belief has been among the great majority of tribes
and nations.  All sacred books are filled with the accounts of such
interferences, and our own bible is no exception to this rule.

If we believe in a power superior to nature, it is perfectly natural to
suppose that such power can and will interfere in the affairs of this
world.  If there is no interference, of what practical use can such
power be?  The scriptures give us the most wonderful accounts of divine
interference: Animals talk like men; springs gurgle from dry bones; the
sun and moon stop in the heavens in order that General Joshua may have
more time to murder; the shadow on a dial goes back ten degrees to
convince a petty king of a barbarous people that he is not going to die
of a boil; fire refused to burn; water positively declined to seek its
level, but stands up like a wall; grains of sand become lice; common
walking-sticks, to gratify a mere freak, twist themselves into
serpents, and then swallow each other by way of exercise; murmuring
streams, laughing at the attraction of gravitation, run up hill for
years, following wandering tribes from a pure love of frolic; prophecy
becomes altogether easier than history; the sons of God become enamored
of the world's girls; women are changed into salt for the purpose of
keeping a great event fresh in the minds of man; an excellent article
of brimstone is imported from heaven free of duty; clothes refuse to
wear out for forty years, birds keep restaurants and feed wandering
prophets free of expense; bears tear children in pieces for laughing at
old men without wigs; muscular development depends upon the length of
one's hair; dead people come to life, simply to get a joke on their
enemies and heirs; witches and wizards converse freely with the souls
of the departed, and God himself becomes a stone-cutter and engraver,
after having been a tailor and dressmaker.

The veil between heaven and earth was always rent or lifted.  The
shadows of this world, the radiance of heaven, and the glare of hell
mixed and mingled until man became uncertain as to which country he
really inhabited.  Man dwelt in an unreal world.  He mistook his ideas,
his dream, for real things.  His fears became terrible and malicious
monsters.  He lived in the midst of furies and fairies, nymphs and
naiads, goblins and ghosts, witches and wizards, sprites and spooks,
deities and devils.  The obscure and gloomy depths were filled with
claw and wing--with beak and hoof--with leering look and sneering
mouths--with the malice of deformity--with the cunning of hatred, and
with all the slimy forms that fear can draw and paint upon the shadowy
canvas of the dark.

It is enough to make one almost insane with pity to think what man in
the long night has suffered: of the tortures he has endured,
surrounded, as he supposed, by malignant powers and clutched by the
fierce phantoms of the air.  No wonder that he fell upon his trembling
knees--that he built altars and reddened them even with his own blood.
No wonder that he implored ignorant priests and impudent magicians for
aid.  No wonder that he crawled groveling in the dust to the temple's
door, and there, in the insanity of despair, besought the deaf gods to
hear his bitter cry of agony and fear.

The savage as he emerges from a state of barbarism, gradually loses
faith in his idols of wood and stone, and in their place puts a
multitude of spirits.  As he advances in knowledge, he generally
discards the petty spirits, and in their stead believes in one, whom he
supposes to be infinite and supreme.  Supposing this great spirit to be
superior to nature, he offers worship or flattery in exchange for
assistance.  At last, finding that he obtains no aid from this supposed
deity--finding that every search after the absolute must of necessity
end in failure--finding that man cannot by any possibility conceive of
the conditionless--he begins to investigate the facts by which he is
surrounded, and to depend upon himself.

The people are beginning to think, to reason and to investigate.
Slowly, painfully, but surely, the gods are being driven from the
earth.  Only upon rare occasions are they, even by the most religious,
supposed to interfere in the affairs of men.  In most matters we are at
last supposed to be free.  Since the invention of steamships and
railways, so that the products of all countries can be easily
interchanged, the gods have quit the business of producing famine.  Now
and then they kill a child because it is idolized by its parents.  As a
rule they have given up causing accidents on railroads, exploding
boilers, and bursting kerosene lamps.  Cholera, yellow fever, and
smallpox are still considered heavenly weapons; but measles, itch and
ague are now attributed to natural causes.  As a general thing, the
gods have stopped drowning children, except as a punishment for
violating the Sabbath. They still pay some attention to the affairs of
kings, men of genius and persons of great wealth: but ordinary people
are left to shift for themselves as best they may.  In wars between
great nations, the gods still interfere; but in prize fights, the best
man with an honest referee, is almost sure to win.

The church cannot abandon the idea of special providence.  To give up
that doctrine is to give up all.  The church must insist that prayer is
answered--that some power superior to nature hears and grants the
request of the sincere and humble Christian, and that this same power
in some mysterious way provides for all.

A devout Clergyman sought every opportunity to impress upon the mind of
his son the fact, that God takes care of all his creatures; that the
falling sparrow attracts his attentions, and that his loving kindness
is over all his works.  Happening, one day, to see a crane wading in
quest of food, the good man pointed out to his son the perfect
adaptation of the crane to get his living in that manner.  "See," said
he, "how his legs are formed for wading! What a long slender bill he
has!  Observe how nicely he folds his feet when putting them in or
drawing them out of the water!  He does not cause the slightest ripple.
He is thus enabled to approach the fish without giving them any notice
of his arrival." "My son," said he, "it is impossible to look at that
bird without recognizing the design, as well as the goodness of God, in
thus providing the means of subsistence."  "Yes" replied the boy, "I
think I see the goodness of God, at least so far as the crane is
concerned: but after all, father, don't you think the arrangement a
little tough on the fish?"

Even the advanced religionist, although disbelieving in any great
amount of interference by the gods in this age of the world, still
thinks that in the beginning some god made the laws governing the
universe.  He believes that in consequence of these laws a man can lift
a greater weight with than without a lever; that this god so made
matter, and so established the order of things, that--two bodies cannot
occupy the same space at the same time; so that a body once put in
motion will keep moving until it is stopped; so that it is a greater
distance around than across a circle; so that a perfect square has four
equal sides, instead of five or seven. He insists that it took a direct
interposition of providence to make the whole greater than a part, and
that had it not been for this power superior to nature, twice one might
have been more than twice two, and sticks and strings might have had
only one end apiece. Like the old Scotch divine, he thanks God that
Sunday comes at the end instead of in the middle of the week, and that
death comes at the close instead of at the commencement of life,
thereby giving us time to prepare for that holy day and that most
solemn event. These religious people see nothing but design everywhere,
and personal, intelligent interference in everything.  They insist that
the universe has been created, and that the adaptation of means to ends
is perfectly apparent. They point us to the sunshine, to the flowers,
to the April rain, and to all there is of beauty and of use in the
world.  Did it ever occur to them that a cancer is as beautiful in its
development as is the reddest rose?  That what they are pleased to call
the adaptation of means to ends, is as apparent in the cancer as in the
April rain?  How beautiful the process of digestion!  By what ingenious
methods the blood is poisoned so that the cancer shall have food!  By
what wonderful contrivances the entire system of man is made to pay
tribute to this divine and charming cancer!  See by what admirable
instrumentalities it feeds itself from the surrounding, quivering,
dainty flesh!   See how it gradually but surely expands and grows! By
what marvelous mechanism it is supplied with long and slender roots
that reach out to the most secret nerves of pain for sustenance and
life!  What beautiful colors it presents!  Seen through the microscope
it is a miracle of order and beauty.  All the ingenuity of man cannot
stop its growth.  Think of the amount of thought it must have required
to invent a way by which the life of one man might be given to produce
one cancer?  Is it possible to look upon it and doubt that there is
design in the universe, and that the inventor of this wonderful cancer
must be infinitely powerful, ingenious and good?

We are told that the universe was designed and created, and that it is
absurd to suppose that matter has existed from eternity, but that it is
perfectly self-evident that a god has.

If a god created the universe, then there must have been a time when he
commenced to create.  Back of that time there must have been an
eternity, during which there had existed nothing--absolutely
nothing--except this supposed god.  According to this theory, this god
spent an eternity, so to speak, in an infinite vacuum, and in perfect

Admitting that a god did create the universe, the question then arises,
of what did he create it?  It certainly was not made of nothing.
Nothing, considered in the light of a raw material, is a most decided
failure.  It follows, then, that a god must have made the universe out
of himself, he being the only existence. The universe is material, and
if it was made of god, the god must have been material.  With this very
thought in his mind, Anaximander of Miletus said: "Creation is the
decomposition of the infinite."

It has been demonstrated that the earth would fall to the sun, only for
the fact that it is attracted by other worlds, and those worlds must be
attracted by other worlds still beyond them, and so on, without end.
This proves the material universe to be infinite.  If an infinite
universe has been made out of an infinite god, how much of the god is

The idea of a creative deity is gradually being abandoned, and nearly
all truly scientific minds admit that matter must have existed from
eternity.  It is indestructible, and the indestructible cannot be
created.  It is the crowning glory of our century to have demonstrated
the indestructibility and the eternal persistence of force.  Neither
matter nor force can be increased nor diminished. Force cannot exist
apart from matter.  Matter exists only in connection with force, and
consequently a force apart from matter, and superior to nature, is a
demonstrated impossibility.

Force, then, must have also existed from eternity, and could not have
been created.  Matter in its countless forms, from dead earth to the
eyes of those we love, and force, in all its manifestations, from
simple motions to the grandest thought, deny creation and defy control.

Thought is a form of force.  We walk with the same force with which we
think.  Man is an organism that changes several forms of force into
thought-force.  Man is a machine into which we put what we call food,
and produce what we call thought.  Think of that wonderful chemistry by
which bread was changed into the divine tragedy of Hamlet!

A god must not only be material, but he must be an organism, capable of
changing other forms of force into thought-force.  This is what we call
eating.  Therefore, if the god thinks he must eat, that is to say, he
must of necessity have some means of supplying the force with which to
think.  It is impossible to conceive of a being who can eternally
impart force to matter, and yet have no means of supplying the force
thus imparted.

If neither matter nor force were created, what evidence have we, then,
of the existence of a power superior to nature?  The theologian will
probably reply,  "We have law and order, cause and effect, and beside
all this, matter could not have put itself in motion."

Suppose, for the sake of an argument, that there is no being superior
to nature, and that matter and force have existed from eternity.  Now
suppose that two atoms should come together, would there be an effect?
Yes.  Suppose they came in exactly opposite directions with equal
force, they would be stopped, to say the least.  This would be an
effect.  If this is so, then you have matter, force and effect without
a being superior to nature.  Now suppose that two other atoms, just
like the first two, should come together under precisely the same
circumstances, would not the effect be exactly the same?  Yes.  Like
causes, producing like effects, is what we mean by law and order.  Then
we have matter, force, effect, law and order without a being superior
to nature. Now, we know that every effect must also be a cause, and
that every cause must be an effect.  The atoms coming together did
produce an effect, and as every effect must also be a cause, the effect
produced by the collision of the atoms, must, as to something else,
have been a cause.  Then we have matter, force, law, order, cause and
effect without a being superior to nature.  Nothing is left for the
supernatural but empty space.  His throne is a void, and his boasted
realm is without matter, without force, without law, without cause, and
without effect.

But what put all this matter in motion?  If matter and force have
existed from eternity, then matter must have always been in motion.
There can be no force without motion.  Force is forever active, and
there is, and there can be no cessation.  If therefore, matter and
force have existed from eternity, so has motion.  In the whole universe
there is not even one atom in a state of rest.

A deity outside of nature exists in nothing, and is nothing.  Nature
embraces with infinite arms all matter and all force.  That which is
beyond her grasp is destitute of both, and can hardly be worth the
worship and adoration even of a man.

There is but one way to demonstrate the existence of a power
independent of and superior to nature, and that is by breaking, if only
for one moment, the continuity of cause and effect.  Pluck from the
endless chain of existence one little link; stop for one instant the
grand procession, and you have shown beyond all contradiction that
nature has a master.  Change the fact, just for one second, that matter
attracts matter, and a god appears.

The rudest savage has always known this fact, and for that reason
always demanded the evidence of miracle.  The founder of a religion
must be able to turn water into wine--cure with a word the blind and
lame, and raise with a simple touch the dead to life.  It was necessary
for him to demonstrate to the satisfaction of his barbarian disciple,
that he was superior to nature.  In times of ignorance this was easy to
do.  The credulity of the savage was almost boundless.  To him the
marvelous was the beautiful, the mysterious was the sublime.
Consequently, every religion has for its foundation a miracle--that is
to say, a violation of nature--that is to say, a falsehood.

No one, in the world's whole history, ever attempted to substantiate a
truth by a miracle.  Truth scorns the assistance of miracle. Nothing
but falsehood ever attested itself by signs and wonders. No miracle
ever was performed, and no sane man ever thought he had performed one,
and until one is performed, there can be no evidence of the existence
of any power superior to, and independent of nature.

The church wishes us to believe.  Let the church, or one of its
intellectual saints, perform a miracle, and we will believe.  We are
told that nature has a superior.  Let this superior, for one single
instant, control nature, and we will admit the truth of your assertion.

We have heard talk enough.  We have listened to all the drowsy,
idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear.  We have read your bible
and the works of your best minds.  We have heard your prayers, your
solemn groans and your reverential amens.  All these amount to less
than nothing.  We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little
fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and
implore you for just one fact.  We know all about your moldy wonders
and your stale miracles.  We want this year's fact.  We ask only one.
Give us one fact of charity.  Your miracles are too ancient.  The
witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years.  Their
reputations for "truth and veracity" in the neighborhood where they
resided is wholly unknown to us.  Give us a new miracle, and
substantiate it by witnesses who still have the cheerful habit of
living in this world.  Do not send us to Jericho to hear the winding
horns, nor put us in the fire with Shadrach, Moshech, and Abednego.  Do
not compel us to navigate the sea with Captain Jonah, nor dine with Mr.
Ezekiel.  There is no sort of use in sending us fox-hunting with
Samson.  We have positively lost interest in that little speech so
eloquently delivered by Balaam's inspired donkey.  It is worse than
useless to show us fishes with money in their mouths, and call our
attention to vast multitudes stuffing themselves with five crackers and
two sardines.  We demand a new miracle and we demand it now.  Let the
church furnish at least one, or forever after hold her peace.

In the olden time, the church, by violating the order of nature, proved
the existence of her God.  At that time miracles were performed with
the most astonishing ease.  They became so common that the church
ordered her priests to desist.  And now this same church--the people
having found so little sense--admits, not only, that she cannot perform
a miracle, but insists--that absence of miracle--the steady, unbroken
march of cause and effect, proves the existence of a power superior to
nature.  The fact is, however, that the indissoluble chain of cause and
effect proves exactly the contrary.

Sir William Hamilton, one of the pillars of modern theology, in
discussing this very subject, uses the following language: "The
phenomena of matter taken by themselves, so far from warranting any
inference to the existence of a god, would on the contrary ground even
an argument to his negation.  The phenomena of a material world are
subjected to immutable laws; are produced and reproduced in the same
invariable succession, and manifest only the blind force of mechanical

Nature is but an endless series of efficient causes.  She cannot
create, but she eternally transforms.  There was no beginning; and
there can be no end.

The best minds, even in the religious world, admit that in material
nature there is no evidence of what they are pleased to call a god.
They find their evidence in the phenomena of intelligence, and very
innocently assert that intelligence is above, and in fact, opposed to
nature.  They insist that man, at least, is a special creation; that he
had somewhere in his brain a divine spark, a little portion of the
"Great First Cause."  They say that matter cannot produce thought; but
that thought can produce matter.  They tell us that man has
intelligence, and therefore there must be an intelligence greater than
his.  Why not say, God has intelligence, therefore there must be an
intelligence greater than his?  So far as we know, there is no
intelligence apart from matter.  We cannot conceive of thought, except
as produced within a brain.

The science, by means of which they demonstrate the existence of an
impossible intelligence, and an incomprehensible power, is called
metaphysics or theology.  The theologians admit that the phenomena of
matter tend, at least, to disprove the existence of any power superior
to nature, because in such phenomena we see nothing but an endless
chain of efficient causes--nothing but the force of a mechanical
necessity. They therefore appeal to what they denominate the phenomena
of mind to establish this superior power.

The trouble is, that in the phenomena of mind we find the same endless
chain of efficient causes; the same mechanical necessity. Every thought
must have had an efficient cause.  Every motive, every desire, every
fear, hope and dream must have been necessarily produced.  There is no
room in the mind of a man for providence or change.  The facts and
forces governing thought are as absolute as those governing the motions
of the planets.  A poem is produced by the forces of nature, and is as
necessarily and naturally produced as mountains and seas.  You will
seek in vain for a thought in man's brain without its efficient cause.
Every mental operation is the necessary result of certain facts and
conditions. Mental phenomena are considered more complicated than those
of matter, and consequently more mysterious.  Being more mysterious,
they are considered better evidence of the existence of a god.  No one
infers a god from the simple, from the known, from what is understood,
but from the complex, from the unknown and incomprehensible.  Our
ignorance is God; what we know is science.

When we abandon the doctrine that some infinite being created matter
and force, and enacted a code of laws for their government, the idea of
interference will be lost.  The real priest will then be, not the
mouth-piece of some pretended deity, but the interpreter of nature.
From that moment the church ceases to exist.  The tapers will die out
upon the dusty altar; the moths will eat the fading velvet of pulpit
and pew; the Bible will take its place with the Shastras, Puranas,
Vedas, Eddas, Sagas and Korans, and the fetters of a degrading faith
will fall from the minds of men.

"But," says the religionist "you cannot explain everything; you cannot
understand everything; and that which you cannot explain, that which
you do not comprehend, is my god."

We are explaining more every day.  We are understanding more every day;
consequently your God is growing smaller every day.

Nothing daunted, the religionist then insists that nothing can exist
without a cause, except cause, and that this uncaused cause is God.

To this we again replied: Every cause must produce an effect, because
until it does produce an effect, it is not a cause.  Every effect must
in its turn become a cause.  Therefore, in the nature of things, there
cannot be a last cause, for the reason that a so-called last cause
would necessarily produce an effect, and that effect must of necessity
become a cause.  The converse of these propositions must be true.
Every effect must have had a cause, and every cause must have been an
effect. Therefore, there could have been no first cause.  A first cause
is just as impossible as a last effect.

Beyond the universe there is nothing, and within the universe the
supernatural does not and cannot exist.

The moment these great truths are understood and admitted, a belief in
general or special providence becomes impossible.  From that instant
men will cease their vain efforts to please an imaginary being, and
will give their time and attention to the affairs of this world.  They
will abandon the idea of attaining any object by prayer and
supplication. The element of uncertainty will, in a great measure, be
removed from the domain of the future, and man, gathering courage from
a succession of victories over the obstructions of nature, will attain
a serene grandeur unknown to the disciples of any superstition.  The
plans of mankind will no longer be interfered with by the finger of a
supposed omnipotence, and no one will believe that nations or
individuals are protected or destroyed by any deity whatever.  Science,
freed from the chains of pious custom and evangelical prejudice, will,
within her sphere, be supreme.  The mind will investigate without
reverence and publish its conclusions without fear.  Agassiz will no
longer hesitate to declare the Mosaic cosmogony utterly inconsistent
with the demonstrated truths of geology, and will cease pretending any
reverence for the Jewish scriptures.  The moment science succeeds in
rendering the church powerless for evil, the real thinkers will be
outspoken.  The little flags of truce carried by timid philosophers
will disappear, and the cowardly parley will give place to victory
lasting and universal.

If we admit that some infinite being has controlled the destinies of
persons and people, history becomes a most cruel and bloody farce. Age
after age, the strong have trampled upon the weak; the crafty and
heartless have ensnared and enslaved the simple and innocent, and
nowhere, in all the annals of mankind, has any god succored the

Man should cease to expect aid from on high.  By this time he should
know that heaven has no ear to hear, and no hand to help. The present
is the necessary child of all the past.  There has been no chance, and
there can be no interference.

If abuses are destroyed, man must destroy them.  If slaves are freed,
man must free them.  If new truths are discovered, man must discover
them.  If the naked are clothed; if the hungry are fed; if justice is
done; if labor is rewarded; if superstition is driven from the mind, if
the defenseless are protected, and if the right finally triumphs, all
must be the work of man.  The grand victories of the future must be won
by man, and by man alone.

Nature, so far as we can discern, without passion and without
intention, forms, transforms, and retransforms forever.  She neither
weeps nor rejoices.  She produces man without purpose, and obliterates
him without regret.  She knows no distinction between the beneficial
and the hurtful.  Poison and nutrition, pain and joy, life and death,
smiles and tears are alike to her.  She is neither merciful nor cruel.
She cannot be flattered by worship nor melted by tears.  She does not
know even the attitude of prayer. She appreciates no difference between
poison in the fangs of snakes and mercy in the hearts of men.  Only
through man does nature take cognizance of the good, the true, and the
beautiful; and, so far as we know, man is the highest intelligence.

And yet man continues to believe that there is some power independent
of and superior to nature, and still endeavors, by form, ceremony,
supplication, hypocrisy, to obtain its aid.  His best energies have
been wasted in the service of this phantom.  The horrors of witchcraft
were all born of an ignorant belief in the existence of a totally
depraved being superior to nature, acting in perfect independence of
her laws; and all religious superstition has had for its basis a belief
in at least two beings, one good and the other bad, both of whom could
arbitrarily change the order of the universe.  The history of religion
is simply the story of man's efforts in all ages to avoid one of these
powers and to pacify the other.  Both powers have inspired little else
than abject fear. The cold, calculating sneer of the devil, and the
frown of God, were equally terrible.  In any event, man's fate was to
be arbitrarily fixed forever by an unknown power superior to all law,
and to all fact.  Until this belief is thrown aside, man must consider
himself the slave of phantom masters--neither of whom promise liberty
in this world nor in the next.

Man must learn to rely upon himself.  Reading bibles will not protect
him from the blasts of winter, but houses, fires, and clothing will.
To prevent famine, one plow is worth a million sermons, and even patent
medicines will cure more diseases than all the prayers uttered since
the beginning of the world.

Although many eminent men have endeavored to harmonize necessity and
free will, the existence of evil, and the infinite power and goodness
of God, they have succeeded only in producing learned and ingenious
failures.  Immense efforts have been made to reconcile ideas utterly
inconsistent with the facts by which we are surrounded, and all persons
who have failed to perceive the pretended reconciliation, have been
denounced as infidels, atheists and scoffers.  The whole power of the
church has been brought to bear against philosophers and scientists in
order to compel a denial of the authority of demonstration,--and to
induce some Judas to betray Reason, one of the saviors of mankind.

During that frightful period known as the "Dark Ages," Faith reigned,
with scarcely rebellious subject.  Her temples were "carpeted with
knees," and the wealth of nations adorned her countless shrines.  The
great painters prostituted their genius to immortalize her vagaries,
while the poets enshrined them in song. At her bidding, man covered the
earth with blood.  The scales of justice were turned with gold, and for
her use were invented all the cunning instruments of pain.  She built
cathedrals for God, and dungeons for men.  She peopled the clouds with
angels and the earth with slaves.  For centuries the world was
retracing its steps--going steadily back toward, barbaric night!  A few
infidels--a few heretics cried, "Halt!" to the great rabble of ignorant
devotion, and made it possible for the genius of the nineteenth century
to revolutionize the cruel creeds and superstitions of mankind.

The thoughts of man, in order to be of any real worth, must be free.
Under the influence of fear the brain is paralyzed, and instead of
bravely solving a problem for itself, tremblingly adopts the solution
of another.  As long as a majority of men will cringe to the very earth
before some petty prince or king, what must be the infinite abjectness
of their little souls in the presence of their supposed creator and
God? Under such circumstances, what can their thoughts be worth?

The originality of repetition, and the mental vigor of acquiescence,
are all that we have any right to expect from the Christian world. As
long as every question is answered by the word "God," scientific
inquiry is simply impossible.  As fast as phenomena are satisfactorily
explained the domain of the power, supposed to be superior to nature
must decrease, while the horizon of the known must as constantly
continue to enlarge.

It is no longer satisfactory to account for the fall and rise of
nations by saying, "It is the will of God."  Such an explanation puts
ignorance and education upon exact equality, and does away with the
idea of really accounting for anything whatever.

Will the religionist pretend that the real end of science is to
ascertain how and why God acts?  Science, from such a standpoint, would
consist in investigating the law of arbitrary action, and in a grand
endeavor to ascertain the rule necessarily obeyed by infinite caprice.

From a philosophical point of view, science is knowledge of the laws of
life; of the condition of happiness; of the facts by which we are
surrounded, and the relations we sustain to men and things--by means of
which man, so to speak, subjugates nature and bends the elemental
powers to his will, making blind force the servant of his brain.

A belief in special providence does away with the spirit of
investigation, and is inconsistent with personal efforts.  Why should
man endeavor to thwart the designs of God?  "Which of you, with taking
thought, can add to his stature one cubit?"  Under the influence of
this belief, man, basking in the sunshine of a delusion, considers the
lilies of the field and refuses to take any thought for the morrow.
Believing himself in the power of an infinite being, who can, at any
moment, dash him to the lowest hell or raise him to the highest heaven,
he necessarily abandons the idea of accomplishing anything by his own
efforts.  So long as this belief was general, the world was filled with
ignorance, superstition and misery.  The energies of man were wasted in
a vain effort to obtain the aid of this power, supposed to be superior
to nature.  For countless ages, even men were sacrificed upon the altar
of this impossible god.  To please him, mothers have shed the blood of
their own babies; martyrs have chanted triumphant songs in the midst of
flames; priests have gorged themselves with blood; nuns have forsworn
the ecstasies of love; old men have tremblingly implored; women have
sobbed and entreated; every pain has been endured, and every horror has
been perpetrated.

Through the dim long years that have fled, humanity has suffered more
than can be conceived.  Most of the misery has been endured by the
weak, the loving and the innocent.  Women have been treated like
poisonous beasts, and little children trampled upon as though they had
been vermin.  Numberless altars have been reddened, even with the blood
of babies; beautiful girls have been given to slimy serpents; whole
races of men doomed to centuries of slavery, everywhere there has been
outrage beyond the power of genius to express.  During all these years
the suffering have supplicated; the withered lips of famine have
prayed; the pale victims have implored, and heaven has been deaf and

Of what use have the gods been to man?

It is no answer to say that some god created the world, established
certain laws, and then turned his attention to other matters, leaving
his children, weak, ignorant and unaided, to fight the battle of life
alone.  It is no solution to declare that in some other world this god
will render a few or even all of his subjects happy.  What right have
we to expect that a perfectly wise, good and powerful being will ever
do better than he has done, and is doing?  The world is filled with
imperfections.  If it was made by an infinite being, what reason have
we for saying that he will render it nearer perfect than it now is?  If
the infinite Father allows a majority of his children to live in
ignorance and wretchedness now, what evidence is there that he will
ever improve their condition?  Will god have more power?  Will he
become more merciful?  Will his love for his poor creatures increase?
Can the conduct of infinite wisdom, power and love ever change?  Is the
infinite capable of any improvement whatever.

We are informed by the clergy that this world is a kind of school; that
the evils by which we are surrounded are for the purpose of developing
our souls, and that only by suffering can men become pure, strong,
virtuous and grand.

Supposing this to be true, what is to become of those who die in
infancy?  The little children, according to this philosophy, can never
be developed.  They were so unfortunate as to escape the ennobling
influences of pain and misery, and as a consequence, are doomed to an
eternity of mental inferiority.  If the clergy are right on this
question, none are so unfortunate as the happy, and we should envy only
the suffering and distressed.  If evil is necessary to the development
of man, in this life, how is it possible for the soul to improve in the
perfect joy of paradise?

Since Paley found his watch, the argument of "design" has been relied
upon as unanswerable.  The Church teaches that this world, and all that
it contains, were created substantially as we now see them, that the
grasses, the flowers, the trees, and all animals, including man, were
special creations, and that they sustain no necessary relation to each
other.  The most orthodox will admit that some earth has been washed
into the sea, that the sea has encroached a little upon the land, and
that some mountains may be a trifle lower than in the morning of
creation.  The theory of gradual development was unknown to our
fathers; the idea of evolution did not occur to them.  Our fathers
looked upon the then arrangement of things as the primal arrangement.
The earth appeared to them fresh from the hands of a deity.  They knew
nothing of the slow evolutions of countless years, but supposed that
the almost infinite variety of vegetable and animal forms had existed
from the first.

Suppose that upon some island we should find a man a million years of
age, and suppose that we should find him in the possession of a most
beautiful carriage, constructed upon the most perfect model. And
suppose further, that he should tell us that it was the result of
several hundred thousand years of labor and of thought; that for fifty
thousand years he used as flat a log as he could find, before it
occurred to him that by splitting the log he could have the same
surface with only half the weight; that it took him many thousand years
to invent wheels for this log; that the wheels he first used were
solid, and that fifty thousand years of thought suggested the use of
spokes and tire; that for many centuries he used the wheels without
linch-pins: that it took a hundred thousand years more to think of
using four wheels, instead of two; that for ages he walked behind the
carriage, when going down hill, in order to hold it back, and that only
by a lucky chance he invented the tongue; would we conclude that this
man, from the very first, had been an infinitely ingenious and perfect
mechanic?  Suppose we found him living in an elegant mansion, and he
should inform us that he lived in that house for five hundred thousand
years before he thought of putting on a roof, and that he had but
recently invented windows and doors; would we say that from the
beginning he had been an infinite accomplished and scientific architect.

Does not an improvement in the things created, show the corresponding
improvement in the creator?

Would an infinitely wise, good and powerful God, intending to produce
man, commence with the lowest possible forms of life; with the simplest
organism that can be imagined, and during immeasurable periods of time,
slowly and almost imperceptibly improve upon the rude beginning, until
man was evolved?  Would countless ages thus be wasted in the production
of awkward forms, afterward abandoned?  Can the intelligence of man
discover the least wisdom in covering the earth with crawling, creeping
horrors, that live only upon the agonies and pangs of others?  Can we
see the propriety of so constructing the earth, that only an
insignificant portion of its surface is capable of producing an
intelligent man?  Who can appreciate the mercy of so making the world
that all animals devour animals? so that every mouth is a
slaughter-house, and every stomach a tomb?  Is it possible to discover
infinite intelligence and love in universal and eternal carnage?

What would we think of a father, who should give a farm to his
children, and before giving them possession should plant upon it
thousands of deadly shrubs and vines; should stock it with ferocious
beasts; and poisonous reptiles; should take pains to put a few swamps
in the neighborhood to breed malaria; should so arrange matters, that
the ground would occasionally open and swallow a few of his darlings,
and besides all this, should establish a few volcanoes in the immediate
vicinity, that might at any moment overwhelm his children with rivers
of fire?  Suppose that this father neglected to tell his children which
of the plants were deadly; that the reptiles were poisonous; failed to
say anything about the earthquakes, and kept the volcano business a
profound secret; would we pronounce him angel or fiend?

And yet this is exactly what the orthodox God has done.

According to the theologians, God prepared this globe expressly for the
habitation of his loved children, and yet he filled the forests with
ferocious beasts; placed serpents in every path; stuffed the world with
earthquakes, and adorned its surface with mountains of flame.

Notwithstanding all this, we are told that the world is perfect; that
it was created by a perfect being, and is therefore necessarily
perfect. The next moment, these same persons will tell us that the
world was cursed; covered with brambles, thistles and thorns, and that
man was doomed to disease and death, simply because our poor, dear
mother ate an apple contrary to the command of an arbitrary God.

A very pious friend of mine, having heard that I had said the world was
full of imperfections, asked me if the report was true.  Upon being
informed that it was, he expressed great surprise that any one could be
guilty of such presumption.  He said that, in his judgment, it was
impossible to point out an imperfection.  "Be kind enough," said he,
"to name even one improvement that you could make, if you had the
power." "Well," said I, "I would make good health catching, instead of

The truth is, it is impossible to harmonize all the ills, and pains,
and agonies of this world with the idea that we were created by, and
are watched over and protected by an infinitely wise, powerful and
beneficent God, who is superior to and independent of nature.

The clergy, however, balance all the real ills of this life with the
expected joys of the next.  We are assured that all is perfection in
heaven--there the skies are cloudless--there all is serenity and peace.
Here empires may be overthrown; dynasties may be extinguished in blood;
millions of slaves may toil 'neath the fierce rays of the sun, and the
cruel strokes of the lash; yet all is happiness in heaven.  Pestilence
may strew the earth with corpses of the loved; the survivors may bend
above them in agony--yet the placid bosom of heaven is unruffled.
Children may expire vainly asking for bread; babies may be devoured by
serpents, while the gods sit smiling in the clouds.  The innocent may
languish unto death in the obscurity of dungeons; brave men and heroic
women may be changed to ashes at the bigot's stake, while heaven is
filled with song and joy. Out on the wide sea, in darkness and in
storm, the shipwrecked struggle with the cruel waves, while the angels
play upon their golden harps. The streets of the world are filled with
the diseased, the deformed and the helpless; the chambers of pain are
crowded with the pale forms of the suffering, while the angels float
and fly in the happy realms of day.  In heaven they are too happy to
have sympathy; too busy singing to aid the imploring and distressed.
Their eyes are blinded; their ears are stopped and their hearts are
turned to stone by the infinite selfishness of joy.  The saved mariner
is too happy when he touches the shore to give a moment's thought to
his drowning brothers.  With the indifference of happiness, with the
contempt of bliss, heaven barely glances at the miseries of earth.
Cities are devoured by the rushing lava; the earth opens and thousands
perish; women raise their clasped hands towards heaven, but the gods
are too happy to aid their children.  The smiles of the deities are
unacquainted with the tears of men.  The shouts of heaven drown the
sobs of earth.

Having shown how man created gods, and how he became the trembling
slave of his own creation, the questions naturally arise: How did he
free himself even a little, from these monarchs of the sky, from these
despots of the clouds, from this aristocracy of the air? How did he,
even to the extent that he has, outgrow his ignorant, abject terror,
and throw off, the yoke of superstition?

Probably, the first thing that tended to disabuse his mind was the
discovery of order, of regularity, of periodicity in the universe. From
this he began to suspect that everything did not happen purely with
reference to him.  He noticed, that whatever he might do, the motions
of the planets were always the same; that eclipses were periodical, and
that even comets came at certain intervals.  This convinced him that
eclipses and comets had nothing to do with him, and that his conduct
had nothing to do with them.  He perceived that they were not caused
for his benefit or injury.  He thus learned to regard them with
admiration instead of fear.  He began to suspect that famine was not
sent by some enraged and revengeful deity but resulted often from the
neglect and ignorance of man. He learned that diseases were not
produced by evil spirits.  He found that sickness was occasioned by
natural causes, and would be cured by natural means.  He demonstrated,
to his own satisfaction at least, that prayer is not a medicine.  He
found by sad experience that his gods were of no practical use, as they
never assisted him, except when he was perfectly able to help himself.
At last, he began to discover that his individual action had nothing
whatever to do with strange appearances in the heavens; that it was
impossible for him to be bad enough to cause a whirlwind, or good
enough to stop one.  After many centuries of thought, he about half
concluded that making mouths at a priest would not necessarily cause an
earthquake.  He noticed, and no doubt with considerable astonishment,
that very good men were occasionally struck by lightning, while very
bad ones escaped.  He was frequently forced to the painful conclusion
(and it is the most painful to which any human being ever was forced)
that the right did not always prevail. He noticed that the gods did not
interfere in behalf of the weak and innocent.  He was now and then
astonished by seeing an unbeliever in the enjoyment of most excellent
health.  He finally ascertained that there could be no possible
connection between an unusually severe winter and his failure to give
sheep to a priest. He began to suspect that the order of the universe
was not constantly being changed to assist him because he repeated a
creed. He observed that some children would steal after having been
regularly baptized.  He noticed a vast difference between religions and
justice, and that the worshipers of the same God took delight in
cutting each other's throats.  He saw that these religious disputes
filled the world with hatred and slavery.  At last he had the courage
to suspect, that no God at any time interferes with the order of
events.  He learned a few facts, and these facts positively refused to
harmonize with the ignorant superstitions of his fathers.  Finding his
sacred books incorrect and false in some particulars, his faith in
their authenticity began to be shaken; finding his priests ignorant on
some points, he began to lose respect for the cloth.  This was the
commencement of intellectual freedom.

The civilization of man has increased just to the same extent that
religious power has decreased.  The intellectual advancement of man
depends upon how often he can exchange an old superstition for a new
truth.  The Church never enabled a human being to make even one of
these exchanges; on the contrary, all her power has been used to
prevent them.  In spite, however, of the Church, man found that some of
his religious conceptions were wrong.  By reading his bible, he found
that the ideas of his God were more cruel and brutal than those of the
most depraved savage.  He also discovered that this holy book was
filled with ignorance, and that it must have been written by persons
wholly unacquainted with the nature of the phenomena by which we are
surrounded; and now and then, some man had the goodness and courage to
speak his honest thoughts.  In every age some thinker, some doubter,
some investigator, some hater of hypocrisy, some despiser of sham, some
brave lover of the right, has gladly, proudly and heroically braved the
ignorant fury of superstition for the sake of man and truth.  These
divine men were generally torn in pieces by the worshipers of the gods.
Socrates was poisoned because he lacked reverence for some of the
deities.  Christ was crucified by the religious rabble for the crime of
blasphemy.  Nothing is more gratifying to a religionist than to destroy
his enemies at the command of God.  Religious persecution springs from
a due admixture of love towards God and hatred towards man.

The terrible religious wars that inundated the world with blood tended
at least to bring all religion into disgrace and hatred. Thoughtful
people began to question the divine origin of a religion that made its
believers hold the rights of others in absolute contempt.  A few began
to compare Christianity with the religions of heathen people, and were
forced to admit that the difference was hardly worth dying for.  They
also found that other nations were even happier and more prosperous
than their own.  They began to suspect, that their religion, after all,
was not of much real value.

For three hundred years the Christian world endeavored to rescue from
the "Infidel" the empty sepulchre of Christ.  For three hundred years
the armies of the cross were baffled and beaten by the victorious hosts
of an impudent impostor.  This immense fact sowed the seeds of distrust
throughout all Christendom, and millions began to lose confidence in a
God who had been vanquished by Mohammed. The people also found that
commerce made friends where religion made enemies, and that religious
zeal was utterly incompatible with peace between nations or
individuals. The discovered that those who loved the gods most were apt
to love men least; that the arrogance of universal forgiveness was
amazing; that the most malicious had the effrontery to pray for their
enemies, and that humility and tyranny were the fruit of the same tree.

For ages, a deadly conflict has been waged between a few brave men and
women of thought and genius upon the one side, and the great ignorant
religious mass on the other.  This is the war between Science and
Faith. The few have appealed to reason, to honor, to law, to freedom,
to the known, and to happiness here in this world. The many have
appealed to prejudice, to fear, to miracle, to slavery, to the unknown,
and to misery hereafter.  The few have said, "Think!" The many have
said, "Believe!"

The first doubt was the womb and cradle of progress, and from the first
doubt, man has continued to advance.  Men began to investigate, and the
church began to oppose.  The astronomer scanned the heavens, while the
church branded his grand forehead with the word, "Infidel"; and now,
not a glittering star in all the vast expanse bears a Christian name.
In spite of all religion, the geologist penetrated the earth, read her
history in books of stone, and found hidden within her bosom, souvenirs
of all the ages.  Old ideas perished in the retort of the chemist,
useful truths took their places.  One by one religious conceptions have
been placed in the crucible of science, and thus far, nothing but dross
has been found.  A new world has been discovered by the microscope;
everywhere has been found the infinite; in every direction man has
investigated and explored, and nowhere, in earth or stars, has been
found the footstep of any being superior to or independent of nature.
Nowhere has been discovered the slightest evidence of any interference
from without.  These are the sublime truths that enable man to throw
off the yoke of superstition.  These are the splendid facts that
snatched the sceptre of authority from the hands of priests.

In the vast cemetery called the past are most of the religions of men,
and there, too, are nearly all their gods.  The sacred temples of India
were ruins long ago.  Over column and cornice; over the painted and
pictured walls, cling and creep the trailing vines. Brahma, the golden,
with four heads and four arms; Vishnu, the sombre, the punisher of the
wicked, with his three eyes, his crescent, and his necklace of skulls;
Siva, the destroyer, red with seas of blood; Kali, the goddess;
Draupadi, the white-armed, and Chrishna, the Christ, all passed away
and left the thrones of heaven desolate.  Along the banks of the sacred
Nile, Isis no longer wandering weeps, searching for the dead Osiris.
The shadow of Typhon's scowl falls no more upon the waves.  The sun
rises as of yore, and his golden beams still smite the lips of Memnon,
but Memnon is as voiceless as the Sphinx.  The sacred fanes are lost in
desert sands; the dusty mummies are still waiting for the resurrection
promised by their priests, and the old beliefs, wrought in curiously
sculptured stone, sleep in the mystery of a language lost and dead.
Odin, the author of life and soul, Vili and Ve, and the mighty giant
Ymir, strode long ago from the icy halls of the North; and Thor, with
iron glove and glittering hammer, dashes mountains to the earth no
more. Broken are the circles and cromlechs of the ancient Druids;
fallen upon the summits of the hills, and covered with the centuries'
moss, are the sacred cairns.  The divine fires of Persia and of the
Aztecs, have died out in the ashes of the past, and there is none to
rekindle, and none to feed the holy flames.  The harp of Orpheus is
still; the drained cup of Bacchus has been thrown aside; Venus lies
dead in stone, and her white bosom heaves no more with love.  The
streams still murmur, but no naiads bathe; the trees still wave, but in
the forest aisles no dryads dance. The gods have flown from high
Olympus.  Not even the beautiful women can lure them back, and Danee
lies unnoticed, naked to the stars.  Hushed forever are the thunders of
Sinai; lost are the voices of the prophets, and the land once flowing
with milk and honey is but a desert and waste.

One by one, the myths have faded from the clouds; one by one, the
phantom host has disappeared, and one by one facts, truths and
realities have taken their places.  The supernatural has almost gone,
but the natural remains.  The gods have fled, but man is here.

Nations, like individuals, have their periods of youth, of manhood and
decay.  Religions are the same.  The same inexorable destiny awaits
them all.  The gods created by the nations must perish with their
creators. They were created by men, and like men, they must pass away.
The deities of one age are the by-words of the next. The religion of
one day and country, is no more exempt from the sneer of the future
than others have been.  When India was supreme, Brahma sat upon the
world's throne. When the scepter passed to Egypt, Isis and Osiris
received the homage of mankind.  Greece, with her fierce valor, swept
to empire, and Zeus put on the purple of authority.  The earth trembled
with the tread of Rome's intrepid sons, and Jove grasped with mailed
hand the thunderbolts of heaven. Rome fell, and Christians from her
territory, with the red sword of war, carved out the ruling nations of
the world, and now Christ sits upon the old throne.  Who will be his

Day by day, religious conceptions grow less and less intense.  Day by
day, the old spirit dies out of book and creed.  The burning
enthusiasm, the quenchless zeal of the early church have gone, never,
never to return.  The ceremonies remain, but the ancient faith is
fading out of the human heart.  The worn out arguments fail to
convince, and denunciations that once blanched the faces of a race,
excite in us only derision and disgust.  As time rolls on, the miracles
grow mean and small, and the evidences our fathers thought conclusive
utterly fail to satisfy us.  There is an "irrepressible conflict"
between religion and science, and they cannot peaceably occupy the same
brain nor the same world.

While utterly discarding all creeds, and denying the truth of all
religions, there is neither in my heart nor upon my lips a sneer for
the hopeful, loving and tender souls who believe that from all this
discord will result a perfect harmony; that every evil will in some
mysterious way become a good, and that above and over all there is a
being who, in some way, will reclaim and glorify everyone of the
children of men; but for those who heartlessly try to prove that
salvation is almost impossible; that damnation is almost certain; that
the highway of the universe leads to hell; who fill life with fear and
death with horror; who curse the cradle and mock the tomb, it is
impossible to entertain other than feelings of pity, contempt and scorn.

Reason, Observation and Experience--the Holy Trinity of Science--have
taught us that happiness is the only good; that the time to be happy is
now, and the way to be happy is to make others so.  This is enough for
us.  In this belief we are content to live and die. If by any
possibility the existence of a power superior to, and independent of,
nature shall be demonstrated, there will then be time enough to kneel.
Until then, let us stand erect.

Notwithstanding the fact that infidels in all ages have battled for the
rights of man, and have at all times been the fearless advocates of
liberty and justice, we are constantly charged by the Church with
tearing down without building again.  The Church should by this time
know that it is utterly impossible to rob men of their opinions.  The
history of religious persecutions fully establishes the fact that the
mind necessarily resists and defies every attempt to control it by
violence.  The mind necessarily clings to old ideas until prepared for
the new.  The moment we comprehend the truth, all erroneous ideas are
of necessity cast aside.

A surgeon once called upon a poor cripple and kindly offered to render
him any assistance in his power.  The surgeon began to discourse very
learnedly upon the nature and origin of disease; of the curative
properties of certain medicines; of the advantages of exercise, air and
light, and of the various ways in which health and strength could be
restored.  These remarks were so full of good sense, and discovered so
much profound thought and accurate knowledge, that the cripple,
becoming thoroughly alarmed, cried out,  "Do not, I pray you, take away
my crutches.  They are my only support, and without them, I should be
miserable, indeed."  "I am not going," said the surgeon,  "to take away
your crutches.  I am going to cure you, and then you will throw the
crutches away yourself."

For the vagaries of the clouds, the infidels propose to substitute the
realities of the earth; for superstition, the splendid demonstrations
and achievements of science; and for the theological tyranny, the
chainless liberty of thought.

We do not say we have discovered all; that our doctrines are the all in
all in truth.  We know of no end to the development of man. We cannot
unravel the infinite complications of matter and force. The history of
one monad is as unknown as that of the universe; one drop of water is
as wonderful as all the seas; one leaf, as all the forests; and one
grain of sand, as all the stars.

We are not endeavoring to chain the future, but to free the present. We
are not forgoing fetters for our children, but we are breaking those
our fathers made for us.  We are the advocates of inquiry, of
investigation and thought.  This of itself, is an admission that we are
not perfectly satisfied with all our conclusions.  Philosophy has not
the egotism of faith.  While superstition builds walls and creates
obstructions, science opens all the highways of thought. We do not
pretend to have circumnavigated everything, and to have solved all
difficulties, but we do believe that it is better to love men than to
fear gods, that it is grander and nobler to think and investigate for
yourself than to repeat a creed.  We are satisfied that there can be
but little liberty on earth while men worship a tyrant in heaven.  We
do not expect to accomplish everything in our day; but we want to do
what good we can, and to render all the service possible in the holy
cause of human progress. We know that doing away with gods and
supernatural persons and powers is not an end.  It is a means to an
end; the real end being the happiness of man.

Felling forests is not the end of agriculture.  Driving pirates from
the sea is not all there is of commerce.

We are laying the foundations of a grand temple of the future--not the
temple of all the gods, but of all the people--wherein, with
appropriate rites, will be celebrated the religion of Humanity. We are
doing what little we can to hasten the coming of the day when society
shall cease producing millionaires and mendicants--gorged indolence and
famished industry--truth in rags, and superstition robed and crowned.
We are looking for the time when the useful shall be the honorable; and
when REASON, throned upon the world's brain, shall be the King of
Kings, and God of Gods.


Ladies and Gentlemen: In the first place, allow me to tender my sincere
thanks to the clergy of this city.  I feel that I am greatly indebted
to them for this magnificent audience.  It has been said, and I believe
it myself, that there is a vast amount of intolerance in the church of
today, but when twenty-four clergymen, three of whom, I believe, are
bishops, act as my advance agents, without expecting any remuneration,
or reward in this world, I must admit that perhaps I was mistaken on
the question of intolerance.  And I will say, further, that against
those men I have not the slightest feeling in the world; every man is
the product of his own surroundings; he is the product of every
circumstance that has ever touched him; he is the product to a certain
degree of the religion and creed of his day, and when men show the
slightest intolerance I blame the creed, I blame the religion, I blame
the superstition that forced them to do so.  I do not blame those men.

Allow me to say, further, that this world is not, in my judgment, yet
perfect.  I am doing, in a very feeble way, to be sure, but I am still
endeavoring, according to my Idea, to make this world just a little
better; to give a little more liberty to men, a little more liberty to
women.  I believe in the government of kindness; I believe in truth, in
investigation, in free thought.  I do not believe that the hand of want
will be eternally extended in the world; I do not believe that the
prison will forever scar the ground; I do not believe that the shadow
of the gallows will forever curse the earth; I do not believe that it
will always be true that the men who do the most work will have the
least to wear and the least to eat.  I do believe that the time will
come when liberty and morality and justice, like the rings of Saturn,
will surround the world; that the world will be better, and every true
man and every free man will do what he can to hasten the coming of the
religion of human advancement.

I understand that for the thousands and thousands of years that have
gone by, all questions have been settled by religion.  I understand
that during all this time the people have gotten their information from
the sacerdotal class--from priests.  I know that when India was supreme
they worshipped Brahma and Vishnu, and that when Rome held in its hand
the red sword of war they worshipped Jove, and I know now that our
religion has swept to the top.  Any man living in India a few hundred
or thousand years ago would have said, this is the only true religion.
Why? Because here is the only true civilization.  A man afterward
living in Egypt would have said, this is the only true religion,
because we have the best civilization; a Greek in Athens would have
said this is the only true religion, and a Roman would have said we
have the true religion, and now those religions all having died,
although they were all true religions, we say ours is the only
religion, because we are the greatest commercial nation in the world.

There will come other nations; there will come other religions. Man has
made every religion in this world, in my judgment, and the religion,
has been good or bad according as the men who made it were good or bad.
If they were savages and barbarians, they made a God like the Jehovah
of the Jews; if they were civilized, if they were kind and tender, they
filled the heavens with kindness and love.  Every man makes his own
God. Show me the God a man worships, and I will tell you what kind of a
man he is.  Every one makes his own God, every one worships his own
God; and if you are a civilized man you will have a civilized God, and
we have been civilizing ours for hundreds and hundreds of years.  He is
getting better every day.

I am going to tell you tonight just exactly what I think.  The other
lecture I delivered here was my conservative lecture; this is my
radical one!  We even hear it suggested that our religion, our Bible,
has given us all we have of prosperity and greatness and grandeur.  I
deny it!  We have become civilized in spite of it, and I will show you
tonight that the obstruction that every science has had is what we have
been pleased to call our religion--or superstition.  I had a
conversation with a gentleman once--and these gentlemen are always
mistaking something that goes along with a thing for the cause of the
thing--and he stated to me that his particular religion was the cause
of all advancement.  I said to him: "No, Sir; the causes of all
advancement, in my judgment, are plug hats and suspenders."  And I said
to him: "You go to Turkey, where they are semi-barbarians, and you
won't find a pair of suspenders or a plug hat in all that country; you
go to Russia, and you will find now and then a pair of suspenders at
Moscow or St. Petersburg; you go on down till you strike Austria, and
black hats begin; then you go on to Paris, Berlin and New York, and you
will find everybody wears suspenders and everybody wears black hats.
Wherever you find education and music there you will find black hats
and suspenders."  He said that any man who said to him that plug hats
and suspenders had done more for mankind than the Bible and religion he
would not talk to.

As a matter of fact, we are controlled today by men who do not exist.
We are controlled today by phenomena that never did exist.  We are
controlled by ghosts and dead men, and in the grasp of death is a
scepter that controls the living present.  I propose that we shall
govern ourselves!  I propose that we shall let the past go, and let the
dead past bury the dead past.  I believe the American people have
brains enough, and nerve enough, and courage enough, to control and
govern themselves, without any assistance from dust or ghosts. That is
my doctrine, and I am going to do what I can while I live to increase
that feeling of independence and manhood in the American people.--We
can control ourselves.  I believe in the gospel of this world; I
believe in happiness right here; I do not believe in drinking skim milk
all my life with the expectation of butter beyond the clouds.  I
believe in the gospel, I say, in this world.  This is a mighty good
world.  There are plenty of good people in this world.  There is lots
of happiness in this world and, I say, let us, in every way we can,
increase it.  I envy every man who is content with his lot, whether he
is poor or whether he is rich.  I tell you, the man that tries to make
somebody else happy, and who owns his own soul, nobody having a
mortgage or deed of trust upon his manhood or liberty--this world is a
pretty good world for such a man.  I do not care: I am going to say my
say, whether I make money or grow poor; no matter whether I get high
office or walk along the dusty highway of the common.  I am going to
say my say, and I had rather be a farmer and live on forty acres of
land--live in a log cabin that I built myself, and have a little grassy
path going down to the spring, so that I can go there and hear the
waters gurgling, and know that it is coming out from the lips of the
earth, like a poem, whispering to the white pebbles--I would rather
live there, and have some hollyhocks at the corner of the house, and
the larks singing and swinging in the trees, and some lattice over the
window, so that the sunlight can fall checkered on the babe in the
cradle.  I had rather live there, and have the freedom of my own brain;
I had rather do that than live in a palace of gold, and crawl, a slimy
hypocrite, through this world.  Superstition has done enough harm
already; every religion, nearly, suspects everything that is pleasant,
everything that is joyous, and they always have a notion that God feels
best when we feel worst.  They have chained the Andromeda of joy to the
cold rock of ignorance and fear, there to be devoured by the dragon of
superstition.  Church and State are two vultures that have fed upon the
heart of chained Prometheus.  I say, let the human race have a chance
let every man think for himself and express that thought.  There is no
wrath in the serene heavens; there is no scowl in the blue of the sky.
Upon the throne of the universe tyranny does not sit as a king.

The speaker here took from his pocket a pair of spectacles, and
adjusted them, saying: I am sorry to admit it; I have got to come to
it.  I hate to put on a pair of spectacles, but the other day, as I was
putting them on, a thought struck me.  I see progress in this.  To
progress is to overcome the obstacles of nature, and in order to
overcome this obstacle of the loss of sight man invented spectacles.
Spectacles led men to the telescope, with which he read all the starry
heavens; and had it not been for the failure of sight we wouldn't have
seen a millionth part that we have.  In the first place, we owe nothing
but truth to the dead. I am going to tell the truth about them.  There
are three theories by which men account for all phenomena--for
everything that happens: First, the supernatural.  In the olden time,
everything that happened some deity produced, some spirit, some devil,
some hobgoblin, some dryad, some fairy, some spook, something except
nature. First, then, the supernatural; and a barbarian, looking at the
wide, mysterious sea, wandering through the depths of the forest,
encountering the wild beasts, troubled by strange dreams, accounted for
everything by the action of spirits, good and bad.  Second, the
supernatural and natural.  There is where the religious world is
today--a mingling of the supernatural and natural, the idea being that
God created the world and imposed upon men certain laws, and then let
them run, and if they ever got into any trouble then he would do a
miracle, and accomplish any good that he desired to do.  Third--and
that is the grand theory--the natural.  Between these theories there
has been from the dawn of civilization a conflict.  In this great war
nearly all the soldiers have been in the ranks of the supernatural.
The believers in the supernatural insist that matter is controlled and
directed entirely by powers from without.  The naturalists maintain
that nature acts from within; that nature is not acted upon; that the
universe is all there is; that nature, with infinite arms, embraces
everything that exists, and that the supposed powers beyond the limits
of the materially real are simply ghosts.

You say, ah! this is materialism! this is the doctrine of matter! What
is matter?  I take a handful of earth in my hands, and into that dust I
put seeds, and arrows from the eternal quiver of the sun smite it, and
the seeds grow and bud and blossom, and fill the air with perfume in my
sight.  Do you understand that?  Do you understand how this dust and
these seeds and that light and this moisture produced that bud and that
flower and that perfume?  Do you understand that any better than you do
the production of thought?  Do you understand that any better than you
do a dream? Do you understand that any better than you do the thoughts
of love that you see in the eyes of the one you adore?  Can you explain
it? Can you tell what matter is?  Have you the slightest conception?
Yet you talk about matter as though you were acquainted with its
origin; as though you had compelled, with clenched hands, the very
rocks to give up the secret of existence?  Do you know what force is?
Can you account for molecular action?  Are you familiar with chemistry?
Can you account for the loves and the hatreds of the atoms?  Is there
not something in matter that forever excludes you? Can you tell what
matter really is? Before you cry materialism, you had better find what
matter is.  Can you tell of anything without a material basis?  Is it
possible to imagine the annihilation of a single atom?  Is it possible
for you to conceive of the creation of a single atom?  Can you have a
thought that is not suggested to you by what you call matter?  Did any
man or woman or child ever have a solitary thought, dream or
conception, that was not suggested to them by something they had seen
in nature? Can you conceive of anything the different parts of which
have been suggested to you by nature?  You can conceive of an animal
with the hoofs of a bison, with the pouch of a kangaroo, with the head
of a buffalo, with the tail of a lion, with the scales of a fish, with
the wings of a bird, and yet every part of this impossible monster has
been suggested to you by nature. You say time, therefore you can think
eternity.  You say pain, therefore you can think hell. You say
strength, therefore you can think omnipotence.  You say wisdom,
therefore you can think infinite wisdom. Everything you see, everything
you can dream of or think of, has been suggested to you by your
surroundings, by nature.  Man cannot rise above nature; below nature
man cannot fall.  Imagine, if you please, the creation of a single
atom.  Can any one here imagine the creation out of nothing of one
atom?  Can any one here imagine the destruction of one atom?  Can you
imagine an atom being changed to nothing?  Can you imagine nothing
being changed to an atom?  There is not a solitary person here with an
imagination strong enough to think either of the creation of an atom or
of the annihilation of an atom.

Matter and the universe are the same yesterday, today and forever.
There is just as much matter in the universe today as there ever was,
and as there ever will be; there is just as much force and just as much
energy as there ever was or ever will be; but it is continually taking
different shapes and forms; one day it is a man, another day it is
animal, another day it is earth, another day it is metal, another day
it is gas, it gains nothing and it loses nothing.  Our fathers
denounced materialism and accounted for all phenomena how?  By the
caprice of gods and devils.  For thousands of years it was believed
that ghosts, good ghosts, bad ghosts, benevolent and malevolent, in
some mysterious way produced all phenomena; that disease and health,
happiness and misery, fortune and misfortune, peace and war, life and
death, success and failure, were but arrows shot by those ghosts or
shadowy phantoms, to reward or punish mankind; that they were
displeased or pleased by our actions, that they blessed the earth with
harvest or cursed it with famine; that they fed or starved the children
of men; that they crowned or uncrowned kings; that they controlled war;
that they gave prosperous voyages, allowing the brave mariner to meet
his wife and children inside the harbor bar, or strewed the sad shore
with wrecks of ships and the bodies of men.  Formerly these ghosts were
believed to be almost innumerable.  Earth, air and water were filled
with these phantoms, but in modern times they have greatly decreased in
number, because the second proposition that I stated, the supernatural
and the natural, has generally been adopted, but the remaining ghosts
are supposed to perform the same functions as of yore.

Let me say right here that the object of every religion ever made by
man has been to get on the good side of supposed powers; has been to
petition the gods to stop the earthquakes, to stop famine, to stop
pestilence.  It has always been something that man should do to prevent
being punished by the powers of the air or to get from them some
favors. It has always been believed that these ghosts could in some way
be appeased; that they could be bettered by sacrifices, by prayer, by
fasting, by the building of temples and cathedrals, by shedding the
blood of men and beasts, by forms, by ceremonies, by kneelings, by
prostrations and flagellations, by living alone in the wild desert, by
the practice of celibacy, by inventing instruments of torture, by
destroying men, women and children, by covering the earth with
dungeons, by burning unbelievers and by putting chains upon the
thoughts and manacles upon the lips of men, by believing things without
evidence, by believing things against evidence, by disbelieving and
denying demonstrations, by despising facts, by hating reason, by
discouraging investigation, by making an idiot of yourself--all these
have been done to appease the winged monsters of the air.

In the history of our poor world no horror has been omitted, no infamy
has been left undone by believers in ghosts, and all the shadows were
born of cowardice and malignity; they were painted by the pencil of
fear upon the canvas of ignorance by that artist called Superstition.
From these ghosts our fathers received their information.  These ghosts
were the schoolmasters of our ancestors. They were the scientists, the
philosophers, the geologists, the legislators, the astronomers, the
physicians, the metaphysicians and historians of the past.

Let me give you my definition of metaphysics, that is to say, the
science of the unknown, the science of guessing.  Metaphysics is where
two fools get together, and each one admits that neither can prove, and
both say, "Hence we infer."  That is the science of metaphysics.  For
this these ghosts were supposed to have the only experience and real
knowledge; they inspired men to write books, and the books were sacred.
If facts were found to be inconsistent with these books, so much the
worse for the facts, and especially for the discoverers of these facts.
It was then and still is believed that these sacred books are the basis
of the idea of immortality, to give up the idea that these books were
inspired is and to renounce the idea of immortal life.  I deny it!  Men
existed before books; and all the books that were ever written were
written, in my judgment, by men, and the idea of immortality was not
born of a book, but was born of the man who wrote the book.  The idea
of immortality, like the great sea, has ebbed and flowed in the human
heart, beating its countless waves of hope and joy against the shores
of time, and was not born of any book, nor of any religion, nor of any
creed; it was born of human affection, and it will continue to ebb and
flow beneath the clouds and mists of doubt and darkness as long as love
kisses the lips of death.  It is the rainbow of hope shining upon the
tears of grief.  We love, therefore we wish to live, and the foundation
of the idea of immortality is human affection and human love, and I
have a thousand times more confidence in the affections of the human
heart, in the deep and splendid feelings of the human soul than I have
in any book that ever was or ever can be written by mortal man.

From the books written by those ghosts we have at least ascertained
that they knew nothing whatever of the world in which we live. Did they
know anything about any other?  Upon every point where contradiction is
possible, the ghosts have been contradicted.  By these ghosts, by these
citizens of the air, by this aristocracy of the clouds the affairs of
government were administered all authority to govern came from them.
The emperors, kings and potentates, every one of them, had the divine
petroleum poured upon his head, the kerosene of authority.

The emperors, king and potentates had communications from the phantoms.
Man was not considered as the source of power; to rebel against the
king was to rebel against the ghosts, and nothing less than the blood
of the offenders could appease the invisible phantoms and by the
authority of the ghosts man was crushed and slayed and plundered.  Many
toiled wearily in the sun and storm that a few favorites of the ghosts
might live in idleness, and many lived in huts and caves and dens that
the few might dwell in palaces, and many clothed themselves with rags
that a few might robe themselves in purple and gold, and many crept and
cringed and crawled that a few might tread upon their necks with feet
of iron. From the ghosts men received not only authority but
information. They told us the form of the earth; they informed us that
eclipses were caused by the sins of man, especially the failure to pay
tithes that the universe was made in six days; that gazing at the sky
with a telescope was dangerous; that trying to be wise beyond what they
had written was born of a rebellious and irreverent spirit; they told
us there was no virtue like belief; no crime like doubt, that
investigation was simply impudence, and the punishment therefore
violent torment; they not only told us all about this world but about
two others, and if their statements about the other two are as true as
they were about this, no one can estimate the value of their

For countless ages the world was governed by ghosts, and they spared no
pains to change the eagle of the human intellect into a bat of
darkness. To accomplish this infamous purpose, to drive the love of
truth from the human heart; to prevent the advancement of mankind to
shut out from the world every ray of intellectual light to pollute
every mind with superstition, the power of kings, the cunning and
cruelty of priests, and the wealth of nations were used.

In order to show you the information we got from the ghosts, and the
condition of the world when the ghosts were the kings, let me call your
attention to this: During these years of persecution, ignorance,
superstition and slavery, nearly all the people, the kings, lawyers and
doctors, learned and unlearned, believed in that frightful production
of ignorance, of fear and faith, called witchcraft.  Witchcraft today
is religion carried out.  They believed that man was the sport and prey
of devils; that the very air was thick with these enemies of man, and,
with few exceptions, this hideous belief was universal.  Under these
conditions progress was almost impossible.  Fear paralyzed the brain.

Progress is born of courage.  Fear believes, courage doubts.  Fear
falls upon the earth and prays; courage stands erect and thinks. Fear
retreats; courage advances.  Fear is barbarism, courage is
civilization.  Fear believes in witchcraft; courage in science and in
eternal law.  The facts upon which this terrible belief rested were
proved over and over again in nearly every court in Europe.  Thousands
confessed themselves guilty, admitted they had sold themselves to the
devil.  They gave the particulars of the sale; told what they said and
what the devil replied.  They confessed themselves guilty when they
knew that confession was death; knew that their property would be
confiscated and their children left to beg their bread.  This is one of
the miracles of history, one of the strangest contradictions of the
human mind. Without doubt they really believed themselves guilty.

In the first place, they believed in witchcraft as a fact, and when
charged with it, they became insane.  They had read the account of the
witch of Endor calling up the dead body of Samuel. He is an old man; he
has his mantle on.  They had read the account of Saul stooping to the
earth and conversing with the spirit that had been called from the
region of space by a witch.  They had read a command from the Almighty,
"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," and they believed the world
was full of witches, or else the Almighty Would not have made a law
against them.  They believed in witchcraft, and when they were charged
with it, they probably became insane, and in their insanity they
confessed their guilt. They found themselves abhorred and deserted,
charged with a crime they could not disprove.  Like a man in quicksand,
every effort only sunk them deeper.  Caught in this frightful web, at
the mercy of the devotees of superstition, hope fled and nothing
remained but the insanity of confession.

The whole world appeared insane.  In the time of James I, a man was
burned for causing a storm at sea, with the intention of drowning one
of the royal family, but I do not think it would have been much of a
crime if he had been really guilty.  How could he disprove it?  How
could he show that he did not cause a storm at sea?  All storms were at
that time supposed to be inspired by the devil; the people believed
that all storms were caused by him, or by persons whom he assisted.  I
implore you to remember that the men who believed these things wrote
our creeds and our confessions of faith, and it is by their dust that I
am asked to kneel and pay implicit homage, instead of investigating;
and I implore you to recollect that they wrote our creeds.

A woman was tried and convicted before Sir Matthew Hale, one of the
greatest judges and lawyers of England, for having caused children to
vomit crooked pins.  Think of that!  The learned judge charged the
intelligent jury that there was no doubt as to the existence of
witches, that it was established by all history and expressly taught by
the Bible.  The woman was hung and her body was burned.  Sir Thomas
Moore declared that to give up witchcraft was to throw away the sacred
scriptures.  John Wesley, too, was a firm believer in ghosts, and
insisted upon their existence after all laws upon the subject had been
repealed in England, and I beg of you to remember that John Wesley was
the founder of the Methodist Church.  In New England a woman was
charged with being a witch and with having changed herself into a fox;
while in that condition she was attacked and bitten by some dogs, and a
committee of three men was ordered by the Court to examine this woman.
They removed her clothing, and searched for what they were pleased to
call witch-spots--that is to say, spots into which a needle could be
thrust without giving pain; they reported to the Court that such spots
were found.  She denied that she had ever changed herself into a fox.
On the report of the committee she was found guilty, and she was
actually executed by our Puritan fathers, the gentlemen who braved the
danger of the deep for the sake of worshiping God and persecuting their
fellow men.  I belong to their blood, and the best thing I can say
about them, and that which rises like a white shaft to their eternal
honor, is that they were in favor of education.

A man was attacked by a wolf; he defended himself and succeeded in
cutting off one of the animal's paws, and the wolf ran away; he put it
in his pocket and carried it home; there he found his wife with one of
her hands gone, and he took that paw from his pocket and put it upon
her arm, and it assumed the appearance of a human hand, and he charged
his wife with being a witch.  She was tried, she confessed her guilt,
and she was hung and her body was burned! My! is it possible?  Did not
somebody say something against such an infamous proceeding?  Yes, they
did!  There was a Young Men's Association who invited a man to come and
give his ideas upon the subject.

He denounced it.  He said it was outrageous, that it was nonsensical,
that it was infamous and the moment he went away the young men met and
passed a resolution that he had deceived them; and the clergy at that
time protested and said, of course, let the man think, if you call that
kind of stuff thinking.

But there was one man belonging to this Association who had the courage
to stand by the truth.

Whether he believed in what the speaker said or not, he had that
manliness; and I take this opportunity to thank from the bottom of my
heart a man.  I have no idea he agrees with me except in this: Whatever
you do, do it like a man and be honest about it.

People were burned for causing frost in summer; for destroying crops
with hail; for causing storms--for making cows go dry; for souring
beer; for putting the devil in emptyings so that they would not rise.
The life of no one was secure.  To be charged was to be convicted.
Every man was at the mercy of every other.  This infamous belief was so
firmly seated in the minds of the people, that, to express a doubt as
to its existence was to be suspected yourself.  They believed that
animals were often taken possession of by devils, and they believed
that the killing of the animal would destroy the devil.  They
absolutely tried, convicted and executed dumb beasts.

At Vail, in 1470, a rooster was tried upon the charge of having laid an
egg, and the clergy said they had no doubt of it.  Rooster eggs were
used only in making witch-ointment.  This everybody knew. The rooster
was convicted, and with all due solemnity, he was burned in the public

So a hog and six pig died for having killed and partially eaten a
child. The hog was convicted, but the pigs, on account of their extreme
youth, were acquitted.

As late as 1740, a cow, charged with being possessed of a devil, was
tried and was convicted.  They used to exorcise rats, snakes and
vermin; they used to go through the alleys and streets and fields and
warn them to leave within a certain number of days, and if they did not
leave, they threatened them with certain pains and penalties which they
proceeded to recount.

But let us be careful how we laugh about those things; let us not pride
ourselves too much on the progress of our age.  We must not forget that
some of our people are yet in the same intelligent business.  Only a
little while ago the Governor of Minnesota appointed a day of fasting
and prayer to see if the Lord could not be induced to kill the
grasshoppers--or send them into some other State.

About the close of the fifteenth century was the excitement in regard
to witchcraft, and Pope Innocent the Eighth issued a bull directing the
inquisitors to be vigilant in searching out and punishing all guilty of
this crime.  Forms for the crime were regularly issued.  For two
hundred and fifty years the church was busy in punishing the impossible
crime of witchcraft by burning, hanging and torturing men, women and
little children.

Protestants were as active as Catholics; and in Geneva five hundred
witches were burned at the stake in three months, and one thousand were
executed in one year in the diocese of Couro; at least one hundred
thousand victims suffered in Germany, the last execution being in
Galesburgh, and taking place in 1794, and the last in Switzerland,
1780. In England statutes were passed from Henry VI to James I,
defining the crime and punishment, and the last act passed in the
British Parliament was when Lord Bacon was a member of the house.

In 1716 Mrs. Hicks and daughter, nine years of age, were hung for
selling their souls to the devil; and raising a storm at sea by pulling
off their stockings and making a lather of soap.  In England it has
been estimated that at least 30,000 were hung or burned.  The last
victim executed in Scotland was 1722.  She was an innocent old woman
who had so little idea of her condition, that she rejoiced at the sight
of the fire destined to consume her to ashes.  She had a daughter, lame
in her hands, a circumstance accounted for from the fact that the witch
had been used to transfer her daughter into a pony and get her shod by
the devil!  Intelligent ancestors!

In 1692 nineteen persons were executed in Salem, Massachusetts, for the
crime of witchcraft.  It was thought in those days that men and women
made contracts with the devil, and those contracts were confirmed at a
meeting of witches and ghosts, over which the devil presided; these
contracts in some cases were for a few years, others for life.  General
assemblages of witches were held once a year.  To these they rode from
great distances on brooms and dogs, and there they did homage to the
prince of hell and offered him sacrifices.

In 1836 the populace of Holland plunged into the sea a woman reputed to
be a sorceress, and as the miserable woman persisted in rising to the
surface, she was pronounced guilty, and was beaten to death.  It was
believed that the devil could transform people into any shape he
pleased, and whoever denounced this idea was denounced as an Infidel;
that the believers in witchcraft appealed to the devil; that with the
devil were associated innumerable spirits, who ranged over the world
endeavoring to torment mankind; that these spirits possessed a power
and wisdom transcending the limits of human faculties.  They believed
the devil could carry persons hundreds of miles in a few seconds; they
believed this because they knew that Christ had been carried by the
devil, in the same manner, into a high mountain, and placed upon a
pinnacle.  According to their account, the prince of the air had
absolutely taken the God of this infinite Universe, the Creator of all
its shining, wheeling stars--he had been absolutely taken by the devil
to a pinnacle of the temple, and there had been tempted by the devil to
cast himself to the earth.

Take from the church itself the threat and fear of hell and it becomes
an extinct volcano.  With the doctrine of hell taken from the Church,
that is the end of the fall of man, that is the end of the scheme of
atonement.  Take from them the idea of an eternal place of torment, and
the Church is thrown back simply upon facts.

And Dean Stanley, the leading ecclesiastic of Great Britain, only the
other day in Winchester Abbey, said science will be the only theology
of the future.  Morality is the only religion of the years to come.
Not withstanding all the infamous things laid to the charge of the
Church, we are told that the civilization of today is the child of what
we are pleased to call superstition. Let me call your attention to what
they received from their fears of these ghosts.  Let me give you an
outline of the sciences as taught by those philosophers.  There is one
thing that a man is interested in, if he is in anything, and that is in
the science of medicine.  A doctor is, so to speak, in partnership with
Nature. He is a preserver if he is worthy of the name.  And now I want
to show what they have gotten from these ghosts upon the science of

According to them, all of the diseases were produced as a punishment by
the good ghosts, or out of pure malignity by the bad ones.  There were,
properly speaking, no diseases; the sick were simply possessed by
ghosts.  The science of medicine consisted in knowing how to persuade
these ghosts to vacate the premises and for thousands of years all
diseases were treated with incantations, hideous noises, with the
beating of drums and gongs; everything was done to make the position of
a ghost as unpleasant as possible; and they generally succeeded in
making things so disagreeable that if the ghost did not leave, the
patient died.  These ghosts were supposed to be different in rank,
power and dignity.  Now, then, a man pretended to have won the favor of
some powerful ghost who gave him power over the little ones.  Such a
man became a very great physician.  It was found that a certain kind of
smoke was exceedingly offensive to the nostrils of your ordinary ghost.
With this smoke the sick room would be filled until the ghost vanished
or the patient died.  It was also believed that certain words, when
properly pronounced, were the most effective weapons, for it was for a
long time supposed that Latin words were the best, I suppose because
Latin was a dead language.  For thousands of years medicine consisted
in driving the devils out of men.  In some instances bargains and
promises were made with the ghosts.  One case is given where a
multitude of devils traded a man off for a herd of swine.  In this
transaction the devils were the losers, the swine having immediately
drowned themselves in the sea.  This idea of disease appears to have
been almost universal and is not yet extinct.  The contortions of the
epileptic, the strange twitching of those afflicted with cholera, were
all seized as proof that the bodies of men were filled with vile and
malignant spirits.  Whoever endeavored to account for these things by
natural causes; whoever endeavored to cure disease by natural means was
denounced as an Infidel. To explain anything was a crime.  It was to
the interest of the sacerdotal class that all things should be
accounted for by the will and power of God and the devil.  The moment
it is admitted that all phenomena are within the domain of the natural,
and that all the prayers in the world cannot change one solitary fact,
the necessity for the priest disappears.  Religion breathes the idea of
miracles.  Take from the minds of men the idea of the supernatural, and
superstition ceases to exist; for this reason the Church has always
despised the man who explains the wonderful.  The moment that it began
to be apparent that prayer could do nothing for the body, the priest
shifted his ground and began praying for the soul.

After the devil was substantially abandoned in the practice of
medicine, and when it was admitted that God had nothing to do with
ordinary coughs and colds, it was still believed that all the diseases
were sent by Him as punishment for the people; it was thought to be a
kind of blasphemy to even stay the ravages of pestilence.  Formerly,
when a pestilence fell upon a people, the arguments of the priest were
boundless.  He told the people that they had refused to pay their
tithes, and they had doubted some of the doctrines of the church, that
in their hearts they had contempt for some of the priests of the Lord,
and God was now taking his revenge, and the people, for the most part,
believed this issue of falsehood, and hastened to fall upon their knees
and to pour out their wealth upon the altars of hypocrisy.

The Church never wanted disease to be absolutely under the control of
man.  Timothy Dwight, president of Yale College, preached a sermon
against vaccination.  His idea was that if God had decreed that through
all eternity certain men should die of small pox, it was a frightful
sin to endeavor to prevent it; that plagues and pestilence were
instruments in the hands of God with which to gain the love and worship
of mankind; to find the cure for the disease was to take the punishment
from the Church.  No one tries to cure the ague with prayer because
quinine has been found to be altogether more reliable.  Just as soon as
a specific is found for a disease, that disease is left out of the list
of prayer. The number of diseases with which God from time to time
afflicts mankind is continually decreasing, because the number of
diseases that man can cure is continually increasing.  In a few years
all diseases will be under the control of man.  The science of medicine
has but one enemy--superstition.  Man was afraid to save his body for
fear he would lose his soul.  Is it any wonder that the people in those
days believed in and taught the infamous doctrine of eternal
punishment, that makes God a heartless monster and man a slimy
hypocrite and slave?

The ghosts were also historians, and wrote the grossest absurdities.
They wrote as though they had been eye witnesses of every occurrence.
They told all the past, they predicted all the future, with an
impudence that amounted to sublimity.  They said that the Tartars
originally came from hell, and that they were called Tartars because
that was one of the names of hell.  These gentlemen accounted for the
red on the breasts of robins from the fact that those birds used to
carry water to the unhappy infants in hell.  Other eminent historians
say that Nero was in the habit of vomiting frogs.  When I read that, I
said some of the croakers of the present day would be better for such a
vomit.  Others say that the walls of a city fell down in answer to
prayer.  They tell us that King Arthur was not born like other mortals;
that he had great luck in killing giants; that one of the giants that
he killed wore clothes woven from the beards of kings that he had
slain, and, to cap the climax, the authors of this history were
rewarded for having written the only reliable history of their country.
These are the men from whom we get our creeds and our confessions of

In all the histories of those days there is hardly a truth.  Facts were
not considered of any importance.  They wrote, and the people believed
that the tracks of Pharaoh's chariot were still visible upon the sands
of the Red Sea, and that they had been miraculously preserved as
perpetual witnesses of the miracles that had been performed, and they
said to any man who denied it, "Go there and you will find the tracks
still upon the sand."  They accounted for everything as the work of
good and evil spirits; with cause and effect they had nothing to do.
Facts were in no way related to each other.  God, governed by infinite
caprice, filled the world with miracles and disconnected events, and
from his quiver came the arrows of pestilence and death.  The moment
the idea is abandoned that everything in this universe is natural--that
all phenomena are the necessary links in the endless chain of
being--the conception of history becomes impossible that the ghost of
the present is not the child of the past; the present is not the mother
of the future. In the domain of superstition all is accident and
caprice; and do not, I pray you, forget that the writers of our creeds
and confessions of faith believed this to be a world of chance.
Nothing happens by accident; nothing happens by chance.  In the wide
universe everything is necessarily produced, every effect has behind it
a cause, every effect is in its turn a cause, and there is in the wide
domain of the infinite not room enough for a miracle.

When I say this, I mean this is my idea.  I may be wrong, but that is
my idea.  It was believed by our intelligent ancestors that all law
derived its greatness and force from the fact that it had been
communicated to man by ghosts.  Of course, it is not pretended that the
ghosts told everybody the law, but they told it to a few, and the few
told it to the people, and the people, as a rule, paid them exceedingly
well for the trouble.  It was a long time before the people commenced
making laws for themselves, and, strange as it may appear, most of
their laws are vastly superior to the ghost article. Through the web
and woof of human legislation gradually began to run and shine and
glitter the golden thread of justice.

During these years of darkness it was believed that, rather than see an
act of injustice done, rather than see the guilty triumph, some ghost
would interfere and I do wish, from the bottom of my heart, that that
was the truth.  There never was forced upon my heart a more frightful
conviction than this--the right does not always prevail; there never
was forced upon my mind a more cruel conclusion than this--innocence is
not always a sufficient shield. I wish it was.  I wish, too, that man
suffered nothing but that which he brings upon himself and yet I find
that in nine districts in India, between the 1st day of last January
and the 1st day of June, 2,800,000 people starved to death, and that
little children, with their lips upon the breasts of famine, died,
wasted away. And why, simply because a little while before the wind did
not veer the one hundredth part of a degree, and send clouds over the
country, freighted with rain, freighted with love and joy.  But if that
wind had just turned that way there would have been happy men, women
and children, all clad in the garments of health.  I wish that I could
know in my heart that there was some power that would see to it that
men and women got exact justice somewhere.  I do wish that I knew--the
right would prevail--that innocence was an infinite shield.

During these years it was believed that rather than see an act of
injustice done some ghost would interfere.  This belief, as a rule,
gave great satisfaction to the victorious party, and, as the other man
was dead, no complaint was ever made by him.  This doctrine was a
sanctification of brute force and chance.  Prisoners were made to grasp
hot irons, and if it burned them their guilt was established.  Others
were tied hands and feet and cast into the sea, and if they sank, the
verdict of guilt was unanimous; if they did not sink then they said
water is such a pure element that it refuses to take a guilty person,
and consequently he is a witch or wizard.  Why, in England, persons
accused of crime could appeal to the cross, and to a piece of
sacramental bread.  If he could swallow this without choking he was
acquitted.  And this practice was continued until the time of King
Edward, who was choked to death; after which it was discontinued.

Ghosts and their followers always took delight in torturing with
unusual pain any infraction of their laws, and generally death was the
penalty. Sometimes, when a man committed only murder, he was permitted
to flee to a place of refuge--murder being only a crime against
man--but for saying certain words, or denying certain doctrines, or for
worshiping wrong ghosts, or for failing to pray to the right one, or
for laughing at a priest, or for saying that wine was not blood, or
bread was not flesh, or for failing to regard rams' horns as artillery,
or for saying that a raven as a rule, was a poor landlord, death,
produced by all the ways that ingenuity or hatred could devise, was the
penalty suffered by these men.  I tell you tonight law is a growth; law
is a science. Right and wrong exist in the nature of things.  Things
are not right because they are commanded; they are not wrong because
they are prohibited.  They are prohibited because we believe them
wrong; they are commended because we believe them right.  There are
real crimes enough without creating artificial ones.  All progress in
legislation for a thousand years has consisted in repealing the laws of
the ghosts.  The idea of right and wrong is born of man's capacity to
enjoy and suffer.  If man could not suffer, if he could not inflict
injury upon his brother, if he could neither feel nor inflict
punishment, the idea of law, the idea of right, the idea of wrong,
never could have entered into his brain.  If man could not suffer, if
he could not inflict suffering, the word conscience never would have
passed the lips of man.  There is one good--happiness. There is one
sin--selfishness.  All laws should be for the preservation of the one
and the destruction of the other.  Under the regime of the ghosts the
laws were not understood to exist in the nature of things; they were
supposed to be irresponsible commands, and these commands were not
supposed to rest upon reason; they were simply the product of arbitrary
will.  These penalties for the violations of those laws were as cruel
as the penalties were absurd.  There were over two hundred offenses for
which man was punished with death.  Think of it! And these laws are
said to have come from a most merciful God.  And yet we have become
civilized to that degree in this country that in the State of New York
there is only one crime punishable with death. Think of it!  Did I not
tell you that we were now civilizing our gods?  The tendency of those
horrible laws, the tendency of those frightful penalties, was to blot
the idea of justice from the human soul.  Now, I want to show you how
perfectly every department of human knowledge, or rather of ignorance,
was saturated with superstition.  I will for a moment refer to the
science of language.

It was thought by our fathers that Hebrew was the original language;
that it was taught to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden by the
Almighty himself.  Every fact inconsistent with that idea was thrown
away. According to the ghosts, the trouble at the Tower of Babel
accounted for the fact that all the people did not speak the Hebrew
language.  The Babel question settled all questions in the science of
language.  After a time so many facts were found to be so inconsistent
with the Hebrew idea that it began to fall into disrepute, and other
languages began to be used.  Andrew Kent published a work on the
science of language, in which he stated that God spoke to Adam, and
Adam answered, in Hebrew, and that the serpent probably spoke to Eve in
French.  In 1580 another celebrated work was published at Antwerp, in
which the whole matter was put at rest, showing beyond a doubt that the
language spoken in Paradise was neither more nor less than plain
Holland Dutch.  Another celebrated writer, a contemporary of Sir Isaac
Newton, discouraged the idea that all languages could be traced to one;
he maintained that language was of natural growth; that we speak as
naturally as we grow; we talk as naturally as sings a bird, or as
blooms and blossoms a flower. Experience teaches us that this be so;
words are continually dying and continually may being born--words are
the garments of thought.  Through the lapse of time some were as rude
as the skins of wild beasts, and others pleasing and cultured like silk
and gold.  Words have been born of hatred and revenge, of love and self
sacrifice and fear, of agony and joy the stars have fashioned them, and
in them mingled the darkness and the dawn.

Every word that we get from the past is, so to speak, a mummy robed in
the linen of the grave.  They are the crystallizations of human
history, of all that man enjoyed, of all that man has suffered, his
victories and defeats, all that he has lost and won.  Words are the
shadows of all that has been; they are the mirrors of all that is. The
ghosts also enlightened our fathers in astronomy and geology. According
to them the world was made out of nothing, and a little more nothing
having been taken than was used in the construction of the world, the
stars were made out of the scraps that were left over.  Cosmos, in the
sixth century, taught that the stars were impelled by angels, who
carried them upon their shoulders, rolled them in front of them, or
drew them after. He also taught that each angel who pushed a star took
great pains to observe what the other angels were doing, so that the
relative distances between the stars might always remain the same.

He stated that this world was a vast body of water, with a strip of
land on the outside; that Adam and Eve lived on the outer strip; that
their descendants were drowned on the outer strip, all except Noah and
his family; he accounted for night and day by saying that on the outer
strip of land was a mountain, around which the sun revolved, producing
darkness when it was hidden from sight, and daylight when it emerged;
he also declared the earth to be flat. This he proved by many passages
from the Bible; among other reasons for believing the earth to be flat
he referred to a passage in the New Testament, which says that Christ
shall come again in glory and power, and every eye shall see him, and
said, now, if the world is round how are the people on the other side
going to see Christ when he comes?  That settled the question, and the
church not only indorsed this book but declared that whoever believed
either less or more was a heretic and would be dealt with as such.

In those blessed days ignorance was a king and science was an outcast.
The church knew that the moment the earth ceased to be the center of
the universe, and became a mere speck in the starry sphere of
existence, every religion would become a thing of the past. In the name
and by the authority of the ghosts, men enslaved their fellowmen; they
trampled upon the rights of women and children.  In the name and by the
authority of ghosts, they bought and sold each other.  They filled
heaven with tyrants and the earth with slaves. They filled the present
with intolerance and the future with horror. In the name and by the
authority of the ghosts, they declared superstition to be the real
religion.  In the name and by the authority of the ghosts, they
imprisoned the human mind; they polluted the conscience, they subverted
justice, and they sainted hypocrisy.  I have endeavored in some degree
to show you what has been and always will be when men are governed by

When they destroy the sublime standard of reason; when they take the
words of others and do not investigate them themselves, even the great
men of those days appear nearly as weak as the most ignorant.  One of
the greatest men of the world, an astronomer second to none, discoverer
of the three great laws that explain the solar system, was an
astrologer and believed that he could predict the career of a man by
finding what star was in the ascendant at his birth.  He believed in
what is called the music of the spheres, and he ascribed the qualities
of the music--alto, bass, tenor and treble--to certain of the planets.
Another man kept an idiot, whose words he put down and then put them
together in such a manner as to make promises, and waited patiently to
see that they were fulfilled.  Luther believed he had actually seen the
devil and discussed points of theology with him.  The human mind was
enchained. Every idea, almost, was a mystery.  Facts were looked upon
as worthless; only the wonderful was worth preserving.  Devils were
thought to be the most industrious beings in the universe, and with
these imps every occurrence of an unusual character was connected.
There was no order, certainty; everything depended upon ghosts and
phantoms, and man, for the most part, considered himself at the mercy
of malevolent spirits. He protected himself as best he could with holy
water, and with tapers, and wafers, and cathedrals.  He made noises to
frighten the ghosts and music to charm them; he fasted when he was
hungry and he feasted when he was not; he believed everything
unreasonable; he humbled himself; he crawled in the dust; he shut the
doors and windows; and excluded every ray of light from his soul; and
he delayed not a day to repair the walls of his own prison; and from
the garden of the human heart they plucked and trampled into the bloody
dust the flowers and blossoms; they denounced man as totally depraved;
they made reason blasphemy; they made pity a crime; nothing so
delighted them as painting the torments and tortures of the damned.
Over the worm that never dies they grew poetic. According to them, the
cries ascending from hell were the perfume of heaven.

They divided the world into saints and sinners, and all the saints were
going to heaven, and all the sinners yonder.  Now, then, you stand in
the presence of a great disaster.  A house is on fire, and there is
seen at a window the frightened face of a woman with a babe in her
arms, appealing for help;  humanity cries out: "Will someone go to the
rescue?"  They do not ask for a Methodist, a Baptist, or a Catholic;
they ask for a man; all at once there starts from the crowd one that
nobody ever suspected of being a saint; one may be, with a bad
reputation; but he goes up the ladder and is lost in the smoke and
flame; and a moment after he emerges, and the great circles of flame
hiss around him; in a moment more he has reached the window; in another
moment, with the woman and child in his arms, he reaches the ground and
gives his fainting burden to the bystanders and the people all stand
hushed for a moment, as they always do at such times, and then the air
is rent with acclamations.  Tell me that that man is going to be sent
to hell, to eternal flames, who is willing to risk his life rather than
a woman and child should suffer from the fire one moment!  I despise
that doctrine of hell!  Any man that believes in eternal hell is
afflicted with at least two diseases--petrifaction of the heart and
petrifaction of the brain.

I have seen upon the field of battle a boy sixteen years of age struck
by a fragment of a shell; I have seen him fall; I have seen him die
with a curse upon his lips and the face of his mother in his heart.
Tell me that his soul will be hurled from the field of battle where he
lost his life that his country might live--where he lost his life for
the liberties of man--tell me that he will be hurled from that field to
eternal torment!  I pronounce it an infamous lie.  And yet, according
to these gentlemen, that is to be the fate of nearly all the splendid
fellows in this world.

I had in my possession a little while ago a piece of fresco that used
to adorn a church at Stratford-on-Avon, the place where Shakespeare
lived, and there was a picture representing the morning of the
resurrection and people were getting out of their graves and devils
were grabbing them by their heels.  And there was an immense monster,
with jaws open so wide that a man could walk down its throat, and the
flames were issuing therefrom, and there were devils driving people in
droves down the throat of this monster; and there was an immense kettle
in which they had put these men, and the fire was being stirred under
it, and hot pitch was being poured on top, and little devils were
setting it on fire and then on the walls there were hundreds hung up by
their tongues to hooks and nails; and then the saved--there were some
five or six saved--upon the horizon, and they had a most self-satisfied
grin of "I told you so."

At the risk of being tiresome, I have said that I have to show the
direction of the human mind in slavery, the effects of widespread
ignorance, and the result of fear.  I want to convince you that every
form of slavery, physical or mental, is a viper that will finally fill
with poison the breast of any man alive.  I want to show you that there
should be republicanism in the domain of thought as well as in civil
government.  The first step toward progress is for man to cease to be
the slave of the creatures of his creation. Men found at last that the
event is more valuable than the prophecy, especially if it never comes
to pass.  They found that diseases were not produced by spirits; that
they could not be cured by frightening them away.  They found that
death was as natural as life.  They began to study the anatomy and
chemistry of the human body, and they found that all was natural, and
the conjurer and the sorcerer were dismissed, and the physician and
surgeon were employed.  They learned that being born under a star or
planet had nothing to do with their luck; the astrologer was discharged
and the astronomer took his place.  They found that the world had swept
through the constellation for millions of ages.  They found that
diseases were produced as easily as grass, and were not sent as
punishment on men for failing to believe a creed.  They found that man,
through intelligence, could take advantage of the affairs of nature;
that he could make the waves, the winds, the flames, and the lightnings
slaves at his bidding to administer to his wants; they found the ghosts
knew nothing of benefit to man; that they were entirely ignorant of
history; that they were bad doctors and worse surgeons; that they knew
nothing of the law and less of justice that they were poor politicians;
that they were tyrants, and that they were without brains and utterly
destitute of hearts.

The condition of this world during the dark ages shows exactly the
result of enslaving the souls of men.  In those days there was no
liberty.  Liberty was despised, and the laborer was considered but
little above the beast.  Ignorance, like a vast cowl, covered the brain
of the world; superstition ran riot, and credulity sat upon the throne
of the soul.  Murder and hypocrisy were the companions of man, and
industry was a slave.  Every country maintained that it was no robbery
to take the property of Mohammedans by force, and no murder to kill the
owner.  Lord Bacon was the first man who maintained that a Christian
country was bound to keep its plighted faith with a Mohammedan nation.
Every man who could read or write was suspected of being a heretic in
those days.  Only one person in 40,000 could read or write.  All
thought was discouraged.  The whole earth was ruled by the mitre and
sceptre, by the altar and throne, by fear and force, by ignorance and
faith, by ghouls and ghosts.  In the 15th century the following law was
in force in England:  "Whosoever reads the Scripture in the mother
tongue shall forfeit land, cattle, life and goods, for themselves and
their heirs forever, and should be condemned for heretics to God,
enemies to the crown, and traitors to the land."

During the period this law was in force, thirty-nine were hanged and
their bodies burned.  In the 16th century men were burned because they
failed to kneel to a procession of monks.  Even the Reformers, so
called, had no idea of liberty only when in the minority; the moment
they were clothed with power, they began to exterminate with fire and
sword.  Castillo--and I want you to recollect it--was the first
minister in the world that declared in favor of universal toleration.
Castillo was pursued by John Calvin like a wild beast.  Calvin said
that such a monstrous doctrine he crucified Christ afresh, and they
pursued that man until he died; recollect it!  They can't do that
now-a-days!  You don't know how splendid I feel about the liberty I
have.  The horizon is filled with glory and the air is filled with
wings.  If there are any in this world who think they had better not
tell what they really think because it will take bread from their
little children, because it will take clothing from their
families--don't do it! don't make martyrs of yourselves!  I don't
believe in martyrdom! Go right along with them; go to church and say
amen as near the right place as you can.  I will do your talking for
you.  They can't take the bread away from me.  I will talk.  Bodemus, a
lawyer of France, wrote a few words in favor of freedom of conscience.
Montaigne was the first to raise his voice against torture in France;
but what was the voice of one man against the terrible cry of ignorant,
infatuated, malevolent millions!  I intend to do what little I can, and
I am going to do it kindly.  I am going to appeal to reason and to
charity, to justice, to science, and to the future. For my part, I
glory in the fact that in the New World, in the United States, liberty
of conscience was first granted to man, and that the Constitution of
the United States was the first great decree entered in the high court
of human equity forever divorcing Church and State. It is the grandest
step ever taken by the human race and the Declaration of Independence
was the first document that retired ghosts from politics.  It is the
first document that said authority does not come from the phantoms of
the air; authority is not from that direction; it comes from the people
themselves.  The Declaration of Independence enthroned man and
dethroned the phantoms.  You will ask what has caused this change in
three hundred years.  I answer, the inventions and discoveries of the
few; the brave thoughts and heroic utterances of the few; the
acquisition of a few facts; getting acquainted with our mother, Nature.
Besides this, you must remember that every wrong in some way, tends to
abolish itself.  It is hard to make a lie last always. A lie will not
fit the truth; it will only fit another lie told on purpose to fit it.
Nothing but truth lives.

The nobles and the kings quarreled; the priests began to dispute, and
the millions began to get their rights.  In 1441 printing was
discovered.  At that time the past was a vast cemetery, without an
epitaph.  The ideas of men had mostly perished in the brains that had
produced them.  Printing gives an opening for thought; it preserves
ideas; it made it possible for a man to bequeath to the world the
wealth of his thoughts.  About the same time, or a little before, the
Moors had gone into Europe, and it can be truthfully said that science
was thrust into the brain of Europe upon the point of a Moorish lance.
They gave us paper, and what is printing without paper?

A bird without wings.  I tell you paper has been a splendid thing.

The discovery of America, whose shores were trod by the restless feet
of adventure and the people of every nation--out of this strange
mingling of facts and fancies came the great Republic. Every fact has
pushed a superstition from the brain and a ghost from the cloud.  Every
mechanical art is an educator; every loom, every reaper, every mower,
every steamboat, every locomotive, every engine, every press, every
telegraph is a missionary of science and an apostle of progress; every
mill, every furnace with its wheels and levers, in which something is
made for the convenience, for the use and the comfort and the
well-being of man, is my kind of church, and every schoolhouse is a
temple. Education is the most radical thing in this world.  To teach
the alphabet is to inaugurate a revolution; to build a schoolhouse is
to construct a fort; every library is an arsenal filled with the
weapons and ammunition of progress; every fact is a monitor with sides
of iron and a turret of steel.  I thank the inventors and discoverers.
I thank Columbus and Magellan.  I thank Locke and Hume, Bacon and
Shakespeare. I thank Fulton and Watt, Franklin and Morse, who made
lightning the messenger of man.  I thank Luther for protesting against
the abuses of the Church, but denounce him because he was an enemy of
liberty. I thank Calvin for writing a book in favor of religious
freedom, but I abhor him because he burned Servetus.  I thank the
Puritans for saying that resistance to tyrants is obedience to God, and
yet I am compelled to admit that they were tyrants themselves.  I thank
Thomas Paine because he was a believer in liberty.  I thank Voltaire,
that great man who for half a century was the intellectual monarch of
Europe, and who, from his throne at the foot of the Alps, pointed the
finger of scorn at every hypocrite in Christendom.  I thank the
inventors, I thank the discoverers, the thinkers and the scientists,
and I thank the honest millions who have toiled.  I thank the brave men
with brave thoughts. They are the Atlases upon whose broad and mighty
shoulders rests the grand fabric of civilization; they are the men who
have broken, and are still breaking, the chains of superstition.

We are beginning to learn that to swap off a superstition for a fact,
to ascertain the real, is to progress.  All that gives us better bodies
and minds and clothes and food and pictures, grander music, better
heads, better hearts, and that makes us better husbands and wives and
better citizens, all these things combined produce what we call the
progress of the human race.  Man advances only as he overcomes the
obstacles of nature.  It is done by labor and thought.  Labor is the
foundation. Without great labor it is impossible to progress.  Without
labor on the part of those who conduct all great industries of life, of
those who battle with the obstacles of the sea, on the part of the
inventors, the discoverers, and the brave, heroic thinkers, no surplus
is produced; and from the surplus produced by labor, spring the schools
and universities, the painters, the sculptors, the poets, the hopes,
the loves and the aspirations of the world.

The surplus has given us the books.  It has given us all there is of
beauty and eloquence.  I am aware there is a vast difference of opinion
as to what progress is, and that many denounce my ideas. I know there
are many worshipers of the past.  They see no beauty in anything from
which they do not blow the dust of ages with the breath of praise.
They see nothing like the ancients; no orators, poets or statesmen like
those who have been dust for thousands of years.

In a sermon on a certain evening, some time ago, the Rev. Dr. Magee of
Albany, N. Y., stated that Colonel Ingersoll, referring to Jesus
Christ, called him a "dirty little Jew."  I denounce that as a dirty
little lie.

I have as much reverence for any man who ever did what he believed was
right, and died in order to benefit mankind, as any man in this world.
Do they treat an opponent with fairness?  Are they investigating?  Do
they pull forward or do they hold back?  Is science indebted to the
Church for a single fact?  Let us know what it is.  What church has
been the asylum for a persecuted truth? What reform has been
inaugurated by the Church?  Did the Church abolish slavery?  No.  Who
commenced it? Such men as Garrison and Pillsbury and Wendel Phillips.
They were the titans that attacked the monster, and not a solitary one
of them ever belonged to a church.  Has the Church raised its voice
against war?  No. Are men restrained by superstition?  Are men
restrained by what you call religion?  I used to think they were not;
now I admit they are.  No man has ever been restrained from the
commission of a real crime, but from an artificial one he has.  There
was a man who committed murder.  They got the evidence, but he
confessed that he did it.  "What did you do it for?"  "Money."   "Did
you get any money?"  "Yes."  "How much?" "Fifteen cents."   "What kind
of a man was he?"  "A laboring man I killed."  "What did you do with
the money?"   "I bought liquor with it." "Did he have anything else?"
"I think he had some meat and bread." "What did you do with that?"   "I
ate the bread and threw away the meat; it was Friday."  So you see it
will restrain in some things.

Just to the extent that man has freed himself from the dominion of
ghosts he has advanced; to that extent he has freed himself from the
tyrant's poison. Man has found that he must give liberty to others in
order to have it himself.  He has found that a master is a slave; that
a tyrant is also a slave.  He has found that governments should be
administered by men for men; that the rights of all are to be
protected; that woman is at least the equal for man; that men existed
before books; that all creeds were made by men; that the few have a
right to contradict what the pulpit asserts; that man is responsible to
himself and to others.  True religion must be free; without liberty the
brain is a dungeon and the mind the convict.  The slave may bow and
cringe and crawl, but he cannot worship, he cannot adore.  True
religion is the perfume of the free and grateful air.  True religion is
the subordination of the passions to the intellect.  It is not a creed;
it is a life.  The theory that is afraid of investigation is not
deserving of a place in the human mind.

I do not pretend to tell what all the truth is.  I do not pretend to
have fathomed the abyss, nor to have floated on outstretched wings
level with the heights of thought.  I simply plead for freedom. I
denounce the cruelties and horrors of slavery.  I ask for light and air
for the souls of men.  I say, take off those chains--break those
manacles--free those limbs--release that brain.  I plead for the right
to think--to reason--to investigate.  I ask that the future may be
enriched with the honest thoughts of men.  I implore every human being
to be a soldier in the army of progress.  I will not invade the rights
of others.  You have no right to erect your toll-gates upon the
highways of thought.  You have no right to leap from the hedges of
superstition and strike down the pioneers of the human race.  You have
no right to sacrifice the liberties of man upon the altars of ghosts.
Believe what you may; preach what you desire; have all the forms and
ceremonies you please; exercise your liberties in your own way, and
extend to all others the same right.

I attack the monsters, the phantoms of imagination that have ruled the
world.  I attack slavery.  I ask for room--room for the human mind.

Why should we sacrifice a real world that we have for one we know not
of?  Why should we enslave ourselves?  Why should we forge fetters for
our own hands?  Why should we be the slaves of phantoms--phantoms that
we create ourselves?  The darkness of barbarism was the womb of these
shadows.  In the light of science they cannot cloud the sky forever.
They have reddened the hands of man with innocent blood.  They made the
cradle a curse, and the grave a place of torment.

They blinded the eyes and stopped the ears of the human race. They
subverted all the ideas of justice by promising infinite rewards for
finite virtues, and threatening infinite punishment for finite offenses.

I plead for light, for air, for opportunity.  I plead for individual
independence.  I plead for the rights of labor and of thought.  I plead
for a chainless future.  Let the ghosts go--justice remains. Let them
disappear--men, women and children are left.  Let the monster fade
away--the world remains, with its hills and seas and plains, with its
seasons of smiles and frowns, its Springs of leaf and bud, its Summer
of shade and flower, its Autumn with the laden boughs, when

          The withered banners of the corn are still,
          And gathered fields are growing strangely wan,
          While Death, poetic Death, with hands that color
          Whate'er they touch, weaves in the Autumn wood
          Her tapestries of gold and brown.

The world remains, with its Winters and homes and firesides, where grow
and bloom the virtues of our race.  All these are left; and music, with
its sad and thrilling voice, and all there is of art and song and hope,
and love and aspiration high.  All these remain. Let the ghosts go--we
will worship them no more.

Man is greater than these phantoms.  Humanity is grander than all the
creeds, than all the books.   Humanity is the great sea, and these
creeds and books and religions are but the waves of a day. Humanity is
the sky, and these religions and dogmas and theories are but the mists
and clouds, changing continually, destined finally to melt away.

Let the ghosts go.  We will worship them no more.  Let them cover their
eyeless sockets with their fleshless hands, and fade forever from the
imaginations of men.


Ladies and Gentlemen: The idea of a hell was born of revenge and
brutality on the one side, and cowardice on the other. In my judgment
the American people are too brave, too charitable, too generous, too
magnanimous to believe in the infamous dogma of an eternal hell. I have
no respect for any human being who believes in it. I have no respect
for the man who will pollute the imagination of childhood with that
infamous lie. I have no respect for the man who will add to the sorrows
of this world with the frightful dogma. I have no respect for any man
who endeavors to put that infinite cloud, that infinite shadow, over
the heart of humanity. I want to be frank with you. I dislike this
doctrine, I hate it, I despise it; I defy this doctrine. For a good
many years the learned intellects of christendom have been examining
into the religions of other countries in the world, the religions of
the thousands that have passed away. They examined into the religions
of Egypt, the religion of Greece, the religion of Rome and of the
Scandinavian countries. In the presence of the ruins of those religions
the learned men of christendom insisted that those religions were
baseless, that they are fraudulent. But they have all passed away.
While this was being done the christianity of our day applauded, and
when the learned men got through with the religions of other countries
they turned their attention to our religion. By the same mode of
reasoning, by the same methods, by the same arguments that they used
with the old religions, they were overturning the religion of our day.
Why? Every religion in this world is the work of man. Every one! Every
book has been written by man. Men existed before the books. If books
had existed before man, I might admit there was such a thing as a
sacred volume.

In my judgment man has made every religion and made every book. There
is another thing to which I wish to call your attention. Man never had
an idea; man will never have an idea, except those supplied to him by
his surroundings. Every idea in the world that man has, came to him by
nature. Man cannot conceive of anything the hint of which you have not
received from your surroundings. You can imagine an animal with the
hoof of a bison, with the pouch of the kangaroo, with the wings of an
eagle, with the beak of a bird, and with the tail of the lion; and yet
every point of this monster you borrowed from nature. Every thing you
can think of--every thing you can dream of, is borrowed from your
surroundings--everything. And there is nothing on this earth coming
from any other sphere whatever. Man has produced every religion in the
world. And why? Because each generation bodes forth the knowledge and
the belief of the people at the time it was made, and in no book is
there any knowledge found, except that of the people who wrote it. In
no book is there found any knowledge, except that of the time in which
it was written. Barbarians have produced, and always will produce
barbarian religions. Barbarians have produced, and always will produce
ideas in harmony with their surroundings, and all the religions of the
past were produced by barbarians--every one of them. We are making
religions today. We are making religions to-night. That is to say, we
are changing them, and the religion of to-day is not the religion of
one year ago. What changed it? Science has done it; education and the
growing heart of man has done it. We are making these religions every
day, and just to the extent that we become civilized ourselves will we
improve the religion of our fathers. If the religion of one hundred
years ago, compared with the religion of to-day is so low, what will it
be in one thousand years?

If we continue making the inroads upon orthodoxy which we have been
making during the last twenty-five years, what will it be fifty years
from to-night? It will have to be remonetized by that time, or else it
will not be legal tender. In my judgment, every religion that stands by
appealing to miracles is dishonor. [sic]  Every religion in the world
has denounced every other religion as a fraud. That proves to me that
they all tell the truth--about others. Why? Suppose Mr. Smith should
tell Mr. Brown that he--Smith--saw a corpse get out of the grave, and
that when he first saw it, it was covered with the worm's of death, and
that in his presence it was reclothed in healthy, beautiful flesh. And
then suppose Mr. Brown should tell Mr. Smith, "I saw the same thing
myself. I was in a graveyard once, and I saw a dead man rise." Suppose
then that Smith should say to Brown, "You're a liar," and Brown should
reply to Smith, "And you're a liar," what would you think? It would
simply be because Smith, never having seen it himself, didn't believe
Brown; and Brown, never having seen it, didn't believe Smith had. Now,
if Smith had really seen it, and Brown told him he had seen it too,
then Smith would regard it as a corroboration of his story, and he
would regard Brown as one of his principal witnesses. But, on the
contrary, he says, "You never saw it." So, when man says, "I was upon
Mount Sinai, and there I met God, and he told me, 'Stand aside and let
me drown these people';" and another man says to him, "I was upon a
mountain, and there I met the Supreme Brahma," and Moses says, "That's
not true," and contends that the other man never did see Brahma, and he
contends that Moses never did see God, that is in my judgment proof
that they both speak truly.

Every religion, then, has charged every other religion with having been
an unmitigated fraud; and yet, if any man had ever seen the miracle
himself, his mind would be prepared to believe that another man had
seen the same thing. Whenever a man appeals to a miracle he tells what
is not true. Truth relies upon reason, and the undeviating course of
all the laws of nature.

Now, we have a religion--that is, some people have. I do not pretend to
have religion myself. I believe in living for this world--that's my
doctrine--in living here, now, to-day, to-night--that's my doctrine, to
make everybody happy that you can. Now, let the future take care of
itself and if I ever touch the shores of another world I will be just
as ready and anxious to get into some remunerative employment as
anybody else. Now, we have got in this country a religion which men
have preached for about eighteen hundred years, and just in proportion
as their belief in that religion has grown great, men have grown mean
and wicked; just in proportion as they have ceased to believe it, men
have become just and charitable.  And if they believe it to-night as
they once believed it, I wouldn't be allowed to speak in the city of
New York. It is from the coldness and infidelity of the churches that I
get my right to preach; and I say it to their credit. Now we have a
religion. What is it? They say in the first place that all this vast
universe was created by a deity. I don't know whether it was or not.
They say, too, that had it not been for the first sin of Adam there
would never have been any devil in this world, and if there had been no
devil there would have been no sin, and if there had been no sin there
never would have been any death. For my part I am glad there was
Somebody had to die to give me room, and when my turn comes I'll be
willing to let somebody else take my place. But whether there is
another life or not, if there is any being who gave me this, I shall
thank him from the bottom of my heart, because, upon the whole, my life
has been a joy. Now they say, because of this first sin all men were
consigned to eternal hell. And this because Adam was our
representative. Well, I always had an idea that my representative ought
to live somewhere about the same time I do. I always had an idea that I
should have some voice in choosing my representative. And if I had a
voice I never should have voted for the old gentleman called Adam. Now
in order to regain man from the frightful hell of eternity, Christ
himself came to this world and took upon himself flesh, and in order
that we might know the road to eternal salvation he gave us a book, and
that book is called the Bible, and whenever that Bible has been read
men have immediately commenced cutting each others' throats. Wherever
that Bible has been circulated, they have invented inquisitions and
instruments of torture, and they commenced hating each other with all
their hearts. But I am told now, we are all told that this Bible is the
foundation of civilization, but I say that this Bible is the foundation
of Hell, and we never shall get rid of the dogma of hell until we get
rid of the idea that it is an inspired book. Now, what does the Bible
teach? I am not going to talk about what this minister or that minister
says it teaches; the question is "ought a man to be sent to eternal
hell for not believing this Bible to be the work of a Merciful Father?"
and the only way to find out is to read it; and a very few people do
read it now. I will read a few passages. This is the book to be read in
the schools, in order to make our children charitable and good; this is
the book that we must read in order that our children may have ideas of
mercy, charity and justice. Does the Bible teach mercy? Now be honest,
I read: "I will make mine arrows drunk with blood; and the sword shall
devour flesh." (Deut. xxxii, 42.) Pretty good start for a merciful God!
"That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies and the
tongue of thy dogs in the same." (Ps. lxviii, 23.) Again: "And the Lord
thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little;
thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field
increase upon thee." (Deut. vii, 22.)

"But the Lord thy God shall deliver them  unto thee, and shall destroy
them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed.

"And he shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt
destroy their name from under heaven; there shall no man be able to
stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them." (Deut. vii, 23, 24.)

"So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by
waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them.

"And the lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them,
and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephothimaim, and unto
the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left
them none remaining.

"And Joshua did unto them as the Lord bade him; he houghed their
horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.

"And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the
king thereof with the sword; for Hazor beforetime was the head of all
those kingdoms.

"And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the
sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe; and
he burnt Hazor with fire.

"And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did
Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and he utterly
destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the Lord commanded.

"But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burnt
none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn.

"And all the spoil of these cities and the cattle, the children of
Israel took for a prey unto themselves, but every man they smote with
the edge of the sword [Brave!] until they had destroyed them, neither
left they any to breathe. [As the moral god had commanded them.]

"As the Lord commanded Moses, his servant, so did Moses command Joshua,
and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord
commanded Moses.

"So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country,
and all the land of Goshen, and the valley of the same.

"Even from the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir; even unto Baalgad in
the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon; and all their kings he took,
and smote them, and slew them.

"Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.

"There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save
the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gideon; all other they took in battle.

"For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come
against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that
they might have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord
commanded Moses.

"And at that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims from the
mountains, from Hebron, for Debit, from Anab, and from all the
mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel; Joshua
destroyed them utterly with their cities.

"There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of
Israel, only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod there remained.

"So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said
unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according
to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war."
(Josh. xi, 7 to 23.)

"When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim
peace unto it.

"And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee,
then it shall be that all the people that is found therein shall be
tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.

"And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against
thee, then thou shalt besiege it.

"And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou
shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword.

"But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in
the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and
thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath
given thee.

"Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from
thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.

"But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give
thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:

"But thou shalt utterly destroy them." (Deut. xx, 10-17.)

Neither the old men nor the women, nor the maidens,  nor the
sweet-dimpled babe, smiling upon the lap   of his mother, were to be

"And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord  God of Israel [a merciful
god indeed]. Put every  man his sword by his side, and go in and out
from  gate to gate through-out the camp, and slay every man his
brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor."
(Exod. xxxii, 27.)

Now recollect, these instructions were given to an army of invasion,
and the people who were slayed were guilty of the crime of fighting for
their homes. Oh, most merciful God! The old testament is full of
curses, vengeance, jealousy and hatred, and of barbarity and brutality.
Now do you not for one moment believe that these words were written by
the most merciful God. Don't pluck from the heart the sweet flowers of
piety and crush them by superstition. Do not believe that God ever
ordered the murder of innocent women and helpless babes. Do not let
this supposition turn your hearts into stone. When anything is said to
have been written by the most merciful God, and the thing is not
merciful, then I deny it, and say he never wrote it. I will live by the
standard of reason, and if thinking in accordance with reason takes me
to perdition, then I will go to hell with my reason rather that to
heaven without it.

Now does this bible teach political freedom, or does it teach political
tyranny? Does it teach a man to resist oppression? Does it teach a man
to tear from the throne of tyranny the crowned thing and robber called
a king? Let us see [Reading:]

"Let every soul be subject to the higher powers: For there is no power
but of God, the powers that  are ordained of God." (Rom. xii, 1.)

All the kings, and princes, and governors, and  thieves and robbers
that happened to be in authority were placed there by the infinite
father of all!

"Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of

And when George Washington resisted the power of George the Third he
resisted the power of God. And when our fathers said, "Resistance to
tyrants is obedience to God," they falsified the bible itself.

"For he is the minister of God to thee for   good. But if thou do that
which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he
is the minister of God, revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth

"Wherefore ye must needs be subject not only for wrath, but also for
conscience sake." (Rom. xiii, 4, 5.)

I deny this wretched doctrine. Wherever the sword of rebellion is drawn
to protect the rights of man, I am a rebel. Wherever the sword of
rebellion is drawn to give man liberty, to clothe him in all his just
rights, I am on the side of that rebellion. I deny that the rulers are
crowned by the Most High; the rulers are the people, and the presidents
and others are but the servants of the people. All authority comes from
the people, and not from the aristocracy of the air. Upon these texts
of scripture which I have just read rest the thrones of Europe, and
these are the voices that are repeated from age to age by brainless
kings and heartless kings.

Does the bible give woman her rights? Is this bible humane? Does it
treat woman as she ought to be treated, or is it barbarian? Let us see.

"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection." (1 Timothy ii,

If a woman would know anything let her ask her husband. Imagine the
ignorance of a lady who had only that source of information!

"But I suffer not a woman to teach, not to   usurp authority over the
man, but to be in silence.  For Adam was first formed, then Eve. [What
magnificent reason!]"

"And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the
transgression." [Splendid!]

"But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ; and
the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." That
is to say, there is as much difference between the woman and man as
there is between Christ and man. This is the liberty of woman.

"For the man is not of the woman, but the woman is of the man." It was
the man's cut till that was taken, not the woman's. "Neither was the
man created for the woman." Well, what was he created for? "But the
woman was created for the man. Wives, submit yourselves unto your
husbands, as unto the Lord." There's Liberty!

"For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of
the church; and he is the savior of the body.

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

Good again! Even the savior didn't put man and woman upon an equality.
The man could divorce the wife, but the wife could not divorce the
husband, and according to the old testament, the mother had to ask for
forgiveness for being the mother of babes. Splendid!

Here is something from the old testament: "When thou goest forth to war
against thine enemies, and the Lord thy God hath delivered them into
thine hands, and thou has taken them captive.

"And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and has a desire unto
her, that thou wouldst have her to thy wife.

"Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her
head, and pare her nails." (Deut. xxi, 10-12.)

That is in self-defense, I suppose!

This sacred book, this foundation of human liberty,  of morality, does
it teach concubinage and polygamy?  Read the thirty-first chapter of
Numbers, read the  twenty-first chapter of Deuteronomy, read the
blessed lives of Abraham, of David or of Solomon, and then tell me that
the sacred scripture does not teach polygamy and concubinage! All the
language of the world is not sufficient to express the infamy of
polygamy; it makes man a beast and woman a stone. It destroys the
fireside and makes virtue an outcast. And yet it is the doctrine of the
bible--the doctrine defended by Luther and Melanchthon! It takes from
our language those sweetest words, father, husband, wife, and mother,
and takes us back to barbarism, and fills our hearts with the crawling,
slimy serpents of loathsome lust.

Does the bible teach the existence of devils? Of course it does. Yes,
it teaches not only the existence of a good being, but a bad being.
This good being had to have a home; that home was heaven. This bad
being had to have a home; and that home was hell. This hell is supposed
to be nearer to earth than I would care to have it, and to be peopled
with spirits, spooks, hobgoblins, and all the fiery shapes with which
the imagination of ignorance and fear could people that horrible place;
and the bible teaches the existence of hell and this big devil and all
these little devils. The bible teaches the doctrine of witchcraft and
makes us believe that there are sorcerers and witches, and that the
dead could be raised by the power of sorcery. Does anybody believe it

"Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me   a woman that hath a
familiar spirit, that I may  go to her, and inquire of her. And his
servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar
spirit at Endor.

"And Saul disguised himself and put on other raiment, and he went, and
two men with him, and they came to the woman by night; and he said, I
pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up
whom I shall name unto thee. [That was a pretty good spiritual seance.]

"And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done,
how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards,
out of the land; wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life to
cause me to die?

"And Saul sware to her by the Lord, saying, As the Lord liveth there
shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.

"Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said,
Bring me up Samuel.

"And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice; and the
woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art

"And the king said unto her, Be not afraid; for what sawest thou? And
the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.

"And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man
cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it
was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed
himself." (1 Saml. xxviii, 7-14.)

In another place he declares that witchcraft is an abomination unto the
Lord. He wanted no rivals in this business. Now what does the new
testament teach?

"Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into    the wilderness to be
tempted of the devil.

"And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward
an hungered. [sic]

"And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God,
command that these stones be made bread.

"But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread
alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

"Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a
pinnacle of the temple,

"And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, Hell cast thyself down,
for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee; and
in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy
foot against a stone.

"Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the
Lord thy God." (Matt. iv, 1 7.)

Is it possible that anyone can believe that the devil absolutely took
God almighty, and put him on the pinnacle of the temple, and endeavored
to persuade him to jump down? Is it possible?

"Again the devil taketh him up into an exceeding  high mountain and
showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

"And Saith unto him, All these things will I  give thee, if thou will
fall down and worship me.

"Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan, for it is written,
Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."
(Matt. iv, 8-10.)

Now, the devil must have known at that time that  he was God, and God
at that time must have known   that the other was the devil. How could
the latter be conceived to have the impudence to promise God a world in
which he did not have a tax-title to an inch of land?

"Then the devil leaveth him; and, behold, angels  came and ministered
unto him." (Matt. iv, 11.)

"And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of
the Gadarines.

"And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of
the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,

"Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no,
not with chains,

"Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the
chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in
pieces; neither could any man tame him,

"And always, night and day, he was in the  mountains and tombs, crying
and cutting himself with stones.

"But when he saw Jesus afar off, he came and worshiped him.

"And cried with a loud voice and said, What have I to do with thee,
Jesus, thou Son of the Most High God? I adjure thee by God, that thou
torment me not.

"(For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.)

"And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered saying, My name is
Legion: for we are many.

"And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the

"Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine

"And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine that
we may enter into them.

"And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out,
and entered into the swine; and the herd ran violently down a steep
place into the sea (they were about two thousand), and were choked in
the sea." (Mark v, 1-13.)

Now I will ask a question: Should reasonable men, in the nineteenth
century in the United States of America, believe that that was an
actual occurrence? If my salvation depends upon believing that, I am
lost. I have never experienced the signs by which it is said a believer
may be known. I deny all the witch stories in this world. These fables
of devils have covered the world with blood; they have filled the world
with fear, and I am going to do what I can to free the world of these
insatiate monsters, small and great; they have filled the world with
monsters, they have made the world a synonym of liar and ferocity. And
it is this book that ought to be read in all the schools--this book
that teaches man to enslave his brother! If it is larceny to steal the
result of labor, how much more is it larceny to steal the laborer

"Moreover,  of  the  children of the strangers that do sojourn among
you, of them shall ye buy,  and of their families that are with you,
which  they begat in your land; and they shall be your possession.

"And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you,
to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen forever;
but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one
over another with rigor." (Lev. xxv, 45, 46.)

Why? Because they are not as good as you will buy of the heathen

Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them.

"If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve; and in the
seventh he shall go  out free for nothing.

"If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he were
married, then his wife shall go out with him.

"If his master have given him a wife, and she have borne him sons or
daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he
shall go out by himself.

"And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and
my children; I will not go out free.

"Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring
him to the door, or unto the door-post; and his master shall bore his
ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him forever." (Exod. xxi,

This is the doctrine which has ever lent itself to the chains of
slavery, and makes a man imprison himself rather than desert his wife
and children. I hate it.

Now, listen to the new testament, the tidings of great joy for all

"Servants, be obedient to them that are your  masters according to the
flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto

"Not with eye-service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ,
doing the will of God from the heart." (Eph. vi, 5, 6.) trembling, in
singleness of your heart, as unto Christ.

"Not with eye-service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ,
doing the will of God from the heart." (Eph. vi, 5,6.) Splendid

"Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the
good and gentle, but also to the froward.

"For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure
grief, suffering wrongfully." (1 Peter ii, 18, 19.)

"Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh."

He was afraid they might not work all the time, so he adds:

"Not with the eye-service, as men pleasers, but in the singleness of
heart fearing God."

Read the twenty-first chapter of Exodus, 7 to  11.

"And if a man sell his daughter to be a maid servant, she shall not go
out as the men-servants  do.

"If she please not her master, who hath betrothed  her to himself, then
shall he let her be redeemed; to sell her unto a strange nation he
shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her. And if
he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the
manner of daughters.

"If he take him another wife, her food, her raiment and her duty of
marriage shall he not diminish.

"And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free
without money."

"Servants, be obedient to your masters," is the salutation of the most
merciful God to one who works for nothing and who receives upon his
naked back the lash, as legal tender for service performed.

"Servants, be obedient to your masters," is the  salutation of the most
merciful God to the slave-mother bending over her infant's grave.

"Servants, be obedient to your masters," is the salutation to a man
endeavoring to escape pursuit, followed by savage blood-hounds, and
with his eye fixed upon the northern star. This book ought to be read
in the schools, so that our children will love liberty.

What does this same book say of the rights of little children? Let us
see how they are treated by the "most merciful God."

"If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son,  which will not obey the
voice of his father, or  the voice of his mother, and that when they
have  chastened him, will not hearken unto them.

"Then shall his father and his mother lay hold of him, and bring him
out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place.

"And they shall say unto the elders of his city, this our son is
stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice, he is a glutton,
and a drunkard.

"And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die;
so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear
and fear." (Deut. xxi, 18-21.)

Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, and he
intended to obey.  The boy was not consulted.

Did you ever hear the story of Jephthah's daughter? Returning him
Jephthah said:

"And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and  said, if thou shalt
without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,

"Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth  of the doors of my
house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon
shall surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.

"So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against
them; and the Lord delivered them into his hands.

"And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even
twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards with a very great
slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children
of Israel.

"And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter
came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances; and she was his
only child: besides her he had neither son nor daughter.

"And it came to pass when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and
said, Alas, my daughter! thou has brought me very low, and thou art one
of them that trouble me; for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and
I cannot go back.

"And she said unto him, My father, if thou has opened thy mouth unto
the Lord, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy
mouth; forasmuch as the Lord hath taken vengeance for thee of thine
enemies, even to the children of Ammon.

"And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me
alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and
bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.

"And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months, and she went
with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.

"And it came to pass at the end of two months that she returned unto
her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed."

Is there in the history of the world a sadder story than this? Can a
god who would accept such a sacrifice be worthy of the worship of
civilized men? I believe in the rights of children. I plead for the
republic of home, for the democracy of the fireside, and for this I am
called a heathen and a devil by those who believe in the cheerful and
comforting doctrine of eternal damnation.

Read the book of Job; read that God met the devil and asked him where
he had been, and he said, "Walking up and down the country;" and the
Lord said to him, "Have you noticed my man Job over here, how good he
is?" And the devil said, "Of course he's good, you give him everything
he wants. Just take away his property and he'll curse you. You just try
it." And he did try it, and took away his goods, but Job still remained
good. The devil laughed and said that he had not been tried enough.
Then the Lord touched his flesh, but he was still true. Then he took
away his children, but he remained faithful, and in the end, to show
how much Job made by his fidelity, his property was all doubled, and he
had more children than ever. If you have a child, and you love it,
would you be satisfied with a god who would destroy it, and endeavor to
make it up by giving you another that was better looking? No, you want
that one; you want no other, and yet this is the idea of the love of
children taught in the bible.

Does the bible teach you freedom of religion? To day we say that every
man has a right to worship God or not, to worship him as he pleases. Is
it the doctrine of the bible? Let us see.

"If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or  thy son, or thy daughter,
or the wife of thy  bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul,
entice thee secretly, saying. Let us go and serve other gods, which
thou has not known, thou, nor thy fathers;

"Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto
thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the
other end of the earth;

"Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall
thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou
conceal him;

"But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to
put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

"And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he has
sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee
out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage." (Deut. xiii,

And do you know, according to that, if your wife--your wife that you
love as your own soul--if you had lived in Palestine, and your wife had
said to you, "Let us worship a sun whose golden beams clothe the world
in glory; let us worship the sun, let us bow to that great luminary; I
love the sun because it gave me your face; because it gave me the
features of my babe; let us worship the sun," it was then your duty to
lay your hands upon her, your eye must not pity her, but it was your
duty to cast the first stone against that tender and loving breast! I
hate such doctrine! I hate such books! I hate gods that will write such
books! I tell you that it is infamous!

"If there be found among you, within any of  thy gates which the Lord
thy God giveth thee, man or woman that hath wrought wickedness in the
sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant,

"And hath gone and served other gods, and worshiped them, either the
sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded;

"And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and inquired
diligently, and behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such
abomination is wrought in Israel;

"Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have
committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates even that man or that
woman, and shalt stone them with stones till they die." (Deut. xvii,

That is the religious liberty of the bible--that's it. And this god
taught that doctrine to the Jews, and said to them, "Any one that
teaches a different religion, kill him!" Now, let me ask, and I want to
do it reverently, if, as is contended, God gave these frightful laws to
the flesh, and come among the Jews, and taught a different religion,
and these Jews, in accordance with the laws which this same God gave
them, crucified him, did he not reap what he had sown? The mercy of all
this comes in what is called "the plan of salvation." What is that
plan? According to this great plan, the innocent suffer for the guilty
to satisfy a law.

What sort of a law must it be that would be satisfied with the
suffering of innocence? According to this plan, the salvation of the
whole world depends upon the bigotry of the Jews and the treachery of
Judas. According to the same plan, we all would have gone to eternal
hell. According to the same plan, there would have been no death in the
world if there had been no sin, and if there had been no death you and
I would not have been called into existence, and if we did not exist we
could not have been saved, so we owe our salvation to the bigotry of
the Jews and the treachery of Judas, and we are indebted to the devil
for our existence. I speak this reverently. It strikes me that what
they call the atonement is a kind of moral bankruptcy. Under its
merciful provisions man is allowed the privilege of sinning credit, and
whenever he is guilty of a mean action he says, "Charge it." In my
judgment, this kind of bookkeeping breeds extravagance in sin. Suppose
we had a law in New York that every merchant should give credit to
every man who asked it, under pain and penitentiary, and that every man
should take the benefit of the bankruptcy statute any Saturday night?
Doesn't the credit system in morals breed extravagance in sin? That's
the question. Who's afraid of punishment which is so far away? Whom
does the doctrine of hell stop? The great, the rich, the powerful? No;
the poor, the weak, the despised, the mean. Did you ever hear of a man
going to hell who died in New York worth a million of dollars, or with
an income of twenty-five thousand a year? Did you? Did you ever hear of
a man going to hell who rode in a carriage? Never. They are the
gentlemen who talk about their assets, and who say: "Hell is not for
me; it is for the poor. I have all the luxuries I want, give that to
the poor." Who goes to hell? Tramps!

Let me tell you a story. There was once a frightful rain, and all the
animals held a convention, to see whose fault it was, and the fox
nominated the lion for chairman. The wolf seconded the motion, and the
hyena said "that suits." When the convention was called to order the
fox was called upon to confess his sins. He stated, however, that it
would be much more appropriate for the lion to commence first.
Thereupon the lion said: "I am not conscious of having committed evil.
It is true I have devoured a few men, but for what other purpose were
men made?" And they all cheered, and were satisfied. The fox gave his
views upon the goose question, and the wolf admitted that he had
devoured sheep, and occasionally had killed a shepherd, "but all
acquainted with the history of my family will bear me out when I say
that shepherds have been the enemies of my family from the beginning of
the world." Then way in the rear there arose a simple donkey, with a
kind of Abrahamic countenance. He said: "I expect it's me. I had eaten
nothing for three days except three thistles. I was passing a
monastery, the monks were at mass. The gates were open leading to a
yard full of sweet clover. I knew it was wrong but I did slip in and I
took a mouthful, but my conscience smote me and I went out;" and all
the animals shouted, "He's the fellow!" and in two minutes they had his
hide on the fence. That's the kind of people that go to hell.

Now this doctrine of hell, that has been such a comfort to my race,
which so many ministers are pleading for, has been defended for ages by
the fathers of the church. Your preacher says that the sovereignty of
God implies that He has an absolute, unlimited and independent right to
dispose of His creatures as He will, because He made them. Has He?
Suppose I take this book and change it immediately into a servient
human being. Would I have a right to torture it because I made it? No;
on the contrary, I would say, having brought you into existence, it is
my duty to do the best for you I can. They say God has a right to damn
me because He made me. I deny it. Another one says God is not obliged
to save even those who believe in Christ, and that he can either bestow
salvation upon his children or retain it without any diminution of his
glory. Another one says God may save any sinner whatsoever,
consistently with his justice. Let a natural person--and I claim to be
one--moral or immoral, wise or unwise; let him be as just as he can, no
matter what his prayers may be, what pains he may have taken to be
saved, or whatever circumstances he may be in. God, according to this
writer, can deny him salvation, without the least disparagement of His
glory. His glories will not be in the least obscured--there is no
natural man, be his character what it may, but God may cast down to
hell without being charged with unfair dealing in any respect with
regard to that man. Theologians tell us that God's design in the
creation was simply to glorify himself. Magnificent object!

"The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured
out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be
tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels,
and in the presence of the Lamb." (Rev. xiv, 1-10.)

Do you know nobody would have had an idea of hell in this world if it
hadn't been for volcanoes? They were looked upon as the chimneys of
hell. The idea of eternal fire never would have polluted the
imagination of man but for them. An eminent theologian, describing
hell, says: "There is no recounting the millions of ages the damned
shall suffer. All arithmetic ends here"--and all sense, too! "They
shall have nothing to do in passing away this eternity but to conflict
with torments. God shall have no other use or employment for them."
These words were said by gentlemen who died Christians, and who are now
in the harp business in the world to come. Another declares there is
nothing to keep any man or Christian out of hell except the mere
pleasure of God, and their pains never grow any easier by their
becoming accustomed to them. It is also declared that the devil goes
about like a lion, ready to doom the wicked. Did it never occur to you
what a contradiction it is to say that the devil will persecute his own
friends? He wants all the recruits he can get; why then should he
persecute his friends? In my judgment he should give them the best hell

It is in the very nature of things that torments inflicted have no
tendency to bring a wicked man to repentance. Then why torment him if
it will not do  him good? It is simply unadulterated revenge.  All the
punishment in the world will not reform a man, unless he knows that he
who inflicts it upon him does it for the sake of reformation, and
really and truly loves him, and has his good at heart. Punishment
inflicted for gratifying the appetite makes man afraid, but debases him.

Various reasons are given for punishing the wicked; first, that God
will vindicate his injured majesty. Well, I am glad of that! Second, He
will glorify his justice--think of that. Third,  He will show and
glorify his grace. Every time the saved shall look upon the damned in
hell it will cause in them a lively and admiring sense of the grace of
God. Every look upon the damned will double the ardor and the joy of
the saints in heaven. Can the believing husband in heaven look down
upon the torments of the unbelieving wife in hell and then feel a
thrill of joy? That's the old doctrine--not of our days; we are too
civilized for that. O, but it is the doctrine that if you saw your wife
in hell--the wife you love, who, in your last sickness, nursed you,
that, perhaps supported you by her needle when you were ill; the wife
who watched by your couch night and day, and held your corpse in her
loving arms when you were dead--the sight would give you great joy.
That doctrine is not preached to-day. They do not preach that the sight
would give you joy; but they do preach that it will not diminish your
happiness. That is the doctrine of every orthodox minister in New York,
and I repeat that I have no respect for men who preach such doctrines.
The sight of the torments of the damned in hell will increase the
ecstasy of the saints forever! On this principle man never enjoys a
good dinner so much as when a fellow-creature is dying of famine before
his eyes, or he never enjoys the cheerful warmth of his own fireside so
greatly as when a poor and abandoned wretch is dying on his doorstep.
The saints enjoy the ecstasy and the groans of the tormented are music
to them. I say here to-night that you cannot commit a sin against an
infinite being. I can sin against my brother or my neighbor, because I
can injure them. There can be no sin where there is no injury. Neither
can a finite being commit infinite sin.

An old saint believed that hell was in the interior of the earth, and
that the rotation of the earth was caused by the souls trying to get
away from the fire. The old church at Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespeare's
home, in adorned with pictures of hell and the like. One of the
pictures represents resurrection morning. People are getting out of
their graves, and devils are catching hold of their heels. In one place
there is a huge brass monster, and devils are driving scores of lost
souls into his mouth. Over hot fires hang caldrons with fifty or sixty
people in each, and devils are poking the fires. People are hung up on
hooks by their tongues, and devils are lashing them. Up in the right
hand corner are some of the saved, with grins on their faces stretching
from ear to ear. They seem to say: "Aha, what did I tell you?"

Some of the old saints--gentlemen who died in the odor of sanctity, and
are now in the harp business--insisted that heaven and hell would be
plainly in view of each other. Only a few years ago, Rev. J. Furness
(an appropriate name) published a little pamphlet called "A Sight in
Hell." I remember when I first read that. My little child, seven years
old, was ill and in bed. I thought she would not hear me, and I read
some of it aloud. She arose and asked, "Who says that?" I answered,
"That's what they preach in some of the churches." "I never will enter
a church as long as I live!" she said, and she never has.

The doctrine of orthodox Christianity is that the damned shall suffer
torment forever and forever. And if you were a wanderer, footsore,
weary, with parched tongue, dying for a drop of water, and you met one
who divided his poor portion with you, and died as he saw you
reviving--if he was an unbeliever and you a believer, and you died and
went to heaven, and he called to you from hell for a draught of water,
it would be your duty to laugh at him.

Rev. Mr. Spurgeon says that everywhere in hell will be written the
words "for ever." They will be branded on every wave of flame, they
will be forged in every link of every chain, they will be seen in every
lurid flash of brimstone--everywhere will be those words "for ever."
Everybody will be yelling and screaming them. Just think of that
picture of the mercy and justice of the eternal Father of us all. If
these words are necessary why are they not written now everywhere in
the world, on every tree, and every field, and on every blade of grass?
I say I am entitled to have it so. I say that it is God's duty to
furnish me with the evidence. Here is another good book read in every
Sunday-school--a splendid book--Pollok's "Course of Time." Every copy
in the world of such books as that ought to be burned. Well, the author
pretends to have gone to hell, and I think that he ought to have
stopped there.

[The lecturer read the passage from the work descriptive of the
torments of the damned, and proceeded:] And that book is put into the
hands of children in order that they may love and worship the most
merciful God. In old time they had to find a place for hell and they
found a hundred places for it. One says that it was under Lake Avernus,
but the Christians thought differently. One divine tells us that it
must be below the earth because Christ descended into hell. Another
gives it as his opinion that hell is in the sun, and he tells us that
nobody, without an express revelation from God, can prove  that it is
not there. Most likely. Well, he had the idea at all events of
utilizing the damned as fuel to warm the earth. But I will quote from
another poet--if it is lawful to call him a poet. I mean Tupper.

[Colonel Ingersoll quoted from that orthodox author, and continued:]
Another divine preached a sermon no further back than 1876, in which he
said that the damned will grow worse; and the same divine says that the
devil was the first Universalist. Then I am on the side of the devil.

The fact is, that you have got not merely to believe the bible; but you
must also believe in a certain interpretation of it, and, mind you, you
must also believe in the doctrine of the trinity. I want to explain
what that is, so that you may never have an excuse for not knowing it.

I quote from the best theologian that ever wrote. [Then he went on to
give in substance the Athanasian definition of the trinity, winding up
with a long string of adjectives, culminating in the description
"entirely incomprehensible."] If you don't understand it after that, it
is you own fault. Now, you must believe in that doctrine. If you do
not, all the orthodox churches agree in condemning you to everlasting
flames. We have got to burn through all our lives simply with the view
of making them happy. We are taught to love our enemies, to pray for
those that persecute us, to forgive. Should not the merciful God
practice what he preaches? I say that reverently. Why should he say,
"Forgive your enemies," if he will not himself forgive? Why should he
say "Pray for those that despise and persecute you," but if they refuse
to believe his doctrine he will burn them forever? I cannot believe it.
Here is a little child, residing in the purlieus of the city--some boy
who is taught that it is his duty to steal by his mother, who applauds
his success and pats him on the head and calls him a good boy--would it
be just to condemn him to an eternity of torture? Suppose there is a
God; let us bring to this question some common sense.

I care nothing about the doctrines of religions or creeds of the past.
Let us come to the bar of the nineteenth century and judge matter by
what we know, by what we think, by what we love. But they say to us,
"If you throw away the Bible what are we to depend on then?" But no two
persons in the world agree as to what the Bible is, what they are to
believe, or what they are not to believe. It is like a guidepost that
has been thrown down in some time of disaster, and has been put up the
wrong way. Nobody can accept its guidance, for nobody knows where it
would direct him. I say, "Tear down the useless guidepost," but they
answer, "Oh, do not do that or we will have nothing to go by." I would
say, "Old Church, you take that road and I will take this." Another
minister has said that the Bible is the great town-clock, at which we
all may set our watches. But I have said to a friend of that minister:
"Suppose we all should set our watches by that town-clock, there would
be many persons to tell you that in old times the long hand was the
hour hand, and besides, the clock hasn't been wound up for a long
time." I say let us wait till the sun rises and set our watches by
nature. For my part, I am willing to give up heaven to get rid of hell.
I had rather there should be no heaven than that any solitary soul
should be condemned to suffer forever and ever. But they tell me that
the Bible is the good book. Now, in the Old Testament there is not in
my judgment a single reference to another life. Is there a burial
service mentioned in it in which a word of hope is spoken at the grave
of the dead? The idea of eternal life was not born of any book. That
wave of hope and joy ebbs and flows, and will continue to ebb and flow
as long as love kisses the lips of death.

Let me tell you a tale of the Persian religion  of a man who, having
done good for long years of his life, presented himself at the gates of
Paradise, but the gates remained closed against him. He went back and
followed up his good works for seven years longer, and the gates of
Paradise still remaining shut against him, he toiled in works of
charity until at last they were  opened unto him. Think of that,
pursued the lecturer, and send out your missionaries among those
people. There is no religion but goodness, but justice, but charity.
Religion is not theory; it is life. It is not intellectual conviction;
it is divine humanity, and nothing else. Colonel Ingersoll here told
another tale from the Hindoo, of a man who refused to enter Paradise
without a faithful dog, urging that ingratitude was the blackest of all
sins. "And the God," he said, "admitted him, dog and all." Compare that
religion with the orthodox tenets of the city of New York.

There is a prayer which every Brahmin prays, in which he declares that
he will never enter into a final state of bliss alone, but that
everywhere he will strive for universal redemption; that never will he
leave the world of sin and sorrow, but remain suffering and striving
and sorrowing after universal salvation. Compare that with the orthodox
idea, and send out your missionaries to the benighted Hindoos.

The doctrine of hell is infamous beyond all power to express. I wish
there were words mean enough to express my feelings of loathing on this
subject. What harm has it not done? What waste places has it not made?
It has planted misery and wretchedness in this world; it peoples the
future with selfish joys and lurid abysses of eternal flame. But we are
getting more sense every day. We begin to despise those monstrous
doctrines. If you want to better men and women, change their conditions
here. Don't promise them something somewhere else. One biscuit will do
more good than all the tracts that were ever peddled in the world. Give
them more whitewash, more light, more air. You have to change men
physically before you change them intellectually. I believe the time
will come when every criminal will be treated as we now treat the
diseased and sick, when every penitentiary will become a reformatory,
and that if criminals go to them with hatred in their bosoms, they will
leave them without feelings of revenge. Let me tell you the story of
Orpheus and Eurydice. Eurydice had been carried away by the god of
hell, and Orpheus, her lover, went in quest of her. He took with him
his lyre, and played such exquisite music that all hell was amazed.
Ixion forgot his labors at the wheel, the daughters of Danaus ceased
from their hopeless task, Tantalus forgot his thirst, even Pluto
smiled, and, for the first time in the history of hell, the eyes of the
Furies were wet with tears. As it was with the lyre of Orpheus, so it
is to-day with the great harmonies of Science, which are rescuing from
the prisons of superstition the torn and bleeding heart of man.


"His soul was like a star and dwelt apart."

On every hand are the enemies of individuality, and mental freedom.
Custom meets us at the cradle,--and leaves us only at the tomb. Our
first questions are answered by ignorance, and our last by
superstition. We are pushed and dragged by countless hands along the
beaten track, and our entire training can be summed up in the word
"suppression."  Our desire to have a thing or to do a thing is
considered as conclusive evidence that we ought to do it.  At every
turn we run not to have it, and ought not against a cherubim and a
flaming sword, guarding some entrance to the Eden of our desire. We are
allowed to investigate all subjects in which we feel no particular
interest, and to express the opinions of the majority with the utmost
freedom.  We are taught that liberty of speech should never be carried
to the extent of contradicting the dead witnesses of a popular
superstition.  Society offers continual rewards for self-betrayal, and
they are nearly all earned and claimed, and some are paid.

We have all read accounts of Christian gentlemen remarking when about
to be hanged, how much better it would have been for them if they had
only followed a mother's advice!  But, after all, how fortunate it is
for the world that the maternal advice has not been followed!  How
lucky it is for us all that it is somewhat unnatural for a human being
to obey! Universal obedience is universal stagnation; disobedience is
one of the conditions of progress. Select any age of the world and tell
me what would have been the effect of implicit obedience.  Suppose the
church had had absolute control of the human mind at any time, would
not the word liberty and progress have been blotted from the human
speech?  In defiance of advice, the world has advanced.

Suppose the astronomers had controlled the science of astronomy;
suppose the doctors had controlled the science of medicine; suppose
kings had been left to fix the form of government!  Suppose our fathers
had taken the advice of Paul, who was subject to the powers that be,
"because they are ordained of God;" suppose the church could control
the world today, we would go back to chaos and old night.  Philosophy
would be branded as infamous; science would again press its pale and
thoughtful face against the prison bars; and round the limbs of liberty
would climb the bigot's flame.

It is a blessed thing that in every age some one has had individuality
enough and courage enough to stand by his own convictions; some one who
had the grit to say his say.  I believe it was Magellan who said, "the
church says the earth is flat; but I have seen its shadow on the moon,
and I have more confidence even in a shadow than in the church." On the
prow of his ship were disobedience, defiance, scorn and success.

The trouble with most people is that they bow to what is called
authority; they have a certain reverence for the old because it is old.
They think a man is better for being dead, especially if he has been
dead a long time, and that the forefathers of their nation were the
greatest and best of all mankind.  All these things they implicitly
believe because it is popular and patriotic, and because they were told
so when very small, and remember distinctly of hearing mother read it
out of a book, and they are all willing to swear that mother was a good
woman.  It is hard to overestimate the influence of early training--in
the direction of superstition. You first teach children that a certain
book is true--that it was written by God himself--that to question its
truth is sin, that to deny it is a crime, and that should they die
without believing that book they will be forever damned without benefit
of clergy; the consequence is that before they read that book they
believe it to be true.  When they do read, their minds are wholly
unfitted to investigate its claim.  They accept it as a matter of

In this way the reason is overcome, the sweet instincts of humanity are
blotted from the heart, and while reading its infamous pages even
justice throws aside her scales, shrieking for revenge; and charity,
with bloody hands, applauds a deed of murder.  In this way we are
taught that the revenge of man is the justice of God, that mercy is not
the same everywhere.  In this way the ideas of our race have been
subverted. In this way we have made tyrants, bigots, and inquisitors.
In this way the brain of man has become a kind of palimpsest upon
which, and over the writings of Nature, superstition has scribbled her
countless lies. Our great trouble is that most teachers are dishonest.
They teach as certainties those things concerning which they entertain
doubts.  They do not say, "We think this is so." but "We know this is
so."  They do not appeal to the reason of the pupil, but they command
his faith.  They keep all doubts to themselves; they do not explain,
they assert.  All this is infamous.  In this way you make Christians,
but you cannot make men; you cannot make women.  You can make followers
but no leaders; disciples, but no Christs.  You may promise power,
honor, and happiness to all those who will blindly follow, but you
cannot keep your promise.

An eastern monarch said to a hermit, "Come with me and I will give you
power."  "I have all the power that I know how to use," replied the
hermit.  "Come," said the king, "I will give you wealth."  "I have no
wants that money can supply."  "I will give you honor." "Ah! honor
cannot be given; it must be earned."  "Come," said the king, making a
last appeal, "and I will give you happiness."  "No," said the man of
solitude; "there is no happiness without liberty, and he who follows
cannot be free."  "You shall have liberty too." "Then I will stay."
And all the king's courtiers thought the hermit a fool.

Now and then somebody examines, and, in spite of all, keeps up his
manhood and has courage to follow where his reason leads.  Then the
pious get together and repeat wise saws and exchange knowing nods and
most prophetic winks.  The stupidly wise sit owl-like on the dead limbs
of the tree of knowledge, and solemnly, hoot.  Wealth sneers, and
fashion laughs, and respectability passes on the other side, and scorn
points with all her skinny fingers, and, like the snakes of
superstition, writhe and hiss, and slander lends her tongue, and infamy
her brand, perjury her oath, and the law its power; and bigotry
tortures and the church kills.

The church hates a thinker precisely for the same reason that a robber
dislikes a sheriff, or that a thief despises the prosecuting witness.
Tyranny likes courtiers, flatterers, followers, fawners, and
superstition wants believers, disciples, zealots, hypocrites, and
subscribers.  The church demands worship, the very thing that man
should give to no being, human or divine.  To worship another is to
degrade yourself.  Worship is awe, and dread, and vague fear, and blind
hope. It is the spirit of worship that elevates the one and degrades
the many; and manacles even its own hands.  The spirit of worship is
the spirit of tyranny.  The worshiper always regrets that he is not the
worshiped.  We should all remember that the intellect has no knees, and
that whatever the attitude of the body may be, the brave soul is always
found erect. Whoever worships, abdicates.  Whoever believes, at the
commands of power, tramples his own individuality beneath his feet, and
voluntarily robs himself of all that renders man superior to brute.

The despotism of faith is justified upon the ground that Christian
countries are the grandest and most prosperous of the world.  At one
time the same thing could have been truly said in India, in Egypt, in
Greece, in Rome, and in every country that has in the history of the
world, swept to empire.  This argument proves too much not only, but
the assumption upon which it is based is utterly false.  Numberless
circumstances and countless conditions have produced the prosperity of
the Christian world.  The truth is that we have advanced in spite of
religious zeal, ignorance, and opposition.  The church has won no
victories for the rights of man.  Over every fortress of tyranny has
waved, and still waves, the banner of the church.  Wherever brave blood
has been shed the sword of the church has been wet.  On every chain has
been the sign of the cross.  The alter and the throne have leaned
against and supported each other.  Who can appreciate the infinite
impudence of one man assuming to think for others?  Who can imagine the
impudence of a church that threatens to inflict eternal punishment upon
those who honestly reject its claims and scorn its pretensions?  In the
presence of the unknown we have all an equal right to guess.

Over the vast plain called life we are all travelers, and not one
traveler is perfectly certain that he is going in the right direction.
True it is that no other plain is so well supplied with guideboards. At
every turn and crossing you find them, and upon each one is written the
exact direction and distance.  One great trouble is, however, that
these boards are all different, and the result is that most travelers
are confused in proportion to the number they read.  Thousands of
people are around each of these signs, and each one is doing his best
to convince the traveler that his particular board is the only one upon
which the least reliance can be placed, and that if his road is taken
the reward for so doing will be infinite and eternal, while all the
other roads are said to lead to hell, and all the makers of the other
guideboards are declared to be heretics, hypocrites, and liars.
"Well," says a traveler "you may be right in what you say, but allow me
at least to read some of the other directions and examine a little into
their claims.  I wish to rely a little upon my own judgment in a matter
of such great importance."  "No sir!" shouts the zealot; "that is the
very thing you are not allowed to do. You must go my way, without
investigation or you are as good as damned already."  "Well," says the
traveler, "if that is so, I believe I had better go your way."  And so
most of them go along, taking the word of those who know as little as
themselves.  Now and then comes one who, in spite of all threats,
calmly examines the claims of all, and as calmly rejects them all.
These travelers take roads of their own, and are denounced by all the
others as infidels and atheists.

In my judgment every human being should take a road of his own. Every
mind should be true to itself; should think, investigate and conclude
for itself. This is a duty alike incumbent upon pauper and prince.
Every soul should repel dictation and tyranny, no matter from what
source they come--from earth or heaven, from men or gods. Besides,
every traveler upon this vast plain should give to every other traveler
his best idea as to the road that should be taken. Each is entitled to
the honest opinion of all.  And there is but one way to get an honest
opinion upon any subject whatever.  The person giving the opinion must
be free from fear.  The merchant must not fear to lose his custom, the
doctor his practice, nor the preacher his pulpit.  There can be no
advance without liberty. Suppression of honest inquiry is
retrogression, and must end in intellectual night.  The tendency of
orthodox religion today is towards mental slavery and barbarism.  Not
one of the orthodox ministers dare preach what he thinks if he knows
that a majority of his congregation think otherwise.  He knows that
every member of his church stands guard over his brain with a creed,
like a club, in his hand.  He knows that he is not expected to search
after the truth, but that he is employed to defend the creed.  Every
pulpit is a pillory in which stands a hired culprit, defending the
justice of his own imprisonment.

Is it desirable that all should be exactly alike in their religious
convictions?  Is any such thing possible?  Do we not know that there
are no two persons alike in the whole world?  No two trees, no two
leaves, no two anythings that are alike?  Infinite diversity is the
law. Religion tries to force all minds into one mold.  Knowing that all
cannot believe, the church endeavors to make all say that they believe.
She longs for the unity of hypocrisy, and detests the splendid
diversity of individuality and freedom.

Nearly all people stand in great horror of annihilation, and yet to
give up your individuality is to annihilate yourself.  Mental slavery
is mental death, and every man who has given up his intellectual
freedom is the living coffin of his dead soul.  In this sense every
church is a cemetery and every creed an epitaph.  We should all
remember that to be like other folks is to be unlike ourselves, and
that nothing can be more detestable in character than servile
imitation.  The great trouble with imitation is that we are apt to ape
those who are in reality far below us.  After all, the poorest bargain
that a human being can make is to trade off his individuality for what
is called respectability.

There is no saying more degrading than this: "It is better to be the
tail of a lion than the head of a dog."  It is a responsibility to
think and act for yourself.  Most people hate responsibility; therefore
they join something and become the tail of some lion. They say, "My
party can act for me--my church can do my thinking. It is enough for me
to pay taxes and obey the lion to which I belong without troubling
myself about the right, the wrong, or the why or the wherefore of
anything whatever." These people are respectable. They hate reformers,
and dislike exceedingly to have their minds disturbed.  They regard
convictions as very disagreeable things to have.  They love forms, and
enjoy, beyond everything else, telling what a splendid tail their lion
has, and what a troublesome dog their neighbor is.  Besides this
natural inclination to avoid personal responsibility is and always has
been the fact that every religionist has warned men against the
presumption and wickedness of thinking for themselves.  The reason has
been denounced by all Christendom as the only unsafe guide.  The church
has left nothing undone to prevent, man following the logic of his
brain.  The plainest facts have been covered with the mantle of
mystery.  The grossest absurdities have been declared to be
self-evident facts.  The order of nature has been, as it were,
reversed, in order that the hypocritical few might govern the honest
many.  The man who stood by the conclusion of his reason was denounced
as a scorner and hater of God and his holy church. From the
organization of the first church until this moment every member has
borne the marks of collar and chain, and whip.  No man ever seriously
attempted to reform a church without being cast out and hunted down by
the hounds of hypocrisy.  The highest crime against a creed is to
change it.  Reformation is treason.

Thousands of young men are being educated at this moment by the various
churches.  What for?  In order that they may be prepared to investigate
the phenomena by which we are surrounded?  No!  The object, and the
only object, is that they may be prepared to defend a creed.  That they
may learn the arguments of their respective churches and repeat them in
the dull ears of a thoughtless congregation.  If one after being thus
trained at the expense of the Methodists turns Presbyterian or Baptist,
he is denounced as an ungrateful wretch.  Honest investigation is
utterly impossible within the pale of any church, for the reason that
if you think the church is right you will not investigate, and if you
think it wrong, the church will investigate you.  The consequence of
this is that most of the theological literature is the result of
suppression, of fear, of tyranny, and hypocrisy.

Every orthodox writer necessarily said to himself, "If I write that, my
wife and children may want for bread, I will be covered with shame and
branded with infamy, but if I write this, I will gain position, power
and honor.  My church rewards defenders and burns reformers."  Under
these conditions, all your Scotts, Henrys and McKnights have written;
and weighed in these scales what are their commentaries worth?  They
are not the ideas and decisions of honest judges, but the sophisms of
the paid attorneys of superstition.  Who can tell what the world has
lost by this infamous system of suppression? How many grand thinkers
died with the mailed hand of superstition on their lips?  How many
splendid ideas have perished in the cradle of the brain, strangled in
the poisonous coils of that python, the church!

For thousands of years a thinker was hunted down like an escaped
convict.  To him, who had braved the church, every door was shut, every
knife was open.  To shelter him from the wild storm, to give him a
crust of bread when dying, to put a cup of water to his cracked and
bleeding lips; these were all crimes, not one of which the church ever
did forgive; and with the justice taught of God his helpless children
were exterminated as scorpions and vipers.

Who at the present day can imagine the courage, the devotion to
principle, the intellectual and moral grandeur it once required to be
an infidel, to brave the church, her racks, her fagots, her dungeons,
her tongues of fire--to defy and scorn her heaven and her devil and her
God? They were the noblest sons of earth.  They were the real saviors
of our race, the destroyers of superstition and the creators of
science.  They were the real Titans who bared their grand foreheads to
all the thunderbolts of all the gods.  The church has been, and still
is, the great robber.  She has rifled not only the pockets but the
brains of the world.  She is the stone at the sepulcher of liberty; the
upas tree in whose shade the intellect of man has withered; the gorgon
beneath whose gaze the human heart has turned to stone.

Under her influence even the Protestant mother expects to be in heaven,
while her brave boy, who is fighting for the rights of man, shall
writhe in hell.  It is said that some of the Indian tribes place the
heads of their children between pieces of bark until the form of the
skull is permanently changed.  To us this seems a most shocking custom,
and yet, after all, is it as bad as to put the souls of our children in
the straight-jacket of a creed, to so utterly deform their minds that
they regard the God of the bible as a being of infinite mercy, and
really consider it a virtue to believe a thing just because it seems
unreasonable?  Every child in the Christian world has uttered its
wondering protest against this outrage.  All the machinery of the
church is constantly employed in thus corrupting the reason of
children.  In every possible way they are robbed of their own thoughts
and forced to accept the statements of others.  Every Sunday-school has
for its object the crushing out of every germ of individuality.  The
poor children are taught that nothing can be more acceptable to God
than unreasoning obedience and eyeless faith, and that to believe that
God did an impossible act is far better than to do a good one yourself.
They are told that all the religions have been simply the John the
Baptist of ours; that all the gods of antiquity have withered and
sunken into the Jehovah of the Jews; that all the longings and
aspirations of the race are realized in the motto of the Evangelical
Alliance, "Liberty in non-essentials;" that all there is, or ever was
of religion can be found in the apostle's creed; that there is nothing
left to be discovered; that all the thinkers are dead, and all the
living should simply be believers; that we have only to repeat the
epitaph found on the grave of wisdom; that graveyards are the best
possible universities, and that the children must be forever beaten
with the bones of the fathers.

It has always seemed absurd to suppose that a God would choose for his
companions during all eternity the dear souls whose highest and only
ambition is to obey.  He certainly would now and then be tempted to
make the same remark made by an English gentleman to his poor guest.
This gentleman had invited a man in humble circumstances to dine with
him. The man was so overcome with honor that to everything the
gentleman said he replied, "Yes."  Tired at last with the monotony of
acquiescence, the gentleman cried out, "For God's sake, my good man,
say 'No' just once, so there will be two of us."

Is it possible that an infinite God created this world simply to be the
dwelling-place of slaves and serfs?  Simply for the purpose of raising
orthodox Christians; that he did a few miracles to astonish them; that
all the evils of life are simply his punishments, and that he is
finally going to turn heaven into a kind of religious museum, filled
with Baptist barnacles, petrified Presbyterians, and Methodist mummies?
I want no heaven for which I must give my reason; no happiness in
exchange for my liberty, and no immortality that demands the surrender
of my individuality.  Better rot in the windowless tomb to which there
is no door but the red mouth of the pallid worm, than wear the jeweled
collar even of a God.

Religion does not and cannot contemplate man as free.  She accepts only
the homage of the prostrate, and scorns the offerings of those who
stand erect.  She cannot tolerate the liberty of thought.  The wide and
sunny fields belong not to her domain.  The star-lit heights of genius
and individuality are above and beyond her appreciation and power.  Her
subjects cringe at her feet covered with the dust of obedience.  They
are not athletes standing posed by rich life and brave endeavor like
the antique statues, but shriveled deformities studying with furtive
glance the cruel face of power.

No religionist seems capable of comprehending this plain truth. There
is this difference between thought and action: For our actions we are
responsible to ourselves and to those injuriously affected; for
thoughts there can, in the nature of things, be no responsibility to
gods or men, here or hereafter.  And yet the Protestant has vied with
the Catholic in denouncing freedom of thought, and while I was taught
to hate Catholicism with every drop of my blood, it is only justice to
say that in all essential particulars it is precisely the same as every
other religion.  Luther denounced mental liberty with all the coarse
and brutal vigor of his nature; Calvin despised from the very bottom of
his petrified heart anything that even looked like religious
toleration, and solemnly declared to advocate it was to crucify Christ
afresh.  All the founders of all the orthodox churches have advocated
the same infamous tenet.  The truth is that what is called religion is
necessarily inconsistent with free thought.

A believer is a songless bird in a cage, a freethinker is an eagle
parting the clouds with tireless wings.

At present, owing to the inroads that have been made by liberals and
infidels, most of the churches pretend to be in favor of religious
liberty.  Of these churches we will ask this question: "How can a man
who conscientiously believes in religious liberty worship a God who
does not?"  They say to us: "We will not imprison you on account of
your belief, but our God will.  We will not burn you because you throw
away the sacred scriptures; but their Author will," "We think it an
infamous crime to persecute our brethren for opinion's sake; but the
God whom we ignorantly worship will on that account damn his own
children forever." Why is it that these Christians do not only detest
the infidels, but so cordially despise each other?  Why do they refuse
to worship in the temples of each other?  Why do they care so little
for the damnation of men, and so much for the baptism of children?  Why
will they adorn their churches with the money of thieves, and flatter
vice for the sake of subscription?  Why will they attempt to bribe
science to certify to the writings of God?  Why do they torture the
words of the great into an acknowledgment of the truth of Christianity?
Why do they stand with hat in hand before presidents, kings, emperors
and scientists, begging like Lazarus for a few crumbs of religious
comfort?  Why are they so delighted to find an allusion to providence
in the message of Lincoln? Why are they so afraid that some one will
find out that Paley wrote an essay in favor of the Epicurean
philosophy, and that Sir Isaac Newton was once an infidel? Why are they
so anxious to show that Voltaire recanted, that Paine died palsied with
fear; that the Emperor Julian cried out, "Galilean, thou hast
conquered;"  that Gibbon died a Catholic; that Agassiz had a little
confidence in Moses; that the old Napoleon was once complimentary
enough to say that he thought Christ greater than himself or Caesar;
that Washington was caught on his knees at Valley Forge; that blunt old
Ethan Allen told his child to believe the religion of her mother; that
Franklin said, "Don't unchain the tiger;"  that Volney got frightened
in a storm at sea, and that Oakes Ames was a wholesale liar?

Is it because the foundation of their temple is crumbling, because the
walls are cracked, the pillars leaning, the great dome swaying to its
fall, and because science has written over the high altar its mene,
mene, tekel, upharsin, the old words destined to be the epitaph of all

Every assertion of individual independence has been a step towards
infidelity. Luther started toward Humboldt, Wesley toward Bradlaugh. To
really reform the church is to destroy it.  Every new religion has a
little less superstition than the old, so that the religion of science
is but a question of time.  I will not say the church has been an
unmitigated evil in all respects.  Its history is infamous and
glorious. It has delighted in the production of extremes.  It has
furnished murderers for its own martyrs.  It has sometimes fed the
body, but has always starved the soul.  It has been a charitable
highwayman, a generous pirate.  It has produced some angels and a
multitude of devils. It has built more prisons than asylums.  It made a
hundred orphans while it cared for one. In one hand it carried the
alms-dish, and in the other a sword. It has founded schools and endowed
universities for the purpose of destroying true learning.  It filled
the world with hypocrites and zealots, and upon the cross of its own
Christ it crucified the individuality of man.  It has sought to destroy
the independence of the soul, and put the world upon its knees.  This
is its crime. The commission of this crime was necessary to its
existence.  In order to compel obedience it declared that it had the
truth and all the truth; that God had made it the keeper of all his
secrets; his agent and his vice-agent.  It declared that all other
religions were false and infamous.  It rendered all compromises
impossible, and all thought superfluous.  Thought was an enemy,
obedience was its friend. Investigation was fraught with danger;
therefore investigation was suppressed.  The holy of holies was behind
the curtain.  All this was upon the principle that forgers hate to have
the signature examined by an expert, and that imposture detests

"He that hath ears to hear let him hear," has always been one of the
favorite texts of the church.

In short, Christianity has always opposed every forward movement of the
human race.  Across the highway of progress it has always been building
breastworks of bibles, tracts, commentaries, prayerbooks, creeds,
dogmas and platforms, and at every advance the Christians have gathered
behind these heaps of rubbish and shot the poisoned arrows of malice at
the soldiers of freedom.

And even the liberal Christian of today has his holy of holies, and in
the niche of the temple of his heart has his idol.  He still clings to
a part of the old superstition, and all the pleasant memories of the
old belief linger in the horizon of his thoughts like a sunset.  We
associate the memory of those we love with the religion of our
childhood.  It seems almost a sacrilege to rudely destroy the idols
that our fathers worshiped, and turn their sacred and beautiful truths
into the silly fables of barbarism.  Some throw away the old testament
and cling to the new, while others give up everything except the idea
that there is a personal God, and that in some wonderful way we are the
objects of His care.

Even this, in my opinion, as science, the great iconoclast, marches
onward, will have to be abandoned with the rest.  The great ghost will
surely share the fate of the little ones.  They fled at the first
appearance of the dawn, and the other will vanish with the perfect day.
Until then, the independence of man is little more than a dream.
Overshadowed by an immense personality--in the presence of the
irresponsible and the infinite, the individuality of man is lost, and
he falls prostrate in the very dust of fear. Beneath the frown of the
absolute, man stands a wretched, trembling slave--beneath his smile be
is at best only a fortunate serf. Governed by a being whose arbitrary
will is law, chained to the chariot of power, his destiny rests in the
pleasure of the unknown. Under these circumstances what wretched object
can he have in lengthening out his aimless life?

And yet, in most minds, there is a vague fear of what the gods may do,
and the safe side is considered the best side.

A gentleman walking among the ruins of Athens came upon a fallen statue
of Jupiter.  Making an exceedingly low bow, he said: "Jupiter, I salute
thee."  He then added: "Should you ever get up in the world again, do
not forget, I pray you, that I treated you politely while you were

We have all been taught by the church that nothing is so well
calculated to excite the ire of Deity as to express a doubt as to His
existence, and that to deny it is an unpardonable sin.  Numerous
well-attested instances were referred to, of atheists being struck dead
for denying the existence of God.  According to these religious people,
God is infinitely above us in every respect, infinitely merciful, and
yet He cannot bear to hear a poor finite man honestly question His
existence. Knowing as He does that His children are groping in darkness
and struggling with doubt and fear; knowing that He could enlighten
them if He would, He still holds the expression of a sincere doubt as
to His existence the most infamous of crimes.

According to the orthodox logic, God having furnished us with imperfect
minds has a right to demand a perfect result.  Suppose Mr. Smith should
overhear a couple of small bugs holding a discussion as to the
existence of Mr. Smith, and suppose one should have the temerity to
declare upon the honor of a bug that he had examined the whole question
to the best of his ability, including the argument based upon design,
and had come to the conclusion that no man by the name of Smith had
ever lived. Think then of Mr. Smith flying into an ecstasy of rage,
crushing the atheist bug beneath his iron heel, while he exclaimed, "I
will teach you, blasphemous wretch, that Smith is a diabolical fact!"
What then can we think of God who would open the artillery of heaven
upon one of his own children for simply expressing his honest thought?
And what man, who really thinks, can help repeating the words of
Aeneas, "If there are gods they certainly pay no attention to the
affairs of man."

In religious ideas and conceptions there has been for ages a slow and
steady development.  At the bottom of the ladder (speaking of modern
times) is Catholicism, and at the top are atheism and science. The
intermediate rounds of this ladder are occupied by the various sects,
whose name is legion.

But whatever may be the truth on any subject has nothing to do with our
right to investigate that subject, and express any opinion we may form.
All that I ask is the right I freely accord to all others.

A few years ago a Methodist clergyman took it upon himself to give me a
piece of friendly advice.  "Although you may disbelieve the bible,"
said he, "you ought not to say so.  That you should keep to yourself."
"Do you believe the bible?" said I.  He replied,  "Most assuredly." To
which I retorted, "Your answer conveys no information to me.  You may
be following your own advice.  You told me to suppress my opinions. Of
course a man who will advise others to dissimulate will not always be
particular about telling the truth himself."

It is the duty of each and every one to maintain his individuality.
"This above all, to thine own self be true, and it must follow as the
night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."  It is a
magnificent thing to be the sole proprietor of yourself.  It is a
terrible thing to wake up at night and say: "There is nobody in this
bed!"  It is humiliating to know that your ideas are all borrowed, and
that you are indebted to your memory for your principles, that your
religion is simply one of your habits, and that you would have
convictions if they were only contagious.  It is mortifying to feel
that you belong to a mental mob and cry "crucify him" because the
others do. That you reap what the great and brave have sown, and that
you can benefit the world only by leaving it.

Surely every human being ought to attain to the dignity of the unit.
Surely it is worth something to be one and to feel that the census of
the universe would not be complete without counting you.

Surely there is grandeur in knowing that in the realm of thought, at
least, you are without a chain; that you have the right to explore all
heights and all depths; that there are no walls, fences, prohibited
places, nor sacred corners in all the vast expanse of thought; that
your intellect owes no allegiance to any being, human or divine; that
you hold all in fee and upon no condition and by no tenure whatever;
that in the world of mind you are relieved from all personal dictation,
and from the ignorant tyranny of majorities.

Surely it is worth something to feel that there are no priests, no
popes, no parties, no governments, no kings, no gods to whom your
intellect can be compelled to pay a reluctant homage.

Surely it is a joy to know that all the cruel ingenuity of bigotry can
devise no prison, no lock, no cell, in which for one instant to confine
a thought; that ideas cannot be dislocated by racks, nor crushed in
iron boots, nor burned with fire.

Surely it is sublime to think that the brain is a castle, and that
within its curious bastions and winding halls the soul, in spite of all
worlds and all beings, is the supreme sovereign of itself.


Ladies and Gentlemen: Great minds seem to be a part of the infinite.
Those possessing them seem to be brothers of the mountains and the seas.

Humboldt was one of these.  He was one of the few great enough to rise
above the superstition and prejudice of his time, and to know that
experience, observation and reason are the only basis of knowledge.

He became one of the greatest of men in spite of having been born rich
and noble--in spite of position.  I say in spite of these things,
because wealth and position are generally the enemies of genius, and
the destroyers of talent.

It is often said of this or that man that he is a self-made man--that
he was born of the poorest and humblest parents, and that with every
obstacle to overcome he became great.  This is a mistake. Poverty is
generally an advantage.  Most of the intellectual giants of the world
have been nursed at the sad but loving breast of poverty.  Most of
those who have climbed highest on the shining ladder of fame commenced
at the lowest round.  They were reared in the straw-thatched cottages
of Europe, in the log-houses of America, in the factories of the great
cities, in the midst of toil, in the smoke and din of labor, and on the
verge of want. They were rocked by the feet of mothers whose hands, at
the same time, were busy with the needle or the wheel.

It is hard for the rich to resist the thousand allurements of pleasure,
and so I say that Humboldt, in spite of having been born to wealth and
high social position, became truly and grandly great.

In the antiquated and romantic castle of Tegel, by the side of the pine
forest, on the shore of the charming lake, near the beautiful city of
Berlin, the great Humboldt, one hundred years ago to-day, was born, and
there he was educated after the method suggested by Rousseau--Campe,
the philologist and critic, and the intellectual Kunth being his
tutors. There he received the impressions that determined his career;
there the great idea that the universe is governed by law took
possession of his mind, and there he dedicated his life to the
demonstration of this sublime truth.

He came to the conclusion that the source of man's unhappiness is his
ignorance of nature.

He longed to give a physical description of the universe--a grand
picture of nature; to account for all phenomena; to discover the laws
governing the world; to do away with that splendid delusion called
special-providence, and to establish the fact that the universe is
governed by law.

To establish this truth was, and is, of infinite importance to mankind.
That fact is the death-knell of superstition; it gives liberty to every
soul, annihilates fear, and ushers in the Age of Reason.

The object of this illustrious man was to comprehend the phenomena of
physical objects in their general connection, and to represent nature
as one great whole, moved and animated by internal forces.

For this purpose he turned his attention to descriptive botany,
traversing distant lands and mountain ranges to ascertain with
certainty the geographical distribution of plants.  He investigated the
laws regulating the differences of temperature and climate, and the
changes of the atmosphere.  He studied the formation of the earth's
crust, explored the deepest mines, ascended the highest mountains, and
wandered through the craters of extinct volcanoes.

He became thoroughly acquainted with chemistry, with astronomy, with
terrestrial magnetism; and as the investigation of one subject leads to
all others, for the reason that there is a mutual dependence and a
necessary connection between all facts, so Humboldt became acquainted
with all the known sciences.

His fame does not depend so much upon his discoveries (although he
discovered enough to make hundreds of reputations) as upon his vast and
splendid generalizations.

He was to science what Shakespeare was to the drama.

He found, so to speak, the world full of unconnected facts, all
portions of a vast system--parts of a great machine; he discovered the
connection that each bears to all, put them together, and demonstrated
beyond all contradiction that the earth is governed by law.

He knew that to discover the connection of phenomena is the primary aim
of all natural investigation.  He was infinitely practical.

Origin and destiny were questions with which he had nothing to do.

His surroundings made him what he was.

In accordance with a law not fully comprehended, he was a production of
his time.

Great men do not live alone; they are surrounded by the great; they are
the instruments used to accomplish the tendencies of their generation;
they fulfill the prophecies of their age.

Nearly all of the scientific men of the eighteenth century had the same
idea entertained by Humboldt, but most of them in a dim and confused
way.  There was, however, a general belief among the intelligent that
the world is governed by law, and that there really exists a connection
between all facts, or that all facts are simply the different aspects
of a general fact, and that the task of science is to discover this
connection; to comprehend this general fact or to announce the laws of

Germany was full of thought, and her universities swarmed with
philosophers and grand thinkers in every department of knowledge.

Humboldt was the friend and companion of the greatest poets,
historians, philologists, artists, statesmen, critics and logicians of
his time.

He was the companion of Schiller, who believed that man would be
regenerated through the influence of the beautiful; of Goethe, the
grand patriarch of German literature; of Wieland, who has been called
the Voltaire of Germany; of Herder, who wrote the outlines of a
philosophical history of man; of Kotzebue, who lived in the world of
romance; of Schleiermacher, the pantheist; of Schlegel, who gave to his
country the enchanted realm of Shakespeare--of the sublime Kant, author
of the first work published in Germany on Pure Reason; of Fichte, the
infinite idealist; of Schopenhauer, the European Buddhist who followed
the great Gautama to the painless and dreamless Nirvana, and of
hundreds of others whose names are familiar to and honored by the
scientific world.

The German mind had been grandly roused from the long lethargy of the
dark ages of ignorance, fear and faith.  Guided by the holy light of
reason, every department of knowledge was investigated, enriched and

Humboldt breathed the atmosphere of investigation; old ideas were
abandoned; old creeds, hallowed by centuries, were thrown aside;
thought became courageous; the athlete, Reason, challenged to mortal
combat the monsters of superstition.

No wonder that under these influences Humboldt formed the great purpose
of presenting to the world a picture of nature, in order that men
might, for the first time, behold the face of their Mother.

Europe becoming too small for his genius, he visited the tropics in the
new world, where, in the most circumscribed limits, he could find the
greatest number of plants, of animals, and the greatest diversity of
climate, that he might ascertain the laws governing the production and
distribution of plants, animals and men, and the effects of climate
upon them all.  He sailed along the gigantic Amazon--the mysterious
Orinoco--traversed the Pampas--climbed the Andes until he stood upon
the crags of Chimborazo, more than eighteen thousand feet above the
level of the sea, and climbed on until blood flowed from his eyes and
lips.  For nearly five years he pursued his investigations in the new
world, accompanied by the intrepid Bonpland. Nothing escaped his
attention.  He was the best intellectual organ of these new revelations
of science.  He was calm, reflective and eloquent; filled with a sense
of the beautiful, and the love of truth.  His collections were immense,
and valuable beyond calculation to every science.  He endured
innumerable hardships, braved countless dangers in unknown and savage
lands, and exhausted his fortune for the advancement of true learning.

Upon his return to Europe he was hailed as the second Columbus; as the
scientific discoverer of America; as the revealer of a new world; as
the great demonstrator of the sublime truth that universe is governed
by law.

I have seen a picture of the old man, sitting upon a mountain
side--above him the eternal snow; below, smiling valley of the tropics,
filled with vine and palm.  His chin upon his breast, his eyes deep,
thoughtful and calm, his forehead majestic--grander than the mountain
upon which he sat.  "Crowned with the snow of his whitened hair," he
looked the intellectual autocrat of this world.

Not satisfied with his discoveries in America, he crossed the steppes
of Asia, the wastes of Siberia, the great Ural range, adding to the
knowledge of mankind at every step.  His energy acknowledged no
obstacle, his life knew no leisure; every day was filled with labor and
with thought.  He was one of the apostles of science, and he served his
divine master with a self-sacrificing zeal that knew no abatement--with
an ardor that constantly increased, and with a devotion unwavering and
constant as the polar star.

In order that the people at large might have the benefit of his
numerous discoveries, and his vast knowledge, he delivered at Berlin a
course of lectures, consisting of sixty-one free addresses, upon the
following subjects:

Five upon the nature and limits of physical geography.

Three were devoted to a history of science.

Two to inducements to a study of natural science.

Sixteen on the heavens.

Five on the form, density, latent heat, and magnetic power of the
earth, and to the polar light.

Four were on the nature of the crust of the earth, on hot springs,
earthquakes and volcanoes.

Two on mountains, and the type of their formation.

Two on the form of the earth's surface, on the connection of
continents, and the elevation of soil over ravines.

Three on the sea as a globular fluid surrounding the earth.

Ten on the atmosphere--as an elastic fluid surrounding the earth, and
on the distribution of heat.

One on the geographic distribution of organized matter in general,

Three on the geography of plants.

Three on the geography of animals; and

Two on the races of men.

These lectures are what is known as the Cosmos, and present a
scientific picture of the world--of infinite diversity in unity; of
ceaseless motion in the eternal grasp of law.

These lectures contain the result of his investigation, observation and
experience; they furnish the connection between phenomena; they
disclose some of the changes through which the earth has passed in the
countless ages; the history of vegetation, animals and men; the effects
of climate upon individuals and nations; the relation we sustain to
other worlds, and demonstrate that all phenomena, whether insignificant
or grand, exist in accordance with inexorable law.

There are some truths, however, that we never should forget:
Superstition has always been the relentless enemy of science; faith has
been a hater of demonstration; hypocrisy has been sincere only in its
dread of truth, and all religions are inconsistent with mental freedom.

Since the murder of Hypatia in the fifth century, when the polished
blade of Greek philosophy was broken by the club of ignorant
Catholicism, until today, superstition has detested every effort of

It is almost impossible to conceive of the completeness of the victory
that the church achieved over philosophy.  For ages science was utterly
ignored; thought was a poor slave; an ignorant priest was master of the
world; faith put out the eyes of the soul; the reason was a trembling
coward; the imagination was set on fire of hell; every human feeling
was sought to be suppressed; love was considered infinitely sinful;
pleasure was the road to eternal fire, and God was supposed to be happy
only when his children were miserable.  The world was governed by an
Almighty's whim; prayers could change the order of things, halt the
grand procession of nature; could produce rain, avert pestilence,
famine, and death in all its forms.  There was no idea of the certain;
all depended upon divine pleasure--or displeasure, rather; heaven was
full of inconsistent malevolence, and earth of ignorance.  Everything
was done to appease the divine wrath; every public calamity was caused
by the sins of the people; by a failure to pay tithes, or for having,
even in secret, felt a disrespect for a priest.  To the poor multitude
the earth was a kind of enchanted forest, full of demons ready to
devour, and theological serpents lurking, with infinite power, to
fascinate and torture the unhappy and impotent soul.  Life to them was
a dim and mysterious labyrinth, in which they wandered weary, and lost,
guided by priests as bewildered as themselves, without knowing that at
every step the Ariadne of reason offered them the long lost clue.

The very heavens were full of death; the lightning was regarded as the
glittering vengeance of God, and the earth was thick with snares for
the unwary feet of man.  The soul was supposed to be crowded with the
wild beasts of desire; the heart to be totally corrupt, prompting only
to crime; virtues were regarded as deadly sins in disguise; there was a
continual warfare being waged between the Deity and the devil for the
possession of every soul, the latter generally being considered
victorious.  The flood, the tornado, the volcano, were all evidences of
the displeasure of heaven and the sinfulness of man.  The blight that
withered, the frost that blackened, the earthquake that devoured, were
the messengers of the creator.

The world was governed by fear.

Against all the evils of nature there was known only the defense of
prayer, of fasting, of credulity, and devotion.  Man, in his
helplessness, endeavored to soften the heart of God.  The faces of the
multitude were blanched with fear, and wet with tears; they were the
prey of hypocrites, kings and priests.

My heart bleeds when I contemplate the sufferings endured by the
millions now dead; of those who lived when the world appeared to be
insane; when the heavens were filled with an infinite HORROR, who
snatched babes, with dimpled hands and rosy cheeks, from the white
breasts of mothers and dashed them into an abyss of eternal flame.

Slowly, beautifully, like the coming of the dawn, came the grand truth
that the universe is governed by law--that disease fastens itself upon
the good and upon the bad; that the tornado cannot be stopped by
counting beads; that the rushing lava pauses not for bended knees, the
lightning for clasped and uplifted hands, nor the cruel waves of the
sea for prayer; that paying tithes causes rather than prevents famine;
that pleasure is not sin; that happiness is the only good; that demons
and gods exist only in the imagination; that faith is a lullaby, sung
to put the soul to sleep; that devotion is a bribe that fear offers to
supposed power; that offering rewards in another world for obedience in
this, is simply buying a soul on credit; that knowledge consists in
ascertaining the laws of nature, and that wisdom is the science of
happiness.  Slowly, grandly, beautifully, these truths are dawning upon

From Copernicus we learned that this earth is only a grain of sand on
the infinite shore of the universe; that everywhere we are surrounded
by shining worlds vastly greater than our own, all moving and existing
in accordance with law.  True, the earth began to grow small, but man
began to grow great.

The moment the fact was established that other worlds are governed by
law, it was only natural to conclude that our little world was also
under its dominion.  The old theological method of accounting for
physical phenomena by the pleasure and displeasure of the Deity was, by
the intellectual, abandoned.  They found: that disease, death, life,
thought, heat, cold, the seasons, the winds, the dreams of man, the
instinct of animals--in short, that all physical and mental phenomena
are governed by law, absolute, eternal and inexorable.

Let it be understood by the term Law is meant the same invariable
relations of succession and resemblance predicated of all facts
springing from like conditions.  Law is a fact--not a cause.  It is a
fact that like conditions produce like results; this fact is LAW.  When
we say that the universe is governed by law, we mean that this fact,
called law, is incapable of change; that it is, has been, and forever
will be, the same inexorable,  immutable FACT, inseparable from all
phenomena.  Law, in this sense, was not enacted or made.  It could not
have been otherwise than as it is.  That which necessarily exists has
no creator.

Only a few years ago this earth was considered the real center of the
universe; all the stars were supposed to revolve around this
insignificant atom.  The German mind, more than any other, has done
away with this piece of egotism.  Purbach and Mullerus, in the
fifteenth century, contributed most to the advancement of astronomy in
their day. To the latter the world is indebted for the introduction of
decimal fractions, which completed our arithmetical notation, and
formed the second of the three steps by which, in modern times, the
science of numbers has been so greatly improved; and yet both of these
men believed in the most childish absurdities--at least in enough of
them to die without their orthodoxy having ever been questioned.

Next came the great Copernicus, and he stands at the head of the heroic
thinkers of his time, who had the courage and the mental strength to
break the chains of prejudice, custom and authority, and to establish
truth on the basis of experience, observation and reason.  He removed
the earth, so to speak, from the center of the universe, and ascribed
to it a twofold motion, and demonstrated the true position which it
occupies in the solar system.

At his bidding the earth began to revolve.  At the command of his
genius it commenced its grand flight amid the eternal constellations
around the sun.  For fifty years his discoveries were disregarded. All
at once, by the exertions of Galileo, they were kindled into so grand a
conflagration as to consume the philosophy of Aristotle, to alarm the
hierarchy of Rome, and to threaten the existence of every opinion not
founded upon experience, observation and reason.

The earth was no longer considered a universe governed by the caprices
of some revengeful Deity, who had made the stars out of what he had
left after completing the world, and had stuck them in the sky simply
to adorn the night.

I have said this much concerning astronomy because it was the first
splendid step forward!  The first sublime blow that shattered the lance
and shivered the shield of superstition; the first real help that man
received from heaven.  Because it was the first great lever placed
beneath the altar of a false religion; the first revelation of the
infinite to man, the first authoritative declaration that the universe
is governed by law; the first science that gave the lie direct to the
cosmogony of barbarism; and because it is the sublimest victory that
reason has achieved.

In speaking of astronomy I have confined myself to the discoveries made
since the revival of learning.  Long ago, on the banks of the Ganges,
ages before Copernicus lived, Aryabhatta taught that the earth is a
sphere and revolves on its own axis.  This, however, does not detract
from the glory of the great German.  The discovery of the Hindoo had
been lost in the midnight of Europe--in the age of faith--and
Copernicus was as much a discoverer as though Aryabhatta had never

In this short address there is no time to speak of other sciences, and
to point out the particular evidence furnished by each to establish the
dominion of law, nor to more than mention the name of Descartes, the
first who undertook to give an explanation of the celestial motions, or
who formed the vast and philosophic conception of reducing all the
phenomena of the universe to the same law; of Montaigne, one of the
heroes of common sense; of Galvani, whose experiments gave the
telegraph to the world; of Voltaire, who contributed more than any
other of the sons of men to the destruction of religious intolerance;
of August Comte, whose genius erected to itself a monument that still
touches the stars; of Guttenberg, Watt, Stephenson, Arkwright, all
soldiers of science in the grand army of the dead kings.

The glory of science is that it is freeing the soul-breaking the mental
manacles--getting the brain out of bondage--giving courage to
thought--filling the world with mercy, justice and joy.

Science found agriculture plowing with a stick--reaping with a
sickle--commerce at the mercy of the treacherous waves and the
inconstant winds--a world without books--without schools--man denying
the authority of reason, employing his ingenuity in the manufacture of
instruments of torture--in building inquisitions and cathedrals.  It
found the land filled with malicious monks--with persecuting
Protestants, and the burners of men.  It found a world full of fear,
ignorance upon its knees; credulity the greatest virtue; women treated
like beasts, of burden; cruelty the only means of reformation.  It
found the world at the mercy of disease and famine; men trying to read
their fates in the stars, and to tell their fortunes by signs and
wonders; generals thinking to conquer their enemies by making the sign
of the cross, or by telling a rosary.  It found all history full of
petty and ridiculous falsehood, and the Almighty was supposed to spend
most of his time turning sticks into snakes, drowning boys for swimming
on Sunday, and killing little children for the purpose of converting
their parents.  It found the earth filled with slaves and tyrants, the
people in all countries downtrodden, half naked, half starved, without
hope, and without reason in the world.

Such was the condition of man when the morning of science dawned upon
his brain, and before he had heard the sublime declaration that the
universe is governed by law.

For the change that has taken place we are indebted solely to
science--the only lever capable of raising mankind.  Abject faith is
barbarism; reason is civilization.  To obey is slavish; to act from a
sense of obligation perceived by the reason is noble. Ignorance
worships mystery; reason explains it--the one grovels, the other soars.

No wonder that fable is the enemy of knowledge.  A man with a false
diamond shuns the society of lapidaries, and it is upon this principle
that superstition abhors science.

In all ages the people have honored those who dishonored them. The have
worshiped their destroyers--they have canonized the most gigantic
liars, and buried the great thieves in marble and gold. Under the
loftiest monuments sleeps the dust of murder.

Imposture has always worn a crown.

The world is beginning to change because the people are beginning to
think.  To think is to advance.  Everywhere the great minds are
investigating the creeds and the superstitions of men--the phenomena of
nature, and the laws of things.  At the head of this great army of
investigators stood Humboldt--the serene leader of an intellectual
host--a king by the suffrage of science, and the divine right of genius.

And today we are not honoring some butcher called a soldier--some wily
politician called a statesman--some robber called a king--nor some
malicious metaphysician called a saint.  We are honoring the grand
Humboldt, whose victories were all achieved in the arena of thought;
who destroyed prejudice, ignorance and error--not men: who shed
light--not blood, and who contributed to the knowledge, the wealth and
the happiness of all mankind.

His life was pure, his aims lofty, his learning varied and profound,
and his achievements vast.

We honor him because he has ennobled our race, because he has
contributed as much as any man living or dead to the real prosperity of
the world.  We honor him because he honored us--because he labored for
others--because he was the most learned man of the most learned
nation--because he left a legacy of glory to every human being.  For
these reasons he is honored throughout the world.  Millions are doing
homage to his genius at this moment, and millions are pronouncing his
name with reverence, and recounting what he accomplished.

We associate the name of Humboldt with oceans, continents mountains and
volcanoes--with the great plains--the wide deserts--the snow-lipped
craters of the Andes--with primeval forests and European capitals--with
wildernesses and universities--with savages and savants--with the
lonely rivers of unpeopled wastes--with peaks and pampas, and steppes,
and cliffs and crags--with the progress of the world--with every
science known to man, and with every star glittering in the immensity
of space.

Humboldt adopted none of the soul-shrinking creeds of his day; wasted
none of his time in the stupidities, inanities and contradictions of
theological metaphysics; he did not endeavor to harmonize the astronomy
and geology of a barbarous people with the science of the nineteenth
century.  Never, for one moment, did he abandon the sublime standard of
truth; he investigated, he studied, he thought, he separated the gold
from the dross in the crucible of his grand brain.  He was never found
on his knees before the altar of superstition.  He stood erect by the
grand, tranquil column of reason. He was an admirer, a lover, an adorer
of nature, and at the age of ninety, bowed by the weight of nearly a
century, covered with the insignia of honor, loved by a nation,
respected by a world, with kings for his servants, he laid his weary
head upon her bosom--upon the bosom of the universal mother--and with
her loving arms around him, sank into that slumber called death.

History added another name to the starry scroll of the immortals.

The world is his monument; upon the eternal granite of her hills he
inscribed his name, and there, upon everlasting stone, his genius wrote
this, the sublimest of truths:



Ladies and Gentlemen: For thousands of years men have been asking the
questions: "How shall we civilize the world?  How shall we protect
life, liberty, property and reputations?  How shall we do away with
crime and poverty?  How clothe, and feed, and educate, and civilize
mankind?"  These are the questions that are asked by thoughtful men and
thoughtful women.  The question with them is not, "What will we do in
some other world?"  Time enough to ask that when we get there.  The
business we will attend to now is, how are, we to civilize the world?
What priest shall I ask?  What sacred volume shall I search?  What
oracle can I consult?  At what shrine must I bow to find out what is to
be done?  Each church has a different answer; each has a different
recipe for the salvation of the people, but not while they are in this
world.  All that is to be done in this world is to get ready for the

In the first place I am met by the theological world.  Have I the right
to inquire?  They say, "Certainly; it is your duty to inquire."  Each
church has a recipe for the salvation of this world, but not while you
are in this world--afterward.  They treat time as a kind of pier--a
kind of wharf running out into the great ocean of eternity; and they
treat us all as though we were waiting there, sitting on our trunks,
for the gospel ship.

I want to know what to do here.  Have I the right to inquire?  Yes. If
I have the right to inquire, then I have the right to investigate. If I
have the right to investigate, I have the right to accept. If I have
the right to accept, I have the right to reject.  And what religion
have I the right to reject?  That which does not conform with my
reason, with my standard of truth, with my standard of common sense.
Millions of men have been endeavoring to govern this world by means of
the supernatural. Thousands and thousands of churches exist, thousands
of cathedrals and temples have been built, millions of men have been
engaged to preach this gospel; and what has been the result in this
world?  Will one church have any sympathy with another?  Does the
religion of one country have any respect for that of another?  Or does
not each religion claim to be the only one?  And does not the priest of
every religion, with infinite impudence, consign the disciples of all
others to eternal fire?

Why is it the churches have failed to civilize this world?  Why is it
that the Christian countries are no better than any other countries?
Why is it that Christian men are no better than any other men?  Why is
it that ministers as a class are no better than doctors, or lawyers, or
merchants, or mechanics, or locomotive engineers?  And a locomotive
engineer is a thousand times more useful.  Give me a good engineer and
a bad preacher to go through this world with rather than a bad engineer
and a good preacher; and there is this curious fact about the believers
in the supernatural: The priests of one church have no confidence in
the miracles and wonders told by the priests of the other churches.
Maybe they know each other.  A Christian missionary will tell the
Hindoo of the miracles of the bible; the Hindoo smiles.  The Hindoo
tells the Christian missionary of the miracles of his sacred books; and
the missionary looks upon him with pity and contempt.  No priest takes
the word of another.

I heard once a little story that illustrates this point: A gentleman in
a little party was telling of a most wonderful occurrence, and when he
had finished everybody said: "Is it possible?  Why, did you ever hear
anything like that?"  All united in a kind of wondering chorus except
one man.  He said nothing.  He was perfectly still and unmoved; and one
who had been greatly astonished by the story said to him: "Did you hear
that story?"  "Yes."  "Well, you don't appear to be excited."  "Well
no," he said; "I am a liar myself."

There is another trouble with the supernatural.  It has no honesty; it
is consumed by egotism; it does not think--it knows; consequently it
has no patience with the honest doubter.  And how has the church
treated the honest doubter?  He has been answered by force, by
authority, by popes, by cardinals and bishops, and councils, and, above
all, by mobs. In that way the honest doubter has been answered.  There
is this difference between the minister, the church, the clergy, and
the men who believe in this world.  I might as well state the
question--I may go further than you.  The real question is this: Are we
to be governed by a supernatural being, or are we to govern ourselves?
That is the question.  Is God the source of power, or does all
authority spring, in governing, from the consent of the governed?  That
is the question.  In other words, is the universe a monarchy, a
despotism, or a democracy?  I take the democratic side, not in a
political sense.  The question is, whether this world should be
governed by God or by man; and when I say "God" I mean the being that
these gentlemen have treated and enthroned upon the ignorance of

Now let us admit, for the sake of argument, that the bible is true. Let
us admit, for the sake of argument, that God once governed this
world--not that He did, but let us admit it, and I intend to speak of
no god but our God, because we all insist that of all the gods ours is
the best, and if He is not good we need not trouble ourselves about the
others.  Let them take care of themselves.

Now, the first question is, whether this world shall be governed by God
or man.  Admitting that the being spoken of in the bible is God, He
governed this world once.  There was a theocracy at the start.  That
was the first government of the world.  Now, how do you judge of a man?
The best test of a man is, how does he use power?  That is the supreme
test of manhood.  How does he treat those within his control?  The
greater the man, the grander the man, the more careful he is in the use
of power--the tenderer he is, the nearer just, the greater, the more
merciful, the grander, the more charitable.  Tell me how a man treats
his wife or his children, his poor debtors, his servants, and I will
tell you what manner of a man he be.  That, I say, is the supreme test,
and we know tonight how a good and great man treats his inferiors.  We
know that.  And a man endeavoring to raise his fellow-men higher in the
scale of civilization--what will that man appeal to?  Will he appeal to
the lowest or to the highest that is in man?  Let us be honest.  Will
he appeal to prejudice--the fortress, the armor, the sword and shield
of ignorance? Will he appeal to credulity--the ring in the nose by
which priests lead stupidity?  Will he appeal to the cowardly man?
Will he play upon his fears--fear, the capital stock of imposture, the
lever and fulcrum of hypocrisy?  Will he appeal to the selfishness and
all the slimy serpents that crawl in the den of savagery?  Or will he
appeal to reason, the torch of the mind?  Will he appeal to justice?
Will he appeal to charity, which is justice in blossom?  Will he appeal
to liberty and love? These are the questions.  What will he do?  What
did our God do? Let us see.  The first thing we know of Him is in the
Garden of Eden. How did He endeavor to make His children great, and
strong, and good, and free?  Did He say anything to Adam and Eve about
the sacred relation of marriage?  Did He say anything to them about
loving children?  Did He say anything to them about learning anything
under heaven?  Did He say one word about intellectual liberty?  Did he
say one word about reason or about justice?  Did He make the slightest
effort to improve them?  All that He did in the world was to give them
one poor little miserable, barren command,  "Thou shalt not eat of a
certain fruit."  That's all that amounted to anything; and, when they
sinned, did this great God take them in the arms of His love and
endeavor to reform them?  No; He simply put upon them a curse.  When
they were expelled He said to the woman: "I will greatly multiply thy
sorrow.  In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children.  Thy husband shall
rule over thee."  God made every mother a criminal, and placed a
perpetual penalty of pain upon human love. Our God made wives
slaves--slaves of their husbands.  Our God corrupted the marriage
relation and paralyzed the firesides of this world.  That is what our
God did.  And what did He say to poor Adam? "Cursed be the ground for
thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat
the herb of the field, and in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat
bread."  Did He say one word calculated to make him a better man?  Did
He put in the horizon of the future one star of hope?  Let us be
honest, and see what this God did, and we will judge of Him simply by
ordinary common sense.

After a while Cain murdered his brother, and he was detected by this
God.  And what did this God say to him?  Did He say one word of the
crime of shedding human blood?  Not a word.  Did He say one word
calculated to excite in the breast of Cain the slightest real sorrow
for his deed?  Not the slightest.  Did He tell him anything about where
Abel was?  Nothing.  Did He endeavor to make him a better man?  Not a
bit. What had He ever taught him before on that subject?  Nothing.  And
so Cain went out to the other sons and daughters of Adam, according to
the bible, and they multiplied and increased until they covered the
earth. God gave them no code of laws.  God never built them a
schoolhouse.  God never sent a teacher. God never said a word to them
about a future state.  God never held up before their gaze that
dazzling reward of heaven; never spoke about the lurid gulfs of hell;
kept divine punishment a perfect secret, and without having given them
the slightest opportunity, simply drowned the world.  Splendid
administration! Cleveland will do better than that.  And, after the
waters had gone away, then He gave them some commandments.  I suppose
that He saw by that time that they needed guidance.

And here are the commandments:

1. You may eat all kinds of birds, beasts and fishes.

2. You must not eat blood; if you do, I will kill you.

3. Whosoever sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.

Nothing more.  No good advice; not a word about government; not a word
about the rights of man or woman, or children; not a word about any law
of nature; not a word about any science--nothing, not even arithmetic.

Nothing.  And so He let them go on, and in a little while they came to
the same old state; and began building the Tower of Babel; and he went
there and confounded, as they said, their languages.  Never said a word
to them; never told them how foolish it was to try and reach heaven
that way.  And the next we find Him talking to Abraham, and with
Abraham He makes a contract.  And how did He do it?  "I will bless them
that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee."  Fine contract for a
God. And thereupon He made certain promises to Abraham--promised to
give him the whole world, all the nations round about, and that his
seed should be as the sands of the sea.  Never kept one of His
promises--not one. He made the same promises to Isaac, and broke every
one.  Then He made them all over to Jacob, and broke every one; made
them again to Moses, and broke them all.  Never said a word about
anybody behaving themselves--not a word.  Finally, these people whom He
had taken under His special care became slaves in the land of Egypt.
How ashamed God must have been!  Finally He made up His mind to rescue
them from that servitude, and He sent Moses and Aaron.  He never said a
word to Moses or Aaron that Pharaoh was wrong.  He never said a word to
them about how the women felt when their male children were taken and
destroyed.  He simply sent Moses before Pharaoh with a cane in his hand
that he could turn into a serpent; and, when Pharaoh called in
magicians and they did the same, Pharaoh laughed.  And then they made
frogs; and Pharaoh sent for his magicians, and they did the same, and
Pharaoh still laughed. And this God had infinite power, but Pharaoh
defeated Him at every point!

It puts me in mind of the story that great Fenian told when the great
excitement was about Ireland.  An Irishman was telling about the
condition of Ireland.  He said: "We have got in Ireland now over
300,000 soldiers, all equipped.  Every man of them has got a musket and
ammunition.  They are ready to march at a minute's notice." "But," said
the other man, "why don't they march?"  "Why," said the other man, "the
police won't let them."  How admirable!  Imagine the infinite God
endeavoring to liberate the Hebrews, and prevented by a king, who would
not let the children of Israel go until he had done some little
miracles with sticks!  Think of it!  But, said Christians, "you must
wait a little while if you wish to find the foundation of law."

Christians now assert that from Sinai came to this world all knowledge
of right and wrong, and that from its flaming top we received the first
ideas of law and justice.  Let us look at those ten commandments.
Which of those ten commandments were new, and which of those ten
commandments were old?  "Thou shalt not kill." That was as old as life.
Murder has been a crime; also, because men object to being murdered.
If you read the same bible you will find that Moses, seeing an
Israelite and an Egyptian contending together, smote the Egyptian and
hid his body in the sand.  After he had committed that crime Moses fled
from the land.  Why? Simply because there was a law against murder.
That is all.  "Honor thy father and thy mother."  That is as old as
birth.  "Thou shalt not commit adultery."  That is as old as sex.
"Thou shalt not steal." That is as old as work, and as old as property.
"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."  That is as
old as the earth.  Never was there a nation, never was there a tribe on
the earth that did not have substantially, those commandments.  What,
then, were new?  First, "Thou shalt worship no other God; thou shalt
have no other God."  Why? "Because I am a jealous God." Second,  "Thou
shalt not make any graven image."  Third, "Thou shalt not take My name
in vain."   Fourth, "Thou shalt not work on the Sabbath day."  What use
were these commandments? None--not the slightest.  How much better it
would have been if God from Sinai, instead of the commandments, had
said: "Thou shalt not enslave thy fellow-man; no human being is
entitled to the results of another's labor."  Suppose He had said:
"Thou shalt not persecute for opinion's sake; thought and speech must
be forever free."  Suppose He had said, instead of "Thou shalt not work
on the Sabbath day,"  "A man shall have but one wife; a woman shall
have but one husband; husbands shall love their wives; wives shall love
their husbands and their children with all their hearts and as
themselves"--how much better it would have been for this world.

Long before Moses was born the Egyptians taught one God; but
afterwards, I believe, in their weakness, they degenerated into a
belief in the Trinity.  They taught the divine origin of the soul, and
taught judgment after death.  They taught as a reward for belief in
their doctrine eternal joy, and as a punishment for non-belief eternal
pain. Egypt, as a matter of fact, was far better governed than
Palestine.  The laws of Egypt were better than the laws of God. In
Egypt woman was equal with man.  Long before Moses was born there were
queens upon the Egyptian throne.  Long before Moses was born they had a
written code of laws, and their laws were administered by courts and
judges.  They had rules of evidence.  They understood the philosophy of
damages.  Long before Moses was born they had asylums for the insane
and hospitals for the sick.  Long before God appeared on Sinai there
were schools in Egypt, and the highest office next to the throne was
opened to the successful scholar. The Egyptian married but one wife.
His wife was called the lady of the house.  Women were not secluded;
and, above all and over all, the people of Egypt were not divided into
castes, and were infinitely better governed than God ever thought of.
I am speaking of the God of this bible.  If Moses had remembered more
of what he saw in Egypt his government would have been far better than
it was. Long before these commandments were given, Zoroaster taught the
Hindoos that there was one infinite and supreme God.  They had a code
of laws, and their laws were administered by judges in their courts.
By those laws, at the death of a father, the unmarried daughter
received twice as much of his property as his son.  Compare those laws
with the laws of Moses.

So, too, the Romans had their code of laws.  The Romans were the
greatest lawyers the world produced.  The Romans had a code of civil
laws, and that code today is the foundation of all law in the civilized
world.  The Romans built temples to Truth, to Faith, to Valor, to
Concord, to Modesty, to Charity and to Chastity.  And so with the
Grecians.  And yet you will find Christian ministers today contending
that all ideas of law, of justice and of right came from Sinai, from
the ten commandments, from the Mosaic laws.  No lawyer who understands
his profession will claim that is so.  No lawyer who has studied the
history of law will claim it.  No man who knows history itself will
claim it. No man will claim it but an ignorant zealot.

Let us go another step--let us compare the ideas of this God with the
ideas of uninspired men.  I am making this long preface because I want
to get it out of your minds that the bible is inspired.

Now let us go along a little and see what is God's opinion of liberty.
Nothing is of more value in this world today than liberty--liberty of
body and liberty of mind.  Without liberty, the universe would be as a
dungeon into which human beings are flung like poor and miserable
convicts.  Intellectual liberty is the air of the soul, the sunshine of
the mind.  Without it we should be in darkness. Now, Jehovah commanded
the Jewish people to take captives the strangers and sojourners amongst
them, and ordered that they and their children should be bondsmen and
bondswomen for ever.

Now let us compare Jehovah to Epictetus--a man to whom no revelation
was ever made--a man to whom this God did not appear.  Let us listen to
him: "Remember your servants are to be treated as your own
brothers--children of the same God."  On the subject of liberty is not
Epictetus a better authority than Jehovah, who told the Jews to make
bondsmen and bondswomen of the heathen round about?  And He said they
were to make them their bondsmen and bondswomen forever. Why?  Because
they were heathen.  Why?  Because they were not children of the Jews.
He was the God of the Jews and not of the rest of mankind.  So He said
to His chosen people: "Pillage upon the enemy and destroy the people of
other gods.  Buy the heathen round about."  Yet Cicero, a poor pagan
lawyer, said this--and he had not even read the old testament--had not
even had the advantage of being enlightened by the prophets: "They who
say that we should love our fellow-citizens, and not foreigners,
destroy the universal brotherhood of mankind, and with it benevolence
and justice would perish forever."  Is not Cicero greater than Jehovah?
The bible, inspired by Jehovah, says: "If a man smite his servant with
a rod and he die under his hand he shall be punished.  It he continue a
day or two and then die, he shall not be punished."  Zeno, the founder
of the stoics, who had never heard of Jehovah, and never read a word of
Moses, said this: "No man can be the owner of another, and the title is
bad. Whether the slave became a slave by conquest or by purchase, the
title is bad."  Let us come and see whether Jehovah has any humanity in
Him. Jehovah ordered the Jewish general to make war, and this was the
order: "And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee, thou
shalt smite them and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant
with them, nor show mercy unto them."  And yet Epictetus, whom I have
already quoted, said: "Treat those in thy power as thou wouldst have
thy superiors treat thee."

I am on the side of the pagan.  Is it possible that a being of infinite
goodness said: "I will heap mischief upon them; I will send My arrows
upon them.  They shall be burned with hunger; they shall be devoured
with burning heat and with bitter destruction. I will also send the
teeth of locusts upon them, with the poisonous serpent of the desert.
The sound without and the terror within, shall destroy both the young
men and the virgins, the sucklings also, and the men with gray hairs."
While Seneca, a poor uninspired Roman, said: "A wise man will not
pardon any crime that ought to be punished, but will accomplish in
other way all that is sought.  He will spare some; he will pardon and
watch over some because of their youth; he will pardon these on account
of their ignorance. His clemency will not fail what is sought by
justice, but his clemency will fulfill justice."  That was said by
Seneca.  Can we believe that this Jehovah said: "Let his children be
fatherless and his wife a widow.  Let his children be continually
vagabonds, and beg. Let them seek their bread out of desolate places.
Let the extortioner catch all that he hath, and let the stranger spoil
his labor.  Let no one extend mercy unto them, neither let any favor
his fatherless children."  Did Jehovah say this?  Surely He had never
heard this line--this plaintive music from the Hindoo: "Sweet is the
lute to those who have not heard the voices of their own children."
Let us see the generosity of Jehovah out of the cloud of darkness on
Mount Sinai.  He said to the Jews: "Thou shalt have no other God before
Me.  Thou shalt not bow down to any other gods, for the Lord thy God is
a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children
to the third an fourth generation of them that hate Me."  Just think of
God saying to people: "If you do not love Me I will damn you."
Contrast this with the words put by the Hindoo poet into the mouth of
Brahma: "I am the same to all mankind. The who honestly worship other
gods involuntarily worship me.  I am he that partaketh of all worship.
I am the reward of worship."  How perfectly sublime!  Let me read it to
you again: "I am the same to all mankind.  They who honestly worship
other gods involuntarily worship me.  I am he that partaketh of all
worship.  I am the reward of worship."  Compare these passages. The
first is a dungeon, which crude hands have digged with jealous slime.
The other is like the dome of the firmament, inlaid with
constellations.  Is it possible God ever said: "If a prophet deceive
when he hath spoken a thing, I, the Lord, hath deceived that prophet?"
Compare that passage with the poet, a pagan: "Better remain silent the
remainder of life than speak falsely."

Can we believe a being of infinite mercy gave this command: "Put every
man his sword by his side; go from the gate throughout the camp, and
slay every man his brother, every man his companion, and every man his
neighbor.  Consecrate it, yourselves this day.  Let every man lay his
sword even upon his son, upon his brother, that he bestow blessing upon
Me this day."  Surely that was not the outcome of a great, magnanimous
spirit, like that of the Roman emperor, who declared: "I had rather
keep a single Roman citizen alive than slay a thousand enemies."
Compare the last command given to the children of Israel with the words
of Marcus Aurelius: "I have formed an ideal of the State, in which
there is the same law for all, and equal rights and equal liberty of
speech established for all--an Empire where nothing is honored so much
as the freedom of the citizens."  I am on the side of the Roman emperor.

What is more beautiful than the old story from Sufi?  There was a man
who for seven years did every act of good, every kind of charity, and
at the end of the seven years he mounted the steps to the gate of
heaven and knocked.  A voice cried, "Who is there?" He cried, "Thy
servant, O Lord;" and the gates were shut.  Seven other years he did
every good work, and again mounted the steps to heaven and knocked.
The voice cried, "Who is there?"  He answered, "Thy slave, O God;" and
the gates were shut.  Seven other years he did every good deed, and
again mounted the steps to heaven, and the voice said: "Who is there?"
He replied "Thyself, O God;" and the gates wide open flew.  Is there
anything in our religion so warm or so beautiful as that?  Compare that
story from a pagan with the Presbyterian religion.

Take this story of Endesthora, who was a king of Egypt, and started for
the place where the horizon touched the earth, where he was to meet
God. With him followed Argune and Bemis and Traubation.  They were
taught that, when any man started after God in that way, if he had been
guilty of any crime he would fall by the way.  Endesthora walked at the
head and suddenly he missed Argune.  He said, "He was not always
merciful in the hour of victory."  A little while after he missed
Bemis, and said, "He fought not so much for the rights of man as for
his own glory."  A little farther on he missed Traubation. He said, "My
God, I know no reason for his failing to reach the place where the
horizon touches the earth;" and the god Ram appeared to him, and
opening the curtains of the sky, said to him: "Enter." And Endesthora
said: "But where are my brethren? Where are Argune and Beinis and
Traubation?"  And the god said: "They sinned in their time, and they
are condemned to suffer below."  Then said Endestbora: "I do not wish
to enter into your heaven without my friends. If they are below, then I
will join them."  But the god said: "They are here before you; I simply
said this to try your soul."  Endesthora simply turned and said: "But
what of my dog?" The god said,  "Thou knowest that if the shadow of a
dog fall upon the sacrifice, it is unclean. How, then, can a dog enter
heaven?" And Endesthora replies: "I know that, and I know another
thing; that ingratitude is the blackest of crimes, whether it be to man
or beast. That dog has been my faithful friend.  He has followed me and
I will not desert even him."  And the god said: "Let the dog follow."
Compare that with the bible stories.

Long before the advent of Christ, Aristotle said: "We should conduct
ourselves toward others as we would have them conduct themselves toward
us."  Seneca said: "Do not to your neighbor what you would not have
your neighbor do to you."  Socrates said: "Act toward others as you
would have others act toward you. Forgive your enemies, render good for
evil, and kiss even the hand that is upraised to smite."  Krishna said:
"Cease to do evil; aim to do well; love your enemies.  It is the law of
love that virtue is the only thing that has strength."  Poor, miserable
pagans!  Did you ever hear anything like this?  Is it possible that one
of the authors of the new testament was inspired when he said that man
was not created for woman, but woman for man?  Epictetus said: "What is
more delightful than to be so dear to your wife as to be on her account
dearer even to yourself?"  Compare that with St. Paul: "But I would
have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the
woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. Wives, submit
yourselves unto your husbands as unto the Lord." That was inspiration.
This was written by a poor, despised heathen: "In whatever house the
husband is contented with the wife and the wife with the husband, in
that house will fortune dwell.  In the house where the woman is not
honored, let the curse be pronounced. Where the wife is honored, there
God is truly worshiped."  I wish Jehovah had said something like that
from Sinai.  Is there anything as beautiful as this in the new
testament: "Shall I tell you where nature is more blest and fair?  It
is where those we love abide. Though the space be small, it is ample as
earth; though it be a desert, through it run the rivers of Paradise."

Compare these things with the curses pronounced in the old testament,
where you read of the heathen being given over to butchery and death,
and the women and babes to destruction; and, after you have read them,
read the chapters of horrors in the new testament, threatening eternal
fire and flame; and then read this, the greatest thought uttered by the
greatest of human beings:

The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain
from heaven Upon the place beneath.  It is twice blessed: It blesseth
him that gives and him that takes; 'Tis mightiest in the mighty; It
becomes the throned monarch better this his crown.

Compare that with your doctrine of the new testament!  If Jehovah was
an infinite God and knew things from the beginning, He knew that His
bible would be a breast-work behind which tyranny and hypocrisy would
crouch, and knew His bible would be the auction-block on which the
mother would stand while her babe was sold from her, because He knew
His bible would be quoted by tyrants; that it would be quoted in
defense of robbers called kings, and by hypocrites called priests.  He
knew that He had taught the Jewish people; He knew that He had found
them free and left them slaves; He knew that He had broken every single
promise made to them; He knew that, while other nations advanced in
knowledge, in art, in science, His chosen people were subjects still.
He promised them the world; He gave them a desert.  He promised them
liberty, and made them slaves.  He promised them power; He gave them
exile, and any one who reads the old testament is compelled to say that
nothing could add to their misery.

Let us be honest.  How do you account for this religion?  This world;
where did it come from?  You hear every minister say that man is a
religious animal--that religion is natural.  While man is an ignorant
animal man will be a theological animal, and no longer. Where did we
get this religion?  The savage knew but little of nature, but thought
that everything happened in reference to him. He thought his sins
caused earthquakes, and that his virtues made the sunshine.

Nothing is so egotistical as ignorance.  You know, and so do I, that if
no human being existed, the sun would shine, and that tempests would
now and then devastate the earth; violets would spread their velvet
bosoms to the sun, daisies would grow, roses would fill the air with
perfume, and now and then volcanoes would illuminate the horizon with
their lurid glare; the grass would grow, the waters would run, and so
far as nature is concerned, everything would be as joyous as though the
earth were filled with happy homes.  We know the barbarian savage
thinks that all this was on his account.  He thinks that there dwelt
two very powerful deities; that there was a good one, because he knows
good things happen to him; and that there was a bad one, because he
knows bad things happen to him.  Behind the evil influence he puts a
devil, and behind the good, an intention of God; and then he imagines
both these beings are in opposition, and that, between them, they
struggle for the possession of his ignorant soul.  He also thinks that
the place where the good deity lives is heaven, and that the place
where the other deity keeps himself is a place of torture and
punishment. And about that time other barbarians have chosen too keep
the ignorant ones in subjection by means of the doctrine of fear and

There is no reforming power in fear.  You can scare a man, maybe, so
bad that he won't do a thing, but you can't scare him so bad he won't
want to do it.  There is no reforming power in punishment or brute
force; but our barbarians rather imagined that every being would punish
in accordance with his power, and his dignity, and that God would
subject them to torture in the same way as those who made Him angry.
They knew the king would inflict torments upon one in his power, and
they supposed that God would inflict torture according to His power.
They knew the worst torture was a slow, burning fire; added to it the
idea of eternity, and hell was produced.  That was their idea.  All
meanness, revenge, selfishness, cruelty, and hatred of which men here
are capable burst into blossom and bore fruit in that one word, "Hell."

In this way a God of infinite wisdom experimented with man, keeping him
between an outstretched abyss beneath and a heaven above; and in time
the man came to believe that he could please God by having read a few
sacred books, could count beads, could sprinkle water, eat little
square pieces of bread, and that he could shut his eyes and say words
to the clouds; but the moment he left this world nothing remained
except to damn him.  He was to be kept miserable one day in seven, and
he could slander and persecute other men all the other days in the
week.  That was the chance that God gave a man here, but the moment he
left this world that settled it.  He would go to eternal pain or else
to eternal joy.  That was the way that the supernatural governed this
world--through fear, through terror, through eternity of punishment;
and that government, I say tonight, has failed.  How has it been kept
alive so long?  It was born in ignorance.  Let me tell you, whoever
attacks a creed will be confronted with a list of great men who have
believed in it. Probably their belief in that creed was the only
weakness they had. But he will be asked, "So you know more than all the
great men who have taught and all the respectable men who have believed
in that faith?" For the church is always going about to get a
certificate from some governor, or even perhaps members of the
Legislature, and you are told, because so-and-so believed all these
things, and you have no more talents than they, that you should believe
the same thing.  But I contend, as against this argument, that you
should not take the testimony of these men unless you are willing to
take at the same time all their beliefs on other subjects.  Then,
again, they tell you that the rich people are all on their side, and I
say so, too.  The churches today seek the rich, and poverty unwillingly
seeks them.  Light thrown from diamonds adorns the repentant here. We
are told that the rich, the fortunate, and the holders of place are
Christians now; and yet ministers grow eloquent over the poverty of
Christ, who was born in a manger, and say that the Holy Ghost passed
the titled ladies of the world and selected the wife of a poor mechanic
for the mother of God. Such is the difference between theory and
practice.  The church condemns the men of Jerusalem who held positions
and who held the pretensions of the Savior in contempt.  They admit
that He was so little known that they had to bribe a man to point Him
out to the soldiers.  They assert that He performed miracles; yet He
remained absolutely unknown, hidden in the depth of obscurity.  No one
knew Him, and one of His disciples had to be bribed to point Him out.
Surely He and His disciples could have met the arguments which were
urged against their religion at that time.

So long as the church honored philosophers she kept her great men in
the majority.  How is it now?  I say tonight that no man of genius in
the world is in the orthodox pulpit, so far as I know. Where are they?
Where are the orthodox great men?  I challenge the Christian church to
produce a man like Alexander Humboldt.  I challenge the world to
produce a naturalist like Haeckel.  I challenge the Christian world to
produce a man like Darwin.  Where in the ranks of orthodoxy are
historians like Draper and Buckle? Where are the naturalists like
Tyndall, philosophers like Mills and Spencer, and women like George
Eliot and Harriet Martineau?  You may get tired of the great-men
argument; but the names of the great thinkers, and naturalists and
scientists of our time cannot be matched by the supernatural world.

What is the next argument they will bring forward?  The father and
mother argument.  You must not disgrace your parents.  How did Christ
come to leave the religion of His mother?  That argument proves too
much.  There is one way every man can honor his mother--that is by
finding out more than she knew.  There is one way a man can honor his
father--by correcting the old man's errors.

Most people imagine that the creed we have came from the brain and
heart of Christ.  They have no idea how it was made.  They think it was
all made at one time.  They don't understand that it was a slow growth.
They don't understand that theology is a science made up of mistakes,
prejudices and falsehoods.  Let me tell you a few facts: The Emperor
Constantine, who lifted the Christian religion into power, murdered his
wife and his eldest son the very year that he convened the Council of
Nice to decide whether Jesus Christ was man or God; and that was not
decided until the year of grace 325.  Then Theodosius called a council
at Constantinople in 381, and this council decided that the Holy Ghost
proceeded from the Father.  You see, there was a little doubt on that
question before this was done.  Then another council was called later
to determine who the Virgin Mary really was, and it was solemnly
decided that she was the mother of Christ.  In 431, and then in 451, a
council was held in Chalcedon, by the Emperor Marcian, and that decided
that Christ had two natures--a human and a divine.  In 680 another
council was held at Constantinople; and in 1274 at Lyons, it was
decided that the Holy Ghost proceeded not only from the Father but from
the Son; and when you take into consideration the fact that a belief in
the Trinity is absolutely essential to salvation, you see how important
it was that these doctrines should have been established in 1274, when
millions of people had dropped into hell in the interim solely because
they had forgotten that question.  At last we know how religions are
made.  We know how miracles are manufactured.  We know the history of
relics, and bones, and pieces of the true cross.  And at last we
understand apostolic succession.  At last we have examined other
religions, and we find them all the same, and we are beginning to
suspect that ours is like the rest.  I think we understand it.

I read a little story, a short time ago, from the Japanese, that throws
light upon the question.  There was an old priest at a monastery.  This
monastery was built over the bones of what he called a saint, and
people came there and were cured of many diseases.  This priest had an
assistant.  After the assistant grew up and got quite to understand his
business, the old priest gave him a little donkey, and told him that
henceforth he was to take care of himself.  The young priest started
out with his little donkey, and asked alms of those he met.  Few gave
to him.  Finally he got very poor.  He could not raise money enough to
feed the donkey. Finally the donkey died; he was about to bury it when
a thought occurred to him.  He buried the donkey and sat down on the
grave, and to the next stranger that passed he said: "Will you not give
a little money to erect a shrine over the bones of a sinless one?"
Thereupon a man gave money.  Others followed his example, a shrine was
raised, and in a little while a monastery was built over the bones of
the sinless one.  Down in the grave the young priest made an orifice,
so that persons afflicted with any disease could reach down and touch
the bones of the sinless one.  Hundreds were thus cured, and persons
left their crutches as testimonials to the miraculous power of the
bones of the sinless one.  Finally the priest became so rich that he
thought he would visit his old master.  He went to the old monastery
with a fine retinue.  His old master asked him how he became so rich
and prosperous. He replied: "Old age is stupid, but youth has thought."
Later on he explained to the old priest how the donkey had died, and
how he had raised a monastery over the bones of the sinless one; and
again reminded him that old age is stupid, but youth has thought.   The
old priest exclaimed: "Not quite so fast, young man; not quite so fast.
Don't imagine you worked out anything new.  This shrine of mine is
built over the bones of the mother of your little donkey."

We have now reached a point in the history of the world when we know
that theocracy as a form of government is a failure, and we see that
theology as a foundation of government is an absolute failure.  We can
see that theocracy and theology created, not liberty, but despotism.
We know enough of the history of the churches in this world to know
that they never can civilize mankind; that they are not imbued with the
spirit of progress; that they are not imbued with the spirit of justice
and mercy.  What I ask you tonight is: What has the church done to
civilize mankind?  What has the church done for us?  How has it added
to the prosperity of this world? Has it ever produced anything?
Nothing. Why, they say, it has been charitable.  How can a beggar be
charitable? A beggar produces nothing.  The church has been an eternal
and everlasting pauper. It is not charitable.  It is an object of
charity, and yet it claims to be charitable.  The giver is the
charitable one. Somebody who has made something, somebody who has by
his labor produced something, he alone can be charitable.

And let me say another thing: The church is always on the wrong side.
Let us take, first, the Episcopal church--if you call that a church.
Let me tell you one thing about that church.  You know what is called
the rebellion in England in 1688?  Do you know what caused it?  I will
tell you.  King James was a Catholic, and notwithstanding that fact, he
issued an edict of toleration for the Dissenters and Catholics.  And
what next did he do?  He ordered all the bishops to have this edict of
toleration read in the Episcopal churches. They refused to do it--most
of them.  You recollect that trial of the seven bishops?  That is what
it was all about; they would not read the edict of toleration.  Then
what happened?  A strange thing to say, and it is one of the miracles
of this world: The Dissenters, in whose favor that edict was issued,
joined hands with the Episcopalians, and raised the rebellion against
the king, because he wanted to give the Dissenters liberty, and these
Dissenters and these Episcopalians, on account of toleration, drove
King James into exile.  This is the history of the first rebellion the
Church of England ever raised against the king, simply because he
issued an edict of toleration and the poor, miserable wretches in whose
favor the edict was issued joined hands with their oppressors.  I want
to show you how much the Church of England has done for England. I get
it from good authority.  Let me read it to you to show how little
influence the Christian church, the Church of England, had with the
government of that country.  Let me tell you that up to the reign of
George I. there were in that country sixty-seven offenses punishable
with death.  There is not a lawyer in this city who can think of those
offenses and write them down in one day.  Think of it! Sixty-seven
offenses punishable with death!  Now, between the accession of George
I. and the termination of the reign of George III. there were added 156
new crimes punishable with death, making in all 223 crimes in England
punishable with death.  There is no lawyer in this State who can think
of that many crimes in a week. Now, during all those years the
government was becoming more and more cruel; more and more barbarous;
and we do not find, and we have not found, that the Church of England,
with its 15,000 or 20,000 Ministers, with its more than a score of
bishops in the House of Lords, has ever raised its voice or perfected
any organization in favor of a more merciful code, or in condemnation
of the enormous cruelty which the laws were continually inflicting.
And was not Voltaire justified in saying that "The English were a
people who murdered by law?"  Now, that is an extract from a speech
made by John Bright in May, 1883.  That shows what the Church of
England did.  Two hundred and twenty-three offenses in England
punishable with death, and no minister, no bishop, no church
organization raising his or its voice, against the monstrous cruelty.
And why?  Even then it was better than the law of Jehovah.

And the Protestants were as bad as the Catholics. You remember the time
of Henry IV. in France, when the edict of Nantes was issued simply to
give the Protestants the right to worship God according to the dictates
of their conscience.   Just as soon as that edict was issued the
Protestants themselves, in the cities where they had the power,
prevented the Catholics from worshiping their God according to the
dictates of their conscience, and it was on account of the refusal of
those Protestants to allow the Catholics to worship God as they desired
that there was a civil war lasting for seven years in France.
Richelieu came into authority about the second or third year of that
war.  He made no difference between Protestants and Catholics; and it
was owing to Richelieu that the Thirty Years' War terminated.  It was
owing to Richelieu that the peace of Westphalia was made in 1643,
although I believe he had been dead a year before that time; but it was
owing to him, and it was the first peace ever made between nations on a
secular basis, with everything religious left out, and it was the last
great religious war.

You may ask me what I want.  Well, in the first place I want to get
theology out of government.  It has no business there.  Man gets his
authority from man, and is responsible only to man.  I want to get
theology out of politics.  Our ancestors in 1776 retired God from
politics, because of the jealousies among the churches, and the result
has been splendid for mankind.  I want to get theology out of
education. Teach the children what somebody knows, not what somebody
guesses.  I want to get theology out of morality, and out of charity.
Don't give for God's sake, but for man's sake.

I want you to know another thing; that neither Protestants nor
Catholics are fit to govern this world.  They are not fit to govern
themselves.  How could you elect a minister of any religion president
of the United States.  Could you elect a bishop of the Catholic church,
or a Methodist bishop, or Episcopal minister, or one of the elders? No.
And why?  We are afraid of the ecclesiastic spirit.  We are afraid to
trust the liberties of men in the hands of people who acknowledge that
they are bound by a standard different from that of the welfare of

The history of Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Cuba, and Brazil all
show that slavery existed where Catholicism was a power.  I would
suggest an education that would rule theology out of the government,
and teach people to rely more on themselves and less on providence.
There are two ways of living--the broad way of life lived for others,
and the narrow theological way.  It is wise to so live that death can
be serenely faced, and then, if there is another world, the best way to
prepare for it is to make the best of this; and if there be no other
world, the best way to live here is to so live as to be happy and make
everybody else happy.


Ladies and Gentlemen: There is nothing grander in this world than to
rescue from the leprosy of slander a great and splendid name. There is
nothing nobler than to benefit our benefactors.  The infidels of one
age have been the aureole saints of the next.  The destroyers of the
old have always been the creators of the new.  The old passes away and
the new becomes old.  There is in the intellectual world, as in the
material, decay and growth; and even by the sunken grave of age stand
youth and joy.  The history of progress is written in the lives of
infidels.  Political rights have been preserved by traitors;
intellectual rights by infidels.

To attack the kings was treason; to dispute the priests blasphemy. The
sword and cross have always been allies; they defended each other. The
throne and altar are twins--vultures born of the same egg.  It was
James I. who said: "No king, no bishop; no church, no crown; no tyrant
in heaven, no tyrant on earth."  Every monarchy that has disgraced the
world, every despotism that has covered the cheeks of men with fear has
been copied after the supposed despotism of hell. The king owned the
bodies and the priest owned the souls;  one lived on taxes and the
other on alms; one was a robber and the other a beggar.

The history of the world will not show you one charitable beggar.  He
who lives on charity never has anything to give away.  The robbers and
beggars controlled not only this world, but the next.  The king made
laws, the priest made creeds; with bowed backs the people received and
bore the burdens of the one, and with the open mouth of wonder the
creed of the other.  If any aspired to be free they were crushed by the
king, and every priest was a hero who slaughtered the children of the
brave. The king ruled by force, the priest by fear and by the bible.
The king said to the people: "God made you peasants and me a king; He
clothed you in rags and housed you in hovels; upon me He put robes and
gave me a palace."  Such is the justice of God.  The priest said to the
people: "God made you ignorant and vile, me holy and wise; obey me, or
God will punish you here and hereafter."  Such is the mercy of God.

Infidels are the intellectual discoverers.  Infidels have sailed the
unknown sea and have discovered the isles and continents in the vast
realms of thought.   What would the world have been had infidels never
existed?  What the infidel is in religion the inventor is in mechanics.
What the infidel is in religion the man willing to fight the hosts of
tyranny is in the political world.  An infidel is a gentleman who has
discovered a fact and is not afraid to tell about it.  There has been
for many thousands of years an idea prevalent that in some way you can
prove whether the theories defended or advanced by a man are right or
wrong by showing what kind of a man he was, what kind of a life he
lived, and what manner of death he died.  There is nothing to this.  It
makes no difference what the character of the man was who made the
first multiplication table.  It is absolutely true, and whenever you
find an absolute fact, it makes no difference who discovered it.  The
golden rule would have been just as good if it had first been whispered
by the devil.

It is good for what it contains, not because a certain man said it.
Gold is just as good in the hands of crime as in the hands of virtue.
Whatever it may be, it is gold.  A statement made by a great man is not
necessarily true.  A man entertains certain opinions, and then he is
proscribed because he refuses to change his mind.  He is burned to
ashes, and in the midst of the flames he cries out that he is of the
same opinion still.  Hundreds then say that he has sealed his testimony
with his blood, and that his doctrines must be true.  All the martyrs
in the history of the world are not sufficient to establish the
correctness of any one opinion.  Martyrdom as a rule establishes the
sincerity of the martyr, not the correctness of his thought.  Things
are true or false independently of the man who entertains them.  Truth
cannot be affected by opinion; an error cannot be believed sincerely
enough to make it the truth.  No Christian will admit that any amount
of heroism displayed by a Mormon is sufficient to show that Joseph
Smith was an inspired prophet.  All the courage and culture, all the
poetry and art of ancient Greece do not even tend to establish the
truth of any myth.

The testimony of the dying concerning some other world, or in regard to
the supernatural, cannot be any better than that of the living. In the
early days of Christian experience an intrepid faith was regarded as a
testimony in favor of the church.  No doubt, in the arms of death, many
a one went back and died in the lay of the old faith.  After awhile
Christians got to dying and clinging to their faith; and then it was
that Christians began to say: "No man can die serenely without clinging
to the cross."  According to the theologians, God has always punished
the dying who did not happen to believe in Him.  As long as men did
nothing except to render their fellowmen wretched, God maintained the
strictest neutrality, but when some honest man expressed a doubt as to
the Jewish scriptures, or prayed to the wrong god, or to the right God
by the wrong man, then the real God leaped like a wounded tiger upon
this dying man, and from his body tore his wretched soul.

There is no recorded instance where the uplifted hand of murder has
been paralyzed, or the innocent have been shielded by God.  Thousands
of crimes are committed every day, and God has no time to prevent them.
He is too busy numbering hairs and matching sparrows; He is listening
for blasphemy; He is looking for persons who laugh at priests; He is
examining baptismal registers; He is watching professors in colleges
who begin to doubt the geology of Moses or the astronomy of Joshua.
All kinds of criminals, except infidels, meet death with reasonable
serenity.  As a rule, there is nothing in the death of a pirate to cast
discredit upon his profession.  The murderer upon the scaffold
smilingly exhorts the multitude to meet him in heaven.  The Emperor
Constantine, who lifted Christianity into power, murdered his wife and
oldest son.

Now and then, in the history of the world, there has been a man of
genius, a man of intellectual honesty.  These men have denounced the
superstition of their day.  They were honest enough to tell their
thoughts.  Some of them died naturally in their beds, but it would not
do for the church to admit that they died peaceably; that would show
that religion was not necessary in the last moments.  The first grave,
the first cathedral; the first corpse was the first priest. If there
was no death in the world there would be no superstition. The church
has taken great pains to show that the last moments of all infidels
have been infinitely wretched.  Upon this point, Catholics and
Protestants have always stood together.  They are no longer men; they
become hyenas, they dig open graves.  They devour the dead. It is an
auto da fe presided over by God and his angels.  These men believed in
the accountability of men in the practice of virtue and justice.  They
believed in liberty, but they did not believe in the inspiration of the
bible.  That was their crime.  In order to show that infidels died
overwhelmed with remorse and fear they have generally selected from all
the infidels since the days of Christ until now five men--the Emperor
Julian, Bruno, Diderot, David Hume and Thomas Paine.

They forget that Christ himself was not a Christian, that He did what
He could to tear down the religion of His day; that He held the temple
in contempt.  I like Him because He held the old Jewish religion in
contempt; because He had sense enough to say that doctrine was not
true.  In vain have their calumniators been called upon to prove their
statements.  They simply charge it, they simply relate it, but that is
no evidence.  The Emperor Julian did what he could to prevent
Christians destroying each other.  He held pomp and pride in contempt.
In battle with the Persians he was mortally wounded.  Feeling that he
had but a short time to live, he spent his last hours in discussing
with his friends the immortality of the soul.  He declared that he was
satisfied with his conduct, and that he had no remorse to express for
any act he had ever done.

The first great infidel was Giordano Bruno.  He was born in the year of
grace 1550.  He was a Dominican friar--Catholic--and afterwards he
changed his mind.

The reason he changed was because he had a mind.  He was a lover of
nature, and said to the poor hermits in their caves, to the poor monks
in their monasteries, to the poor nuns in their cells: "Come out in the
glad fields; come and breathe the fresh, free air; come and enjoy all
the beauty there is in the world.  There is no God who can be made
happier by you being miserable; there is no God who delights to see
upon the human face the tears of pain, of grief, of agony.  Come out
and enjoy all there is of human life; enjoy progress, enjoy thought,
enjoy being somebody and belonging to yourself."

He revolted at the idea of transubstantiation; he revolted at the idea
that the eternal God could be in a wafer.  He revolted at the idea that
you could make the Trinity out of dough--bake God in an oven as you
would a biscuit.  I should think he would have revolted. The idea of a
man devouring the creator of the universe by swallowing a piece of
bread.  And yet that is just as sensible as any of it. Those who, when
smitten on one cheek turn the other, threatened to kill this man.  He
fled from his native land and was a vagabond in nearly every nation of
Europe.  He declared that he fought not what men really believed, but
what they pretended to believe.  And, do you know, that is the business
I am in?  I am simply saying what other people think; I am furnishing
clothes for their children, I am putting on exhibition their offspring,
and they like to hear it, they like to see it.  We have passed midnight
in the history of the world.  Bruno was driven from his native country
because he taught the rotation of the earth; you can see what a
dangerous man he must have been in a well regulated monarchy.  You see
he had found a fact, and a fact has the same effect upon religion that
dynamite has upon a Russian czar.  A fellow with a new fact was
suspected and arrested, and they always thought they could destroy it
by burning him, but they never did.  All the fires of martyrdom never
destroyed one truth; all the churches of the world have never made one
lie true. Germany and France would not tolerate Bruno.  According to
the Christian system, this world was the center of everything.  The
stars were made out of what little God happened to have left when He
got the world done.  God lived up in the sky, and they said this earth
must rest upon something, and finally science passed its hand clear
under, and there was nothing.  It was self-existent in infinite space.
Then the church began to say they didn't say it was flat--not so awful
flat--it was kind of rounding.  According to the ancient Christians God
lived from all eternity, and never worked but six days in His whole
life, and then had the impudence to tell us to be industrious. I heard
of a man going to California over the plains, and, there was a
clergyman on board, and he had a great deal to say, and finally he fell
in conversation with the '49-er, and the latter said to the clergyman:
"Do you believe that God made this world in six days?" "Yes, I do."
They were then going along the Humboldt. Says he: "Don't you think He
could put in another day to advantage right around here?"

Bruno went to England and delivered lectures at Oxford.  He found that
there was nothing taught there but superstition, and so called Oxford
the "wisdom of learning."  Then they told him they didn't want him any
more.  He went back to Italy, where there was a kind of fascination
that threw him back to the very doors of the Inquisition.  He was
arrested for teaching that there were other worlds, and that stars are
suns around which revolve other planets. He was in prison for six
years. (During those six years Galileo was teaching mathematics.)  Six
years in a dungeon; and then he was tried, denounced by the
Inquisition, excommunicated, condemned by brute force, pushed upon his
knees while he received the benediction of the church, and on the 16th
of February, in the year of our Lord 1600, he was burned at the stake.

He believed that the world is animated by an intelligent soul, the
cause of force but not of matter; that matter and force have existed
from eternity; that this force lives in all things, even in such as
appear not to live--in the rock as much as in the man; that matter is
the mother of forms and the grace of forms; that the matter and force
together constitute God.  He was a pantheist--that is to say, he was an
atheist.  He had the courage to die for what he believed to be right.
The murder of Bruno will never, in my judgment, be completely and
perfectly revenged until from the city of Rome shall be swept every
vestige of priests and pope--until from the shapeless ruins of St.
Peter's, the crumbled Vatican and the fallen cross of Rome, rises a
monument sacred to the philosopher, the benefactor and the

Voltaire was born in 1694.  When he was born, the natural was about the
only thing that the church did not believe in.  Monks sold amulets, and
the priests cured in the name of the church.  The worship of the devil
was actually established, which today is the religion of China. They
say: "God is good; He won't bother you; Joss is the one." They offer
him gifts, and try and soften his heart;--so, in the middle ages, the
poor people tried to see if they could not get a short cut, and trade
directly with the devil, instead of going round-about through the
church.  In these days witnesses were cross-examined with instruments
of torture.  Voltaire did more for human liberty than any other man who
ever lived or died.  He appealed to the common sense of mankind--he
held up the great contradictions of the sacred scriptures in a way that
no man, once having read him, could forget. For one, I thank Voltaire
for the liberty I am enjoying this moment. How small a man a priest
looked when he pointed his finger at him; how contemptible a king.

Toward the last of May, 1778, it was whispered in Paris that Voltaire
was dying.  He expired with the most perfect tranquility.  There have
been constructed most shameless lies about the death of this great and
wonderful man, compared with whom all his calumniators, living or dead,
were but dust and vermin.  From his throne at the foot of the Alps he
pointed the finger of scorn at every hypocrite in Europe. He was the
pioneer of his century.

In 1771, in Scotland, David Hume was born.  Scotch Presbyterianism is
the worst form of religion that has ever been produced.  The Scotch
Kirk had all the faults of the Church of Rome, without a redeeming
feature. The church hated music, despised painting, abhorred statuary,
and held architecture in contempt.  Anything touched with humanity,
with the weakness of love, with the dimple of joy, was detested by the
Scotch Kirk.  God was to be feared; God was infinitely practical; no
nonsense about God.  They used to preach four times a day.  They
preached on Friday before the Sunday upon which they partook of the
sacrament, and then on Saturday; four sermons on Sunday, and two or
three on Monday to sober up on.  They were bigoted and heartless.  One
case will illustrate.  In the beginning of this nineteenth century a
boy seventeen years of age was indicted at Edinburgh for blasphemy. He
had given it as his opinion that Moses had learned magic in Egypt, and
had fooled the Jews.  They proved that on two or three occasions, when
he was real cold, he jocularly remarked that he wished he was in hell,
so that he could warm up.  He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to be
hanged.  He recanted; he even wrote that he believed the whole
business; and that he just said it for pure devilment.  It made no
difference.  They hung him, and his bruised and bleeding corpse was
denied to his own mother, who came and besought them to let her take
her boy home.  That was Scotch Presbyterianism.  If the devil had been
let loose in Scotland he would have improved that country at that time.

David Hume was one of the few Scotchmen who was not owned by the
church. He had the courage to examine things for himself, and to give
his conclusion to the world.  His life was unstained by an unjust act.
He did not, like Abraham, turn a woman from his door with his child in
her arms.  He did not, like King David, murder a man that he might
steal his wife.  He didn't believe in Scotch Presbyterianism. I don't
see how any good man ever did.  Just think of going to the day of
judgment, if there is one, and standing up before God and admitting,
without a blush, that you have lived and died a Scotch Presbyterian.  I
would expect the next sentence would be,  "Depart ye cursed in
everlasting fire."  Hume took the ground that a miracle could not be
used as evidence until you had proved the miracle.  Of course that
excited the church.  Why?  Because they could not prove one of them.
How are you going to prove a miracle? Who saw it, and who would know a
devil if he did see him?  Hume insisted that at the bottom of all good
is something useful; that after all, human happiness was the great
object, end, and aim of life; that virtue was not a termagant, with
sunken cheeks and frightful eyes, but was the most beautiful thing in
the world, and would strew your path with flowers from the cradle to
the grave.  When he died they gave an account of how he had suffered.
They knew that the horrors of death would fall upon him, and that God
would get his revenge.  But his attending physician said that his death
was the most serene and most perfectly tranquil of any he had ever
seen.  Adam Smith said he was as near perfect as the frailty incident
to humanity would allow human being to be.

The next is Benedict Spinoza, a Jew, born at Amsterdam in 1768.  He
studied theology, and asked the rabbis too many questions, and talked
too much about what he called reason, and finally he was excommunicated
from the synagogue, and became an outcast at the age of twenty-four,
without friends.  Cursed, anathematized, bearing upon his forehead the
mark of Cain, he undertook to solve the problem of the universe.  To
him the universe was one.  The infinite embraced the all.  That all was
God. He was right; the universe is all there is, and if God does not
exist in the universe He exists nowhere.  The idea of putting some
little Jewish jehovah outside the universe, as if to say that from an
eternity of idleness he woke up one morning and thought he would make

The propositions of Spinoza are as luminous as the stars, and his
demonstrations, each one of them, is a Gibraltar, behind which logic
sits laughing at all the sophistries of theological thought.  In every
relation of life he was just, true, gentle, patient, loving,
affectionate.  He died in 1812.  In his life of forty-four years he had
climbed to the very highest alpine of human thought.  He was a great
and splendid man, an intellectual hero, one of the benefactors, one of
the Titans of our race.

And now I will say a few words about our infidels.  We had three, to
say the least of them--Paine, Franklin and Jefferson.  In their day the
colonies were filled with superstition, and the Puritans with the
spirit of persecution.  Law, savage, ignorant and malignant, had been
passed in every colony for the purpose of destroying intellectual
liberty.  Manly freedom was unknown.  The toleration act of Maryland
tolerated only chickens, not thinkers, not investigators.  It tolerated
faith, not brains.  The charity of Roger Williams was not extended to
one who denied the bible.  Let me show you how we have advanced.
Suppose you took every man and woman out of the Penitentiary in New
England and shipped them to a new country where man before had never
trod, and told them to make a government, and constitution, and a code
of laws for themselves. I say tonight that they would make a better
constitution and a better code of laws than any that were made in any
of the original thirteen colonies of the United States.

Not that they are better men, not that they are more honest, but that
they have got more sense.  They have been touched with the dawn of the
eternal day of liberty that will finally come to this world.  They
would have more respect for others' rights than they had at that time.
But the churches were jealous of each other, and we got a constitution
without religion in it from the mutual jealousies of the church, and
from the genius of men like Paine, Franklin and Jefferson.  We are
indebted to them for a constitution without a God in it.  They knew
that if you put God in there, an infinite God, there wouldn't be any
room for the people.  Our fathers retired Jehovah from politics.  Our
fathers, under the directions and leadership of those infidels, said,
"All power comes from the consent of the governed."  George Washington
wanted to establish a church by law in Virginia.  Thomas Jefferson
prevented it. Under the guaranty of liberty of conscience which was
given, our legislation has improved, and it will not be many years
before all laws touching liberty of conscience, excepting it may be in
the State of Delaware, will be blotted out, and when that time comes we
or our children may thank the infidels of 1776.  The church never
pretended that Franklin died in fear.  Franklin wrote no books against
the bible. He thought it useless to cast the pearls of thought before
the swine of his generation.

Jefferson was a statesman.  He was the author of the Declaration of
Independence, founder of a university, father of a political body,
president of the United States, a statesman, and a philosopher.  He was
too powerful for the churches of his day.  Paine attacked the Trinity
and the bible both.  He had done these things openly--His arguments
were so good that his reputation got bad.  I want you to recollect
tonight that he was the first man who wrote these words: "The United
States of America."  I want you to know tonight that he was the first
man who suggested the Federal Constitution.  I want you to know that he
did more for the actual separation from Great Britain than any man that
ever lived.  I want you to know that he did as much for liberty with
his pen as any soldier did with his sword.  I want you to know that
during the Revolution his "Crisis" was the pillar of fire by night and
a cloud by day.  I want you to know that his "Common Sense" was the one
star in the horizon of despotism.  I want you to know that he did as
much as any living man to give our free flag to the free air.  He was
not content to waste all his energies here.  When the volcano covered
Europe with the shreds of robes and the broken fragments of thrones,
Paine went to France.  He was elected by four constituencies.  He had
the courage to vote against the death of Louis, and was imprisoned.  He
wrote to Washington, the president, and asked him to interfere.
Washington threw the letter in the wastebasket of forgetfulness.  When
Paine was finally released he gave his opinion of George Washington,
and, under such circumstances, I say a man can be pardoned for having
said even unjust things.  The eighteenth century was crowning its gray
hairs with the wreaths of progress, and Thomas Paine said: "I will do
something to liberate mankind from superstition."  He wrote the "Age of
Reason."  For his good, he wrote it too soon; for ours, not a day too
quick.  From that moment he was a despised and calumniated man.  When
he came back to this country he could not safely walk the streets for
fear of being mobbed.   Under the Constitution he had suggested, his
rights were not safe; under the flag that he had helped give to heaven,
with which he had enriched the air, his liberty was not safe.  Is it
not a disgrace to us that all the lies that have been told about him,
and will be told about him, are a perpetual disgrace?  I tell you that
upon the grave of Thomas Paine the churches of America have sacrificed
their reputation for veracity. Who can hate a man with a creed:

"I believe in one God and no more, and I hope for immortality; I
believe in the equality of man, and that religious duty consists in
doing justice, in doing mercy, and in endeavoring to make our
fellow-creatures happy. It is necessary to the happiness of man that he
be faithful to himself.  One good schoolmaster is worth a thousand
priests. Man has no property in man, and the key of heaven is in the
keeping of no saint."

Grand, splendid, brave man!--with some faults, with many virtues; the
world is better because he lived; and if Thomas Paine had not lived I
could not have delivered this lecture here tonight.

Did all the priests of Rome increase the mental wealth of man as much
as Bruno?  Did all the priests of France do as great a work for the
civilization of this world as Diderot and Voltaire?  Did all the
ministers of Scotland add as much to the sum of human knowledge as
David Hume?  Have all the clergymen, monks, friars, ministers, priests,
bishops, cardinals and popes from the day of Pentecost to the last
election done as much for human liberty as Thomas Paine?  What would
the world be now if infidels had never been?  Infidels have been the
flower of all this world.  Recollect, by infidels I mean every man who
has made an intellectual advance. By orthodox I mean a gentleman who is
petrified in his mind, whopping around intellectually, simply to save
the funeral expenses of his soul. Infidels are the creditors of all the
years to come.  They have made this world fit to live in, and without
them the human brain would be as empty as the Chronicles soon will be.
Unless they preach something that the people want to hear, it is not a
crime to benefit our fellow-man intellectually. The churches point to
their decayed saints and their crumbled popes and say,  "Do you know
more than all the ministers that ever lived?"  And, without the
slightest egotism or blush, I say, "Yes; and the name of Humboldt
outweighs them all." The men who stand in the front rank, the men who
know most of the secrets of nature, the men who know most are today the
advanced infidels of this world.  I have lived long enough to see the
brand of intellectual inferiority on every orthodox brain.


Ladies and Gentlemen: Nothing can be more certain than that no human
being can by any possibility control his thought.  We are in this
world--we see, we hear, we feel, we taste; and everything in nature
makes an impression upon the brain, and that wonderful something,
enthroned there with these materials, weaves what we call thought, and
the brain can no more help thinking than the heart can help beating.
The blood pursues its old accustomed round without our will.  The heart
beats without asking leave of us, and the brain thinks in spite of all
that we can do. This being true, no human being can justly be held
responsible for his thought any more than for the beating of his heart,
any more than for the course pursued by the blood, any more than for
breathing air.  And yet for thousands of years thought has been thought
to be a crime, and thousands and millions have threatened us with
eternal fire if we give the product of that brain.  Each brain, in my
judgment, is a field where nature sows the seeds of thought, and
thought is the crop that man reaps, and it certainly cannot be a crime
to gather; it certainly cannot be a crime to tell it, which simply
amounts to the right to sell your crop or to exchange your product for
the product of some other man's brain.  That is all it is. Most
brains--at least some--are rather poor fields, and the orthodox worst
of all.  That field produces mostly sorrel and mullin, while there are
fields which, like the tropic world, are filled with growth, and where
you find the vine and palm, royal children of the sun and brain.  I
then stand simply for absolute freedom of thought--absolute; and I
don't believe, if there be a God, that it will be or can be pleasing to
Him to see one of His children afraid to express what he thinks.  And,
if I were God, I never would cease making men until I succeeded in
making one grand enough to tell his honest opinion.

Now there has been a struggle, you know, a long time between the
believers in the natural and the supernatural--between gentlemen who
are going to reward us in another world and those who propose to make
life worth living here and now.  In all ages the priest, the medicine
man, the magician, the astrologer, in other words, gentlemen who have
traded upon the fear and ignorance of their fellow-man in all
countries--they have sought to, make their living out of others.  There
was a time when a God presided over every department of human interest,
when a man about to take a voyage bribed the priest of Neptune so that
he might have a safe journey, and when he came back, he paid more,
telling the priest that he was infinitely obliged to him; that he had
kept waves from the sea and storms in their caves.  And so, when one
was sick he went to a priest; when one was about to take a journey he
visited the priest of Mercury; if he were going to war he consulted the
representative of Mars.  We have gone along.  When the poor
agriculturist plowed his ground and put in the seed he went to the
priest of some god and paid him to keep off the frost.  And the priest
said he would do it; "but," added the priest, "you must have faith."
If the frost came early he said, "You didn't have faith."  And besides
all that he says to him: "Anything that has happened badly, after all,
was for your good."  Well, we found out, day by day, that a good boat
for the purpose of navigating the sea was better than prayers, better
than the influence of priests; and you had better have a good captain
attending to business than thousands of priests ashore praying.

We also found that we could cure some diseases, and just as soon as we
found that we could cure diseases we dismissed the priest.  We have
left him out now of all of them, except it may be cholera and smallpox.
When visited by a plague some people get frightened enough to go back
to the old idea--go back to the priest, and the priest says: "It has
been sent as a punishment."  Well, sensible people began to look about;
they saw that the good died as readily as the bad; they saw that this
disease would attack the dimpled child in the cradle and allow the
murderer to go unpunished; and so they began to think in time that it
was not sent as a punishment; that it was a natural result; and so the
priest stepped out of medicine.

In agriculture we need him no longer; he has nothing to do with the
crops.  All the clergymen in this world can never get one drop of rain
out of the sky; and all the clergymen in the civilized world could not
save one human life if they tried it.

Oh, but they say, "We do not expect a direct answer to prayer; it is
the reflex action we are after."  It is like a man endeavoring to lift
himself up by the straps of his boots; he will never do it, but he will
get a great deal of useful exercise.

The missionary goes to some pagan land, and there he finds a man
praying to a god of stone, and it excites the wrath of the missionary.
I ask you tonight, does not that stone god answer prayer just as well
as ours? Does he not cause rain?  Does he not delay frost?  Does he not
snatch the ones that we love from the grasp of death precisely the same
as ours?  Yet we have ministers that are still engaged in that
business. They tell us that they have been "called;" that they do not
go at their profession as other people do, but they are "called;"  that
God, looking over the world, carefully selects His priests, His
ministers, and His exhorters.

I don't know.  They say their calling is sacred.  I say to you tonight
that every kind of business that is honest that a man engages in for
the purpose of feeding his wife and children, for the purpose of
building up his home, for the purpose of feeding and clothing the ones
he loves--that business is sacred. They tell us that statesmen and
poets, philosophers, heroes, and scientists and inventors come by
chance; that all other departments depend entirely upon luck; but when
God wants exhorters He selects.

They also tell us that it is infinitely wicked to attack the Christian
religion, and when I speak of the Christian religion I do not refer
especially to the Christianity of the new testament; I refer to the
Christianity of the orthodox church, and when I refer to the clergy I
refer to the clergy of the orthodox church.  There was a time when men
of genius were in the pulpits of the orthodox church; that time is
past.  When you find a man with brains now occupying an orthodox pulpit
you will find him touched with heresy--every one of them.

How do they get most of these ministers?  There will be a man in the
neighborhood not very well--not having constitution enough to be
wicked, and it instantly suggests itself to everybody who sees him that
he would make an excellent minister.  There are so many other
professions, so many cities to be built, so many railways to be
constructed, so many poems to be sung, so much music to be composed, so
many papers to edit, so many books to read, so many splendid things, so
many avenues to distinction and glory, so many things beckoning from
the horizon of the future to every great and splendid man that the
pulpit has to put up with the leavings--ravelings, selvage.

These preachers say, "How can any man be wicked and infamous enough to
attack our religion and take from the world the solace of orthodox
Christianity?"  What is that solace?  Let us be honest.  What is it? If
the Christian religion be true, the grandest, greatest, noblest of the
world are now in hell, and the narrowest and meanest are now in heaven.
Humboldt, the Shakespeare of science, the most learned man of the most
learned nation, with a mind grand enough to grasp not simply this
globe, but this constellation--a man who shed light upon the whole
earth--a man who honored human nature, and who won all his victories on
the field of thought--that man, pure and upright, noble beyond
description, if Christianity be true, is in hell this moment. That is
what they call "solace"--"tidings of great joy."  LaPlace, who read the
heavens like an open book, who enlarged the horizon of human thought,
is there too. Beethoven, Master of melody and harmony, who added to the
joy of human life, and who has borne upon the wings of harmony and
melody millions of spirits to the height of joy, with his heart still
filled with melody--he is in hell today.  Robert Burns, poet of love
and liberty, and from his heart, like a spring gurgling and running
down the highways, his poems have filled the world with music.  They
have added luster to human love.  That man who, in four lines, gave all
the philosophy of life--

                To make a happy fireside clime
                For weans and wife
                Is the true pathos and
                Sublime Of human life

--he is there with the rest.

Charles Dickens, whose genius will be a perpetual shield, saving
thousands and millions of children from blows, who did more to make us
tender with children than any other writer that ever touched a pen--he
is there with the rest, according to our Christian religion. A little
while ago there died in this country a philosopher--Ralph Waldo
Emerson--a man of the loftiest ideal, a perfect model of integrity,
whose mind was like a placid lake and reflected truths like stars.  If
the Christian religion be true, he is in perdition today.   And yet he
sowed the seeds of thought, and raised the whole world intellectually.
And Longfellow, whose poems, tender as the dawn, have gone into
millions of homes, not an impure, not a stained word in them all; but
he was not a Christian.  He did not believe in the "tidings of great
joy."  He didn't believe that God so loved the world that He intended
to damn most everybody.  And now he has gone to his reward.  And
Charles Darwin--a child of nature--one who knew more about his mother
than any other child she ever had.  What is philosophy?  It is to
account for phenomena by which we are surrounded--that is, to find the
hidden cord that unites everything. Charles Darwin threw more light
upon the problem of human existence than all the priests who ever lived
from Melchisedec to the last exhorter.  He would have traversed this
globe on foot had it been possible to have found one new fact or to
have corrected one error that he had made.  No nobler man has lived--no
man who has studied with more reverence (and by reverence I mean simply
one who lives and studies for the truth)--no man who studied with more
reverence than he.  And yet, according to orthodox religion, Charles
Darwin is in hell.  Consolation!

So, if Christianity be true, Shakespeare, the greatest man who ever
touched this planet, within whose brain were the fruits of all thought
past, the seeds of all to be--Shakespeare, who was an intellectual
ocean toward which all rivers ran, and from which now the isles and
continents of thought received their dew and rain--that man who has
added more to the intelligence of the world than any other who ever
lived--that man, whose creations will live as long as man has
imagination, and who has given more happiness upon the stage and more
instruction than has flown from all the pulpits of this earth--that man
is in hell, too.  And Harriet Martineau, who did as much for English
liberty as any man, brave and free--she is there. "George Eliot," the
greatest woman the English-speaking people ever produced--she is with
the rest.  And this is called "Tidings of great joy."

Who are in heaven?  How could there be much of a heaven without the men
I have mentioned--the great men that have endeavored to make the world
grander--such men as Voltaire, such men as Diderot, such men as the
encyclopedists, such men as Hume, such men as Bruno, such men as Thomas
Paine?  If Christianity is true, that man who spent his life in
breaking chains is now wearing the chains of God; that man who wished
to break down the prison walls of tyranny is now in the prison of the
most merciful Christ.  It will not do.  I can hardly express to you
today my contempt for such a doctrine; and if it be true, I make my
choice today, and I prefer hell.

Who is in heaven?  John Calvin!  John Knox!  Jonathan Edwards!
Torquemada--the builders of dungeons, the men who have obstructed the
march of the human race.  These are the men who are in heaven; and who
else?  Those who never had brain enough to harbor a doubt. And they ask
me: How can you be wicked enough to attack the Christian religion?

"Oh," but they say,  "God will never forgive you if you attack the
orthodox religion."  Now, when I read the history of this world, and
when I think of the experience of my fellow-men, when I think of the
millions living in poverty, and when I know that in the very air we
breathe and in the sunlight that visits our homes there lurks an
assassin ready to take our lives, and even when we believe we are in
the fullness health and joy, they are undermining us with their
contagion--when I know that we are surrounded by all these evils, and
when I think of what man has suffered, I do not wonder if God can
forgive man, but I often ask myself, "Can man forgive God?"

There is another thing.  Some of these ministers have talked about me,
and have made it their business to say unpleasant things.  Among others
the Rev. Mr. Talmage, of Brooklyn--a man of not much imagination, but
of most excellent judgment--charges that I am a "blasphemer."  A
frightful charge!  Terrible, if true!  What is blasphemy?  It is a sin,
as I understand, against God.  Is God infinite?  He is, so they say; He
is infinite; absolutely conditionless?  Can I injure the conditionless?
No. Can I sin against anything that I cannot injure? No.  That is a
perfectly plain proposition.  I can injure my fellow-man, because he is
a conditioned being, and I can help to change those conditions.  He
must have air; he must have food, he must have clothing; he must have
shelter; but God is conditionless, and I cannot by any possibility
affect Him.  Consequently I cannot sin against Him.  But I can sin
against my fellow-man, so that I ought to be a thousand times more
careful of doing injustice than of uttering blasphemy.  There is no
blasphemy but injustice, and there is no worship except the practice of
justice.  It is a thousand times more important that we should love our
fellow-men than that we should love God.  It is better to love wife and
children than to love Jesus Christ, He is dead; they are alive.  I can
make their lives happy and fill all their hours with the fullness of
joy.  That is my religion; and the holiest temple ever erected beneath
the stars is the home; the holiest altar is the fireside.

What is this blasphemy?  First, it is a geographical question.  There
was a time when it was blasphemy in Jerusalem to say that Christ was
God.  In this country it is now blasphemy to say that He was not.  It
is blasphemy in Constantinople to deny that Mahomet was the Prophet of
God; it is blasphemy here to say that he was.  It is a geographical
question; you cannot tell whether it is blasphemy or not without
looking at the map.  What is blasphemy?  It is what the mistake says
about the fact. It is what the last year's leaf says about this year's
bud.  It is the last cry of the defeated priest.  Blasphemy is the
little breast-work behind which hypocrisy hides; behind which mental
impotency feels safe. There is no blasphemy but the avowal of thought,
and he who speaks what he thinks blasphemes.

That I have had the hardihood--it doesn't take much--to attack the
sacred scriptures.  I have simply given my opinion; and yet they tell
me that that book is holy--that you can take rags, make pulp, put ink
on it, bind it in leather, and make something holy.  The Catholics have
a man for a pope; the Protestants have a book.  The Catholics have the
best of it.  If they elect an idiot he will not live forever, and it is
impossible for us to get rid of the barbarisms in our book. The
Catholics said, "We will not let the common people read the bible."
That was right.  If it is necessary to believe it in order to get to
heaven no man should run the risk of reading it.  To allow a man to
read the bible on such conditions is to set a trap for his soul.  The
right way is never to open it, and when you get to the day of judgment,
and they ask you if you believe it say "Yes, I have never read it."
The Protestant gives the book to a poor man and says: "Read it.  You
are at liberty to read it."  "Well, suppose I don't believe it, when I
get through?" "Then you will be damned." No man should be allowed to
read it on those conditions.  And yet Protestants have done that
infinitely cruel thing.  If I thought it was necessary to believe it I
would say never read another line in it but just believe it and stick
to it.  And yet these people really think that there is something
miraculous about the book.  They regard it as a fetish--a kind of
amulet--a something charmed, that will keep off evil spirits, or bad
luck, stop bullets, and do a thousand handy-things for the preservation
of life.

I heard a story upon that subject.  You know that thousands of them are
printed in the Sunday-school books.  Here is one they don't print.
There was a poor man who had belonged to the church, but he got cold,
and he rather neglected it, and he had bad luck in his business, and he
went down and down and down until he hadn't a dollar--not a thing to
eat; and his wife said to him, "John, this comes of you having
abandoned the church, this comes of your having done away with family
worship.  Now, I beg of you, let's go back."  Well, John said it
wouldn't do any harm to try.  So he took down the bible, blew the dust
off it, read a little from a chapter, and had family worship.  As he
was putting it up he opened it again, and there was a $10 bill between
the leaves.  He rushed out to the butcher's and bought meat, to the
grocer's and bought tea and bread, and butter and eggs, and rushed back
home and got them cooked, and the house was filled with the perfume of
food; and he sat down at the table, tears in every eye and a smile on
every face. She said, "What did I tell you?"  Just then there was a
knock on the door, and in came a constable, who arrested him for
passing a $10 counterfeit bill.

They tell me that I ought not to attack the bible--that I have
misrepresented it, and among other things that I have said that,
according to the bible, the world was made of nothing.  Well, what was
it made of?  They say God created everything.  Consequently, there must
have been nothing when He commenced.  If he didn't make it of nothing,
what did he make it of?  Where there was, nothing, He made something.
Yes; out of what? I don't know.  This doctor of divinity, and I should
think such a divinity would need a doctor, says that God made the
universe out of His omnipotence.  Why not out of His omniscience, or
His omnipresence?  Omnipotence is not a raw material.  It is the
something to work raw material with. Omnipotence is simply all
powerful, and what good would strength do with nothing?  The weakest
man ever born could lift as much nothing as God.  And he could do as
much with it after he got it lifted. And yet a doctor of divinity tells
me that this world was made of omnipotence.  And right here let me say
I find even in the mind of the clergymen the seeds of infidelity.  He
is trying to explain things.  That is a bad symptom.  The greater the
miracle the greater the reward for believing it.  God cannot afford to
reward a man for believing anything reasonable.  Why, even the scribes
and Pharisees would believe a reasonable thing.  Do you suppose God is
to crown you with eternal joy and give you a musical instrument for
believing something where the evidence is clear?  No, sir.  The larger
the miracle the more grace.  And let me advise the ministers of Chicago
and of this country, never to explain a miracle; it cannot be
explained.  If you succeed in explaining it, the miracle is gone. If
you fail you are gone. My advice to the clergy is, use assertion; just
say "it is so," and the larger the miracle the greater the glory reaped
by the eternal.  And yet this man is trying to explain, pretending that
He had some raw material of some kind on hand.  And then I objected to
the fact that He didn't make the sun until the fourth day, and that,
consequently, the grass could not have grown--could not have thrown its
mantle of green over the shoulders of the hill--and that the trees
would not blossom and cast their shade upon the sod without some
sunshine; and what does this man say?  Why, that the rocks, when they
crystallized, emitted light, even enough to raise a crop by.  And he
says "vegetation might have depended on the glare of volcanoes in the
moon."  What do you think would be the fate of agriculture depending on
the "glare of volcanoes in the moon?" Then he says "the aurora
borealis."  Why, you couldn't raise cucumbers by the aurora borealis.
And he says "liquid rivers of molten granite." I would like to have a
farm on that stream.  He guesses everything of the kind except
lightning-bugs and foxfire.  Now, think of that explanation in the last
half of the nineteenth century by a minister. The truth is, the
gentleman who wrote the account knew nothing of astronomy--knew as
little as the modern preacher does--just about the same; and if they
don't know more about the next world than they do about this, it is
hardly worth while talking with them on the subject. There was a time,
you know, when the minister was the educated man in the country, and
when, if you wanted to know anything, you asked him. Now you do if you
don't.  So I find this man expounding the flood, and he says it was not
very wet.  He begins to doubt whether God had water enough to cover the
whole earth.  Why not stand by his book?  He says that some of the
animals got into the ark to keep out of the wet.  I believe that is the
way the Democrats got to the polls last Tuesday.

Another divine says that God would have drowned them all, but it was
purely for the sake of economy that He saved any of them.  Just think
of that!  According to this Christian religion all the people in the
world were totally depraved through the fall, and God found he could
not do anything with them, so he drowned them.  Now, if God wanted to
get up a flood big enough to drown sin, why did He not get up a flood
big enough to drown the snake?  That was His mistake.  Now, these
people say that if Jonah had walked rapidly up and down the whale's
belly he would have avoided the action of its gastric-juice. Imagine
Jonah sitting in the whale's mouth, on the back of a molar-tooth; and
yet this doctor of divinity would have us believe that the infinite God
of the universe was sitting under his gourd and made the worm that was
at the root of Jonah's vine.  Great business.

David is said to have been a man after God's own heart, and if you will
read the twenty-eighth chapter of Chronicles you will find that David
died full of years and honors.  So I find in the great book of
prophecy, concerning Solomon: "He shall reign in peace and quietness,
he shall be my son, and I shall be his father, and I will preserve his
Kingdom." Was that true?

It won't do.  But they say God couldn't do away with slavery suddenly,
nor with polygamy all at once--that He had to do it gradually--that if
He had told this man you mustn't have slaves, and one man that he must
have one wife, and one wife that she must have one husband, He would
have lost the control over them notwithstanding all the miraculous
power.  Is it not wonderful that when they did all these miracles
nobody paid any attention to them?  Isn't it wonderful that, in Egypt,
when they performed these wonders--when the waters were turned into
blood, when the people were smitten with disease and covered with the
horrible animals--isn't it wonderful that it had no influence on them?
Do you know why all these miracles didn't affect the Egyptians?  They
were there at the time.  Isn't it wonderful, too, that the Jews who had
been brought from bondage--had followed a cloud by day and a pillar of
fire by night--who had been miraculously fed, and for whose benefit
water had leaked from the rocks and followed them up and down hill
through all their journeying--isn't it wonderful, when they had seen
the earth open and their companions swallowed, when they had seen God
Himself write in robes of flames from Sinai's crags, when they had seen
Him talking face to face with Moses--isn't it a little wonderful that
He had no more influence over them?  They were there at the time.  And
that is the reason they didn't mind it--they were there.  And yet, with
all these miracles, this God could not prevent polygamy and slavery.
Was there no room on the two tables of stone to put two more
commandments? Better have written them on the back, then.  Better have
left the others all off and put these two on.  Man shall not enslave
his brother, (you shall not live on unpaid labor), and the one man
shall have the one wife.  If these two had been written and the other
ten left off, it would have been a thousand times better for this world.

But, they say, God works gradually.  No hurry about it.  He is not
gradual about keeping Sunday, because, if He met a man picking up
sticks, He killed Him; but in other things He is gradual.  Suppose we
wanted now to break certain cannibals of eating missionaries--wanted to
stop them from eating them raw?  Of course we would not tell them, in
the first place, it was wrong.  That would not do. We would induce them
to cook them.  That would be the first step toward civilization.  We
would have them stew them.  We would not say it is wrong to eat
missionary, but it is wrong to eat missionary raw.  Then, after they
began stewing them, we would put in a little mutton--not enough to
excite suspicion but just a little, and so, day by day, we would put in
a little more mutton and a little less missionary until, in about what
the bible calls "the fullness of time,"  we would have clear mutton and
no missionary.  That is God's way.  The next great charge against me is
that I have disgraced my parents by expressing my honest thoughts.  No
man can disgrace his parents that way.  I want my children to express
their real opinions, whether they agree with mine or not.  I want my
children to find out more than I have found, and I would be gratified
to have them discover the errors I have made.  And if my father and
mother were still alive I feel and know that I am pursuing a course of
which they would approve.  I am true to my manhood.  But think of it!
Suppose the father of Dr. Talmage had been a Methodist and his mother
an infidel. Then what.  Would he have to disgrace them both to be a
Presbyterian. The disciples of Christ, according to this doctrine,
disgraced their parents.  The founder of every new religion, according
to this doctrine, was a disgrace to his father and mother.  Now there
must have been a time when a Talmage was not a Presbyterian, and the
one that left something else to join that church disgraced his father
and mother.  Why, if this doctrine be true why do you send missionaries
to other lands and ask those people to disgrace their parents?  If this
doctrine be true nobody has religious liberty except foundlings, and it
should be written over every Foundling Hospital: "Home for Religious
Liberty."  It won't do.

What is the next thing I have said?  I have taken the ground, and I
take it again today, that the bible has only words of humiliation for
woman. The bible treats woman as the slave, the serf of man, and
wherever that book is believed in thoroughly woman is a slave. It is
the infidelity in the church that gives her what liberty she has today.
Oh!  but, says the gentleman, think of the heroines in the bible.  How
could a book be opposed to woman which has pictured such heroines?
Well, that is a good argument.  Let's answer it. Who are the heroines?
He tells us.  The first is Esther.  Who was she?  Esther is a very
peculiar book, and the story is about this: Ahasaerus was a king.  His
wife's name was Vashti. She didn't please him.  He divorced her, and
advertised for another.  A gentleman by the name of Mordecai had a good
looking niece, and he took her to market.  Her name was Esther.  I
don't feel like reading the whole of the second chapter.  It is
sufficient to say she was selected. After a time there was a gentleman
by the name of Haman who, I should think, was in the cabinet, according
to the story.  And this man Mordecai began to put on considerable style
because his niece was the king's wife, and he would not bow, or he
would not rise, or he would not meet this gentleman with marks of
distinguished consideration, so he made up his mind to have him hung.
Then they got out an order to kill the Jews, and this Esther went to
see the king.  In those days they believed in the Bismarkian style of
government--all power came from the king, not from the people; if
anybody went to see this king without an invitation, and he failed to
hold out his sceptre to him, the person was killed just to preserve the
dignity of the monarch. When Esther arrived he held out the sceptre,
and there-upon she induced him to send out another order for the
fellows who were to kill the Jews, and they killed 75,000 or 80,000 of
them.  And they came back and said, "Kill Haman and his ten sons," and
they hung the family up.  That is all there is to the story.  And yet
this Esther is held up as a model of womanly grace and tenderness, and
there is not a more infamous story in the literature of the world.

The next heroine is Ruth.  I admit, that is a very pretty story.  But
Ruth was guilty of more things that would be deemed indiscreet than any
girl in Brooklyn.  That is all there is about Ruth.  The next heroine
is Hannah. And what do you suppose was the matter with her? She made a
coat for her boy; that's all.  I have known a woman make a whole suit!
The next heroine was Abigail.  She was the wife of Natal.  King David
had a few soldiers with him, and he called at the house of Natal, and
asked if he could not get food for his men. Abigail went down to give
him something to eat, and she was very much struck with David, David
evidently fancied her.  Natal died within a week.  I think he was
poisoned.  David and Abigail were married.  If that had happened in
Chicago there would have been a coroner's jury, and an inquest; but
that is all there was to that.

The next is Dorcas.  She was in the new testament.  She was real good
to the ministers.  Those ladies have always stood well with the church.
She was real good to the poor.  She died one day, and you never hear of
her again.

Then there was that person that was raised from the dead.  I would like
to know from a person that had recently been raised from the dead,
where he was when he was wanted, what he was traveling about, and what
he was engaged in.  I cannot imagine a more interesting person than one
that has just been raised from the dead.  Lazarus comes from the tomb,
and I think sometimes that there must be a mistake about it, because
when they come to die again thousands of people would say, "Why, he
knows all about it!"  Would it not be noted if a man had two funerals?

Now, then, these are all the heroines, to show you how little they
thought of woman in that day.  In the days of the old testament they
did not even tell us when the mother of us all (Eve) died, nor where
she is buried, nor anything about it.  They do not even tell us where
the mother of Christ sleeps, nor when she died.  Never is she spoken of
after the morning of the resurrection.  He who descended from the cross
went not to see her; and the son had no word for the broken-hearted

The story is not true.  I believe Christ was a great and good man, but
He had nothing about Him miraculous except the courage to tell what he
thought about the religion of His day.  The new testament, in relating
what occurred between Christ and his mother, mentions three instances;
once, when they thought He had been lost in Jerusalem, when He said to
them, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"  Next,
at the marriage of Cana, when He said to the woman, "What have I to do
with thee?"--words which He never said; and again from the cross,
"Mother, behold Thy Son;"  and to the disciple, "Behold thy Mother!"
So of Mary Magdalene.  In some respects there is no character in the
new testament that so appeals to us as loving Christ--first at the
sepulchre--and yet when He meets her after the resurrection He had for
her the comfort only of the chilling words, "Touch me not!"   I don't
believe it.  There were thousands of heroic women then.  There are
heroic women now.  Think of the women who cling to fallen and disgraced
husbands day by day, until they reach the gutter, and who stoop down to
lift them from that position, and raise them up to be men once more!
Every country is civilized in proportion as it honors woman.  There are
women in England working in mines, deformed by labor, that would become
wild beasts were it not for the love they bear for home.  Can you find
among the women of the new testament any women that can equal the women
born of Shakespeare's brain?  You can find no woman like Isabella,
where reason and purity blend into perfect truth; no woman like Juliet,
where passion and purity meet like red and white within the bosom of a
flower; no woman like Imogen, who said, "What is it to be false?" No
woman like Cordelia, that would not show her wealth of love in hope of
gain; nor like Hermione, who bore the cross of shame for years; nor
like Miranda, who told her love as the flower exposes its bosom to the
sun; nor like Desdemona, who was so pure that she could not suspect
that another could suspect her of a crime.

And we are told that woman sinned first and man second; that man was
made first and woman not till afterwards.  The idea is that we could
have gotten along without the woman well enough, but they never could
have gotten along without us.  I tell you that love is better than
piety, love is better than all the ceremonial worship of the world, and
it is better to love something than to believe anything on this globe.
So this minister, seeking a mark to throw an arrow somewhere--trying to
find some little place in the armor--charges me with having disparaged
Queen Victoria.  That you know is next to blasphemy.  Well, I never did
anything of the kind--never said a word against her in in life, neither
as wife, or mother, or Queen--never doubted but that she is a good
woman enough, and I have always admitted that her reputation was good
in the neighborhood where she resides.  I never had any other opinion.
All I said in the world was--I was endeavoring to show that we are now
to have an aristocracy of brain and heart--that is all--and I said,
'speaking of Louis Napoleon, he was not satisfied with simply being an
emperor and having a little crown on his head, but wanted to prove that
he had something in his head, so he wrote the life of Julius Caesar,
and that made him a member of the French Academy; and speaking of King
William, upon whose head is the divine petroleum of authority, I asked
how he would like to exchange brains with Haeckel, the philosopher.
Then I went over to England, and said "Queen Victoria wears the garment
of power given her by blind fortune, by eyeless chance; 'George Eliot'
is arrayed in robes of glory, woven in the loom of her own genius."
Thereupon I am charged with disparaging a woman.  And this priest, in
order to get even with me, digs open the grave of "George Eliot" and
endeavors to stain her unresisting dust.  He calls her an
adulteress--the vilest word in the languages of men--and he does it
because she hated the Presbyterian creed, because she, according to his
definition, was an atheist, because she lived without faith and died
without fear, because she grandly bore the taunts and slanders of the
Christian world. "George Eliot" carried tenderly in her heart the
faults and frailties of her race. She saw the highway of eternal right
through all the winding paths, where folly vainly stalks with
thorn-pierced hands, the fading flowers of selfish joy; and whatever
you may think or I may think of the one mistake in all her sad and
loving life, I know and feel that in the court where her conscience sat
as judge she stood acquitted, pure as light and stainless as a star.
"George Eliot" has joined the choir invisible whose music is the
gladness of this world, and her wondrous lines, her touching poems,
will be read hundreds of years after every sermon in which a priest has
sought to stain her name shall have vanished utterly from human speech.
How appropriate here, with some slight change, the words of Laertes at
Ophelia's grave:

Lay her in the earth; And from her fair and unpolluted flesh May
violets spring; I tell thee, priest and minister, A ministering angel
shall this woman be When thou liest howling.

I have no words with which to express my loathing hatred and
condemnation of the man who will stain a noble woman's grave.

The next argument in favor of the "sacred scriptures" is the argument
of numbers; and this minister congratulates himself that the infidels
could not carry a precinct, or a county, or a state in the United
States.  Well, I tell you, they can come proportionately near it--just
in proportion that that part of the country is educated. The whole
world doesn't move together in one life.  There has to be some man to
take a step forward and the people follow; and when they get where that
man was, some other Titan has taken another step, and you can see him
there on the great mountain of progress.  That is why the world moves.
There must be pioneers, and if nobody is right except he who is with
the majority, then we must turn and walk toward the setting sun.  He
says "We will settle this by suffrage."  The Christian religion was
submitted to a popular vote in Jerusalem, and what was the result?
"Crucify Him "--an infamous result, showing that you can't depend on
the vote of barbarians.  But I am told that there are 300,000,000
Christians in the world.  Well, what of it? There are more Buddhists.
And they say, what a number of bibles are printed!--more bibles than
any other book.  Does this prove anything?  True, because more of them.
Suppose you should find published in the New York Herald something
about you, and you should go to the editor and tell him: "That is a
lie;"  and he should say: "That can't be; the Herald has the largest
circulation of any paper in the world."  Three hundred millions of
Christians, and here are the nations that prove the truth of
Christianity: Russia 80,000,000 Christians.  I am willing to admit it;
a country without freedom of speech, without freedom of press--a
country in which every mouth is a Bastille and every tongue a prisoner
for life--a country in which assassins are the best men in it.  They
call that Christian. Girls sixteen years of age, for having spoken in
favor of human liberty, are now working in Siberian mines.  That is a
Christian country.  Only a little while ago a man shot at the emperor
twice. The emperor was protected by his armor.  The man was convicted,
and they asked him if he wished religious consolation.  "No."  "Do you
believe in a God?"  "No;" if there was a God there would be no Russia.
Sixteen millions of Christians in Spain--Spain that never touched a
shore except as a robber--Spain that took the gold and silver of the
new world and used it as an engine of oppression in the old--a country
in which cruelty was worship, in which murder was prayer--a country
where flourished the Inquisition--I admit Spain is a Christian country.
If you don't believe it I do.  Read the history of Holland, read the
history of South America, read the history of Mexico--a chapter of
cruelty beyond the power of language to express.  I admit that Spain is
orthodox.  If you will go there you will find the man who robs you and
asks God to forgive you--a country where infidelity hasn't made much
headway, but, thank God, where there is even yet a dawn, where there
are such men as Castelar and others, who begin to see that one
schoolhouse is equal to three cathedrals and one teacher worth all the

Italy is another Christian nation, with 28,000,000 Christians.  In
Italy lives the only authorized agent of God, the pope.  For hundreds
of years Italy was the beggar of the earth, and held out both hands.
Gold and silver flowed from every land into her palms, and she became
covered with nunneries, monasteries, and the pilgrims of the world.
Italy was sacred dust.  Her soil was a perpetual blessing, her sky was
an eternal smile.  Italy was guilty not simply of the death of the
Catholic church, but Italy was dead and buried and would have been in
her grave still had it not been for Mazzini, Garibaldi, and Cavour.
When the prophecy of Garibaldi shall be fulfilled, when the priests,
with spades in their hands, shall dig ditches to drain the Pontine
marshes, when the monasteries shall be factories, when the whirling
wheels of industry shall drown the drowsy and hypocritical prayers,
then and not till then, will Italy be great and free.  Italy is the
only instance in our history and in the history of the world, so far as
we know, of the resurrection of a nation.  She is the first fruits of
them that sleep.

Portugal is another Christian country.  She made her living in the
slave trade for centuries.  I admit that all the blessings that that
country enjoyed flowed naturally from Catholicism, and we believe in
the same scriptures.  If you don't believe it, read the history of the
persecution of the Jewish people.  I admit that Germany is a Christian
nation; that is, Christians are in power.  When the bill was introduced
for the purpose of ameliorating the condition of the Jews, Bismark
spoke against it, and said "Germany is a Christian nation, and
therefore, we cannot pass the bill."  Austria is another Christian
nation.  If you don't believe it, read the history of Hungary, and, if
you still have doubts, read the history of the partition of Poland.
But there is one good thing in that country. They believe in education,
and education is the enemy of ecclesiasticism.  Every thoroughly
educated man is his own church, and his own pope, and his own priest.

They tell me that the United States--our country--is Christian.  I deny
it.  It is neither Christian nor pagan; it is human.  Our fathers
retired all the gods from politics.  Our fathers laid down the doctrine
that the right to govern comes from the consent of the governed, and
not from the clouds.  Our fathers knew that if they put an infinite God
in the Constitution there would be no room left for the people.  Our
fathers used the language of Lincoln, and they made a government for
the people by the people.  This is not a Christian country.  Some
gentleman said, "How about Delaware?"  I told him there was a man in
Washington some twenty or thirty years ago who came there and said he
was a Revolutionary soldier and wanted a pension.  He was so bent and
bowed over that the wind blew his shoestrings into his eyes.  They
asked him how old he was, and he said fifty years. "Why, good man, you
can't get a pension, because the war was over before you were born.
You mustn't fool us."  "Well," said he, "I'll tell you the truth: I
lived sixty years in Delaware, but I never count it, and hope God
won't."  And these Christian nations which have been brought forward as
the witnesses of the truth of the scriptures owe $25,000,000,000, which
represents Christian war, Christian cannon, Christian shot, and
Christian shell. The sum is so great that the imagination is dazed in
its contemplation. That is the result of loving your neighbor as

The next great argument brought forward by these gentlemen is the
persecution of the Jews.  We are told in the nineteenth century that
God has the Jews persecuted simply for the purpose of establishing the
authenticity of the scriptures, and every Jewish home burned in Russia
throws light on the gospel, and every violated Jewish maiden is another
evidence that God still takes an interest in the holy scriptures.  That
is their doctrine.  They are "fulfilling prophecy." The Christian
grasps the Jew, strips him, robs him, makes him an outcast, and then
points to him as a fulfillment of prophecy; and we are today laying the
foundation of future persecution--we are teaching our children the
monstrous falsehood that Jews crucified God, and the nation consented.
They crucified a good man.  What nation has not?  What race has not?
Think of the number killed by the Presbyterians; by the Catholics.
Every sect, with maybe two or three exceptions, have crucified their
fellows, and every race has burned its greatest and its best.  And yet
we are filling the minds of children with hatred of the Jewish people.
It is a poor business.  "Ah?" but they say, "these people are cursed by
God." I say they never had any good fortune until the Jehovah of the
bible deserted them.  Whenever they have had a reasonable chance they
have been the most prosperous people in the world.  I never saw one
begging. I never saw one in the criminal dock.  For hundreds of years
they were not allowed to own any land, for hundreds of years they were
not allowed to work at any trade; they were driven simply to dealing in
money, and in precious stones, and things of that character, and, by a
kind of poetic justice, they have today the control of the money of the
world.  I am glad to see that kings and emperors go to the offices of
the Jews, with their hats in their hands, to have their notes
discounted.  And yet I am told by clergymen that all this infamy has
been kept up simply to establish the truth of the gospel. I despise
such doctrine.  As long as the liberty of one Jew is unsafe, my liberty
is not secure.  Liberty for all, and not until then will the liberty of
any be assured.  "Ah"; but says this man, "nobody ever died cheerfully
for a lie.  The Jewish people have suffered persecution for 1,600
years, and they have suffered it cheerfully." If this doctrine is true,
then Judaism must be true and Christianity must be false.  But
martyrdom doesn't prove the truth if the martyr knows it.  It simply
proves the barbarity of his persecutors, and has no sincerity. That is
all it proves.

But you must remember that this gentleman who believes in this doctrine
is a Presbyterian, and why should a Presbyterian object? After a few
hundred years of burning he expects to enjoy the eternal auto da fe of
hell--an auto da fe that will be presided over by God and His angels,
and they will be expected to applaud.  He is a Presbyterian; and what
is that?  It is the worst religion of this earth.  I admit that
thousands and millions of Presbyterians are good people, no man ever
being half so bad as his creed.  I am not attacking them.  I am
attacking their creed.  I am attacking what this religion calls
"Tidings of great joy."  And, according to that, hundreds of billions
and billions of years ago our fate was irrevocably and forever fixed,
and God in the secret counsels of His own inscrutable will, made up His
mind whom He would save and whom He would damn.  When thinking of that
God I always think of the mistake of a Methodist preacher during the
war.  He commenced the prayer--and never did one more appropriate for
the Presbyterian God or the Methodist go up--"O, Thou great and
unscrupulous God." This Presbyterian believes that billions of years
before that baby in the cradle--that little dimpled child, basking in
the light of a mother's smile--was born, God had made up His mind to
damn it; and when Talmage looks at one of those children who will
probably be damned he is cheerful about it; he enjoys it.  That is
Presbyterianism--that God made man and damned him for His own glory. If
there is such a God, I hate Him with every drop of my blood; and if
there is a heaven it must be where He is not.  Now think of that
doctrine!  Only a little while ago there was a ship from Liverpool out
eighty days with its rudder washed away; for ten days nothing to
eat--nothing but the bare decks and hunger; and the captain took a
revolver in his hand and put it to his brain and said: "Some of us must
die for the others.  And it might as well be I."  One of his companions
grasped the pistol and said: "Captain, wait; wait one day more.  We can
live another day."  And the next morning the horizon was rich with a
sail, and they were saved.  And yet if Presbyterianism is true; if that
man had put the bullet through his infinitely generous brain so that
his comrades could have eaten of his flesh and reached their homes and
felt about their necks the dimpled arms of children and the kisses of
wives upon their lips--if Presbyterianism be true, God had a constable
ready there to clutch that soul and thrust it down to eternal hell.
Tidings of great joy.  And yet this is religion.  Why, if that doctrine
be true, every soldier in the Revolutionary War who died not a
Christian has been damned; every one in the War of 1812, who kept our
flag upon the sea, if he died not a Christian has been damned; and
every one in the Civil War who fought to keep our flag in heaven, not a
Christian, and the ones who died in Andersonville and Libby, not
Christians, are now in the prison of God, where the famine of
Andersonville and Libby would be regarded as a joy. Orthodox
Christianity!  Why, we have an account in the bible--it comes from the
other world--from both countries--from heaven and from hell--let us see
what it is.  Here is a rich man who dies.  The only fault about him
was, he was rich; no other crime was charged against him.  We are told
that the rich man died, and when he lifted up his eyes he found no
sympathy, yet even in hell he remembered his five brethren, and prayed
that some one should be sent to them so that they should not come
there.  I tell you I had rather be in hell with human sympathy than in
heaven without it.

The bible is not inspired, and ministers know nothing about another
world.  They don't know.  I am satisfied there is no world of eternal
pain.  If there is a world of joy, so much the better.  I have never
put out the faintest star of human hope that ever trembled in the night
of life.  There was a time when I was not; after that I was; now I am.
And it is just as probable that I will live again as it was that I
could have lived before I did.  Let it go.  Ah! but what will life be?
The world will be here.  Men and women will be here. The page of
history will be open.  The walls of the world will be adorned with art,
the niches with sculpture; music will be here, and all there is of life
and joy.  And there will be homes here, and the fireside, and there
will be a common hope without a common fear. Love will be here, and
love is the only bow on life's dark cloud. Love was the first to dream
of immortality.  Love is the morning and evening star.  It shines upon
the child; it sheds its radiance upon the peaceful tomb.  Love is the
mother of beauty--the mother of melody, for music is its voice.  Love
is the builder of every hope, the kindler of every fire on every
hearth. Love is the enchanter, the magician that changes worthless
things to joy, and makes right royal kings and queens out of common
clay.  Love is the perfume of that wondrous flower the heart.  Without
that divine passion, without that divine sway, we are less than beasts,
and with it earth is heaven and we are gods.


In a remote corner of the Congressional Cemetery at Washington, a small
group of people with uncovered heads were ranged around a newly-opened
grave.  They included Detective and Mrs. George O. Miller and family
and friends, who had gathered to witness the burial of the former's
bright little son Harry.  As the casket rested upon the trestles there
was a painful pause, broken only by the mother's sobs, until the
undertaker advanced toward a stout, florid-complexioned gentleman in
the party and whispered to him, the words being inaudible to the
lookers-on.  This gentleman was Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, a friend of
the Millers, who had attended the funeral--at their request.  He shook
his head when the undertaker first addressed him, and then said
suddenly, "Does Mrs. Miller desire it?" The undertaker gave an
affirmative nod.  Mr. Miller looked appealingly toward the
distinguished orator, and then Colonel Ingersoll advanced to the side
of the grave, made a motion denoting a desire for silence, and, in a
voice of exquisite cadence, delivered one of his characteristic
eulogies for the dead.

The scene was intensely dramatic.  A fine drizzling rain was falling,
and every head was bent, and every ear turned to catch the impassioned
words of eloquence and hope that fell from the lips of the famed
orator. Colonel Ingersoll was unprotected by either hat or umbrella.
His invocation thrilled his hearers with awe, each eye that had
previously been bedimmed with tears brightening, and sobs becoming
hushed.  The colonel said:

My Friends: I know how vain it is to gild a grief with words, and yet I
wish to take from every grave its fear.  Here in this world, where life
and death are equal kings, all should be brave enough to meet what all
have met.  The future has been filled with fear, stained and polluted
by the heartless past.  From the wondrous tree of life the buds and
blossoms fall with ripened fruit, and in the common bed of earth
patriarchs and babes sleep side by side. Why should we fear that which
will come to all that is?  We cannot tell.  We do not know which is the
greatest blessing, life or death. We cannot say that death is not good.
We do not know whether the grave is the end of this life or the door of
another, or whether the night here is not somewhere else a dawn.
Neither can we tell which is the more fortunate, the child dying in its
mother's arms before its lips have learned to form a word, or he who
journeys all the length of life's uneven road, painfully taking the
last slow steps with staff and crutch.  Every cradle asks us "Whence?"
and every coffin "Whither?"  The poor barbarian weeping above his dead
can answer the question as intelligently and satisfactorily as the
robed priest of the most authentic creed.  The tearful ignorance of the
one is just as consoling as the learned and unmeaning words of the
other.  No man standing where the horizon of a life has touched a grave
has any right to prophesy a future filled with pain and tears. It may
be that death gives all there is of worth to life.  If those who press
and strain against our hearts could never die, perhaps that love would
wither from the earth.  Maybe a common faith treads from out the paths
between our hearts the weeds of selfishness, and I should rather live
and love where death is king than have eternal life where love is not.
Another life is naught, unless we know and love again the ones who love
us here.

They who stand with breaking hearts around this little grave need have
no fear.  The largest and the nobler faith in all that is, and is to
be, tells us that death, even at its worst, is only perfect rest.  We
know that through the common wants of life, the needs and duties of
each hour, their grief will lessen day by day until at last these
graves will be to them a place of rest and peace--almost of joy.  There
is for them this consolation: The dead do not suffer. If they live
again their lives will surely be as good as ours.  We have no fear; we
are all children of the same mother and the same fate awaits us all.
We, too, have our religion, and it is this: "Help for the living, hope
for the dead."

Most Sad And Mournful Sermons

The funeral of Hon. Ebon C. Ingersoll, brother of Col. Robert G.
Ingersoll, of Illinois, took place at his residence in Washington,
D.C., June 2, 1879.  The ceremonies were extremely simple, consisting
merely of viewing the remains by relatives and friends, and a funeral
oration by Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, brother of the deceased.  A large
number of distinguished gentlemen were present, including Secretary
Sherman, Assistant Secretary Hawley, Senators Blaine, Vorhees, Paddock,
Allison, Logan, Hon. Thomas Henderson, Gov. Pound, Hon. Wm. M.
Morrison, Gen. Jeffreys, Gen. Williams, Col. James Fishback, and
others.  The pall-bearers were Senators Blaine, Vorhees, David Davis,
Paddock and Allison, Col. Ward, H. Lamon, Hon. Jeremiah Wilson of
Indiana, and Hon. Thomas A. Boyd of Illinois.

Soon after Mr. Ingersoll began to read his eloquent characterization of
the dead, his eyes filled with tears.  He tried to hide them behind his
eye-glasses, but he could not do it, and finally he bowed his head upon
the dead man's coffin in uncontrollable grief.  It was after some delay
and the greatest efforts of self-mastery, that Col. Ingersoll was able
to finish reading his address, which was as follows:

My Friends: I am going to do that which the dead often promised he
would do for me.  The loved and loving brother, husband, father,
friend, died where manhood's morning almost touches noon, and while the
shadows still were falling toward the west.  He had not passed on
life's highway the stone that marks the highest point, but being weary
for a moment he lay down by the wayside, and, using his burden for a
pillow, fell into that dreamless sleep that kisses down his eyelids
still.  While yet in love with life and raptured with the world, he
passed to silence and pathetic dust.  Yet, after all, it may be best,
just in the happiest, sunniest hour of all the voyage, while eager
winds are kissing every sail, to dash against the unseen rock, and in
an instant hear the billows roar over a sunken ship. For, whether in
mid-sea or among the breakers of the farther shore, a wreck must mark
at last the end of each and all.  And every life, no matter if its
every hour is rich with love, and every moment jeweled with a joy,
will, at its close, become a tragedy, as sad, and deep, and dark as can
be woven of the warp and woof of mystery and death.  This brave and
tender man in every storm of life was oak and rock, but in the sunshine
he was vine and flower.  He was the friend of all heroic souls.  He
climbed the heights and left all superstitions far below, while on his
forehead fell the golden dawning of a grander day.  He loved the
beautiful and was with color, form and music touched to tears.  He
sided with the weak, and with a willing hand gave alms; with loyal
heart and with the purest hand he faithful discharged all public
trusts.  He was a worshiper of liberty and a friend of the oppressed.
A thousand times I have heard him quote the words: "For justice all
place a temple and all season summer."  He believed that happiness was
the only good, reason the only torch, justice the only worshiper,
humanity the only religion, and love the priest.

He added to the sum of human joy, and were every one for whom he did
some loving service to bring a blossom to his grave he would sleep
tonight beneath a wilderness of flowers.  Life is a narrow vale between
the cold and barren peaks of two eternities.  We strive in vain to look
beyond the heights.  We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of
our wailing cry.  From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there
comes no word; but in the night of death hope sees a star and listening
love can hear the rustle of a wing. He who sleeps here, when dying,
mistaking the approach of death for the return of health, whispered
with his latest breath, "I am better now."  Let us believe, in spite of
doubts and dogmas and tears and fears that these dear words are true of
all the countless dead.  And now, to you who have been chosen from
among the many men he loved to do the last sad office, for the dead, we
give his sacred dust.  Speech can not contain our love.  There
was--there is--no gentler, stronger, manlier man.


Now and then some one asks me why I am endeavoring to interfere with
the religious faith of others, and why I try to take from the world the
consolation naturally arising from a belief in eternal fire. And I
answer, I want to do what little I can to make my country truly free. I
want to broaden the intellectual horizon of our people.  I want it so
that we can differ upon all those questions, and yet grasp each other's
hands in genuine friendship.  I want in the first place to free the
clergy.  I am a great friend of theirs, but they don't seem to have
found it out generally.  I want it so that every minister will be not a
parrot, not an owl sitting upon the limb of the tree of knowledge and
hooting the hoots that have been hooted for eighteen hundred years.
But I want it so that each one can be an investigator, a thinker; and I
want to make his congregation grand enough so that they will not only
allow him to think, but will demand that he shall think, and give to
them the honest truth of his thought.  As it is now, ministers are
employed like attorneys--for the plaintiff or the defendant.  If a few
people know of a young man in the neighborhood maybe who has not a good
constitution,--he may not be healthy enough to be wicked--a young man
who has shown no decided talent--it occurs to them to make him a
minister.  They contribute and send him to some school.  If it turns
out that that young man has more of the man in him than they thought,
and he changes his opinion, everyone who contributed will feel himself
individually swindled--and they will follow that young man to the grave
with the poisoned shafts of malice and slander.  I want it so that
every one will be free--so that a pulpit will not be a pillory.  They
have in Massachusetts, at a place called Andover, a kind of minister
factory; and every professor in that factory takes an oath once in
every five years--that is as long as an oath will last--that not only
has he not during the last five years, but so help him God, he will not
during the next five years intellectually advance; and probably there
is no oath he could easier keep.  Since the foundation of that
institution there has not been one case of perjury.  They believe the
same creed they first taught when the foundation stone was laid, and
now when they send out a minister they brand him as hardware from
Sheffield and Birmingham. And every man who knows where he was educated
knows his creed, knows every argument of his creed, every book that he
reads, and just what he amounts to intellectually, and knows he will
shrink and shrivel, and become solemnly stupid day after day until he
meets with death.  It is all wrong; it is cruel.  Those men should be
allowed to grow.  They should have the air of liberty and the sunshine
of thought.

I want to free the schools of our country. I want it so that when a
professor in a college finds some fact inconsistent with Moses, he will
not hide the fact.  I wish to see an eternal divorce and separation
between church and schools.  The common school is the bread of life,
but there should be nothing taught except what somebody knows; and
anything else should not be maintained by a system of general taxation.
I want its professors so that they will tell everything they find; that
they will be free to investigate in every direction, and will not be
trammeled by the superstitions of our day. What has religion to do with
facts?  Nothing.  Is there any such thing as Methodist mathematics,
Presbyterian botany, Catholic astronomy or Baptist biology?  What has
any form of superstition or religion to do with a fact or with any
science?  Nothing but to hinder, delay or embarrass.  I want, then, to
free the schools; and I want to free the politicians, so that a man
will not have to pretend he is a Methodist, or his wife a Baptist, or
his grandmother a Catholic; so that he can go through a campaign, and
when he gets through will find none of the dust of hypocrisy on his

I want the people splendid enough that when they desire men to make
laws for them, they will take one who knows something, who has brains
enough to prophesy the destiny of the American Republic, no matter what
his opinions may be upon any religious subject.  Suppose we are in a
storm out at sea, and the billows are washing over our ship, and it is
necessary that some one should reef the topsail, and a man presents
himself.  Would you stop him at the foot of the mast to find out his
opinion on the five points of Calvinism?  What has that to do with it?
Congress has nothing to do with baptism or any particular creed, and
from what little experience I have had in Washington, very little to do
with any kind of religion whatever.  Now I hope, this afternoon, this
magnificent and splendid audience will forget that they are Baptists or
Methodists, and remember that they are men and women.  These are the
highest titles humanity can bear--and every title you add, belittles
them.  Man is the highest; woman is the highest.  Let us remember that
our views depend largely upon the country in which we happen to live.
Suppose we were born in Turkey most of us would have been Mohammedans;
and when we read in the book that when Mohammed visited heaven he
became acquainted with an angel named Gabriel, who was so broad between
his eyes that it would take a smart camel three hundred days to make
the journey, we probably would have believed it.  If we did not, people
would say: "That young man is dangerous; he is trying to tear down the
fabric of our religion.  What do you propose to give us instead of that
angel? We cannot afford to trade off an angel of that size for
nothing." Or if we had been born in India, we would have believed in a
god with three heads.  Now we believe in three gods with one head.  And
so we might make a tour of the world and see that every superstition
that could be imagined by the brain of man has been in some place held
to be sacred.

Now some one says, "The religion of my father and mother is good enough
for me."  Suppose we all said that, where would be the progress of the
world?  We would have the rudest and most barbaric religion--religion
which no one could believe.  I do not believe that it is showing real
respect to our parents to believe something simply because they did.
Every good father and every good mother wish their children to find out
more than they knew every good father wants his son to overcome some
obstacle that he could not grapple with and if you wish to reflect
credit on your father and mother, do it by accomplishing more than they
did, because you live in a better time.  Every nation has had what you
call a sacred record, and the older the more sacred, the more
contradictory and the more inspired is the record.  We, of course, are
not an exception, and I propose to talk a little about what is called
the Pentateuch, a book, or a collection of books, said to have been
written by Moses.  And right here in the commencement let me say that
Moses never wrote one word of the Pentateuch--not one word was written
until he had been dust and ashes for hundreds of years.  But as the
general opinion is that Moses wrote these books, I have entitled this
lecture "The Mistakes of Moses."  For the sake of this lecture, we will
admit that he wrote it.  Nearly every maker of religion has commenced
by making the world; and it is one of the safest things to do, because
no one can contradict as having been present, and it gives free scope
to the imagination. These books, in times when there was a vast
difference between the educated and the ignorant, became inspired and
people bowed down and worshiped them.

I saw a little while ago a Bible with immense oaken covers, with hasps
and clasps large enough almost for a penitentiary, and I can imagine
how that book would be regarded by barbarians in Europe when not more
than one person in a dozen could read and write.  In imagination I saw
it carried into the cathedral, heard the chant of the priest, saw the
swinging of the censer and the smoke rising; and when that Bible was
put on the altar I can imagine the barbarians looking at it and
wondering what influence that book could have on their lives and
future.  I do not wonder that they imagined it was inspired.  None of
them could write a book, and consequently when they saw it they adored
it; they were stricken with awe; and rascals took advantage of that awe.

Now they say that the book is inspired.  I do not care whether it is or
not; the question is: Is it true?  If it is true it doesn't need to be
inspired.  Nothing needs inspiration except a falsehood or a mistake.
A fact never went into partnership with a miracle. Truth scorns the
assistance of wonders.  A fact will fit every other fact in the
universe, and that is how you can tell--whether it is or not a fact.  A
lie will not fit anything except a lie made for the express purpose;
and, finally, some one gets tired of lying, and the last lie will not
fit the next fact, and then there is a chance for inspiration.  Right
then and there a miracle is needed. The real question is, in the light
of science, in the light of the brain and heart of the nineteenth
century, is this book true?  The gentleman who wrote it begins by
telling us that God made the universe out of nothing.  That I cannot
conceive; it may be so, but I cannot conceive it.  Nothing in the light
of raw material, is, to my mind, a decided and disastrous failure.  I
cannot imagine of nothing being made into something, any more than I
can of something being changed back into nothing.  I cannot conceive of
force aside from matter, because force to be force must be active, and
unless there is matter there is nothing for force to act upon, and
consequently it cannot be active.  So I simply say I cannot comprehend
it.  I cannot believe it. I may roast for this, but it is my honest
opinion. The next thing he proceeds to tell us is that God divided the
darkness from the light, and right here let me say when I speak about
God I simply mean the being described by the Jews.  There may be in
immensity a being beneath whose wing the universe exists, whose every
thought is a glittering star, but I know nothing about Him,--not the
slightest,--and this afternoon I am simply talking about the being
described by the Jewish people.  When I say God, I mean Him.  Moses
describes God dividing the light from the darkness.  I suppose that at
that time they must have been mixed.  You can readily see how light and
darkness can get mixed.  They must have been entities.  The reason I
think so is because in that same book I find that darkness overspread
Egypt so thick that it could be felt, and they used to have on
exhibition in Rome a bottle of the darkness that once overspread Egypt.
The gentleman who wrote this in imagination saw God dividing light from
the darkness.  I am sure the man who wrote it, believed darkness to be
an entity, a something, a tangible thing that can be mixed with light.

The next thing that he informs us is that God divided the waters above
the firmament from those below the firmament.  The man who wrote that
believed the firmament to be a solid affair.  And that is what the gods
did.  You recollect the gods came down and made love to the daughters
of men--and I never blamed them for it.  I have never read a
description of any heaven I would not leave on the same errand.  That
is where the gods lived.  There is where they kept the water.  It was
solid.  That is the reason the people prayed for rain.  They believed
that an angel could take a lever, raise a window and let out the
desired quantity.  I find in the Psalms that "He bowed the heavens and
came down;"  and we read that the children of men built a tower to
reach the heavens and climb into the abode of the gods.  The man who
wrote that believed the firmament to be solid.  He knew nothing about
the laws of evaporation. He did not know that the sun wooed with
amorous kiss the waves of the sea, and that, disappointed, their
vaporous sighs changed to tears and fell again as rain.  The next thing
he tells us is that the grass began to grow; and the branches of the
trees laughed into blossom, and the grass ran up the shoulder of the
hills, and yet not a solitary ray of light had left the eternal quiver
of the sun.  Not a blade of grass had ever been touched by a gleam of
light.  And I do not think that grass will grow to hurt without a gleam
of sunshine.  I think the man who wrote that simply made a mistake, and
is excusable to a certain degree. The next day he made the sun and
moon--the sun to rule the day and the moon to rule the night.  Do you
think the man who wrote that knew anything about the size of the sun?
I think he thought it was about three feet in diameter, because I find
in some book that the sun was stopped a whole day, to give a general
named Joshua time to kill a few more Amalekites; and the moon was
stopped also.  Now it seems to me that the sun would give light enough
without stopping the moon; but as they were in the stopping business
they did it just for devilment.  At another time, we read, the sun was
turned ten degrees backward to convince Hezekiah that he was not going
to die of a boil.  How much easier it would have been to cure the boil.
The man who wrote that thought the sun was two or three feet in
diameter, and could be stopped and pulled around like the sun and moon
in a theatre.  Do you know that the sun throws out every second of time
as much heat as could be generated by burning eleven thousand millions
tons of coal?  I don't believe he knew that, or that he knew the motion
of the earth.  I don't believe he knew that it was turning on its axis
at the rate of a thousand miles an hour, because if he did, he would
have understood the immensity of heat that would have been generated by
stopping the world. It has been calculated by one of the best
mathematicians and astronomers that to stop the world would cause as
much heat as it would take to burn a lump of solid coal three times as
big as the globe.  And yet we find in that book that the sun was not
only stopped, but turned back ten degrees, simply to convince a
gentleman that he was not going to die of a boil.  They will say I will
be damned if I do not believe that, and I tell them I will if I do.

Then he gives us the history of astronomy, and he gives it to us in
five words: "He made the stars also."  He came very near forgetting the
stars.  Do you believe that the man who wrote that knew that there are
stars as much larger than this earth as this earth is larger than the
apple which Adam and Eve are said to have eaten.  Do you believe that
he knew that this world is but a speck in the shining, glittering
universe of existence?  I would gather from that that he made the stars
after he got the world done.  The telescope, in reading the infinite
leaves of the heavens, has ascertained that light travels at the rate
of 192,000 miles per second, and it would require millions of years to
come from some of the stars to this earth.  Yet the beams of those
stars mingle in our atmosphere, so that if those distant orbs were
fashioned when this world began, we must have been whirling in space
not six thousand, but many millions of years.  Do you believe the man
who wrote that as a history of astronomy really knew that this world
was but a speck compared with millions of sparkling orbs?  I do not.
He then proceeds to tell us that God made fish and cattle, and that man
and woman were created male and female.  The first account stops at the
second verse of the second chapter.  You see, the Bible originally was
not divided into chapters; the first Bible that was ever divided into
chapters in our language was made in the year of grace 1550.  The Bible
was originally written in the Hebrew language, and the Hebrew language
at that time had no vowels in writing.  It was written with consonants,
and without being divided into chapters or into verses, and there was
no system of punctuation whatever.  After you go home tonight write an
English sentence or two with only consonants close together, and you
will find that it will take twice as much inspiration to read it as it
did to write it.  When the Bible was divided into verses and chapters,
the divisions were not always correct, and so the division between the
first and second chapter of Genesis is not in the right place. The
second account of the creation commences at the third verse and it
differs from the first in two essential points.  In the first account
man is the last made; in the second man is made before the beasts.  In
the first account, man is made "male and female"; in the second only a
male is made, and there is no intention of making a woman whatever.

You will find by reading that second chapter that God tried to palm off
on Adam a beast as his helpmeet.  Everybody talks about the Bible and
nobody reads it; that is the reason it is so generally believed. I am
probably the only man in the United States who has read the Bible
through this year.  I have wasted that time, but I had a purpose in
view.  Just read it, and you will find, about the twenty-third verse,
that God caused all the animals to walk before Adam in order that he
might name them.  And the animals came like a menagerie into town, and
as Adam looked at all the crawlers, jumpers and creepers, this God
stood by to see what he would call them.  After this procession passed,
it was pathetically remarked, "Yet was there not found any helpmeet for
Adam." Adam didn't see anything that he could fancy. And I am glad he
didn't. If he had, there would not have been a free-thinker in this
world; we should have all died orthodox.  And finding Adam was so
particular, God had to make him a helpmeet, and having used up the
nothing, he was compelled to take part of the man to make the woman
with, and he took from the man a rib.  How did he get it? And then
imagine a God with a bone in his hand, and about to start a woman,
trying to make up his mind whether to make a blonde or a brunette.

Right here it is only proper that I should warn you of the consequences
of laughing at any story in the Bible.  When you come to die, your
laughing at this story will be a thorn in your pillow.  As you look
back upon the record of your life, no matter how many men you have
wrecked and ruined, and no matter how many women you have deceived and
deserted--all that may be forgiven you but if you recollect that you
have laughed at God's book you will see through the shadows of death,
the leering looks of fiends and the forked tongues of devils.  Let me
show you how it will be.  For instance it is the day of judgment.  When
the man is called up by the recording secretary, or whoever does the
cross-examining, he says to his soul "Where are you from?"  "I am from
the world."  "Yes sir.  What kind of a man were you?"  "Well, I don't
like to talk about myself."  "But you have to. What kind of a man were
you?" "Well, I was a good fellow; I loved my wife, I loved my children.
My home was my heaven; my fire-side was my paradise, and to sit there
and see the lights and shadows falling on the faces of those I love,
that to me was a perpetual joy.  I never gave one of them a solitary
moment of pain.  I don't owe a dollar in the world and I left enough to
pay my funeral expenses and keep the wolf of want from the door of the
house I loved. That is the kind of a man I am."  "Did you belong to any
church?" "I did not.  They were too narrow for me.  They were always
expecting to be happy simply because somebody else was to be damned."

"Well, did you believe that rib story?"  "What rib story--Do you mean
that Adam and Eve business?  No, I did not.  To tell you the God's
truth, that was a little more than I could swallow."  "To hell with
him. Next.  Where are you from?"  "I'm from the world, too.  Do you
belong to any church?"  "Yes, sir, and to the Young Men's Christian
Association." "What is your business?"  "Cashier in a bank."  "Did you
ever run off with any money?  I don't like to tell, Sir."  "Well, you
have to." "Yes, Sir I did."  "What kind of a bank did you have?" "A
savings bank." "How much did you run off with?"  "One hundred thousand
dollars."  "Did you take anything else along with you?" "Yes Sir."
"What?"  "I took my neighbor's wife."  "Did you have a wife and
children of your own?" "Yes, Sir."  "And you deserted them?" "Oh, yes;
but such was my confidence in God that I believed he would take care of
them."  "Have you heard of them since?"  "No, Sir. Did you believe that
rib story?" "Ah, bless your soul, yes!  I believe all of it, Sir; I
often used to be sorry that there were not harder stories yet in the
Bible, so that I could show what my faith could do."  "You believed it,
did you?"  "Yes, with all my heart."  "Give him a harp."

I simply wanted to show you how important it is to believe these
stories.  Of all the authors in the world God hates a critic the worst.
Having got this woman done he brought her to the man, and they started
house-keeping, and a few minutes afterward a snake came through a crack
in the fence and commenced to talk with her on the subject of fruit.
She was not acquainted in the neighborhood, and she did not know
whether snakes talked or not, or whether they knew anything about the
apples or not.  Well, she was misled, and the husband ate some of those
apples and laid it all on his wife; and there is where the mistake was
made.  God ought to have rubbed him out at once.  He might have known
that no good could come of starting the world with a man like that.
They were turned out.  Then the trouble commenced, and people got worse
and worse.  God, you must recollect, was holding the reins of
government, but He did nothing for them.  He allowed them to live six
hundred and sixty-nine years without knowing their A. B. C.  He never
started a school, not even a Sunday school.  He didn't even keep His
own boys at home.  And the world got worse every day, and finally he
concluded to drown them. Yet that same God has the impudence to tell me
how to raise my own children.  What would you think of a neighbor, who
had just killed his babes giving you his views on domestic economy?
God found that he could do nothing with them and He said: "I will drown
them all except a few." And he picked out a fellow by the name of Noah,
that had been a bachelor for five hundred years.  If I had to drown
anybody, I would have drowned him.  I believe that Noah had then been
married something like one hundred years.  God told him to build a
boat, and he built one five hundred feet long, eighty or ninety feet
broad and fifty-five feet high, with one door shutting on the outside,
and one window twenty-two inches square.  If Noah had any hobby in the
world it was ventilation.  Then into this ark he put a certain number
of all the animals in the world. Naturalists have ascertained that at
that time there were at least eleven hundred thousand insects necessary
to go into the ark, about forty thousand mammalia, sixteen hundred
reptiles, to say nothing of the mastodon, the elephant and the
animalcule, of which thousands live upon a single leaf and which cannot
be seen by the naked eye.  Noah had no microscope, and yet he had pick
them out by pairs.  You have no idea the trouble that man had.  Some
say that the flood was not universal, that it was partial.  Why then
did God say "I will destroy every living thing beneath the heavens."
If it was partial why did Noah save the birds? An ordinary bird,
tending strictly to business, can beat a partial flood. Why did he put
the birds in there--the eagles, the vultures, the condors--if it was
only a partial flood?  And how did he get them in there?  Were they
inspired to go there, or did he drive them up? Did the polar bear leave
his home of ice and start for the tropic inquiring for Noah; or could
the kangaroo come from Australia unless he was inspired, or somebody
was behind him?  Then there are animals on this hemisphere not on that.
How did he get them across?  And there are some animals which would be
very unpleasant in an ark unless the ventilation was very perfect.

When he got the animals in the ark, God shut the door and Noah pulled
down the window.  And then it began to rain, and it kept on raining
until the water went twenty nine feet over the highest mountain.
Chimborazo, then as now, lifted its head above the clouds, and then as
now, there sat the condor.  And yet the waters rose and rose over every
mountain in the world--twenty-nine feet above the highest peaks,
covered with snow and ice.  How deep were these waters?  About five and
a half miles.  How long did it rain?  Forty days.  How much did it have
to rain a day?  About eight hundred feet.  How is that for dampness?
No wonder they said the windows of the heavens were open. If I had been
there I would have said the whole side of the house was out.  How long
were they in this ark?  A year and ten days, floating around with no
rudder, no sail, nobody on the outside at all. The window was shut, and
there was no door, except the one that shut on the outside.  Who ran
this ark--who took care of it?  Finally it came down on Mount Ararat, a
peak seventeen thousand feet above the level of the sea, with about
three thousand feet of snow, and it stopped there simply to give the
animals from the tropics a chance. Then Noah opened the window and got
a breath of fresh air, and let out all the animals; and then Noah took
a drink, and God made a bargain with him that He would not drown us any
more, and He put a rainbow in the clouds and said: "When I see that I
will recollect that I have promised not to drown you."  Because if it
was not for that He is apt to drown us at any moment.  Now can anybody
believe that that is the origin of the rainbow?  Are you not all
familiar with the natural causes which bring those beautiful arches
before our eyes?  Then the people started out again, and they were as
bad as before.  Here let me ask why God did not make Noah in the first
place?  He knew He would have to drown Adam and Eve and all his family.
Then another thing, why did He want to drown the animals? What had they
done?  What crime had they committed?  It is very hard to answer these
questions--that is, for a man who has only been born once.  After a
while they tried to build a tower to get into heaven, and the gods
heard about it and said "Let's go down and see what man is up to."
They came, and found things a great deal worse than they thought, and
thereupon He confounded the language to prevent them succeeding, so
that the fellow up above could not shout down "mortar" or "brick" to
the one below, and they had to give it up. Is it possible that any one
believes that that is the reason why we have the variety of languages
in the world?  Do you know that language is born of human experience,
and is a physical science?  Do you know that every word has been
suggested in some way by the feelings or observations of man--that
there are words as tender as the dawn, as serene as the stars, and
others as wild as the beasts?  Do you know that language is dying and
being born continually--that every language has its cemetery and its
cradle, its bud and blossom, and withered leaf? Man has loved, enjoyed
and suffered, and language is simply the expression he gives those

Then the world began to divide, and the Jewish nation was started. Now
I want to say that at one time your ancestors, like mine, were
barbarians. If the Jewish people had to write these books now they
would be civilized books, and I do not hold them responsible for what
their ancestors did.  We find the Jewish people first in Canaan, and
there were seventy of them, counting Joseph and his children already in
Egypt. They lived two hundred and fifteen years, and they then went
down into Egypt and stayed there two hundred and fifteen years they
were four hundred and thirty years in Canaan and Egypt.  How many did
they have when they went to Egypt?  Seventy.  How many were they at the
end of two hundred and fifteen years?  Three millions. That is a good
many.  We had at the time of the Revolution in this country three
millions of people. Since that time there have been four doubles, until
we have forty-eight millions today.  How many would the Jews number at
the same ratio in two hundred and fifteen years?  Call it eight doubles
and we have forty thousand.  But instead of forty thousand they had
three millions.  How do I know they had three millions?  Because they
had six hundred thousand men of war.  For every honest voter in the
State of Illinois there will be five other people, and there are always
more voters than men of war.  They must have had at the lowest possible
estimate three millions of people.  Is that true?  Is there a minister
in the city of Chicago that will testify to his own idiocy by claiming
that they could have increased to three millions by that time?  If
there is, let him say so.  Do not let him talk about the civilizing
influence of a lie.

When they got into the desert they took a census to see how man
first-born children there were.  They found they had twenty-thousand
two hundred and seventy-three first-born males.  It is reasonable to
suppose there was about the same number of first-born girls, or
forty-five thousand first-born children.  There must have been about as
many mothers as first-born children.  Dividing three millions by
forty-five thousand mothers, and you will find that the women in Israel
had to have on the average sixty-eight children apiece.  Some stories
are too thin. This is too thick.  Now, we know that among three million
people there will be about three hundred births a day; and according to
the Old Testament, whenever a child was born the mother had to make a
sacrifice--a sin-offering for the crime of having been a mother. If
there is in this universe anything that is infinitely pure, it is a
mother with her child in her arms.  Every woman had to have a sacrifice
of a couple of pigeons, and the priests had to eat those pigeons in the
most holy place.  At that time there were at least three hundred births
a day, and the priests had to cook and eat these pigeons in the most
holy place; and at that time there were only three priests.  Two
hundred birds apiece per day!  I look upon them as the champion
bird-eaters of the world.

Then where were these Jews?  They were upon the desert of Sinai; and
Sahara compared to that is a garden.  Imagine an ocean of lava, torn by
storm and vexed by tempest, suddenly gazed at by a Gorgon and changed
to stone.  Such was the desert of Sinai.  The whole supplies of the
world could not maintain three millions of people on the desert of
Sinai for forty years.  It would cost one hundred thousand millions of
dollars, and would bankrupt Christendom.  And yet there they were with
flocks and herds--so many that they sacrificed over one hundred and
fifty thousand first-born lambs at one time.

It would require millions of acres to support these flocks, and yet
there was no blade of grass, and there is no account of it raining
baled hay.  They sacrificed one hundred and fifty thousand lambs, and
the blood had all to be sprinkled on the altar within two hours, and
there, were only three priests.  They would have to sprinkle the blood
of twelve hundred and fifty lambs per minute.  Then all the people
gathered in front of the tabernacle eighteen feet deep. Three millions
of people would make a column six miles long.  Some reverend gentlemen
say they were ninety feet deep.  Well, that would make a column of over
a mile.

Where were these people going?  They were going to the Holy Land. How
large was it?  Twelve thousand square miles--one-fifth the size of
Illinois--a frightful country, covered with rocks and desolation. There
never was a land agent in the city of Chicago that would not have
blushed with shame to have described that land as flowing with milk and
honey.  Do you believe that God Almighty ever went into partnership
with hornets?  Is it necessary unto salvation?  God said to the Jews
"I will send hornets before you, to drive out the Canaanites."  How
would a hornet know a Canaanite?  Is it possible that God inspired the
hornets--that he granted letters of marque and reprisal to hornets?  I
am willing to admit that nothing in the world would be better
calculated to make a man leave his native country than a few hornets
attending strictly to business. God said  "Kill the Canaanites slowly."
Why?  "Lest the beasts of the field increase upon you."  How many Jews
were there? Three millions.  Going to a country, how large?  Twelve
thousand square miles.  But were there nations already in this Holy
Land?  Yes, there were seven nations "mightier than the Jews."  Say
there would be twenty-one millions when they got there, or twenty-four
millions with themselves.  Yet they were told to kill them slowly, lest
the beasts of the field increase upon them.  Is there a man in Chicago
that believes that!  Then what does he teach it to little children for?
Let him tell the truth.

So the same God went into partnership with snakes.  The children of
Israel lived on manna--one account says all the time, and another only
a little while.  That is the reason there is a chance for commentaries,
and you can exercise faith.  If the book was reasonable everybody could
get to heaven in a moment.  But whenever it looks as if it could not be
that way and you believe, you are almost a saint, and when you know it
is not that way and believe, you are a saint. He fed them on manna.
Now manna is very peculiar stuff.  It would melt in the sun, and yet
they used to cook it by seething and baking. I would as soon think of
frying snow and boiling icicles.  But this manna had other peculiar
qualities. It shrank to an omer, no matter how much they gathered, and
swelled up to an omer, no matter how little they gathered.  What a
magnificent thing manna would be for the currency, shrinking and
swelling according to the volume of business!  There was not a change
in the bill of fare for forty years, and they knew that God could just
as well give them three square meals a day.  They remembered about the
cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks and the onions of Egypt, and
they said: "Our souls abhorreth this light bread."  Then this God got
mad--you know cooks are always touchy--and thereupon He sent snakes to
bite the men, women and children.  He also sent them quails in wrath
and anger, and while they had the flesh between their teeth, he struck
thousands of them dead.  He always acted in that way, all of a sudden.
People had no chance to explain--no chance to move for a new
trial--nothing. I want to know if it is reasonable He should kill
people for asking for one change of diet in forty years.  Suppose you
had been boarding with an old lady for forty years, and she never had a
solitary thing on her table but hash, and one morning you said: "My
soul abhorreth hash!"  What would you say if she let a basketful of
rattlesnakes upon you?  Now is it possible for people to believe this?
The Bible says their clothes did not wax old, they did not get shiny at
the knees or elbows; and their shoes did not wear out.  They grew right
along with them.  The little boy starting out with his first pants grew
up and his pants grew with him.  Some commentators have insisted that
angels attended to their wardrobes.  I never could believe it. Just
think of one angel hunting another and saying: "There goes another
button."  I cannot believe it.

There must be a mistake somewhere or somehow.  Do you believe the real
God--if there is one--ever killed a man for making hair-oil? And yet
you find in the Pentateuch that God gave Moses a recipe for making
hair-oil to grease Aaron's beard; and said if anybody made the same
hair-oil he should be killed.  And He gave him a formula for making
ointment, and He said if anybody made ointment like that he should be
killed.  I think that is carrying patent-laws to excess. There must be
some mistake about it.  I cannot imagine the infinite Creator of all
the shining worlds giving a recipe for hair-oil.  Do you believe that
the real God came down to Mount Sinai with a lot of patterns for making
a tabernacle-patterns for tongs, for snuffers, and such things?  Do you
believe that God came down on that mountain and told Moses how to cut a
coat, and how it should be trimmed? What would an infinite God care on
which side he cut the breast, what color the fringe was, or how the
buttons were placed?  Do you believe God told Moses to make curtains of
fine linen? Where did they get their flax in the desert?  How did they
weave it? Did He tell him to make things of gold, silver and precious
stones, when they hadn't them?  Is it possible that God told them not
to eat any fruit until after the fourth year of planting the trees?
You see all these things were written hundreds of years afterwards, and
the priests, in order to collect the tithes, dated the laws back.  They
did not say, "This is our law," but,  "Thus said God to Moses in the
wilderness." Now, can you believe that?  Imagine a scene: The eternal
God tells Moses "Here is the way I want you to consecrate my priests.
Catch a sheep and cut his throat."  I never could understand why God
wanted a sheep killed just because a man had done a mean trick; perhaps
it was because his priests were fond of mutton.  He tells Moses further
to take some of the blood and put it on his right thumb, a little on
his right ear, and a little on his right big toe?  Do you believe God
ever gave such instructions for the consecration of His priests?  If
you should see the South Sea Islanders going through such a performance
you could not keep your face straight.  And will you tell me that it
had to be done in order to consecrate a man to the service of the
infinite God? Supposing the blood got on the left toe?

Then we find in this book how God went to work to make the Egyptians
let the Israelites go.  Suppose we wish to make a treaty with the
mikado of Japan, and Mr. Hayes sent a commissioner there; and suppose
he should employ Hermann, the wonderful German, to go along with him;
and when they came in the presence of the mikado Herman threw down an
umbrella, which changed into a turtle, and the commissioner said: "This
is my certificate."  You would say the country is disgraced. You would
say the president of a republic like this disgraces himself with
jugglery.  Yet we are told God sent Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh, and
when they got there Moses threw down a stick which turned into a snake.
That God is a juggler--he is the infinite prestidigitator.  Is that
possible?  Was that really a snake, or was it the appearance of a
snake?  If it was the appearance of a snake, it was a fraud.  Then the
necromancers of Egypt were sent for, and they threw down sticks, which
turned into snakes, but those were not so large as Moses' snakes, which
swallowed them.  I maintain that it is just as hard to make small
snakes as it is to make large ones; the only difference is that to make
large snakes either larger sticks or more practice is required.

Do you believe that God rained hail on innocent cattle, killing them in
the highways and in the field?  Why should he inflict punishment on
cattle for something their owners had done?  I could never have any
respect for a God that would so inflict pain upon a brute beast simply
on account of the crime of its owner.  Is it possible that God worked
miracles to convince Pharaoh that slavery was wrong?  Why did he not
tell Pharaoh that any nation founded on slavery could not stand?  Why
did he not tell him, "Your government is founded on slavery, and it
will go down, and the sands of the desert will hide from the view of
man your temples, your altars, and your fanes?"  Why did he not speak
about the infamy of slavery?  Because he believed in the infamy of
slavery himself.  Can we believe that God will allow a man to give his
wife the right of divorcement and make the mother of his children a
wanderer and a vagrant.  There is not one word about woman in the Old
Testament except the word of shame and humiliation. The God of the
Bible does not think woman is as good as man.  She never was worth
mentioning.  It did not take the pains to recount the death of the
mother of us all.  I have no respect for any book that does not treat
woman as the equal of man. And if there is any God in this universe who
thinks more of me than he thinks of my wife, he is not well acquainted
with both of us.  And yet they say that that was done on account of the
hardness of their hearts; and that was done in a community where the
law was so fierce that it stoned a man to death for picking up sticks
on Sunday.  Would it not have been better to stone to death every man
who abused his wife and allowed them to pick up sticks on account of
the hardness of their hearts?  If God wanted to take those Jews from
Egypt to the land of Canaan, why didn't He do it instantly?  If He was
going to do a miracle why didn't He do one worth talking about?

After God had killed all the first-born in Egypt, after He had killed
all the cattle, still Egypt could raise an army that could put to
flight six hundred thousand men.  And because this God overwhelmed the
Egyptian army, he bragged about it for a thousand years, repeatedly
calling the attention of the Jews to the fact that he overthrew Pharaoh
and his hosts.  Did he help much with their six-hundred thousand men?
We find by the records of the day that the Egyptian standing army at
that time was never more than one hundred thousand men.  Must we
believe all these stories in order to get to Heaven when we die?  Must
we judge of a man's character by the number of stories he believes?
Are we to get to Heaven by creed or by deed?  That is the question.
Shall we reason, or shall we simply believe?  Ah, but they say the
Bible is not inspired about those little things.  The Bible says the
rabbit and the hare chew the cud.  But they do not.  They have a
tremulous motion of the lip.  But the Being that made them says they
chew the cud.  The Bible, therefore, is not inspired in natural
history.  Is it inspired in its astrology? No. Well, what is it
inspired in?  In its law?  Thousands of people say that if it had not
been for the ten commandments we would not have known any better than
to rob and steal.  Suppose a man planted an acre of potatoes, hoed them
all summer, and dug them in the fall; and suppose a man had sat upon
the fence all the time and watched him?  Do you believe it would be
necessary for that man to read the ten commandments to find out who, in
his judgment had a right to take those potatoes?  All laws against
larceny have been made by industry to protect the fruits of its labor.
Why is there a law against murder?  Simply because a large majority of
people object to being murdered.  That is all.  And all these laws were
in force thousands of years before that time.

One of the commandments said they should not make any graven images,
and that was the death of art in Palestine.  No sculptor has ever
enriched stone with the divine forms of beauty in that country; and any
commandment that is the death of art is not a good commandment. But
they say the Bible is morally inspired; and they tell me there is no
civilization without this Bible.  Then God knows that just as well as
you do.  God always knew it, and if you can't civilize a nation without
a Bible, why didn't God give every nation just one Bible to start with?
Why did God allow hundreds of thousands and billions of billions to go
down to hell just for the lack of a Bible? They say that it is morally
inspired.  Well, let us examine it.  I want to be fair about this
thing, because I am willing to stake my salvation or damnation upon
this question--whether the Bible is true or not.  I say it is not and
upon that I am willing to wager my soul. Is there a woman here who
believes in the institution of polygamy? Is there a man here who
believes in that infamy?  You say: "No, we do not."  Then you are
better than your God was four thousand years ago.  Four thousand years
ago he believed in it, taught it and upheld it.  I pronounce it and
denounce it the infamy of infamies.  It robs our language of every
sweet and tender word in it. It takes the fire-side away forever.  It
takes the meaning out of the words father, mother, sister, brother, and
turns the temple of love into a vile den where crawl the slimy snakes
of lust and hatred.  I was in Utah a little while ago, and was on the
mountain where God used to talk to Brigham Young.  He never said
anything to me.  I said that it was just as reasonable that God in the
nineteenth century should talk to a polygamist in Utah as it was that
four thousand years ago, on Mount Sinai, he talked to Moses upon that
hellish and damnable question.

I have no love for any God who believes in polygamy.  There is no
heaven on this earth save where the one woman loves the one man and the
one man loves the one woman.  I guess it is not inspired on the
polygamy question.  May be it is inspired about religious liberty. God
says if anybody differs with you about religion, "kill him."  He told
His peculiar people, "If any one teaches a different religion, kill
him!" He did not say, "Try and convince him that he is wrong," but
"kill him." He did not say, "I am in the miracle business, and I will
convince him," but "kill him."  He said to every husband, "If your
wife, that you love as you love your own soul, says, 'let us go and
worship other gods,' then  'Thy hand shall be first upon her and she
shall be stoned with stones until she dies.'"  Well, now, I hate a God
of that kind, and I cannot think of being nearer heaven than to be away
from Him.  A God tells a man to kill his wife simply because she
differs with him on religion!  If the real God were to tell me to kill
my wife, I would not do it. If you had lived in Palestine at that time,
and your wife--the mother of your children--had woke up at night and
said "I am tired of Jehovah. He is always turning up that board-bill.
He is always telling about whipping the Egyptians.  He is always
killing somebody.  I am tired of Him.  Let us worship the sun.  The sun
has clothed the world in beauty; it has covered the earth with green
and flowers; by its divine light I first saw your face; its light has
enabled me to look into the eyes of my beautiful babe.  Let us worship
the sun, father and mother of light and love and joy."  Then what would
it be your duty to do--kill her?  Do you believe a real God ever did
that? Your hand should be first upon her, and when you took up some
ragged rock and hurled it against the white bosom filled with love for
you, and saw running away the red current of her sweet life, then you
would look up to heaven and receive the congratulations of the infinite
fiend whose commandments you had to obey.  I guess the Bible was not
inspired about religious liberty.  Let me ask you right here: Suppose,
as a matter of fact, God gave those laws to the Jews and told them
"whenever a man preaches a different religion, kill him," and suppose
that afterwards the same God took upon Himself flesh, and came to the
world and taught and preached a different religion, and the Jews
crucified Him--did He not reap exactly what He sowed?

May be this book is inspired about war.  God told the Israelites to
overrun that country, and kill every man, woman and child for defending
their native land.  Kill the old men?  Yes.  Kill the women?
Certainly. And the little dimpled babes in the cradle, that smile and
coo in the face of murder--dash out their brains; that is the will of
God.  Will you tell me that any God ever commanded such infamy?  Kill
the men and the women, and the young men and the babes!  "What shall we
do with the maidens?"  "Give them to the rabble murderers!"  Do you
believe that God ever allowed the roses of love and the violets of
modesty that shed their perfume in the heart of a maiden to be trampled
beneath the brutal feet of lust?  If there is any God, I pray Him to
write in the book of eternal remembrance opposite to my name, that I
denied that lie.

Whenever a woman reads a Bible and comes to that passage, she ought to
throw the book from her in contempt and scorn.  Do you tell me that any
decent god would do that?  What would the devil have done under the
same circumstances?  Just think of it, and yet that is the God that we
want to get into the Constitution.  That is the God we teach our
children about so that they will be sweet and tender, amiable and kind!
That monster--that fiend--I guess the Bible is not inspired about
religious liberty, nor about war.

Then, if it is not inspired about these things, may be it is inspired
about slavery.  God tells the Jews to buy up the children of the
heathen round about and they should be servants for them.  What is a
"servant?" If they struck a "servant" and he died immediately,
punishment was to follow; but if the injured man should linger a while,
there was no punishment, because the servant represented their money!
Do you believe that it is right--that God made one man to work for
another and to receive pay in rations?  Do you believe God said that a
whip on the naked back was the legal tender for labor performed? Is it
possible that the real God ever gave such infamous, blood-thirsty laws?
What more does He say?  When the time of a married slave expired, he
could not take his wife and children with him.  Then if the slave did
not wish to desert his family, he had his ears pierced with an awl, and
became his master's property forever.  Do you believe that God ever
turned the dimpled cheeks of little children into iron chains to hold a
man in slavery?  Do you know that a God like that would not make a
respectable devil?  I want none of his mercy.  I want no part and no
lot in the heaven of such a God.  I will go to perdition, where there
is human sympathy.  The only voice we have ever had from either of
those other worlds came from hell.  There was a rich man who prayed his
brothers to attend to Lazarus so that they might "not come to this
place."  That is the only instance, so far as we know, of souls across
the river having any sympathy.  And I would rather be in hell, asking
for water, than in heaven denying that petition.  Well, what is this
book inspired about? Where does the inspiration come from? Why was it
that so many animals were killed?  It was simply to make atonement for
man--that is all. They killed something that had not committed a crime,
in order that the one who had committed the crime might be acquitted.
Based upon that idea is the atonement of the Christian religion.  That
is the reason I attack this book--because it is the basis of another
infamy, viz: that one man can be good for another, or that one man can
sin for another.  I deny it.  You have got to be good for yourself; you
have got to sin for yourself.  The trouble about the atonement is, that
it saves the wrong man.  For instance, I kill some one.  He is a good
man.  He loves his wife and children and tries to make them happy; but
he is not a Christian, and he goes to hell.  Just as soon as I am
convicted and cannot get a pardon I get religion, and I go to heaven.
The hand of mercy cannot reach down through the shadows of hell to my

There is no atonement for the saint--only for the sinner and the
criminal.  The atonement saves the wrong man.  I have said that I would
never make a lecture at all without attacking this doctrine. I did not
care what I started out on.  I was always going to attack this
doctrine. And in my conclusion I want to draw you a few pictures of the
Christian heaven.  But before I do that I want to say the rest I have
to say about Moses.  I want you to understand that the Bible was never
printed until 1488.  I want you to know that up to that time it was in
manuscript, in possession of those who could change it if they wished;
and they did change it, because no two ever agreed. Much of it was in
the waste basket of credulity, in the open mouth of tradition, and in
the dull ear of memory.  I want you also to know that the Jews
themselves never agreed as to what books were inspired, and that there
were a lot of books written that were not incorporated in the Old
Testament.  I want you to know that two or three years before Christ,
the Hebrew manuscript was translated into Greek, and that the original
from which the translation was made, has never been seen since.  Some
Latin Bibles were found in Africa but no two agreed; and then they
translated the Septuagint into the languages of Europe, and no two
agreed.  Henry VIII. took a little time between murdering his wives to
see that the Word of God was translated correctly.  You must recollect
that we are indebted to murderers for our Bibles and our creeds.
Constantine, who helped on the good work in its early stage, murdered
his wife and child, mingling their blood with the blood of the Savior.

The Bible that Henry VIII. got up did not suit, and then his daughter,
the murderess of Mary, Queen of Scots, got up another edition, which
also did not suit; and finally, that philosophical idiot, King James,
prepared the edition which we now have.  There are at least one hundred
thousand errors in the Old Testament, but everybody sees that it is not
enough to invalidate its claim to infallibility.  But these errors are
gradually being fixed, and hereafter the prophet will be fed by Arabs
instead of "ravens," and Samson's three hundred foxes will be three
hundred "sheaves" already bound, which were fired and thrown into the
standing wheat.  I want you all to know that there was no
contemporaneous literature at the time the Bible was composed, and that
the Jews were infinitely ignorant in their day and generation--that
they were isolated by bigotry and wickedness from the rest of the
world.  I want you to know that there are fourteen hundred millions of
people in the world; and that with all the talk and work of the
societies, only one hundred and twenty millions have got Bibles.  I
want you to understand that not one person in one hundred in this world
ever read the Bible, and no two ever understood it alike who did read
it, and that no one person probably ever understood it aright.  I want
you to understand that where this Bible has been, man has hated his
brother--there have been dungeons, racks, thumbscrews, and the sword.
I want you to know that the cross has been in partnership with the
sword, and that the religion of Jesus Christ was established by
murderers, tyrants and hypocrites.  I want you to know that the church
carried the black flag. Then talk about the civilizing influence of
this religion!

Now, I want to give an idea or two in regard to the Christian's heaven.
Of all the selfish things in this world, it is one man wanting to get
to heaven, caring nothing what becomes of the rest of mankind.  "If I
can only get my little soul in."  I have always noticed that the people
who have the smallest souls make the most fuss about getting them
saved. Here is what we are taught by the church today.  We are taught
by it that fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters can all be happy
in heaven, no matter who may be in hell; that the husband can be happy
there with the wife that would have died for him at any moment of his
life, in hell.  But they say, "We don't believe in fire. What we
believe in now is remorse."  What will you have remorse for? For the
mean things you have done when you are in hell?  Will you have any
remorse for the mean things you have done when you are in heaven? Or
will you be so good then that you won't care how you used to be? Don't
you see what an infinitely mean belief that is?  I tell you today that,
no matter in what heaven you may be, no matter in what star you are
spending the summer, if you meet another man whom you have wronged you
will drop a little behind in the tune.  And, no matter in what part of
hell you are, and you meet some one whom you have succored, whose
nakedness you have clothed, and whose famine you have fed, the fire
will cool up a little. According to this Christian doctrine, when you
are in heaven you won't care how mean you were once.  What must be the
social condition of a gentleman in heaven who will admit that he never
would have been there if he had not got scared?  What must be the
social position of an angel who will always admit that if another had
not pitied him he ought to have been damned?  Is it a compliment to an
infinite God to say that every being He ever made deserved to be damned
the minute He got him done, and that He will damn everybody He has not
had a chance to make over. Is it possible that somebody else can be
good for me, and that this doctrine of the atonement is the only anchor
for the human soul?

For instance: here is a man seventy years of age, who has been a
splendid fellow and lived according to the laws of nature.  He has got
about him splendid children whom he has loved and cared for with all
his heart.  But he did not happen to believe in this Bible; he did not
believe in the Pentateuch.  He did not believe that because some
children made fun of a gentleman who was short of hair, God sent two
bears and tore the little darlings to pieces.  He had a tender heart,
and he thought about the mothers who would take the pieces, the bloody
fragments of the children, and press them to their bosom in a frenzy of
grief; he thought about their wails and lamentations, and could not
believe that God was such an infinite monster.  That was all he
thought, but he went to Hell.  Then, there is another man who made a
hell on earth for his wife, who had to be taken to the insane asylum,
and his children were driven from home and were wanderers and vagrants
in the world.  But just between the last sin and the last breath, this
fellow got religion, and he never did another thing except to take his
medicine.  He never did a solitary human being a favor, and he died and
went to heaven.  Don't you think he would be astonished to see that
other man in hell, and say to himself, "Is it possible that such a
splendid character should bear such fruit, and that all my rascality at
last has brought me next to God?"

Or, let us put another case.  You were once alone in the desert--no
provisions, no water, no hope, just when your life was at its lowest
ebb a man appeared, gave you water and food and brought you safely out.
How you would bless that man.  Time rolls on.  You die and go to
heaven; and one day you see through the black night of hell, the friend
who saved your life, begging for a drop of water to cool his parched
lips. He cries to you, "Remember what I did in the desert--give me to
drink." How mean, how contemptible you would feel to see his suffering
and be unable to relieve him.  But this is the Christian heaven.  We
sit by the fireside and see the flames and the sparks fly up the
chimney--everybody happy, and the cold wind and sleet are beating on
the window, and out on the doorstep is a mother with a child on her
breast freezing.  How happy it makes a fireside, that beautiful
contrast.  And we say,  "God is good," and there we sit, and she sits
and moans, not one night but forever.  Or we are sitting at the table
with our wives and children, everybody eating, happy and delighted; and
Famine comes and pushes out its shriveled palms, and, with hungry eyes,
implores us for a crust. How that would increase the appetite!  And yet
that is the Christian heaven.  Don't you see that these infamous
doctrines petrify the human heart?  And I would have everyone who hears
me, swear that he will never contribute another dollar to build another
church in which is taught such infamous lies.  I want everyone of you
to say, that you never will, directly or indirectly, give a dollar to
any man to preach that falsehood.  It has done harm enough.  It has
covered the world with blood.  It has filled the asylums for the
insane.  It has cast a shadow in the heart, in the sunlight of every
good and tender man and woman.  I say let us rid the heavens of this
monster, and write upon the dome "Liberty, love and law."

No matter what may come to me or what may come to you, let us do
exactly what we believe to be right, and let us give the exact thought
in our brains.  Rather than have this Christianity true, I would rather
all the gods would destroy themselves this morning.  I would rather the
whole universe would go to nothing, if such a thing were possible, this
instant.  Rather than have the glittering dome of pleasure reared on
the eternal abyss of pain, I would see the utter and eternal
destruction of this universe.  I would rather see the shining fabric of
our universe crumble to unmeaning chaos, and take itself where oblivion
broods and memory forgets.  I would rather the blind Samson of some
imprisoned force, released by thoughtless chance, should so rack and
strain this world that man in stress and strain, in astonishment and
fear, should suddenly fall back to savagery and barbarity.  I would
rather that this thrilled and thrilling globe, shorn of all life,
should in its cycles rub the wheel, the parent star, on which the light
should fall as fruitlessly as falls the gaze of love on death, than to
have this infamous doctrine of eternal punishment true; rather than
have this infamous selfishness of a heaven for a few and a hell for the
many established as the word of God.

One world at a time is my doctrine.  Let us make some one happy here.
Happiness is the interest that a decent action draws, and the more
decent actions you do, the larger your income will be.  Let every man
try to make his wife happy, his children happy.  Let every man try to
make every day a joy, and God cannot afford to damn such a man. I
cannot help God; I cannot injure God.  I can help people; I can injure
people.  Consequently humanity is the only real religion.

I cannot better close this lecture than by quoting four lines from
Robert Burns:

              "To make a happy fireside clime
               To weans and wife--
               That's the true pathos and sublime
               Of human life."

INGERSOLL'S LECTURE ON SKULLS,--And His Replies To Prof. Swing, Dr.
Collyer, And Other Critics--Reprinted from "The Chicago Times."

Ladies and Gentlemen: Man advances just in the proportion that he
mingles his thoughts with his labor--just in the proportion that he
takes advantage of the forces of nature; just in proportion as he loses
superstition and gains confidence in himself.  Man advances as he
ceases to fear the gods and learns to love his fellow-men.  It is all,
in my judgment, a question of intellectual development.  Tell me the
religion of any man and I will tell you the degree he marks on the
intellectual thermometer of the world.  It is a simple question of
brain.  Those among us who are the nearest barbarism have a barbarian
religion.  Those who are nearest civilization have the least
superstition.  It is, I say, a simple question of brain, and I want, in
the first place, to lay the foundation to prove that assertion.

A little while ago I saw models of nearly everything that man has made.
I saw models of all the water craft, from the rude dug-out in which
floated a naked savage--one of our ancestors--a naked savage, with
teeth twice as long as his forehead was high, with a spoonful of brains
in the back of his orthodox head--I saw models of all the water craft
of the world, from that dug-out up to a man-of-war that carries a
hundred guns and miles of canvas; from that dug-out to the steamship
that turns its brave prow from the port of New York with a compass like
a conscience, crossing three thousand miles of billows without missing
a throb or beat of its mighty iron heart from shore to shore.  And I
saw at the same time the paintings of the world, from the rude daub of
yellow mud to the landscapes that enrich palaces and adorn houses of
what were once called the common people.  I saw also their sculpture,
from the rude god with four legs, a half dozen arms, several noses, and
two or three rows of ears, and one little, contemptible, brainless
head, up to the figures of today,--to the marbles that genius has clad
in such a personality that it seems almost impudent to touch them
without an introduction. I saw their books--books written upon the
skins of wild beasts--upon shoulder-blades of sheep--books written upon
leaves, upon bark, up to the splendid volumes that enrich the libraries
of our day.  When I speak of libraries I think of the remark of Plato:
"A house that has a library in it has a soul."

I saw at the same time the offensive weapons that man has made, from a
club, such as was grasped by that same savage when he crawled from his
den in the ground and hunted a snake for his dinner; from that club to
the boomerang, to the sword, to the cross-bow, to the blunderbuss, to
the flintlock, to the caplock, to the needle-gun, up to a cannon cast
by Krupp, capable of hurling a ball weighing two thousand pounds
through eighteen inches of solid steel.  I saw too, the armor from the
shell of a turtle that one of our brave ancestors lashed upon his
breast when he went to fight for his country, the skin of a porcupine,
dried with the quills on, which this same savage pulled over his
orthodox head, up to the shirts of mail that were worn in the middle
ages, that laughed at the edge of the sword and defied the point of the
spear; up to a monitor clad in complete steel.  And I say orthodox not
only in the matter of religion, but in everything.  Whoever has quit
growing, he is orthodox, whether in art, politics, religion,
philosophy--no matter what.  Whoever thinks he has found it all out he
is orthodox.  Orthodoxy is that which rots, and heresy is that which
grows forever.  Orthodoxy is the night of the past, full of the
darkness of superstition, and heresy is the eternal coming day, the
light of which strikes the grand foreheads of the intellectual pioneers
of the world.  I saw their implements of agriculture, from the plow
made of a crooked stick, attached to the horn of an ox by some twisted
straw, with which our ancestors scraped the earth, and from that to the
agricultural implements of this generation, that make it possible for a
man to cultivate the soil without being an ignoramus.

In the old time there was but one crop; and when the rain did not come
in answer to the prayer of hypocrites a famine came and people fell
upon their knees.  At that time they were full of superstition. They
were frightened all the time for fear that some god would be enraged at
his poor, hapless, feeble and starving children.  But now, instead of
depending upon one crop they have several, and if there is not rain
enough for one there may be enough for another.  And if the frosts kill
all, we have railroads and steamship--enough to bring what we need from
some other part of the world.  Since man has found out something about
agriculture, the gods have retired from the business of producing

I saw at the same time their musical instruments, from the tomtom--that
is, a hoop with a couple of strings of rawhide drawn across it--from
that tom-tom, up to the instruments we have today, that make the common
air blossom with melody, and I said to myself there is a regular
advancement.  I saw at the same time a row of human skulls, from the
lowest skull that has been found, the Neanderthal skull--skulls from
Central Africa, skulls from the bushmen of Australia--skulls from the
farthest isles of the Pacific Sea--up to the best skulls of the last
generation--and I noticed that there was the same difference between
those skulls that there was between the products of those skulls, and I
said to myself: "After all, it is a simple question of intellectual
development."  There was the same difference between those skulls, the
lowest and highest skulls, that there was between the dug-out and the
man-of-war and the steamship, between the club and the Krupp gun,
between the yellow daub and the landscape, between the tom-tom and an
opera by Verdi.  The first and lowest skull in this row was the den in
which crawled the base and meaner instincts of mankind, and the last
was a temple in which dwelt joy, liberty and love.  And I said to
myself, it is all a question of intellectual development.

Man has advanced just as he has mingled his thought with his labor. As
he has grown he has taken advantage of the forces of nature; first of
the moving wind, then of the falling water and finally of steam.  From
one step to another he has obtained better houses, better clothes, and
better books, and he has done it by holding out every incentive to the
ingenious to produce them.  The world has said, give us better clubs
and guns and cannons with which to kill our fellow Christians.  And
whoever will give us better weapons and better music, and better houses
to live in, we will robe him in wealth crown him in honor, and render
his name deathless.  Every incentive was held out to every human being
to improve these things, and that is the reason we have advanced in all
mechanical arts.  But that gentleman in the dugout not only had his
ideas about politics, mechanics, and agriculture; he had his ideas also
about religion. His idea about politics was "Might makes right."  It
will be thousands of years, may be, before mankind will believe in the
saying that "right makes might."  He had his religion.  That low skull
was a devil factory.  He believed in Hell, and the belief was a
consolation to him.  He could see the waves of God's wrath dashing
against the rocks of dark damnation.  He could see tossing in the
whitecaps the faces of women, and stretching above the crests the
dimpled hands of children; and he regarded these things as the justice
and mercy of God.  And all today who believe in this eternal punishment
are the barbarians of the nineteenth century.  That man believed in a
devil, that had a long tail terminating with a fiery dart; that had
wings like a bat--a devil that had a cheerful habit of breathing
brimstone, that had a cloven foot, such as some orthodox clergymen seem
to think I have.  And there has not been a patentable improvement made
upon that devil in all the years since.  The moment you drive the devil
out of theology, there is nothing left worth speaking of.  The moment
they drop the devil, away goes atonement.  The moment they kill the
devil, their whole scheme of salvation has lost all of its interest for
mankind.  You must keep the devil and, you must keep Hell.  You must
keep the devil, because with no devil no priest is necessary. Now, all
I ask is this--the same privilege to improve upon his religion as upon
his dug-out, and that is what I am going to do, the best I can. No
matter what church you belong to, or what church belongs to us.  Let us
be honor bright and fair.

I want to ask you: Suppose the king, if there was one, and the priest
if there was one at that time, had told these gentlemen in the dug-out:
"That dug-out is the best boat that can be built by man; the pattern of
that came from on high, from the great God of storm and flood, and any
man who says he can improve it by putting a stick in the middle of it
and a rag on the stick, is an infidel, and shall be burned at the
stake;" what, in your judgment--honor bright--would have been the
effect upon the circumnavigation of the globe?  Suppose the king, if
there was one, and the priest, if there was one--and I presume there
was a priest, because it was a very ignorant age--suppose the king and
priest had said: "The tomtom is the most beautiful instrument of music
of which any man can conceive; that is the kind of music they have in
Heaven; an angel sitting upon the edge of a glorified cloud, golden in
the setting sun, playing upon that tom-tom, became so enraptured, so
entranced with her own music, that in a kind of ecstasy she dropped
it--that is how we obtained it; and any man who says it can be improved
by putting a back and front to it, and four strings, and a bridge, and
getting a bow of hair with rosin, is a blaspheming wretch, and shall
die the death,"--I ask you, what effect would that have had upon music?
If that course had been pursued, would the human ears, in your
judgment, ever have been enriched with the divine symphonies of
Beethoven? Suppose the king, if there was one, and the priest, had said
"That crooked stick is the best plow that can be invented, the pattern
of that plow was given to a pious farmer in an exceedingly holy dream,
and that twisted straw is the ne plus ultra of all twisted things, and
any man who says he can make an improvement upon that plow, is an
atheist;" what, in your judgment, would have been the effect upon the
science of agriculture?

Now, all I ask is the same privilege to improve upon his religion as
upon his mechanical arts.  Why don't we go back to that period to get
the telegraph?  Because they were barbarians.  And shall we go to
barbarians to get our religion?  What is religion?  Religion simply
embraces the duty of man to man.  Religion is simply the science of
human duty and the duty of man to man--that is what it is. It is the
highest science of all.  And all other sciences are as nothing, except
as they contribute to the happiness of man.  The science of religion is
the highest of all, embracing all others.  And shall we go to the
barbarians to learn the science of sciences?  The nineteenth century
knows more about religion than all the centuries dead.  There is more
real charity in the world today than ever before. There is more thought
today than ever before.  Woman is glorified today as she never was
before in the history of the world.  There are more happy families now
than ever before--more children treated as though they were tender
blossoms than as though they were brutes than in any other time or
nation.  Religion is simply the duty a man owes to man; and when you
fall upon your knees and pray for something you know not of, you
neither benefit the one you pray for nor yourself. One ounce of
restitution is worth a million of repentances anywhere, and a man will
get along faster by helping himself a minute than by praying ten years
for somebody to help him.  Suppose you were coming along the street,
and found a party of men and women on their knees praying to a bank,
and you asked them, "Have any of you borrowed any money of this bank?"
"No, but our fathers, they, too, prayed to this bank."  "Did they ever
get any?" "No, not that we ever heard of." I would tell them to get up.
It is easier to earn it, and it is far more manly.

Our fathers in the "good old times,"--and the best that I can say of
the "good old times" is that they are gone, and the best I can say of
the good old people that lived in them is that they are gone,
too--believed that you made a man think your way by force.  Well, you
can't do it. There is a splendid something in man that says: "I won't;
I won't be driven."  But our fathers thought men could be driven.  They
tried it in the "good old times."  I used to read about the manner in
which the early Christians made converts--how they impressed upon the
world the idea that God loved them.  I have read it, but it didn't burn
into my soul.  I didn't think much about it--I heard so much about
being fried forever in Hell that it didn't seem so bad to burn a few
minutes.  I love liberty and I hate all persecutions in the name of
God. I never appreciated the infamies that have been committed in the
name of religion until I saw the iron arguments that Christians used.
I saw, for instance, the thumb-screw, two little innocent looking
pieces of iron, armed with some little protuberances on the inner side
to keep it from slipping down, and through each end a screw, and when
some man had made some trifling remark, for instance, that he never
believed that God made a fish swallow a man to keep him from drowning,
or something like that, or, for instance, that he didn't believe in
baptism.  You know that is very wrong.  You can see for yourself the
justice of damning a man if his parents happened to baptize him in the
wrong way--God cannot afford to break a rule or two to save all the men
in the world.  I happened to be in the company of some Baptist
ministers once--you may wonder how I happened to be in such company as
that--and one of them asked me what I thought about baptism.  Well, I
told them I hadn't thought much about it--that I had never sat up
nights on that question. I said: "Baptism--with soap--is a good
institution." Now, when some man had said some trifling thing like
that, they put this thumb-screw on him, and in the name of universal
benevolence and for the love of God--man has never persecuted man for
the love of man; man has never persecuted another for the love of
charity--it is always for the love of something he calls God, and every
man's idea of God is his own idea.  If there is an infinite God, and
there may be--I don't know--there may be a million for all I know--I
hope there is more than one--one seems so lonesome.  They kept turning
this down, and when this was done, most men would say: "I will recant."
I think, I would.  There is not much of the martyr about me.  I would
have told them: "Now you write it down, and I will sign it.  You may
have one God or a million, one Hell or a million. You stop that--I am

Do you know, sometimes I have thought that all the hypocrites in the
world are not worth one drop of honest blood.  I am sorry that any good
man ever died for religion.  I would rather let them advance a little
easier.  It is too bad to see a good man sacrificed for a lot of wild
beasts and cattle.  But there is now and then a man who would not
swerve the breadth of a hair.  There was now and then a sublime heart
willing to die for an intellectual conviction, and had it not been for
these men we would have been wild beasts and savages today. There were
some men who would not take it back, and had it not been for a few such
brave, heroic souls in every age we would have been cannibals, with
pictures of wild beasts tattooed upon our breasts, dancing around some
dried-snake fetish.  And so they turned it down to the last thread of
agony, and threw the victim into some dungeon, where, in the throbbing
silence and darkness, he might suffer the agonies of the fabled damned.
This was done in the name of love, in the name of mercy, in the name of
the compassionate Christ.  And the men that did it are the men that
made our Bible for us.

I saw, too, at the same time, the Collar of torture.  Imagine a circle
of iron, and on the inside a hundred points almost as sharp as needles.
This argument was fastened about the throat of the sufferer.  Then he
could not walk nor sit down, nor stir without the neck being punctured
by these points.  In a little while the throat would begin to swell,
and suffocation would end the agonies of that man.  This man, it may
be, had committed the crime of saying, with tears upon his cheeks,  "I
do not believe that God, the father of us all, will damn to eternal
perdition any of the children of men." And that was done to convince
the world that God so loved the world that He died for us.  That was in
order that people might hear the glad tidings of great joy to all

I saw another instrument, called the scavenger's daughter.  Imagine a
pair of shears with handles, not only where they now are, but at the
points as well and just above the pivot that unites the blades a circle
of iron.  In the upper handles the hands would be placed; in the lower,
the feet; and through the iron ring, at the centre, the head of the
victim would be forced, and in that position the man would be thrown
upon the earth, and the strain upon the muscle would produce such agony
that insanity took pity.  And this was done to keep people from going
to Hell--to convince that man that he had made a mistake in his
logic--and it was done, too, by Protestants--Protestants that
persecuted to the extent of their power, and that is as much as
Catholicism ever did. They would persecute now if they had the power.
There is not a man in this vast audience who will say that the church
should have temporal power.  There is not one of you but what believes
in the eternal divorce of church and state.  Is it possible that the
only people who are fit to go to heaven are the only people not fit to
rule mankind?

I saw at the same time the rack.  This was a box like the bed of a
wagon, with a windlass at each end, and ratchets to prevent slipping.
Over each windlass went chains, and when some man had, for instance,
denied the doctrine of the trinity, a doctrine it is necessary to
believe in order to get to Heaven--but, thank the Lord, you don't have
to understand it.  This man merely denied that three times one was one,
or maybe he denied that there was ever any Son in the world exactly as
old as his father, or that there ever was a boy eternally older than
his mother--then they put that man on the rack.  Nobody had ever been
persecuted for calling God bad--it has always been for calling him
good.  When I stand here to say that, if there is a Hell, God is a
fiend, they say that is very bad.  They say I am trying to tear down
the institutions of public virtue.  But let me tell you one thing:
there is no reformation in fear--you can scare a man so that he won't
do it sometimes, but I will swear you can't scare him so bad that he
won't want to do it.  Then they put this man on the rack and priests
began turning these levers, and kept turning until the ankles, the
hips, the shoulders, the elbows, the wrists, and all the joints of the
victim were dislocated, and he was wet with agony, and standing by was
a physician to feel his pulse.  What for?  To save his life?  Yes.  In
mercy?  No. But in order that they might have the pleasure of racking
him once more. And this was the Christian spirit.  This was done in the
name of civilization, in the name of religion, and all these wretches
who did it died in peace.  There is not an orthodox preacher in the
city that has not a respect for every one of them.  As, for instance,
for John Calvin, who was a murderer and nothing but a murderer, who
would have disgraced an ordinary gallows by being hanged upon it.
These men when they came to die were not frightened.  God did not send
any devils into their death-rooms to make mouths at them.   He reserved
them for Voltaire, who brought religious liberty to France.  He
reserved them for Thomas Paine, who did more for liberty than all the
churches.  But all the inquisitors died with the white hands of peace
folded over the breast of piety.  And when they died, the room was
filled with the rustle of the wings of angels, waiting to bear the
wretches to Heaven.

When I read these frightful books it seems to me sometimes as though I
had suffered all these things myself.  It seems sometimes as though I
had stood upon the shore of exile, and gazed with tearful eyes toward
home and native land; it seems to me as though I had been staked out
upon the sands of the sea, and drowned by the inexorable, advancing
tide; as though my nails had been torn from my hands, and into the
bleeding quick needles had been thrust; as though my feet had been
crushed in iron boots; as though I had been chained in the cell of
Inquisition, and listened with dying ears for the coming footsteps of
release; as though I had stood upon the scaffold and saw the glittering
axe fall upon me; as though I had been upon the rack and had seen,
bending above me, the white faces of hypocrite priests; as though I had
been taken from my fireside, from my wife and children, taken to the
public square, chained; as though fagots had been piled about me; as
though the flames had climbed around my limbs and scorched my eyes to
blindness, and as though my ashes had been scattered to the four winds
by all the countless hands of hate.  And, while I so feel, I swear that
while I live I will do what little I can to augment the liberties of
man, woman and child.  I denounce slavery and superstition everywhere.
I believe in liberty, and happiness, and love, and joy in this world.
I am amazed that any man ever had the impudence to try and do another
man's thinking.  I have just as good a right to talk theology as a
minister.  If they all agreed I might admit it was a science, but as
all disagree, and the more they study the wider they get apart, I may
be permitted to suggest, it is not a science.  When no two will tell
you the road to Heaven,--that is, giving you the same route--and if you
would inquire of them all, you would just give up trying to go there,
and say I may as well stay where I am, and let the Lord come to me.

Do you know that this world has not been fit for a lady and gentleman
to live in for twenty-five years, just on account of slavery.  It was
not until the year 1808 that Great Britain abolished the slave trade,
and up to that time her judges, her priests occupying her pulpits, the
members of the royal family, owned stock in the slave ships, and
luxuriated upon the profits of piracy and murder.  It was not until the
same year that the United States of America abolished the slave trade
between this and other countries, but carefully preserved it as between
the states.  It was not until the 28th day of August, 1833, that Great
Britain abolished human slavery in her colonies; and it was not until
the 1st day of January, 1863, that Abraham Lincoln, sustained by the
sublime and heroic North, rendered our flag pure as the sky in which it
floats.  Abraham Lincoln was, in my judgment, in many respects, the
grandest man ever president of the United States. Upon his monument
these words should be written: "Here sleeps the only man in the history
of the world, who, having been clothed with almost absolute power,
never abused it, except upon the side of mercy."

For two hundred years the Christians of the United States deliberately
turned the cross of Christ into a whipping-post.  Christians bred
hounds to catch other Christians.  Let me show you what the Bible has
done for mankind: "Servants, be obedient to your masters." The only
word coming from that sweet Heaven was, "Servants, obey your masters."
Frederick Douglas told me that he had lectured upon the subject of
freedom twenty years before he was permitted to set his foot in a
church.  I tell you the world has not been fit to live in for
twenty-five years.  Then all the people used to cringe and crawl to
preachers. Mr. Buckle, in his history of civilization, shows that men
were even struck dead for speaking impolitely to a priest.  God would
not stand it.  See how they used to crawl before cardinals, bishops and
popes. It is not so now. Before wealth they bowed to the very earth,
and in the presence of titles they became abject.  All this is slowly,
but surely changing.  We no longer bow to men simply because they are
rich. Our fathers worshiped the golden calf.  The worst you can say of
an American now is, he worships the gold of the calf.  Even the calf is
beginning to see this distinction.

The time will come when no matter how much money a man has, he will not
be respected unless he is using it for the benefit of his fellow-men.
It will soon be here.  It no longer satisfies the ambition of a great
man to be king or emperor.  The last Napoleon was not satisfied with
being the emperor of the French.  He was not satisfied with having a
circlet of gold about his head.  He wanted some evidence that he had
something of value within his head.  So he wrote the life of Julius
Caesar, that he might become a member of the French academy. The
emperors, the kings, the popes, no longer tower above their fellows.
Compare, for instance, King William and Helmholtz.  The king is one of
the anointed by the Most High, as they claim--one upon whose head has
been poured the divine petroleum of authority.  Compare this king with
Helmholtz, who towers an intellectual Colossus above the crowned
mediocrity.  Compare George Eliot with Queen Victoria.  The queen is
clothed in garments given her by blind fortune and unreasoning chance,
while George Eliot wears robes of glory woven in the loom of her own
genius.  And so it is the world over.  The time is coming when a man
will be rated at his real worth, and that by his brain and heart.  We
care nothing now about an officer unless he fills his place.  No matter
if he is president, if he rattles in the place nobody cares anything
about him.  I might give you an instance in point, but I won't. The
world is getting better and grander and nobler every day.

Now, if men have been slaves, if they have crawled in the dust before
one another, what shall I say of women?  They have been the slaves of
men.  It took thousands of ages to bring women from abject slavery up
to the divine height of marriage.  I believe in marriage.  If there is
any Heaven upon earth, it is in the family by the fireside and the
family is a unit of government.  Without the family relation that is
tender, pure and true, civilization is impossible.  Ladies, the
ornaments you wear upon your persons tonight are but the souvenirs of
your mother's bondage.  The chains around your necks; and the bracelets
clasped upon your white arms by the thrilled hand of love, have been
changed by the wand of civilization from iron to shining, glittering
gold.  Nearly every civilization in this world accounts for the
devilment in it by the crimes of woman.  They say woman brought all the
trouble into the world. I don't care if she did. I would rather live in
a world full of trouble with the women I love, than to live in Heaven
with nobody but men.  I read in a book an account of the creation of
the world.  The book I have taken pains to say was not written by any
God.  And why do I say so? Because I can write a far better book
myself.  Because it is full of barbarism. Several ministers in this
city have undertaken to answer me--notably those who don't believe the
Bible themselves.  I want to ask these men one thing.  I want them to
be fair.

Every minister in the City of Chicago that answers me, and those who
have answered me had better answer me again--I want them to say, and
without any sort of evasion--without resorting to any pious tricks--I
want them to say whether they believe that the Eternal God of this
universe ever upheld the crime of polygamy.  Say it square and fair.
Don't begin to talk about that being a peculiar time, and that God was
easy on the prejudices of those old fellows.  I want them to answer
that question and to answer it squarely, which they haven't done.  Did
this God, which you pretend to worship, ever sanction the institution
of human slavery?  Now, answer fair.  Don't slide around it.  Don't
begin and answer what a bad man I am, nor what a good man Moses was.
Stick to the text.  Do you believe in a God that allowed a man to be
sold from his children?  Do you worship such an infinite monster?  And
if you do, tell your congregation whether you are not ashamed to admit
it.  Let every minister who answers me again tell whether he believes
God commanded his general to kill the little dimpled babe in the
cradle. Let him answer it.  Don't say that those were very bad times.
Tell whether He did it or not, and then your people will know whether
to hate that God or not.  Be honest.  Tell them whether that God in war
captured young maidens and turned them over to the soldiers; and then
ask the wives and sweet girls of your congregation to get down on their
knees and worship the infinite fiend that did that thing.  Answer!  It
is your God I am talking about, and if that is what God did, please
tell your congregation what, under the same circumstances, the devil
would have done.  Don't tell your people that is a poem.  Don't tell
your people that is pictorial. That won't do.  Tell your people whether
it is true or false.  That is what I want you to do.

In this book I read about God's making the world and one man.  That is
all He intended to make.  The making of woman was a second thought,
though I am willing to admit that as a rule second thoughts are best.
This God made a man and put him in a public park.  In a little while He
noticed that the man got lonesome; then He found He had made a mistake,
and that He would have to make somebody to keep him company. But having
used up all the nothing He originally used in making the world and one
man, He had to take a part of a man to start a woman with.  So He
causes sleep to fall on this man--now understand me, I do not say this
story is true.  After the sleep had fallen on this man the Supreme
Being took a rib, or, as the French would call it, a cutlet, out of
him, and from that He made a woman; and I am willing to swear, taking
into account the amount and quality of the raw material used, this was
the most magnificent job ever accomplished in this world.  Well, after
He got the woman done she was brought to the man, not to see how she
liked him, but to see how he liked her. He liked her and they started
housekeeping, and they were told of certain things they might do and of
one thing they could not do--and of course they did it.  I would have
done it in fifteen minutes, I know it.  There wouldn't have been an
apple on that tree half an hour from date, and the limbs would have
been full of clubs.  And then they were turned out of the park and
extra policemen were put on to keep them from getting back.  And then
trouble commenced and we have been at it ever since.  Nearly all the
religions of this world account for the existence of evil by such a
story as that.

Well, I read in another book what appeared to be an account of the same
transaction.  It was written about four thousand years before the
other. All commentators agree that the one that was written last was
the original, and the one that was written first was copied from the
one that was written last.  But I would advise you all not to allow
your creed to be disturbed by a little matter of four or five thousand
years. It is a great deal better to be mistaken in dates than to go to
the devil.  In this other account the Supreme Brahma made up his mind
to make the world and a man and woman.  He made the world and he made
the man and then the woman, and put them on the Island of Ceylon.
According to the account it was the most beautiful island of which man
can conceive.  Such birds, such songs, such flowers, and such verdure!
And the branches of the trees were so arranged that when the wind swept
through them every tree was a thousand aeolian harps.  Brahma, when he
put them there, said: "Let them have a period of courtship, for it is
my desire and will that true love should forever precede marriage."
When I read that, it was so much more beautiful and lofty than the
other, that I said to myself: "If either one of these stories ever
turns out to be true, I hope it will be this one."

Then they had their courtship, with the nightingale singing and the
stars shining and the flowers blooming, and they fell in love. Imagine
that courtship!  No prospective fathers or mothers-in-law; no prying
and gossiping neighbors; nobody to say, "Young man, how do you expect
to support her?"  Nothing of that kind, nothing but the nightingale
singing its song of joy and pain, as though the thorn already touched
its heart. They were married by the Supreme Brahma, and he said to
them, "Remain here; you must never leave this island." Well, after a
little while the man--and his name was Adami, and the woman's name was
Heva--said to Heva: "I believe I'll look about a little."  He wanted to
go West.  He went to the western extremity of the island where there
was a little narrow neck of land connecting it with the mainland, and
the devil, who is always playing pranks with us, produced a mirage, and
when he looked over to the mainland, such hills and vales, such dells
and dales, such mountains crowned with snow, such cataracts clad in
bows of glory did he see there, that he went back and told Heva: "The
country over there is a thousand times better than this, let us
migrate."  She, like every other woman that ever lived, said: "Let well
enough alone we have all we want; let us stay here."  But he said: "No,
let us go;" so she followed him, and when they came to this narrow neck
of land, he took her on his back like a gentleman, and carried her
over.  But the moment they got over, they heard a crash, and, looking
back, discovered that this narrow neck of land had fallen into the sea.
The mirage had disappeared, and there was naught but rocks and sand,
and the Supreme Brahma cursed them both to the lowest Hell.

Then it was that the man spoke--and I have liked him ever since for
it--"Curse me, but curse not her; it was not her fault, it was mine."
That's the kind of a man to start a world with.  The Supreme Brahma
said: "I will save her but not thee."  And she spoke out of her
fullness of love, out of a heart in which there was love enough to make
all her daughters rich in holy affection, and said: "If thou wilt not
spare him, spare neither me.  I do not wish to live without him, I
love him."  Then the Supreme Brahma said--and I have liked him ever
since I read it--"I will spare you both, and watch over you and your
children forever."  Honor bright, is that not the better and grander

And in that same book I find this "Man is strength, woman is beauty;
man is courage, woman is love.  When the one man loves the one woman,
and the one woman loves the one man, the very angels leave Heaven, and
come and sit in that house, and sing for joy."  In the same book this:
"Blessed is that man, and beloved of all the gods, who is afraid of no
man, and of whom no man is afraid."  Magnificent character!  A
missionary certainly ought to talk to that man.  And I find this:
"Never will I accept private, individual salvation, but rather will I
stay and work, strive and suffer, until every soul from every star has
been brought home to God."  Compare that with the Christian that
expects to go to Heaven while the world is rolling over Niagara to an
eternal and unending Hell.  So I say that religion lays all the crime
and troubles of this world at the beautiful feet of woman.  And then
the church has the impudence to say that it has exalted women. I
believe that marriage is a perfect partnership; that woman has every
right that man has--and one more--the right to be protected. Above all
men in the world I hate a stingy man--a man that will make his wife beg
for money.  "What did you do with the dollar I gave you last week?  And
what are you going to do with this?"  It is vile. No gentleman will
ever be satisfied with the love of a beggar and a slave--no gentleman
will ever be satisfied except with the love of an equal.  What kind of
children does a man expect to have with a beggar for their mother?  A
man can not be so poor but that he can be generous, and if you only
have one dollar in the word and you have got to spend it, spend it like
a lord--spend it as though it were a dry leaf, and you the owner of
unbounded forests--spend it as though you had a wilderness of your own.
That's the way to spend it.

I had rather be a beggar and spend my last dollar like a king, than be
a king and spend my money like a beggar.  If it has got to go, let it
go. And this is my advice to the poor.  For you can never be so poor
that whatever you do you can't do in a grand and manly way.  I hate a
cross man.  What right has a man to assassinate the joy of life? When
you go home you ought to go like a ray of light--so that it will, even
in the night, burst out of the doors and windows and illuminate the
darkness. Some men think their mighty brains have been in a turmoil;
they have been thinking about who will be Alderman from the Fifth Ward;
they have been thinking about politics, great and mighty questions have
been engaging their minds, they have bought calico at five cents or
six, and want to sell it for seven.  Think of the intellectual strain
that must have been upon that man, and when he gets home everybody else
in the house must look out for his comfort.  A woman who has only taken
care of five or six children, and one or two of them sick, has been
nursing them and singing to them, and trying to make one yard of cloth
do the work of two, she, of course, is fresh and fine and ready to wait
upon this gentleman--the head of the family--the boss.  I was reading
the other day of an apparatus invented for the ejecting of gentlemen
who subsist upon free lunches.  It is so arranged that when the fellow
gets both hands into the victuals, a large hand descends upon him, jams
his hat over his eyes--he is seized, turned toward the door, and just
in the nick of time an immense boot comes from the other side, kicks
him in italics, sends him out over the sidewalk and lands him rolling
in the gutter.  I never hear of such a man--a boss--that I don't feel
as though that machine ought to be brought into requisition for his

Love is the only thing that will pay ten per cent of interest on the
outlay.  Love is the only thing in which the height of extravagance is
the last degree of economy.  It is the only thing, I tell you. Joy is
wealth.  Love is the legal tender of the soul--and you need not be rich
to be happy.  We have all been raised on success in this country.
Always been talked with about being successful, and have never thought
ourselves very rich unless we were the possessors of some magnificent
mansion, and unless our names have been between the putrid lips of
rumor we could not be happy.  Every little boy is striving to be this
and be that.  I tell you the happy man is the successful man.  The man
that has won the love of one good woman is a successful man.  The man
that has been the emperor of one good heart, and that heart embraced
all his, has been a success.  If another has been the emperor of the
round world and has never loved and been loved, his life is a failure.
It won't do. Let us teach our children the other way, that the happy
man is the successful man, and he who is a happy man is the one who
always tries to make some one else happy.

The man who marries a woman to make her happy; that marries her as much
for her own sake as for his own; not the man that thinks his wife is
his property, who thinks that the title to her belongs to him--that the
woman is the property of the man; wretches who get mad at their wives
and then shoot them down in the street because they think the woman is
their property.  I tell you it is not necessary to be rich and great
and powerful to be happy.

A little while ago I stood by the grave of the old Napoleon--a
magnificent tomb of gilt and gold, fit almost for a dead deity--and
gazed upon the sarcophagus of black Egyptian marble, where rest at last
the ashes of the restless man.  I leaned over the balustrade and
thought about the career of the greatest soldier of the modern world.
I saw him walk upon the banks of the Seine, contemplating suicide--I
saw him at Toulon--I saw him putting down the mob in the streets of
Paris--I saw him at the head of the army of Italy--I saw him crossing
the bridge of Lodi with the tri-color in his hand--I saw him in Egypt
in the shadows of the pyramids--I saw him conquer the Alps and mingle
the eagles of France with the eagles of the crags. I saw him at
Marengo--at Ulm and Austerlitz.  I saw him in Russia, where the
infantry of the snow and the cavalry of the wild blast scattered his
legions like Winter's withered leaves.  I saw him at Leipzig in defeat
and disaster--driven by a million bayonets back upon Paris--clutched
like a wild beast--banished to Elba.  I saw him escape and retake an
empire by the force of his genius.  I saw him upon the frightful field
of Waterloo, where chance and fate combined to wreck the fortunes of
their former king.  And I saw him at St. Helena, with his hands crossed
behind him, gazing out upon the sad and solemn sea.  I thought of the
orphans and widows he had made--of the tears that had been shed for his
glory, and of the only woman who ever loved him, pushed from his heart
by the cold hand of ambition. And I said I would rather have been a
French peasant and worn wooden shoes.  I would rather have lived in a
hut with a vine growing over the door, and the grapes growing purple in
the kisses of the Autumn sun; I would rather have been that poor
peasant with my loving wife by my side, knitting as the day died out of
the sky, with my children upon my knees and their arms about me; I
would rather have been that man and gone down to the tongueless silence
of the dreamless dust than to have been that imperial impersonation of
force and murder, known as Napoleon the Great.  It is not necessary to
be rich in order to be happy.  It is only necessary to be in love.
Thousands of men go to college and get a certificate that they have an
education, and that certificate is in Latin and they stop studying, and
in two years, to save their life, they couldn't read the certificate
they got.

It is mostly so in marrying.  They stop courting when they get married.
They think, we have won her and that is enough.  Ah! the difference
before and after!  How well they look!  How bright their eyes!  How
light their steps, and how full they were of generosity and laughter! I
tell you a man should consider himself in good luck if a woman loves
him when he is doing his level best!  Good luck!  Good luck! And
another thing that is the cause of much trouble is that people don't
count fairly.  They do what they call putting their best foot forward.
That means lying a little.  I say put your worst foot forward.  If you
have got any faults admit them.  If you drink say so and quit it.  If
you chew and smoke and swear, say so.  If some of your kindred are not
very good people, say so.  If you have had two or three that died on
the gallows, or that ought to have died there, say so.  Tell all your
faults and if after she knows your faults she says she will have you,
you have got the dead wood on that woman forever.  I claim that there
should be perfect equality in the home, and I can not think of anything
nearer Heaven than a home where there is true republicanism and true
democracy at the fireside.  All are equal.

And then, do you know, I like to think that love is eternal; that if
you really love the woman, for her sake, you will love her no matter
what she may do; that if she really loves you, for your sake, the same;
that love does not look at alterations, through the wrinkles of time,
through the mask of years--if you really love her you will always see
the face you loved and won.  And I like to think of it. If a man loves
a woman she does not ever grow old to him.  And the woman who really
loves a man does not see that he is growing older. He is not decrepit
to her. He is not tremulous.  He is not old.  He is not bowed.  She
always sees the same gallant fellow that won her hand and heart.  I
like to think of it in that way, and as Shakespeare says: "Let Time
reach with his sickle as far as ever he can; although he can reach
ruddy cheeks and ripe lips, and flashing eyes, he can not quite reach
love."  I like to think of it.  We will go down the hill of life
together, and enter the shadow one with the other, and as we go down we
may hear the ripple of the laughter of our grandchildren, and the
birds, and spring, and youth, and love will sing once more upon the
leafless branches of the tree of age.  I love to think of it in that
way--absolute equals, happy, happy, and free, all our own.

But some people say: "Would you allow a woman to vote?"  Yes, if she
wants to; that is her business, not mine.  If a woman wants to vote, I
am too much of a gentleman to say she shall not.  But, they say, woman
has not sense enough to vote.  It don't take much.  But it seems to me
there are some questions, as for instance, the question of peace or
war, that a woman should be allowed to vote upon.  A woman that has
sons to be offered on the altar of that Moloch, it seems to me that
such a woman should have as much right to vote upon the question of
peace and war as some thrice-besotted sot that reels to the ballot box
and deposits his vote for war.  But if women have been slaves, what
shall we say of the little children, born in the sub-cellars, children
of poverty, children of crime, children of wealth, children that are
afraid when they hear their names pronounced by the lips of their
mother, children that cower in fear when they hear the footsteps of
their brutal father, the flotsam and jetsam upon the rude sea of life,
my heart goes out to them one and all.

Children have all the rights that we have and one more, and that is to
be protected.  Treat your children in that way.  Suppose your child
tells a lie.  Don't pretend that the whole world is going into
bankruptcy. Don't pretend that that is the first lie ever told.  Tell
them, like an honest man, that you have told hundreds of lies yourself,
and tell the dear little darling that it is not the best way; that it
soils the soul.  Think of the man that deals in stocks whipping his
children for putting false rumors afloat!  Think of an orthodox
minister whipping his own flesh and blood, for not telling all it
thinks! Think of that!  Think of a lawyer for beating his child for
avoiding the truth! when the old man makes about half his living that
way.  A lie is born of weakness on one side and tyranny on the other.
That is what it is.  Think of a great big man coming at a little bit of
a child with a club in his hand!  What is the little darling to do?
Lie, of course.  I think that mother Nature put that ingenuity into the
mind of the child, when attacked by a parent, to throw up a little
breastwork in the shape of a lie to defend itself.  When a great
general wins a battle by what they call strategy, we build monuments to
him.  What is strategy?  Lies. Suppose a man as much larger than we are
as we are larger than a child five years of age, should come at us with
a liberty pole in his hand, and in tones of thunder want to know "who
broke that plate," there isn't one of us, not excepting myself, that
wouldn't swear that we never had seen that plate in our lives, or that
it was cracked when we got it.

Another good way to make children tell the truth is to tell it
yourself. Keep your word with your child the same as you would with
your banker. If you tell a child you will do anything, either do it or
give the child the reason why.  Truth is born of confidence.  It comes
from the lips of love and liberty.  I was over in Michigan the other
day. There was a boy over there at Grand Rapids about five or six years
old, a nice, smart boy, as you will see from the remark he made--what
you might call a nineteenth century boy.  His father and mother had
promised to take him out riding.  They had promised to take him out
riding for about three weeks, and they would slip off and go without
him.  Well, after while that got kind of played out with the little
boy, and the day before I was there they played the trick on him again.
They went out and got the carriage, and went away, and as they rode
away from the front of the house, he happened to be standing there with
his nurse, and he saw them. The whole thing flashed on him in a moment.
He took in the situation, and turned to his nurse and said, pointing to
his father and mother, "There go the two d--t liars in the State of
Michigan!"  When you go home fill the house with joy, so that the light
of it will stream out the windows and doors, and illuminate even the
darkness. It is just as easy that way as any in the world.

I want to tell you tonight that you can not get the robe of hypocrisy
on you so thick that the sharp eye of childhood will not see through
every veil, and if you pretend to your children that you are the best
man that ever lived--the bravest man that ever lived--they will find
you out every time.  They will not have the same opinion of father when
they grow up that they used to have.  They will have to be in mighty
bad luck if they ever do meaner things than you have done. When your
child confesses to you that it has committed a fault, take that child
in your arms, and let it feel your heart beat against its heart, and
raise your children in the sunlight of love, and they will be sunbeams
to you along the pathway of life.  Abolish the club and the whip from
the house, because, if the civilized use a whip, the ignorant and the
brutal will use a club, and they will use it because you use the whip.

Every little while some door is thrown open in some orphan asylum, and
there we see the bleeding back of a child whipped beneath the roof that
was raised by love.  It is infamous, and a man that can't raise a child
without the whip ought not to have a child.  If there is one of you
here that ever expect to whip your child again, let me ask you
something. Have your photograph taken at the time and let it show your
face red with vulgar anger, and the face of the little one with eyes
swimming in tears, and the little chin dimpled with fear, looking like
a piece of water struck by a sudden cold wind. If that little child
should die, I can not think of a sweeter way to spend an Autumn
afternoon than to take that photograph and go to the cemetery, when the
maples are clad in tender gold, and when little scarlet runners are
coming from the sad heart of the earth, and sit down upon that mound,
and look upon that photograph, and think of the flesh, now dust, that
you beat.  Just think of it.  I could not bear to die in the arms of a
child that I had whipped. I could not bear to feel upon my lips, when
they were withered beneath the touch of death, the kiss of one that I
had struck.  Some Christians act as though they really thought that
when Christ said, "Suffer little children to come unto me," He had a
rawhide under His coat.  They act as though they really thought that He
made that remark simply to get the children within striking distance.

I have known Christians to turn their children from their doors,
especially a daughter, and then get down on their knees and pray to God
to watch over them and help them.  I will never ask God to help my
children unless I am doing my level best in that same wretched line.  I
will tell you what I say to my girls: "Go where you will; do what crime
you may; fall to what depth of degradation you may; in all the storms
and winds and earthquakes of life, no matter what you do, you never can
commit any crime that will shut my door, my arms or my heart to you.
As long as I live you have one sincere friend."  Call me an atheist;
call me an infidel because I hate the God of the Jew--which I do.  I
intend so to live that when I die my children can come to my grave and
truthfully say: "He who sleeps here never gave us one moment of pain."

When I was a boy there was one day in each week too good for a child to
be happy in.  In these good old times Sunday commenced when the sun
went down on Saturday night and closed when the sun went down on Sunday
night.  We commenced Saturday to get a good ready.  And when the sun
went down Saturday night there was a gloom deeper than midnight that
fell upon the house.  You could not crack hickory nuts then.  And if
you were caught chewing gum, it was only another evidence of the total
depravity of the human heart.  Well, after a while we got to bed sadly
and sorrowfully after having heard Heaven thanked that we were not all
in Hell.  And I sometimes used to wonder how the mercy of God lasted as
long as it did, because I recollected that on several occasions I had
not been at school, when I was supposed to be there.  Why I was not
burned to a crisp was a mystery to me.  The next morning we got ready
for church--all solemn, and when we got there the minister was up in
the pulpit, about twenty feet high, and he commenced at Genesis about
"The fall of man," and he went on to about twenty thirdly; then he
struck the second application, and when he struck the application I
knew he was about half way through.  And then he went on to show the
scheme how the Lord was satisfied by punishing the wrong man.  Nobody
but a God would have thought of that ingenious way.  Well, when he got
through that, then came the catechism--the chief end of man.  Then my
turn came, and we sat along on a little bench where our feet came
within about fifteen inches of the floor, and the dear old minister
used to ask us:

"Boys, do you know that you ought to be in Hell?"

And we answered up as cheerfully as could be expected under the

"Yes, sir."

"Well, boys, do you know that you would go to Hell if you died in your

And we said: "Yes, sir."

And then came the great test:

"Boys"--I can't get the tone, you know.  And do you know that is how
the preachers get the bronchitis.  You never heard of an auctioneer
getting the bronchitis,  nor the second mate on a steamboat--never.
What gives it to the minister is talking solemnly when they don't feel
that way, and it has the same influence upon the organs of speech that
it would have upon the cords of the calves of your legs to walk on your
tip-toes, and so I call bronchitis "parsonitis."  And if the ministers
would all tell exactly what they think they would all get well, but
keeping back a part of the truth is what gives them bronchitis.

Well the old man--the dear old minister--used to try and show us how
long we would be in Hell if we would only locate there.  But to finish
the other.  The grand test question was:

"Boys, if it was God's will that you should go to Hell, would you be
willing to go?"

And every little liar said:

"Yes, sir."

Then, in order to tell how long we would stay there, he used to say:

"Suppose once in a billion ages a bird should come from a far distant
clime and carry off in its bill one little grain of sand, the time
would finally come when the last grain of sand would be carried away.
Do you understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"Boys, by that time it would not be sun-up in Hell."

Where did that doctrine of Hell come from?  I will tell you; from that
fellow in the dug-out.  Where did he get it?  It was a souvenir from
the wild beasts.  Yes, I tell you he got it from the wild beasts, from
the glittering eye of the serpent, from the coiling, twisting snakes
with their fangs mouths; and it came from the bark, growl and howl of
wild beasts; it was born of a laugh of the hyena and got it from the
depraved chatter of malicious apes.  And I despise it with every drop
of my blood and defy it.  If there is any God in this universe who will
damn his children for an expression of an honest thought I wish to go
to Hell.  I would rather go there than go to heaven and keep the
company of a God that would thus damn his children.  Oh it is an
infamous doctrine to teach that to little children, to put a shadow in
the heart of a child to fill the insane asylums with that miserable,
infamous lie.  I see now and then a little girl--a dear little darling,
with a face like the light, and eyes of joy, a human blossom, and I
think, "is it possible that little girl will ever grow up to be a
Presbyterian?"  Is it possible, my goodness, that that flower will
finally believe in the five points of Calvinism or in the eternal
damnation of man?  Is it possible that that little fairy will finally
believe that she could be happy in Heaven with her baby in Hell?  Think
of it!  Think of it! And that is the Christian religion!

We cry out against the Indian mother that throws her child into the
Ganges, to be devoured by the alligator or crocodile, but that is joy
in comparison with the Christian mother's hope, that she may be in
salvation while her brave boy is in Hell.

I tell you I want to kick the doctrine about Hell--I want to kick it
out every time I go by it.  I want to get Americans in this country
placed so they will be ashamed to preach it.  I want to get the
congregations so that they won't listen to it.  We cannot divide the
world off into saints and sinners in that way.  There is a little girl,
fair as a flower, and she grows up until she is twelve, thirteen, or
fourteen years old.  Are you going to damn her in the fifteenth,
sixteenth or seventeenth year, when the arrow from Cupid's bow touches
her heart and she is glorified--are you going to damn her now?  She
marries and loves, and holds in her arms a beautiful child?  Are you
going to damn her now? When are you going to damn her?  Because she has
listened to some Methodist minister and after all that flood of light
failed to believe? Are you going to damn her then?  I tell you God can
not afford to damn such a woman.

A woman in the State of Indiana forty or fifty years ago who carded the
wool and made rolls and spun them, and made the cloth and cut out the
clothes for the children, and nursed them, and sat up with them nights
and--gave them medicine, and held them in her arms and wept over
them--cried for joy and wept for fear, and finally raised ten or eleven
good men and women with the ruddy glow of health upon their cheeks, and
she would have died for any one of them any moment of her life, and
finally she, bowed with age and bent with care and labor, dies, and at
the moment the magical touch of death is upon her face, she looks as
though she never had had a care, and her children burying her cover her
face with tears.  Do you tell me God can afford to damn that kind of a
woman? One such act of injustice would turn Heaven itself into Hell.
If there is any God, sitting above him in infinite serenity we have the
figure of justice.  Even a God must do justice; even a God must worship
justice; and any form of superstition that destroys justice is
infamous!  Just think of teaching that doctrine to little children!  A
little child would go out into the garden, and there would be a little
tree laden with blossoms, and the little fellow would lean against it,
and there would be a bird on one of the boughs, singing and swinging,
and thinking about four little speckled eggs, warmed by the breast of
its mate--and singing and swinging, and the music in in happy waves
rippling out of the tiny throat, and the flowers blossoming, the air
filled with perfume, and the great white clouds floating in the sky,
and the little boy would lean up against the tree and think about Hell
and the worm that never dies.  Oh! the idea there can be any day too
good for a child to be happy in!

Well, after we got over the catechism, then came the sermon in the
afternoon, and it was exactly like the one in the forenoon, except the
other end to.  Then we started for home--a solemn march--"not a soldier
discharged his farewell shot"--and when we got home, if we had been
really good boys, we used to be taken up to the cemetery to cheer us
up, and it always did cheer me, those sunken graves, those leaning
stones, those gloomy epitaphs covered with the moss of years always
cheered me. When I looked at them I said: "Well, this kind of thing
can't last always."  Then we came back home, and we had books to read
which were very eloquent and amusing.  We had Josephus, and the
"History of the Waldenses," and Fox's "Book of Martyrs,"  Baxter's
"Saint's Rest," and "Jenkyn on the Atonement." I used to read Jenkyn
with a good deal of pleasure, and I often thought that the atonement
would have to be very broad in its provisions to cover the case of a
man that would I write such a book for boys.  Then I would look to see
how the sun was getting on, and sometimes I thought it had stuck from
pure cussedness.  Then I would go back and try Jenkyn's again.  Well,
but it had to go down, and when the last rim of light sank below the
horizon, off would go our hats and we would give three cheers for
liberty once again.

I tell you, don't make slaves of your children on Sunday.

The idea that there is any God that hates to hear a child laugh!  Let
your children play games on Sunday.  Here is a poor man that hasn't
money enough to go to a big church and he has too much independence to
go to a little church that the big church built for charity.  He
doesn't want to slide into Heaven that way.  I tell you don't come to
church, but go to the woods and take your family and a lunch with you,
and sit down upon the old log and let the children gather flowers and
hear the leaves whispering poems like memories of long ago, and when
the sun is about going down, kissing the summits of far hills, go home
with your hearts filled with throbs of joy.  There is more recreation
and joy in that than going to a dry goods box with a steeple on top of
it and hearing a man tell you that your chances are about ninety-nine
to one for being eternally damned.  Let us make this Sunday a day of
splendid pleasure, not to excess, but to everything that makes man
purer and grander and nobler.  I would like to see now something like
this: Instead of so many churches, a vast cathedral that would hold
twenty or thirty thousands of people, and I would like to see an opera
produced in it that would make the souls of men have higher and grander
and nobler aims.  I would like to see the walls covered with pictures
and the niches rich with statuary; I would like to see something put
there that you could use in this world now, and I do not believe in
sacrificing the present to the future; I do not believe in drinking
skimmed milk here with the promise of butter beyond the clouds.  Space
or time can not be holy any more than a vacuum can be pious.  Not a
bit, not a bit; and no day can be so holy but what the laugh of a child
will make it holier still.

Strike with hand of fire, on, weird musician, thy harp, strung with
Apollo's golden hair!  Fill the vast cathedral aisles with symphonies
sweet and dim, deft toucher of the organ's keys; blow, bugler, blow
until thy silver notes do touch and kiss the moonlit waves, and charm
the lovers wandering 'mid the vine-clad hills.  But know your sweetest
strains are discords all compared with childhood's happy laugh--the
laugh that fills the eyes with light and every heart with joy!  O,
rippling river of laughter, thou art the blessed boundary line between
the beasts and men, and every wayward wave of thine doth drown some
fretful fiend of care.  O Laughter, rose lipped daughter of joy, there
are dimples enough in thy cheeks to catch and hold and glorify all the
tears of grief.

Don't plant your children in long, straight rows like posts.  Let them
have light and air and let them grow beautiful as palms.  When I was a
little boy children went to bed when they were not sleepy, and always
got up when they were.  I would like to see that changed, but they say
we are too poor, some of us, to do it.  Well, all right. It is as easy
to wake a child with a kiss as with a blow; with kindness as with
curse.  And, another thing; let the children eat what they want to. Let
them commence at whichever end of the dinner they desire.  That is my
doctrine.  They know what they want much better than you do.  Nature is
a great deal smarter than you ever were.

All the advance that has been made in the science of medicine, has been
made by the recklessness of patients.  I can recollect when they
wouldn't give a man water in a fever--not a drop.  Now and then some
fellow would get so thirsty he would say "Well, I'll die any way, so
I'll drink it," and thereupon he would drink a gallon of water, and
thereupon he would burst into a generous perspiration, and get
well--and the next morning when the doctor would come to see him they
would tell him about the man drinking the water, and he would say:

"How much?"

"Well, he swallowed two pitchers full."

"Is he alive?"


So they would go into the room and the doctor would feel his pulse and
ask him:

"Did you drink two pitchers of water?"


"My God! what a constitution you have got."

I tell you there is something splendid in man that will not always
mind. Why, if we had done as the kings told us five hundred years ago,
we would all have been slaves.  If we had done as the priests told us
we would all have been idiots.  If we had done as the doctors told us
we would all have been dead.  We have been saved by disobedience.  We
have been saved by that splendid thing called independence, and I want
to see more of it, day after day, and I want to see children raised so
they will have it.  That is my doctrine. Give the children a chance.
Be perfectly honor bright with them, and they will be your friends when
you are old.  Don't try to teach them something they can never learn.
Don't insist upon their pursuing some calling they have no sort of
faculty for.  Don't make that poor girl play ten years on a  piano when
she has no ear for music, and when she has practiced until she can play
"Bonaparte crossing the Alps," and you can't tell after she has played
it whether Bonaparte ever got across or not.  Men are oaks, women are
vines, children are flowers, and if there is any Heaven in this world,
it is in the family.  It is where the wife loves the husband, and the
husband loves the wife, and where the dimpled arms of children are
about the necks of both.  That is Heaven, if there is any--and I do not
want any better Heaven in another world than that, and if in another
world I can not live with the ones I loved here, then I would rather
not be there.  I would rather resign.

Well, my friends, I have some excuses to make for the race to which I
belong.  In the first place, this world is not very well adapted to
raising good men and good women.  It is three times better adapted to
the cultivation of fish than of people.  There is one little narrow
belt running zigzag around the world, in which men and women of genius
can be raised, and that is all.  It is with man as it is with
vegetation.  In the valley you find the oak and elm tossing their
branches defiantly to the storm, and as you advance up the mountain
side the hemlock, the pine, the birch, the spruce, the fir, and finally
you come to little dwarfed trees, that look like other trees seen
through a telescope reversed--every limb twisted as through
pain--getting a scanty subsistence from the miserly crevices of the
rocks. You go on and on, until at last the highest crag is freckled
with a kind of moss, and vegetation ends.  You might as well try to
raise oaks and elms where the mosses grow, as to raise great men and
women where their surroundings are unfavorable.  You must have the
proper climate and soil.  There never has been a man or woman of genius
from the southern hemisphere, because the Lord didn't allow the right
climate to fall upon the land. It falls upon the water.  There never
was much civilization except where there has been snow, and ordinarily
decent Winter.  You can't have civilization without it.  Where man
needs no bedclothes but clouds, revolution is the normal condition of
such a people.  It is the Winter that gives us the home; it is the
Winter that gives us the fireside and the family relation and all the
beautiful flowers of love that adorn that relation.  Civilization,
liberty, justice, charity and intellectual advancement are all flowers
that bloom in the drifted snow.  You can't have them anywhere else, and
that is the reason we of the north are civilized, and that is the
reason that civilization has always been with Winter.  That is the
reason that philosophy has been here, and, in spite of all our
superstitions, we have advanced beyond some of the other races, because
we have had this assistance of nature, that drove us into the family
relation, that made us prudent; that made us lay up at one time for
another season of the year.  So there is one excuse I have for my race.

I have got another.  I think we came from the lower animals.  I am not
dead sure of it, but think so.  When I first read about it I didn't
like it.  My heart was filled with sympathy for those people who have
nothing to be proud of except ancestors.  I thought how terrible it
will be upon the nobility of the old world.  Think of their being
forced to trace their ancestry back to the Duke Orang-Outang or to the
Princess Chimpanzee.  After thinking it all over I came to the
conclusion that I liked that doctrine.  I became convinced in spite of
myself. I read about rudimentary bones and muscles.  I was told that
everybody had rudimentary muscles extending from the ear into the
cheek.  I asked: "What are they?"  I was told: "They are the remains of
muscles; that they became rudimentary from the lack of use."  They went
into bankruptcy.  They are the muscles with which your ancestors used
to flap their ears.  Well, at first, I was greatly astonished, and
afterward I was more astonished to find they had become rudimentary.
How can you account for John Calvin unless we came up from the lower
animals?  How could you account for a man that would use the extremes
of torture unless you admit that there is in man the elements of a
snake, of a vulture, a hyena, and a jackal? How can you account for the
religious creeds of today?  How can you account for that infamous
doctrine of Hell, except with an animal origin?  How can you account
for your conception of a God that would sell women and babes into

Well, I thought that thing over and I began to like it after a while,
and I said: "It is not so much difference who my father was as who his
son is."  And I finally said I would rather belong to a race that
commenced with the skull-less vertebrates in the dim Laurentian seas,
that wriggled without knowing why they wriggled, swimming without
knowing where they were going, that come along up by degrees through
millions of ages, through all that crawls, and swims, and floats, and
runs, and growls, and barks, and howls, until it struck this fellow in
the dug-out.  And then that fellow in the dugout getting a little
grander, and each one below calling every one above him a heretic,
calling every one who had made a little advance an infidel or an
atheist, and finally the heads getting a little higher and looming up a
little grander and more splendidly, and finally produced Shakespeare,
who harvested all the field of dramatic thought and from whose day
until now there have been none but gleaners of chaff and straw.
Shakespeare was an intellectual ocean whose waves touched all the
shores of human thought, within which were all the tides and currents
and pulses upon which lay all the lights and shadows, and over which
brooded all the calms, and swept all the storms and tempests of which
the soul is capable.  I would rather belong to that race that commenced
with that skull-less vertebrate; that produced Shakespeare, a race that
has before it an infinite future, with the angel of progress leaning
from the far horizon, beckoning men forward and upward forever.  I
would rather belong to that race than to have descended from a perfect
pair upon which the Lord has lost money every moment from that day to

Now, my crime has been this: I have insisted that the Bible is not the
word of God.  I have insisted that we should not whip our children. I
have insisted that we should treat our wives as loving equals.  I have
denied that God--if there is any God--ever upheld polygamy and slavery.
I have denied that that God ever told his generals to kill innocent
babes and tear and rip open women with the sword of war.  I have denied
that and for that I have been assailed by the clergy of the United
States.  They tell me I have misquoted; and I owe it to you, and maybe
I owe it to myself, to read one or two words to you upon this subject.
In order to do that I shall have to put on my glasses; and that brings
me back to where I started--that man has advanced just in proportion as
his thought has mingled with his labor. If man's eyes hadn't failed he
would never have made any spectacles, he would never have had the
telescope, and he would never have been able to read the leaves of


Now, they tell me--and there are several gentlemen who have spoken on
this subject--the Rev. Mr. Collyer, a gentleman standing as high as
anybody, and I have nothing to say against him--because I denounced God
who upheld murder, and slavery and polygamy, he said that what I said
was slang.  I would like to have it compared with any sermon that ever
issued from the lips of that gentleman.  And before he gets through he
admits that the Old Testament is a rotten tree that will soon fall into
the earth and act as a fertilizer for his doctrine.

Is it honest in that man to assail my motive?  Let him answer my
argument!  Is it honest and fair in him to say I am doing a certain
thing because it is popular?  Has it got to this, that, in this
Christian country, where they have preached every day hundreds and
thousands of sermons--has it got to this that infidelity is so popular
in the United States?

If it has, I take courage.  And I not only see the dawn of a brighter
day, but the day is here.  Think of it!  A minister tells me in this
year of grace, 1879, that a man is an infidel simply that he may be
popular.  I am glad of it.  Simply that he may make money.  Is it
possible that we can make more money tearing up churches than in
building them up?  Is it possible that we can make more money
denouncing the God of slavery than we can praising the God that took
liberty from man?  If so, I am glad.

I call publicly upon Robert Collyer--a man for whom I have great
respect--I call publicly upon Robert Collyer to state to the people of
this city whether he believes the Old Testament was inspired.  I call
upon him to state whether he believes that God ever upheld these
institutions; whether God was a polygamist; whether he believes that
God commanded Moses or Joshua or any one else to slay little children
in the cradle.  Do you believe that Robert Collyer would obey such an
order?  Do you believe that he would rush to the cradle and drive the
knife of theological hatred to the tender heart of a dimpled child? And
yet when I denounce a God that will give such a hellish order, he says
it is slang.

I want him to answer; and when he answers he will say he does not
believe the Bible is inspired.  That is what he will say, and he holds
these old worthies in the same contempt that I do.  Suppose he should
act like Abraham.  Suppose he should send some woman out into the
wilderness with his child in her arms to starve, would he think that
mankind ought to hold up his name forever, for reverence.

Robert Collyer says that we should read and scan every word of the Old
Testament with reverence; that we should take this book up with
reverential hands.  I deny it.  We should read it as we do every other
book, and everything good in it, keep it and everything that shocks the
brain and shocks the heart, throw it away.  Let us be honest.


Prof. Swing has made a few remarks on this subject, and I say the
spirit he has exhibited has been as gentle and as sweet as the perfume
of a flower.  He was too good a man to stay in the Presbyterian church.
He was a rose among thistles.  He was a dove among vultures and they
hunted him out, and I am glad he came out.  I tell all the churches to
drive all such men out, and when he comes I want him to state just what
he thinks.  I want him to tell the people of Chicago whether he
believes the Bible is inspired in any sense except that in which
Shakespeare was inspired.  Honor bright,  I tell you that all the sweet
and beautiful things in the Bible would not make one play of
Shakespeare; all the philosophy in the world would not make one scene
in Hamlet; all the beauties of the Bible would not make one scene in
the Midsummer Night's Dream; all the beautiful things about woman in
the Bible would not begin to create such a character as Perditu or
Imogene or Miranda.  Not one.

I want him to tell whether he believes the Bible was inspired in any
other way than Shakespeare was inspired.  I want him to pick out
something as beautiful and tender as Burns' poem to Mary in Heaven. I
want him to tell whether he believes the story about the bears eating
up children; whether that is inspired.  I want him to tell whether he
considers that a poem or not.  I want to know if the same God made
those bears that devoured the children because they laughed at an old
man out of hair.  I want to know if the same God that did that is the
same God who said, "Suffer little children to come unto me, for such is
the kingdom of Heaven."  I want him to answer it, and answer it fairly.
That is all I ask.  I want just the fair thing.

Now, sometimes Mr. Swing talks as though he believed the Bible, and
then he talks to me as though he didn't believe the Bible.  The day he
made this sermon I think he did, just a little, believe it.  He is like
the man that passed a ten dollar counterfeit bill.  He was arrested and
his father went to see him and said, "John, how could you commit such a
crime?  How could you bring my gray hairs in sorrow to the grave?"
"Well," he says, "father, I'll tell you.  I got this bill and some days
I thought it was bad and some days I thought it was good, and one day
when I thought it was good I passed it."

I want it distinctly understood that I have the greatest respect for
Prof. Swing, but I want him to tell whether the 109th psalm is
inspired. I want him to tell whether the passages I shall afterward
read in this book are inspired.  That is what I want.


Then there is another gentleman here.  His name is Herford.  He says it
is not fair to apply the test of truth to the Bible--I don't think it
is myself.  He says although Moses upheld slavery, that he improved it.
They were not quite so bad as they were before, and Heaven justified
slavery at that time.  Do you believe that God ever turned the arms of
children into chains of slavery?  Do you believe that God ever said to
a man: "You can't have your wife unless you will be a slave?  You can
not have your children unless you will lose your liberty; and unless
you are willing to throw them from your heart forever, you can not be
free?" I want Mr. Herford to state whether he loves such a God.  Be
honor bright about it.  Don't begin to talk about civilization or what
the church has done or will do.  Just walk right up to the rack and say
whether you love and worship a God that established slavery.  Honest!
And love and worship a God that would allow a little babe to be torn
from the breast of its mother and sold into slavery.  Now tell it fair,
Mr. Herford, I want you to tell the ladies in your congregation that
you believe in a God that allowed women to be given to the soldiers.
Tell them that, and then if you say it was not the God of Moses, then
don't praise Moses any more.  Don't do it.  Answer these questions.


Then here is another gentleman, Mr. Ryder, the Rev. Mr. Ryder, and he
says that Calvinism is rejected by a majority of Christendom.  He is
mistaken.  There is what they call the Evangelical Alliance.  They met
in this country in 1875 or 1876, and there were present representatives
of all the evangelical churches in the world, and they adopted a creed,
and that creed is that man is totally depraved. That creed is that
there is an eternal, universal Hell, and that every man that does not
believe in a certain way is bound to be damned forever, and that there
is only one way to be saved, and that is by faith, and by faith alone;
and they would not allow anybody to be represented there that did not
believe that, and they would not allow a Unitarian there, and would not
have allowed Dr. Ryder there, because he takes away from the Christian
world the consolation naturally arising from the belief in Hell.

Dr. Ryder is mistaken.  All the orthodox religion of the day is
Calvinism.  It believes in the fall of man.  It believes in the
atonement.  It believes in the eternity of Hell, and it believes in
salvation by faith; that is to say, by credulity.

That is what they believe, and he is mistaken; and I want to tell Dr.
Kyder today, if there is a God, and He wrote the Old Testament, there
is a Hell.  The God that wrote the Old Testament will have a Hell.  And
I want to tell Dr. Ryder another thing, that the Bible teaches an
eternity of punishment.  I want to tell him that the Bible upholds the
doctrine of Hell.  I want to tell Him that if there is no Hell,
somebody ought to have said so, and Jesus Christ should not have said:
"I will at the last day say: 'Depart from me, ye cursed, into
everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'"  If there was
not such a place, Christ would not have said: "Depart from me, ye
cursed, and these shall go hence into everlasting fire."  And if you,
Dr. Ryder, are depending for salvation on the God that wrote the Old
Testament, you will inevitably be eternally damned.

There is no hope for you.  It is just as bad to deny Hell as it is to
deny Heaven.  It is just as much blasphemy to deny the devil as to deny
God, according to the orthodox creed.  He admits that the Jews were
polygamists, but, he says, how was it they finally quit it? I can tell
you--the soil was so poor they couldn't afford it.  Prof. Swing says
the Bible is a poem, Dr. Ryder says it is a picture.  The Garden of
Eden is pictorial; a pictorial snake and a pictorial woman, I suppose,
and a pictorial man, and maybe it was a pictorial sin. And only a
pictorial atonement.


Then there is another gentleman, and he a rabbi, a Rabbi Bien, or Bean,
or whatever his name is, and he comes to the defense of the Great
Law-giver.  There was another rabbi who attacked me in Cincinnati, and
I couldn't help but think of the old saying that a man got off when he
said the tallest man he ever knew, his name was Short.  And the fattest
man he ever saw, his name was Lean.  And it is only necessary for me to
add that this rabbi in Cincinnati was Wise.

The rabbi here, I will not answer him, and I will tell you why. Because
he has taken himself outside of all the limits of a gentleman; because
he has taken it upon himself to traduce American women in language the
beastliest I ever read; and any man who says that the American women
are not just as good women as any God can make and pick his mud today,
is an unappreciative barbarian.

I will let him alone because he denounced all the men in this country,
all the members of Congress, all the members of the Senate, and all the
judges upon the Bench; in his lecture he denounced them as thieves and
robbers.  That won't do.  I want to remind him that in this country the
Jews were first admitted to the privileges of citizens; that in this
country they were first given all their rights, and I am as much in
favor of their having their rights as I am in favor of having my own.
But when a rabbi so far forgets himself as to traduce the women and men
of this country, I pronounce him a vulgar falsifier, and let him alone.

Strange, that nearly every man that has answered me has answered me
mostly on the same side.  Strange, that nearly every man that thought
himself called upon to defend the Bible was one who did not believe in
it himself.  Isn't it strange?  They are like some suspected people,
always anxious to show their marriage certificate.  They want at least
to convince the world that they are not as bad as I am.

Now, I want to read you just one or two things, and then I am going to
let you go.  I want to see if I have said such awful things, and
whether I have got any scripture to stand by me.  I will read only two
or three verses.  Does the Bible teach man to enslave his brother? If
it does, it is not the word of God, unless God is a slaveholder.

"Moreover, all the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you,
of them shall ye buy of their families which are with you, which they
beget in your land, and they shall be your possession.  Ye shall take
them as an inheritance for your children after you to inherit them.
They shall be your bondsmen forever."--(Old Testament.)

Upon the limbs of unborn babes this fiendish God put the chains of
slavery.  I hate him.

"Both thy bondmen and bondwomen shall be of the heathen round about
thee and them shall ye buy, bondmen and bondwomen."

Now let us read what the New Testament has.  I could read a great deal
more, but that is enough.

"Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters, according to the
flesh in fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto

This is putting the dirty thief that steals your labor on an equality
with God.

"Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the
good and gentle but also to the froward."

"For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure
grief, suffering wrongfully."

The idea of a man on account of conscience toward God stealing another
man, or allowing him nothing but lashes on his back as legal-tender for
labor performed.

"Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters
worthy of all honor, that the name of God and His doctrine be not

How can you blaspheme the name of God by asserting your independence?
How can you blaspheme the name of a God by striking fetters from the
limbs of men?  I wish some of your ministers would tell you that. "And
they that have believing masters let them not despise them." That is to
say, a good Christian could own another believer in Jesus Christ; could
own a woman and her children, and could sell the child away from its
mother. That is a sweet belief.  O, hypocrisy!

"Let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather do
them service because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the

Oh, what slush!  Here is what they will tell the poor slave, so that he
will serve the man that stole his wife and children from him:

"For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry
nothing out.  Having food and raiment let us be therewith content."

Don't you think that it would do just as well to preach that to the
thieving man as to the suffering slave?  I think so.  Then this same
Bible teaches witchcraft, that spirits go into the bodies of the man,
and pigs, and that God himself made a trade with the devil, and the
devil traded him off--a man for a certain number of swine, and the
devil lost money because the hogs ran right down into the sea.  He got
a corner on that deal.

Now let us see how they believed in the rights of children:

"If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son which will not obey the
voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they
have chastened him, will not harken unto them, then shall his father
and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of
his city, and unto the gate of his place.  And they shall say unto the
elders of his city, 'This, our son, is stubborn and rebellious, he will
not obey our voice, he is a glutton and a drunkard.' And all the men of
this city shall stone him with stones, that he die, so shalt thou put
evil away."

That is a very good way to raise children.  Here is the story of
Jephthah.  He went off and he asked the Lord to let him whip some
people, and he told the Lord if He would let him whip them, he would
sacrifice to the Lord the first thing that met him on his return; and
the first thing that met him was his own beautiful daughter, and he
sacrificed her.  Is there a sadder story in all history than that? What
do you think of a man that would sacrifice his own daughter? What do
you think of a God that would receive that sacrifice?  Now, then, they
come to women in this blessed gospel, and let us see what the gospel
says about women.  Then you ought all to go to church, girls, next
Sunday and hear it.  "Let the woman learn in silence with all
subjection; but I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority
over the man, but to be in silence for Adam was formed first, not Eve."

Don't you see?

"And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the
transgression.  Notwithstanding she shall be saved in child-bearing if
they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." (That
is Mr. Timothy.)  "But I would have you know that the head of every man
is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ
is God."

I suppose that every old maid is acephalous.

"For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, for as much as he is the
image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man. For the
man is not of the woman, but woman of the man.  Neither was the man
created for the woman, but the woman for the man."  "Wives, submit
yourselves unto your own husband as unto the Lord, for the husband is
the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church."

Do you hear that?  You didn't know how much we were above you.  When
you go back to the old testament, to the great law-giver, you find that
the woman has to ask forgiveness for having borne a child.  If it was a
boy, thirty-three days she was unclean; if it was a girl, sixty-six.
Nice laws!  Good laws!  If there is a pure thing in this world, if
there is a picture of perfect purity, it is a mother with her child in
her arms. Yes, I think more of a good woman and a child than I do of
all the gods I have ever heard these people tell about. Just think of

"When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the Lord thy
God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them
captive, and seest among the captives a beautiful woman and hast a
desire unto her that thou wouldst have her to thy wife, then thou shalt
bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare
her nails."

Wherefore, ye must needs be subject not only for wrath but for
conscience sake.  "For this cause pay you tribute also, for they are
God's ministers."

I despise this wretched doctrine.  Wherever the sword of rebellion is
drawn in favor of the right, I am a rebel.  I suppose Alexander, czar
of Russia, was put there by the order of God, was he?  I am sorry he
was not removed by the nihilist that shot at him the other day.

I tell you, in a country like that, where there are hundreds of girls
not 16 years of age prisoners in Siberia, simply for giving their ideas
about liberty, and we telegraphed to that country, congratulating that
wretch that he was not killed, my heart goes into the prison, my heart
goes with the poor girl working as a miner in the mines, crawling on
her hands and knees getting the precious ore out of the mines, and my
sympathies go with her, and my sympathies cluster around the point of
the dagger.

Does the bible describe a god of mercy?  Let me read you a verse or two:

"I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour
flesh." "Thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the
tongue of thy dogs in the same."

"And the Lord thy God will put out those nations before thee by little
and little; thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of
the field increase upon thee.

"But the Lord thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy
them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed."

"And he shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt
destroy their name from under heaven; there shall no man be able to
stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them."

I can see what he had her nails pared for.  Does the bible teach
polygamy? The Rev. Dr. Newman, consul general to all the world--had a
discussion with Elder Heber of Kimball, or some such wretch in
Utah--whether the bible sustains polygamy, and the Mormons have printed
that discussion as a campaign document.  Read the order of Moses in the
31st chapter of Numbers.  A great many chapters I dare not read to you.
They are too filthy.  I leave all that to the clergy.  Read the 31st
chapter of Exodus, the 31st chapter of Deuteronomy, the life of
Abraham, and the life of David, and the life of Solomon, and then tell
me that the bible does not uphold polygamy and concubinage!

Let them answer.  Then I said that the bible upheld tyranny.  Let me
read you a little: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.
For there is no power but of God.  The powers that be are ordained of

George III was king by the grace of God, and when our fathers rose in
rebellion, according to this doctrine, they rose against the power of
God; and if they did they were successful.

And so it goes on, telling of all the cities that were destroyed, and
of the great-hearted men, that they dashed their brains out, and all
the little babes, and all the sweet women that they killed and
plundered--all in the name of a most merciful God.  Well, think of it!
The Old Testament is filled with anathemas, and with curses, and with
words of revenge, and jealousy, and hatred, and meanness, and
brutality.  Have I read enough to show that what I said is so? I think
I have.  I wish I had time to read to you further of what the dear old
fathers of the church said about woman--wait a minute, and I will read
you a little. We have got them running.  St. Augustine in his 22d book
says: "A woman ought to serve her husband as unto God, affirming that
woman ought to be braced and bridled betimes, if she aspire to any
dominion, alleging that dangerous and perilous it is to suffer her to
precede, although it be in temporal and corporeal things.  How can
woman be in the image of God, seeing she is subject to man, and hath no
authority to teach, neither to be a witness, neither to judge, much
less to rule or bear the rod of empire."

Oh, he is a good one.  These are the very words of Augustine.  Let me
read some more.  "Woman shall be subject unto man as unto Christ."
That is St. Augustine, and this sentence of Augustine ought to be noted
of all women, for in it he plainly affirms that women are all the more
subject to man.  And now, St. Ambrose, he is a good boy. "Adam was
deceived by Eve--called Heva--and not Heva by Adam, and therefore just
it is that woman receive and acknowledge him for governor whom she
called sin, lest that again she slip and fall with womanly facility.
Don't you see that woman has sinned once, and man never?  If you give
woman an opportunity, she will sin again, whereas if you give it to
man, who never, never betrayed his trust in the world, nothing bad can
happen.  Let women be subject to their own husbands as unto the Lord,
for man is the head of woman, and Christ is the head of the
congregation."  They are all real good men, all of them.  "It is not
permitted to woman to speak; let her be in silence; as the law said:
unto thy husband shalt thou ever be, and he shall bear dominion over

So St. Chrysostom.  He is another good man.  "Woman," he says, "was put
under the power of man, and man was pronounced lord over her; that she
should obey man, that the head should not follow the feet.  False
priests do commonly deceive women, because they are easily persuaded to
any opinion,--especially if it be again given, and because they lack
prudence and right reason to judge the things that be spoken; which
should not be the nature of those that are appointed to govern others.
For they should be constant, stable, prudent, and doing everything with
discretion and reason, which virtues woman can not have in equality
with man."

I tell you women are more prudent than men.  I tell you, as a rule,
women are more truthful than men.  I tell you that women are more
faithful than men--ten times as faithful as man.  I never saw a man
pursue his wife into the very ditch and dust of degradation and take
her in his arms.  I never saw a man stand at the shore where she had
been morally wrecked, waiting for the waves to bring back even her
corpse to his arms but I have seen woman do it.  I have seen woman with
her white arms lift man from the mire of degradation, and hold him to
her bosom as though he were an angel.

And these men thought woman not fit to be held as pure in the sight of
God as man.  I never saw a man that pretended that he didn't love a
woman; that pretended that he loved God better than he did a woman,
that he didn't look hateful to me, hateful and unclean.  I could read
you twenty others, but I haven't time to do it.  They are all to the
same effect exactly.  They hate woman, and say man is as much above her
as God is above man.  I am a believer in absolute equality.  I am a
believer in absolute liberty between man and wife. I believe in
liberty, and I say, "Oh, liberty, float not forever in the far
horizon--remain not forever in the dream of the enthusiast, the
philanthropist and poet; but come and make thy home among the children
of men."

I know not what discoveries, what inventions, what thoughts may leap
from the brain of the world.  I know not what garments of glory may be
woven by the years to come.  I can not dream of the victories to be
won. I do know that, coming upon the field of thought; but down the
infinite sea of the future, there will never touch this "bank and shoal
of time" a richer gift, a rarer blessing than liberty for man, woman
and child.

I never addressed a more magnificent audience in my life, and I thank
you, I thank you a thousand times over.


Nothing is more gratifying than to see ideas that were received with
scorn, flourishing in the sunshine of approval.  Only a few weeks ago I
stated that the Bible was not inspired; that Moses was mistaken, that
the "flood" was a foolish myth; that the Tower of Babel existed only in
credulity; that God did not create the universe from nothing, that He
did not start the first woman with a rib; that He never upheld slavery;
that He was not a polygamist; that He did not kill people for making
hair-oil,  that He did not order His Generals to kill the dimpled
babes; that He did not allow the roses of love and the violets of
modesty to be trodden under the brutal feet of lust; that the Hebrew
language was written without vowels; that the Bible was composed of
many books written by unknown men; that all translations differed from
each other, and that this book had filled the world with agony and

At that time I had not the remotest idea that the most learned
clergymen in Chicago would substantially agree with me--in public. I
have read the replies of the Rev. Robert Collyer, Dr. Thomas, Rabbi
Kohler, Rev. Brooke Herford, Prof. Swing, and Dr. Ryder, and will now
ask them a few questions, answering them in their own words.


Question.  What is your opinion of the Bible?  Answer.  "It is a
splendid book.  It makes the noblest type of Catholics and the meanest
bigots.  Through this book men give their hearts for good to God, or
for evil to the Devil.  The best argument for the intrinsic greatness
of the book is that it can touch such wide extremes, and seem to
maintain us in the most unparalleled cruelty, as well as the most
tender mercy; that it can inspire purity like that of the great saints
and afford arguments in favor of polygamy.  The Bible is the text book
of ironclad Calvinism and sunny Universalism.  It makes the Quaker
quiet and the Millerite crazy.  It inspired the Union soldier to live
and grandly die for the right, and Stonewall Jackson to live nobly and
die grandly for the wrong."

Q.  But, Mr. Collyer, do you really think that a book with as many
passages in favor of wrong as right, is inspired?  A.  I look upon the
Old Testament as a rotting tree.  When it falls it will fertilize a
bank of violets.

Q.  Do you believe that God upheld slavery and polygamy?  Do you
believe that He ordered the killing of babes and the violation of
maidens?  A.  "There is three-fold inspiration in the Bible, the first
peerless and perfect, the Word of God to man;--the second simply and
purely human, and then below this again, there is an inspiration born
of an evil heart, ruthless and savage there and then as anything well
can be.  A three-fold inspiration, of Heaven first, then of the Earth,
and then of Hell, all in the same book, all sometimes in the same
chapter, and then, besides, a great many things that need no

Q.  Then, after all, you do not pretend that the Scriptures are really
inspired?  A.  "The Scriptures make no such claim for themselves as the
Church make's for them.  They leave me free to say this is false, or
this is true.  The truth even within the Bible dies and lives, makes on
this side and loses on that."

Q.  What do you say to the last verse in the Bible, where a curse is
threatened to any man who takes from or adds to the book?  A. "I have
but one answer to this question, and it is: Let who will have written
this, I can not for an instant believe that it was written by a divine
inspiration.  Such dogmas and threats as these are not of God, but of
man, and not of any man of a free spirit and heart eager for the truth,
but a narrow man who would cripple and confine the human soul in its
quest after the whole truth of God, and back those who have done the
shameful things in the name of the Most High."

Q. Do you not regard such talk as slang?

(Supposed) Answer.  If an infidel had said that the writer of
Revelations was narrow and bigoted, I might have denounced his
discourse as "slang," but I think  that Unitarian ministers can do so
with the greatest propriety.

Q.  Do you believe in the stories of the Bible, about Jael, and the sun
standing still, and the walls falling at the blowing of horns? A.
"They may be legends, myths, poems, or what they will, but they are not
the Word of God.  So I say again, it was not the God and Father of us
all who inspired the woman to drive that nail crashing through the
king's temple after she had given him that bowl of milk and bid him
sleep in safety, but a very mean Devil of hatred and revenge that I
should hardly expect to find in a squaw on the plains. It was not the
ram's horns and the shouting before which the walls fell flat.  If they
went down at all, it was through good solid pounding.  And not for an
instant did the steady sun stand still or let his planet stand still
while barbarian fought barbarian.  He kept just the time then he keeps
now.  They might believe it who made the record.  I do not.  And since
the whole Christian world might believe it, still we do not who gather
in this church.  A free and reasonable mind stands right in our way.
Newton might believe it as a Christian and disbelieve it as a
philosopher.  We stand then with the philosopher against the Christian,
for we must believe what is true to us in the last test, and these
things are not true."


Question.  What is your opinion of the Old Testament?  Answer.  "My
opinion is that it is not one book, but many--thirty-nine books bound
up in one.  The date and authorship of most of these books are wholly
unknown.  The Hebrews wrote without vowels and without dividing the
letters into syllables, words or sentences.  The books were gathered up
by Ezra.  At that time only two of the Jewish tribes remained. All
progress had ceased.  In gathering up the sacred book, copyists
exercised great liberty in making changes and additions."

Q. Yes, we know all that, but is the Old Testament inspired?  A. "There
maybe the inspiration of art, of poetry, or oratory; of patriotism--and
there are such inspirations.  There are moments when great truths and
principles come to men.  They seek the man and not the man them."

Q.  Yes, we will admit that, but is the Bible inspired?  A.  "But still
I know of no way to convince any one of spirit and inspiration and God
only as His reason may take hold of these things."

Q.  Do you think the Old Testament true?  A.  "The story of Eden may be
an allegory; the history of the children of Israel may have mistakes."

Q.  Must inspiration claim infallibility?  A.  "It is a mistake to say
that if you believe one part of the Bible you must believe all.  Some
of the thirty-nine books may be inspired, others not; or there may be
degrees of inspiration."

Q.  Do you believe that God commanded the soldiers to kill the children
and the married women and save for themselves the maidens, as recorded
in Numbers 31:2?  Do you believe that God upheld slavery?  Do you
believe that God upheld polygamy?  A.  "The Bible may be wrong in some
statements.  God and right can not be wrong.  We must not exalt the
Bible above God.  It may be that we have claimed too much for the
Bible, and thereby given not a little occasion for such men as Mr.
Ingersoll to appear at the other extreme, denying too much."

Q.  What then shall be done?  A. "We must take a middle ground.  It is
not necessary to believe that the bears devoured the forty-two
children, nor that Jonah was swallowed by the whale."


Question.  What is your opinion about the Old Testament?  Answer. "I
will not make futile attempts of artificially interpreting the letter
of the Bible so as to make it reflect the philosophical, moral and
scientific views of our time.  The Bible is a sacred record of
humanity's childhood."

Q.  Are you an orthodox Christian?  A.  "No. Orthodoxy, with its face
turned backward to a ruined temple or a dead Messiah, is fast becoming
like Lot's wife, a pillar of salt."

Q.  Do you really believe the Old Testament was inspired?  A.  "I
greatly acknowledge our indebtedness to men like Voltaire and Thomas
Paine, whose bold denial and cutting wit were so instrumental in
bringing about this glorious era of freedom, so congenial and blissful,
particularly to the long-abused Jewish race."

Q.  Do you believe in the inspiration of the Bible?  A.  "Of course
there is a destructive ax needed to strike down the old building in
order to make room for the grander new.  The divine origin claimed by
the Hebrews for their national literature was claimed by all nations
for their old records and laws as preserved by the priesthood.  As
Moses--the Hebrew law giver, is represented as having received the law
from God on the holy mountains, so is Zoroaster, the Persian, Manu, the
Hindoo, Minos, the Cretan, Lycurgus, the Spartan, and Numa, the Roman."

Q.  Do you believe all the stories in the Bible?  A.  "All that can and
must be said against them is that they have been too long retained
around the arms and limbs of grown-up manhood to check the spiritual
progress of religion; that by Jewish ritualism and Christian dogmatism
they became fetters unto the soul, turning the light of heaven into a
misty haze to blind the eye, and even into a Hell fire of fanaticism to
consume souls."

Q.  Is the Bible inspired?  A.  "True, the Bible is not free from
errors, nor is any work of man and time.  It abounds in childish views
and offensive matters.  I trust it will, in a time not far off, be
presented for common use in families, schools, synagogues and churches,
in a refined shape, cleansed from all dross and chaff, and
stumbling-blocks on which the scoffer delights to dwell."


Question.  Is the Bible true?  Answer.  "Ingersoll is very fond of
saying 'The question is not, is the Bible inspired, but is it true?'
That sounds very plausible, but you know as applied to any ancient book
it is simply nonsense."

Q.  Do you think the stories in the Bible exaggerated?  A.  "I dare say
the numbers are immensely exaggerated."

Q.  Do you think that God upheld polygamy?  A. "The truth of which
simply is, that four thousand years ago polygamy existed among the
Jews, as everywhere else on earth then, and even their prophets did not
come to the idea of its being wrong.  But what is there to be indignant
about in that?  And so you really wonder why any man should be
indignant at the idea that God upheld and sanctioned that beastliness
called polygamy?  What is there to be indignant about in that?"


Question.  What is your idea of the Bible?  Answer.  "I think it a


Question.  And what is your idea of the sacred Scriptures?  Answer.
"Like other nations, the Hebrews had their patriotic, descriptive,
didactic and lyrical poems in the same varieties as other nations; but
with them, unlike other nations, whatever may be the form of their
poetry, it always possesses the characteristic of religion."

Q.  I suppose you fully appreciate the religious characteristics of the
Song of Solomon?  No answer.

Q.  Does the Bible uphold polygamy?  A.  "The law of Moses did not
forbid it, but contained many provisions against its worst abuses, and
such as were intended to restrict it within narrow limits."

Q.  So you think God corrected some of the worst abuses of polygamy,
but preserved the institution itself?

I might question many others, but have concluded not to consider those
as members of my Bible class who deal in calumnies and epithets. From
the so-called "replies" of such ministers it appears that, while
Christianity changes the heart, it does not improve the manners,  and
one can get into Heaven in the next world without having been a
gentleman in this.

It is difficult for me to express the deep and thrilling satisfaction I
have experienced in reading the admissions of the clergy of Chicago.
Surely the battle of intellectual liberty is almost won when ministers
admit that the Bible is filled with ignorant and cruel mistakes; that
each man has the right to think for himself, and that it is not
necessary to believe the Scriptures in order to be saved.

From the bottom of my heart, I congratulate my pupils on the advance
they have made, and hope soon to meet them on the serene heights of
perfect freedom.

INGERSOLL'S NEW DEPARTURE--His Lecture Entitled "What Shall We do to be
Saved?"--Delivered in McVicker's Theatre, Chicago, Sept. 19, 1880 [From
the Chicago Times. Verbatim Report.]

Ladies and Gentlemen: Fear is the dungeon of the mind, and superstition
is a dagger with which hypocrisy assassinates the soul. Courage is
liberty.  I am in favor of absolute freedom of thought. In the realm of
the mind every one is monarch.  Every one is robed, sceptered, and
crowned, and every one wears the purple of authority. I belong to the
republic of intellectual liberty, and only those are good citizens of
that republic who depend upon reason and upon persuasion, and only
those are traitors who resort to brute force.

Now, I beg of you all to forget just for a few moments that you are
Methodists, or Baptists, or Catholics, or Presbyterians, and let us for
an hour or two remember only that we are men and women.  And allow me
to say "man" and "woman" are the highest titles that can be bestowed
upon humanity.  "Man" and "woman."  And let us if possible banish all
fear from the mind.  Do not imagine that there is some being in the
infinite expanse who is not willing that every man and woman should
think for himself and herself.  Do not imagine that there is any being
who would give to his children the holy torch of reason and then damn
them for following where the holy light led.  Let us have courage.

Priests have invented a crime called "blasphemy,"  and behind that
crime hypocrisy has crouched for thousands of years.  There is but one
blasphemy, and that is injustice.  There is but one worship, and that
is justice.

You need not fear the anger of a God whom you cannot injure.  Rather
fear to injure your fellow-men.  Do not be afraid of a crime you cannot
commit.  Rather be afraid of the one that you may commit.

There was a Jewish gentleman went into a restaurant to get his dinner,
and the devil of temptation whispered in his ear: "Eat some bacon."

He knew if there was anything in the universe calculated to excite the
wrath of the Infinite Being, who made every shining star, it was to see
a gentleman eating bacon.  He knew it, and He knew the Infinite Being
was looking, and that he was the Infinite Eaves-dropper of the
universe. But his appetite got the better of his conscience, as it
often has with us all, and he ate that bacon.  He knew it was wrong.
When he went into that restaurant the weather was delightful, the sky
was as blue as June, and when he came out the sky was covered with
angry clouds, the lightning leaping from one to the other, and the
earth shaking beneath the voice of the thunder.  He went back into that
restaurant with a face as white as milk, and he said to one of the

"My God, did you ever hear such a fuss about a little piece of bacon?"

As long as we harbor such opinions of Infinity; as long as we imagine
the heavens to be filled with such tyranny, so long the sons of men
will be cringing, intellectual cowards.  Let us think, and let us
honestly express our thought.

Do not imagine for a moment that I think people who disagree with me
are bad people.  I admit, and I cheerfully admit, that a very large
proportion of mankind and a very large majority, a vast number, are
reasonably honest.  I believe that most Christians believe what they
teach; that most ministers are endeavoring to make this world better. I
do not pretend to be better than they are.  It is an intellectual
question.  It is a question, first, of intellectual liberty, and after
that, a question to be settled at the bar of human reason.  I do not
pretend to be better than the are.  Probably I am a good deal worse
than many of them, but that is not the question. The question is "Bad
as I am, have I a right to think?"  And I think I have, for two reasons.

First, I can't help it.  And secondly, I like it.  The whole question
is right at a point.  If I have not a right to express my thoughts, who

"Oh," they say, "we will allow you, we will not burn you."

"All right; why won't you burn me?"

"Because we think a decent man will allow others to think and express
his thought."

"Then the reason you do not persecute me for my thought is that you
believe it would be infamous in you!"


"And yet you worship a God who will, all you declare, punish me

The next question then is: Can I commit a sin against God by thinking?
If God did not intend I should think, why did He give me a "thinker."
Now, then, we have got what they call the Christian system of religion,
and thousands of people wonder how I can be wicked enough to attack
that system.

There are many good things about it, and I shall never attack anything
that I believe to be good!  I shall never fear to attack anything I
honestly believe to be wrong.  We have, I say, what they call the
Christian religion, and, I find, just in proportion that nations have
been religious, just in the proportion they have gone back to
barbarism. I find that Spain, Portugal, Italy are the three worst
nations in Europe; I find that the nation nearest infidel is the most
prosperous France.  And so I say there can be no danger in the exercise
of absolute intellectual freedom.  I find among ourselves the men who
think at least as good as those who do not. We have, I say, a Christian
system, and that is founded upon what they are pleased to call system
the "New Testament."  Who wrote the New Testament?  I don't know.  Who
does know? Nobody!

We have found some fifty-two manuscripts containing portions of the New
Testament.  Some of those manuscripts leave out five or six books--many
of them.  Others more others less.  No two of these manuscripts agree.
Nobody knows who wrote these manuscripts.  They are all written in
Greek; the disciples of Christ knew only Hebrew.  Nobody ever saw, so
far as we know, one of the original Hebrew manuscripts. Nobody ever saw
anybody who had seen anybody who had heard of anybody that had seen
anybody that had ever seen one of the original Hebrew manuscripts.  No
doubt the clergy of your city have told you these facts thousands of
times, and they will be obliged to me for having repeated them once
more.  These manuscripts are written in what are called capital Greek
letters.  They are called Uncial characters; and the New Testament was
not divided into chapters and verses, even, until the year of grace
1551.  Recollect it.

In the original the manuscripts and gospels are signed by nobody. The
epistles are addressed to nobody; and they are signed by the same
person.  All the addresses, all the pretended earmarks showing to whom
they are written and by whom they are written are simply
interpolations, and everybody who has studied the subject knows it.

It is further admitted that even these manuscripts have not been
properly translated, and they have a syndicate now making a new
translation; and I suppose that I cannot tell whether I really believe
the Testament or not until I see that new translation.

You must remember, also, one other thing.  Christ never wrote a
solitary word of the New Testament--not one word.  There is an account
that He once stooped and wrote something in the sand, but that has not
been preserved.  He never told anybody to write a word. He never said:
"Matthew, remember this.  Mark, don't forget to put that down.  Luke,
be sure that in your gospel you have this.  John, don't forget it."
Not one word.  And it has always seemed to me that a Being coming from
another world, with a message of infinite importance to mankind, should
at least have verified that message by his own signature.

Why was nothing written?  I will tell you.  In my judgment they
expected the end of the world in a very few days.  That generation was
not to pass away until the heavens should be rolled up as a scroll, and
until the earth should melt with fervent heat.  That was their belief.
They believed that the world was to be destroyed, and that there was to
be another coming, and that the saints were then to govern the world.
And they even went so far among the Apostles, as we frequently do now
before election, as to divide out the offices in advance.  This
Testament was not written for hundreds of years after the Apostles were
dust.  These facts lived in the open mouth of credulity.  They were in
the wastebaskets of forgetfulness. They depended upon the inaccuracy of
legend, and for centuries these doctrines and stories were blown about
by the inconstant winds.  And finally, when reduced to writing, some
gentleman would write by the side of the passage his idea of it, and
the next copyist would put that in as a part of the text.  And,
finally, when it was made, and the Church got in trouble, and wanted a
passage to help it out, one was interpolated to order.  So that now it
is among the easiest things in the world to pick out at least one
hundred interpolations in the Testament.   And I will pick some of them
out before I get through.

And let me say here, once for all, that for the man Christ I have
infinite respect.  Let me say, once for all, that the place where man
has died for man is holy ground; and let me say, once for all, to that
great and serene man I gladly pay the homage of my admiration and my
tears.  He was a reformer in His day.  He was an infidel in His time.
He was regarded as a blasphemer, and His life was destroyed by
hypocrites, who have, in all ages, done what they could to trample
freedom out of the human mind.  Had I lived at that time I would have
been His friend, and should He come again He would not find a better
friend than I will be.

That is for the man.  For the theological creation I have a different
feeling.  If He was, in fact, God, He knew that there was no such thing
as death.  He knew that what we call death was but the eternal opening
of the golden gates of everlasting joy; and it took no heroism to face
a death that was simply eternal life.

But when a man, when a poor boy sixteen years of age, goes upon the
field of battle to keep his flag in heaven, not knowing but that death
ends all--not knowing but that, when the shadows creep over him, the
darkness will be eternal--there is heroism.

And so for the man who, in the darkness, said: "My God, why hast Thou
forsaken Me?"--for that man I have nothing but respect, admiration, and

A while ago I made up my mind to find out what was necessary for me to
do in order to be saved.  If I have got a soul, I want it saved. I do
not wish to lose anything that is of value.  For thousands of years the
world has been asking that question "What shall we do to be saved?"

Saved from poverty?  No.  Saved from crime?  No.  Tyranny?  No. But
"What shall we do to be saved from the eternal wrath of the God who
made us all?"

If God made us, He will not destroy us.  Infinite wisdom never made a
poor investment.  And upon all the works of an infinite God, a dividend
must finally be declared.  The pulpit has cast a shadow over even the
cradle.  The doctrine of endless punishment has covered the cheeks of
this world with tears.  I despise it, and I defy it.

I made up my mind, I say, to see what I had to do in order to save my
soul according to the Testament, and thereupon I read it.  I read the
gospel, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  But I found that the Church had
been deceiving me.  I found that the clergy did not understand their
own book.  I found that they had been building upon passages that had
been interpolated.  I found that they had been building upon passages
that were entirely untrue.  And I will tell you why I think so.

The first of these gospels was written by St. Matthew, according to the
claim.  Of course he never wrote a word of it.  Never saw it. Never
heard of it.  But, for the purpose of this lecture, I will admit that
he wrote it.  I will admit that he was with Christ for three years,
that he heard much of His conversation during that time and that he
became impregnated with the doctrines, or dogmas, and the ideas of
Jesus Christ.

Now let us see what Matthew says we must do in order to be saved. And I
take it that, if this be true, Matthew is as good an authority as any
minister in the world.

The first thing I find upon the subject of salvation is in the fifth
chapter of Matthew, and is embraced in what is commonly known as the
sermon on the Mount.  It is as follows:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."  Good! Whether
they belonged to any church or not; whether they believed the Bible or

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."  Good!

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are
the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed
are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake," (that's me,
little) "for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."

In the same sermon he says: "Think not that I am come to destroy the
law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." And
then he makes use of this remarkable language, almost as applicable
today as it was then: "For I say unto you that except your
righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and
Pharisees ye shall in no wise enter the kingdom of Heaven."  Good!

In the sixth chapter I find the following, and it comes directly after
the prayer known as the Lord's prayer: "For if you forgive men their
trespasses your Heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye
forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your
trespasses."  I accept the conditions.  There is an offer; I accept it.
If you will forgive men that trespass against you, God will forgive
your trespasses against Him.  I accept, and I never will ask any God to
treat me any better than I treat my fellowmen.  There is a square
promise. There is a contract.  If you will forgive others, God will
forgive you. And it does not say you must believe in the Old Testament,
nor be baptized, nor join the Church, nor keep Sunday.  It simply says,
if you forgive others God will forgive you; and it must be true.  No
God could afford to damn a forgiving man.  (A voice: "Will He forgive
Democrats?")  Oh, certainly.  Let me say right here that I know lots of
Democrats, great, broad, whole-souled, clever men, and I love them.
And the only bad thing about them is that they vote the Democratic
ticket. And I know lots of Republicans so mean and narrow that the only
decent thing about them is that they vote the Republican ticket.

Now let me make myself plain upon that subject, perfectly plain. For
instance, I hate Presbyterianism, but I know hundreds of splendid
Presbyterians.  Understand me.  I hate Methodism, and yet I know
hundreds of splendid Methodists.  I dislike a certain set of principles
called Democracy, and yet I know thousands of Democrats that I respect
and like.  I like a certain set of principles--that is, most of
them,--called Republicanism, and yet I know lots of Republicans that
are a disgrace to those principles.

I do not war against men.  I do not war against persons.  I war against
certain doctrines that I believe to be wrong.  And I give to every
other human being every right that I claim for myself.  Of course I did
not intend today to tell what we must do in the election for the
purpose of being saved.

The next thing that I find is in the seventh chapter and the second
verse: "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with
what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."  Good! That
suits me!

And in the twelfth chapter of Matthew: "For whosoever shall do the will
of my Father that is in Heaven, the same is my brother and sister and
mother.  For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with
His angels, and then He shall reward every man according--"  To the
church he belongs to?  No.  To the manner in which he was baptized?
No. According to his creed?  No.  "Then he shall reward every man
according to his works."  Good!  I subscribe to that doctrine.

And in the sixteenth chapter: "And Jesus called a little child to Him
and stood him in the midst, and said: 'Verily, I say unto you, except
ye become converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter
into the Kingdom of Heaven.'"  I do not wonder that a reformer in His
day that met the Scribes and Pharisees and hypocrites, I do not wonder
that at last He turned to children and said: "Except ye become as
little children,"  I do not wonder.  And yet, see what children the
children of God have been.  What an interesting dimpled darling John
Calvin was.  Think of that prattling babe known as Jonathan Edwards!
Think of the infants that founded the Inquisition, that invented
instruments of torture to tear human flesh.  They were the ones who had
become as little children.

So I find in the nineteenth chapter: "And behold, one came and said
unto Him: 'Good master, what good thing shall I do in order to inherit
eternal life?'  And He said unto him, 'why callest thou Me good?  There
is none good but one, and that is God, but if thou will enter into
eternal life, keep the commandments,' and he said unto Him,  'Which?'"

Now, there is a pretty fair issue.  Here is a child of God asking God
what is necessary for him to do in order to inherit eternal life. And
God says to him: Keep the commandments.  And the child said to the
Almighty: "Which?"  Now if there ever had been an opportunity given to
the Almighty to furnish a gentleman with an inquiring mind with the
necessary information upon that subject, here was the opportunity.  He
said unto Him, 'which?'   And Jesus said: "Thou shalt do no murder;
thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not
bear false witness; honor thy father and mother; and, thou shalt love
thy neighbor as thyself."  He did not say to him: "You must believe in
Me--that I am the only begotten Son of the living God."  He did not
say: "You must be born again." He did not say: "You must believe the
Bible." He did not say: "You must remember the Sabbath day, to keep it
holy." He simply said: "Thou shalt do no murder.  Thou shalt not commit
adultery.  Thou shalt not steal.  Thou shalt not bear false witness.
Honor thy father and thy mother; and, thou shalt love thy neighbor as
thyself."  And thereupon the young man, who I think was a little
"fresh," and probably mistaken, said unto Him: "All these things have I
kept from my youth up."  I don't believe that.

Now comes in an interpolation.  In the old times when the Church got a
little scarce for money, they always put in a passage praising poverty.
So they had this young man ask: "What lack I yet?"  And Jesus said unto
him: "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give it
to the poor, and thou shalt have treasures in heaven."  The Church has
always been willing to swap off treasures in heaven for cash down.

And when the next verse was written the Church must have been nearly
dead-broke.  "And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go
through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the
kingdom of God."  Did you ever know a wealthy disciple to unload on
account of that verse?

And then comes another verse, which I believe is an interpolation: "And
every one that has forsaken houses, or brethren or sisters, or father
or mother, or wife or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall
receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." Christ
never said it.  Never.  "Whosoever shall forsake father and mother."
Why He said to this man who asked him "What shall I do to inherit
eternal life?" among other things, He said  "Honor thy father and thy
mother."  And we turn over the page and He says: "If you will desert
your father and your mother you shall have everlasting life."  It won't
do.  If you desert your wife and your little children, or your
lands--the idea of putting a house and lot on equality with wife and
children.  Think of that!  I do not accept the terms.  I will never
desert the one I love for the promise of any God.

It is far more important that we shall love our wives than that we
shall love God.  And I will tell you why you cannot help Him.  You can
help her.  You can fill her life with the perfume of perpetual joy.  It
is far more important that you love your children than that you love
Jesus Christ.--And why?  If He is God you cannot help Him, but you can
plant a little flower of happiness in every footstep of the child, from
the cradle until you die in that child's arms.  Let me tell you to-day,
it is far more important to build a home than to erect a church.  The
holiest temple beneath the stars is a home that love has built.  And
the holiest altar in all the wide world is the fireside around which
gather father and mother and children.

There was a time when people believed that infamy.  There was a time
when they did desert fathers; and mothers, and wives and children. St.
Augustine says to the devotee: "Fly to the desert, and though your wife
put her arms around your neck, tear her hands away; she is a temptation
of the devil.  Though your father and mother throw their bodies athwart
your threshold, step over them; and though your children pursue and
with weeping eyes beseech you to return, listen not.  It is the
temptation of the evil one.  Fly to the desert and save your soul."
Think of such a soul being worth saving. While I live I propose to
stand by the folks.

Here there is another condition of salvation.  I find it in the 25th
chapter: "Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, 'Come,
ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the
foundation of the world. For I was a hungered and ye gave Me meat; I
was thirsty and ye gave Me drink; I was a stranger and ye took Me in;
naked and ye clothed Me; and I was sick and ye visited Me; and I was in
prison, and ye came unto me."  Good!  And I tell you tonight that God
will not punish with eternal thirst the man who has put the cup of cold
water to the lips of his neighbor.  God will not allow to live in
eternal nakedness of pain the man who has clothed others.

For instance, here is a shipwreck, and here is some brave sailor stands
aside and allows a woman whom he never saw before to take his place in
the boat, and he stands there, grand and serene as the wide sea, and he
goes down.  Do you tell me there is any God who will push the life-boat
from the shore of eternal life, when that man wishes to step in?  Do
you tell me that God can be unpitying to the pitiful, that He can be
unforgiving to the forgiving?  I deny it; and from the aspersions of
the pulpit I seek to rescue the reputation of the Deity.

Now, I have read you everything in Matthew on the subject of salvation.
That is all there is.  Not one word about believing anything.  It is
the gospel of deed, the gospel of charity, the gospel of self-denial;
and if only that gospel had been preached, persecution never would have
shed one drop of blood.  Not one.  Now, according to the testimony,
Matthew was well acquainted with Christ.  According to the testimony,
he had been with Him, and His companion for years, and if it was
necessary to believe anything in order to get to heaven, Matthew should
have told us. But he forgot it.  Or he didn't believe it.  Or he never
heard of it. You can take your choice.

The next is Mark.  Now let us see what he says.  And for the purpose of
this lecture it is sufficient for me to say that Mark agrees,
substantially, with Matthew, that God will be merciful to the merciful;
that He will be kind to the kind that He will pity the pitying.  And it
is precisely, or substantially, the same as Matthew until I come to the
16th verse of the 16th chapter, and then I strike an interpolation, put
in by hypocrisy, put in by priests, who longed to grasp with bloody
hands the sceptre of universal authority.

Let me read it to you.  And it is the most infamous passage in the
Bible.  Christ never said it.  No sensible man ever said it.  "And He
said unto them"--that is, unto His disciples--"Go ye into all the world
and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is
baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned."

Now, I propose to prove to you that that is an interpolation.  Now how
will I do it?  In the first place, not one word is said about belief in
Matthew.  In the next place, not one word is said about belief in Mark,
until I come to that verse.  And when is that said to have been spoken?
According to Mark, it is a part of the last conversation of Jesus
Christ--just before, according to the account, He ascended bodily
before their eyes.  If there ever was any important thing happened in
this world, that is one of them.  If there was any conversation that
people would be apt to recollect, it would be the last conversation
with God before He rose through the air and seated Himself upon the
throne of the Infinite.  We have in this Testament five accounts of the
last conversation happening between Jesus Christ and His apostles.
Matthew gives it.  And yet Matthew does not state that in that
conversation He said: "Whoso believeth and is baptized shall be saved,
and whoso believeth not shall be damned." And if He did say those
words, they were the most important that ever fell from His lips.
Matthew did not hear it, or did not believe it, or forgot it.

Then I turn to Luke, and he gives an account of this same last
conversation, and not one word does he say upon that subject.  Now it
is the most important thing, if Christ said it, that He ever said.

Then I turn to John, and he gives an account of the last conversation,
but not one solitary word on the subject of belief or unbelief.  Not
one solitary word on the subject of damnation.  Not one.

Then I turn to the first chapter of the Acts, and there I find an
account of the last conversation; and in that conversation there is not
one word upon this subject.  Now, I say, that demonstrates that the
passage in Mark is an interpolation.

What other reason have I got?  That there is not one particle of sense
in it.  Why?  No man can control his belief.  You hear evidence for and
against, and the integrity of the soul stands at the scales and tells
which side rises and which side falls.  You cannot believe as you wish.
You must believe as you must.  And He might as well have said: "Go into
all the world and preach the gospel, and whosoever has red hair shall
be saved, and whosoever hath not shall be damned."

I have another reason.  I am much obliged to the gentleman who
interpolated these passages.  I am much obliged to him that he put in
some more--two, more.  Now hear:

"And these signs shall follow them that believe."  Good.

"In My name shall they cast out devils.  They shall speak with new
tongues, and they shall take up serpents and if they drink any deadly
thing it shall not hurt them.  They shall lay hands on the sick, and
they shall recover."

Bring on your believer!  Let him cast out a devil.  I do not claim a
large one, "just a little one for a cent."  Let him take up serpents.
"And if he drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt him."  Let me mix
up a dose for the theological believer, and if it does not hurt him
I'll join a church.  O, but, "they say those things only lasted through
that apostolic age."  Let us see.  "Go ye into all the world and preach
the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall
be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs
shall follow them that believe."

How long?  I think at least until they had gone into all the world.
Certainly these signs should follow until all the world had been
visited.  And yet if that declaration was in the mouth of Christ, he
then knew that one-half of the world was unknown and that he would be
dead 1,492 years before his disciples would know that there was another
world.  And yet he said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel,"
and he knew then that it would be 1,492 years before anybody went.
Well, if it was worth while to have signs follow believers in the old
world, surely it was worth while to have signs follow believers in the
new world.  And the very reason that signs should follow would be to
convince the unbeliever, and there are as many unbelievers now as ever,
and the signs are as necessary today as they ever were.  I would like a
few myself.

This frightful declaration, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be
saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned," has filled the world
with agony and crime.

Every letter of this passage has been sword and fagot; every word has
been dungeon and chain.

That passage made the sword of persecution drip with innocent blood for
ten centuries.  That passage made the horizon of a thousand years lurid
with the flames of fagots.  That passage contradicts the sermon on the
mount.  That passage travesties the Lord's prayer.  That passage turns
the splendid religion of deed and duty into the superstition of creed
and cruelty.  I deny it.  It is infamous. Christ never said it!  Now I
come to Luke, and it is sufficient to say that Luke substantially
agrees with Matthew and with Mark. Substantially agrees, as the
evidence is read.  I like it.

"Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful."  Good!

"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.  Condemn not, and ye shall not
be condemned; forgive and ye shall be forgiven."  Good!

"Give, and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, and
shaken together, and running over."  Good!  I like it.

"For with the same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to
you again."

He agrees substantially with Mark; he agrees substantially with
Matthew; and I come at last to the nineteenth chapter.

"And Zaccheus stood and said unto the Lord, 'Behold, Lord, the half of
my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken anything from any man
by false accusation, I restore him four-fold.'  And Jesus said unto
him, 'This day is salvation come to this house.'"

That is good doctrine.  He didn't ask Zaccheus what he believed. He
didn't ask him, Do you believe in the Bible?  Do you believe in the
five points?  Have you ever been baptized-sprinkled? Oh! immersed.
"Half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken anything from
any man by false accusation, I restore him four-fold."  "And Christ
said, 'This day is salvation come to this house.'"  Good!

I read also in Luke that Christ when upon the cross forgave His
murderers, and that is considered the shining gem in the crown of His
mercy--that He forgave His murderers.  That He forgave the men who
drove the nails in His hands, in His feet, that plunged a spear in His
side; the soldier that in the hour of death offered Him in mockery the
bitterness to drink; that He forgave them all freely, and that yet,
although He would forgive them, He will in the nineteenth century damn
to eternal fire an honest man for the expression of his honest
thoughts. That won't do.  I find too, in Luke, an account of two
thieves that were crucified at the same time.  The other gospels speak
of them.  One says they both railed upon Him.  Another says nothing
about it.  In Luke we are told that one did, but one of the thieves
looked and pitied Christ, and Christ said to that thief:

"This day shalt thou meet me in Paradise."

Why did He say that?  Because the thief pitied Him.  And God cannot
afford to trample beneath the feet of His infinite wrath the smallest
blossom of pity that ever shed its perfume in the human heart!

Who was this thief?  To what church did he belong?  I don't know. The
fact that he was a thief throws no light on that question.  Who was he?
What did he believe?  I don't know.  Did he believe in the Old
Testament?  In the miracles?  I don't know.  Did he believe that Christ
was God?  I don't know.  Why, then, was the promise made to him that he
should meet Christ in Paradise.  Simply because he pitied innocence
suffering on the cross.

God cannot afford to damn any man that is capable of pitying anybody.

And now we come to John, and that is where the trouble commences. The
other gospels teach that God will be merciful to the merciful,
forgiving to the forgiving, kind to the kind, loving to the loving,
just to the just, merciful to the good.

Now we come to John, and here is another doctrine.  And allow me to say
that John was not written until centuries after the others.  This, the
Church got up:

"And Jesus answered and said unto him: 'Furthermore I say unto thee
that except a man be born again he cannot see the "Kingdom of God."'"

Why didn't He tell Matthew that?  Why didn't He tell Luke that?  Why
didn't He tell Mark that?  They never heard of it, or forgot it, or
they didn't believe it.

"Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into
the Kingdom of God."  Why?

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of
the spirit is spirit.  Marvel not that I said unto thee, 'ye must be
born again.'  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which
is born of the spirit is spirit,"--and He might have added that which
is born of water is water.

"Marvel not that I say unto thee, 'ye must be born again.'"  And then
the reason is given, and I admit I did not understand it myself until I
read the reason, and will understand it as well as I do; and here it
is: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound
thereof, and canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth."  So
I find in the book of John the idea of the real presence.

So I find in the book of John, that in order to be saved we must eat of
the flesh and we must drink of the blood of Jesus Christ, and if that
gospel is true, the Catholic Church is right.  But it is not true.  I
cannot believe it, and yet for all that it may be true. But I don't
believe it.  Neither do I believe there is any God in the universe who
will damn a man simply for expressing his belief.

"Why," they say to me, "suppose all this should turn out to be true,
and you should come to the day of judgment and find all these things to
be true.  What would you do then?"  I would walk up like a man, and
say, "I was mistaken."

"And suppose God was about to pass judgment on you, what would you
say?" I would say to Him, "Do unto others as you would that others
should do unto you."   Why not?

I am told that I must render good for evil.  I am told that if smitten
on one cheek I must turn the other.  I am told that I must overcome
evil with good.  I am told that I must love my enemies; and will it do
for this God who tells me, "Love my enemies," to say, "I will damn
mine." No, it will not do; it will not do.

In the book of John all this doctrine of regeneration; all this
doctrine that it is necessary to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; all
the doctrine that salvation depends upon belief--in this book of John
all these doctrines find their warrant; nowhere else.

Read these three gospels and then read John, and you will agree with me
that the gospels that teach "We must be kind, we must be merciful, we
must be forgiving, and thereupon that God will forgive us," is true,
and then say whether or no that doctrine is not better than the
doctrine that somebody else can be good for you, that somebody else can
be bad for you, and that the only way to get to heaven is to believe
something that you do not understand.

Now upon these gospels that I have read the churches rest; and out of
those things that I have read they have made their creeds.  And the
first Church to make a creed, so far as I know, was the Catholic. I
take it that is the first Church that had any power.  That is the
Church that has preserved all these miracles for us.  That is the
Church that preserved the manuscripts for us.  That is the Church whose
word we have to take.  That Church is the first witness that
Protestantism brought to the bar of history to prove miracles that took
place eighteen hundred years ago; and while the witness is there
Protestantism takes pains to say: "You can't believe one word that
witness says, now."

That Church is the only one that keeps up a constant communication with
heaven through the instrumentality of a large number of decayed saints.
That Church is an agent of God on earth.  That Church has a person who
stands in the place of Deity; and that Church, according to their
doctrine, is infallible.  That Church has persecuted to the exact
extent of her power--and always will.  In Spain that Church stands
erect, and that Church is arrogant.  In the United States that Church
crawls.  But the object in both countries is the same, and that is the
destruction of intellectual liberty.  That Church teaches us that we
can make God happy by being miserable ourselves. That Church teaches
you that a nun is holier in the sight of God than a loving mother with
a child in her thrilled and thrilling arms. That Church teaches you
that a priest is better than a father.  That Church teaches you that
celibacy is better than that passion of love that has made everything
of beauty in this world.  That Church tells the girl of 16 or 18 years
of age, with eyes like dew and light--that girl with the red of health
in the white of her beautiful checks--tells that girl, "Put on the veil
woven of death and night, kneel upon stones, and you will please God."

I tell you that, by law, no girl should be allowed to take the veil,
and renounce the beauties of the world, until she was at least 25 years
of age.  Wait until she knows what she wants.

I am opposed to allowing these spider-like priests weaving webs to
catch the flies of youth; and there ought to be a law appointing
commissioners to visit such places twice a year, and release every
person who expresses a desire to be released.  I don't believe in
keeping penitentiaries for God.  No doubt they are honest about it.
That is not the question.

Now this Church, after a few centuries of thought, made a creed, and
that creed is the foundation of orthodox religion.  Let me read it to

"Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he
hold the Catholic faith; which faith, except every one do keep entire
and inviolate, without doubt, he shall everlastingly perish."  Now the
faith is this: "That we worship one God in trinity, and trinity in

Of course you understand how that's done, and there's no need of my
explaining it.  Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the
substance.  You see what a predicament that would leave the Deity in if
you divided, the substance.

"For one is the person of the Father, another of the Son, and another
of the Holy Ghost; but the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and
of the Holy Ghost is all one "--you know what I mean by Godhead. In
glory equal, and in majesty co-eternal.  Such as the Father is, such is
the Son, such is the Holy Ghost.  The Father is uncreated, the Son
uncreated, the Holy Ghost uncreated.  The Father incomprehensible, the
Son incomprehensible, the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.

And that is the reason we know so much about the thing.  "The Father is
eternal, the Son eternal, the Holy Ghost eternal," and yet there are
not three eternals, only one eternal, as also there are not three
uncreated, nor three incomprehensibles, only one uncreated, one

"In like manner, the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, the Holy
Ghost almighty."  Yet there are not three almighties, only one
Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son God, the Holy Ghost God, and
yet not three Gods; and so likewise, the Father is Lord, the Son is
Lord, the Holy Ghost is Lord, yet there are not three Lords, for as we
are compelled by the Christian truth to acknowledge every person by
himself to be God and Lord, so we are all forbidden by the Catholic
religion to say there are three Gods, or three Lords.  "The Father is
made of no one, not created or begotten.  The Son is from the Father
alone, not made, nor created, or begotten.  The Holy Ghost is from the
Father and the Son, not made nor begotten, but proceeded--" You know
what proceeding is.

"So there is one Father, not three Fathers."  Why should there be three
Fathers, and only one Son?

"One Son, and not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts;
and in this Trinity there is nothing before or afterward, nothing
greater or less, but the whole three persons are coeternal with one
another, and coequal, so that in all things the unity is to be
worshiped in Trinity, and the Trinity is to be worshiped in unity, and
therefore we will believe."  Those who will be saved must thus think of
the Trinity.  Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation
that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now the right of this thing is this: That we believe and confess that
our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is both God and man.  He is God
of the substance of His Father begotten before the world was.  That was
a good while before His mother lived.

"And He is man of the substance of His mother, born in this world,
perfect God and perfect man, and the rational soul in human flesh
subsisting equal to the Father according to His Godhead, but less than
the Father, according to His manhood, who being both God and man is not
two but one--one not by conversion of God into flesh but by the taking
of the manhood into God."

You see that it is a great deal easier than the other.  "One
altogether, not by a confusion of substance, but by unity of person,
for as the rational soul and flesh is one man, so God the man, is one
Christ, who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again
the third day from the dead, ascended into heaven, and He sitteth at
the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, and He shall come to judge
the living and the dead."

In order to be saved it is necessary to believe this.  What a blessing,
that we do not have to understand it.  And in order to compel the human
intellect to get upon its knees, before that infinite absurdity,
thousands and millions have suffered agonies; thousands and millions
have perished in dungeons and in fire; and if all the bones of all the
victims of the Catholic Church could be gathered together, a monument
higher than all the pyramids would rise in our presence, and the eyes
even of priests would be suffused with tears.

That Church covered Europe with cathedrals and dungeons.  That Church
robbed men of the jewel of the soul.  That Church had ignorance upon
its knees.  That Church went into partnership with the tyrants of the
throne, and between these two vultures, the altar and the throne, the
heart of man was devoured.  Of course I have met, and cheerfully admit
that there is thousands of good Catholics; but Catholicism is contrary
to human liberty.  Catholicism bases salvation upon belief. Catholicism
teaches man to trample his reason under foot.  And for that reason, it
is wrong.

Now, the next Church that comes along in the way that I wish to speak
of is the Episcopalian.  That was founded by Henry VIII., now in
heaven. He cast off Queen Catherine and Catholicism together.  And he
accepted Episcopalianism and Annie Boleyn at the same time.  That
Church, if it had a few more ceremonies, would be Catholic.  If it had
a few less, nothing.  We have an Episcopalian Church in this country,
and it has all the imperfection of a poor relation.  It is always
boasting of a rich relative.  In England the creed is made by law, the
same as we pass statutes here.  And when a gentleman dies in England,
in order to determine whether he shall be saved or not, it is necessary
for the power of heaven to read the acts of Parliament.  It becomes a
question of law, and sometimes a man is damned on a very nice point.
Lost on demurrer.

A few years ago, a gentleman by the name of Seabury, Samuel Seabury,
was sent over to England to get some apostolic succession.  We hadn't a
drop in the house.  It was necessary for the bishops of the English
church to put their hands upon his head.  They refused; there was no
act of Parliament justifying--it.  He had then to go to the Scotch
Bishops; and, had the Scotch Bishops refused, we never would have had
any apostolic succession in the new world.  And God would have been
driven out of half the world; and the true church never could have been
founded.  But the Scotch Bishops put their hands on his head, and now
we have an unbroken succession of heads and hands from St. Paul to the
last bishop.

In this country the Episcopal Church has done some good, and I want to
thank that Church.  Having, on an average, less religion than the
others, on an average you have done more good to mankind.  You
preserved some of the humanities.  You did not hate music, you did not
absolutely despise painting, and you did not altogether abhor
architecture, and you finally admitted that it was no worse to keep
time with your feet than with your hands.  And some went so far as to
say that people could play cards, and God would overlook it, or would
look the other way.  For all these things accept my thanks.

When I was a boy, the other Churches looked upon dancing as probably
the mysterious sin against the Holy Ghost; and they used to teach that
when four boys got in a hay-mow, playing seven-up, that the Eternal God
stood whetting the sword of His eternal wrath waiting to strike them
down to the lowest hell.  And so that Church has done some good.

After a while, in England, a couple of gentlemen, or a couple of men by
the name of Wesley and Whitfield, said: "If everybody is going to hell,
nearly, somebody ought to mention it."  The Episcopal clergy said:
"Keep still; don't tear your gown."  Wesley and Whitfield said: "This
frightful truth ought to be proclaimed from the housetops at every
opportunity, from the highway of every occasion." They were good,
honest men.  They believed their doctrine.  And they said: "If there is
a hell, and a Niagara of souls pouring over an eternal precipice of
ignorance, somebody ought to say something." They were right; somebody
ought, if such thing was true.  Wesley was a believer in the Bible.  He
believed in the actual presence of the Almighty.  God used to do
miracles for him; used to put off a rain several days to give his
meeting a chance; used to cure his horse of lameness; used to cure Mr.
Wesley's headaches.

And Mr. Wesley also believed in the actual existence of the devil. He
believed that devils had possession of people.  He talked to the devil
when he was in folks, and the devil told him that he was going to
leave; and that he was going into another person; that he would be
there at a certain time; and Wesley went to that other person, and
there the devil was, prompt to the minute.  He regarded every
conversion as an absolute warfare between God and this devil for the
possession of that human soul.  Honest, no doubt.  Mr. Wesley did not
believe in human liberty. Honest, no doubt.  Was opposed to the liberty
of the colonies.  Honestly so.  Mr. Wesley preached a sermon entitled,
"The Cause and Cure of Earthquakes," in which he took the ground that
earthquakes were caused by sin and the only way to stop them was to
believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.  No doubt an honest man.

Wesley and Whitfield fell out on the question of predestination. Wesley
insisted that God invited everybody to the feast.  Whitfield said He
did not invite those He knew would not come.  Wesley said He did.
Whitfield said: "Well, He didn't put plates for them, anyway." Wesley
said He did.  So that, when they were in hell, he could show them that
there was a seat left for them.  And that Church that they founded is
still active.  And probably no Church in the world has done so much
preaching for as little money as the Methodists. Whitfield believed in
slavery and advocated the slave trade.  And it was of Whitfield that
Whittier made the two lines:

He bade the slave ships speed from coast to coast, Fanned by the wings
of the Holy Ghost.

We have lately had a meeting of the Methodists, and I find, by their
statistics, that they believe they have converted 130,000 folks in a
year.  That in order to do this, they have 26,000 preachers, 226,000
Sunday-school scholars, and about $1,000,000,000  invested in church
property.  I find, in looking over the history of the world, that there
are 40,000,000 or 50,000,000,000 of people born a year, and if they are
saved at the rate of 30,000 a year, about how long will it take that
doctrine to save this world?  Good, honest people; they are mistaken.

In old times they were very simple.  Churches used to be like barns.
They used to have them divided--men on that side, and women on this. A
little barbarous.  We have advanced since then, and we now find as a
fact, demonstrated by experience, that a man sitting by the woman he
loves can thank God as heartily as though sitting between two men that
he has never been introduced to.

There is another thing these Methodists should remember, and that is,
that the Episcopalians were the greatest enemies they ever had.  And
they should remember that the Free-Thinkers have always treated them
kindly and well.

There is one thing about the Methodist Church in the North that I like.
But I find that it is not Methodism that does that.  I find that the
Methodist Church in the South is as much opposed to liberty as the
Methodist Church North is in favor of liberty.  So it is not Methodism
that is in favor of liberty or slavery.  They differ a little in their
creed from the rest.  They do not believe that God does everything.
They believe that He does His part, and that you must do the rest, and
that getting to heaven is a partnership business.

The next church is the Presbyterians--in my judgment the worst of all,
as far as creed is concerned.  This Church was founded by John Calvin,
a murderer!  John Calvin, having power in Geneva, inaugurated human
torture.  Voltaire abolished torture in France.  The man who abolished
torture, if the Christian religion be true, God is now torturing in
hell; and the man who inaugurated torture, is now a glorified angel in
heaven.  It won't do.

John Knox started this doctrine in Scotland, and there is this
peculiarity about Presbyterianism, it grows best where the soil is
poorest.  I read the other day an account of a meeting between John
Knox and John Calvin.  Imagine a dialogue between a pestilence and a
famine! Imagine a conversation between a block and an ax!  As I read
their conversation it seemed to me as though John Knox and John Calvin
were made for each other; that they fitted each other like the upper
and lower jaws of a wild beast.  They believed happiness was a crime;
they looked upon laughter as blasphemy, and they did all they could to
destroy every human feeling, and to fill the mind with the infinite
gloom of predestination and eternal damnation. They taught the doctrine
that God had a right to damn us because He made us.  That is just the
reason that He has not a right to damn us. There is some dust.
Unconscious dust!  What right has God to change that unconscious dust
into a human being, when He knows that human being will sin; and He
knows that human being will suffer eternal agony?  Why not leave him in
the unconscious dust?  What right has an infinite God to add to the sum
of human agony?  Suppose I knew that I could change that piece of
furniture into a living, sentient human being, and I knew that that
being would suffer untold agony forever.  If I did it, I would be a
fiend.  I would leave that being in the unconscious dust.  And yet we
are told that we must believe such a doctrine, or we are to be
eternally damned!  It won't do.

In 1839 there was a division in this Church, and they had a lawsuit to
see which was the Church of God.  And they tried it by a judge and
jury, and the jury decided that the new school was the Church of God,
and then they got a new trial, and the next jury decided that the old
school was the Church of God, and that settled it. That Church teaches
that infinite innocence was sacrificed for me! I don't want it!  I
don't wish to go to heaven unless I can settle by the books, and go
there because I ought to go there.  I have said, and I say again, I
don't want to be a charity angel.  I have no ambition to become a
winged pauper of the skies.

The other day a young gentleman, a Presbyterian, who had just been
converted, came to me and gave me a tract and he told me he was
perfectly happy.  Ugh!  Says I: "Do you think a great many people are
going to hell?"  "Oh, yes."  "And you are perfectly happy?" "Well, he
didn't know as he was quite." "Wouldn't you be happier if they were all
going to heaven?"   "O, yes."  "Well, then you are not perfectly
happy?" "No, he didn't think he was." Says I: "When you get to heaven,
then you would be perfectly happy?"  "Oh, yes."  "Now, when we are only
going to hell, you are not quite happy; but when we are in hell, and
you in heaven, then you will be perfectly happy?" You won't be as
decent when you get to be an angel as you are now, will you?   "Well,"
he said, "that was not exactly it."  Said I: "Suppose your mother were
in hell, would you be happy in heaven then?" "Well,"  he says,  "I
suppose God would know the best place for mother."  And I thought to
myself, then, if I was a woman, I would like to have five or six boys
like that.

It will not do.  Heaven is where are those we love, and those who love
us.  And I wish to go to no world unless I can be accompanied by those
who love me here.  Talk about the consolations of this infamous
doctrine.  The consolations of a doctrine that makes a father say,  "I
can be happy with my daughter in hell"; that makes a mother say, "I can
be happy with my generous, brave boy in hell"; that makes a boy say, "I
can enjoy the glory of heaven with the woman who bore me, the woman who
would have died for me, in eternal agony." And they call that tidings
of great joy.

I have not time to speak of the Baptists,--that Jeremy Taylor said were
as much to be rooted out as anything that is the greatest pest and
nuisance on the earth.  Nor of the Quakers, the best of all, and abused
by all.  I can not forget that George Fox, in the year of grace 1640,
was put in the pillory and whipped from town to town, scarred, put in a
dungeon, beaten, trampled upon, and what for? Simply because he
preached the doctrine: "Thou shalt not resist evil with evil. Thou
shalt love thy enemies."  Think what the Church must have been that day
to scar the flesh of that loving man!  Just think of it!  I say I have
not time to speak of all these sects. And of the varieties of
Presbyterians and Campbellites.  The people who think they must dive in
order to go up. There are hundreds and hundreds of these sects, all
founded upon this creed that I read, differing simply in degree.  Ah
but they say to me: "You are fighting something that is dead.  Nobody
believes this, now." The preachers do not believe what they preach in
the pulpit.  The people in the pews do not believe what they hear
preached.  And they say to me: "You are fighting something that is
dead.  This is all a form, we do not believe a solitary creed in it.
We sign it and swear that we believe it, but we don't.  And none of us
do. And all the ministers they say in private, admit that they do not
believe it, not quite." I don't know whether this is so or not.  I take
it that they believe what they preach.  I take it that when they meet
and solemnly agree to a creed, I take it they are honest and solemnly
believe in that creed.

The Evangelical Alliance, made up of all orthodox denominations of the
world, met only a few years ago, and here is their creed: They believe
in the divine inspiration, authority, and sufficiency of the Holy
Scriptures; the right and duty of private judgment in the
interpretation of Holy Scriptures, but if you interpret wrong you are
damned.  They believe in the unity of the Godhead and the trinity of
the persons therein.  They believe in the utter depravity of human
nature. There can be no more infamous doctrine than that.  They look
upon a little child as a lump of depravity.  I look upon it as a bud of
humanity, that will, under proper circumstances, blossom into rich and
glorious life.

Total depravity of human nature!  Here is a woman whose husband has
been lost at sea; the news comes that he has been drowned by the
ever-hungry waves, and she waits.  There is something in her heart that
tells her he is alive.  And she waits.  And years afterwards as she
looks down toward the little gate, she sees him; he has been given back
by the sea, and she rushes to his arms and covers his face with kisses,
and with tears. And if that infamous doctrine is true, every tear is a
crime, and every kiss a blasphemy.  It won't do.  According to that
doctrine, if a man steals and repents, and takes back the property, the
repentance and the taking back of the property are two other crimes if
he is totally depraved: It is an infamy.  What else do they believe?
"The justification of a sinner by faith alone," without works, just
faith. Believing something that you don't understand.  Of course God
cannot afford to reward a man for believing anything that is
reasonable.  God rewards only for believing something that is
unreasonable, if you believe something that you know is not so.  What
else?  They believe in the eternal blessedness of the righteous, and in
the eternal punishment of the wicked.  Tidings of great joy!  They are
so good that they will not associate with Universalists.  They will not
associate with Unitarians. They will not associate with scientists.
They will only associate with those who believed that God so loved the
world that He made up his mind to damn the most of us.  Then they say
to me: "What do you propose?  You have torn this down; what do you
propose to give in the place of it?"  I have not torn the good down.  I
have only endeavored to trample out the ignorant, cruel fires of hell.
I do not tear away the passage, "God will be merciful to the merciful."
I do not destroy the promise,  "If you will forgive others, God will
forgive you."  I would not for anything blot out the faintest stars
that shine in the horizon of human despair, nor in the horizon of human
hope; but I will do what I can to get that infinite shadow out of the
heart of man.

"What do you propose to put in place of this?"

Well, in the first place, I propose good fellowship--good friends all
around.  No matter what we believe, shake hands and let it go. That is
your opinion.  This is mine: "Let us be friends."  Science makes
friends, religion--superstition--makes enemies.  They say, "Belief is
important."  I say no, good actions are important. Judge by deed, not
by creed, good fellowship.  We have had too many of these solemn
people. Whenever I see an exceedingly solemn man, I know he is an
exceedingly stupid man.  No man of any humor ever founded any
religion--never. Humor sees both sides, while reason is the holy light;
humor carries the lantern and the man with a keen sense of humor is
preserved from the solemn stupidities of superstition.  I like a man
who has got good feeling for everybody--good fellowship.  One man said
to another:

"Will you take a glass of wine?"

"I don't drink."

"Will you smoke a cigar?"

"I don't smoke."

"Maybe you will chew something?"

"I don't chew."

"Let us eat some hay."

"I tell you I don't eat hay."

"Well, then, good-bye; for you are no company for man or beast."

I believe in the gospel of cheerfulness, the gospel of good nature, the
gospel of good health.  Let us pray to our bodies.  Take care of our
bodies, and our souls will take care of themselves.  Good health! And I
believe that the time will come when the public thought will be so
great and grand that it will be looked upon as infamous to perpetuate
disease. I believe the time will come when man will not fill the future
with consumption and insanity.  I believe the time will come when we
study ourselves, and understand the laws of health, that we will say,
"We are under obligation to put the flags of health in the cheeks of
our children."  Even if I got to heaven, and had a harp, I would hate
to look back upon my children and grandchildren, and see them diseased,
deformed, crazed, all suffering the penalties of crimes I had committed.

I, then, believe in the gospel of good health, and I believe in a
gospel of good living.  You can not make any God happy by fasting. Let
us have good food, and let us have it well cooked--and it is a thousand
times better to know how to cook it than it is to understand any
theology in the world.  I believe in the gospel of good clothes. I
believe in the gospel of good houses, in the gospel of water and soap.
I believe in the gospel of intelligence, in the gospel of education.
The school-house is my cathedral.  The universe is my Bible.  I believe
in that gospel of justice that we must reap what we sow.

I do not believe in forgiveness.  If I rob Mr. Smith and God forgives
me, how does that help Smith?  If I, by slander, cover some poor girl
with the leprosy of some imputed crime, and she withers away like a
blighted flower, and afterward I get forgiveness, how does that help
her?  If there is another world we have got to settle.  No bankrupt
court there.  Pay down.  The Christians say, that among the ancient
Jews, if you committed a crime you had to kill a sheep, now they
say,--"Charge it."  "Put it upon the slate."  It won't do, for every
crime you commit you must answer to yourself and to the one you injure.
And if you have ever clothed another with unhappiness, as with a
garment of pain, you will never be quite as happy as though you hadn't
done that thing. No forgiveness.  Eternal, inexorable, everlasting
justice.  That is what I believe in.  And if it goes hard with me, I
will stand it, and I will stick to in logic and I will bear it like a

And I believe, too, in the gospel of liberty, in giving to others what
we claim for ourselves.  I believe there is room everywhere for
thought, and the more liberty you give away the more you will have. In
liberty, extravagance is economy.  Let us be just.  Let us be generous
to each other.

I believe in the gospel of intelligence.  That is the only lever
capable of raising mankind.  Intelligence must be the savior of this
world. Humanity is the grand religion, and no God can put another in
hell in another world who has made a little heaven in this.  God cannot
make a man miserable if that man has made somebody else happy.  God
cannot hate anybody who is capable of loving anybody.

So I believe in this great gospel of generosity.

"Ah! but," they say,  "it won't do.  You must believe.  I say no. My
gospel of health will bring life.  My gospel of intelligence, my gospel
of good living, my gospel of good-fellowship will cover the world with
happy homes.  My doctrine will put carpets upon your floors, pictures
upon your walls.  My doctrine will put books upon your shelves, ideas
in your minds.  My doctrine will rid the world of the abnormal monsters
born of the ignorance of superstition.  My doctrine will give us
health, wealth, and happiness.  That is what I want. That is what I
believe in. Give us intelligence.  In a little while a man may find
that he cannot steal without robbing himself.  He will find that he
cannot murder without assassinating his own joy.  He will find that
every crime is a mistake.  He will find that only that man carries the
cross who does wrong, and that the man who does right the cross turns
to wings upon his shoulders that will bear him upwards forever.  He
will find that intelligent self-love embraces within its mighty arms
all the human race.

"Oh," but they say to me, "you take away immortality."  I do not. If we
are immortal it is a fact in nature, and we are not indebted to priests
for it, nor to Bibles for it, and it cannot be destroyed by unbelief.

As long as we love we will hope to live, and when the one dies that we
love, we will say: "Oh, that we could meet again!"  And whether we do
or not, it will not be the work of theology.  It will be a fact in
nature.  I would not for my life destroy one star of human hope; but I
want it so that when a poor woman rocks the cradle, and sings a lullaby
to the dimpled darling, that she will not be compelled to believe that,
ninety-nine chances in a hundred, she is raising kindling-wood for
hell. One world at a time--that is my doctrine.

It is said in the Testament, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil
thereof" and I say, sufficient unto each world is the evil thereof. And
suppose, after all, that death does end all, next to eternal joy, next
to being forever with those we love and those who have loved us, next
to that is to be wrapt in the dreamless drapery of eternal peace.

Next to external life is eternal death.  Upon the shadowy shore of
death the sea of trouble casts no wave.  Eyes that have been curtained
by the everlasting dark will never know again the touch of tears. Lips
that have been touched by eternal silence will never utter another word
of grief.  Hearts of dust do not break; the dead do not weep. And I had
rather think of those I have loved, and those I have lost, as having
returned, as having become a part of the elemental wealth of the
world--I would rather think of them as unconscious dust--I would rather
think of them as gurgling in the stream, floating in the clouds,
bursting in the foam of light upon the shores of worlds--I would rather
think of them as the inanimate and eternally unconscious, that to have
even a suspicion that their naked souls had been clutched by an
orthodox God.

But for me, I will leave the dead where nature leaves them.  And
whatever flower of hope springs up in my heart I will cherish; but I
can not believe that there is any being in this universe who has
created a human soul for eternal pain.  And I would rather that every
God would destroy himself; I would rather that we all should go to
eternal chaos, to black and starless night, that that just one soul
should suffer eternal agony.  I have made up my mind that if there is a
God, he will be merciful to the merciful.  Upon that rock I stand. That
he will forgive the forgiving.  Upon that rock I stand.  That every man
should be true to himself, and that there is no world, no star, in
which honesty is a crime.  And upon that rock I stand.  The honest man,
the good, kind, sweet woman, the happy child, has nothing to fear,
neither in this world, nor the world to come.  And upon that rock I


After looking over the replies made to his new lecture, Col. Ingersoll
was asked by a Tribune reporter what he thought of them.  He replied as

I think they dodge the point.  The real point is this: If salvation by
faith is the real doctrine of Christianity, I asked on Sunday before
last, and I still ask, why didn't Matthew tell it?  I still insist that
Mark should have remembered it, and I shall always believe that Luke
ought, at least, to have noticed it.  I was endeavoring to show that
modern Christianity has for its basis an interpolation.  I think I
showed it. The only gospel on the orthodox side is that of John, and
that was certainly not written, or did not appear in its present form,
until long after the others were written.  I know very well that the
Catholic Church claimed during the Dark Ages, and still claims, that
references had been made to the gospels by persons living in the first,
second and third centuries; but I believe such manuscripts were
manufactured by the Catholic Church.  For many years in Europe there
was not one person in 20,000 who could read and write. During that time
the Church had in its keeping the literature of our world.  They
interpolated as they pleased.  They created.  They destroyed.  In other
words, they did whatever in their opinion was necessary to substantiate
the faith.  The gentlemen who saw fit to reply did not answer the
question, and I again call upon the clergy to explain to the people
why, if salvation depended upon belief in the Lord Jesus Christ,
Matthew did not mention it.  Some one has said that Christ didn't make
known this doctrine of salvation by belief or faith until after His
resurrection. Certainly none of the gospels were written until after
His resurrection; and if He made that doctrine known after His
resurrection, and before His ascension, it should have been in Matthew,
Mark, and Luke, as well as John.

The replies of the clergy show that they have not investigated the
subject; that they are not well acquainted with the New Testament. In
other words, they have not read it except with the regulation
theological bias.  There is one thing I wish to correct here.  In an
editorial in the Tribune it was stated that I had admitted that Christ
was beyond and above Buddha, Zoroaster, Confucius, and others. I didn't
say so.  Another point was made against me, and those who made it
seemed to think it was a good one.  In my lecture I asked why it was
that the Disciples of Christ wrote in Greek, whereas, in fact, they
understood only Hebrew.  It is now claimed that Greek was the language
of Jerusalem at that time; that Hebrew had fallen into disuse; that no
one understood it except the literati and the highly educated.  If I
fell into an error upon this point it was because I relied upon the New
Testament.  I find in the twenty-first chapter of the Acts an account
of Paul having been mobbed in the city of Jerusalem; that he was
protected by a Chief Captain and some soldiers; that, when upon the
stairs of the castle to which he was being taken for protection, he
obtained leave from the Captain to speak unto the people.  In the
fortieth verse of that chapter I find the following:

"And when he had given him license, Paul stood on the stairs and
beckoned with the hand unto the people; and when there was made a great
silence he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying--"

And then follows the speech of Paul, wherein he gives an account of his
conversion.  It seems a little curious to me that Paul for the purpose
of quieting the mob, would speak to that mob in an unknown language.
If I were mobbed in the city of Chicago, and wished to defend myself
with an explanation, I certainly would not make that explanation in
Chocktaw, even if I understood that tongue.  My present opinion is that
I would speak in English; and the reason I would speak in English is,
because that language is generally understood in this city.  And so I
conclude from the account in the twenty-first chapter of the Acts that
"Hebrew was the language of Jerusalem at that time, or that Paul would
not have addressed the mob in that tongue."

"Did you read Mr. Courtney's answer?"

"I read what Mr. Courtney read from others, and think some of his
quotations very good; and have no doubt that the authors will feel
complimented by being quoted."

"But what about there being belief in Matthew?"

"Mr. Courtney says that certain people were cured of diseases on
account of faith.  Admitting that mumps, measles, and whooping-cough
could be cured in that way, there is not even a suggestion that
salvation depended upon a like faith.  I think he can hardly afford to
rely upon the miracles of the New Testament to prove his doctrine.
There is one instance in which a miracle was performed by Christ
without His knowledge.  And I hardly think that even Mr. Courtney would
insist that any faith could have been great enough for that. The fact
is, I believe that all these miracles were ascribed to Christ long
after His death, and that Christ never, at any time or place, pretended
to have any supernatural power whatever.  Neither do I believe that He
claimed any supernatural origin.  He claimed simply to be a man--no
less, no more. I don't believe Mr. Courtney is satisfied with his own

"And now as to Prof. Swing?"

"Mr. Swing has been out of the orthodox church so long that he seems to
have forgotten the reasons for which he left it. I don't believe there
is an orthodox minister in the city of Chicago who will agree with Mr.
Swing that salvation by faith is no longer preached.  Prof. Swing seems
to think it of no importance who wrote the Gospel of St. Matthew.  In
this I agree with him.   Judging from what he said, there is hardly
difference enough of opinion between us to justify a reply on his part.
He, however, makes one mistake. I did not in the lecture say one word
about tearing churches down. I have no objection to people building all
the churches they wish. While I admit that it is a pretty sight to see
children on a morning in June going through the fields to the country
church, I still insist that the beauty of that sight doesn't answer the
question how it is that Matthew forgot to say anything about salvation
through Christ.  Prof. Swing is a man of poetic temperament; but this
is not a poetic question."

"How did the card of Dr. Thomas strike you?"

"I think the reply of Dr. Thomas in the best possible spirit.  I regard
him to day as the best intellect in the Methodist denomination. He
seems to have what is generally understood as a Christian spirit. He
has always treated me with perfect fairness, and I should have said
long ago many grateful things, had I not feared I might hurt with his
own people. He seems to be by nature a perfectly fair man; and I know
of no man in the United States for whom I have a profounder respect.
Of course I don't agree with Mr. Thomas.  I think in many things he is
mistaken. But I believe him to be perfectly sincere. There is one
trouble about him,--he is growing; and this fact will no doubt give
great trouble to many of his brethren.  Certain Methodist hazelbrush
feel a little uneasy in the shadow of his oak."

"Are you going to make a formal reply to their sermons."

"Not unless something better is done than has been.  Of course I don't
know what another Sabbath may bring forth.  I am waiting.  But of one
thing I feel perfectly assured; that no man in the United States, or in
the world, can account for the fact, if we are to be saved only by
faith in Christ, that Matthew forgot it, that Luke said nothing about
it, and that Mark never mentioned it except in two passages written by
another person.  Until that is answered, as one grave-digger says to
the other in "Hamlet," I shall say: 'Ay, tell me that and unyoke.'  In
the meantime, I wish to keep on the best terms with all parties
concerned. I cannot see why my forgiving spirit fails to gain their
sincere praise."

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