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´╗┐Title: Lectures of Col. R. G. Ingersoll - Latest
Author: Ingersoll, Robert Green, 1833-1899
Language: English
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Lectures of Col. R. G. Ingersoll--Latest


   Thomas Paine
   Liberty of Man, Woman and Child
   Some Reasons Why
   Intellectual Development
   Human Rights
   Talmagian Theology (Second Lecture)
   Talmagian Theology (Third Lecture)
   Religious Intolerance
   Review of His Reviewers
   How the Gods Grow
   The Religion of our Day
   Heretics And Heresies
   The Bible
   Myth and Miracle
   Ingersoll's Letter, on The Chinese God
   Ingersoll's Letter, Is Suicide a Sin?
   Ingersoll's Letter, The Right To One's Life

Ingersoll's Lecture on Thomas Paine--Delivered in Central Music Hall,
Chicago, January 29, 1880 (From the Chicago Times, Verbatim Report)

Ladies and Gentlemen:--It so happened that the first speech--the very
first public speech I ever made--took occasion to defend the memory of
Thomas Paine.

I did it because I had read a little something of the history of my
country.  I did it because I felt indebted to him for the liberty I
then enjoyed--and whatever religion may be true, ingratitude is the
blackest of crimes.  And whether there is any God or not, in every star
that shines, gratitude is a virtue.

The man who will tell the truth about the dead is a good man, and for
one, about this man, I intend to tell just as near the truth as I can.

Most history consists in giving the details of things that never
happened--most biography is usually the lie coming from the mouth of
flattery, or the slander coming from the lips of malice, and whoever
attacks the religion of a country will, in his turn, be attacked.
Whoever attacks a superstition will find that superstition defended by
all the meanness of ingenuity.  Whoever attacks a superstition will
find that there is still one weapon left in the arsenal of

I was reading, yesterday, a poem called the "Light of Asia," and I read
in that how a Boodh seeing a tigress perishing of thirst, with her
mouth upon the dry stone of a stream, with her two cubs sucking at her
dry and empty dugs, this Boodh took pity upon this wild and famishing
beast, and, throwing from himself the Yellowrobe of his order, and
stepping naked before this tigress, said:  "Here is meat for you and
your cubs." In one moment the crooked daggers of her claws ran riot in
his flesh, and in another he was devoured.  Such, during nearly all the
history of this world, has been the history of every man who has stood
in front of superstition.

Thomas Paine, as has been so eloquently said by the gentleman who
introduced me, was a friend of man, and whoever is a friend of man is
also a friend of God--if there is one.  But God has had many friends
who were the enemies of their fellow-men.  There is but one test by
which to measure any man who has lived.  Did he leave this world better
than he found it?  Did he leave in this world more liberty?  Did he
leave in this world more goodness, more humanity, than when he was
born?  That is the test.  And whatever may have been the faults of
Thomas Paine, no American who appreciates liberty, no American who
believes in true democracy and pure republicanism, should ever breathe
one word against his name.  Every American, with the divine mantle of
charity, should cover all his faults, and with a never-tiring tongue
should recount his virtues.

He was a common man.  He did not belong to the aristocracy.  Upon the
head of his father God had never poured the divine petroleum of
authority.  He had not the misfortune to belong to the upper classes.
He had the fortune to be born among the poor and to feel against his
great heart the throb of the toiling and suffering masses.  Neither was
it his misfortune to have been educated at Oxford.  What little sense
he had was not squeezed out at Westminster.  He got his education from
books.  He got his education from contact with fellow-men, and he
thought, and a man is worth just what nature impresses upon him.  A man
standing by the sea, or in a forest, or looking at a flower, or hearing
a poem, or looking in the eyes of the woman he loves, receives all that
he is capable of receiving--and if he is a great man the impression is
great, and he uses it for the purpose of benefiting his fellow-man.

Thomas Paine was not rich, he was poor, and his father before him was
poor, and he was raised a sailmaker, a very lowly profession, and yet
that man became one of the mainstays of liberty in this world.  At one
time he was an excise man, like Burns.  Burns was once--speak it
softly--a gauger--and yet he wrote poems that will wet the cheek of
humanity with tears as long as the world travels in its orb around the

Poverty was his brother, necessity his master.  He had more brains than
books; more courage than politeness; more strength than polish.  He had
no veneration for old mistakes, no admiration for ancient lies.  He
loved the truth for truth's sake and for man's sake.  He saw oppression
on every hand, injustice everywhere, hypocrisy at the altar, venality
on the bench, tyranny on the throne, and with a splendid courage he
espoused the cause of the weak against the strong, of the enslaved many
against the titled few.

In England he was nothing.  He belonged to the lower classes--that is,
the useful people.  England depended for her prosperity upon her
mechanics and her thinkers, her sailors and her workers, and they are
the only men in Europe who are not gentlemen.  The only obstacles in
the way of progress in Europe were the nobility and the priests, and
they are the only gentlemen.

This, and his native genius, constituted his entire capital, and he
needed no more.  He found the colonies clamoring for justice; whining
about their grievances; upon their knees at the foot of the throne,
imploring that mixture of idiocy and insanity, George III., by the
grace of God, for a restoration of their ancient privileges.  They were
not endeavoring to become free men, but were trying to soften the heart
of their master.  They were perfectly willing to make brick if Pharaoh
would furnish the straw.  The colonists wished for, hoped for, and
prayed for reconciliation.  They did not dream of independence.

Paine gave to the world his "Common Sense."  It was the first argument
for separation; the first assault upon the British form of government;
the first blow for a republic, and it aroused our fathers like a
trumpet's blast.  He was the first to perceive the destiny of the new
world.  No other pamphlet ever accomplished such wonderful results.  It
was filled with arguments, reasons, persuasions, and unanswerable
logic. It opened a new world.  It filled the present with hope and the
future with honor. Everywhere the people responded, and in a few months
the Continental Congress declared the colonies free and independent
states. A new nation was born.

It is simple justice to say that Paine did more to cause the
Declaration of Independence than any other man.  Neither should it be
forgotten that his attacks upon Great Britain were also attacks upon
monarchy, and while he convinced the people that the colonies ought to
separate from the mother country, he also proved to them that a free
government is the best that can be instituted among men.

In my judgment Thomas Paine was the best political writer that ever
lived.  "What he wrote was pure nature, and his soul and his pen ever
went together."  Ceremony, pageantry, and all the paraphernalia of
power had no effect upon him.  He examined into the why and wherefore
of things.  He was perfectly radical in his mode of thought.  Nothing
short of the bed-rock satisfied him. His enthusiasm for what he
believed to be right knew no bounds. During all the dark scenes of the
revolution never for a moment did he despair.  Year after year his
brave words were ringing through the land, and by the bivouac fires the
weary soldiers read the inspiring words of "Common Sense," filled with
ideas sharper than their swords, and consecrated themselves anew to the
cause of freedom.

Paine was not content with having aroused the spirit of independence,
but he gave every energy of his soul to keep that spirit alive.  He was
with the army.  He shared its defeats, its dangers, and its glory.
When the situation became desperate, when gloom settled upon all, he
gave them the "Crisis."    It was a cloud by day and a pillar of fire
by night, leading the way to freedom, honor, and glory.  He shouted to
them "These are the times that try men's souls."  The summer soldier
and the sunshine patriot, will, in this crisis, shrink from the service
of his country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks
of man and woman.

To those who wished to put the war off to some future day, with a lofty
and touching spirit of self-sacrifice, he said:  "Every generous parent
should say: 'If there must be war, let it be in my day, that my child
may have peace'."  To the cry that Americans were rebels, he replied:
"He that rebels against reason is a real rebel; but he that in defense
of reason rebels against tyranny, has a better title to 'Defender of
the Faith' than George III."

Some said it was to the interest of the colonies to be free. Paine
answered this by saying:  "To know whether it be the interest of the
continent to be independent, we need ask only this simple, easy
question:  'Is it the interest of man to be a boy all his life?"'  He
found many who would listen to nothing, and to them he said:  "That to
argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine
to the dead."  This sentiment ought to adorn the walls of every
orthodox church.

There is a world of political wisdom in this: "England lost her liberty
in a long chain of right reasoning from wrong principles;"  and there
is real discrimination in saying:  "The Greeks and Romans were strongly
possessed of the spirit of liberty, but not the principles, for at the
time they were determined not to be slaves themselves, they employed
their power to enslave the rest of mankind."

In his letter to the British people, in which he tried to convince them
that war was not to their interest, occurs the following passage
brimful of common sense:  "War never can be the interest of a trading
nation any more than quarreling can be profitable to a man in business.
But to make war with those who trade with us is like setting a bull-dog
upon a customer at the shop door."

The Writings of Paine fairly glitter with simple, compact, logical
statements that carry conviction to the dullest and most prejudicial.
He had the happiest possible way of putting the case, in asking
questions in such a way that they answer themselves, and in stating his
premises so clearly that the deduction could not be avoided.

Day and night he labored for America.  Month after month, year after
year, he gave himself to the great cause, until there was "a government
of the people and for the people," and until the banner of the stars
floated over a continent redeemed and consecrated to the happiness of

At the close of the Revolution no one stood higher in America than
Thomas Paine.  The best, the wisest, the most patriotic were his
friends and admirers; and had he been thinking only of his own good he
might have rested from his toils and spent the remainder of his life in
comfort and in ease.  He could have been what the world is pleased to
call "respectable."  He would have died surrounded by clergymen,
warriors, and statesmen, and at his death there would have been an
imposing funeral, miles of carriages, civic societies, salvos of
artillery, a Nation in mourning, and, above all, a splendid monument
covered with lies. He choose rather to benefit mankind.  At that time
the seeds sown by the great infidels were beginning to bear fruit in
France. The eighteenth century was crowning its gray hairs with the
wreath of progress.

On every hand science was bearing testimony against the church.
Voltaire had filled Europe with light.  D'Holbach was giving to the
elite of Paris the principles contained in his "System of Nature."  The
encyclopaedists had attacked superstition with information for the
masses.  The foundation of things began to be examined.  A few had the
courage to keep their shoes on and let the bush burn.  Miracles began
to get scarce.  Everywhere the people began to inquire.  America had
set an example to the world.  The word liberty was in the mouths of
men, and they began to wipe the dust from their superstitious knees.
The dawn of a new day had appeared.   Thomas Paine went to France.
Into the new movement he threw all his energies.  His fame had gone
before him, and he was welcomed as a friend of the human race and as a
champion of free government.

He had never relinquished his intention of pointing out to his
countrymen the defects, absurdities, and abuse of the English
government.  For this purpose; he composed and published his greatest
political work. "The Rights of Man."  This work should be read by every
man and woman.  It is concise, accurate, rational, convincing, and
unanswerable.  It shows great thought, an intimate knowledge of the
various forms of government, deep insight into the very springs of
human action, and a courage that compels respect and admiration.  The
most difficult political problems are solved in a few sentences.  The
venerable arguments in favor of wrong are refuted with a
question--answered with a word.  For forcible illustration, apt
comparison, accuracy and clearness of statement, and absolute
thoroughness, it has never been excelled.

The fears of the administration were aroused, and Paine was prosecuted
for libel, and found guilty; and yet there is not a sentiment in the
entire work that will not challenge the admiration of every civilized
man.  It is a magazine of political wisdom, an arsenal of ideas, and an
honor not only to Thomas Paine, but to nature itself.  It could have
been written only by the man who had the generosity, the exalted
patriotism, the goodness to say:  "The world is my country, and to do
good my religion."

There is in all the utterances of the world no grander, no sublimer
sentiment.  There is no creed that can be compared with it for a
moment. It should be wrought in gold, adorned with jewels, and
impressed upon every human heart:  "The world is my country, and to do
good my religion."

In 1792, Paine was elected by the department of Calais as their
representative in the National Assembly.  So great was his popularity
in France, that he was selected about the same time by the people of no
less than four departments.

Upon taking his place in the assembly, he was appointed as one of a
committee to draft a constitution for France.  Had the French people
taken the advice of Thomas Paine, there would have been no "reign of
terror."  The streets of Paris would not have been filled with blood in
that reign of terror.  There were killed in the City of Paris not less,
I think, than seventeen thousand people--and on one night, in the
massacre of St. Bartholomew, there were killed, by assassination, over
sixty thousand souls--men, women, and children.  The revolution would
have been the grandest success of the world.  The truth is that Paine
was too conservative to suit the leaders of the French revolution.
They, to a great extent, were carried away by hatred and a desire to
destroy. They had suffered so long, they had borne so much, that it was
impossible for them to be moderate in the hour of victory.

Besides all this, the French people had been so robbed by the
government, so degraded by the church, that they were not fit material
with which to construct a republic.  Many of the leaders longed to
establish a beneficent and just government, but the people asked for
revenge.  Paine was filled with a real love for mankind.  His
philanthropy was boundless.  He wished to destroy monarchy--not the
monarch.  He voted for the destruction of tyranny, and against the
death of the tyrant.  He wished to establish a government on a new
basis--one that would forget the past; one that would give privileges
to none, and protection to all.

In the assembly, where all were demanding the execution of the
king,--where to differ with the majority was to be suspected, and where
to be suspected was almost certain death--Thomas Paine had the courage,
the goodness, and the justice to vote against death. To vote against
the execution of the king was a vote against his own life.  This was
the sublimity of devotion to principle.  For this he was arrested,
imprisoned, and doomed to death.  There is not a theologian who has
ever maligned Thomas Paine that has the courage to do this thing.  When
Louis Capet was on trial for his life before the French convention,
Thomas Paine had the courage to speak and vote against the sentence of
death. In his speech I find the following splendid sentiments:

"My contempt and hatred for monarchical governments are sufficiently
well known, and my compassion for the unfortunate, friends or enemies,
is equally profound.

I have voted to put Louis Capet upon trial, because it was necessary to
prove to the world the perfidy, the corruption, and the horror of the
monarchical system.

To follow the trade of a king destroys all morality, just as the trade
of a jailer deadens all sensibility.

Make a man a king today and tomorrow he will be a brigand.

Had Louis Capet been a farmer, he might have been held in esteem by his
neighbors, and his wickedness results from his position rather than
from his nature.

Let the French nation purge its territory of kings without soiling
itself with their impure blood.

Let the United States be the asylum of Louis Capet, where, in spite of
the overshadowing miseries and crimes of a royal life, he will learn by
the continual contemplation of the general prosperity that the true
system of government is not that of kings, but of the people.

I am an enemy of kings, but I can not forget that they belong to the
human race.

It is always delightful to pursue that course where policy and humanity
are united.

As France has been the first of all the nations of Europe to destroy
royalty, let it be the first to abolish the penalty of death.

As a true republican, I consider kings as more the objects of contempt
than of vengeance."

Search the records of the world and you will find but few sublimer acts
than that of Thomas Paine voting against the king's death.  He, the
hater of despotism, the abhorer of monarchy, the champion of the rights
of man, the republican, accepting death to save the life of a deposed
tyrant--of a throneless king!  This was the last grand act of his
political life--the sublime conclusion of his political career.

All his life he had been the disinterested friend of man.  He had
labored not for money, not for fame, but for the general good. He had
aspired to no office.  He had no recognition of his services, but had
ever been content to labor as a common soldier in the army of progress,
confining his efforts to no country, looking upon the world as his
field of action.  Filled with a genuine love for the right, he found
himself imprisoned by the very people he had striven to save.

Had his enemies succeeded in bringing him to the block, he would have
escaped the calumnies and the hatred of the Christian world. And let me
tell you how neat they came getting him to the block. He was in prison,
there was a door to his cell--it had two doors, a door that opened in
and an iron door that opened out.  It was a dark passage, and whenever
they concluded to cut a man's head off the next day, an agent went
along and made a chalk mark upon the door where the poor prisoner was
bound. Mr. Barlow, the American minister, happened to be with him and
the outer door was shut, that is, open against the wall, and the inner
door was shut, and when the man came along whose business it was to
mark the door for death, he marked this door where Thomas Paine was,
but he marked the door that was against the wall, so when it was shut
the mark was inside, and the messenger of death passed by on the next
day.  If that had happened in favor of some Methodist preacher, they
would have clearly seen, not simply the hand of God, but both hands.
In this country, at least, he would have ranked with the proudest
names.  On the anniversary of the Declaration, his name would have been
upon the lips of all orators, and his memory in the hearts of all the

Thomas Paine had not finished his career.  He had spent his life thus
far in destroying the power of kings, and now turned his attention to
the priests.  He knew that every abuse had been embalmed in
scripture--that every outrage was in partnership with some holy text.
He knew that the throne skulked behind the altar, and both behind a
pretended revelation of God.  By this time he had found that it was of
little use to free the body and leave the mind in chains.  He had
explored the foundations of despotism, and had found them infinitely
rotten.  He had dug under the throne, and it occurred to him that he
would take a look behind the altar.  The result of this investigation
was given to the world in the "Age of Reason."  From the moment of its
publication he became infamous.  He was calumniated beyond measure.
To slander him was to secure the thanks of the church.  All his
services were instantly forgotten, disparaged, or denied.  He was
shunned as though he had been a pestilence. Most of his old friends
forsook him.  He was regarded as a moral plague, and at the bare
mention of his name the bloody hands of the church were raised in
horror.  He was denounced as the most despicable of men.

Not content with following him to his grave, they pursued him after
death with redoubled fury, and recounted with infinite gusto and
satisfaction the supposed horrors of his death-bed: gloried in the fact
that he was forlorn and friendless, and gloated like fiends over what
they supposed to be the agonizing remorse of his lonely death.

It is wonderful that all his services are thus forgotten.  It is
amazing that one kind word did not fall from some pulpit; that some one
did not accord to him, at least--honesty.  Strange that in the general
denunciation some one did not remember his labor for liberty, his
devotion to principle, his zeal for the rights of his fellow-men.  He
had, by brave and splendid effort, associated his name with the cause
of progress.  He had made it impossible to write the history of
political freedom with his name left out.  He was one of the creators
of light, one of the heralds of the dawn.  He hated tyranny in the name
of kings, and in the name of God, with every drop of his noble blood.
He believed in liberty and justice, and in the sacred doctrine of human
equality. Under these divine banners he fought the battle of his life.
In both worlds he offered his blood for the good of man.  In the
wilderness of America, in the French assembly, in the sombre cell
waiting for death, he was the same unflinching, unwavering friend of
his race; the same undaunted champion of universal freedom.  And for
this he has been hated; for this the church has violated even his grave.

This is enough to make one believe that nothing is more natural than
for men to devour their benefactors.  The people in all ages have
crucified and glorified.  Whoever lifts his voice against abuses,
whoever arraigns the past at the bar of the present, whoever asks the
king to show his commission, or question the authority of the priest,
will be denounced as the enemy of man and God.  In all ages reason has
been regarded as the enemy of religion.  Nothing has been considered so
pleasing to the Deity as a total denial of the authority of your own
mind. Self-reliance has been thought deadly sin; and the idea of living
and dying without the aid and consolation of superstition has always
horrified the church. By some unaccountable infatuation, belief has
been and still is considered of immense importance.  All religions have
been based upon the idea that God will forever reward the true
believer, and eternally damn the man who doubts or denies.  Belief is
regarded as the one essential thing.  To practice justice, to love
mercy, is not enough; you must believe in some incomprehensible creed.
You must say: "Once one is three, and three times one is one."  The man
who practiced every virtue, but failed to believe, was execrated.
Nothing so outrages the feelings of the church as a moral unbeliever,
nothing so horrible as a charitable atheist.

When Paine was born the world was religious, the pulpit was the real
throne, and the churches were making every effort to crush out of the
brain the idea that it had the right to think.  He again made up his
mind to sacrifice himself.  He commenced with the assertion  "That any
system of religion that had anything in it that shocks the mind of a
child can not be a true system." What a beautiful, what a tender
sentiment!  No wonder the church began to hate him.  He believed in one
God, and no more.  After his life he hoped for happiness.  He believed
that true religion consisted in doing justice, loving mercy; in
endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy, and in offering to God
the fruit of the heart. He denied the inspiration of the scriptures.
This was his crime.

He contended that it is a contradiction in terms to call anything a
revelation that comes to us at secondhand, either verbally or in
writing.  He asserted that revelation is necessarily limited to the
first communication, and that after that it is only an account of
something which another person says was a revelation to him.  We have
only his word for it, as it was never made to us.  This argument never
had been, and probably never will be answered.  He denied the divine
origin of Christ and showed conclusively that the pretended prophecies
of the Old Testament lead no reference to Him whatever.  And yet he
believed that Christ was a virtuous and amiable man; that the morality
he taught and practiced was of the most benevolent and elevated
character, and that it had not been exceeded by any.  Upon this point
he entertained the same sentiments now held by the Unitarians, and in
fact by all the most enlightened Christians.

In his time the church believed and taught that every word in the Bible
was absolutely true.  Since his day it has been proven false in its
cosmogony, false in its astronomy, false in its chronology and geology,
false in its history, so far as the Old Testament is concerned, false
in almost everything.  There are but few, if any, scientific men, who
apprehend that the Bible is literally true.  Who on earth at this day
would pretend to settle any scientific question by a text from the
Bible?  The old belief is confined to the ignorant and zealous.  The
church itself will before long be driven to occupy the position of
Thomas Paine. The best minds of the orthodox world, today, are
endeavoring to prove the existence of a personal Deity.  All other
questions occupy a minor place.  You are no longer asked to swallow the
Bible whole, whale, Jonah and all; you are simply required to believe
in God and pay your pew-rent.

There is not now an enlightened minister in the world who will
seriously contend that Sampson's strength was in his hair, or that the
necromancers of Egypt could turn water into blood, and pieces of wood
into serpents.  These follies have passed away, and the only reason
that the religious world can now have for disliking Paine, is that they
have been forced to adopt so many of his opinions.

Paine thought the barbarities of the Old Testament inconsistent with
what he deemed the real character of God.  He believed the murder,
massacre, and indiscriminate slaughter had never been commanded by the
Deity.  He regarded much of the Bible as childish, unimportant and
foolish.  The scientific world entertains the same opinion.  Paine
attacked the Bible precisely in the same spirit in which he had
attacked the pretensions of the kings.  He used the same weapons.  All
the pomp in the world could not make him cower.  His reason knew no
"Holy of Holies," except the abode of truth.  The sciences were then in
their infancy.  The attention of the really learned had not been
directed to an impartial examination of our pretended revelation. It
was accepted by most as a matter of course.

The church was all-powerful, and no one else, unless thoroughly imbued
with the spirit of self-sacrifice, thought for a moment of disputing
the fundamental doctrines of Christianity.  The infamous doctrine that
salvation depends upon belief, upon a mere intellectual conviction, was
then believed and preached.  To doubt was to secure the damnation of
your soul.  This absurd and devilish doctrine shocked the common sense
of Thomas Paine, and he denounced it with the fervor of honest
indignation.  This doctrine, although infinitely ridiculous, has been
nearly universal, and has been as hurtful as senseless.  For the
overthrow of this infamous tenet, Paine exerted all his strength. He
left few arguments to be used by those who should come after him, and
he used none that have been refuted.

The combined wisdom and genius of all mankind can not possibly conceive
of an argument against liberty of thought.  Neither can they show why
anyone should be punished, either in this world or another, for acting
honestly in accordance with reason; and yet a doctrine with every
possible argument against it has been, and still is, believed and
defended by the entire orthodox world. Can it be possible that we have
been endowed with reason simply that our souls may be caught in its
toils and snares, that we may be led by its false and delusive glare
out of the narrow path that leads to joy into the broad way of
everlasting death?  Is it possible that we have been given reason
simply that we may through faith ignore its deductions and avoid its
conclusions? Ought the sailor to throw away his compass and depend
entirely upon the fog?  If reason is not to be depended upon in matters
of religion, that is to say, in respect to our duties to the Deity, why
should it be relied upon in matters respecting the rights of our
fellows?  Why should we throw away the law given to Moses by God
Himself, and have the audacity to make some of our own?  How dare we
drown the thunders of Sinai by calling the ayes and naes in a petty
legislature?  If reason can determine what is merciful, what is just,
the duties of man to man, what more do we want either in time or

Down, forever down, with any religion that requires upon its ignorant
altar its sacrifice of the goddess Reason; that compels her to abdicate
forever the shining throne of the soul, strips from her form the
imperial purple, snatches from her hand the sceptre of thought and
makes her the bond-woman of senseless faith.

If a man should tell you he had the most beautiful painting in the
world, and after taking you where it was should insist upon having your
eyes shut, you would likely suspect either that he had no painting or
that it was some pitiful daub.  Should he tell you that he was a most
excellent performer on the violin, and yet refused to play unless your
ears were stopped, you would think, to say the least of it, that he had
an odd way of convincing you of his musical ability.  But would this
conduct be any more wonderful than that of a religionist who asks that
before examining his creed you will have the kindness to throw away
your reason?  The first gentleman says:  "Keep your eyes shut; my
picture will bear everything but being seen.  Keep your ears stopped;
my music objects to nothing but being heard."  The last says:  "Away
with your reason; my religion dreads nothing but being understood."

So far as I am concerned, I most cheerfully admit that most Christians
are honest and most ministers sincere.  We do not attack them; we
attack their creed.  We accord to them the same rights that we ask for
ourselves.  We believe that their doctrines are hurtful, and I am going
to do what I can against them.  We believe that the frightful text, "He
that believes shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be
damned," has covered the earth with blood.  You might as well say that
all that have red hair shall be damned.  It has filled the heart with
arrogance, cruelty, and murder.  It has caused the religious wars;
bound hundreds of thousands to the stake; founded inquisitions; filled
dungeons; invented instruments of torture; taught the mother to hate
her child; imprisoned the mind; filled the world with ignorance;
persecuted the lovers of wisdom; built the monasteries and convents;
made happiness a crime, investigation a sin, and self-reliance a
blasphemy.  It has poisoned the springs of learning; misdirected the
energies of the world; filled all countries with want; housed the
people in hovels; fed them with famine; and but for the efforts of a
few brave infidels, it would have taken the world back to the midnight
of barbarism, and left the heavens without a star.

The maligners of Paine say that he had no right to attack this
doctrine, because he was unacquainted with the dead languages, and, for
this reason, it was a piece of pure impudence to investigate the

Is it necessary to understand Hebrew in order to know that cruelty is
not a virtue, that murder is inconsistent with infinite goodness, and
that eternal punishment can be inflicted upon man only by an eternal
fiend?  Is it really essential to conjugate the Greek verbs before you
can make up your mind as to the probability of dead people getting out
of their graves?  Must one be versed in Latin before he is entitled to
express his opinion as to the genuiness of a pretended revelation from
God? Common sense belongs exclusively to no tongue.  Logic is not
confirmed to, nor has it been buried with, the dead languages. Paine
attacked the Bible as it is translated.  If the translation is wrong,
let its defenders correct it.

The Christianity of Paine's day is not the Christianity of our time.
There has been a great improvement since then.  It is better now
because there is less of it.  One hundred and fifty years ago the
foremost preachers of our time--that gentleman who preaches in this
magnificent hall--would have perished at the stake.  Lord, Lord, how
John Calvin would have liked to have roasted this man, and the perfume
of his burning flesh would have filled heaven with joy.  A Universalist
would have been torn to pieces in England, Scotland, and America.
Unitarians would have found themselves in the stocks, pelted by the
rabble with dead cats, after which their ears would have been cut off,
their tongues bored, and their foreheads branded.  Less than one
hundred and fifty years ago the following law was in force in Maryland:

"Be it enacted by the right honorable, the lord proprietor, by and with
the advice and consent of his lordship's governor, and the upper and
lower houses of the assembly, and the authority of the same:  That if
any person shall hereafter, within this province, willingly,
maliciously, and advisedly, by writing or speaking, blaspheme or curse
God, or deny our Savior, Jesus Christ, to be the son of God, or shall
deny the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, or the
God-head of any of the three persons, or the unity of the God-head, or
shall utter any profane words concerning the Holy Trinity, or the
persons thereof and shall therefore be convicted by verdict, shall, for
the first offense, be bored through the tongue, and fined L20, to be
levied on his body.  As for the second offense, the offender shall be
stigmatized by burning in the forehead the letter B, and fined L40.
And that for the third offense, the offender shall suffer death without
the benefit of clergy."

The strange thing about this law is, that it has never been repealed,
and was in force in the District of Columbia up to 1875.  Laws like
this were in force in most of the colonies and in all countries where
the church had power.

In the Old Testament the death penalty was attached hundreds of
offenses.  It has been the same in all Christian countries. Today, in
civilized governments, the death penalty is attached only to murder and
treason; and in some it has been entirely abolished.  What a commentary
upon the divine systems of the World!

In the days of Thomas Paine the church was ignorant, bloody, and
relentless.  In Scotland the "kirk" was at the summit of its power.  It
was a full sister of the Spanish Inquisition.  It waged war upon human
nature.  It was the enemy of happiness, the hater of joy, and the
despiser of liberty.  It taught parents to murder their children rather
than to allow them to propagate error.  If the mother held opinions of
which the infamous "kirk" disapproved, her children were taken from her
arms, her babe from her very bosom, and she was not allowed to see
them, or write them a word.  It would not allow ship-wrecked sailors to
be rescued from drowning on Sunday.

Oh, you have no idea what a muss it kicks up in heaven to have anybody
swim on Sunday.  It fills all the wheeling worlds with sadness to see a
boy in a boat, and the attention of the recording secretary is called
to it.  In a voice of thunder they say, "Upset him!"  It sought to
annihilate pleasure, to pollute the heart by filling it with religious
cruelty and gloom, and to change mankind into a vast horde of pious,
heartless fiends.  One of the most famous Scotch divines said:  "The
kirk holds that religious toleration is not far from blasphemy."  And
this same Scotch kirk denounced, beyond measure, the man who had the
moral grandeur to say, "The world is my country, and to do good my
religion."  And this same kirk abhorred the man who said, "Any system
of religion that shocks the mind of a child can not be a true system."

At that time nothing so delighted the church as the beauties of endless
torment, and listening to the weak wailing of damned infants struggling
in the slimy coils and poison folds of the worm that never dies.

About the beginning of the nineteenth century a boy by the name of
Thomas Aikenhead was indicted and tried at Edinburgh for having denied
the inspiration of the scriptures, and for having, on several
occasions, when cold, wished himself in hell that he might get warm.
Notwithstanding the poor boy recanted and begged for mercy, he was
found guilty and hanged.  His body was thrown in a hole at the foot of
the scaffold and covered with stones, and though his mother came with
her face covered with tears, begging for the corpse, she was denied and
driven away in the name of charity.  That is religion, and in the
velvet of their politeness there lurks the claws of the tiger.  Just
give them the power and see how quick I would leave this part of the
country. They know I am going to be burned forever; they know I am
going to hell, but that don't satisfy them.  They want to give me a
little foretaste here.

Prosecutions and executions like these were common in every Christian
country, and all of them based upon the belief that an intellectual
conviction is a crime.  No wonder the church hated and traduced the
author of the "Age of Reason."  England was filled with Puritan gloom
and Episcopal ceremony.  The ideas of crazy fanatics and extravagant
poets were taken as sober facts. Milton had clothed Christianity in the
soiled and faded finery of the gods--had added to the story of Christ
the fables of mythology.  He gave to the Protestant church the most
outrageously material ideas of the Deity.  He turned all the angels
into soldiers--made heaven a battle-field, put Christ in uniform, and
described God as a militia-general.  His works were considered by the
Protestants nearly as sacred as the Bible itself, and the imagination
of the people was thoroughly polluted by the horrible imagery, the
sublime absurdity of the blind Milton.

Heaven and hell were realities--the judgment-day was expected--books of
accounts would be opened.  Every man would hear the charges against him
read.  God was supposed to sit upon a golden throne, surrounded by the
tallest angels, with harps in their hands and crowns on their heads.
The goats would be thrust into eternal fire on the left, while the
orthodox sheep, on the right, were to gambol on sunny slopes forever
and ever.  So all the priests were willing to save the sheep for half
the wool.

The nation was profoundly ignorant, and consequently extremely
religious, so far as belief was concerned.  In Europe liberty was lying
chained up in the inquisition, her white bosom stained with blood.  In
the new world the Puritans had been hanging and burning in the name of
God, and selling white Quaker children into slavery in the name of
Christ, who said, "Suffer little children to come unto Me."

Under such conditions progress was impossible.  Some one had to lead
the way.  The church is and always has been, incapable of a forward
movement.  Religion always looks back.  The church has already reduced
Spain to a guitar, Italy to a hand-organ, and Ireland to exile.

Some one, not connected with the church, had to attack the monster that
was eating out the heart of the world.  Some one had to sacrifice
himself for the good of all.  The people were in the most abject
slavery; their manhood had been taken from them by pomp, by pageantry,
and power.

Progress is born of doubt and inquiry.  The church never doubts--never
inquires.  To doubt is heresy--to inquire is to admit that you do not
know--the church does neither.

More than a century ago Catholicism, wrapped in robes red with the
innocent blood of millions, holding in her frantic clutch crowns and
scepters, honors and gold, the keys of heaven and hell, tramping
beneath her feet the liberties of nations, in the proud movement of
almost universal dominion, felt within her heartless breast the deadly
dagger of Voltaire.  From that blow the church can never recover.
Livid with hatred she launched her eternal anathema at the great
destroyer, and ignorant Protestants have echoed the curse of Rome.

In our country the church was all-powerful, and, although divided into
many sects, would instantly unite to repel a common foe.  Paine did for
Protestantism what Voltaire did for Catholicism.  Paine struck the
first blow.

The "Age of Reason" did more to undermine the power of the Protestant
church than all other books then known.  It furnished an immense amount
of food for thought.  It was written for the average mind, and is a
straightforward, honest investigation of the Bible, and of the
Christian System.

Paine did not falter from the first page to the last.  He gives you his
candid thought, and candid thoughts are always valuable.

The "Age of Reason" has liberalized us all.  It put arguments in the
mouths of the people; it put the church on the defensive, it enabled
somebody in every village to corner the parson; it made the world wiser
and the church better; it took power from the pulpit and divided it
among the pews.  Just in proportion that the human race has advanced,
the church has lost its power. There is no exception to this rule.  No
nation ever materially advanced that held strictly to the religion of
its founders.  No nation ever gave itself wholly to the control of the
church without losing its power, its honor, and existence.

Every church pretends to have found the exact truth.  This is the end
of progress.  Why pursue that which you have?  Why investigate when you
know.  Every creed is a rock in running water; humanity sweeps by it.
Every creed cries to the universe, "Halt!"  A creed is the ignorant
past bullying the enlightened present.

The ignorant are not satisfied with what can be demonstrated. Science
is too slow for them, and so they invent creeds.  They demand
completeness. A sublime segment, a grand fragment, are of no value to
them.  They demand the complete circle--the entire structure.

In music they want a melody with a recurring accent at measured
periods. In religion they insist upon immediate answers to the
questions of creation and destiny.  The alpha and omega of all things
must be in the alphabet of their superstition.  A religion that can not
answer every question, and guess every conundrum, is in their
estimation, worse than worthless.  They desire a kind of theological
dictionary--a religious ready reckoner, together with guide-boards at
all crossings and turns. They mistake impudence for authority,
solemnity for wisdom, and pathos for inspiration. The beginning and the
end are what they demand.  The grand flight of the eagle is nothing to
them.  They want the nest in which he was hatched, and especially the
dry limb upon which he roosts. Anything that can be learned is hardly
worth knowing.  The present is considered of no value in itself.
Happiness must not be expected this side of the clouds, and can only be
attained by self-denial and faith; not self-denial for the good of
others, but for the salvation of your own sweet self.

Paine denied the authority of Bibles and creeds; this was his crime,
and for this the world shut the door in his face and emptied its slops
upon him from the windows.

I challenge the world to show that Thomas Paine ever wrote one line,
one word in favor of tyranny--in favor of immorality; one line, one
word against what he believed to be for the highest and best interest
of mankind; one line, one word against justice, charity, or liberty,
and yet he has been pursued as though he had been a fiend from hell.
His memory had been execrated as though he had murdered some Uriah for
his wife; driven some Hagar into the desert to starve with his child
upon her bosom; defiled his own daughters; ripped open with the sword
the sweet bodies of loving and innocent women; advised one brother to
assassinate another; kept a harem with seven hundred wives and three
hundred concubines, or had persecuted Christians even unto strange

The church has pursued Paine to deter others.  The church used
painting, music, and architecture simply to degrade mankind.  But there
are men that nothing can awe.  There have been at all times brave
spirits that dared even the gods.  Some proud head has always been
above the waves. Old Diogenes, with his mantle upon him, stiff and
trembling with age, caught a small animal bred upon people, went into
the Pantheon, the temple of the gods, and took the animal upon his
thumb nail, and, pressing it with the other, "he sacrificed Diogenes to
all the gods." Just as good as anything!  In every age some Diogenes
has sacrificed to all the gods. True genius never cowers, and there is
always some Samson feeling for the pillars of authority.

Cathedrals and domes, and chimes and chants, temples frescoed and
grained and carved, and gilded with gold, altars and tapers, and
paintings of virgin and babe, censer and chalice, chasuble, paten and
alb, organs, and anthems and incense rising to the winged and blest,
maniple, anice and stole, crosses and crosiers, tiaras, and crowns,
mitres and missals and masses, rosaries, relics and robes, martyrs and
saints, and windows stained as with the blood of Christ, never, never
for one moment awed the brave, proud spirit of the infidel.  He knew
that all the pomp and glitter had been purchased with liberty, that
priceless jewel of the soul. In looking at the cathedral he remembered
the dungeon.  The music of the organ was not loud enough to drown the
clank of fetters. He could not forget that the taper had lighted the
fagot.  He knew that the cross adorned the hilt of the sword, and so
where others worshiped, he wept and scorned.  He knew that across the
open Bible lay the sword of war, and so where others worshiped he
looked with scorn and wept.  And so it has been through all the ages

The doubter, the investigator, the infidel, have been the saviors of
liberty.  The truth is beginning to be realized, and the truly
intellectual are honoring the brave thinker of the past.  But the
church is as unforgiving as ever, and still wonders why any infidel
should be wicked enough to attempt to destroy her power. I will tell
the church why I hate it.

You have imprisoned the human mind; you have been the enemy of liberty;
you have burned us at the stake, roasted us before slow fires, torn our
flesh with irons; you have covered us with chains, treated us as
outcasts; you have filled the world With fear; you have taken our wives
and children from our arms; you have confiscated our property; you have
denied us the right to testify in courts of justice; you have branded
us with infamy; you have torn out our tongues; you have refused us
burial.  In the name of your religion you have robbed us of every
right; and after having inflicted upon us every evil that can be
inflicted in this world, you have fallen upon your knees, and with
clasped hands implored your God to finish the holy work in hell.

Can you wonder that we hate your doctrines; that we despise your
creeds; that we feel proud to know that we are beyond your power; that
we are free in spite of you; that we can express our honest thought,
and that the whole world is gradually rising into the blessed light?
Can you wonder that we point with pride to the fact that infidelity has
ever been found battling for the rights of man, for the liberty of
conscience, and for the happiness of all?  Can you wonder that we are
proud to know that we have always been disciples of reason and soldiers
of freedom; that we have denounced tyranny and superstition, and have
kept our hands unstained with human blood?

I deny that religion is the end or object of this life.  When it is so
considered it becomes destructive of happiness.  The real end of life
is, happiness.  It becomes a hydra-headed monster, reaching in terrible
coils from the heavens, and thrusting its thousand fangs into the
bleeding, quivering hearts of men.  It devours their substance, builds
palaces for God (who dwells not in temples made with hands), and allows
His children to die in huts and hovels.  It fills the earth with
mourning, heaven with hatred, the present with fear, and all the future
with fear and despair.  Virtue is a subordination of the passion of the
intellect.  It is to act in accordance with your highest convictions.
It does not consist in believing, but in doing. This is the sublime
truth that the infidels in all ages have uttered.  They have handed the
torch from one to the other through all the years that have fled.  Upon
the altar of reason they have kept the sacred fire, and through the
long midnight of faith they fed the divine flame.  Infidelity is
liberty; all superstition is slavery.  In every creed man is the slave
of God, woman is the slave of man, and the sweet children are the
slaves of all. We do not want creeds; we want some knowledge.  We want
happiness.  And yet we are told by the church that we have accomplished
nothing; that we are simply destroyers; that we tear down without
building again.

Is it nothing to free the mind?  Is it nothing to civilize mankind?  Is
it nothing to fill the world with light, with discovery, with science?
Is it nothing to dignify man and exalt the intellect.  Is it nothing to
grope your way into the dreary prisons, the damp and dropping dungeons,
the dark and silent cells of superstition, where the souls of men are
chained to floors of stone; to greet them like a ray of light, like the
song of a bird, the murmur of a stream, to see the dull eyes open and
grow slowly bright; to feel yourself grasped by the shrunken and unused
hands, and hear yourself thanked by a strange and hollow voice?  Is it
nothing to conduct these souls gradually into the blessed light of
day--to let them see again the happy fields, the sweet, green earth,
and hear the everlasting music of the waves?  Is it nothing to make men
wipe the dust from their swollen knees, the tears from their blanched
and furrowed cheeks? Is it a small thing to reave the heavens of an
insatiate monster and write upon the eternal dome, glittering with
stars, the grand word liberty?  Is it a small thing to quench the
thirst of hell with the holy tears of piety, break all the chains, put
out the fires of civil war, stay the sword of the fanatic, and tear the
bloody hands of the church from the white throat of progress?  Is it a
small thing to make men truly free, to destroy the dogmas of ignorance,
prejudice, and power, the poisoned fables of superstition, and drive
from the beautiful face of the earth the fiend of fear?

It does seem as though the most zealous Christians must at times
entertain some doubt as to the divine origin of his religion. For
eighteen hundred years the doctrine has been preached.  For more than a
thousand years the church had, to a great extent, the control of the
civilized world, and what has been the result? Are the Christian
nations patterns of charity and forbearance? On the contrary, their
principal business is to destroy each other.  More than five millions
of Christians are trained and educated and drilled to murder their
fellow-Christians.  Every nation is groaning under a vast debt incurred
in carrying on war against other Christians, or defending itself from
Christian assault.  The world is covered with forts to protect
Christians from Christians, and every sea is covered with iron monsters
ready to blow Christian brains into eternal froth.  Millions upon
millions are annually expended in the effort to construct still more
deadly and terrible engines of death.  Industry is crippled, honest
toil is robbed, and even beggary is taxed to defray the expenses of
Christian murder.  There must be some other way to reform this world.
We have tried creed and dogma, and fable, and they have failed--and
they have failed in all the nations dead.

Nothing but education--scientific education--can benefit mankind. We
must find out the laws of nature and conform to them.  We need free
bodies and free minds, free labor and free thought, chainless hands and
fetterless brains.  Free labor will give us wealth.  Free thought will
give us truth.  We need men with moral courage to speak and write their
real thoughts, and to stand by their convictions, even to the very
death.  We need have no fear of being too radical.  The future will
verify all grand and brave predictions.  Paine was splendidly in
advance of his time, but he was orthodox compared to the infidels of

Science, the great iconoclast, has been very busy since 1809, and by
the highway of progress are the broken images of the past.  On every
hand the people advance.  The vicar of God has been pushed from the
throne of the Caesars, and upon the roofs of the Eternal city falls
once more the shadow of the eagle.  All has been accomplished by the
heroic few.  The men of science have explored heaven and earth, and
with infinite patience have furnished the facts.  The brave thinkers
have aided them. The gloomy caverns of superstition have been
transformed into temples of thought, and the demons of the past are the
angels of today.

Science took a handful of sand, constructed a telescope, and with it
explored the starry depths of heaven.  Science wrested from the gods
their thunderbolts; and now, the electric spark freighted with thought
and love, flashes under all the waves of the sea.  Science took a tear
from the cheek of unpaid labor, converted it into steam, and created a
giant that turns with tireless arm the countless wheels of toil.

Thomas Paine was one of the intellectual heroes, one of the men to whom
we are indebted.  His name is associated forever with the great
republic.  He lived a long, laborious, and useful life. The world is
better for his having lived.  For the sake of truth he accepted hatred
and reproach for his portion.  He ate the bitter bread of neglect and
sorrow.  His friends were untrue to him because he was true to himself
and true to them.  He lost the respect of what is called society, but
kept his own.  His life is what the world calls failure, and what
history calls success.

If to love your fellow-men more than self is goodness, Thomas Paine was
good.  If to be in advance of your time, to be a pioneer in the
direction of right, is greatness, Thomas Paine was great.  If to avow
your principles and discharge your duty in the presence of death is
heroic, Thomas Paine was a hero.

At the age of 73, death touched his tired heart.  He died in the land
his genius defended, under the flag he gave to the skies. Slander can
not touch him now; hatred can not reach him more. He sleeps in the
sanctuary of the tomb, beneath the quiet of the stars.  A few more
years, a few more brave men, a few more rays of light, and mankind will
venerate the memory of him who said:

"Any system of religion that shocks the mind of a child can not be a
true system.  The world is my country, and to do good my religion."

The next question is:  Did Thomas Paine recant?  Mr. Paine had
prophesied that fanatics would crawl and cringe around him during his
last moments.  He believed that they would put a lie in the mouth of
death.  When the shadow of the coming dissolution was upon him, two
clergymen, Messrs. Milledollar and Cunningham, called to annoy the
dying man.  Mr. Cunningham had the politeness to say:  "You have now a
full view of death; you can not live long; whoever does not believe in
the Lord Jesus Christ, will assuredly be damned."  Mr. Paine replied:
"Let me have none of your popish stuff.  Get away with you.  Good
morning." On another occasion a Methodist minister obtruded himself.
Mr. Willet Hicks was present.  The minister declared to Mr. Paine that
"unless he repented of his unbelief he would be damned." Paine,
although at the door of death, rose in his bed and indignantly
requested the clergyman to leave the room.  On another occasion, two
brothers by the name of Pigott sought to convert him.  He was
displeased, and requested their departure. Afterward, Thomas Nixon and
Capt. Daniel Pelton visited him for the express purpose of ascertaining
whether he had, in any manner, changed his religious opinions.  They
were assured, by the dying man that he still held the principles he had
expressed in his writings.

Afterward, these gentlemen, hearing that William Cobbet was about to
write a life of Paine, sent him the following note:  I must tell you
now that it is of great importance to find out whether Paine recanted.
If he recanted, then the Bible is true--you can rest assured that a
spring of water gushed out of a dead dry bone.  If Paine recanted,
there is not the slightest doubt about that donkey making that speech
to Mr. Baalam--not the slightest--and if Paine did not recant, then the
whole thing is a mistake.  I want to show that Thomas Paine died as he
has lived, a friend of man and without superstition, and if you will
stay here I will do it.

"New York, April 21, 1818.--Sir:  Having been informed that you have a
design to write a history of the life and writings of Thomas Paine, if
you have been furnished with materials in respect to his religious
opinions, or rather of his recantation of his former opinions before
his death, all you have heard of his recanting is false.  Being aware
that such reports would be raised after his death by fanatics who
infested his house at the time it was expected he would die, we, the
subscribers, intimate acquaintances of Thomas Paine since the year
1776, went to his house.  He was sitting up in a chair, and apparently
in full vigor and use of all his mental faculties.  We interrogated him
upon his religious opinions, and if he had changed his mind, or
repented of anything he had said or wrote on that subject.  He
answered, "Not at all," and appeared rather offended at our supposition
that any change should take place in his mind.  We took down in writing
the questions put to him and his answers thereto, before a number of
persons then in his room, among whom were his doctor, Mrs. Bonneville,
etc.  This paper is mislaid and can not be found at present, but the
above is the substance, which can be attested by many living
witnesses.--Thomas Nixon, Daniel Pelton"

Mr. Jarvis, the artist, saw Mr. Paine one or two days before his death.
To Mr. Jarvis he expressed his belief in his written opinions upon the
subject of religion.  B.F. Haskin, an attorney of the City of New York,
also visited him, and inquired as to his religious opinions.  Paine was
then upon the threshold of death, but he did not tremble, he was not a
coward.  He expressed his firm and unshaken belief in the religious
ideas he had given to the world.

Dr. Manly was with him when he spoke his last words.  Dr. Manly asked
the dying man, and Dr. Manly was a Christian, if he did not wish to
believe that Jesus was the Son of God, and the dying philosopher
answered:  "I have no wish to believe on that subject."  Amasa
Woodsworth sat up with Thomas Paine the night before his death.  In
1839 Gilbert Vale, hearing that Woodsworth was living in or near
Boston, visited him for the purpose of getting his statement, and the
statement was published in The Beacon of June 5, 1830, and here it is:

"We have just returned from Boston.  One object of our visit to that
city was to see Mr. Amasa Woodsworth, an engineer, now retired in a
handsome cottage and garden at East Cambridge, Boston.  This gentleman
owned the house occupied by Paine at his death, while he lived next
door.  As an act of kindness, Mr. Woodsworth visited Mr. Paine every
day for six weeks before his death.  He frequently sat up with him and
did so on the last two nights of his life.  He was always there with
Dr. Manly, the physician, and assisted in removing Mr. Paine while his
bed was prepared.  He was present when Dr. Manly asked Mr. Paine if he
wished to believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.  He said that
lying on his back he used some action and with much emphasis replied:
'I have no wish to believe on that subject.'  He lived some time after
this, but was not known to speak, for he died tranquilly.  He accounts
for the insinuating style of Dr. Manly's letter by stating that that
gentleman, just after its publication, joined a church.  He informs us
that he has openly proved the doctor for the falsity contained in the
spirit of that letter, boldly declaring before Dr. Manly, who is still
living, that nothing which he saw justified the insinuations.  Mr.
Woodsworth assures us that he neither heard nor saw anything to justify
the belief of any mental change in the opinions of Mr. Paine previous
to his death; but that being very ill and in pain, chiefly arising from
the skin being removed in some parts by long lying, he was generally
too uneasy to enjoy conversation on abstract subjects.  This, then, is
the best evidence that can be procured on this subject, and we publish
it while the contravening parties are yet alive, and with the authority
of Mr. Woodsworth.--Gilbert Vale"

A few weeks ago I received the following letter, which confirms the
statement of Mr. Vale:

"Near Stockton, Cal., Greenwood Cottage, July 9. 1877.--Col. Ingersoll:
In 1812 I talked with a gentleman in Boston.  I have forgotten his
name; but he was then an engineer of the Charleston navy yard.  I am
thus particular so that you can find his name on the books.  He told me
that he nursed Thomas Paine in his last illness and closed his eyes
when dead.  I asked him if he recanted and called upon God to save him.
He replied:  No; he died as he had taught.  He had a sore upon his
side, and when we turned him it was very painful, and he would cry out,
'O God!' or something like that.  'But,' said the narrator, 'that was
nothing, for he believed in a God.'  I told him that I had often heard
it asserted from the pulpit that Mr. Paine had recanted in his last
moment.  The gentleman said that it was not true, and he appeared to be
an intelligent, truthful man.  With respect, I remain, etc., Philip
Graves, M.D."

The next witness is Willet Hicks, a Quaker preacher.  He says that
during the last illness of Mr. Paine he visited him almost daily, and
that Paine died firmly convinced of the truth of the religious opinions
that he had given to his fellow-men.  It was to this same Willet Hicks
that Paine applied for permission to be buried in the cemetery of the
Quakers.  Permission was refused. This refusal settles the question of
recantation.  If he had recanted, of course there would have been no
objection to his body being buried by the side of the best hypocrites
in the earth.  If Paine recanted, why should he denied "a little earth
for charity?"  Had he recanted, it would have been regarded as a vast
and splendid triumph for the gospel.  It would, with much noise and
pomp and ostentation, have been heralded about the world.

Here is another letter:

"Peoria, Ill., Oct. 8, 1877.--Robert G. Ingersoll--Esteemed Friend:  My
parents were Friends (Quakers).  My father died when I was very young.
The elderly and middle-aged Friends visited at my mother's house.  We
lived in the City of New York.  Among the number I distinctly remember
Elias Hicks, Willet Hicks, and a Mr. -- Day, who was a bookseller in
Pearl St.  There were many others whose names I do not now remember.
The subject of the recantation of Thomas Paine of his views about the
Bible in his last illness, or any other time, was discussed by them in
my presence at different times.  I learned from them that some of them
had attended upon Thomas Paine in his last sickness, and ministered to
his wants up to the time of his death.  And upon the question of
whether he did recant there was but one expression.  They all said that
he did not recant in any manner. I often heard them say they wished he
had recanted.  In fact, according to them, the nearer he approached
death the more positive he appeared to be in his convictions.  These
conversations were from 1820 to 1822.  I was at that time from ten to
twelve years old, but these conversations impressed themselves upon me
because many thoughtless people then blamed the society of Friends for
their kindness to that "arch-infidel," Thomas Paine.  Truly yours, A.C.

A few days ago I received the following:

"Albany, N.Y., Sept. 27, 1877.--Dear Sir:  It is over twenty years ago
that, professionally, I made the acquaintance of John Hogeboom, a
justice of the peace of the County Rensselaer, New York.  He was then
over seventy years of age, and had the reputation of being a man of
candor and integrity.  He was a great admirer of Paine.  He told me he
was personally acquainted with him, and used to see him frequently
during the last years of his life in the City of New York, where
Hogeboom then resided.  I asked him if there was any truth in the
charge that Paine was in the habit of getting    drunk.  He said that
it was utterly false; that he never heard of such a thing during the
lifetime of Mr. Paine, and did not believe anyone else did.  I asked
him about the recantation of his religious opinions on his deathbed,
and the revolting deathbed scenes that the world heard so much about.
He said there was no truth in them; that he had received his
information from persons who attended Paine in his last illness, and
that he passed peacefully, as we may say, in the sunshine of a great
soul.  Yours truly, W.J. Hilton"

The witnesses by whom I substantiate the fact that Thomas Paine did not
recant, and that he died holding the religious opinions he had
published are:

1.  Thomas Nixon, Capt. Daniel Pelton, B.F. Haskin.  These gentlemen
visited him during his last illness for the purpose of ascertaining
whether he had, in any respect, changed his views upon religion.  He
told them that he had not.

2.  James Cheetham.  This man was the most malicious enemy Mr. Paine
had, and yet he admits that "Thomas Paine died placidly, and almost
without a struggle."--Life of Thomas Paine, by James Cheetham.

3.  The ministers, Milledollar and Cunningham.  These gentleman told
Mr. Paine that if he died without believing in the Lord Jesus Christ,
he would be damned, and Paine replied:  "Let me have none of your
popish stuff.  Good morning."--Sherwin's Life of Paine, page 220.

4.  Mrs. Hedden.  She told these same preachers, when they attempted to
obtrude themselves upon Mr. Paine again, that the attempt to convert
Mr. Paine was useless; "that if God did not change his mind, no human
power could."

5.  Andrew A. Dean.  This man lived upon Paine's farm, at New Rochelle,
and corresponded with him upon religious subjects.--Paine's Theological
Works, page 308.

6.  Mr. Jarvis, the artist with whom Paine lived.  He gives an account
of an old lady coming to Paine, and telling him that God Almighty had
sent her to tell him that unless he repented and believed in the
blessed savior he would be damned.  Paine replied that God would not
send such a foolish old woman with such an impertinent message.--Clio
Rickman's Life of Paine.

7.  William Carver, with whom Paine boarded.  Mr. Carver said again and
again that Paine did not recant.  He knew him well, and had every
opportunity of knowing.--Life of Paine, by Vale.

8.  Dr. Manly, who attended him in his last sickness, and to whom Paine
spoke his last words.  Dr. Manly asked him if he did not wish to
believe in Jesus Christ. and he replied:  "I have no wish to believe on
that subject."

9.  Willet Hicks and Elias Hicks, who were with him frequently during
his last sickness, and both of whom tried to persuade him to recant.
According to their testimony Mr. Paine died as he lived--a believer in
God and a friend to man.  Willet Hicks was offered money to say
something false against Paine.  He was even offered money to remain
silent, and allow others to slander the dead.  Mr. Hicks, speaking of
Thomas Paine, said:  "He was a good man.  Thomas Paine was an honest

10.  Amasa Woodsworth, who was with him every day for some six weeks
immediately preceding his death, and sat up with him the last two
nights of his life.  This man declares that Paine did not recant, and
that he died tranquilly.  The evidence of Mr. Woodsworth is conclusive.

11.  Thomas Paine himself.  The will of Mr. Paine, written by himself,
commences as follows:  "The last will and testament of me, the
subscriber, Thomas Paine, reposing confidence in my Creator, God, and
in no other being, for I know of no other, nor believe in any other,"
and closes with these words:  "I have lived an honest and useful life
to mankind.  My time has been spent in doing good, and I die in perfect
composure and resignation to the will of my Creator, God."

12.  If Thomas Paine recanted, why do you pursue him?  If he recanted
he died in your belief.  For what reason, then, do you denounce his
death as cowardly?  If upon his death-bed he renounced the opinions he
had published, the business of defaming him should be done by infidels,
not by Christians.  I ask Christians if it is honest to throw away the
testimony of his friends, the evidence of fair and honorable men, and
take the putrid words of avowed and malignant enemies?  When Thomas
Paine was dying he was infested by fanatics, by the snaky spies of
bigotry.  In the shadows of death were the unclean birds of prey
waiting to tear, with beak and claw, the corpse of him who wrote the
"Rights of Man," and there lurking and crouching in the darkness, were
the jackals and hyenas of superstition, ready to violate his grave.
These birds of prey--these unclean beasts--are the witnesses produced
and relied upon to malign the memory of Thomas Paine.  One by one the
instruments of torture have been wrenched from the cruel clutch of the
church, until within the armory of orthodoxy there remains but one

Against the witnesses that I have produced there can be brought just
two--Mary Roscoe and Mary Hinsdale.  The first is referred to in the
memoir of Stephen Grellet.  She had once been a servant in his house.
Grellet tells what happened between this girl and Paine.  According to
this account, Paine asked her if she had ever read any of his writings,
and on being told that she had read very little of them, he inquired
what she thought of them, adding that from such an one as she he
expected a correct answer.

Let us examine this falsehood.  Why would Paine expect a correct answer
about his writings from one who read very little of them? Does not such
a statement devour itself?  This young lady further said that the "Age
of Reason" was put in her hands, and that the more she read in it, the
more dark and distressed she felt, and that she threw the book into the
fire.  Whereupon Mr. Paine remarked:  "I wish all had done as you did,
for if the devil ever had any agency in any work, he had in my writing
that book."

The next is Mary Hinsdale.  She was a servant in the family of Willet
Hicks.  The church is always proving something by a nurse. She, like
Mary Roscoe, was sent to carry some delicacy to Mr. Paine.  To this
young lady Paine, according to his account, said precisely the same
that he did to Mary Roscoe, and she said the same thing to Mr. Paine.

My own opinion is that Mary Roscoe and Mary Hinsdale are one and the
same person, or the same story has been, by mistake, put in the mouths
of both.  It is not possible that the identical conversation should
have taken place between Paine and Mary Roscoe and between him and Mary
Hinsdale.  Mary Hinsdale lived with Willet Hicks, and he pronounced her
story a pious fraud and fabrication.

Another thing about this witness.  A woman by the name of Mary
Lockwood, a Hicksite Quaker, died.  Mary Hinsdale met her brother about
that time and told him that his sister had recanted, and wanted her to
say so at her funeral.  This turned out to be a lie.

It has been claimed that Mary Hinsdale made her statement to Charles
Collins.  Long after the alleged occurrence Gilbert Vale, one of the
biographers of Paine, had a conversation with Collins concerning Mary
Hinsdale.  Vale asked him what he thought of her. He replied that some
of the Friends believed that she used opiates, and that they did not
give credit to her statements.  He also said that he believed what the
Friends said, but thought that when a young Roman she might have told
the truth.

In 1818 William Cobbett came to New York.  He began collecting material
for a life of Thomas Paine.  In this way he became acquainted with Mary
Hinsdale and Charles Collins.  Mr. Cobbett gave a full account of what
happened in a letter addressed to The Norwich Mercury in 1819.  From
this account it seems that Charles Collins told Cobbett that Paine had
recanted.  Cobbett called for the testimony, and told Mr. Collins that
he must give time, place, and circumstances.  He finally brought a
statement that he stated had been made by Mary Hinsdale.  Armed with
this document, Cobbett, in October of that year, called upon the said
Mary Hinsdale, at No. 10 Anthony Street, New York, and showed her the
statement.  Upon being questioned by Mr. Cobbett she said that it was
so long ago that she could not speak positively to any part of the
matter; that she would not say that any part of the paper was true;
that she had never seen the paper, and that she had never given Charles
Collins authority to say anything about the matter in her name.  And so
in the month of October, in the year of grace 1818, in the mist of fog
and forgetfulness, disappeared forever one Mary Hinsdale, the last and
only witness against the intellectual honesty of Thomas Paine.

A letter was written to the editor of The New York World by the Rev.
A.W. Cornell, in which he says:

"Sir: I see by your paper that Bob Ingersoll discredits Mary Hinsdale's
story of the scenes which occurred at the death bed of Thomas Paine.
No one who knew that good old lady would for one moment doubt her
veracity, or question her testimony.  Both she and her husband were
Quaker preachers, and well known and respected inhabitants of New York

"Ingersoll is right in his conjecture that Mary Roscoe and Mary
Hinsdale were the same person.  Her maiden name was Roscoe and she
married Henry Hinsdale.  My mother was a Roscoe, a niece of Mary
Roscoe, and lived with her for some time.--Rev. A.W. Cornell,
Harpersville, N.Y."

The editor of the New York Observer took up the challenge that I had
thrown down.  I offered $1000 in gold to any minister who would prove,
or to any person who would prove that Thomas Paine recanted in his last
hours.  The New York Observer accepted the wager, and then told a
falsehood about it.  But I kept after the gentlemen until I forced
them, in their paper, published on the 1st of November, 1877; to print
these words:

"We have never stated in any form, nor have we ever supposed, that
Paine actually renounced his infidelity.  The accounts agree in stating
that he died a blaspheming infidel."

This, I hope, for all coming time will refute the slanders of the
churches yet to be.

The next charge they make is that Thomas Paine died in destitution and
want.  That, of course, would show that he was wrong.  They boast that
the founder of their religion had not whereon to lay his head, but when
they found a man who stood for the rights of man, when they say that he
did, that is an evidence that this doctrine was a lie.  Won't do!  Did
Thomas Paine die in destitution and want?  The charge has been made
over and over again that Thomas Paine died in want and destitution;
that he was an abandoned pauper--an outcast, without friends and
without money. This charge is just as false as the  rest.  Upon his
return to this country, in 1802, he was worth $30,000, according to his
own statement, made at that time in the following letter, and addressed
to Clio Rickman:

"My dear friend, Mr. Monroe, who is appointed minister extraordinary to
France, takes charge of this, to be delivered to Mr. Este, banker, in
Paris, to be forwarded to you.

"I arrived in Baltimore, 30th of October, and you can have no idea of
the agitation which my arrival occasioned.  From New Hampshire to
Georgia (an extent of 1,500 miles), every newspaper was filled with
applause or abuse.

"My property in this country has been taken care of by my friends, and
is now worth six thousand pounds sterling, which, put in the funds,
will bring about L400 sterling a year.

"Remember me in affection and friendship to your wife and family, and
in the circle of your friends.--Thomas Paine"

A man in those days worth $30,000 was not a pauper.  That amount would
bring an income of at least $2,000.  Two thousand dollars then would be
fully equal to $5,000 now.  On the 12th of July, 1809, the year in
which he died, Mr. Paine made his will.  From this instrument we learn
that he was the owner of a valuable farm within twenty miles of New
York.  He was also owner of thirty shares in the New York Phoenix
Insurance Company, worth upward of $1,500.  Besides this, some personal
property and ready money. By his will he gave to Walter Morton and
Thomas Addis Emmet, a brother of Robert Emmet, $200 each, and $100 to
the widow of Elihu Palmer.  Is it possible that this will was made by a
pauper, by a destitute outcast, by a man who suffered for the ordinary
necessities of life?

But suppose, for the sake of argument, that he was poor, and that he
died a beggar, does that tend to show that the Bible is an inspired
book, and that Calvin did not burn Servetus?  Do you really regard
poverty as a crime?  If Paine had died a millionaire, would Christians
have accepted his religious opinions?  If Paine had drank nothing but
cold water, would Christians have repudiated the five cardinal points
of Calvinism? Does an argument depend for its force upon the pecuniary
condition of the person making it?  As a matter of fact, most
reformers--most men and women of genius--have been acquainted with
poverty. Beneath a covering of rags have been found some of the
tenderest and bravest hearts.  Owing to the attitude of the churches
for the last fifteen hundred years, truth telling has not been a very
lucrative business.  As a rule, hypocrisy has worn the robes, and
honesty the rags.  That day is passing away. You can not now answer a
man by pointing at the holes in his coat.  Thomas Paine attacked the
church when it was powerful; when it had what is called honors to
bestow; when it was the keeper of the public conscience; when it was
strong and cruel. The church waited till he was dead, and then attacked
his reputation and his clothes.  Once upon a time a donkey kicked a
lion. The lion was dead.  You just don't know how happy I am tonight
that justice so long delayed at last is going to be done, and to see so
many splendid looking people come here out of deference to the memory
of Thomas Paine.  I am glad to be here.

The next thing is:  Did Thomas Paine live the life of a drunken beast,
and did he die a drunken, cowardly, and beastly death? Well, we will
see.  Upon you rests the burden of substantiating these infamous
charges.  The Christians have, I suppose, produced the best evidence in
their possession, and that evidence I will now proceed to examine.
Their first witness is Grant Thorburn. He made three charges against
Thomas Paine:

1.  That his wife obtained a divorce from him in England for cruelty
and neglect.

2.  That he was a defaulter and fled from England to America.

3. That he was a drunkard.

These three charges stand upon the same evidence--the word of Grant
Thorburn.  If they are not all true, Mr. Thorburn stands impeached.
The charge that Mrs. Paine obtained a divorce on account of the cruelty
and neglect of her husband is utterly false.  There is no such record
in the world, and never was. Paine and his wife separated by mutual
consent. Each respected the other.  They remained friends.  This charge
is without any foundation.  In fact, I challenge the Christian world to
produce the record of this decree of divorce.  According to Mr.
Thorburn, it was granted in England.  In that country public records
are kept of all such decrees.  I will give $1,000 if they will produce
a decree, showing that it was given on account of cruelty, or admit
that Mr. Thorburn was mistaken.

Thomas Paine was a just man.  Although separated from his wife, he
always spoke of her with tenderness and respect, and frequently lent
her money without letting her know the source from whence it came.  Was
this the conduct of a drunken beast?

The next is that he was a defaulter, and fled from England to America.
As I told you in the first place, he was an exciseman; if he was a
defaulter, that fact is upon the records of Great Britain.  I will give
$1,000 in gold to any man who will show, by the records of England,
that he was a defaulter of a single, solitary cent.  Let us bring these
gentlemen to Limerick.

And they charge that he was a drunkard.  That is another falsehood.  He
drank liquor in his day, as did the preachers.  It was no unusual thing
for a preacher going home to stop in a tavern and take a drink of hot
rum with a deacon, and it was no unusual thing for the deacon to help
the preacher home.  You have no idea how they loved the sacrament in
those days.  They had communion pretty much all the time.

Thorburn says that in 1802 Paine was an "old remnant of mortality,
drunk, bloated, and half asleep."  Can anyone believe this to be a true
account of the personal appearance of Mr. Paine in 1802?  He had just
returned from France.  He had been welcomed home by Thomas Jefferson,
who had said that he was entitled to the hospitality of every American.
In 1802 Mr. Paine was honored with a public dinner in the City of New
York.  He was called upon and treated with kindness and respect by such
men as De Witt Clinton.  In 1806 Mr. Paine wrote a letter to Andrew A.
Dean upon the subject of religion.  Read that letter and then say that
the writer of it was an old remnant of mortality, drunk, bloated, and
half asleep.  Search the files of Christian papers, from the first
issue to the last, and you will find nothing superior to this letter.
In 1803 Mr. Paine wrote a letter of considerable length, and of great
force to his friend Samuel Adams.  Such letters are not written by
drunken beasts, nor by remnants of old mortality, nor by drunkards.  It
was about the same time that he wrote his "Remarks on Robert Hall's
Sermons."  These "Remarks" were not written by a drunken beast, but by
a clear-headed and thoughtful man.

In 1804 he published an essay on the invasion of England and a treatise
on gun-boats, full of valuable maritime information; in 1805 a treatise
on yellow fever, suggesting modes of prevention. In short, he was an
industrious and thoughtful man.  He sympathized with the poor and
oppressed of all lands.  He looked upon monarchy as a species of
physical slavery.  He had the goodness to attack that form of
government.  He regarded the religion of his day as a kind of mental
slavery.  He had the courage to give his reasons for his opinion.  His
reasons filled the churches with hatred.  Instead of answering his
arguments they attacked him.  Men who were not fit to blacken his shoes
blackened his character.  There is too much religious cant in the
statement of Mr. Thorburn.  He exhibits too much anxiety to tell what
Grant Thorburn said to Thomas Paine.  He names Thomas Jefferson as one
of the disreputable men who welcomed Paine with open arms.  The
testimony of a man who regarded Thomas Jefferson as a disreputable
person, as to the character of anybody, is utterly without value.

Now, Grant Thorburn--this gentleman who was "four feet and a half high,
and who weighed ninety-eight pounds three and one-half ounces"--says
that he used to sit nights at Carver's, in New York, with Thomas Paine.
Mrs. Ferguson, the daughter of William Carver, says that she knew
Thorburn when she saw him, but that she never saw him in her father's
house.  The denial of Mrs. Ferguson enraged Thorburn, and he at once
wrote a few falsehoods about her.  Thereupon a suit was commenced by
Mrs. Ferguson and her husband against Thorburn, the writer, and
Fanshaw, the publisher, of the libel.  Thorburn ran away to
Connecticut. Fanshaw wrote him for evidence of what he had written.
Thorburn replied that what he had written about Mrs. Ferguson could not
be proved.  Fanshaw then settled with the Fergusons, paying them the
amount demanded.

In 1859 the Fergusons lived at 148 Duane Street, New York.  In The
Commercial Advertiser of New York, in 1830, appeared the written
acknowledgement of this same little Grant Thorburn that he did, on the
22d of August, 1830, at half-past 6 in the morning, take four bottles
of cider from the cellar of Mr. Comstock.

Mr. Comstock says that Thorburn was arrested, and that when brought
before him he pleaded guilty and threw himself upon his (Comstock's)

The Philadelphia Tract Society gave Thorburn $100 to write his
recollections of Thomas Paine.

Let us dispose of this four feet and a half of wretch.  In October,
1877, I received the following letter from James Parton:

"Newburyport, Mass., Oct 27, 1877.--My dear Sir:  Touching Grant
Thorburn, I personally knew him to have been a liar.  At the age of 92
he copied with trembling hand a piece from a newspaper and brought it
to the office of The Rome Journal as his own.  It was I who received it
and detected the deliberate forgery..... James Parton"

So much for Grant Thorburn.  In my judgment, the testimony of Mr.
Thorburn should be thrown aside as utterly unworthy of belief.

The next witness is the Rev. J.D. Wickham, D.D., who tells what an
elder in his church said.  This elder said that Paine passed his last
days on his farm at New Rochelle, with a solitary female attendant.
This is not true.  He did not pass his last days at New Rochelle,
consequently, this pious elder did not see him during his last days at
that place.  Upon this elder we prove an alibi.  Mr. Paine passed his
last days in the City of New York, in a house upon Columbia Street.
The story of the Rev. J.D. Wickham, D.D., is simply false.

The next competent false witness was the Rev. Charles Hawley, D.D., who
proceeds to state that the story of the Rev. J.D. Wickham, D. D., is
corroborated by older citizens of New Rochelle.  The names of these
ancient residents are withheld. According to these unknown witnesses,
the account given by the deceased elder was entirely correct.  But as
the particulars of Mr. Paine's conduct "were too loathsome to be
described in print," we are left entirely in the dark as to what he
really did.

While at New Rochelle, Mr. Paine lived with Mr. Purdy, Mr. Dean, with
Capt. Pelton, and with Mr. Staple.  It is worthy of note that all of
these gentlemen give the lie direct to the statements of "older
residents" and ancient citizens spoken of by the Rev. Charles Hawley,
D.D., and leave him with the "loathsome particulars" existing only in
his own mind.

The next gentleman brought upon the stand is W.H. Ladd, who quotes from
the memoirs of Stephen Grellett.  This gentleman also has the
misfortune to be dead.  According to his account, Mr. Paige made his
recantation to a servant girl of his by the name of Mary Roscoe.  Mr.
Paine uttered the wish that all who read his book had burned it.  I
believe there is a mistake in the name of this girl.  Her name was
probably Mary Hinsdale, as it was once claimed that Paine made the same
remark to her.

These are the witnesses of the church, and the only ones you bring
forward to support your charge that Thomas Paine lived a drunken and
beastly life, and died a drunken, cowardly, and beastly death.  All
these calumnies are found in a life of Paine by James Cheetham, the
convicted libeler already referred to. Mr. Cheetham was an enemy of the
man whose life he pretended to write.  In order to show you the
estimation in which this libeler was held by Mr. Paine, I will give you
a copy of a letter that throws light upon this point:

"Oct. 27, 1807.--Mr. Cheethan:  Unless you make a public apology for
the abuse and falsehood in your paper of Tuesday, Oct. 27, respecting
me, I will prosecute you for lying.--Thomas Paine"

In another letter, speaking of this same man, Mr. Paine says: "If an
unprincipled bully can not be reformed, he can be punished."  Cheetham
has been so long in the habit of giving false information, that truth
is to him like a foreign language. Mr. Cheetham wrote the life of Mr.
Paine to gratify his malice and to support religion.  He was prosecuted
for libel--was convicted and fined.  Yet the life of Paine, written by
this liar, is referred to by the Christian world as the highest

As to the personal habits of Mr. Paine, we have the testimony of
William Carver; with whom he lived; of Mr. Jarvis, the artist, with
whom he lived; of Mr. Purdy, who was a tenant of Paine's; of Mr. Buyer,
with whom he was intimate; of Thomas Nixon and Capt. Daniel Pelton,
both of whom knew him well; of Amasa Woodsworth, who was with him when
he died; of John Fellows, who boarded at the same house; of James
Wilburn, with whom he boarded; of B.F. Haskins, a lawyer, who was well
acquainted with him, and called upon him during h is last illness; of
Walter Morton, President of the Phoenix Insurance Company; of Clio
Rickman, who had known him for many years; of Willet and Elias Hicks,
Quakers, who knew him intimately and well; of Judge Hertell, H.
Margary, Elihu Palmer and many others.  All these testified to the fact
that Mr. Paige was a temperate man.  In those days nearly everybody
used spirituous liquors.  Paine was not an exception, but he did not
drink to excess. Mr. Lovett, who kept the City Hotel, where Paine
stopped, in a note to Caleb Bingham declared that Paine drank less than
any boarder he had.

Against all this evidence Christians produce the story of Grant
Thorburn, the story of the Rev. J.D. Wickham, that an elder in his
church told him that Paine was a drunkard, corroborated by the Rev.
Charles Hawley, and an extract from Lossing's history to the same
effect.  The evidence is overwhelmingly against them. Will you have the
fairness to admit it?  Their witnesses are merely the repeaters of the
falsehoods of James Cheetham, the convicted libeler.

After all, drinking is not as bad as lying.  An honest drunkard is
better than a calumniator of the dead.  "A remnant of old mortality
drunk, bloated, and half-asleep," is better than a perfectly sober
defender of human slavery.  To become drunk is a virtue compared with
stealing a babe from the breast of its mother.  Drunkenness is one of
the beatitudes, compared with editing a religious paper devoted to the
defense of slavery upon the ground that it is a divine institution.  Do
you think that Paine was a drunken beast when he wrote "Common Sense,"
a pamphlet that aroused three millions of people, as people were never
aroused by words before?  Was he a drunken beast when he wrote the
"Crisis?"  Was it to a drunken beast that the following letter was

"Rocky Hill, September 10, 1783.--I have learned, since I have been at
this place, that you are at Bordentown.  Whether for the sake of
retirement or economy, I know not.  Be it for either, or both, or
whatever it may, if you will come to this place and partake with me, I
shall be exceedingly happy to see you at it. Your presence may remind
Congress of your past services to this country; and if it is in my
power to impress them, command my best exertions with freedom, as they
will be rendered cheerfully by one who entertains a lively sense of the
importance of your works, and who, with much pleasure, subscribes
himself your sincere friend.--George Washington"

Do you think that Paine was a drunken beast when the following letters
were received by him:

"You express a wish in your letter to return to America in a national
ship.  Mr. Dawson, who brings over the treaty, and who will present you
with this letter, is charged with orders to the Captain of the Maryland
to receive and accommodate you back, if you can be ready to depart at
such a short warning.  You will, in general, find us returned to
sentiments worthy of former times; in these it will be your glory to
have steadily labored, and with as much effect as any man living.  That
you may live long to continue your useful labors, and reap the reward
in the thankfulness of nations, is my sincere prayer.  Accept the
assurances of my high esteem and affectionate attachment.--Thomas

"It has been very generally propagated through the continent that I
wrote the pamphlet "Common Sense."  I could not have written anything
in so manly and striking a style.--John Adams"

"A few more such flaming arguments as were exhibited at Falmouth and
Norfolk, added to the sound doctrine and unanswerable reasoning
contained in the pamphlet "Common Sense," will not leave numbers at a
loss to decide on the propriety of a separation.--George Washington"

"It is not necessary for me to tell you how much all your countrymen--I
speak of the great mass of the people--are interested in your welfare.
They have not forgotten the history of their own revolution, and the
difficult scenes through which they passed; nor do they review its
several stages without reviving in their bosoms a due sensibility of
the merits of those who served them in that great and arduous conflict.
The crime of ingratitude has not yet stained, and I trust never will
stain, our national character.  You are considered by them as not only
having rendered important services in our revolution, but as being on a
more extensive scale the friend of human right and a distinguished and
able advocate in favor of public liberty.  To the welfare of Thomas
Paine, the Americans are not, nor can they be, indifferent.--James

"No writer has exceeded Paine in ease and familiarity of style, in
perspicuity of expression, happiness of elucidation, and in simple and
unassuming language.--Thomas Jefferson"

Was it in consideration of the services of a drunken beast that the
Legislature of Pennsylvania presented Thomas Paine with L500 sterling?
Did the State of New York feel indebted to a drunken beast, and confer
upon Thomas Paine an estate of several hundred acres?  Did the Congress
of the United States thank him for his services because he had lived a
drunken and beastly life?  Was he elected a member of the French
convention because he was a drunken beast?  Was it the act of a drunken
beast to put his own life in jeopardy by voting against the death of
the King?  Was it because he was a drunken beast that he opposed the
"Reign of Terror "--that he endeavored to stop the shedding of blood,
and did all in his power to protect even his own enemies?  Do the
following extracts sound like the words of a drunken beast:

"I believe in the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties
consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our
fellow creatures happy.

"My own mind is my own church.

"It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful
to himself.

"Any system of religion that shocks the mind of a child can not be a
true system.

"The work of God is the creation which we behold.

"The age of ignorance commenced with the Christian system.

"It is with a pious fraud as with a bad action--it begets a calamitous
necessity of going on.

"To read the Bible without horror, we must undo everything that is
tender, sympathizing, and benevolent in the heart of man.

"The man does not exist who can say I have persecuted him, or that I
have, in any case, returned evil for evil.

"Of all the tyrants that afflict mankind, tyranny in religion is the

"The belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.

"My own opinion is, that those whose lives have been spent in doing
good, and endeavoring to make their fellow-mortals happy, will be happy

"The intellectual part of religion is a private affair between every
man and his Maker, and in which no third party has any right to
interfere. The practical part consists in our doing good to each other.

"No man ought to make a living by religion.  One person can not act
religion for another--every person must act for himself.

"One good school-master is of more use than a hundred priests. Let us
propagate morality, unfettered by superstition.

"God is the power, or first cause; nature is the law, and matter is the
subject acted upon.

"I believe in one God and no more, and I hope for happiness beyond this

"The key of happiness is not in the keeping of any sect, nor ought the
road to it to be obstructed by any.

"My religion, and the whole of it, is the fear and love of the Deity,
and universal philanthropy.

"I have yet, I believe, some years in store, for I have a good state of
health and a happy mind.  I take care of both, by nourishing the first
with temperance and the latter with abundance.

"He lives immured within the Bastille of a word."

How perfectly that sentence describes the orthodox.  The Bastille in
which they are immured is the word "Calvinism."

"Man has no property in man."

"The world is my country, to do good my religion."

I ask again whether these splendid utterances came from the lips of a
drunken beast?

"Man has no property in man."

What a splendid motto that would make for the religious newspapers of
this country thirty years ago.  I ask, again, whether these splendid
utterances came from the lips of a drunken beast?

Only a little while ago--two or three days--I read a report of an
address made by Bishop Doane, an Episcopal Bishop in apostolic
succession--regular line from Jesus Christ down to Bishop Doane. The
Bishop was making a speech to young preachers--the sprouts, the
theological buds.  He took it upon him to advise them all against early
marriages.  Let us look at it.  Do you believe there is any duty that
man owes to God that will prevent a man marrying the woman he loves?
Is there some duty that I owe to the clouds that will prevent me from
marrying some good, sweet woman?  Now, just think of that!  I tell you,
young man, you marry as soon as you can find her and support her.  I
had rather have one woman that I know than any amount of gods that I am
not acquainted with.  If there is any revelation from God to man, a
good woman is the best revelation he has ever made; and I will admit
that that revelation was inspired.

Now, on the subject of marriage, let me offset the speech of Bishop
Doane by a word from this "wretched infidel:"

"Though I appear a sorry wanderer, the marriage state has not a
sincerer friend than I.  It is the harbor of human life, and is, with
respect to the things of this world, what the next world is to this.
It is home, and that one word conveys more than any other word can
express.  For a few years we may glide along the tide of a single life,
but it is a tide that flows but once, and, what is still worse, it ebbs
faster than it flows, and leaves many a hapless voyager aground.  I am
one, you see, that has experienced the fall I am describing.  I have
lost my tide; it passed by while every throb of my heart was on the
wing for the salvation of America, and I have now, as contentedly as I
can, made myself a little tower of walls on that shore that has the
solitary resemblance of home."

I just want you to know what this dreadful infidel thought of home.  I
just wanted you to know what Thomas Paine thought of home.  Then here
is another letter that Thomas Paine wrote to congress on the 21st day
of January, 1808, and I wanted you to know those two.

It is only a short one:

"To the Honorable Senate of the United States:  The purport of this
address is to state a claim I feel myself entitled to make on the
United States, leaving it to their representatives in congress to
decide on its worth and its merits.  The case is as follows:

"Toward the latter end of the year 1780 the continental money had
become depreciated--the paper dollar being then not more than a
cent--that it seemed next to impossible to continue the war.  As the
United States was then in alliance with France it became necessary to
make France acquainted with our real situation.  I therefore drew up a
letter to the Count De Vergennes, stating undisguisedly the whole case,
and concluding with a request whether France could not, either as a
subsidy of a loan, supply the United States with a million pounds
sterling, and continue that supply, annually, during the war.  "I
showed this letter to Mr. Morbois, secretary of the French minister.
His remark upon it was that a million sent out of the nation exhausted
it more than ten millions spent in it.  I then showed it to Mr. Ralph
Izard, member of congress from South Carolina.  He borrowed the letter
of me and said:  'We will endeavor to do something about it in
congress.'  Accordingly, congress then appointed John A. Laurens to go
to France and make representation for the purpose of obtaining
assistance.  Col. Laurens wished to decline the mission, and asked that
congress would appoint Col. Hamilton, who did not choose to do it.
Col. Laurens then came and stated the case to me, and said that he was
well enough acquainted with the military difficulties of the army, but
he was not acquainted with political affairs, or with the resources of
the country, to undertake such a mission.  Said he, 'If you will go
with me I will accept the mission.' This I agreed to do, and did do.
We sailed from Boston in the Alliance frigate February, 1781, and
arrived in France in the beginning of March. The aid obtained from
France was six millions of livres, as at present, and ten millions as a
loan, borrowed in Holland on the security of France.  We sailed from
Brest in the French frigate Resolue the 1st of June, and arrived at
Boston on the 25th of August, bringing with us two millions and a half
in silver, and conveying a chip and a brig laden with clothing and
military stores.

"The money was transported with sixteen ox teams to the National bank
at Philadelphia, which enabled our army to move to Yorktown to attack
in conjunction with the French army under Rochambeau, the British army
under Cornwallis.

"As I never had a single cent for these services, I felt myself
entitled, as the country is now in a state of prosperity, to state the
case to congress.

"As to my political works, beginning with the pamphlet 'Common Sense,'
published the beginning of January 1776, which awakened America to a
declaration of independence as the president and vice-president both
know, as they were works done from principle I can not dishonor that
principle by ever asking any reward for them.  The country has been
benefited by them, and I make myself happy in the knowledge of that
benefit.  It is, however, proper for me to add that the mere
independence of America, were it to have been followed by a system of
government modeled after the corrupt system of the English government,
would not have interested me with the unabated ardor it did.  It was to
bring forward and establish a representative system of government.  As
the work itself will show, that was the leading principle with me in
writing that work, and all my other works during the progress of the
revolution, and I followed the same principle in writing in English the
'Rights of Man.'

"After the failure of the 5 percent duty recommended by congress to pay
the interest of the loan to be borrowed in Holland, I wrote to
Chancellor Livingston, then minister for foreign affairs, and Robert
Morris, minister of finance, and proposed a method for getting over the
difficulty at once, which was by adding a continental legislature which
should be empowered to make laws for the whole union instead of
recommending them. So the method proposed met with their future
probation.  I held myself in reserve to take a step up whenever a
direct occasion occurred.

"In a conversation afterward with Gov. Clinton, of New York, now
vice-president, it was judged that for the purpose of my going fully
into the subject, and to prevent any misconstruction of my motive or
object, it would be best that I received nothing from congress, but to
leave it to the states individually to make the what acknowledgement
they pleased. The State of New York presented me with a farm which
since my return to America, I have found it necessary to sell, and the
State of Pennsylvania voted me L500 of their currency, but none of the
states to the east of New York, or the south of Pennsylvania, have made
me the least acknowledgment.  They had received benefits from me which
they accepted, and there the matter ended.  This story will not tell
well in history.  All the civilized world knows I have been of great
service to the United States, and have generously given away that which
would easily have made me a fortune.  I much question if an instance is
to be found in ancient or modern times of a man who had no personal
interest in the case to take up that of the establishment of a
representative government and who sought neither place nor office after
it was established; that pursued the same undeviating principles that I
had for more than thirty years, and that in spite of dangers,
difficulties, and inconveniences of which I have had my share.--Thomas

An old man in Pennsylvania told me once that his father hired a old
revolutionary soldier by the name of Thomas Martin to work for him.
Martin was then quite an old man; and there was an old Presbyterian
preacher used to come there, by the name of Crawford, and he sat down
by the fire and he got to talking one night, among other things about
Thomas Paine--what a wretched, infamous dog he was; and while he was in
the midst of this conversation the old soldier rose from the fireplace,
and he walked over to the preacher, and he said to him "Did you ever
see Thomas Paine?"  "No."  "Well," he says, "I have; I saw him at
Valley Forge.  I heard read at the head of every regiment and company
the letters of Thomas Paine.  I heard them read the 'Crisis,' and I saw
Thomas Paine writing on the head of a drum, sitting at the bivouac
fire, those simple words that inspired every patriot's bosom, and I
want to tell you Mr. Preacher, that Thomas Paine did more for liberty
than any priest that ever lived in this world."

"And yet they say he was afraid to die!  Afraid of what?  Is there any
God in heaven that hates a patriot?  If there is Thomas Paine ought to
be afraid to die.  Is there any God that would damn a man for helping
to free three millions of people?  If Thomas Paine was in hell tonight,
and could get God's attention long enough to point him to the old
banner of the stars floating over America, God would have to let him
out.  What would he be afraid of?  Had he ever burned anybody?  No.
Had he ever put anybody in the inquisition?  No.  Ever put the
thumb-screw on anybody?  No.  Ever put anybody in prison so that some
poor wife and mother would come and hold her little babe up at the
grated window that the man bound to the floor might get one glimpse of
his blue-eyed babe? Did he ever do that?"

"Did he ever light a fagot?  Did he ever tear human flesh?  Why, what
had he to be afraid of?  He had helped to make the world free.  He had
helped create the only republic then on the earth. What was he afraid
of?  Was God a tory?  It won't do."

One would think from the persistence with which the orthodox have
charged for the last seventy years that Thomas Paine recanted, that
there must be some evidence of some kind to support these charges.
Even with my ideas of the average honor of the believers in
superstition, the average truthfulness of the disciples of fear, I did
not believe that all those infamies rested solely upon poorly-attested
falsehoods.  I had charity enough to suppose that something had been
said or done by Thomas Paine capable of being tortured into a
foundation of all these calumnies.  What crime had Thomas Paine
committed that he should have feared to die?  The only answer you can
give is that he denied the inspiration of the scriptures.  If that is
crime, the civilized world is filled with criminals.  The pioneers of
human thought, the intellectual leaders of this world, the foremost men
in every science, the kings of literature and art, those who stand in
the front of investigation, the men who are civilizing and elevating
and refining mankind, are all unbelievers in the ignorant dogma of

Why should we think Thomas Paine was afraid to die? and why should the
American people malign the memory of that great man? He was the first
to advocate the separation from the mother country.  He was the first
to write these words:  "The United States of America."  Think of
maligning that man!  He was the first to lift his voice against human
slavery, and while hundreds and thousands of ministers all over the
United States not only believed in slavery, but bought and sold women
and babes in the name of Jesus Christ, this infidel, this wretch who is
now burning in the flames of hell, lifted his voice against human
slavery and said: "It is robbery, and a slaveholder is a thief; the
whipper of women is a barbarian; the seller of a child is a savage."
No wonder that the thieving hypocrite of his day hated him!  I have no
love for any man who ever pretended to own a human being.  I have no
love for a man that would sell a babe from the mother's throbbing,
heaving, agonized breast. I have no respect for a man who considered a
lash on the naked back as a legal tender for labor performed.  So write
it down, Thomas Paine was the first great abolitionist of America.

Now let me tell you another thing.  He was the first man to raise his
voice for the abolition of the death penalty in the French convention.
What more did he do?  He was the first to suggest a federal
constitution for the United States.  He saw that the old articles of
confederation were nothing; that they were ropes of water and chains of
mist, and he said, "We want a federal constitution so that when you
pass a law raising 5 percent you can make the states pay it."  Let us
give him his due.  What were all these preachers doing at that time?

He hated superstition; he loved the truth.  He hated tyranny; he loved
liberty.  He was the friend of the human race.  He lived a brave and
thoughtful life.  He was a good and true and generous man, and "he died
as he lived."  Like a great and peaceful river with green and shaded
banks, without a murmur, without a ripple, he flowed into the waveless
ocean of eternal peace.  I love him; I love every man who gave me, or
helped to give me the liberty I enjoy tonight; I love every man who
helped me put our flag in heaven.  I love every man who has lifted his
voice in any age for liberty, for a chainless body and a fetterless
brain.  I love everyman who has given to every other human being every
right that he claimed for himself.  I love every man who has thought
more of principle than he has of position.  I love the men who have
trampled crowns beneath their feet that they might do something for
mankind, and for that reason I love Thomas Paine.

I thank you all, ladies and gentlemen, every one--every one, for the
attention you have given me this evening.

Ingersoll's Lecture on Liberty of Man, Woman and Child

Ladies and Gentlemen:  In my judgment slavery is the child of
ignorance. Liberty is born of intelligence.  Only a few years ago there
was a great awakening in the human mind.  Men began to inquire, By what
right does a crowned robber make me work for him?  The man who asked
this question was called a traitor. Others said, by what right does a
robed priest rob me?  That man was called an infidel.  And whenever he
asked a question of that kind, the clergy protested.  When they found
that the earth was round, the clergy protested; when they found that
the stars were not made out of the scraps that were left over on the
sixth day of creation, but were really great, shining, wheeling worlds,
the clergy protested and said:  "When is this spirit of investigation
to stop?"  They said then, and they say now, that it is dangerous for
the mind of man to be free.  I deny it.  Out on the intellectual sea
there is room  for every sail. In the intellectual air, there is space
enough for every wing. And the man who does not do his own thinking is
a slave, and does not do his duty to his fellow men.  For one, I expect
to do my own thinking. And I will take my own oath this minute that I
will express what thoughts I have, honestly and sincerely.  I am the
slave of no man and of no organization.  I stand under the blue sky and
the stars, under the infinite flag of nature, the peer of every human
being.  Standing as I do in the presence of the Unknown, I have the
same right to guess as though I had been through five theological
seminary.  I have as much interest in the great absorbing questions of
origin and destiny as though I had D.D., L. L. D. at the end of my name.

All I claim, all I plead is simple liberty of thought.  That is all.  I
do not pretend to tell what is true and all the truth.  I do not claim
that I have floated level with the heights of thought, or that I have
descended to the depths of things; I simply claim that what idea I have
I have a right to express, and any man that denies it to me is an
intellectual thief and robber. That is all.  I say, take those chains
off from the human soul; I say, break these orthodox fetters, and if
there are wings to the spirit let them be spread.  That is all I say.
And I ask you if I have not the same right to think that any other
human has? If I have no right to think, why have I such a thing as a
thinker. Why have I a brain?  And if I have no right to think, who has?
If I have lost my right, Mr. Smith, where did you find yours?  If I
have no right, have three or four men or 300 or 400, who get together
and sign a card and build a house and put a steeple on it with a bell
in it--have they any more right to think than they had before?  That is
the question.  And I am sick of the whip and lash in the region of mind
and intellect.  And I say to these men, "Let us alone.  Do your own
thinking; express your own thoughts."  And I want to say tonight that I
claim no right that I am not willing to give to every other human being
beneath the stars--none whatever.  And I will fight tonight for the
right of those who disagree with me to express their thoughts just as
soon as I will fight for my own right to express mine.

In the good old times, our fathers had an idea that they could make
people believe to suit them.  Our ancestors in the ages that are gone
really believed that by force you could convince a man. You cannot
change the conclusion of the brain by force, but I will tell you what
you can do by force, and what you have done by force.  You can make
hypocrites by the million.  You can make a man say that he has changed
his mind, but he remains of the same opinion still.  Put fetters all
over him; crush his feet in iron boots; lash him to the stock; burn him
if you please, but his ashes are of the same opinion still.  I say our
fathers, in the good old times--and the best thing I can say about them
is, they are dead--they had an idea they could force men to think their
way, and do you know that idea is still prevalent even in this country?
Do you know they think they can make a man think their way if they say,
"We will not trade with that man; we won't vote for that man; we won't
hire him, if he is a lawyer; we will die before we take his medicine,
if he is a doctor, we won't invite him; we will socially ostracize him;
he must come to our church; he must think our way or he is not a
gentleman."  There is much of that even in this blessed country--not
excepting the city of Albany itself.

Now in the old times of which I have spoken, they said, "We can make
all men think alike."  All the mechanical ingenuity of this earth
cannot make two clocks run alike, and how are you going to make
millions of people of different quantities and qualities and amount of
brain, clad in this living robe of passionate flesh--how are you going
to make millions of them think alike? If the infinite God, if there is
one, who made us, wished us to think alike, why did he give a spoonful
of brains to one man, and a bushel to another?  Why is it that we have
all degrees of humanity, from the idiot to the genius, if it was
intended that all should think alike?  I say our fathers concluded they
would do this by force, and I used to read in books how they persecuted
mankind, and do you know I never appreciated it; I did not.  I read it,
but it did not burn itself, as it were, into my very soul what infamies
had been committed in the name of religion, and I never fully
appreciated it until a little while ago I saw the iron arguments our
fathers used to use.  I tell you the reason we are through that, is
because we have better brains than our fathers had.  Since that day we
have become intellectually developed, and there is more real brain and
real good sense in the world today than in any other period of its
history, and that is the reason we have more liberty, that is the
reason we have more kindness.  But I say I saw these iron arguments our
fathers used to use. I saw here the thumb-screw--two little innocent
looking pieces of iron, armed on the inner surface with protuberances
to prevent their slipping--and when some man denied the efficacy of
baptism, or maybe said, "I do not believe that the whale ever swallowed
a man to keep him from drowning," then they put these pieces of iron
upon his thumb, and there was a screw at each end, and then, in the
name of love and forgiveness, they began screwing these pieces of iron
together.  A great many men, when they commenced, would say, "I
recant."  I expect I would have been one of them.   I would have said,
"Now you just stop that; I will admit anything on earth that you want.
I will admit there is one god or a million, one hell or a billion; suit
yourselves, but stop that."  But I want to say, the thumbscrew having
got out of the way, I am going to have my say.

There was now and then some man who wouldn't turn Judas Iscariot to his
own soul; there was now and then a man willing to die for his
conviction, and if it were not for such men we would be savages
tonight. Had it not been for a few brave and heroic souls in every age,
we would have been naked savages this moment, with pictures of wild
beasts tattooed upon our naked breasts, dancing around a dried snake
fetish; and I tonight thank every good and noble man who stood up in
the face of opposition, and hatred, and death for what he believed to
be right.  And then they screwed this thumbscrew down as far as they
could and threw him into some dungeon, where, in throbbing misery and
the darkness of night, he dreams of the damned; but that was done in
the name of universal love.

I saw there at the same time what they called the "collar of torture."
Imagine a circle of iron, and on the inside of that more than a hundred
points as sharp as needles.  This being fastened upon the throat, the
sufferer could not sit down, he could not walk, he could not stir
without being punctured by those needles, and in a little while the
throat would begin to swell, and finally suffocation would end the
agonies of that man, when may be the only crime he had committed was to
say, with tears upon his sublime cheeks, "I do not believe that God,
the father of us all, will damn to eternal punishment any of the
children of men."  Think of it!  And I saw there at the same time
another instrument, called "the scavenger's daughter," which resembles
a pair of shears, with handles where handles ought to be, but at the
points as well.  And just above the pivot that fastens the blades, a
circle of iron through which the hands would be placed, into the lower
circles the feet, and into the center circle the head would be pushed,
and in that position he would be thrown prone upon the earth, and kept
there until the strain upon the muscles produced such agony that
insanity and death would end his pain.  And that was done in the name
of "Whosoever smiteth thee upon one cheek, turn him the other also."
Think of it!

And I saw also the rack, with the windlass and chains, upon which the
sufferer was laid.  About his ankles were fastened chains, and about
his wrists also, and then priests began turning this windlass, and they
kept turning until the ankles, the shoulders and the wrists were all
dislocated, and the sufferer was wet with the sweat of agony.  And they
had standing by a physician to feel his pulse.  What for?  To save his
life?  Yes.  What for?  In mercy?  No.  Simply that they might preserve
his life, that they might rack him once again.  And this was
done--recollect it--it was done in the name of civilization, it was
done in the name of law and order, it was done in the name of morality,
it was done in the name of religion, it was done in the name of God.

Sometimes when I get to reading about it, and when I get to thinking
about it, it seems to me that I have suffered all these horrors myself,
as though I had stood upon the shore of exile and gazed with a
tear-filled eye toward home and native land; as though my nails had
been torn from my hands, and into my throat the sharp needles had been
thrust; as though my feet had been crushed in iron boots; as though I
had been chained in the cells of the Inquisition, and had watched and
waited in the interminable darkness to hear the words of release; as
though I had been taken from my fireside, from my wife and children,
and taken to the public square, chained, and fagots had been piled
around me; as though the flames had played around my limbs, and
scorched the sight from my eyes; as though my ashes had been scattered
to the four winds by the hands of hatred; as though I had stood upon
the scaffold and felt the glittering ax fall upon me.  And while I feel
and see all this, I swear that while I live I will do what little I can
to augment the liberty of man, woman and child.

My friends, it is all a question of sense; it is all a question of
honesty.  If there is a man in this house who is not willing to give to
everybody else what he claims for himself he is just so much nearer to
the barbarian than I am.  It is a simple question of honesty; and the
man who is not willing to give to every other human being the same
intellectual rights he claims himself is a rascal, and you know it.  It
is a simple question, I say, of intellectual development and of
honesty. And I want to say it now, so you will see it.  You show me the
narrow, contracted man; you show me the man who claims everything for
himself and leaves nothing for others, and that man has got a distorted
and deformed brain.  That is the matter with him.  He has no sense; not
a bit.  Let me show you.

A little while ago I saw models of everything man has made for his use
and for his convenience.  I saw all the models of all the watercraft,
from the dug-out, in which floated a naked savage--one of our
ancestors--a naked savage, with teeth two inches long, with a spoonful
of brains in the back of his head; I saw the watercraft 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 through 3,000 miles of billows,
with a compass like a conscience, that does not miss throb or beat of
its mighty iron heart from one shore to the other.  I saw at the same
time the weapons that man has made, from a rude club, such as was
grasped by that savage when he crawled from his den, from his hole 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
flint-lock, to the cap-lock, to the needle-gun, up to the cannon cast
by Krupp, capable of hurling a ball of 2,000 pounds through eighteen
inches of solid steel.  I saw, too, the armor from the turtle-shell
that our ancestor lashed upon his skin when he went out to fight for
his country, to the skin of the porcupine, with the quills all
bristling, which he pulled over his orthodox head to defend himself
from his enemies--I mean, of course, the orthodox head of that day--up
to the shirts of mail that were worn in the middle ages, capable of
resisting the edge of the sword and the point of the spear; up to the
iron-clad, to the monitor completely clad in steel, capable only a few
years ago of defying the navies of the globe.

I saw at the same time the musical instruments, from the tomtom, which
is a hoop with a couple of strings of rawhide drawn across it--from
that tomtom up to the instruments we have today, which make the common
air blossom with melody.  I saw, too, the paintings, from the daub of
yellow mud up to the pieces which adorn the galleries of the world.
And the sculpture, from the rude gods, with six legs and a half dozen
arms, and the rows of ears, up to the sculpture of now, wherein the
marble is clad with such loveliness that it seems almost a sacrilege to
touch it; and in addition I saw there ideas of books--books written
upon skins of wild beasts, books written upon shoulder-blades of sheep;
books written upon leaves, upon bark, up to the splendid volumes that
adorn the libraries of our time.  When I think of libraries, I think of
the remark of Plato, "The house that has a library in it has a soul."

I saw there all these things, and also the implements of agriculture,
from a crooked stick up to the plow which makes it possible for a man
to cultivate the soil without being an ignoramus.  I saw at the same
time a row of skulls, from the lowest skull that has ever been found;
skulls from the central portion of Africa, skulls from the bushmen of
Australia, up to the best skulls of the last generation.

And I notice that there was the same difference between those skulls
that there is between the products of those skulls.  And I said to
myself:  "It is all a question of intellectual development.  It is a
question of brain and sinew."  I noticed that there was the same
difference between those skulls that there was between that dug-out,
and that man-of-war and that steamship.  That skull was low.  It had
not a forehead a quarter of an inch high.  But shortly after, the
skulls became doming and crowning, and getting higher and grander.
That skull was a den in which crawled the base and meaner instincts of
mankind, and this skull was a temple in which dwelt joy, liberty and
love.  So said I:  "This is all a question of brain, and anything that
tends to develop, intellectually, mankind, is the gospel we want."

Now I want to be honest with you.  Honor bright!  Nothing like it in
the world!  No matter what I believe.  Now, let us be honest. Suppose a
king, if there was a king at the time this gentleman floated in the
dugout and charmed his ears with the music of the tomtom; suppose the
king at that time, if there was one, and the priest, if there was one,
had said:  "That dug-out is the best boat that ever can be built.  The
pattern of that came from on high, and any man who says he can improve
it, by putting a log or a stick in the bottom of it, with a rag on the
end, is an infidel."  Honor bright, what, in your judgment, would have
been the effect upon the circumnavigation of the globe?  That is the
question.  Suppose the king, if there was one, and the priest, if there
was one--and I presume there was, because it was a very ignorant
age--suppose they had said:  "That tomtom is the most miraculous
instrument of music that any man can conceive of; that is the kind of
music they have in heaven.  An angel, sitting upon the golden edge of a
fleecy cloud, playing upon that tomtom became so enraptured, so
entranced with her own music, that she dropped it, and that is how we
got it--and any man that says that it can be improved by putting a back
and front to it, and four strings and a bridge on it, and getting some
horsehair and resin, is no better than one of the weak and

I ask you what effect would that have had upon music?  I ask you, honor
bright, if that course had been pursued, would the human ears ever have
been enriched with the divine symphonies of Beethoven?  That is the
question.  And suppose the king, if there was one, and the priest had
said:  "That crooked stick is the best plow we can ever have invented.
The pattern of that plow was given to a pious farmer in a 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, we will twist him."  Honor
bright, what, in your judgment, would have been the effect upon the
agricultural world?

Now, you see, the people said, "We want better weapons with which to
kill our enemies;" so the people said, "we want better plows;"  the
people said, "we want better music;"  the people said, "we want better
paintings;"  and they said, "whoever will give us better plows, and
better arms, and better paintings, and better music, we will give him
honor; we will crown him with glory; we will robe him in the garments
of wealth;" and every incentive has been held out to every human being
to improve something in every direction.  And that is the reason the
club is a cannon; that the reason the dugout is a steamship; that the
reason the daub is a painting, and that is the reason that that piece
of stone has finally become a glorified statue.

Now, then, this fellow in the dug-out had a religion.  That fellow was
orthodox.  He had no doubt; he was settled in his mind.  He did not
wish to be insulted.  He wanted the bark of his soul to lie at the
wharf of orthodoxy, and rot in the sun.  He wanted to hear the sails of
old opinions flap against the mast of old creeds.  He wanted to see the
joints in the sides open and gape, as though thirsty for water, and he
said:  "Now don't disturb my opinions; you'll get my mind unsettled; I
have got it all made up, and I don't want to hear any infidelity,
either." As far as I am concerned, I want to be out on the high sea; I
Want to take my chance with wind and wave and star; and I had rather go
down in the glory and grandeur of the storm than to rot at any orthodox
wharf.  Of course I mean by orthodoxy all that don't agree with my
doxy. Do you understand?

Now this man had a religion.  That fellow believed in hell.  Yes, sir;
and he thought he would be happier in heaven if he could just lean over
and see certain people that he disliked, broiled. That fellow has had a
great many intellectual descendents.  It is an unhappy fact in nature
that the ignorant multiply much faster than the intellectual.  This
fellow believed in the devil, and his devil had a cloven hoof.  (Many
people think I have the same kind of footing.)  He had a long tail,
armed with a fiery dart, and he breathed brimstone.  And do you know
there has not been a patentable improvement made on that devil for
4,000 years?  That fellow believed that God was a tyrant.  That fellow
believed that the earth was flat.  That fellow believed, as I told you,
in a literal burning, seething lake of fire and brimstone.  That is
what he believed in.  That fellow, too, had his idea of politics, and
his idea was, "Might makes right."  And it will take thousands of years
before the world will believingly say, "Right makes might."  Now all I
ask is the same privilege of improving on that gentleman's theology as
upon his musical instrument; the same right to improve upon his
politics as upon his dug-out. That is all.  I ask for the human soul
the same liberty in every direction.  And that is all.  That is the
only crime that I have committed.  That is all.  I say, let us have a
chance. Let us think, and let each one express his thoughts.  Let us
become investigators, not followers; not cringers and crawlers.  If
there is in heaven an infinite being, he never will be satisfied with
the worship of cowards and hypocrites.  Honest unbelief will be a
perfume in heaven when hypocrisy, no matter however religious it may be
outwardly, will be a stench.  That is my doctrine.  That is all there
is to it; give every other human being all the chance you claim for
yourself.  To keep your mind open to the voices of nature, to new
ideas, to new thoughts, and to improve upon your doctrine whenever you
can; that is my doctrine.

Do you know we are improving all the time?  Do you know that the most
orthodox people in this town today, three hundred years ago would have
been burned for heresy?  Do you know some ministers who denounce me
would have been in the Inquisition themselves two hundred years ago?
Do you know where once burned and blazed the bivouac fires of the army
of progress, the altars of the church glow today?  Do you know that the
church today occupies about the same ground that unbelievers did one
hundred years ago?  Do you know that while they have followed this army
of progress, protesting and denouncing, they have had to keep within
protesting and denouncing distance, but they have followed it? They
have been the men, let me say, in the valley; the men in swamps,
shouting to and cursing the pioneers on the hills; the men upon whose
forehead was the light of the coming dawn, the coming day--but they
have advanced. In spite of themselves, they have advanced!  If they had
not, I would not speak here to night.  If they had not, not a solitary
one of you could have expressed your real and honest thought.  But we
are advancing, and we are beginning to hold all kinds of slavery in
utter contempt; do you know that?  And we are beginning to question
wealth and power; we are questioning all creeds and all dogmas; and we
are not bowing down, as we used to, to a man simply because he is in
the robe of a clergyman, and we are not bowing down to a man now simply
because he is a king.  No!  We are not bowing down simply because he is
rich.  We used to worship the golden calves, but we do not now.  The
worst you can say of an American, is, he worships the gold of the calf,
not the calf; and even the calves are beginning to see this distinction.

It no longer fills the ambition of a man to be emperor or king. The
last Napoleon was not satisfied with being 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 within his head, so he wrote
the life of Julius Caesar, that he might become a member of the French
Academy. Compare, for instance, in the German Empire, King William and
Bismarck. King William is the one anointed of the most high, as they
claim--the one upon whose head has been poured the divine petroleum of
authority. Compare him with Bismarck, who towers, an intellectual
Colossus, above this man.  Go into England and compare George Eliot
with Queen Victoria--Queen Victoria, clothed in the garments given to
her by blind fortune and by chance.  George Elliot, robed in garments
of glory, woven in the loom of her own genius.  Which does the world
pay respect to?  I tell you we are advancing! The pulpit does not do
all the thinking; the pews do it; nearly all of it.  The world is
advancing, and we question the authority of those men who simply say
"it is so."  Down upon your knees and admit it!  When I think of how
much this world has suffered, I am amazed.  When I think of how long
our fathers were slaves, I am amazed. Why, just think of it!  This
world has only been fit for a gentleman to live in fifty years.  No, it
has not.  It was not until the year 1808 that Great Britain abolished
the slave trade. Up to that time her judge, sitting upon the bench in
the name of justice; her priests, occupying the pulpit in the name of
universal love, owned stock in slave ships and luxuriated in the
profits of piracy and murder.  It was not until the year 1808 that the
United States abolished the slave trade between this and other
countries, but 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 wiped from our flag the stigma of disgrace.
Abraham Lincoln--in my judgment, the grandest man ever president of the
United States, and upon whose monument these words could truthfully be
written:  "Here lies the only man in the history of the world who,
having been clothed with almost absolute power, never abused it except
on the side of mercy."

Think, I say, how long we clung to the institution of human slavery;
how long lashes upon the naked back were the legal tender for labor
performed!  Think of it! when the pulpit of this country deliberately
and willfully changed the Cross of Christ into the whipping-post.
Think of it!  And tell me then if I am right when I say this world has
only been fit for a gentleman to live in fifty years.  I hate with
every drop of my blood every form of tyranny.  I hate every form of
slavery.  I hate dictation--I want something like liberty; and what do
I mean by that?  The right to do anything that does not interfere with
the happiness of another, physically.  Liberty of thought includes the
right to think right and the right to think wrong.  Why? Because that
is the means by which we arrive at truth; for if we knew the truth
before, we needn't think.  Those men who mistake their ignorance for
facts, never do think.  You may say to me, "How far is it across this
room?"  I say 100 feet.  Suppose it is 105; have I committed any crime?
I made the best guess I could. You ask me about any thing; I examine it
honestly, and when I get through, what should I tell you--what I think
or what you think?  What should I do?

There is a book put in my hands.  They say "That is the Koran; that was
written by inspiration; read it."  I read it.  Chapter VII, entitled
"The Cow," chapter IX, entitled "The Bee," and so on.  I read it.  When
I get through with it, suppose I think in my heart and in my brain, "I
don't believe a word of it;"  and you ask me, "What do you think of
it?" Now, admitting that I live in Turkey, and have a chance to get an
office, what should I say?  Now, honor bright, should I just make a
clean breast of it and say "Upon my honor, I don't believe it?"  Then
is it right for you to say "That fellow will steal--that fellow is a
dangerous man--he is a robber?"  Now, suppose I read the book called
the bible (and I read it, honor bright), and when I get through with it
I make up my mind that book was written by men; and along comes the
preacher of my church, and he says "Did you read that book?"  "I did."
"Do you think it is divinely inspired?"  I say to myself, "Now if I say
it is not, they will never send me to Congress from this district on
earth."  Now, honor bright, what ought I to do?  Ought I to say, "I
have read it.  I have been honest about it; don't believe it?" Now,
ought I to say that, if that is a real transcript of my mind, or ought
I to commence hemming and hawing and pretend that I do believe it, and
go away with the respect of that man, hating myself for a cringing
coward? Now which?  For my part I would rather a man would tell me what
he honestly thinks, and he will preserve his manhood.  I had rather be
a manly unbeliever than an unmanly believer.  I think I will stand
higher at the judgment day, if there is one, and stand with as good a
chance to get my case dismissed without costs as a man who sneaks
through life pretending he believes what he does not.  I tell you one
thing; there is going to be one free fellow in this world.  I am going
to say my say, I tell you.  I am going to do it kindly, I am going to
do it distinctly, but I am going to do it.

Now, if men have been slaves, what about women?  Women have been the
slaves of slaves; and that's a pretty hard position to occupy for life.
They have been the slaves of slaves; and in my judgment it took
millions of ages for women to come from the condition of abject slavery
up to the institution of marriage. Let me say right here, tonight, I
regard marriage as the holiest institution among men.  Without the
fireside there is no human advancement; without the family relation,
there is no life worth living.  Every good government is made up of
good families.  The unit of government is family, and anything that
tends to destroy the family is perfectly devilish and infamous.  I
believe in marriage, and I hold in utter contempt the opinions of
long-haired men and short-haired women who denounce the institution of
marriage.  Let me say right here--and I have thought a good deal about
it--let me say right here, the grandest ambition that any man can
possibly have is to so live and so improve himself in heart and brain
as to be worthy of the love of some splendid woman; and the grandest
ambition of any girl is to make herself worthy of the love and
adoration of some magnificent man.  That is my idea, and there is no
success in life without it.  If you are the grand emperor of the world,
you had better be the grand emperor of one loving and tender heart, and
she the grand empress of yours.  The man who has really won the love of
one good woman in this world, I do not care if he dies in the ditch a
beggar, his life has been a success.

I say it took millions of years to come from the condition of abject
slavery up to the condition of marriage.  Ladies, the ornaments you
bear upon your person tonight are but the souvenirs of your mothers'
bondage. The chains around your necks and the bracelets clasped upon
your wrists by the thrilling hand of love, have been changed by the
wand of civilization from iron to shining, glittering gold.  But nearly
every religion has accounted for the devilment in this world by the
crime of woman. What a gallant thing that is!  And if it is true, I had
rather live with the woman I love in a world full of trouble, than to
live in heaven with nobody but men.

I say that nearly every religion has accounted for all the trouble in
this world by the crime of woman.  I read in a book--and I will say now
that I cannot give the exact language; my memory does not retain the
words--but I can give the substance.  I read in a book that the supreme
being concluded to make a world and one man; that he took some nothing
and made a world and one man, and put this man in a garden:  but he
noticed that he got lonesome; he wandered around as if he was waiting
for a train; there was nothing to interest him; no news; no papers; no
politics; no policy; and as the devil had not yet made his appearance,
there was no chance for reconciliation; not even for civil service
reform.  Well, he would wander about this garden in this condition
until finally the supreme being made up his mind to make him a
companion; and having used up all the nothing he originally took in
making the world and one man, he had to take a part of the man to start
a woman with, and so he caused a deep sleep to fall upon this man--now,
understand me. I didn't say this story is true. After the sleep fell
upon this man, he took a rib, or, as the French would call it, a cutlet
out of this man, and from that he made a woman; and considering the raw
material, I look upon it as the most successful job ever performed.
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 one thing they could not do--and of course they did it.
I would have done it in fifteen minutes, and I know it.  There wouldn't
have been an apple on that tree half an hour from date, and the limbs
could have been full of clubs.  And then they were turned out of the
park, and an extra force was put on to keep them from getting back.
Then devilment commenced.  The mumps, and the measles, and the whooping
cough and the scarlet fever started in their race for man, and they
began to have the toothache, the roses began to have thorns, and snakes
began to have poisoned teeth, and people began to divide about religion
and politics; and the world has been full of trouble from that day to
this. Now, nearly all of the religions of this world account for the
existence of evil by such a story as that.

I read in another book what appeared to be an account of the same
transaction.  It was written about 4,000 years before the other; but
all commentators agree that the one that was written last was the
original, and that 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.  In this other story the Supreme Brahma made up his mind to make
the world and man and woman; and he made the world, and he made the man
and he made the woman, and he put them on the island of Ceylon; and
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.  The Supreme
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 nightingales singing and the
stars shining and the flowers blooming, and they fell in love.  Imagine
the 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. 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 Amend,
and the woman's name was Heva--and the man said to Heva:  "I believe
I'll look about a little;"  and he went to the northern 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,
got up a mirage, and when he looked over to the mainland, such hills
and dells, vales and dales; such mountains, crowned with silver; such
cataracts, clad in robes of beauty, 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, with the exception of now and then a rock, and the mirage
had disappeared and there was naught but rocks and sand; and then a
voice called out, cursing them.  Then it was that the man spoke up--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 man to start a
world with. The Supreme Brahma said, "I will save her but not thee."
She spoke up out of her feelings of love, out of a heart in which there
was love enough to make all of 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 first-rate ever since I read it--"I will spare you both
and watch over you."

Honor bright, isn't that the better story?

And from that same book I want to show you what ideas some of these
miserable heathen had--the heathen we are trying to convert.  We send
missionaries over yonder to convert heathen there, and we send soldiers
out on the plains to kill heathen there.  If we can convert the
heathen, why not convert those nearest home?  Why not convert those we
can get at?  Why not convert those who have the immense advantage of
the example of the average pioneer?  But to show you the men we are
trying to convert--in this book it says:  "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."  They are the men we
are converting.  Think of it!  I tell you when I read these things I
begin to say, "Love is not of any country; nobility does not belong
exclusively here;"  and through all the ages there have been a few
great and tender souls lifted far above their fellows.

Now, my friends, it seems to me that the woman is the equal of the man.
She has all the rights I have, and one more, and that is the right to
be protected.  That's my doctrine.  You are married; try and make the
woman you love happy; try and make the man you love happy.  Whoever
marries simply for himself will make a mistake; but whoever loves a
woman so well that he says "I will make her happy," makes no mistake;
and so with the woman who says "I will make him happy."  There is only
one way to be happy, and that is to make somebody else so, and you
can't be happy cross-lots; you have got to go the regular turnpike road.

If there is any man I detest, it is the man who thinks he is the head
of the family--the man who thinks he is "boss".  That fellow in the
dug-out used that word "boss;"  that was one of his favorite
expressions--that he was "boss".  Imagine a young man and a young woman
courting, walking out in the moonlight, and the nightingale singing a
song of pain and love, as though the thorn touched her heart--imagine
them stopping there in the moonlight and starlight and song, and saying
"Now here, let's settle who's boss!"  I tell you it is an infamous
word, and an infamous feeling--a man who is "boss," who is going to
govern his family, and when he speaks let all the rest of them be
still--some mighty idea is about to be launched from his mouth.  Do you
know I dislike this man unspeakably; and a cross man I hate above all

What right has he to murder the sunshine of the day?  What right has he
to assassinate the joy of life?  Where you go home you ought to feel
the light there is in the house; if it is in the night it will burst
out of doors and windows and illuminate the darkness.  It is just as
well to go home a ray of sunshine as an old sour, cross curmudgeon, who
thinks he is the head of the family.  Wise 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 8 cents, or 6, and want to sell it for 7.
Think of the intellectual strain that must have been upon a 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 may be sick; has been nursing them and singing to
them, and taking care of 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 great gentleman--the head of the family I don't like him a

Do you know another thing?  I despise a stingy man.  I don't see how it
is possible for a man to die worth fifty millions of dollars, or ten
millions of dollars, in a city full of want, when he meets almost every
day the withered hand of beggary and the white lips of famine.  How a
man can withstand all that, and hold in the clutch of his greed twenty
or thirty millions of dollars, is past my comprehension.  I do not see
how he can do it.  I should not think he could do it any more than he
could keep a pile of lumber where hundreds and thousands of men were
drowning in the sea.  I should not think he could do it.

Do you know I have known men who would trust their wives with their
hearts and their honor, but not with their pocketbook; not with a
dollar.  When I see a man of that kind I always think he knows which of
these articles is the most valuable.  Think of making your wife a
beggar!  Think of her having to ask you every day for a dollar, or for
two dollars, or for fifty cents!  "What did you do with that dollar I
gave you last week?"  Think of having a wife that was afraid of you!
What kind of children do you expect to have with a beggar and a coward
for their mother? Oh, I tell you, if you have but a dollar in the
world, and you have got to spend it, spend it like a king; spend it as
though it were a dry leaf and you the owner of unbounded forests!
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's got to go, let it go.

Get the best you can for your family--try to look as well as you can
yourself.  When you used to go courting, how nice you looked! Ah, your
eye was bright, your step was light, and you just put on the very best
look you could.  Do you know that it is insufferable egotism in you to
suppose that a woman is going to love you always looking as bad as you
can?  Think of it!  Any woman on earth will be true to you forever when
you do your level best.  Some people tell me, "Your doctrine about
loving, and wives, and all that is splendid for the rich, but it won't
do for the poor."  I tell you tonight there is on the average more love
in the homes of the poor than in the palaces of the rich; and the
meanest but with love in it is fit for the gods, and a palace without
love is a den only fit for wild beasts.  That's my doctrine!

You can't be so poor but that you can help somebody.  Good nature is
the cheapest commodity in the world; and love is the only thing that
will pay 10 percent to borrower and lender both. Don't tell me that you
have got to be rich!  We have all a false standard of greatness in the
United States.  We think here that a man to be great, must be
notorious; must be extremely wealthy, or his name must be between the
lips of rumor.  It is all nonsense!  It is not necessary to be rich to
be great, or to be powerful to be happy; and the happy man is the
successful man. Happiness is the legal tender of the soul.  Joy is

A little while ago I stood by the grave of the old Napoleon, a
magnificent tomb, fit for a dead deity almost, and gazed into the great
circle at the bottom of it.  In the sarcophagus, of black Egyptian
marble, at last rest the ashes of that restless man.  I looked over the
balustrade, and I thought about the career of Napoleon.  I could see
him walking 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 at Lodi.  I saw him in Egypt, fighting the battle of the
pyramids.  I saw him cross the Alps, and mingle the eagles of France
with the eagles of the crags.  I saw him at Austerlitz.  I saw him with
his army scattered and dispersed before the blast.  I saw him at
Leipsic when his army was defeated and he was taken captive.  I saw him
escape.  I saw him land again upon French soil, and retake an empire by
the force of his own genius.  I saw him captured once more, and again
at St. Helena, with his arms behind him, gazing out upon the sad and
solemn sea; and I thought of the orphans and Widows he had made.

I thought of the tears that had been shed for his glory.  I thought of
the only woman who ever loved him, who had been pushed from his heart
by the cold hand of ambition; and as I looked at the sarcophagus, 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 and ripening in the autumn sun; I would rather
have been that peasant, with my wife by my side and my children upon my
knees, twining their arms of affection about me; I would rather have
been that poor French peasant, and gone down at last to the eternal
promiscuity of the dust, followed by those who loved me; I would a
thousand times rather have been that French peasant than that imperial
personative of force and murder."  And so I would, ten thousand times.

It is not necessary to be great to be happy; it is not necessary to be
rich to be just and generous, and to have a heart filled with divine
affection.  No matter whether you are rich or poor, use your wife as
though she were a splendid creation, and she will fill your life with
perfume and joy.  And do you know, it is a splendid thing for me to
think that the woman you really love will never grow old to you?
Through the wrinkles of time, through the music of years, if you really
love her, you will always see the face you loved and won.  And a woman
who really loves a man, does not see that he grows older; he is not
decrepit; he does not tremble; he is not old; she always sees the same
gallant gentleman who won her hand and heart.  I like to think of it in
that way.  I like to think of all passions; love is eternal, and, as
Shakespeare says, "Although Time, with his sickle, can rob ruby lips
and sparkling eyes, let him reach as far as he can, he cannot quite
touch love; that reaches even to the end of the tomb."  And to love in
that way, and then go down the hill of life together, and as you go
down hear, perhaps, the laughter of grandchildren--the birds of joy and
love sing once more in the leafless branches of age.  I believe in the
fireside. I believe in the democracy of home.  I believe in the
republicanism of the family.  I believe in liberty and equality with
those we love.

If women have been slaves, what shall I say of children; of the little
children in the alleys and sub-cellars; the little children who turn
pale when they hear their father's footsteps; little children who run
away when they only hear their names called by the lips of another;
little children--the children of poverty, the children of crime, the
children of brutality wherever you are--flotsam and jetsam upon the
wild, mad sea of life, my heart goes out to you, one and all.  I tell
you the children have the same rights that we have, and we ought to
treat them as though they were human beings; and they should be reared
by love, by kindness, by tenderness, and not by brutality.  That is my
idea of children.  When your little child tells a lie, don't rush at
him as though the world were about to go into bankruptcy.  Be honest
with him.  A tyrant father will have liars for children; do you know
that? A lie is born of tyranny upon the one hand and weakness upon the
other, and when you rush at a poor little boy with a club in your hand,
of course he lies.  I thank Mother Nature that she has put ingenuity
enough in the breast of a child, when attacked by a brutal parent, to
throw up a little breastwork in the shape of a lie.  When one of your
children tells a lie, be honest with him; tell him you have told
hundreds of them yourself. Tell him it is not the best way; you have
tried it. Tell him, as the man did in Maine when his boy left home:
"John, honesty is the best policy; I have tried both."  Just be honest
with him.  Imagine now; you are about to whip a child five years of
age. What is the child to do? Suppose a man, as much larger than you
are larger than a child five years old, should come at you with
liberty-pole in hand, and in a voice of thunder shout, "Who broke the
plate?"  There is not a solitary one of you who wouldn't swear you
never saw it, or that it was cracked when you found it.  Why not be
honest with these children?  Just imagine a man who deals in stocks
putting false rumors afloat!

Think of a lawyer beating his own flesh and blood for evading the
truth, when he makes half of his own living that way!  Think of a
minister punishing his child for not telling all he thinks!  Just think
of it! When your child commits a wrong, take it in your arms; let it
feel your heart beat against its heart; let the child know that you
really and truly and sincerely love it.  Yet some Christians, good
Christians, when a child commits a fault, drive it from the door, and
say, "Never do you darken this house again."  Think of that!  And then
these same people will get down on their knees and ask God to take care
of the child they have driven from home.  I will never ask God to take
care of my children unless I am doing my level best in that same
direction. But I will tell you what I say to my children:  "Go where
you will; commit what crime you may; fall to what depth of degradation
you may; you can never commit any crime that will shut my door, my
arms, my heart to you; as long as I live you shall have no more sincere

Do you know, I have seen some people who acted as though they thought
when the Savior said, "Suffer little children to come unto me, for such
is the Kingdom of Heaven," that he had a rawhide under his mantle and
made that remark to get the children within striking distance.  I don't
believe in the government of the lash.  If any one of you ever expect
to whip your children again after you hear me, I want you to have a
photograph taken of yourself when you are in the act, with your face
red with vulgar anger; and then the face of the little child, with eyes
swimming in tears, and the little chin dimpled with fear, like a piece
of water struck by a sudden, cold wind.  Have the picture taken.  If
that little child should die, I cannot find a sweeter way to spend an
autumn afternoon than to go out to the cemetery, when the maples are
clad in bright colors, and little scarlet runners are coming, like
poems of regret, from the sad heart of the earth--than to go out to the
cemetery and sit down upon the grave and look at this photograph, and
think of the flesh, now dust, that you beat.

I tell you it is wrong; it is no way to raise children!  Make your home
happy.  Be honest with them, divide fairly with them in everything.
Give them a little liberty, and you cannot drive them out of the house.
They will want to stay there.  Make home pleasant.  Let them play any
game they want to.  Don't be so foolish as to say:  "You may roll balls
on the ground, but you must not roll them on green cloth.  You may
knock them with a mallet, but you must not push them with a cue.  You
may play with little pieces of paper which have 'Authors' written on
them, but you must not have 'keerds.'"  Think of it!  "You may go to a
minstrel show, where people blacken themselves up and degrade
themselves, and imitate humanity below themselves, but you must not go
to the theater and see the characters of immortal genius put upon the
stage."  Why? Well, I can't think of any reason in the world except
"minstrel" is a word of two syllables and theater has three.  Let
children have some daylight at home if you want to keep them there, and
don't commence at the cradle and yell, "Don't!"  "Don't!"  "Stop!"
That is nearly all that is said to a young one from the cradle until he
is twenty one years old, and when he comes of age other people begin
saying "Don't!" And the church says "Don't!"  And the party that he
belongs to says "Don't!"  I despise that way of going through this
world. Let us have a little liberty--just a little bit.  There is
another thing.  In old times, you know, they thought some days were too
good for a child to enjoy himself in.  When I was a boy Sunday was
considered altogether too good to be happy in; and Sunday used to
commence then when the sun went down Saturday night.  That was to get
good ready--a kind of running jump; and when the sun went down, a
darkness ten thousand times deeper than that of night fell on that
house.  Nobody said a word then; nobody laughed; and the child that
looked the sickest was regarded the most pious.  You couldn't crack
hickory nuts; you couldn't chew gum; and if you laughed, it was only
another evidence of the total depravity of man. That was a solemn
night; and the next morning everybody looked sad, mournful,
dyspeptic--and thousands of people think they have religion when they
have only got dyspepsia--thousands!  But there is nothing in this world
that would break up the old orthodox churches as quick as some specific
for dyspepsia--some sure cure.

Then we went to church, and the minister was up in a pulpit about
twenty feet high, with a little sounding-board over him, and he
commenced with Firstly and went on to about twenty-thirdly, and then
around by way of application, and then divided it off again once or
twice, and after having put in about two hours, he got to Revelations.
We were not allowed to have any fire, even if it was in the winter.  It
was thought to be outrageous to be comfortable while you are thanking
the Lord, and the first church that ever had a stove put in it in New
England was broken up on that account.  Then we went a-nooning, and
then came the catechism, the chief end of man.  We went through that;
and then this same sermon was preached, commencing at the other end,
and going back. After that was over we started for home, solemn and
sad--"not a soldier discharged his farewell shot;"  not a word was
said--and when we got home, if we had been good boys, they would take
us up to the graveyard to cheer us up a little.

It did cheer me!  When I looked at those tombs the comforting
reflection came to my mind that this kind of thing couldn't last
always.  Then we had some certain books that we read just by way of
cheerfulness.  There was Milner's "History of the Wilderness," Baxter's
"Call to the Unconverted," and Jenkins' "On the Atonement."  I used to
read Jenkins' "On the Atonement;"  and I have often thought the
atonement would have to be very broad in its provisions to cover the
case of a man who would write a book like that for a boy to read.
Well, you know, the Sunday had to go at last; and the moment the sun
went down Sunday night we were free.  About 4 or 5 o'clock we would go
to see how the sun was coming out.  Sometimes it seemed to me that it
was just stopping from pure cussedness; but finally it had to go down,
and when the last rim of light sank below the horizon, out would come
our traps, and we would give three cheers for liberty once more.  In
those times it was thought wrong for a child to laugh on Sunday.  Think
of that!  A little child--a little boy--could go out in the garden, and
there would be a tree laden with blossoms, and this little fellow would
lean up against the tree, and there would be a bird singing and
swinging, and thinking about four little speckled eggs, warmed by the
breast of its mate--singing and swinging, and the music coming rippling
out of its throat, and the flowers blossoming and the air full of
perfume, and the great white clouds floating in the sky; and that
little boy would lean up against that trunk, and think of hell.

That's true!  I have heard them preach when I sat in the pew, and my
feet didn't come within eighteen inches of the floor, about that hell.
And they said, "Suppose that once in a million years a bird would come
from some far distant planet, and carry in its bill a grain of sand,
the time would finally come when the last atom composing this earth
would be carried away;"  and the old preacher said, in order to impress
upon the boys the length of time they would have to stay, "it wouldn't
be sun-up in hell yet."

Think of that to preach to children!  I tell you, my friends, no day
can be so sacred but that the laugh of a little child will make it
holier still--no day!  And yet, at that time, the minds of children
were polluted by this infamous doctrine of eternal punishment; and I
denounce it today as an infamous doctrine beyond the power of language
to express.  Where did that doctrine of eternal punishment for the
children of men come from?  It came from that wretch in the dug-out.
Where did he get it?  It was a souvenir from the animals, and the
doctrine of eternal punishment was born in the eyes of snakes when they
hung in fearful coils watching for their prey.  It was a doctrine born
of the howling and barking and growling of wild beasts; it was born in
the grin of the hyenas, and of the depraved chatter of the baboons; and
I despise it with every drop of my blood.  Tell me there is a God in
the serene heaven that will damn his children for the expression of an
honest belief!

There have been more men who died in their sins, according to your
orthodox religion, than there are leaves on all the forests of this
world ten thousand times over.  Tell me they are in hell! Tell me they
are to be punished for ever and ever!  I denounce it as an infamous lie!

And when the great ship containing the hope and aspiration of the
world, when the great ship freighted with mankind goes down in the
night of death and disaster, I will go down with the ship.  I don't
want to paddle off in any orthodox canoe.  I will go down with the
ship; and if there is a God who will damn his children forever I had
rather go to hell than to go to heaven and keep the society of such an
infamous Deity.  I make my choice now.  I despise that doctrine, and
I'll tell you why.  It has covered the cheeks of this world with tears.
It has polluted the heart of children.  It has been a pain and terror
to every man that ever believed it.  It has filled the good with horror
and fear, but it has had no effect upon the infamous and base.  I tell
you it is a bad doctrine.  I read in the papers today what Henry Ward
Beecher, whom I regard as the most intellectual preacher in the pulpit
of the United States--I will read from the paper what he said
yesterday, and you will see an abstract of it in the New York Times of
today.  He has had the courage, and he has had the magnificent manhood,
to say:

"I say to you, and I swear to you, by the wounds in the hands of
Christ--I swear to you by the wounds in the body and feet of Christ,
that this doctrine of eternal hell is a most infamous nightmare of
theology!  It never should be preached again."

What right have you, sir; you, minister, as you are, to stand at the
portal of eternity, or the portal of the tomb, and fill the future with
horror and with fear?  You have no right to do it.  I don't believe it,
and neither do you.  You would not sleep one night.  Any man who
believes it, who has got a decent heart in his bosom, will go insane.
Yes, sir, a man that really believes that doctrine and does not go
insane, has got the conscience of a snake and the intellect of a hyena.
O! I thank my stars that you do not believe it.  You cannot believe it,
and you never will believe it.  Old Jonathan Edwards, the dear old
soul, he is in heaven I suppose, said:  "Can the believing husband in
heaven be happy with his unbelieving wife in hell?  Can the believing
father in heaven be happy with his unbelieving children in hell? Can
the loving wife in heaven be happy with her unbelieving husband in
hell?  I tell you yea.  Such will be their sense of justice that it
will increase rather than diminish their happiness."

Think of these infamous doctrines that have been taught in the name of
religion!  Do not stuff these things into the minds of your children.
Give them a chance.  Let them read.  Let them think.  Do not treat your
children like posts, to be set in the orthodox road, but like trees,
that need light and sun and air. Be honest with them.  Be fair with
them.  In old times they used to make all children go to bed when they
were not sleepy, and all of them got up when they were sleepy.  I say
let them go to bed--when they are sleepy and get up when they are not.
But they say that will do for the rich, but not for the poor.  Well, if
the poor have to wake their children early in the morning, it is as
easy to wake them with a kiss as with a club.  I believe in letting
children commence at which end of the dinner they want to.

Let them eat what they want.  It is their business.  They know what
they want to eat.  And if they have had their liberty from the first,
they can beat any doctor in the world.  All the improvement that has
ever been made in medicine has been made by the recklessness of
patients. Yes, sir.  Thousands and thousands of years the doctors
wouldn't let a man have water in fever. Every now and then some fellow
got reckless and said:  "I will die, I am so thirsty," and drank two or
three quarts of water and got well.  And they kept that up until
finally the doctors said, "that is the best thing for a fever you can

I have more confidence to agree with nature about these things than any
of the conclusions of the schools.  Just let your children have
freedom, and they will fall right into your ways and do just as you do.
But you try to make them, and there is some magnificent, splendid thing
in the human heart that will not be driven.  And do you know it is the
luckiest thing for this world that ever happened that people are so.
What would we have been if the people in any age of the world had done
just as the doctors told them?  They would have been all dead.  What
would we have done if, at any age of the world, we had followed
implicitly the direction of the church?  We would have been all idiots,
every one.

It is a splendid thing that there is always some fellow who won't mind,
and will think for himself.  And I believe in letting children think
for themselves.  I believe in having a family like a democracy.  If
there is anything splendid in this world it is a home of that kind.
They used to tell us, "Let your victuals close your mouth."  We used to
eat as though it was a religious performance.  I like to see the
children about, and every one telling what he has seen and heard.  I
like to hear the clatter of the knives and spoons mingling with the
laughter of their voices.  I had rather hear it than any opera that has
ever been put upon the boards.  Let them have liberty; let them have
freedom, and I tell you your children will love you to death.

Now, I have some excuses to offer for the race to which I belong. I
have two.  My first excuse is that this is not a very good world to
raise folks in anyway.  It is not very well adapted to raising
magnificent people.  There's only a quarter of it land to start with.
It is three times better fitted for raising fish than folks, and in
that one quarter of land there is not a tenth part fit to raise people
on.  You can't raise people without a good climate.  You have got to
have the right kind of climate, and you have got to have certain
elements in the soil, or you can't raise good people.  Do you know that
there is only a little zig-zag strip around the world within which have
been produced all men of genius?

The southern hemisphere has never produced a man of genius, never; and
never will until civilization, fighting the heat that way and the cold
this, widens this portion of the earth until it is capable of producing
great men and great women.  It is the same with men that it is with
vegetation; you go into a garden, and find there flowers growing.  And
as you go up the mountain, the birch and the hemlock and the spruce are
to be found.  And as you go toward the top, you find little, stunted
trees getting a miserable subsistence out of the crevices of the rocks,
and you go on up and up and up, until finally you find at the top
little moss-like freckles.  You might as well try to raise flowers
where those freckles grow as to raise great men and women where you
haven't got the soil.

I don't believe man ever came to any high station without woman. There
has got to be some restraint, something to make you prudent, something
to make you industrious.  And in a country where you don't need any bed
quilt but a cloud, revolution is the normal condition of the people.
You have got to have the fireside; you have got to have the home, and
there by the fireside will grow and bloom the fruits of the human race.
I recollect a while ago I was in Washington when they were trying to
annex Santo Domingo.  They said:  "We want to take in Santo Domingo."
Said I:   "We don't want it."  "Why," said they, "it is the best
climate the earth can produce.  There is everything you want."  "Yes,"
said I, "but it won't produce men. We don't want it.  We have got soil
enough now.  Take 5,000 ministers from New England, 5,000 presidents of
colleges, and 5,000 solid business men, and their families, and take
them to Santo Domingo; and then you will see the effect of climate. The
second generation, you will see barefooted boys riding bareback on a
mule, with their hair sticking out of the top of their sombreros, with
a rooster under each arm, going to a cock-fight on Sunday."

You have got to have the soil; you have got to have the climate, and
you have got to have another thing--you have got to have the fireside.
That is one excuse I have for us.

The next excuse is that I think we came up from the lower animals.
Else how can you account for all this snake and hyena and jackal in
man? Now, when I first heard that doctrine, I didn't like it.  I felt
sorry for people who had nothing but ancestors to be proud of.  It
touched my heart to think that they would have to go back to the Duke
Orangutan or the Duchess Chimpanzee.  I was sorry, and I hated to
believe it.  I don't know that it is the truth now.  I am not satisfied
upon that question; I stand about eight to seven.  I thought it over.
I read about it.  I read about these rudimentary bones and muscles. I
didn't like that.  I read that everybody had rudimentary muscles coming
from the ear right down here (indicating); that the most intellectual
people in the world have got them.  I say, "What are they?"
"Rudimentary muscles."  "What kind of muscles?" "Muscles that your
ancestors used to have fully developed." "What for?"  "To flap their
ears with."

Well, whether we ever had them or not, I know of lots of men who ought
to have them yet.  And finally I said, "Well, I guess we came up from
the lower animals."  I thought it all over; the best I could, and I
said, "I guess we did."  And after a while I began to like it, and I
like it better now than I did before.

Do you know that I would rather belong to a race that started with
skull-less vertebrae in the dim Laurentian seas, wiggling without
knowing why they wiggled, swimming without knowing where they were
going; but kept developing and getting a little further up and a little
further up, all through the animal world, and finally striking this
chap in the dug-out.  A getting a little bigger, and this fellow
calling that fellow a heretic, and that fellow calling the other an
infidel, and so on.  For in the history of the world, the man who has
been ahead has always been called a heretic.  Recollect this!  I would
rather come from a race that started from that skull-less vertebrae,
and came up and up and up, and finally produced Shakespeare, who found
the human intellect wallowing in a hut, and touched it with a wand of
his genius, and it became a palace--dome and pinnacle.  I would rather
belong to a race that commenced then, and produced Shakespeare, with
the eternal hope of an infinite future for the children of progress
leading from the far horizon, beckoning men forward--forward and onward
forever.  I had rather belong to this race, and commence there, with
that hope, than to have sprung from a perfect pair on which the Lord
has lost money every day since.

These are the excuses I have for my race.

Now, my friends, let me say another thing.  I do not pretend to have
floated even with the heights of thought; I do not pretend to have
fathomed the abyss.  All I pretend is to give simply my honest thought.
Every creed that we have today has upon it the mark of whip and chain
and fagot.  I do not want it.  Free labor will give us wealth, and has
given us wealth, and why?  Because a free brain goes into partnership
with a free hand.  That is why. And when a man works for his wife and
children, the problem of liberty is, how to do the most work in the
shortest space of time; but the problem of slavery is, how to do the
least work in the longest space of time.  Slavery is poverty; liberty
is wealth.

It is the same in thought.  Free thought will give us truth; and the
man who is not in favor of free thought occupies the same relation to
those he can govern that the slaveholder occupied to his slaves,
exactly.  Free thought will give us wealth.  There has not been a
generation of free thought yet.

It will be time to write a creed when there have been a few generations
of free-brained men and splendid women in this world. I don't know what
the future may bring forth; I don't know what inventions are in the
brain of the future; I don't know what garments may be woven, with the
years to come; but I do know, coming from the infinite sea of the
future, there will never touch this "bank and shoal of time" a greater
blessing, a grander glory, than liberty for man, woman and child.

Oh, liberty!  Float not forever in the far horizon!  Remain not forever
in the dream of the enthusiast and the poet and the philanthropist!
But come and take up thine abode with the children of men forever!

Ingersoll's Lecture on "Orthodoxy"

Ladies and Gentlemen:   It is utterly inconceivable that any man
believing in the truth of the Christian religion could publicly deny
it, because he who believes in that religion would believe that, by a
public denial, he would peril the eternal salvation of his soul.  It is
conceivable, and without any great effort of the mind, that millions
who don't believe in the Christian religion should openly say that they
did. In a country where religion is supposed to be in power--where it
has rewards for pretense, where it pays a premium upon hypocrisy, where
it at least is willing to purchase silence--it is easily conceivable
that millions pretend to believe what they do not.  And yet I believe
it has been charged against myself, not only that I was insincere, but
that I took the side I am on for the sake of popularity; and the
audience tonight goes far toward justifying the accusation.

It gives me immense pleasure to say to this immense audience that
orthodox religion is dying out of the civilized world.  It is a sick
man.  It has been attacked with two diseases--softening of the brain
and ossification of the heart.  It is a religion that no longer
satisfies the intelligence of this county; a religion that no longer
satisfies the brain; a religion against which the heart of every
civilized man and woman protests.  It is a religion that gives hope
only to a few; a religion that puts a shadow upon the cradle; a
religion that wraps the coffin in darkness and fills the future of
mankind with flame and fear. It is a religion that I am going to do
what little I can while I live to destroy; and in its place I want
humanity, I want good-fellowship, I want a brain without a chain, I
want a religion that every good heart will cheerfully applaud.

We must remember that this is a world of progress, a world of change.
There is perpetual death and there is perpetual birth. By the grave of
the old forever stands youth and joy; and, when an old religion dies, a
better one is born.  When we find out that an assertion is a falsehood,
a shining truth takes its place, and we need not fear the destruction
of the false.  The more false we destroy the more room there will be
for the true. There was a time when the astrologer sought to read in
the stars the fate of men and nations.  The astrologer has faded from
the world, but the astronomer has taken his place.  There was a time
when the poor alchemist, bent and wrinkled and old, over his crucible,
endeavored to find some secret by which he could change the baser
metals into purest gold.  The alchemist is gone; the chemist took his
place; and, although he finds nothing to change metals into gold, he
finds something that covers the earth with wealth.  There was a time
when the soothsayer and auger flourished, and after them came the
parson and the priest; and the parson and priest must go.  The preacher
must go, and in his place must come the teacher--that real interpreter
of nature. We are done with the supernatural.  We are through with the
miraculous and the wonderful.  There was once a prophet who pretended
to read in the book of the future.  His place was taken by the
philosopher, who reasons from cause to effect--a man who finds the
facts by which he is surrounded and endeavors to reason from these
premises, and to tell what in all probability will happen in the
future.  The prophet is gone, the philosopher is here.  There was a
time when man sought aid entirely from heaven--when he prayed to the
deaf sky.  There was a time when the world depended upon the
supernaturalist.  That time in Christendom has passed.  We now depend
upon the naturalist--not upon the disciple of faith, but upon the
discoverer of facts--upon the demonstrator of truth. At last we are
beginning to build upon a solid foundation, and just as we progress the
supernatural must die.

Religion of the supernatural kind will fade from this world, and in its
place we will have reason.  In the place of the worship of something we
know not of, will be the religion of mutual love and assistance--the
great religion of reciprocity.  Superstition must go.  Science will
remain.  The church, however, dies a little hard.  The brain of the
world is not yet developed.  There are intellectual diseases the same
as diseases of the body. Intellectual mumps and measles still afflict
mankind.  Whenever the new comes, the old protests, and the old fights
for its place as long as it has a particle of power.  And we are now
having the same warfare between superstition and science that there was
between the stagecoach and the locomotive.  But the stage-coach had to
go.  It had its day of glory and power, but it is gone. It went West.
In a little while it will be driven into the Pacific, with the last
Indian aboard.  So we find that there is the same conflict between the
different sects and the different schools, not only of philosophy, but
of medicine.  Recollect that everything except the demonstrated truth
is liable to die.  That is the order of nature.  Words die.  Every
language has a cemetery.  Every now and then a word dies and a
tombstone is erected, and across it is written the word "obsolete."
New words are continually being born.  There is a cradle in which a
word is rocked.  A thought is molded to a sound, and the child-word is
born.  And then comes a time when the word gets old, and wrinkled, and
expressionless, and is carried mournfully to the grave, and that is the
end of it.  So in the schools of medicine. You can remember, so can I,
when the old alopathists reigned supreme.  If there was anything the
matter with a man, they let out his blood.  Called to the bedside, they
took him to the edge of eternity with medicine, and then practiced all
their art to bring him back to life.  One can hardly imagine how
perfect a constitution it took a few years ago to stand the assault of
a doctor. And long after it was found to be a mistake, hundreds and
thousands of the old physicians clung to it, carried around with them,
in one pocket, a bottle of jalap, and in the other a rusty lancet,
sorry that they couldn't find some patient idiotic enough to allow the
experiment to be made again.

So these schools, and these theories, and these religions die hard.
What else can they do?  Like the paintings of the old masters, they are
kept alive because so much money has been invested in them.  Think of
the amount of money that has been invested in superstition!  Think of
the schools that have been founded for the more general diffusion of
useless knowledge! Think of the colleges wherein men are taught that it
is dangerous to think, and that they must never use their brains except
in an act of faith!  Think of the millions and billions of dollars that
have been expended in churches, in temples and in cathedrals! Think of
the thousands and thousands of men who depend for their living upon the
ignorance of mankind!  Think of those who grow rich on credulity and
who fatten on faith!  Do you suppose they are going to die without a
struggle?  They will die if they don't struggle.  What are they to do?
From the bottom of my heart I sympathize with the poor clergyman that
has had all his common sense educated out of him, and is now to be
thrown out upon the cold and uncharitable world.  His prayers are not
answered; he gets no help from on high, and the pews are beginning to
criticize the pulpit.  What is the man to do?  If he suddenly change,
he is gone.  If he preaches what he really believes, he will get notice
to quit.  And yet if he and the congregation would come together and be
perfectly honest, they would all admit they didn't believe anything of

Only a little while ago a couple of ladies were riding together from a
revival in a carriage late at night, and one said to the other; as they
rode along:  "I am going to say something that will shock you, and I
beg of you never to tell it to anybody else.  I am going to tell it to
you." "Well, What is it?"  Says she:  "I don't believe in the bible."
The other replied: "Neither do I."  I have often thought how splendid
it would be if the ministers could but come together and say:  "Now let
us be honest.  Let us tell each other, honor bright--like Dr. Currie
did in the meeting here the other day--let us tell just what we
believe."  They tell a story that in the old time a lot of people,
about twenty, were in Texas in a little hotel, and one fellow got up
before the fire, put his hands behind him, and says he:  "Boys, let us
all tell our real names." If the ministers and the congregations would
only tell their real thoughts they would find that they are nearly as
bad as I am, and that they believe just about as little.

Now, I have been talking a great deal about the orthodox religion; and,
after having delivered a lecture, I would meet some good, religious
person, and he would say to me:  "You don't tell it as we believe it."
"Well, but I tell it as you have it written in your creed."  "Oh,
well," he says, "we don't mind that any more."  "Well, why don't you
change it?"  "Oh, well," he says, "we understand it."  Possibly the
creed is in the best possible condition for them now.  There is a tacit
understanding that they don't believe it.  There is a tacit
understanding that they have got some way to get around it, that they
read between the lines; and if they should meet now to form a creed,
they might fail to agree; and the creed is now so that they can say as
they please, except in public.  Whenever they do so in public, the
church, in self-defense, must try them; and I believe in trying every
minister that doesn't preach the doctrine as he agrees to.  I have not
the slightest sympathy with a Presbyterian preacher who endeavors to
preach infidelity from his pulpit and receive Presbyterian money.  When
he changes his views, he should step down and out like a man, and say:
"I don't believe your doctrine, and I will not preach it.  You must
hire some bigger fool than I am."

But I find that I get the creed very nearly right.  Today there was put
into my hands the new Congregational creed.  I have just read it, and I
thought I would call your attention to it tonight, to find whether the
church has made any advance; to find whether it has been affected by
the light of science; to find whether the sun of knowledge has risen in
the heavens in vain; whether they are still the children of
intellectual darkness; whether they still consider it necessary for you
to believe something that you by no possibility, can understand, in
order to be a winged angel forever.  Now, let us see what their creed
is.  I will read a little of it.  They commence by saying that they
"believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven, and of
earth, and of all things visible and invisible."  I am perfectly
willing that He should make the invisible, if they want Him to. They
say, now, that there is this one personal God; that He is the maker of
the universe, and its ruler.  I again ask the old question:  of what
did He make it? If matter has not existed through eternity, then this
God made it.  Of what did He make it? What did He use for the purpose?
There was nothing in the universe except this God.  What had the God
been doing for the eternity He had been living?  He had made
nothing--called nothing into existence; never had had an idea, because
it is impossible to have an idea unless there is something to excite an
idea.  What had He been doing?  Why doesn't the Congregational Church
tell us?  How do they know about this infinite being?  And if He is
infinite, how can they comprehend Him?  What good is it to believe
something that you don't understand--that you never can understand?  In
the old creeds they described this God as a being without body and
parts or passions.  Think of that! Something without body and parts or
passions.  I defy any man in the world to write a letter descriptive of
nothing.  You can not conceive of a finer word-painting of a vacuum
than a something without body and parts or passions.  And yet this God,
without passions, is angry at the wicked every day; this God, without
passions, is a jealous God, whose anger burneth to the lowest hell.
This God, without passions, loves the whole human race, and this God,
without passions, damns a large majority of the same.  So, too, He is
the ruler of the world, and I find here that we find His providence in
the government of the nations. What nations?  What evidence can you
find, if you are absolutely honest and not frightened, in the history
of nations, that this universe is presided over by an infinitely wise
and good God? How do you account for Russia?  How do you account for
Siberia? How do you account for the fact that whole races of men toiled
beneath the master's lash for ages without recompense and without
reward?  How do you account for the fact that babes were sold from the
arms of mothers--arms that had been reached toward God in supplication?
How do you account for it? How do you account for the existence of
martyrs?  How do you account for the fact that this God allows people
to be burned simply for loving Him? How do you account for the fact
that justice doesn't always triumph? How do you account for the fact
that innocence is not a perfect shield? How do you account for the fact
that the world has been filled with pain, and grief, and tears?  How do
you account for the fact that people have been swallowed by volcanoes,
swept from the earth by storms, dying by famine, if there is above us a
ruler who is infinitely good and infinitely powerful?

I don't say there is none.  I don't know.  As I have said before, this
is the only planet I was ever on.  I live in one of the rural districts
of the universe.  I know not about these things as much as the clergy.
And if they know no more about the other world than they do about this,
it is not worth mentioning.  How do they answer all this?  They say
that God "permits it."  What would you say to me if I stood by and saw
a ruffian beat out the brains of a child, when I had full and perfect
power to prevent it?  You would say truthfully that I was as bad as the
murderer. That is what you would say.  Is it possible for this God to
prevent it?  Then, if He doesn't, He is a fiend; He is not good. But
they say He "permits it."  What for?  So we may have freedom of choice.
What for?  So that God may find, I suppose, who are good and who are
bad.  Didn't He know that when He made us?  Did He not know exactly
just what He was making?  Why should He make those whom He knew would
be criminals?  If I should make a machine that would walk your streets
and commit murder, you would hang me.  Why not?  And if God made a man
whom He knew would commit murder, then God is guilty of that murder.
If God made a man, knowing he would beat his wife, that he would starve
his children, that he would strew on either side of his path of life
the wrecks of ruined homes, then, I say, the being who called that
wretch into existence is directly responsible.  And yet we are to find
the providence of God in the history of nations. What little I have
read shows me that when man has been helped, man had to do it; when the
chains of slavery have been broken, they have been broken by man; when
something bad has been done in the government of mankind, it is easy to
trace it to man, and to fix the responsibility upon human beings.  You
will not look to the sky; you need throw neither praise nor blame; you
can find the efficient causes nearer home--right here.

What is the next thing I find in this creed?  "We believe that man was
made in the image of God, that he might know, love and obey God, and
enjoy Him for ever."  I don't believe that anybody ever did love God,
because nobody ever knew anything about Him. We love each other.  We
love something that we know.  We love something that our experience
tells us is good and great, and good and beautiful.  We cannot by any
possibility love the unknown.  We can love truth, because truth adds to
human happiness.  We can love justice, because it preserves human joy.
We can love charity.  We can love every form of goodness that we know,
or of which we can conceive, but we cannot love the infinitely unknown.
And how can we be made in the image of something that has neither body
and parts nor passions?

"That our first parents, by disobedience, fell under the condemnation
of God, and that all men are so alienated from God that there is no
salvation from the guilt and power of sin except through God's
redeeming power."  Is there an intelligent man or woman now in the
world who believes in the Garden of Eden story? If there is, strike
here (tapping his forehead) and you will hear an echo.  Something is
for rent.  Does any human being now believe that God made man of dust
and a woman of a rib, and put them in a garden, and put a tree in the
middle of it? Wasn't there room outside of the garden to put His tree,
if He didn't want people to eat His apple?  If I didn't want a man to
eat my fruit I would not put him in my orchard.

Does anybody now believe in the snake story?  I pity any man or woman
who, in this nineteenth century, believes in that childish fable.  Why
did they disobey?  Why, they were tempted.  Who by? The devil.  Who
made the devil?  What did He make him for?  Why didn't He tell Adam and
Eve about this fellow?  Why didn't he watch the devil instead of
watching Adam and Eve?  Instead of turning them out, why didn't He keep
him from getting in?  Why didn't He have His flood first and drown the
devil, before He made man and woman?

And yet people who call themselves intelligent--professors in colleges
and presidents of venerable institutions--teach children, and young men
who ought to be children, that the Garden of Eden story is an absolute,
historical fact!  Well, I guess it will not be long until that will
fade from the imagination of men.  I defy any man to think of a more
childish thing.  This God waiting around there, knowing all the while
what would happen, made them on purpose so it would happen; and then
what does he do?  Holds all of us responsible; and we were not there.
Here is a representative before the constituency had been born. Before
I am bound by a representative, I want a chance to vote for or against
him; and if I had been there, and known all the circumstances, I should
have voted against him.  And yet, I am held responsible.

What did Adam do?  I cannot see that it amounted to much anyway. A god
that can create something out of nothing ought not to have complained
of the loss of an apple.  I can hardly have the patience to speak upon
such a subject.  Now, that absurdity gave birth to another--that, while
we could be rightfully charged with the rascality of somebody else, we
could also be credited with the virtues of somebody else; and the
atonement is the absurdity which offsets the other absurdity of the
fall of man. Let us leave them both out; it reads a great deal better
with both of them out; it makes better sense.

Now, in consequence of that, everybody is alienated from God. How?
Why? Oh, we are all depraved, you know; we all want to do wrong.  Well,
why? Is that because we are depraved?  No.  Why do we make so many
mistakes? Because there is only one right way, and there is an almost
infinite number of wrong ones; and as long as we are not perfect in our
intellects we must make mistakes.  There is no darkness but ignorance;
and alienation, as they call it, from God, is simply a lack of
intellect upon our part.  Why were we not given better brains?  That
may account for the alienation.  But the church teaches that every soul
that finds its way to the shore of this world is against God--naturally
hates God; that the little dimpled child in the cradle is simply a
chunk of depravity.  Everybody against God!  It is a libel upon the
human race; it is a libel upon all the men who have worked for wife and
child; it is a libel upon all the wives who have suffered and labored,
wept and worked for children; it is a libel upon all the men who have
died for their country; it is a libel upon all who have fought for
human liberty; it is a libel upon the human race.  Leave out the
history of the church, and there is nothing in this world to prove the
depravity of man left.

Everybody that comes is against God.  Every soul, they think, is like
the wrecked Irishman.  He was wrecked in the sea and drifted to an
unknown island, and as he climbed up the shore he saw a man, and said
to him, "Have you a government here?"  The man said, "We have."
"Well," said he, "I am agin it!"   The church teaches us that that is
the attitude of every soul in the universe of God.  Ought a god to take
any credit to himself for making depraved people?  A god that cannot
make a soul that is not totally depraved, I respectfully suggest,
should retire from the business.  And if a god has made us, knowing
that we would be totally depraved, why should we go to the same being
for repairs?

What is the next?  "That all men are so alienated from God that there
is no salvation from the guilt and power of his sin except through
God's redeeming grace."

Reformation is not enough.  If the man who steals becomes perfectly
honest, that is not enough; if the man who hates his fellow-man changes
and loves his fellowman, that is not enough; he must go through the
mysterious thing called the second birth; he must be born again.  That
is not enough unless he has faith; he must believe something that he
does not understand. Reformation is not enough; there must be what they
call conversion.  I deny it.  According to the church, nothing so
excites the wrath of God--nothing so corrugates the brows of Jehovah
with revenge--as a man relying on his own good works. He must admit
that he ought to be damned, and that of the two he prefers it, before
God will consent to save him.  I saw a man the other day, and he said
to me, "I am a Unitarian Universalist; that is what I am."  Said I,
"What do you mean by that?"  "Well," said he, "here is what I mean:
the Unitarian thinks he is too good to be damned, and the Universalist
thinks God is too good to damn him, and I believe them both."

What is the next thing in this great creed?

"We believe that the scriptures of the old and new testaments are the
records of God's revelation of Himself in the work of redemption; that
they are written by men, under the special guidance of the Holy Spirit,
and that they constitute an authoritative standard by which religious
teaching and human conduct are to be regulated and judged."

This is the creed of the Congregational Church; that is, it is the
result of the high-joint commission appointed to draw up a creed for
churches; and there we have the statement that the bible was written
"by men, under the special guidance of the Holy Spirit."  What part of
the bible?  All of it; all of it; and yet what is this old testament
that was written by an infinitely good God?  The being who wrote it did
not know the shape of the world He had made.  The being who wrote it
knew nothing of human nature; He commands men to love Him, as if one
could love upon command.  The same God upheld the institution of human
slavery; and the church says the bible that upholds that institution
was written by men under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Then I
disagree with the Holy Ghost upon that institution.

The church tells us that men, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost,
upheld the institution of polygamy--I deny it; that under the guidance
of the Holy Ghost these men upheld wars of extermination and
conquest--I deny it; that under the guidance of the Holy Ghost these
men wrote that it was right for a man to destroy the life of his wife
if she happened to differ with him on the subject of religion--I deny
it.  And yet that is the book now upheld in this creed of the
Congregational Church.  If the devil had written upon the subject of
slavery, which side would he have taken?  Let every minister answer,
honor bright.  If you knew the devil had written a little work on human
slavery, in your judgment would he uphold slavery or denounce it?
Would you regard it as any evidence that he ever wrote it if he upheld
slavery?  And yet, here you have a work upholding slavery, and you say
that it was written by an infinitely good, wise and beneficent God!  If
the devil upheld polygamy would you be surprised?  If the devil wanted
to kill somebody for differing with him would you be surprised?  If the
devil told a man to kill his wife, would you be astonished?  And yet,
you say, that is exactly what the God of us all did.  If there be a
God, then that creed is blasphemy.  That creed is a libel upon Him who
sits upon heaven's throne.  I want--if there be a God--I want Him to
write in the book of his eternal remembrance that I denied these lies
for Him.

I do not believe in a slave-holding God; I do not worship a polygamous
Holy Ghost; I do not get upon my knees before any being who commands a
husband to slay his wife because she expresses her honest thought.

Did it ever occur to you that if God wrote the old testament, and told
the Jews to crucify or kill anybody that disagreed with them on
religion, and that God afterward took upon Himself flesh and came to
Jerusalem, and taught a different religion, and the Jews killed
Him--did it ever occur to you that He reaped exactly what he had sown?
Did it ever occur to you that He fell a victim to His own tyranny, and
was destroyed by His own law!  Of course I do not believe that any God
ever was the author of the bible, or that any God was ever crucified,
or that any God was ever killed or ever will be, but I want to ask you
that question.

Take this old testament, then, with all its stories of murder and
massacre; with all its foolish and cruel fables; with all its infamous
doctrines; with its spirit of caste; with its spirit of hatred, and
tell me whether it was written by a good God. Why, if you will read the
maledictions and curses of that book, you would think that God, like
Lear, had divided heaven among his daughters, and then, in the insanity
of despair, had launched his curses upon the human race.

And yet, I must say--I must admit--that the old testament is better
than the new.  In the old testament, when God got a man dead, He let
him alone.  When He saw him quietly in his grave He was satisfied.  The
muscles relaxed, and a smile broke over the Divine face.  But in the
new testament the trouble commences just at death.  In the new
testament God is to wreak His revenge forever and ever.  It was
reserved for one who said, "Love your enemies," to tear asunder the
veil between time and eternity and fix the horrified gaze of men upon
the gulfs of eternal fire. The new testament is just as much worse than
the old, as hell is worse than sleep; just as much worse as infinite
cruelty is worse than annihilation; and yet, the new testament is
pointed to as a gospel of love and peace.

But "more of that hereafter," as the ministers say.

"We believe that Jesus Christ came to establish among men the Kingdom
of God, the reign of truth and love, of righteousness and peace."

Well, that may have been the object of Jesus Christ.  I do not deny it.
But what was the result?  The Christian world has caused more war than
all the rest of the world besides; all the cunning instruments of death
have been devised by Christians; all the wonderful machinery by which
the brains are blown out of a man, by which nations are conquered and
subdued--all these machines have been born in Christian brains.  And
yet He came to bring peace, they say.  But the testament says
otherwise:  "I came not to bring peace, but a sword."  And the sword
was brought.  What are the Christian nations doing today in Europe? Is
there a solitary Christian nation that will trust any other? How many
millions of Christians are in the uniform of everlasting forgiveness,
loving their enemies?  There was an old Spaniard upon the bed of death,
and he sent for a priest, and the priest told him that he would have to
forgive his enemies before he died.  He says, "I have not any."  "What!
no enemies?" "Not one," said the dying man, "I killed the last one
three weeks ago."

How many millions of Christians are now armed and equipped to destroy
their fellow-Christians?  Who are the men in Europe crying out against
war?  Who wishes to have the nations disarmed? Is it the church?  No;
it is the men who do not believe in what they call this religion of
peace.  When there is a war, and when they make a few thousand widows
and orphans, when they strew the plain with dead patriots, then
Christians assemble in their churches and sing "Te Deum Laudamus" to
God.  Why?  Because He has enabled a few of His children to kill some
others of His children.  This is the religion of peace--the religion
that invented the Krupp gun, that will hurl a bullet weighing 2,000
pounds through twenty-four inches of solid steel.  This is the religion
of peace, that covers the sea with men-of-war, clad in mail, all in the
name of universal forgiveness.

What effect had this religion upon the nations of the earth? What have
the nations been fighting about?  What was the Thirty Years' War in
Europe for?  What was the war in Holland for?  Why was it that England
persecuted Scotland?  Why is it that England persecutes Ireland even
unto this day?  At the bottom of every one of these conflicts you will
find a religious question.  The religion of Jesus Christ, as preached
by His church, causes war, bloodshed, hatred, and all uncharitableness;
and why?  Because they say a certain belief is necessary to salvation.
They do not say, if you behave yourself pretty well you will get there;
they do not say, if you pay your debts and love your wife, and love
your children, and are good to your friends, and your neighbors, and
your country, you will get there; that will do you no good; you have
got to believe a certain thing.  Oh, yes, no matter how bad you are,
you can instantly be forgiven then; and no matter how good you are, if
you fail to believe that, the moment you get to the day of judgment
nothing is left but to damn you forever, and all the angels will shout

What do they teach today?  Every murderer goes to heaven; there is only
one step from the gallows to God; only one jerk between the halter and
heaven.  That is taught by this same church.  I believe there ought to
be a law to prevent the slightest religious consolation being given to
any man who has been guilty of murder.  Let a Catholic understand that
if he imbrues his hands in his brother's blood, he can have no extreme
unction; let it be understood that he can have no forgiveness through
the church; and let the Protestant understand that when he has
committed that crime, the community will not pray him into heaven.  Let
him go with his victim.  The victim, you know, dying in his sins, goes
to hell, and the murderer has the happiness of seeing him there.  And
if heaven grows dull and monotonous, the murderer can again give life
to the nerve of pleasure by watching the agony of his victim.  I am
opposed to that kind of forgiveness.  And yet that is the religion of
universal peace to everybody.

Now, what is the next thing that I wish to call your attention to?

"We believe in the ultimate prevalence of the Kingdom of Christ over
all the earth."

What makes you?  Do you judge from the manner in which you are getting
along now?  How many people are being born a year?  About fifty
millions.  How many are you converting a year; really, truthfully? Five
or six thousand.  I think I have overestimated the number.  Is orthodox
Christianity on the increase?  No. There are a hundred times as many
unbelievers in orthodox Christianity as there were ten years ago. What
are you doing in the missionary World?  How long is it since you
converted a Chinaman?  A fine missionary religion, to send
missionaries, with their bibles and tracts, to China, but if a Chinaman
comes here, mob him, simply to show him the difference between the
practical and theoretical workings of the Christian religion.  How long
since you have had a convert in India?  In my judgment, never; there
never has been an intelligent Hindoo converted from the time the first
missionary put his foot upon that soil; and never, in my judgment, has
an intelligent Chinaman been converted since the first missionary
touched that shore. Where are they? We hear nothing of them, except in
the reports.  They get money from poor old ladies, trembling on the
edge of the grave, and go and tell them stories how hungry the average
Chinaman is for a copy of the new testament, and paint the sad
condition of a gentleman in the interior of Africa, without the work of
Dr. McCosh, longing for a copy of the Princeton Review.  In my
judgment, it is a book that would suit a savage. Thus money is scared
from the dying and frightened from the old and feeble. About how long
is it before this kingdom is to be established?

What is the next thing here?  They all also believe in the resurrection
of the dead, and in their confession of faith hereto attached I find
they also believe in the resurrection of the body.  Does anybody
believe that, that has ever thought?  Here is a man, for instance, that
weighs 200 pounds, and gets sick and dies weighing 120; how much will
he weigh in the morning of the resurrection?  Here is a cannibal, who
eats another man; and we know that the atoms that you eat go into your
body and become a part of you.  After the cannibal has eaten the
missionary, and appropriated his atoms to himself, and then he dies,
who will the atoms belong to in the morning of the resurrection in an
action of replevin brought by the missionary against the cannibal? It
has been demonstrated again and again that there is no creation in
nature, and no destruction in nature.  It has been demonstrated again
and again that the atoms that are in us have been in millions of other
beings; grown in the forest, in the grass, blossomed in the flowers,
been in the metals; in other words, there are atoms in each one of us
that have been in millions of others, and when we die these atoms
return to the earth, and again spring in vegetation, taken up in the
leaves of the trees, turned into wood.  And yet we have a church, in
the nineteenth century, getting up this doctrine, presided over by
professors, by presidents of colleges, and by theologians, who tell us
that they believe in the resurrection of the body.

They know better.  There is not one so ignorant but what knows better.

And what is the next thing?  "And in a final judgment."  It will be a
set day.  All of us will be there, and the thousands, and millions, and
billions, and trillions, and quadrillions that have died will be there.
It will be the day of judgment, and the books will be opened and our
case will be called.  Does anybody believe in that now that has got the
slightest sense?--one who knows enough to chew gum without a string?"

"The issues of which are everlasting punishment for the wicked and
everlasting life for the redeemed.   "That is the doctrine today of the
Congregational church, and that is the doctrine that I oppose.  That is
the doctrine that I defy and deny.

But I must hasten on.  Now this comes to us after all the discussion
that has been, and we are told that this religion is finally to conquer
this world.  This is the same religion that failed to successfully meet
the hordes of Mohammed.  Mohammed wrested from the disciples of the
cross the fairest part of Europe.  It was known that he was an
impostor. They knew he was because the people of Mecca said so, and
they knew that Christ was not because the people of Jerusalem said he
was.  This impostor wrested from the disciples of Christ the fairest
part of Europe, and that fact sowed the seeds of distrust and
infidelity in the minds of the Christian world.  And the next was an
effort to rescue from the infidels the empty sepulchre of Christ.  That
commenced in the eleventh century and ended in 1291.  Europe was almost
depopulated.  For every man owed a debt, the debt was discharged if he
put a cross upon his breast and joined the Crusades.  No matter what
crime he had committed the doors of the prison were open for him to
join the Crusades.  And what was the result?  They believed that God
would give them victory over the infidel, and they carried in front of
the first Crusade a goat and a goose, believing that both those animals
had been blessed by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.  And I may say
that those same animals are in the lead today in the orthodox world.
Until 1291 they endeavored to get that sepulchre, until finally the
hosts of Christ were driven back, baffled, beaten, and demoralized--a
poor, miserable religious rabble.  They were driven back, and that fact
sowed the seeds of distrust in Christendom.  You know at that time the
world believed in trial by battle--that God would take the side of
right--and there had been a trial by battle between the Cross and
Mohammed, and Mohammed had been victorious.

Well, what was the next?  You know when Christianity came into power it
destroyed every statue it could lay its ignorant hands upon.  It
defaced and obliterated every painting; it destroyed every beautiful
building; it destroyed the manuscripts, both Greek and Latin; it
destroyed all the history, all the poetry, all the philosophy it could
find, and burned every library that it could reach with its torch.  And
the result was the night of the middle ages fell upon the human race.
But by accident, by chance, by oversight, a few of the manuscripts
escaped the fury of religious zeal; a few statues had been buried; and
the result was, that these manuscripts became the seed, the fruit of
which is our civilization of today.  A few forms of beauty were dug
from the earth that had protected them, and now the civilized world is
filled with art, with painting, and with statuary, in spite of the rage
of the early church.

What is the next blow that that this church received?  The discovery of
America.  That is the next.  The Holy Ghost, who inspired a man to
write the bible, did not know of the existence of this continent, never
dreamed of it; the result was that His bible never spoke of it.  He did
not dream that the earth is round.  He believed it was flat, although
He made it Himself, and at that time heaven was just up there beyond
the clouds. There was where the gods lived, there was where the angels
were, and it was against that heaven that Jacob's ladder was that the
angels ascended and descended.  It was to that heaven that Christ
ascended after His resurrection.  It was up there where the New
Jerusalem was, with its streets of gold, and under this earth was
perdition; there was where the devils lived; there was where a pit was
dug for all unbelievers, and for men who had brains, and I say that for
this reason: That just in proportion that you have brains, just in that
proportion your chances for eternal joy are lessened, according to this
religion. And just in proportion that you lack brains, your chances are
increased. They believe, under there that they discovered America. They
found that the earth is round.  It was circumnavigated by Magellan. In
1519 that brave man set sail.  The church told him: "The earth is flat,
my friend; don't go off.  You will go off the edge." Magellan said: "I
have seen the shadow of the earth upon the moon, and I have more
confidence in the shadow even than I have in the church."  The ship
went round.  The earth was circumnavigated.  Science passed its hand
above it and beneath it, and where was the heaven, and where was the
hell?  Vanished forever! And they dwell now only in the religion of
superstition.  We found there was no place for Jacob's ladder to lean
against; no place there for the gods and angels to live; no place there
to empty the waters of the deluge; no place there to which Christ could
have ascended; and the foundations of the New Jerusalem crumbled, and
the towers and domes fell and became simply space--space sown with an
infinite number of stars; not with New Jerusalems, but with

Then man began to grow great, and with that you know came astronomy.
Now just see what they did in that.  In 1473 Copernicus was born.  In
1543 his great work.  In 1616 the system of Copernicus was condemned by
the pope, by the infallible Catholic church, and the church is about as
near right upon that subject as upon any other.  The system of
Copernicus was denounced.  And how long do you suppose the church
fought that? Let me tell you.  It was revoked by Pius VII. in the year
of grace 1821.  For 205 years after the death of Copernicus the church
insisted that that system was false, and that the old idea was true.
Astronomy is the first help that we ever received from heaven.  Then
came Kepler in 1609, and you may almost date the birth of science from
the night that Kepler discovered his first law.  That was the dawn of
the day of intelligence--his first law, that the planets do not move in
circles; his second law, that they described equal spaces in equal
times; his third law, that there was a direct relation between weight
and velocity. That man gave us a key to heaven.  That man opened its
infinite book, and we now read it, and he did more good than all the
theologians that ever lived.  I have not time to speak of the
others--of Galileo, of Leonardo da Vinci, and of hundreds of others
that I could mention.

The next thing that gave this church a blow was statistics.  Away went
special providence.  We found by taking statistics that we could tell
the average length of human life; that this human life did not depend
upon infinite caprice; that it depended upon conditions, circumstances,
laws and facts, and that those conditions, circumstances, and facts
were ever active.  And now you will see the man who depends entirely
upon special providence gets his life insured.  He has more confidence
even in one of these companies than he has in the whole Trinity.  We
found by statistics that there were just so many crimes on an average
committed; just so many crimes of one kind and so many of another; just
so many suicides, so many deaths by drowning; just so many accidents on
an average; just so many men marrying women, for instance, older than
themselves; just so many murders of a particular kind; just the same
number of accidents; and I say tonight statistics utterly demolish the
idea of special providence.  Only the other day a gentleman was telling
me of a case of special providence.  He knew it.  He had been the
subject of it.  Yes, sir!  A few years ago he was about to go on a ship
when he was detained; he didn't go, and the ship was lost and all on
board.  Yes!  I said, "Do you think the fellows that were drowned
believed in special providence?"  Think of the infinite egotism of such
a doctrine.  Here is a man that fails to go upon a ship with 500
passengers, and they go down to the bottom of the sea--fathers,
mothers, children, and loving husbands, and wives waiting upon the
shores of expectation.  Here is one poor little wretch that didn't
happen to go! And he thinks that God, the infinite being, interfered in
his poor little withered behalf and let the rest all go.  That is
special providence!

You know we have a custom every year of issuing a proclamation of
thanksgiving.  We say to God, "Although You have afflicted all the
other countries, although You have sent war, and desolation, and famine
on everybody else, we have been such good children that you have been
kind to us, and we hope you will keep on."  It don't make a bit of
difference whether we have good times or not--not a bit; the
thanksgiving is always exactly the same.  I remember a few years ago a
governor of Iowa got out a proclamation of that kind.  He went on to
tell how thankful the people were, how prosperous the State had been;
and there was a young fellow in the State who got out another
proclamation, saying: "Fearing that the Lord might be misled by
official correspondence," he went on to say that the governor's
proclamation was entirely false; that the State was not prosperous;
that the crops had been an almost entire failure; that nearly every
farm in the state was mortgaged; that if the Lord did not believe him,
all he asked was He would send some angel in whom he had confidence to
look the matter over for himself.

Of course I have not time to recount the enemies of the church. Every
fact is an enemy of superstition.  Every fact is a heretic. Every
demonstration is an infidel.  Everything that ever happened testified
against the supernatural.  I have only spoken of a few of the blows
that shattered the shield and shivered the lance of superstition.  Here
is another one--the doctrine of Charles Darwin.  This century will be
called Darwin's century, one of the greatest men who ever touched this
globe.  He has explained more of the phenomena of life than all of the
religious teachers. Write the name of Charles Darwin there (on the one
hand) and the name of every theologian that ever lived there (on the
other hand), and from that name has come more light to the world than
from all those.  His doctrine of evolution, his doctrine of the
survival of the fittest, his doctrine of the origin of species, has
removed in every thinking mind the last vestige of orthodox
Christianity.  He has not only stated, but he has demonstrated, that
the inspired writer knew nothing of this world, nothing of the origin
of man, nothing of geology, nothing of astronomy, nothing of nature;
that the bible is a book written by ignorance--by the instigation of
fear!  Think of the man who replied to him.  Only a few years ago there
was no parson too ignorant to successfully answer Charles Darwin; and
the more ignorant he was the more cheerfully he undertook the task.  He
was held up to the ridicule, the scorn, and the contempt of the
Christian world, and yet when he died England was proud to put his dust
with that of her noblest and her grandest.

Charles Darwin conquered the intellectual world, and the doctrine of
evolution is now an accepted fact.  His light has broken in on some of
the early clergy, and the greatest man who today occupies the pulpit is
a believer in the evolution theory of Charles Darwin--and that is Henry
Ward Beecher--a man of more brains than the entire clergy of that
entire church put together.  And yet we are told in this little creed
that orthodox religion is about to conquer the world.  It will be
driven to the wilds of Africa.  It must go to some savage country; it
has lost its hold upon civilization, and I tell you it is unfortunate
to have a religion that cannot be accepted by the intellect of a
nation. It is unfortunate to have a religion against which every good
and noble heart protests.  Let us have a good one or none.  O! my pity
has been excited by seeing these ministers endeavor to warp and twist
the passages of scripture to fit some demonstration in science.  These
pious evasions! These solemn pretenses!  When they are caught in one
way they give a different meaning to the words and say the world was
not made in seven days.  They say "good whiles"--epochs.  And in this
same confession here of faith and creeds they believe the Lord's day is
holy--every seventh day.  Suppose you lived near the north pole, where
the day is three months long.  Then which day will you keep?  Suppose
you could get to the north pole, you could prevent Sunday from ever
overtaking you.  You could walk around the other way faster than the
world could revolve. How would you keep Sunday then? Suppose we ever
invent any thing that can go 1,000 miles an hour? We can just chase
Sunday clear around the globe.  Is there anything that can be more
perfectly absurd than that a space of time can be holy!  You might as
well talk about a pious vacuum. These pious evasions.  I heard the
other night of an old man.  He was not very well educated, you know,
and he got into the notion that he must have reading of the bible and
have family worship; and there was a bad boy in the family--a pretty
smart boy--and they were reading the bible by course, and in the
fifteenth chapter of Corinthians is this passage:  "Behold, brethren, I
show you a mystery; we shall not all die, but we shall be changed."
And this boy rubbed out the "c" in the "changed."  So next night the
old man got on his specs and got down his bible and said:  "Behold,
brethren, I show you a mystery; we shall not all die, but we shall be
hanged."  The old lady said, "Father, I don't think it reads that way."
He says, "Who is reading this?" "Yes, mother, it says be hanged, and,
more than that, I see the sense of it.  Pride is the besetting sin of
the human heart, and if there is anything calculated to take the pride
out of a man it is hanging."

I keep going back to this book; I keep going back to the miracles, to
the prophecies, to the fables, and people ask me, if I take away the
bible, what are we going to do?  How can we get along without the
revelation that no one understands?  What are we going to do if we have
no bible to quarrel about?  What are we to do without hell?  What are
we going to do with our enemies? What are we going to do with the
people we love but don't like? They tell me that there never would have
been any civilization if it had not been for this bible.  Um!  The Jews
had a bible; the Romans had not.  Which had the greater and the grander
government?  Let us be honest.  Which of those nations produced the
greatest poets, the greatest soldiers, the greatest orators, the
greatest statesmen, the greatest sculptors?  Rome had no bible.  God
cared nothing for the Roman Empire.  He let the men come up by chance.
His time was taken up by the Jewish people. And yet Rome conquered the
world, and even conquered God's chosen people.  The people that had the
bible were defeated by the people who had not.  How was it possible for
Lucretius to get along without the bible?  How did the great and
glorious of that empire?  And what shall we say of Greece?  No bible.
Compare Athens with Jerusalem.  From Athens comes the beauty and
intellectual grace of the world.  Compare the mythology of Greece with
the mythology of Judea.  One covering the earth with beauty, and the
other filling heaven with hatred and injustice.  The Hindoos had no
bible; they had been forsaken by the creator, and yet they became the
greatest metaphysicians of the world.  Egypt had no bible.  Compare
even Egypt with Judea.  What are we to do without the bible?  What
became of the Jews who had no bible; their temple was destroyed and
their city was taken; and, as I said before, they never found real
prosperity until their God deserted them.  Do without the bible?

Now I come again to the new testament.  There are a few things in
there, I give you my word, I cannot believe.  I cannot--I cannot
believe in the miraculous origin of Jesus Christ.  I believe He was the
son of Joseph and Mary; that Joseph and Mary had been duly and legally
married; that He was the legitimate offspring of that marriage, and
nobody ever believed the contrary until He had been dead 150 years.
Neither Matthew, Mark nor Luke ever dreamed that He was of divine
origin.  He did not say to either Matthew, Mark or Luke, or to any one
in their hearing, that He was the son of God, or that He was
miraculously conceived.  He did not say it.  The angel Gabriel, who,
they say, brought the news, never wrote a word upon the subject.  His
mother never wrote a word upon the subject.  His father never wrote a
word upon the subject.  We are lacking in the matter of witnesses.  I
would not believe it now!  I cannot believe it then.  I would not
believe people I know, much less would I believe people I don't know.
I say that at that time Matthew, Mark and Luke believed that He was the
son of Joseph and Mary.  And why?  They say He descended from the blood
of David, and in order to show that He was of the blood of David they
gave the genealogy of Joseph.  And if Joseph was not his father, why
not give the genealogy of Pontius Pilate or Herod?  Could they, by
giving the genealogy of Joseph, show that He was of the blood of David
if Joseph was in no way related to David; and yet that is the position
into which the Christian world is now driven.  It says the son of
Joseph, and then interpolated the words "as was supposed."  Why, then,
do they give a supposed genealogy.  It will not do.  And that is a
thing that cannot in any way, by any human testimony, be established;
and if it is important for us to know that He was the Son of God, I say
then that it devolves upon God to give us evidence.  Let Him write it
across the face of the heavens, in every language of mankind.  If it is
necessary for us to believe it, let it grow on every leaf next year.
No man should be damned for not believing unless the evidence is
overwhelming.  And he ought not to be made to depend upon say-so.  He
should have it directly for himself.  A man says God told him so and
so, and he tells me, and I haven't anyone's word but that fellow's.  He
may have been deceived.  If God has a message for me He ought to tell
it to me, and not somebody that has been dead 4,000 or 5,000 years, and
in another language; God may have changed His mind on many things; He
has on slavery at least, and polygamy; and yet His church now wants to
go out here and destroy polygamy in Utah with a sword.  Why don't they
send missionaries there with copies of the old testament?  By reading
the lives of Abraham, and Isaac, and Lot, and a few other fellows that
ought to have been in the penitentiary, they can soften their hearts.

Now, there is another miracle I do not believe.  I want to speak about
it as we would about any ordinary transaction in the world. In the
first place, I do not believe that any miracle was ever performed, and
if there was, you can't prove it.  Why?  Because it is altogether more
reasonable that the people lied about it than that it happened.  And
why?  Because, according to human experience, we know that people will
not always tell the truth, and we never saw a miracle, and we have got
to be governed by our experience, and if we go by our experience, it is
in favor that the thing never happened; that the man is mistaken.  Now,
I want you to remember it.  Here is a man that comes into Jerusalem,
and the first thing he does he cures the blind.  He lets the light of
day visit the darkness of blindness.  The eyes are opened and the whole
world is again pictured upon the brain.  Another man is clothed with
leprosy.  He touches him, and the disease falls from him, and he stands
pure, and clean, and whole.  Another man is deformed, wrinkled, bent.
He touches him and throws upon him again the garment of youth.  A man
is in his grave, and He says, "Come forth!" and he again walks in life,
feeling his heart throb and beat, and his blood going joyously through
his veins.  They say that happened.  I don't know.  There is one
wonderful thing about the dead people that were raised--we don't hear
of them any more.  What became of them?  Why, if there was a man in
this town that had been raised from the dead, I would go to see him
tonight. I would say, "Where were you when you got the notice to come
back?  What kind of country is it?  What kind of opening there for a
young man?  How did you like it?"  But nobody ever paid the slightest
attention to them there.  They didn't even excite interest when they
died the second time. Nobody said, "Why, that man isn't afraid.  He has
been there."  Not a word. They pass away quietly.  You see I don't
believe it.  There is something wrong somewhere about that business.
And then there is another trouble in my mind.  Now, you know I may
suffer eternal punishment for all this.

Here is a man that does all these things, and thereupon they crucify
Him.  Now, then, let us be honest.  Suppose a man came into Chicago and
he should meet a funeral procession, and he should say, "Who is dead?"
and they should say, "The son of a widow; her only support," and he
should say to the procession, "Halt!"  And to the undertaker, "Take out
that coffin, unscrew that lid."  "Young man, I say unto thee, arise!"
And the latter should step from the coffin, and in one moment after
hold his mother in his arms.  Suppose he should go to your cemetery and
should find some woman holding a little child in each hand, while the
tears fell upon a new-made grave, and he should say to her, "Who lies
buried here?" and she should reply, "My husband," and he should say, "I
say unto thee, oh grave, give up thy dead," and the husband should rise
and in a moment after have his lips upon his wife's, and the little
children with their arms around his neck.  Suppose that it is so.  Do
you think that the people of Chicago would kill him?  Do you think any
one would wish to crucify him?  Do you not rather believe that every
one who had a loved one out in that cemetery would go to him, even upon
their knees, and beg him and implore him to give back their dead?  Do
you believe that any man was ever crucified who was the master of
death? Let me tell you tonight if there shall ever appear on this earth
the master, the monarch of death, all human knees will touch the earth;
he will not be crucified, he will not be touched.  All the living who
fear death; all the living who have lost a loved one will stand and
cling to him.  And yet we are told that this worker of miracles, this
worker of wonders, this man who could clothe the dead in the throbbing
flesh of life, was crucified by the Jewish people.  It was never
dreamed that he did a miracle until 100 years after he was dead.

There is another miracle I do not believe, I cannot believe it, and
that is the resurrection.  And why?  If it was the fact, if the dead
got out of the grave, why did He not show himself to his enemies?  Why
did He not again visit Pontius Pilate?  Why did He not call upon
Caiaphas, the high priest?  Why did He not make another triumphal entry
into Jerusalem?  Why did He not again enter the temple and dispute with
the doctors?  Why didn't He say to the multitude:  "Here are the wounds
in My feet, and in My hands, and in My side.  I am the one you
endeavored to kill, but Death is My slave."  Why didn't He?  Simply
because the thing never happened.  I cannot believe it.  But recollect,
it makes no difference with its teachings. They are exactly as good
whether He wrought miracles or not.  Twice two are four; that needs no
miracle. Twice two are five--a miracle would not help that. Christ's
teachings are worth their effect upon the human race. It makes no
difference about miracle or about wonder, but you must remember in that
day every one believed in miracles.  Nobody had any standing as a
teacher, a philosopher, a governor, or a king, about whom there was not
a something miraculous.  The earth was then covered with the sons and
daughters of the gods and goddesses.  That was believed in Greece, in
Rome, in Egypt, in Hindustan; everybody, nearly, believed in such

Then there is another miracle that I cannot believe in, and that is the
ascension--the bodily ascension of Jesus Christ.  Where was He going?
Since the telescope has been pointed at the stars, where was He going?
The New Jerusalem is not there.  The abode of the gods is not there.
Where was He going?  Which way did He go?  That depends upon the time
of day that He left.  If He left in the night He went exactly the
opposite way from what He would in the day.  Who saw this miracle?
They say the disciples.  Let us see what they say about it.  Matthew
did not think it was worth mentioning.  He doesn't speak of it at all.
On the contrary, he says that the last words of Christ were:  "Lo, I am
with you always, even unto the end of the world."  That is what he
says.  Mark, he saw it.  "So, then, after the Lord had spoken unto them
He was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God."  That
is all he has to say about the most wonderful thing that ever blessed
human vision--about a miracle great enough to have stuffed credulity to
bursting; and yet we have one poor, little meagre verse.  So, then,
after He had quit speaking,  He was caught up and sat on the right hand
of God.  How does he know He was on the right hand?  Did he see Him
after He had sat down? Luke says:  "And it came to pass while He
blessed them He was parted from them and was carried up into heaven."
But John does not mention it.  He gives as His last words this address
to Peter:  "Follow thou Me."  Of course He did not say that as He
ascended.  In the Acts we have another account.  A conversation is
given not spoken of in any of the others, and we find there two men
clad in white apparel, who said:  "Men of Galilee, why stand ye here
gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus that was taken up into heaven
shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go up into Heaven."
Matthew didn't see that; Mark forgot it; Luke didn't think it was worth
mentioning, and John didn't believe it; and yet upon that evidence we
are led to believe that the most miraculous of all miracles actually
occurred.  I cannot believe it.

I may be mistaken; but the church is now trying to parry, and when they
come to the little miracles of the new testament all they say is:
"Christ didn't cast out devils; these men had fits."  He cured fits.
Then I read in another place about the fits talking.  Christ held a
dialogue with the fits, and the fits told Him his name, and the fits at
that time were in a crazy man. And the fits made a contract that they
would go out of the man provided they would be permitted to go into
swine.  How can fits that attack a man take up a residence in swine?
The church must not give up the devil.  He is the right bower.  No
devil, no hell; no hell, no preacher; no fire, no insurance.  I read
another miracle--that this devil took Christ and put him on the
pinnacle of a temple.  Was that fits, too?  Why is not the theological
world honest?  Why do they not come up and admit what they know the
book means?  They have not the courage.  Now, their next doctrine is
the absolute necessity of belief.  That depends upon this:  Can a man
believe as he wants to?  Can you?  Can anybody?  Does belief depend at
all upon the evidence?  I think it does somewhat in some cases.  How is
it that when a jury is sworn to try a case, hearing all the
evidence--hearing both sides, hearing the charge of the judge, hearing
the law, and upon their oaths, are equally divided, six for the
plaintiff and six for the defendant?  It is because evidence does not
have the same effect upon all people.  Why?  Our brains are not
alike--not the same shape; we have not the same intelligence or the
same experience, the same sense.  And yet I am held accountable for my
belief.  I must believe in the Trinity--three times one is one, once
one is three--and my soul is to be eternally damned for failing to
guess an arithmetical conundrum. And that is the poison part of
Christianity--that salvation depends upon belief--that is the poison
part, and until that dogma is discarded religion will be nothing but
superstition.  No man can control his belief.  If I hear certain
evidence I will believe a certain thing.  If I fail to hear it I may
never believe it.  If it is adapted to my mind I may accept it; if it
is not, I reject it.  And what am I to go by?  My brain.  That is the
only light I have from nature, and if there be a God, it is the only
torch that this God has given me by which to find my way through the
darkness and the night called life.  I do not depend upon hearsay for
that.  I do not have to take the word of any other man, nor get upon my
knees before a book.  Here, in the temple of the mind, I go and consult
the God--that is to say, my reason--and the oracle speaks to me, and I
obey the oracle.  What should I obey?  Another man's oracle? Shall I
take another man's word and not what he thinks, but what God said to

I would not know a god if I should see one.  I have said before, and I
say again, the brain thinks in spite of me, and I am not responsible
for my thought.  No more can I control the beating of my heart, the
expansion and contraction of my lungs for a moment; no more can I stop
the blood that flows through the rivers of the veins.  And yet I am
held responsible for my belief.  Then why does not the God give me the
evidence?  They say He has.  In what?  In an inspired book.  But I do
not understand it as they do.  Must I be false to my understanding?
They say:  "When you come to die you will be sorry you did not."  Will
I be sorry when I come to die that I did not live a hypocrite?  Will I
be sorry I did not say I was a Christian when I was not?  Will the fact
that I was honest put a thorn in the pillow of death?  God cannot
forgive me for that.  They say when He was in Jerusalem, He forgave His
murderers.  Now He won't forgive an honest man for differing with Him
on the subject of the Trinity.  They say that God says to me, "Forgive
your enemies."  I say, "All right, I do;"  but he says, "I will damn
mine." God should be consistent. If He wants me to forgive my enemies,
He should forgive His.  I am asked to forgive enemies who can hurt me.
God is only asked to forgive enemies who cannot hurt Him.  He certainly
ought to be as generous as He asks us to be.  And I want no God to
forgive me unless I do forgive others.  All I ask, if that be true, is
that this God should live according to His own doctrine.  If I am to
forgive my enemies I ask Him to forgive His.  That is justice, that is
right.  Here are these millions today who say:  "We are to be saved by
belief, by faith; but what are we to believe?"

In St. Louis last Sunday I read an interview with a Christian
minister--one who is now holding a revival.  They call him the boy
preacher--a name that he has borne for fifty or sixty years. The
question was whether in these revivals, when they were trying to rescue
souls from eternal torture, they would allow colored people to occupy
seats with white people, and that revivalist, preaching the
unsearchable richness of Christ, said he would not allow the colored
people to sit with white people; they must go to the back of the
church.  The same people go and sit right next to them in heaven, swap
harps with them, and yet this man, believing as he says he does, that
if he did not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ he would eternally
perish, was not willing that the colored man should sit by a white man
while he heard the gospel of everlasting peace.  He was not willing
that the colored man should get into the lifeboat of Christ, although
those white men might be totally depraved, and if they had justice done
them, according to his doctrine. would be eternally damned--and yet he
has the impudence to put on airs, although he ought to be eternally
damned, and go and sit by the colored man.  His doctrine of religion,
the color line, has not my respect.  I believe in the religion of
humanity, and it is far better to love our fellow-men than to love God,
because we can help them, and we cannot help Him.  You had better do
what you can than to be always pretending to do what you cannot.

Now I come to the last part of the bible--this creed--and that is,
eternal punishment, and I have concluded; and I have said I will never
deliver a lecture that I do not give the full benefit of its name.
That part of the Congregational creed would disgrace the lowest savage
that crouches and crawls in the jungles of Africa.  The man who now, in
the nineteenth century, preaches the doctrine of eternal punishment,
the doctrine of eternal hell, has lived in vain.  Think of that
doctrine! The eternity of punishment!  Why, I find in that same creed
that Christ is finally going to triumph in this world and establish His
kingdom; but if their doctrine is true, He will never triumph in the
other world. He will have billions in hell forever.  In this world we
never will be perfectly civilized as long as a gallows casts its shadow
upon the earth.  As long as there is a penitentiary, behind the walls
of which a human being is immured, we are not a civilized people.  We
will never be perfectly civilized until we do away with crime and
criminals. And yet, according to this Christian religion, God is to
have an eternal penitentiary; He is to be an everlasting jailor, an
everlasting turnkey, a warden of an infinite dungeon, and He is going
to keep prisoners there, not for the purpose of reforming them--because
they are never going to get any better, only getting worse--just for
the purpose of punishing them.  And what for?  For something they did
in this world; born in ignorance, educated it may be in poverty, and
yet responsible through the countless ages of eternity.  No man can
think of a greater horror; no man can think of a greater absurdity.
For the growth of that doctrine, ignorance was soil and fear was rain.
That doctrine came from the fanged mouths of wild beasts, and yet it is
the "glad tidings of great joy."

"God so loved the world" He is going to damn most everybody, and, if
this Christian religion be true, some of the greatest, and grandest,
and best who ever lived upon this earth, are suffering its torments
tonight.  It don't appear to make much difference, however, with this
church.  They go right on enjoying themselves as well as ever.  If
their doctrine is true, Benjamin Franklin, one of the wisest, and best
of men, who did so much to give us here a free government, is suffering
the tyranny of God tonight, while he endeavored to establish freedom
among men.  If the churches were honest, their preachers would tell
their hearts, "Benjamin Franklin is in hell, and we warn any and all
the youth not to imitate Benjamin Franklin.  Thomas Jefferson, the
author of the Declaration of Independence, with its self-evident
truths, has been damned these many years."  That is what all the
ministers ought to have the courage to say.  Talk as you believe. Stand
by your creed or change it.  I want to impress it upon your mind,
because the thing I wish to do in this world is to put out the fires of
hell I want to keep at it just as long as there is one little coal red
in the bottomless pit.  As long as the ashes are warm, I shall denounce
this infamous doctrine.

I want you to know that the men who founded this great and glorious
government are there.  The most of the men who fought in the
Revolutionary War and wrested from the clutch of Great Britain this
continent; have been rewarded by the eternal wrath of God.  The old
Revolutionary soldiers are in hell by the thousands.  Let the preachers
have the courage to say so.  The men who fought in 1812, and gave to
the United States the freedom of the seas, nearly all of them have been
damned since 1815--all that were killed.  The greatest of heroes, they
are there.  The greatest of poets, the greatest scientists, the men who
have made the world beautiful and grand, they are all, I tell you,
among the damned, if this creed is true.  Humboldt, who shed light, and
who added to the intellectual wealth of mankind, Goethe, and Schiller,
and Lessing, who almost created the German language--all gone!  All
suffering the wrath of God tonight, and every time an angel thinks of
one of those men he gives his harp an extra twang.

La Place, who read the heaven like an open book--he is there. Robert
Burns, the poet of human love--he is there because he wrote the "Prayer
of Holy Willie;"  because he fastened upon the cross the Presbyterian
creed, and made a lingering crucifixion. And yet that man added to the
tenderness of human heart. Dickens, who put a shield of pity before the
flesh of childhood God is getting even with him.  Our own Ralph Waldo
Emerson, although he had a thousand opportunities to hear Methodist
clergymen, scorned the means of grace, and the Holy Ghost is delighted
that he is in hell tonight.

Longfellow refined hundreds and thousands of homes, but he did not
believe in the miraculous origin of the Savior.  No, sir; he doubted
the report of Gabriel.  He loved his fellow-men; he did what he could
to free the slaves; he did what he could to make mankind happy; but God
was just waiting for him.  He had His constable right there.  Thomas
Paine, the author of the "Rights of Man," offering his life in both
hemispheres for the freedom of the human race, and one of the founders
of the Republic--it has often seemed to me that if we could get God's
attention long enough to point Him to the American flag, He would let
him out. Compte, the author of the "Positive Philosophy," who loved his
fellow-men to that degree that he made of humanity a God, who wrote his
great work in poverty, with his face covered with tears--they are
getting their revenge on him now.  Voltaire, who abolished torture in
France; who did more for human liberty than any other man, living or
dead; who was the assassin of superstition, and whose dagger still
rusts in the heart of Catholicism--all the priests who have been
translated have their happiness increased by looking at Voltaire.
Glorious country where the principal occupation is watching the
miseries of the lost.  Geordani Bruno, Benedict Spinoza, Diderot, the
encyclopedist, who endeavored to get all knowledge in a small compass
so that he could put the peasant on an equality with the prince
intellectually; the man who wished to sow all over the world the seeds
of knowledge; who loved to labor for mankind. While the priests wanted
to burn, he did all he could to put out the fire--he has been lost
long, long ago.  His cry for water has, become so common that his voice
is now recognized through all the realms of hell, and they say to one
another, "That is Diderot."  David Hume, the philosopher, he is there
with the rest.

Beethoven, the Shakespeare of music, he has been lost, and Wagner, the
master of melody, and who has made the air of this world rich forever,
he is there, and they have better music in hell than in heaven.

Shelley, whose soul, like his own skylark, was a winged joy--he has
been damned for many, many years; and Shakespeare, the greatest of the
human race, who has done more to elevate mankind than all the priests
who ever lived and died--he is there; and all the founders of
Inquisitions, the builders of dungeons, the makers of chains, the
inventors of instruments of torture, tearers, and burners, and branders
of human flesh, stealers of babes and sellers of husbands, and wives,
and children, the drawers of the swords, of persecution, and they who
kept the horizon lurid with the fagot's flame for a thousand
years--they are in heaven tonight. Well, I wish heaven joy of such

And that is the doctrine with which we are polluting the souls of
children.  That is the doctrine that puts a fiend by their dying bed
and a prophesy of hell over every cradle.  That is "glad tidings of
great joy."  Only a little while ago, when the great flood came upon
the Ohio, sent by him who is ruling in the world and paying particular
attention to the affairs of nations, just in the gray of the morning
they saw a house floating down, and on its top a human being; and a few
men went out to the rescue in a little boat, and they found there a
mother, a woman, and they wanted to rescue her, and she said:  "No, I
am going to stay where I am.  I have three dead babes in this house."
Think of a love so limitless, stronger and deeper than despair and
death, and yet the Christian religion says that if that woman did not
happen to believe in their creed, God would send that mother's soul to
eternal fire.  If there is another world, and if in heaven they wear
hats, when such a woman climbs up the opposite bank of the Jordan,
Christ should lift His to her.

That is the trouble I had with this Christian religion--its infinite
heartlessness; and I cannot tell them too often that during our last
war Christians who knew that if they were shot they would go right to
heaven, went and hired wicked men to take their places, perfectly
willing the men should go to hell, provided they could stay at home.
You see they are not honest in it; they do not believe it, or, as the
people say, "They don't sense it;"  they have not religion enough to
conceive what it is they believe and what a terrific falsehood they
assert.  And I beg of every one who hears me tonight, I beg, I implore,
I beseech you never give another dollar to build a church in which that
lie is preached.  Never give another cent to send a missionary with his
mouth stuffed with that falsehood to a foreign land.  Why, they say,
the heathen will go to heaven anyway if you let them alone; what is the
use of sending them to hell by enlightening them.  Let them alone.  The
idea of going and telling a man a thing that if he does not believe he
will be damned, when the chances are ten to one that he won't believe
it. Don't tell him, and as quick as he gets to the other world and
finds it necessary to believe, he will say "yes."  Give him a chance.

My objection to the Christian religion is that it destroys human love,
and tells you and me that the love of your dear-ones is not necessary
in this world to make a heaven in the next.  No matter about your wife,
your children, your brother, your sister--no matter about all the
affections of the human heart--when you get there you will be alone
with the angels.  I don't know whether I would like the angels.  I
don't know whether the angels would like me.  I would rather stand by
the folks who have loved me and whom I know; and I can conceive of no
heaven without the love of this earth.  That is the trouble with the
Christian religion; leave your father, leave your mother, leave your
wife, leave your children, leave everything and follow Jesus Christ.  I
will not. I will stay with the folks.  I will not sacrifice on the
altar of a selfish fear all the grandest and noblest promptings of my
heart.  You do away with human love, and what are we without it? What
would we be in another world, and what would we be here without it?
Can any one conceive of music without human love? Human love builds
every home--human love is the author of all the beauty in this world.
Love paints every picture, and chisels every statue; love, I tell you,
builds every fireside.  What would heaven be without love?  And yet
that is what we are promised--a heaven with your wife lost, your mother
lost, some of your children gone.  And you expect to be made happy by
falling in with some angel.

Such a religion is demoralizing; and how are you to get there? On the
efforts of another.  You are to be perpetually a heavenly pauper, and
you will have to admit through all eternity that you never would have
got here if you hadn't got frightened.  "I am here," you will say, "I
have these wings, I have this musical instrument, because I was
scared." What a glorious world; and then think of it!  No reformation
in the next world--not the slightest.  If you die in Arkansas that is
the end of you.  At the end you will be told that being born in
Arkansas you had a fair chance.  Think of telling a boy in the next
world, who lived and died in Delaware, that he had a fair show!  Can
anything be more infamous?  All on an equality--the rich and the poor,
those with parents loving them, those with every opportunity for
education, on an equality with the poor, the abject, and the
ignorant--and the little ray called life, this little moment with a
shadow and a tear, this little space between your mother's arms and the
grave, that balances an entire eternity.  And God can do nothing for
you when you get there.  A little Methodist preacher can do no more for
the soul here than its creator can when you get there.  The soul goes
to heaven, where there is nothing but good society; no bad examples;
and they are all there, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and yet they can do
nothing for that poor unfortunate except to damn him.  Is there any
sense in that?  Why should this be a period of probation?  It says in
the bible, I believe, "Now is the accepted time."  When does that mean?
That means whenever the passage is pronounced.  Now is the accepted
time.  It will be the same tomorrow, won't it?  And just as appropriate
then as today, and if appropriate at any time, appropriate through all
eternity.  What I say is this:  There is no world--there can be no
world--in which every human being will not have an opportunity of doing
right.  That is my objection to this Christian religion, and if the
love of earth is not the love of heaven, if those who love us here are
to be separated there, then I want eternal sleep.  Give me a good cold
grave rather than the furnace of Jehovah's wrath.  Gabriel, don't blow!
Let me alone!  If, when the grave bursts, I am not to meet faces that
have been my sunshine in this life, let me sleep on. Rather than that
the doctrine of endless punishment should be tried, I would like to see
the fabric of our civilization crumble and fall to unmeaning chaos and
to formless dust, where oblivion broods and where even memory forgets.
I would rather a Samson of some unprisoned force, released by chance,
should so wreck and strain the mighty world that man in stress and
strain of want and fear should shudderingly crawl back to savage and
barbaric night. I would rather that every planet would in its orbit
wheel a barren star rather than that the Christian religion should be

I think it is better to love your children than to love God, a thousand
times better, because you can help them, and I am inclined to think
that God can get along without you.  I believe in the religion of the
family. I believe that the roof-tree is sacred from the smallest fibre
held in the soft, moist clasp of the earth to the little blossom on the
topmost bough that gives its fragrance to the happy air.  The family
where virtue dwells with love is like a lily with a heart of fire--the
fairest flower in all this world.  And I tell you God cannot afford to
damn a man in the next world who has made a happy family in this. God
cannot afford to cast over the battlements of heaven the man who has
built a happy home here.  God cannot afford to be unpitying to a human
heart capable of pity.  God cannot clothe with fire the man who has
clothed the naked here; and God cannot send to eternal pain a man who
has done something toward improving the condition of his fellow-man.
If he can, I had rather go to hell than to heaven and keep the company
of such a God.

They tell me the next terrible thing I do is to take away the hope of
immortality.  I do not, I would not, I could not. Immortality was first
dreamed of by human love, and yet the church is going to take human
love out of immortality.  We love it; therefore we wish to love.  A
loved ones dies, and we wish to meet again, and from the affection of
the human heart grew the great oak of the hope of immortality.  And
around that oak has climbed the poisonous vine, superstition.
Theologians, pretenders, soothsayers, parsons, priests, popes, bishops,
have taken all that hope, and they have had the impudence to stand by
the grave and prophesy a future of pain.  They have erected their
toll-gates on the highway to the other world, and have collected money
from the poor people on the way, and they have collected it from their
fear.  The church did not give us the idea of immortality; the bible
did not give us the idea of immortality. Let me tell you now that the
old testament tells you how you lost immortality; it does not say
another word about another world from the first mistake in Genesis to
the last curse in Malachi. There is not in the old testament one burial

No man in the old testament stands by the bed and says, "I will meet
them again"--not one word.  From the top of Sinai came no hope of
another world.  And when we get to the new testament, what do we find
there?  Have thy heart counted worthy to obtain that world and the
resurrection of the dead.  As though some would be counted unworthy to
obtain the resurrection of the dead. And, in another place:  "Seek for
honor, glory, immortality."  If you have got it, why seek for it?  And
in another place:  "God, who alone hath immortality;"  and yet they
tell us that we get our ideas of immortality from the bible.  I deny
it. If Christ was in fact God, why didn't He plainly say there was
another life?  Why didn't He tell us something about it?  Why didn't He
turn the tear-stained hope of immortality into the glad knowledge of
another life?  Why did He go dumbly to his death, and leave the world
in darkness and in doubt?  Why?  Because He was a man and didn't know.
I would not destroy the smallest star of human hope, but I deny that we
got our idea of immortality from the bible.  It existed long before
Moses existed.  We find it symbolized through all Egypt, through all
India.  Wherever man has lived, his religion has made another world in
which to meet the lost.  It is not born of the bible.  The idea of
immortality, like the great sea, has ebbed and flowed in the human
heart, beating with its countless waves against the  rocks and sands of
fate and time.  It was not born of the bible.  It was born of the human
heart, and it will continue to ebb and flow beneath the mists and
clouds of doubt and darkness as long as love kisses the lips of death.
We do not know.  We do not prophesy a life of pain.  We leave the dead
with nature, the mother of us all, under a seven-hued bow of hope.
Under the seven-hued arch let the dead sleep.  "Ah, but you take the
consolation of religion."  What consolation has religion for the widow
of the unbeliever, the widow of a good, brave, kind man who lies dead?
What can the orthodox ministers say to relieve the bursting heart of
that woman?  What can the orthodox ministers say to relieve the aching
hearts of the little orphans as they kneel by the grave of that father,
if that father didn't happen to be an orthodox Christian? What
consolation have they?  I find that when a Christian loses a friend the
tears spring from his eyes as quickly as from the eyes of others.
Their tears are as bitter as ours.  Why?  The echo of the promises
spoken eighteen hundred years ago is so low, and the sound of the clods
upon the coffin so loud, the promises are so far away, and the dead are
so near.  That is the reason.  And they find no consolation there.  I
say honestly we do not know; we cannot say.  We cannot say whether
death is a wall or a door; the beginning or end of a day; the spreading
of pinions too soar or the folding forever of wings; whether it is the
rising or the setting of sun, or an endless life that brings rapture
and love to every one--we do not know; we can not say.

There is an old fable of Orpheus and Eurydice:  Eurydice had been
captured and taken to the infernal regions, and Orpheus went after her,
taking with him his harp and playing as he went; and when he came to
the infernal regions he began to play, and Sysiphus sat down upon the
stone that he had been heaving up the side of the mountain so many
years, and which continually rolled back upon him.  Ixion paused upon
his wheel of fire; Tantalus ceased in his vain efforts for water; the
daughters of the Danaidae left off trying to fill their sieves with
water; Pluto smiled, and for the first time in the history of hell the
cheeks of the Furies were wet with tears; monsters relented and they
said, "Eurydice may go with you, but you must not look back."  So he
again threaded the caverns, playing as he went, and as he again reached
the light he failed to hear the footsteps of Eurydice, and he looked
back and in a moment she was gone.  This old fable gives to us the idea
of the perpetual effort to rescue truth from the churches of monsters.
Some time Orpheus will not look back.   Some day Eurydice will reach
the blessed light, and at some time there will fade from the memory of
men the superstition of religion.

Ingersoll's Lecture on "Blasphemy"

Ladies and Gentlemen:  There is an old story of a missionary trying to
convert an Indian.  The Indian made a little circle in the sand and
said, "That is what the Indian knows."  Then he made another circle a
little larger and said, "that is what missionary knows; but outside
there the Indian knows just as much as missionary."

I am going to talk mostly outside that circle tonight.

First, what is the origin of the crime known as blasphemy?  It is the
belief in a God who is cruel, revengeful, quick tempered and
capricious; a God who punishes the innocent for the guilty; a God who
listens with delight to the shrieks of the tortured and gazes
enraptured on their spurting blood.   You must hold this belief before
you can believe in the doctrine of blasphemy.  You must believe that
this God loves ceremonies, that this God knows certain men to whom He
has told all His will.  It then follows that, if this God loves
ceremonies and has certain men to teach His will and perform these
ceremonies, these men must have a place to live in.  This place was
called a temple, and it was sacred.  And the pots and pans and kettles
and all in it were sacred too.  No one but the priests must touch them.
Then the God wrote a book in which He told His covenants to men, and
gave this book to priests to interpret.  While it was sacrilege to
touch with the hands the pots and pans of the temple, it was blasphemy
to doubt or question anything in the book.  And then the right to think
was gone, and the right to use the brain that God had given was taken
away, and religion was entrenched behind that citadel called blasphemy.

God was a kind of juggler.  He did not wish man to be impudent or
curious about how He did things.  You must sit in audience and watch
the tricks and ask no questions.  In front of every fact He has hung
the impenetrable curtain of blasphemy.  Now, then, all the little
reason that poor man had is useless.  To say anything against the
priest was blasphemy and to say anything against God was blasphemy--to
ask a question was blasphemy.  Finally we sank to the level of
fetishism.  We began to worship inanimate things. If you will read your
bible you will find that the Jews had a sacred box.  In it were the rod
of Aaron and a piece of manna and the tables of stone.  To touch this
box was a crime. You remember that one time when a careless Jew thought
the box was going to tip he held it.  God killed him.  What a warning
to baggage smashers of the present day.

We find also that God concocted a hair oil and threatened death to any
one who imitated it.  And we see that He also made a certain perfume
and it was death to make anything that smelt like it.  It seems to me
this is carrying protection too far.  It always has been blasphemy to
say  "I do not know whether God exists or not."  In all Catholic
countries it is blasphemy to doubt the bible, to doubt the sacredness
of the relics.  It always has been blasphemy to laugh at a priest, to
ask questions, to investigate the Trinity.  In a world of superstition,
reason is blasphemy.  In a world of ignorance, facts are blasphemy.  In
a world of cruelty, sympathy is a crime, and in a world of lies, truth
is blasphemy.  Who are the real blasphemers?  Webster offers the
definition; blasphemy is an insult offered to God by attributing to Him
a nature and qualities differing from His real nature and qualities,
and dishonoring Him.  A very good definition, if you only know what His
nature and qualities are. But that is not revealed; for, studying Him
through the medium of the bible, we find Him illimitably contradictory.
He commands us not to work on the Sabbath day, because it is holy.  Yet
God works himself on the Sabbath day.  The sun, moon and stars swing
round in their orbits, and all the creation attributed to this God goes
on as on other days.  He says:  "Honor thy father and mother," and yet
this God, in the person of Christ, offered honors, and glory, and
happiness a hundred fold to any who would desert their father and
mother for Him.  Thou shalt not kill, yet God killed the first-born of
Egypt, and he commanded Joshua to kill all His enemies, not sparing old
or young, man, woman or child, even an unborn child.  "Thou shalt not
commit adultery," he says, and yet this God gave the wives of defeated
enemies to His soldiers of Joshua's army.  Then again He says, "Thou
shalt not steal."  By this command He protected the inanimate property
and the cattle of one man against the hand of another, and yet this God
who said "Thou shalt not steal," established human slavery.  The
products of industry were not to be interfered with, but the producer
might be stolen as often as possible. "Thou shalt not bear false
witness against thy neighbor."  And yet the God who said this said
also, "I have sent lying spirits unto Ahab."  The only commandment He
really kept was, "Thou shalt have none other gods but Me."

Is it blasphemous to describe this God as malicious?  You know that
laughter is a good index of the character of a man.  You like and
rejoice with the man whose laugh is free and joyous and full of good
will.  You fear and dislike him of the sneering laugh.  How does God
laugh?  He says, "I will laugh at their calamity and mock at their
misfortune," speaking of some who have sinned.  Think of the malice and
malignity of that in an infinite God when speaking of the sufferings He
is going to impose upon His children.  You know that it is said of a
Roman emperor that he wrote laws very finely, and posted them so high
on the walls that no one could read them, and then he punished the
people who disobeyed the laws.  That is the acme of tyranny:  to
provide a punishment for breach of laws the existence of which were
unknown.  Now we all know that there is sin against the Holy Ghost
which will not be forgiven in this world nor in the world to come.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been driven to the lunatic asylum
by the thought that they had committed this unpardonable sin.   Every
educated minister knows that that part of the bible is an
interpolation, but they all preach it.  What that sin against the Holy
Ghost is, is not specified. I say, "Oh, but my good God, tell me what
this sin is."  And He answers, "Maybe now asking is the crime.  Keep
quiet."  So I keep quiet and go about tortured with the fear that I
have committed that sin.  Is it blasphemy to describe God as needing
assistance from the Legislature? Calling for the aid of a mob to
enforce His will here, compare that God with a man, even with Henry
Bergh. See what Mr. Bergh has done to awaken pity in our people and
call sympathy to the rescue of suffering animals. And yet our God was a
torturer of dumb brutes.

It is blasphemy to say that our God sent the famine and dried the
mother's breast from her infant's withered lips?  Is it blasphemy to
say that He is the author of the pestilence; that He ordered some of
His children to consume others with fire and sword?  Is it blasphemy to
believe what we read in the 109th Psalm?  If these things are not
blasphemy, then there is no blasphemy.  If there be a God I desire Him
to write in the book of judgment opposite my name that I denied these
lies for Him.

Let us take another step; let us examine the Presbyterian confession of
faith.  If it be possible to commit blasphemy, then I contend that the
Presbyterian creed is most blasphemous, for, according to that, God is
a cruel, unrelenting, revengeful, malignant and utterly unreasonable
tyrant.  I propose now to pay a little attention to the creed.  First,
it confesses that there is such a thing as a light of nature.  It is
sufficient to make man inexcusable, but not sufficient for salvation;
just light enough to lead man to hell.  Now imagine a man who will put
a false light on a hilltop to lure a ship to destruction.  What would
we say of that man?  What can we say of a God who gives this false
light of nature which, if its lessons are followed, results in hell?
That is the Presbyterian God.  I don't like Him.  Now it occurred to
God that the light of nature was somewhat weak, and He thought He'd
light another burner. Therefore He made His book and gave it to His
servants, the priests, that they might give it to men.  It was to be
accepted, not on the authority of Moses, or any other writer, but
because it was the word of God.  How do you know it's the word of God?
You're not to take the word of Moses, or David, or Jeremiah, or Isaiah,
or any other man, because the authenticity of their work has nothing to
do with the matter; this creed expressly lets them out.  How are you to
know that it is God's word?  Because it is God's word.  Why is it God's
word? What proof have we that it is God's word?  Because it is God's

Now, then, I find that the next thing in this wonderful confession of
faith of the Presbyterians is the decree of predestination.  [Reads the
decree.]  I am pleased to assure you that it is not necessary to
understand this.  You have only to believe it.  You see that by the
decree of God some men and angels are predestinated to heaven and
others to eternal hell, and you observe that their number is so certain
and definite that it can neither be changed nor altered.  You are asked
to believe that billions of years ago this God knew the names of all
the men and women whom He was going to save.  Had 'em in His book, that
being the only thing except Himself that then existed.  He had chosen
the names by the aid of the secret council.  The reason they called it
secret was because they knew all about it.

In making His choice, God was not at all bigoted.  He did not choose
John Smith because He foresaw that Smith was to be a Presbyterian, and
was to possess a loving nature, was to be honest and true and noble in
all his ways, doing good himself and encouraging others in the same.
Oh, no!  He was quite as likely to pick Brown, in spite of the fact
that He knew long before that Brown would be a wicked wretch.  You see
He was just as apt to send Smith to the devil and take Brown to
heaven--and all for "His glory."  This God also blinds and hardens--ah!
he's a peculiar God.  If sinners persevere, He will blind and harden
and give them over at last to their own wickedness instead of trying to
reclaim and save them.

Now we come to the comforting doctrine of the total depravity of man,
and this leads us to consider how he came that way.  Can any person
read the first chapters of Genesis and believe them unless his logic
was assassinated in the cradle?  We read that our first parents were
placed in a pleasant garden; that they were given the full run of the
place and only forbidden to meddle with the orchard; that they were
tempted as God knew they were to be tempted; that they fell as God knew
they would fall, and that for this fall, which He knew would happen
before He made them, He fixed the curse of original sin upon them, to
be continued to all their children.  Why didn't He stop right there?
Why didn't He kill Adam and Eve and make another pair who didn't like
apples? Then when He brought His flood why did He rescue eight people
if their descendants were to be so totally depraved and wicked?  Why
didn't He have His flood first, and then drown the devil?  That would
have solved the problem, and He could then have tried experiments

The Presbyterian confession says this corruption was in all men. It was
born with them, it lived through their life, and after death survived
in the children.  Well, can't man help himself? No, I'll show you,
God's got him.  Listen to this.  [Reads extracts.]  So that a natural
man is not only dead in sin and unable to accomplish salvation, but he
is also incapable of preparing himself therefore.  Absolutely incapable
of taking a trick.  He is saved, if at all, completely by the mercy of
God. If that's the case, then why doesn't He convert us all?  Oh, He
doesn't. He wishes to send the most of us to hell--to show His justice.
Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerate.  So also are all persons
incapable of unbelief.  That includes insane persons and idiots,
because an idiot is incapable of unbelief. Idiots are the only fellows
who've got the dead wood on God. Then according to this, the man who
has lived according to the light of nature, doing the best he knew how
to make this earth happy, will be damned by God because he never heard
of His son. Whose fault is it that an infinite God does not advertise?
Something wrong about that.  I am inclined to think that the
Presbyterian church is wrong.  I find here how utterly unpardonable sin
is.  There is no sin so small but it is punished with hell, and away
you go straight to the deepest burning pit unless your heart has been
purified by this confession of faith--unless this snake has crawled in
there and made itself a nest. Why should we help religion?  I would
like people to ask themselves that question.  An infinite God, by
practicing a reasonable economy, can get along without assistance.
Loudly this confession proclaims that salvation comes from Christ
alone. What, then, becomes of the savage who, having never known the
name of Christ, has lived according to the light of nature, kind and
heroic and generous, and possessed of and cultivating all the natural
virtues?  He goes to hell.  God, you see, loves us.  If He had not
loved us what would He have done?  The light of nature then shows that
God is good and therefore to be feared--on account of his goodness, to
be served and honored without ceasing.  And yet this creed says that on
the last day God will damn anyone who has walked according to this
light.  It's blasphemy to walk by the light of nature.

The next great doctrine is on the preservation of the saints. Now,
there are peculiarities about saints.  They are saints without their
own knowledge or free will; they may even be down on saints, but its no
good.  God has got a rolling hitch on them, and they have to come into
the kingdom sooner or later.  It all depends on whether they have been
elected or not.  God could have made me a saint just as easy as not,
but He passed me by.  Now you know the Presbyterians say I trample on
holy things.  They believe in hell and I come and say there is no hell.
I hurt their hearts, they say, and they add that I am going to hell
myself.  I thank them for that; but now let's see what these tender
Presbyterians say of other churches.  Here it is:

This confession of faith calls the pope of Rome anti-Christ and a son
of perdition.  Now there are forty Roman Catholics to one Presbyterian
on this earth.  Do not the Presbyterians rather trample on the things
that are holy to the Roman Catholics, and do they respect their
feelings? But the Presbyterians have a pope themselves, composed of the
presbyters and preachers.  This confession attributes to them the keys
of heaven and hell and the power to forgive sins.  [Here extracts are
read.] Therefore these men must be infallible, for God would never be
so foolish as to entrust fallible men with the keys of heaven and hell.
I care nothing for their keys, nor for any world these keys would open
or lock; I prefer the country.

We are told by this faith that at the last day all the men and women
and children who have ever lived on the earth will appear in the self
same bodies they have had when on earth.  Everyone who knows anything
knows the constant exchange which is going on between the vegetable and
animal kingdom.  The millions of atoms which compose one of our bodies
have all come from animals and vegetables, and they in their turn drew
them from animals and vegetables which preceded them.  The same atoms
which are now in our bodies have previously been in the bodies of our
ancestors. The negro from Central Africa has many times been mahogany
and the mahogany has many times been negro.  A missionary goes to the
cannibal islands and a cannibal eats him and dies.  The atoms which
composed the missionary's body now compose in great part the cannibal's
body.  To whom will these atoms belong on the morning of the

How did the devil, who had always lived in heaven among the best
society, ever happen to become bad?  If a man surrounded by angels
could become bad, why cannot a man surrounded by devils become good?

Here is the last Presbyterian joy:  At the day of judgment the
righteous shall be caught up to heaven and shall stand at the right
hand of Christ and share with Him in judging the wicked. Then the
Presbyterian husband may have the ineffable pleasure of judging his
wife and condemning her to eternal hell, and the boy will say to his
mother, echoing the command of God:  "Depart, thou accursed, into
everlasting torment!"  Here will come a man who has not believed in
God.  He was a soldier who took up arms to free the slaves and who
rotted to death in Andersonville prison rather than accept the offer of
his captors to fight against freedom. He loved his wife and his
children and his Home and his native country and all mankind, and did
all the good he knew.  God will say to the Presbyterians, "What shall
We do to this man?"; and they will answer, "Throw him into hell."

Last night there was a fire in Philadelphia, and at a window fifty feet
above the ground Mr. King stood amid flame and smoke and pressed his
children to his breast one after the other, kissed them, and threw them
to the rescuers with a prayer.  That was man.  At the last day God
takes His children with a curse and hurls them into eternal fire.
That's your God as the Presbyterians describe Him.  Do you believe that
God--if there is one--will ever damn me for thinking Him better than He
is? If this creed be true, God is the insane keeper of a mad house.

We have in this city a clergyman who contends that this creed gives a
correct picture of God, and furthermore says that God has the right to
do with us what He pleases--because He made us.  If I could change this
lamp into a human being, that would not give me the right to torture
him, and if I did torture him and he cried out, "Why torturest thou
me?" and I replied, "Because I made you," he would be right in
replying, "You made me, therefore you are responsible for my
happiness."  No God has a right to add to the sum of human misery.  And
yet this minister believes an honest thought blasphemy.  No doubt he is
perfectly honest. Otherwise he would have too much intellectual pride
to take the position he does. He says that the bible offers the only
restraint to the savage passions of man.  In lands where there has been
no bible there have been mild and beneficent philosophers, like Buddha
and Confucius.  Is it possible that the bible is the only restraint,
and yet the nations among whom these men lived have been as moral as
we?  In Brooklyn and New York you have the bible, yet do you find that
the restraint is a great success?  Is there a city on the globe which
lacks more in certain directions than some in Christendom, or even the
United States?  What are the natural virtues of man?  Honesty,
hospitality, mercy in the hour of victory, generosity--do we not find
these virtues among some savages?  Do we find them among all
Christians?  I am also told by these gentlemen that the time will come
when the infidel will be silenced by society.  Why that time came long
ago.  Society gave the hemlock to Socrates, society in Jerusalem cried
out for Barabbas and crucified Jesus.  In every Christian country
society has endeavored to crush the infidel.

Blasphemy is a padlock which hypocrisy tries to put on the lips of all
honest men.  At one time Christianity succeeded in silencing the
infidel, and then came the dark ages, when all rule was ecclesiastical,
when the air was filled with devils and spooks, when birth was a
misfortune, life a prolonged misery of fear and torment, and death a
horrible nightmare.  They crushed the infidels, Galileo, Kepler,
Copernicus, wherever a ray of light appeared in the ecclesiastical
darkness.  But I want to tell this minister tonight, and all others
like him, that that day is passed.  All the churches in the United
States can not even crush me.  The day for that has gone, never to
return.  If they think they can crush free thought in this country, let
them try it. What must this minister think of you and the citizens of
this republic when he says, "Take the fear of hell out of men's hearts
and a majority of them will become ungovernably wicked." Oh, think of
an angel in heaven having to allow that he was scared there.

This minister calls for my arrest.  He thinks his God needs help, and
would like to see the police crush the infidel.  I would advise Mr.
Talmage (hisses) to furnish his God with a rattle, so that when he is
in danger again he can summon the police immediately.

I'll tell you what is blasphemy.  It is blasphemy to live on the fruits
of other men's labor, to prevent the growth of the human mind, to
persecute for opinion's sake, to abuse your wife and children, to
increase in any manner the sum of human misery.

I'll tell you what is sacred.  Our bodies are sacred, our rights are
sacred, justice and liberty are sacred.  I'll tell you what is the true
bible.  It is the sum of all actual knowledge of man, and every man who
discovers a new fact adds a new verse to this bible.  It is different
from the other bible, because that is the sum of all that its writers
and readers do not know.

Ingersoll's Lecture entitled "Some Reasons Why"

Ladies and Gentlemen:  The history of the world shows that religion has
made enemies instead of friends. That one word "religion" paints the
horizon of the past with every form of agony and torture, and when one
pronounces the name of "religion" we think of 1,500 years of
persecution, of 6,000 years of hatred, slander and vituperation.
Strange, but true, that those who have loved God most have loved men
least; strange that in countries where there has been the most religion
there has been the most agony; and that is one reason why I am opposed
to what is known as religion.  By religion I mean the duties that men
are supposed to owe to God; by religion I mean, not what man owes to
man, but what we owe to some invisible, infinite and supreme being.
The question arises, Can any relation exist between finite man and
infinite being?  An infinite being is absolutely conditional.  An
infinite being can not walk, cannot receive, and a finite being cannot
give to the infinite.  Can I increase his happiness or decrease his
misery?  Does he need my strength or my life?  What can I do for him?
I say, nothing.

For one, I do not believe there is any God who gives rain or sunshine
for praying.  For one, I do not believe there is any being who helps
man simply because he kneels.  I may be mistaken, but that is my
doctrine--that the finite cannot by any possibility help the infinite,
or the infinite be indebted to the finite; that the finite cannot by
any possibility assist a being who is all in all.  What can we do?  We
can help man; we can help clothe the naked, feed the hungry; we can
help break the chains of the slave; we can help weave a garment of joy
that will finally cover this world.  That is all that man can do.
Wherever he has endeavored to do more he has simply increased the
misery of his fellows.  I can find out nothing of these things myself
by my unaided reasoning.  If there is an infinite God and I have not
reason enough to comprehend His universe, whose fault is it?  I am told
that we have the inspired will of God.  I do not know exactly what they
mean by inspired. Not two sects agree on that word.  Some tell me that
every great work is inspired; that Shakespeare is inspired.  I would be
less apt to dispute that than a similar remark about any other book on
this earth. If Jehovah had wanted to have a book written, the
inspiration of which should not be disputed, He should have waited
until Shakespeare lived.

Whatever they mean by inspiration, they at least mean that it is true.
If it is true, it does not need to be inspired.  The truth will take
care of itself.  Nothing except a falsehood needs inspiration.  What is
inspiration?  A man looks at the sea, and the sea says something to
him. Another man looks at the same sea, and the sea tells another story
to him.  The sea cannot tell the same story to any two human beings.
There is not a thing in nature, from a pebble to a constellation, that
tells the same story to any two human beings.  It depends upon the
man's experience, his intellectual development, and what chord of
memory it touches.  One looks upon the sea and is filled with grief;
another looks upon it and laughs.

Last year, riding in the cars from Boston to Portsmouth, sat opposite
me a lady and gentleman.  As we reached the latter place the woman, for
the first time in her life, caught a burst of the sea, and she looked
and said to her husband "Isn't that beautiful!"  And he looked and
said: "I'll bet you can dig clams right there."

Another illustration:  A little while ago a gentleman was walking with
another in South Carolina, at Charleston--one who had been upon the
other side.  Said the Northerner to the Southerner, "Did you ever see
such a night as this; did you ever in your life see such a moon?"  "Oh,
my God," said he, "you ought to have seen that moon before the War!"

I simply say these things to convince you that everything in nature has
a different story to tell every human being.  So the bible tells a
different story to every man that reads it. History proves what I say.
Why so many sects?  Why so much persecution?  Simply because two people
couldn't understand it exactly alike.  You may reply that God intended
it should be so understood, and that is the real revelation that God

For instance, I write a letter to Smith.  I want to convey to him
certain thoughts.  If I am honest I will use the words which will
convey to him my thoughts, but not being infinite, I don't know exactly
how Smith will understand my words; but if I were infinite I would be
bound to use the words that I know Smith would get my exact idea from.
If God intended to make a revelation to me He has to make it to me
through my brain and my reasoning.  He cannot make a revelation to
another man for me. That other man will have God's word for it but I
will only have that man's word for it.  As that man has been dead for
several thousand years, and as I don't know what his reputation was for
truth and veracity in the neighborhood in which he lived, I will wait
for the Lord to speak again.

Suppose when I read it, the revelation to me, through the bible, is
that it is not true, and God knew that I would know that when I did
read it, and knew, if I did not say it, I would be dishonest.  Is it
possible that He would damn me for being honest, and give me wings if I
would play the hypocrite?

The inspiration of the bible depends upon the ignorance of the
gentleman who reads it.  Yet they tell me this book was written by the
creator of every shining star.  Now let us see.  I want to be honest
and candid.  I have just as much at stake in the way of soul as any
doctor of divinity that ever lived, and more than some I have met.
According to this book, the first attempt at peopling this world was a
failure.  God had to destroy all but eight.  He saved some of the same
kind to start again, which I think was a mistake.  After that, the
people still getting worse, he selected from the wide world a few of
the tribe of Abraham. He had no time to waste with everybody.  He had
no time to throw away on Egypt.  It had at that time a vast and
splendid civilization, in which there were free schools; in which the
one man married the one wife; where there were courts of law; where
there were codes of laws.

Neither could He give attention to India, that had at that time a
literature as splendid almost as ours, a language as perfect; that had
produced poets, philosophers, statesmen.  He had no time to waste with
them, but took a few of the tribe of Abraham, and He did His best to
civilize these people.  He was their governor, their executive, their
supreme court.  He established a despotism, and from Mount Sinai He
proclaimed His laws.  They didn't pay much attention to them.  He
wrought thousands of miracles to convince them that He was God.

Isn't it perfectly wonderful that the priest of one religion never
believes the miracles told by the priest of another?  Is it possible
that they know each other?  I heard a story the other day.  A gentleman
was telling a very remarkable circumstance that happened to himself,
and all the listeners except one said, "Is it possible; did you ever
hear such a wonderful thing in all your life?"  They noticed that this
one man didn't appear to take a vivid interest in the story, so one
said to him, "You don't express much astonishment at the story?"  "No,"
says he, "I am a liar myself."

I find by reading this book that a worse government was never
established than that established by Jehovah; that the Jews were the
most unfortunate people who lived upon the globe.  Let us compare this
book.  In all civilized countries it is not only admitted, but
passionately asserted, that slavery is an infamous crime; that a war of
extermination is murder; that polygamy enslaves woman, degrades man and
destroys home; that nothing is more infamous than the slaughter of
decrepit men and helpless women, and of prattling babes; that the
captured maiden should not be given to her captors; that wives should
not be stoned to death for differing in religion from their husbands.
We know there was a time in the history of most nations when all these
crimes were regarded as divine institutions.  Nations entertaining
these views today are called savage, and with the exception of the
Feejee islanders, some tribes in Central Africa, and a few citizens of
Delaware, no human being can be found degraded enough to agree upon
those subjects with Jehovah.

Today, the fact that a nation has abolished and abandoned those things
is the only evidence that it can offer to show that it is not still
barbarous; but a believer in the inspiration of the bible is compelled
to say there was a time when slavery was right, when polygamy was the
highest form of virtue, when wars of extermination were waged with the
sword of mercy, and when the creator of the whole world commanded the
soldier to sheathe the dagger of murder in the dimpled breast of
infancy.  The believer of inspiration of the bible is compelled to say
there was a time when it was right for a husband to murder his wife
because they differed upon subjects of religion.  I deny that such a
time ever was.  If I knew the real God said it, I would still deny it.

Four thousand years ago, if the bible is true, God was in favor of
slavery, polygamy, wars of extermination and religious persecution.
Now we are told the devil is in favor of all those things, and God is
opposed to them; in other words, the devil stands now where God stood
4,000 years ago; yet they tell me God is just as good now as he was
then, and the devil just as bad now as God was then.  Other nations
believed in slavery, polygamy, and war and persecution without ever
having received one ray of light from heaven.  That shows that a
special revelation is not necessary to teach a man to do wrong.  Other
nations did no worse without the bible than the Jews did with it.

Suppose the devil had inspired a book.  In what respect would he have
differed from God on the subject of slavery, polygamy, wars of
extermination, and religious persecution?  Suppose we knew that after
God had finished his book the devil had gotten possession of it, and
written a few passages to suit himself. Which passages, O Christian,
would you pick out now as having probably been written by the devil?
Which of these two, "Love thy neighbor as thyself," or "Kill all the
males among the little ones, and kill every man, but all the women and
girls keep alive for yourselves"--which of those two passages would
they select as having been written by the devil?

If God wrote the last, there is no need of a devil.  Is there a
Christian in the wide world who does not wish that God, from the
thunder and lightning of Sinai, had said:  "You shall not enslave your
fellow-man!" I am opposed to any man who is in favor of slavery.  If
revolution is needed at all it is to prevent man enslaving his

But they say God did the best He could; that the Jews were so bad that
He had to come up kind of slow.  If He had told them suddenly they must
not murder and steal, they would not have paid any respect to the ten
commandments.  Suppose you go to the Cannibal Islands to prevent the
gentlemen there from eating missionaries, and you found they ate them
raw.  The first move is to induce them to cook them.  After you get
them to eat cooked missionaries, you will then, without their knowing
it, occasionally slip in a little mutton.  We will go on gradually
decreasing missionaries and increasing mutton until finally the last
will be so cultivated that they will prefer the sheep to the priest, I
think the missionaries would object to that mode, of course.

I know this was written by the Jews themselves.  If they were to write
it now, it would be different.  Today they are a civilized people.  I
do not wish it understood that a word I say tonight touches the
slightest prejudice in any man's mind against the Jewish people.  They
are as good a people as live today.  I will say right here, they never
had any luck until Jehovah abandoned them.

Now we come to the new testament.  They tell me that is better than the
old,   I say it is worse.  The great objection to the old testament is
that it is cruel; but in the old testament the revenge of God stopped
with the portals of the tomb.  He never threatened punishment after
death.  He never threatened one thing beyond the grave.  It was
reserved for the new testament to make known the doctrine of eternal

Is the new testament inspired?  I have not time to give many reasons,
but I will give some.  In the first place, they tell me the very fact
that the witnesses disagree in minor matters shows that they have not
conspired to tell the same story.  Good.  And I say in every lawsuit
where four or five witnesses testify, or endeavor to testify, to the
same transaction, it is natural that they should differ on minor
points. Why?  Because no two occupy exactly the same position; no two
see exactly alike; no two remember precisely the same, and their
disagreement is due to and accounted for by the imperfection of human
nature, and the fact that they did not all have an equal opportunity to
know.  But if you admit or say that the four witnesses were inspired by
an infinite being who did see it all, then they should remember all the
same, because inspiration does not depend on memory.

That brings me to another point.  Why were there four gospels? What is
the use of more than one correct account of anything?  If you want to
spread it, send copies.  No human being has got the ingenuity to tell
me why there were four gospels, when one correct gospel would have been
enough.  Why should there have been four original multiplication
tables? One is enough, and if anybody has got any use for it he can
copy that one.  The very fact that we have got four gospels shows that
it is not an inspired book.

The next point is that, according to the new testament, the salvation
of the world depended upon the atonement.  Only one of the books in the
new testament says anything about that, and that is John.  The church
followed John, and they ought to follow John, because the church wrote
that book called John.  According to that, the whole world was to be
damned on account of the sins of one man; and that absurdity was the
father and mother of another absurdity--that the whole world could be
saved on account of the virtue of another man.  I deny both
propositions. No man can sin for me; no man can be virtuous for me; I
must reap what I sow.  But they say the law must be satisfied.  What
kind of a law is it that would demand punishment of the innocent? Just
think of it.  Here is a man about to be hanged, and another comes up
and says:  "That man has got a family, and I have not; that man is in
good health and I am not well, and I will be hung in his place."  And
the governor says:  "All right; a murder has been committed, and we
have got to have a hanging--we don't care who."  Under the Mosaic
dispensation there was no remission of sins without the shedding of
blood.  If a man committed a murder he brought a pair of doves or a
sheep to the priest, and the priest laid his hands on the animal, and
the sins of the man were transferred to the animal.  You see how that
could be done easy enough.  Then they killed the animal, and sprinkled
its blood on the altar.  That let the man off.  And why did God demand
the sacrifice of a sheep?  I will tell you; because priests love mutton.

To make the innocent suffer is the greatest crime.  I don't wish to go
to heaven on the virtues of somebody else.  If I can't settle by the
books and go, I don't wish to go.  I don't want to feel as if I was
there on sufferance--that I was in the poorhouse of the universe,
supported by the town.

They tell us Judas betrayed Christ.  Well, if Christ had not been
betrayed, no atonement would have been made, and then every human soul
would have been damned, and heaven would have been for rent.

Supposing that Judas knew the Christian system, then perhaps he thought
that by betraying Christ he could get forgiven, not only for the sins
that he had already committed but for the sin of betrayal, and if, on
the way to Calvary, and later, some brave, heroic soul had rescued
Christ from the mob, he would have made his own damnation sure.  It
won't do.  There is no logic in that.

They say God tried to civilize the Jews.  If He had succeeded,
according to the Christian system, we all would have been damned,
because if the Jews had been civilized they would not have crucified
Christ.  They would have believed in the freedom of speech, and as a
result the world would have been lost for two thousand years.  The
Christian world has been trying to explain the atonement, and they have
always ended by failing to explain it.

Now I come to the second objection, which is that certain belief is
necessary to salvation.  I will believe according to the evidence.  In
my mind are certain scales, which weigh everything, and my integrity
stands there and knows which side goes up and which side goes down.  If
I am an honest man I will report the weights like an honest man.  They
say I must believe a certain thing or I will be eternally damned.  They
tell me that to believe is the safer way.  I deny it.  The safest thing
you can do is to be honest.  No man, when the shadows of the last hours
were gathering around him, ever wished that he had lived the life of a
hypocrite.  If I find at the Day of Judgment that I have been mistaken,
I will say so, like a man.  If God tells me then that he is the author
of the old testament I will admit that he is worse than I thought He
was, and when He comes to pronounce sentence upon me, I will   say to
Him:  "Do unto others as You would that others should do unto You."  I
have a right to think; I cannot control my belief; my brain is my
castle, and if I don't defend it, my soul becomes a slave and a serf.

If you throw away your reason, your soul is not worth saving. Salvation
depends, not upon belief but upon deed--upon kindness, upon justice,
upon mercy.  Your own deeds are your savior, and you can be saved in no
other way.  I am told in this testament to love my enemies.  I cannot;
I will not.  I don't hate enemies; I don't wish to injure enemies, but
I don't care about seeing them.  I don't like them.  I love my friends,
and the man who loves enemies and friends loves me.  The doctrine of
non-resistance is born of weakness.  The man that first said it, said
it because it was the best he could do under the circumstances. While
the church said, "love your enemies," in her sacred vestments gleamed
the daggers of assassination.  With her cunning hand, she wore the
purple for hypocrisy, and placed the crown upon the brow of crime.

For more than one thousand years larceny held the scales of justice,
and hypocrisy wore the mitre, and the tiara of Christ was in fact God.
He knew of the future.  He knew what crimes and horrors would be
committed in His name.  He knew the fires of persecution would climb
around the limbs of countless martyrs; that brave men and women would
languish in dungeons and darkness; that the church would use
instruments of torture; that in His name His followers would trade in
human flesh; that cradles would be robbed and women's breasts unbabed
for gold, and yet He died with voiceless lips.  If Christ was God, why
did He not tell His disciples, and through them, the world, "Man shall
not persecute his fellow-man?"  Why didn't He say, "I am God?" Why
didn't He explain the doctrine of the Trinity?  Why didn't He tell what
manner of baptism was pleasing to Him?  Why didn't He say the old
testament is true?  Why didn't He write His testament himself?  Why did
He leave His words to accident, to ignorance, to malice, and to chance?
Why didn't He say something positive, definite, satisfactory, about
another world?  Why did He not turn the tear-stained hope of
immortality to the glad knowledge of another life?  Why did he go
dumbly to His death, leaving the world to misery and to doubt?  Because
He was a man.

[Colonel Ingersoll read several extracts from the bible, which he said
originated with Zoroaster, Buddha, Cicero, Epictetus, Pythagoras and
other ancient writers, and he read extracts from various pagan writers,
which he claimed compared favorably with the best things in the bible.
He continued:]

No God has a right to create a man who is to be eternally damned.
Infinite wisdom has no right to make a failure, and a man who is to be
eternally damned is not a conspicuous success.  Infinite Wisdom has no
right to make an instrument that will not finally pay a dividend.  No
God has a right to add to the agony of this universe, and yet around
the angels of immortality Christianity has coiled this serpent of
eternal pain.  Upon love's breast the church has placed that asp, and
yet people talk to me about the consolations of religion.

A few days ago the bark Tiger was found upon the wide sea 126 days from
Liverpool.  For nine days not a mouthful of food or a drop of water was
to be had.  There was on board the captain, mate, and eleven men.  When
they had been out 117 days they killed the captain's dog.  Nine days
more--no food, no water, and Captain Kruger stood upon the deck in the
presence of his starving crew.  With a revolver in his hand, put it
upon his temple, and said, "Boys, this can't last much longer; I am
willing to die to save the rest of you."  The mate grasped the revolver
from his hand, and said, "Wait;"  and the next day upon the horizon of
despair was the smoke of the ship which rescued them.  Do you tell me
tonight if Captain Kruger was not a Christian and he had sent that ball
crashing through his generous brain that there was an Almighty waiting
to clutch his naked soul that He might damn him forever?  It won't do.

Ah, but they tell me "You have no right to pick the bad things out of
the bible."  I say, an infinite God has no right to put bad things into
His bible.  Does anybody believe if God was going to write a book now
He would uphold slavery; that He would favor polygamy; that He would
say kill the heathen, stab the women, dash out the brains of the
children? We have civilized him.  We make our own God, and we make Him
better day by day.

Some honest people really believe that in some wonderful way we are
indebted to Moses for geology, to Joshua for astronomy and military
tactics, to Samson for weapons of war, to Daniel for holy curses, to
Solomon for the art of cross-examination, to Jonah for the science of
navigation, to Saint Paul for steamships and locomotives, to the four
Gospels for telegraphs and sewing-machines, to the Apocalypse; for
looms, saw-mills, and telephones; and that to the sermon on the mount
we are indebted for mortars and Krupp guns.  We are told that no nation
has ever been civilized without a bible.  The Jews had one, and yet
they crucified a perfectly innocent man.  They couldn't have done much
worse without a bible.

God must have known 6,000 years ago that it was impossible to civilize
people without a bible just as well as they know it now. Why did He
ever allow a nation to be Without a bible?  Why didn't He give a few
leaves to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden?  Take from the bible the
miracles, and I admit that the good passages are true.  If they are
true they don't need to be inspired. Miracles are the children of
mendacity. Nothing can be more wonderful than the majestic, sublime,
and eternal march of cause and effect.  Reason must be the final
arbiter.  An inspired book cannot stand against a demonstrated fact.
Is a man to be rewarded eternally for believing without evidence or
against evidence? Do you tell me that the less brain a man has the
better chance he has for heaven?  Think of a heaven filled with men who
never thought. Better that all that is should cease to be; better that
God had never been; better that all the springs and seeds of things
should fall and wither in great nature's realm; better that causes and
effects should lose relation; better that every life should change to
breathless death and voiceless blank, and every star to blind oblivion
and moveless naught, than that this religion should be true.

The religion of the future is humanity.  The religion of the future
will say to every man, "You have the right to think and investigate for
yourself."  Liberty is my religion--everything that is true, every good
thought, every beautiful thing, every self-denying action--all these
make my bible.  Every bubble, every star, are passages in my bible.  A
constellation is a chapter.  Every shining world is a part of it.  You
cannot interpolate it; you cannot change it.  It is the same forever.
My bible is all that speaks to man.  Every violet, every blade of
grass, every tree, every mountain crowned with snow, every star that
shines, every throb of love, every honest act, all that is good and
true combined, make my bible; and upon that book I stand.

Ingersoll's Lecture on Intellectual Development

Ladies and Gentlemen:  In the first place I want to admit that there
are a great many good people, quite pious people, who don't agree with
me and all that proves in the world is, that I don't agree with them.
I am not endeavoring to force my ideas or notions upon other people,
but I am saying what little I can to induce everybody in the world to
grant to every other person every right he claims for himself.  I
claim, standing under the flag of nature, under the blue and the stars,
that I am the peer of any other man, and have the right to think and
express my thoughts.  I claim that in the presence of the unknown, and
upon a subject that nobody knows anything about, and never did, I have
as good a right to guess as anybody else.  The gentlemen who hold views
against mine, if they had any evidence, would have no fears--not the

If a man has a diamond that has been examined by the lapidaries of the
world, and some ignorant stonecutter tells him that it is nothing but
an ordinary rock, he laughs at him; but if it has not been examined by
lapidaries, and he is a little suspicious himself that it is not
genuine, it makes him mad.  Any doctrine that will not bear
investigation is not a fit tenant for the mind of an honest man.  Any
man who is afraid to have his doctrine investigated is not only a
coward but a hypocrite.  Now, all I ask is simply an opportunity to say
my say. I will give that right to everybody else in the world.  I
understand that owing to my success in the lecture field several
clergymen have taken it into their heads to lecture--some of them, I
believe, this evening.  I say all that I claim is the right I give to
others, and any man who will not give that right is a dishonest man, no
matter what church he may belong to or not belong to--if he does not
freely accord to all others the right to think, he is not an honest
man.  I said some time ago that if there was any being who would
eternally damn one of his children for the expression of an honest
opinion that he was not a God, but that he was a demon; and from that
they have said first, that I did not believe in any God, and, secondly,
that I called Him a demon.  If I did not believe in Him how could I
call Him anything?  These things hardly hang together.  But that makes
no difference; I expect to be maligned; I expect to be slandered; I
expect to have my reputation blackened by gentlemen who are not fit to
blacken my shoes.

But letting that pass--I simply believe in liberty; that is my
religion; that is the altar where I worship; that is my shrine--that
every human being shall have every right that I have--that is my
religion.  I am going to live up to it and going to say what little I
can to make the American people brave enough and generous enough and
kind enough to give everybody else the rights they have themselves.
Can there ever be any progress in this world to amount to anything
until we have liberty?  The thoughts of a man who is not free are not
worth much. A man who thinks with the club of a creed above his head--a
man who thinks casting his eye askance at the flames of hell, is not
apt to have very good thoughts.  And for my part, I would not care to
have any status or social position even in heaven if I had to admit
that I never would have been there only I got scared.  When we are
frightened we do not think very well.  If you want to get at the honest
thoughts of a man he must be free.  If he is not free you will not get
his honest thought. You won't trade with a merchant, if he is free; you
won't employ him if he is a lawyer, if he is free; you won't call him
if he is a doctor, if he is free; and what are you going to get out of
him but hypocrisy. Force will not make thinkers, but hypocrites.  A
minister told me awhile ago, "Ingersoll," he says, "if you do not
believe the bible you ought not to say so."  Says I, "Do you believe
the bible?"  He says, "I do." I says, "I don't know whether you do or
not; maybe you are following the advice you gave me; how shall I know
whether you believe it or not?"  Now, I shall die without knowing
whether that man believed the bible or not. There is no way that I can
possibly find out, because he said that even if he did not believe it
he would not say so.  Now, I read, for instance, a book.  Now, let us
be honest.  Suppose that a clergyman and I were on an island--nobody
but us two--and I were to read a book, and I honestly believed it
untrue, and he asked me about it--what ought I to say?  Ought I to say
I believed it, and be lying, or ought I to say I did not?--that is the
question; and the church can take its choice between honest men, who
differ, and hypocrites, who differ, but say they do not--you can have
your choice, all of you.*

[* "These black-coats are the only persons of my acquaintance who
resemble the chameleon, in being able to keep one eye directed upwards
to heaven, and the other downwards to the good things of this
world."--Alex. von Humboldt]

If you give to us liberty, you will have in this country a splendid
diversity of individuality; but if on the contrary you say men shall
think so and so, you will have the sameness of stupid nonsense.  In my
judgment, it is the duty of every man to think and express his
thoughts; but at the same time do not make martyrs of yourselves.

Those people that are not willing you should be honest, are not worth
dying for; they are not worth being a martyr for; and if you are afraid
you cannot support your wife and children in this town and express your
honest thought, why keep it to yourself, but if there is such a man
here he is a living certificate of the meanness of the community in
which he lives.  Go right along, if you are afraid it will take food
from the mouths of your dear babes--if you are afraid you cannot clothe
your wife and children, go along with them to church, say amen in as
near the right place as you can, if you happen to be awake, and I will
do your talking for you.

I will say my say, and the time will come when every man in the country
will be astonished that there ever was a time that everybody had not
the right to speak his honest thoughts.  If there is a man here or in
this town, preacher or otherwise, who is not willing that I should
think and speak, he is just so much nearer a barbarian than I am.
Civilization is liberty, slavery is barbarism; civilization is
intelligence, slavery is ignorance; and if we are any nearer free than
were our fathers, it is because we have got better heads and more
brains in them--that is the reason.  Every man who has invented
anything for the use and convenience of man has helped raise his
fellow-man, and all we have found out of the laws and forces of nature
so that we are finally enabled to bring these forces of nature into
subjection, to give us better houses, better food, better
clothes--these are the real civilizers of our race; and the men who
stand up as prophets and predict hell to their fellow-man, they are not
the civilizers of our race; the men who cut each other's throats
because they fell out about baptism--they are not the civilizers of my
race; the men who built the inquisitions and put into dungeons all the
grand and honest men they could find--they are not the civilizers of my

The men who have corrupted the imaginations and hearts of men by their
infamous dogma of hell--they are not the civilizers of my race.  The
men who have been predicting good for mankind, the men who have found
some way to get us better homes and better houses and better education,
the men who have allowed us to make slaves of the blind forces of
nature--they have made this world fit to live in.

I want to prove to you if I can that this is all a question of
intellectual development, a question of sense, and the more a man knows
the more liberal he is; the less a man knows the more bigoted he is.
The less a man knows the more certain he is that he knows it, and the
more a man knows the better satisfied he is that he is entirely
ignorant.  Great knowledge is philosophic, and little, narrow,
contemptible knowledge is bigoted and hateful.  I want to prove it to
you.  I saw a little while ago models of nearly everything man has made
for his use--nearly everything.  I saw models of all the watercraft;
from the rude dug-out, in which paddled the naked savage, with his
forehead about half as high as his teeth were long--all the water craft
from that dug-out up to a man of war that carries a hundred guns and
miles of canvas; from that rude dug-out to a steamship that turns its
brave prow from the port of New York, with three thousand miles of
foaming billows before it, not missing a throb or beat of its mighty
iron heart from one shore to the other.  I saw their ideas of weapons,
from the rude club, such as was seized by that same barbarian as he
emerged from his den in the morning, hunting a snake for his dinner;
from that club to the boomerang, to the dagger, to the sword, to the
blunderbuss, to the old flintlock, to the cap-lock, to the needle-gun,
to the cannon invented by Krupp, capable of hurling a ball weighing two
thousand pounds through eighteen inches of solid steel.

I saw their ideas of defensive armor, from the turtle shell which one
of these gentlemen lashed upon his breast preparatory to going to war,
or the skin of a porcupine, dried with the quills on, that he pulled on
his orthodox head before he sallied forth. By "orthodox" I mean man who
has quit growing; not simply in religion, but it everything; whenever a
man is done, he is orthodox whenever he thinks he has found out all, he
is orthodox whenever he becomes a drag on the swift car of progress, he
is orthodox.  I saw their defensive armor, from the turtle-shell and
the porcupine skin to the shirts of mail of the middle ages, that
defied the edge of the sword and the point of the spear.  I saw their
ideas of agricultural implements, from the crooked stick that was
attached to the horn of an ox by some twisted straw, to the
agricultural implements of today, that make it possible for a man to
cultivate the soil without being an ignoramus.  When they had none of
these agricultural implements--when they depended upon one crop--they
were superstitious, for if the frosts struck one crop they thought the
gods were angry with them.

Now, with the implements, machinery and knowledge of mechanics of
today, people have found out that no man can be good enough nor bad
enough to cause a frost.  After having found out these things are
contrary to the laws of nature, they began to raise more than one kind
of crop.  If the frost strikes one they have the other; if it happens
to strike all in that locality there is a surplus somewhere else, and
that surplus is distributed by railways and steamers and by the
thousand ways that we have to distribute these things; and as a
consequence the agriculturist begins to think and reason, and now for
the first time in the history of the world the agriculturist begins to
stand upon a level with the mechanic and with the man who has
confidence in the laws and facts of nature.

I saw there their musical instruments, from the tomtom (that is a hoop
with two strings of rawhide drawn across it) to the instruments we have
that make the common air blossom with melody. I saw their ideas on
ornaments, from a string of the claws of a wild beast that once
ornamented the dusky bosom of some savage belle, to the rubies and
sapphires and diamonds with which civilization today is familiar.  I
saw the books, written upon the shoulder-blades of sheep, upon the bark
of trees, down to the illustrated volumes that are now in the libraries
of the world. I saw their ideas of paintings, from the rude daubs of
yellow mud, to the grand pictures we see in the art galleries of today.
I saw their ideas of sculpture, from a monster god with several legs, a
good many noses, a great many eyes, and one little, contemptible,
brainless head, to the sculpture that we have, where the marble is
clothed with such personality that it seems almost impudence to touch
it without an introduction.  I saw all these things, and how men had
gradually improved through the generations that are dead.  And I saw at
the same time a row of men's skulls--skulls from the Bushmen of
Australia, skulls from the center of Africa, skulls from the farthest
islands of the Pacific, skulls from this country--from the aborigines
of America, skulls of the Aztecs, up to the best skulls, or many of the
best of the last generation; and I noticed there was the same
difference between the skulls as between the products of the skulls,
the same between that skull and that, as between the dugout and the
man-of-war, as between the dugout and the steamship, as between the
tomtom and an opera of Verdi, as between those ancient agricultural
implements and ours, as between that yellow daub and that landscape, as
between that stone god and a statue of today; and I said to myself,
"This is a question of intellectual development; this is a question of
brain."  The man has advanced just in proportion as he has mingled his
thoughts with his labor, and just in proportion that his brain has
gotten into partnership with his hand.  Man has advanced just as he has
developed intellectually, and no other way.  That skull was a low den
in which crawled and groped the meaner and baser instincts of mankind,
and this was a temple in which dwelt love, liberty and joy.

Why is it that we have advanced in the arts?  It is because every
incentive has been held out to the world; because we want better clubs
or better cannons with which to kill our fellow Christians; we want
better music, we want better houses, and any man who will invent them,
and any man who will give them to us we will clothe him in gold and
glory; we will crown him with honor.  That gentleman in his dugout not
only had his ideas of mechanics, but he was a politician.  His idea of
politics was, "Might makes right;" and it will take thousands of years
before the world will be willing to say that, "Right makes might." That
was his idea of politics, and he had another idea--that all power came
from the clouds, and that every armed thief that lived upon the honest
labor of mankind had had poured out upon his head the divine oil of
authority.  He didn't believe the power to govern came from the people;
he did not believe that the great mass of people had any right
whatever, or that the great mass of people could be allowed the liberty
of thought--and we have thousands of such today.

They say thought is dangerous--don't investigate;* don't inquire; just
believe; shut your eyes, and then you are safe. You trust not hear this
man or that man or some other man, or our dear doctrines will be
overturned, and we have nobody on our side except a large majority; we
have nobody on our side except the wealth and respectability of the
world; we have nobody on our side except the infinite God, and we are
afraid that one man, in one or two hours, will beat the whole party.

[* There is no method of reasoning more common, or more blamable, than
in philosophical disputes, to endeavor the refutation of any
hypothesis, by a pretense of its dangerous consequences to religion and
morality."--David Hume]

This man in the dugout also had his ideas of religion--that fellow was
orthodox, and any man who differed with him he called an infidel, an
atheist, an outcast, and warned everybody against him.  He had his
religion--he believed in hell; he was glad of it; he enjoyed it; it was
a great source of comfort to him to think when he didn't like people
that he would have the pleasure of looking over and seeing them squirm
upon the gridiron.  When any man said he didn't believe there was a
hell this gentleman got up in his pulpit and called him a hyena.  That
fellow believed in a devil too; that lowest skull was a devil
factory--he believed in him.  He believed he had a long tail adorned
with a fiery dart; he believed he had wings like a bat, and had a
pleasant habit of breathing sulphur; and he believed he had a cloven
foot--such as most of your clergymen think I am blessed with myself.
They are shepherds of the sheep.  The people are the sheep--that is all
they are, they have to be watched and guarded by these shepherds and
protected from the wolf who wants to reason with them.  That is the
doctrine.  Now, all I claim is the same right to improve on that
gentleman's politics, as on the dug-out, and the same right to improve
upon his religion as upon his plough, or the musical instrument known
as the tomtom--that is all.

Now, suppose the king and priest, if there was one, and there probably
was one, as the farther you go back the more ignorant you find mankind
and the thicker you find these gentlemen--suppose the king and priest
had said:  "That boat is the best boat that ever can be built; we got
the model of that from Neptune, the god of the seas, and I guess the
god of the water knows how to build a boat, and any man that says he
can improve it by putting a stick in the middle with a rag on the end
of it, and has any talk about the wind blowing this way, and that, he
is a heretic--he is a blasphemer."  Honor bright, what, in your
judgment, would have been the effect upon the circumnavigation of the
globe?  I think we would have been on the other side yet. Suppose the
king and priests had said:  "That plow is the best that ever can be
invented; the model of that was given to a pious farmer in a holy
dream, and that twisted straw is the ne plus ultra of all twisted
things, and any man who says he can out-twist it, we will twist him."
Suppose the king and priests had said:  "That tomtom is the finest
instrument of music in the world--that is the kind of music found in
heaven.  An angel sat upon the edge of a glorified cloud playing upon
that tomtom and became so entranced with the music that in a kind of
ecstasy she dropped it and that is how we got it, and any man who talks
about putting any improvement on that, he is not fit to live."  Let me
ask you--do you believe if that had been done that the human ears ever
would have been enriched with the divine symphonies of Beethoven?

All I claim is the same right to improve upon this barbarian's ideas of
politics and religion as upon everything else, and whether it is an
improvement or not, I have a right to suggest it--that is my doctrine.
They say to me, "God will punish you forever, if you do these things."
Very well.  I will settle with Him.  I had rather settle with Him than
any one of His agents.  I do not like them very well.  In theology I am
a granger--I do not believe in middle-men, what little business I have
with heaven I will attend to thyself.  Our fathers thought, just as
many now think, that you could force men to think your way and if they
failed to do it by reason, they tried it another way.  I used to read
about it when I was a boy--it did not seem to me that these things were
true; it did not seem to me that there ever was such heartless bigotry
in the heart of man,  but there was and is tonight.  I used to read
about it--I did not appreciate it.  I never appreciated it until I saw
the arguments of those gentlemen.  They used to use just such arguments
as that man in the dug-out would have used to the next man ahead of
him. This low, miserable skull--this next man was a little higher, and
this fellow behind called him a heretic, and the next was still a
little higher, and he was called an infidel.  And, so it went on
through the whole row--always calling the man who was ahead an infidel
and a heretic.  No man was ever called so who was behind the army of
progress. It has always been the man ahead that has been called the
heretic. Heresy is the last and best thought always.  Heresy extends
the hospitality of the brain to a new idea; that is what the rotting
says to the growing; that is what the dweller in the swamp says to the
man on the sun-lit hill; that is what the man in the darkness cries out
to the grand man upon whose forehead is shining the dawn of a grander
day; that is what the coffin says to the cradle.  Orthodoxy is a kind
of shroud, and heresy is a banner--orthodoxy is a frog and heresy a
star shining forever above the cradle of truth.  I do not mean simply
in religion, I mean in everything, and the idea I wish to impress upon
you is that you should keep your minds open to all the influences of
nature; you should keep your minds open to reason.  Hear what a man has
to say, and do not let the turtle-shell of bigotry grow above your
brain.  Give everybody a chance and an opportunity; that is all.

I saw the arguments that those gentlemen have used on each other
through all the ages.  I saw a little bit of thumbscrew not more than
so long (illustrating), and attached to each end was a screw, and the
inner surface vas trimmed with little protuberances to prevent their
slipping; and when some man doubted--when a man had an idea--then those
that did not have an idea put the thumbscrew upon him who did.  He had
doubted something.  For instance, they told him, "Christ says you must
love your enemies;" he says, "I do not know about that;" then they
said, "We will show you!"  "Do unto others as you would be done by,"
they said is the doctrine.  He doubted.  "We will show you that it is!"
So they put this screw on; and in the name of universal love and
universal forgiveness--"pray for those who despitefully use you"--they
began screwing these pieces of iron into him--always done in the name
of religion--always. It never was done in the name of reason, never was
done in the name of science--never.  No man was ever persecuted in
defense of a truth--never. No man was ever persecuted except in defense
of a lie--never.

This man had fallen out with them about something; he did not
understand it as they did.  For instance he said, "I do not believe
there ever was a man whose strength was in his hair." They said:  "You
don't?  We'll show you!"  "I do not believe," he says, "that a fish
ever swallowed a man to save his life."  "You don't?  Well, we'll show
you!" And so they put this on, and generally the man would recant and
say, "Well, I'll take it back."  Well I think I should.  Such men are
not worth dying for. The idea of dying for a man that would tear the
flesh of another on account of an honest difference of opinion--such a
man is not worth dying for; he is not worth living for, and if I was in
a position that I could not send a bullet through his brain, I would
recant.  I would say:  "You write it down and I will sign it--I will
admit that there is one God, or a million--suit yourself; one hell or a
billion; you just write it--only stop this screw.  You are not worth
suffering for, you are not worth dying for and I am never going to take
the part of any Lord that won't take my part--you just write it down
and I'll sign it."

But there was now and then a man who would not do that.  He said, "No,
I believe I am right, and I will die for it," and I suppose we owe what
little progress we have made to a few men in all ages of the world who
really stood by their convictions.  The men who stood by the truth and
the men who stood by a fact, they are the men that have helped raise
this world, and in every age there has been some sublime and tender
soul who was true to his convictions, and who really lived to make men
better.  In every age some men carried the torch of progress and handed
it to some other, and it has been carried through all the dark ages of
barbarism, and had it not been for such men we would have been naked
and uncivilized tonight, with pictures of wild beasts tattooed on our
skins, dancing around some dried snake fetish.

When a man would not recant, these men, in the name of the love of the
Lord, screwed them down to the last thread of agony and threw them into
some dungeon, where, in the throbbing silence of darkness, they
suffered the pangs of the fabled damned; and this was done in the name
of civilization, love and order, and in the name of the most merciful
Christ.  There are no thumbscrews now; they are rusting away; but every
man in this town who is not willing that another shall do his own
thinking and will try to prevent it, has in him the same hellish spirit
that made and used that very instrument of torture, and the only reason
he does not use it today is because he cannot.  The reason that I speak
here tonight is because they cannot help it.

I saw at the same time a beautiful little instrument for the
propagation of kindness, called "The Scavenger's Daughter."  (The
lecturer here described and illustrated construction of the
instrument.)  The victim would be thrown upon that instrument and the
strain upon the muscles was such that insanity would sometimes come to
his relief.  See what we owe to the civilizing influence of the
gentlemen who have made a certain idea in metaphysics necessary to
salvation--see what we owe to them.

I saw a collar of torture which they put about the neck of their
victim, and inside of that there were a hundred points; so that the
victim could not stir without the skin being punctured with these
points, and after a little while the throat would swell and suffocation
would end the agony, and they would have that done in the presence of
his wife and weeping children.  That was all done so that finally
everybody would love everybody else as his brother.  I saw a rack.
Imagine a wagon with a windlass on each end, and each windlass armed
with leather bands, and a ratchet that prevented slipping.  The victim
was placed upon this.

Maybe he had denied something that some idiot said was true; may be he
had a discussion--a division of opinion with a man, like John Calvin.
John Calvin said Christ was the Eternal Son of God and Michael Servetus
said that Christ was the son of the Eternal God.  That was the only
difference of opinion.  Think of it! What an important thing it was!
How it would have affected the price of food!  "Christ is the Eternal
Son of God," said one; "No," said the other, "Christ is the Son of
Eternal God"--that was all, and for that difference of opinion Michael
Servetus was burned at a slow fire of green wood, and the wind
happening to blow the flames from him instead of towards him; he was in
the most terrible agony, writhing for minutes and minutes, and hours
and hours, and finally he begged and implored those wretches to move
him so that the wind would blow the flames against him and destroy him
without such hellish agony, but they were so filled with the doctrine
of "love your enemies" that they would not do it.  I never will, for my
part, depend upon any religion that has ever shed a drop of human

[* Speaking of the Inquisition, Prof. Draper says:  "With such savage
alacrity did it carry out its object of protecting the interests of
religion, that between 1480 and 1808 it had punished 340,000 persons,
and of these nearly 32,000 had been burnt!"--Conflict between Religion
and Science]

Upon this rack I have described, this victim was placed, and those
chains were attached to his ankles and then to his waist, and
clergymen--good men! pious men! men that were shocked at the immorality
of their day!  They talked about playing cards and the horrible crime
of dancing! Oh, how such things shocked them; men going to theaters and
seeing a play written by the grandest genius the world ever has
produced.  How it shocked their sublime and tender souls!  But then
commenced turning this machine, and they kept on turning until the
ankles, knees, hips, elbows, shoulders and wrists were all dislocated
and the victim was red with the sweat of agony, and they had standing
by a physician to feel the pulse, so that the last faint flutter of
life would not leave his veins.  Did they wish to save his life?  Yes.
In mercy?  No!  Simply that they might have the pleasure of racking him
once again.  That is the spirit, and it is a spirit born of the
doctrine that there is upon the throne of the universe a being who will
eternally damn his children, and they said:  "If God is going to have
the supreme happiness of burning them forever, certainly he ought not
to begrudge to us the joy of burning them for an hour or two."  That
was their doctrine, and when I read these things it seems to me that I
have suffered them myself.  When I look upon those instruments I look
upon them as though I had suffered all these tortures myself.  It seems
to me as though I had stood upon the shore an exile and looking with
tear-filled eyes toward home and native land.  It seems as though my
nails had been plucked out and into bleeding flesh needles had been
thrust; as though my eyelids had been torn away and I had been set out
in the ardent rays of the sun; as though I had been set out upon the
sands of the sea and drowned by the inexorable tide; as though I had
been in the dungeon waiting for the coming footsteps of relief; as
though I had been upon the scaffold arid seen the glittering axe
falling upon me; and seen bending above me the white faces of hypocrite
priests; as though I had been taken from my wife and children to the
public square, where faggots had been piled around me and the flames
had climbed around my limbs and scorched my eyes to blindness; as
though my ashes had been scattered by all the hands of hatred; and I
feel like saying, that while I live I will do what little I can to
preserve and augment the rights of men, women arid children; while I
live I will do a little something so that they who come after me shall
have the right to think and express that thought. The trouble is those
who oppose us pretend they are better than we are. They are more
mortal, they are kinder, they are more generous.  I deny it.  They are
not.  And if they are the ones that are to be saved in another world,
and if those who simply think they are honest, and express that honest
thought, are to be damned, there will be but little originality, to say
the least of it, in heaven.  They say they are better than we are--and
to show you how much better they are I have got at home copies of some
letters that passed between gentlemen high in the church several
hundred years ago, and the question was this:  "Ought we to cut out the
tongues of blasphemers before we burn them?" And they finally decided
that they ought to do so, and I will tell you the reason they gave:
They said if they were not cut out that while they were being burned,
they might, by their heresies, scandalize the gentleman who would bring
the wood; they were too good to hear these things and they might be
injured; and the same idea appears to prevail in this world now that
they are too good and they must not be shocked.

They say to us:  "You must not shock us, and when you say there is no
hell we are shocked.  You must not say that."  When I go to church and
they tell me there is a hell I must not get shocked; and if they tell
me that there is not only a hell, but that I am going to it, I must not
be shocked.  Even if they take the next step and act as though they
would be glad to see me there, still I must not be shocked.  I will
agree to keep from being shocked as long as anybody in the world--they
can say what they please; I will not get shocked, but let me say it.
You send missionaries to Turkey and tell them that the Koran is a lie.
You shock them. You tell them that Mahomet was not a prophet.  You
shock them. It is too bad to shock them.  You go to India and you tell
them that Vishnu was nothing, Puranas was nothing, that Buddha was
nobody, and your Brahma, he is nothing.  Why do you shock these people?
You should not do that; you ought not to hurt their feelings.  I tell
you no man on earth has a right to be shocked at the expression of an
honest opinion when it is kindly done, and I don't believe there is any
God in the universe who has put a curtain over the fact and made it a
crime for the honest hand of investigation to endeavor to draw that

This world has not been fit to live in fifty years.  There is no
liberty in it--very little.  Why, it is only a few years ago that all
the Christian nations were engaged in the slave trade. It was not until
1808, that England abolished the slave trade, and up to that time her
priests in her churches, and her judges on her benches, owned stock in
slave ships, and luxuriated on the profits of piracy and murder; and
when a man stood up and denounced it, they mobbed him as though he had
been a common burglar or a horse thief.  Think of it!  It was not until
the 28th day of August, 1833, that England abolished slavery in her
colonies; and it was not until the first day of January, 1863, that
Abraham Lincoln, by direction of the entire North, wiped that infamy
out of this country; and I never speak of Abraham Lincoln but I want to
say that he was, in my judgment, in many respects the grandest man ever
president of the United States.  I say that upon his tomb there ought
to be this line--and I know of no other man deserving it so well as he:
"Here lies one who, having been clothed with almost absolute power,
never abused it except on the side of mercy."

Just think of it!  Our churches and best people, as they call
themselves, defending the institution of slavery.  When I was a little
boy I used to see steamers go down the Mississippi river with hundreds
of men and women chained hand to hand, and even children, and men
standing about them with whips in their hands and pistols in their
pockets in the name of liberty, in the name of civilization and in the
name of religion!  I used to hear them preach to these slaves in the
South and the only text they ever took was  "Servants, be obedient unto
your masters."  That was the salutation of the most merciful God to a
man whose back was bleeding, that was the salutation of the most
merciful God to the slave mother bending over an empty cradle, to the
woman from whose breast a child had been stolen--"Servants, be obedient
unto you masters."  That was what they said to a man running for his
life and for his liberty through tangled swamps and listening to the
baying of bloodhounds, and when he listened for them the voice came
from heaven:  "Servants, be obedient unto your masters."

That is civilization.  Think what slaves we have been!  Think how we
have crouched and cringed before wealth even!  How they used to cringe
in old times before a man who was rich--there are so many of them gone
into bankruptcy lately that we are losing a little of our fear.

We used to worship the golden calf, and the worst you can say of us
now, is, we worship the gold of the calf, and even the calves are
beginning to see this distinction.  We used to go down on our knees to
every man that held office; now he must fill it if he wishes any
respect.  We care nothing for the rich, except what will they do with
their money? Do they benefit mankind?  That is the question.  You say
this man holds an office.  How does he fill it?--that is the question.
And there is rapidly growing up in the world an aristocracy of heart
and brain--the only aristocracy that has a right to exist.  We are
getting free.  We are thinking in every direction.  We are
investigating with the microscope and the telescope.  We are digging
into the earth and finding souvenirs of all the ages.  We are finding
out something about the laws of health and disease.  We are adding
years to the span of human life and we are making the world fit to live
in. That is what we are doing, and every man that has an honest thought
and expresses it, helps, and every man that tries to keep honest
thought from being expressed is an obstruction and a hindrance.

Now if men have been slaves what shall we say of women?  They have been
the slaves of slaves.  The meaner a man is, the better he thinks he is
than a woman.  As a rule, you take an ignorant, brutal man--don't talk
to him about a woman governing him, he don't believe it--not he; and
nearly every religion of this world has been gallant enough to account
for all the trouble and misfortune we have had by the crime of woman.

Even if it is true, I do not care; I had rather live in a world full of
trouble with the woman I love than in heaven with nobody but men.
Nearly every religion accounts for all the trouble we have ever had by
the crime of woman.  I recollect one book where I read an account of
what is called the creation--I am not giving the exact words, I will
give the substance of it.  The supreme being thought best to make a
world and one man--never thought about making a woman at that time;
making a woman was a second thought, and I am free to admit that second
thoughts as a rule are best.  He made this world and one man, and put
this man in a park, or garden, or public square, or whatever you might
call it, to dress and keep it.  The man had nothing to do.  He moped
around there as though he was waiting for a train.  And the supreme
being noticed that he got lonesome--I am glad He did! It occurred to
Him that he would make a companion, and having made the world and one
man out of nothing, and having used up all the nothing, He had to take
a part of the man to start the woman with--I am not giving the exact
language, neither do I say this story is true.  I do not know.  I would
not want to deceive anybody.

So sleep fell upon this man, and they took from his side a rib--the
French would call it a cutlet.  And out of that they made a woman, and
taking into consideration the amount and quality of the raw material
used, I look upon it as the most successful job ever accomplished in
this world.  I am giving just a rough outline of this story.  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 went to
keeping house. Before she was made there was really nothing to do;
there was no news, no politics, no religion, not even civil service
reform. And as the devil had not yet put in an appearance, there was no
chance to conciliate him.  They started in the housekeeping business,
and they were told they could do anything they liked except eat an
apple.  Of course they ate it.  I would have done it myself I know.  I
am satisfied I would have had an apple off that tree, if I had been
there, in fifteen minutes.  They were caught at it, and they were
turned out, and there was an extra police force put on to keep them
from coming in again.  And then measles, and whooping-cough, mumps,
etc., started in the race of man, roses began to have thorns and snakes
began to have teeth, and people began to fight about religion and
politics, and they have been fighting and scratching each other's eyes
out from that day to this.

I read in another book an account of the same transaction.  They tell
us the Supreme Brahma made up his mind to make a man, a woman, and a
world; and that he put this man and woman in the island of Ceylon.
According to the description, it was the most beautiful isle that ever
existed; it beggared the description of a Chicago land agent
completely.  It was delightful; the branches of the trees were so
arranged that when the wind swept through them they seemed like a
thousand aeolian harps, and the man was named Adami, and the Woman's
name was Heva.  This book was written about three or four thousand
years before the other one, and all the commentators in this country
agree that the story that was written first was copied from the one
that was written last.  I hope you will not let a matter of three or
four thousand years interfere with your ideas on the subject.  The
Supreme Brahma said:  "Let them have a period of courtship, because it
is my desire that true love always should precede marriage"--and that
was so much better than lugging her up to him and saying, "Do you like
her?" that upon my word I said when I read it, "If either one of these
stories turn out to be true, I hope it will be this one."

They had a courtship in the starlight and moonlight, and perfume-laden
air, with the nightingale singing his song of joy, and they got in
love. There was nobody to bother them, no prospective fathers or
mothers-in-law, no gossiping neighbors, nobody to say "Young man, how
do you propose to support her"--they got in love and they were married,
and they started keeping house, and the Supreme Brahma said to them:
"You must not leave this island." After awhile the man got
uneasy--wanted to go west.  He went to the western extremity of the
island, and there the devil got up, and when he looked over on the
mainland he saw such hills and valleys and torrents, and such mountains
crowned with snow; such cataracts, robed in glory, that he went right
back to Heva.  Says he: "Come over here; it is a thousand times
better;"  says he: "let us emigrate."  She said, like another woman:
"No, let well enough alone; we have no rent to pay, and no taxes; we
are doing very well now, let us stay where we are."  But he insisted,
and so she went with him, and when he got to this western extremity,
where there was a little neck of land leading to this better land, he
took her on his back and walked over, and the moment he got over he
heard a crash, and he looked back and this narrow neck of land had sunk
into the sea, leaving here and there a rock (and those rocks are called
even unto this day the footsteps of Adami), and when he looked back
this beautiful mirage had disappeared.

Instead of verdure and flowers there was naught but rocks and sand, and
then he heard the voice of the Supreme Brahma crying out cursing them
both to the lowest hell, and then it was that Adami said:  "Curse me,
if you choose, but not her; it was not her fault, it was mine; curse
me." That is the kind of a man to start a world with.  And the Supreme
Brahma said "I will spare her, but I will not spare you."  Then she
spoke, out of a breast so full of affection that she has left a legacy
of love to all her daughters:  "If thou wilt not spare him, spare
neither me, because I love him."  Then the Supreme Brahma said--and I
have liked him ever since--"I will spare both, and watch over you and
your children forever."  Now, really this story appears to me better
than the other one.  It is loftier; there is more in it than I can
admire.  In order to show you that humanity does not belong to any
particular nation, and that there are great and tender souls
everywhere, let me tell you a little more that is in this book.
"Blessed is that man, and beloved of all the gods who is afraid of no
man, and of whom no man is afraid." Think of that kind of character!
Another:  "Man is strength, woman is beauty; man is courage, woman is
love; and where the one man loves the one woman the very angels leave
heaven and come and sit in that house and sing for joy."  I think that
is nearly equal to this:  "If you do not want your wife, give her a
writing of divorcement," and make the mother of your children a
houseless wanderer and a vagrant--nearly as good as that.

I believe that marriage should be a perfect partnership; that woman
should have all the rights that man has, and one more--the right to be
protected.  I believe in marriage.  It took hundreds and thousands of
years for woman to get from a state of abject slavery up to the height
even of marriage.  I have not the slightest respect for the ideas of
those short-haired women and long-haired men who denounce the
institution of the family, who denounce the institution of marriage;
but I hold in greater contempt the husband who would enslave his wife.
I hold in greater contempt the man who is anything in his family except
love and tenderness, and kindness.  I say it took hundreds of years for
woman to come from a state of slavery to marriage; and ladies, the
chains that are upon your necks and the bracelets that are put upon
your arms were iron, and they have been changed by the touch of the
wand of civilization to shining, glittering gold.  Woman came from a
condition of abject slavery and thousands and thousands of them are in
that condition now.  I believe marriage should be a perfect and equal
partnership.  I do not like a man who thinks he is boss.  That fellow
in the dug-out was always talking about being boss.  I do not like a
man who thinks he is the head of the family.  I do not like a man who
thinks he has got authority and that the woman belongs to him--that
wants for his wife a slave.  I would not have a slave for my wife.  I
would not want the love of a woman that is not great enough, grand
enough, and splendid enough to be free.  I will never give to any woman
my heart upon whom I afterwards would put chains.

Do you know sometimes I think generosity is about the only virtue there
is.  How I do hate a man that has to be begged and importuned every
minute for a few cents by his wife.  "Give me a dollar?"  "What did you
do with that fifty cents I gave you last Christmas?"  If you make your
wife a perpetual beggar, what kind of children do you expect to raise
with a beggar for their mother?  If you want great children, if you
want to people this world with great and grand men and women they must
be born of love and liberty.  I have known men that would trust a woman
with their heart--if you call that thing which pushes their blood
around a heart; and with their honor--if you call that fear, of getting
into the penitentiary, honor; I have known men that would trust that
heart and that honor with a woman, but not their pocket-book--not a
dollar bill.  When I see a man of that kind, I think they know better
than I do which of these three articles is the most valuable.  I
believe if you have got a dollar in the world and you have got to spend
it, spend it like a man; spend it like a king, like a prince.  If you
have to spend it, spend it as though it was a dried leaf, and you were
the owner of unbounded forests.  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.  What is it worth compared with the love of a splendid woman?

People tell me that is very good doctrine for rich folks, but it won't
do for poor folks.  I tell you that there is more love in the huts and
homes of the poor, than in the mansions of the rich, and the meanest
but with love in it is a palace fit for the gods, and a palace without
that, is a den only fit for wild beasts. The man who has the love of
one splendid woman is a rich man. Joy is wealth, and love is the legal
tender of the soul!  Love is the only thing that will pay ten percent
to borrower and lender both; and if some men were as ashamed of
appearing cross in public as they are of appearing tender at home, this
world would be infinitely better.  I think you can make your home a
heaven if you want to--you can make up your minds to that.  When a man
comes home let him come home like a ray of light in the night bursting
through the doors and illuminating the darkness.  What right has a man
to assassinate joy, and murder happiness in the sanctuary of love--to
be a cross man, a peevish man--is that the way he courted?  Was there
always something ailing him?  Was he too nervous to hear her speak?
When I see a man of that kind I am always sorry that doctors know so
much about preserving life as they do.

It is not necessary to be rich, nor powerful, nor great to be a
success; and neither is it necessary to have your name between the
putrid lips of rumor to be great.  We have had a false standard of
success.  In the years when I was a little boy we read in our books
that no fellow was a success that did not make a fortune or get a big
office, and he generally was a man that slept about three hours a
night.  They never put down in the books the names of those gentlemen
that succeeded in life that slept all they wanted to; and we all
thought that we could not sleep to exceed three or four hours if we
ever expected to be anything in this world.  We have had a wrong
standard.  The happy man is the successful man; and the man who makes
somebody else happy, is a happy man.  The man that has gained the love
of one good, splendid, pure woman, his life has been a success, no
matter if he dies in the ditch; and if he gets to be a crowned monarch
of the world, and never had the love of one splendid heart, his life
has been an ashen vapor.

A little while ago I stood by the tomb of the first Napoleon, a
magnificent tomb of gilt and gold, fit almost for a dead deity, and
here was a great circle, and in the bottom there, in a sarcophagus,
rested at last the ashes of that restless man.  I looked at that tomb,
and I thought about the career of the greatest soldier of the modern
world. As I looked, in imagination I could see him walking up and down
the banks of the Seine contemplating suicide.  I could see him at
Toulon; I could see him at Paris, putting down the mob; I could see him
at the head of the army of Italy; I could see him crossing the bridge
of Lodi, with the tri-color in his hand; I saw him in Egypt, fighting
battles under the shadow of the Pyramids; I saw him returning; I saw
him conquer the Alps, and mingle the eagles of France with the eagles
of Italy; I saw him at Marengo, I saw him at Austerlitz; I saw him in
Russia, where the infantry of the snow and the blast smote his legions,
when death rode the icy winds of winter.  I saw him at Leipsic; hurled
back upon Paris, banished; and I saw him escape from Elba and retake an
empire by the force of his genius.  I saw him at the field of Waterloo,
where fate and chance combined to wreck the fortune of their former
king.  I saw him at St. Helena, with his hands behind his back, gazing
out upon the sad and solemn sea, and I thought of all the widows he had
made, of all the orphans, of all the tears that had been shed for his
glory; and I thought of the woman, the only woman who ever loved him,
pushed from his heart by the cold hand of ambition and I said to
myself, as I gazed, "I would rather have been a French peasant and worn
wooden shoes, and lived in a little hut but with a vine running over
the door and the purple grapes growing red in the amorous kisses of the
autumn sun--I would rather have been that poor French peasant, to sit
in my door, with my wife knitting by my side and my children upon my
knees with their arms around my neck--I would rather have lived and
died unnoticed and unknown except by those who loved me, and gone down
to the voiceless silence of the dreamless dust--I would rather have
been that French peasant than to have been that imperial impersonation
of force and murder who covered Europe with blood and tears."

I tell you I had rather make somebody happy, I would rather have the
love of somebody; I would rather go to the forest, far away, and build
me a little cabin--build it myself and daub it with mud, and live there
with my wife and children; I had rather go there and live by
myself--our little family--and have a little path that led down to the
spring, where the water bubbled out day and night like a little poem
from the heart of the earth; a little hut with some hollyhocks at the
corner, with their bannered bosoms open to the sun, and with the thrush
in the air, like a song of joy in the morning; I would rather live
there and have some lattice work across the window, so that the
sunlight would fall checkered on the baby in the cradle; I would rather
live there and have my soul erect and free, than to live in a palace of
gold and wear the crown of imperial power and know that my soul was
slimy with hypocrisy.  It is not necessary to be rich and great and
powerful in order to be happy.  If you will treat your wife like a
splendid flower, she will fill your life with a perfume and with joy.

I believe in the democracy of the fireside, I believe in the
republicism of home, in the equality of man and woman, in the equality
of husband and wife, and for this I am denounced by the sentinels upon
the walls of Zion.

They say there must be a head to the family.  I say no--equal rights
for man and wife, and where there is really love there is liberty, and
where the idea of authority comes in you will find that love has spread
its pinions and flown forever.  It is a splendid thing for me to think
that when a woman really loves a man he never grows old in her eyes;
she always sees the gallant gentleman that won her hand and heart; and
when a man really and truly loves a woman she does not grow old to him;
through the wrinkles of years he sees the face he loved and won.  That
is all there is in this world--all the rest amounts to nothing--it is a
tale told by an idiot signifying nothing.  You take from the family
love, and nothing is left.  There must be equality; there must be no
master; there must be no servant.  There must be equality and kindness.
The man should be infinitely tender towards the woman--and
why?--because she cannot go at hard work, she cannot make her own
living.  She has squandered her wealth of beauty and youth upon him.

Now, if women have been slaves, what do you say about children?
Children have been the slaves of the slaves.  I know children that turn
pale with fright when they hear their mother's voice; children of
property; children of crime, children of sub-cellars; children of the
narrow streets, the flotsam and jetsam upon the wild, rude sea of
life--my heart goes out to them one and all; I say they have all the
rights we have and one more--the right to be protected.  I believe in
governing children by kindness, by love, by tenderness.  If a child
commits a fault take it in your arms, let your heart beat against its
heart; don't go and talk to it about hell and the bankruptcy of the
universe.  If your child tells a lie--what of it?  Be honest with the
child, tell him you have told hundreds of them yourself. Then your
child will not be afraid to tell you when it commits a fault; it will
not regard you as old perfection, until it gets a few years older, and
finds you are an old hypocrite--and you cannot put a thick enough veil
upon you but what the eyes of childhood will peep through it; they will
see; they will find out; and when your child tells a lie, examine
yourself, and in all probability you will find you have been a tyrant.
A tyrant father will have liars for his children.  A liar is born of
tyranny on the one hand and fear on the other.  Truth comes from the
lips of courage.  It is born in confidence and honor.  If you want a
child to tell you the truth you want to be a faithful man yourself.
You go at your little child, five or six years old, with a stick in
your hand--what is he to do? Tell the truth? Then he will get whipped.
What is he to do?  I thank Mother Nature for putting ingenuity in the
mind of a little child so that when it is attacked by a brutal parent
it throws up a little breastwork in the shape of a lie.  That being
done by nations it is called strategy, and many a general wears his
honors for having practiced it; and will you deny it to little children
to protect themselves from brutal parents.  Supposing a man as much
larger than we are, larger than child would come at us with a
liberty-pole in his hand and would shout in tones of thunder, "Who
broke that plate?"  Every one of us--including myself--would just stand
right up and swear either that we never saw that plate, or that it was
cracked when we got it.  Give a child a chance; there is no other way
to have children tell the truth--tell the truth to them--keep your
contracts with your children the same as you would to your banker.

I was up at Grand Rapids, Michigan, the other day.  There was a
gentleman there, and his wife, who had promised to take their little
boy for a ride every night for ten days, or every day for ten days, but
they did not do it.  They slipped out to the barn and they went without
him. The day before I was there they played the same game on him again.
He is a nice little boy, an American boy, a boy with brains, one of
those boys that don't take the hatchet-story as a fact; he had his own
ideas. They fooled him again, and they came around the corner as big as
life, man and wife.  The little fellow was standing on the door step
with his nurse, and he looked at them, and he made this remark: "There
go the two damndest liars in Grand Rapids."  I merely tell you this
story to show you that children have level heads; they understand this

Teach your children to tell you the truth--tell them the truth. If
there is one here that ever intends to whip his child I have a favor to
ask. Have your photograph taken when you are in the act, with your red
and vulgar face, your brow corrugated, pretending you would rather be
whipped yourself.  Have the child's photograph taken too, with his eyes
streaming with tears, and his chin dimpled with fear, as a little sheet
of water struck by a sudden cold wind; and if your child should die I
cannot think of a sweeter way to spend an afternoon than to go to the
graveyard in the autumn, when the maples are clad in pink and gold,
when the little scarlet runners come like poems out of the breast of
the earth--go there and sit down and look at that photograph and think
of the flesh, now dust, and how you caned it to writhe in pain and

I will tell you what I am doing; I am doing what little I can to save
the flesh of children.  You have no right to whip them.  It is not the
way; and yet some Christians drive their children from their doors if
they do wrong, especially if it is a sweet, tender girl--I believe
there is no instance on record of any veal being given for the return
of a girl--some Christians drive them from their doors and then go down
upon their knees and ask God to take care of their children!  I will
never ask God to take care of my children unless I am doing my level
best in that same direction.  Some Christians act as though they
thought when the Lord said, "Suffer little children to come unto me"
that he had a raw-hide under His mantle--they act as if they thought
so.  That is all wrong.  I tell yon my children this:  Go where you
may, commit what crime you may, fall to what depths of degradation you
may, I can never shut my arms, my heart or my door to you.  As long as
I live you shall have one sincere friend; do not be afraid to tell
anything wrong you have done; ten to one if I have not done the same
thing.  I am not perfection, and if it is necessary to sin in order to
have sympathy, I am glad I have committed sin enough to have sympathy.
The sternness of perfection I do not want.  I am going to live so that
my children can come to my grave and truthfully say, "He who sleeps
here never gave us one moment of pain."  Whether you call that religion
or infidelity, suit yourselves; that is the way I intend to do it.

When I was a little fellow most everybody thought that some days were
too sacred for the young ones to enjoy themselves in.  That was the
general idea.  Sunday used to commence Saturday night at sundown, under
the old text, "The evening and the morning were the first day."  They
commenced then, I think, to get a good ready.  When the sun went down
Saturday night, darkness ten thousand times deeper than ordinary night
fell upon the house. The boy that looked the sickest was regarded as
the most pious. You could not crack hickory nuts that night, and if you
were caught chewing gum it was another evidence of the total depravity
of the human heart.  It was a very solemn evening.  We would sometimes
sing "Another Day has Passed."  Everybody looked as though they had the
dyspepsia--you know lots of people think they are pious, just because
they are bilious, as Mr. Hood says. It was a solemn night, and the next
morning the solemnity had increased.  Then we went to church, and the
minister was in a pulpit about twenty feet high.  If it was in the
winter there was no fire; it was not thought proper to be comfortable
while you were thanking the Lord.  The minister commenced at firstly
and ran up to about twenty-fourthly, and then he divided it up again;
and then he made some concluding remarks, and then he said lastly, and
when he said lastly he was about half through.  Then we had what we
called the catechism--the chief end of man.  I think that has a
tendency to make a boy kind of bubble up cheerfully.

We sat along on a bench with our feet about eight inches from the
floor. The minister said, "Boys, do you know what becomes of the
wicked?"  We all answered as cheerfully as grasshoppers sing in
Minnesota, "Yes, sir."  "Do you know, boys, that you all ought to go to
hell?"  "Yes, sir."  As a final test:  "Boys, would you be willing to
go to hell if it was God's will?"  And every little liar said, "Yes,
sir."  The dear old minister used to try to impress upon our minds
about how long we would stay there after we got there, and he used to
say in an awful tone of voice--do you know I think that is what gives
them the bronchitis--that tone--you never heard of an auctioneer having
it--"Suppose that once in a billion of years a bird were to come from
some far, distant clime and carry off in its bill a grain of sand, when
the time came when the last animal matter of which this mundane sphere
is composed would be carried away," said he, "boys, by that time in
hell it would not be sun up."  We had this sermon in the morning and
the same one in the afternoon, only he commenced at the other end.
Then we started home full of doctrine--we went sadly and sole  solemnly
back.  If it was in the summer and the weather was good and we had been
good boys, they used to take us down to the graveyard, and to cheer us
up we had a little conversation about coffins, and shrouds, and worms,
and bones, and dust, and I must admit that it did cheer me up when I
looked at those sunken graves those stones, those names half effaced
with the decay of years.  I felt cheered, for I said, "This thing can't
last always."  Then we had to read a good deal.  We were not allowed to
read joke books or anything of that kind.  We read Baxter's "Call to
the Unconverted;"  Fox's "Book of Martyrs;" Milton's "History of the
Waldenses," and "Jenkins on the Atonement."  I generally read Jenkins;
and I have often thought that the atonement ought to be pretty broad in
its provisions to cover the case of a man that would write a book like
that for a boy.

Then we used to go and see how the sun was getting on--when the sun was
down the thing was over.  I would sit three or four hours reading
Jenkins, and then go out and the sun would not have gone down
perceptibly.  I used to think it stuck there out of simple, pure
cussedness.  But it went down at last, it had to; that was a part of
the plan, and as the last rim of light would sink below the horizon,
off would go our hats and we would give three cheers for liberty once
again. I do not believe in making Sunday hateful for children.  I
believe in allowing them to be happy, and no day can be so sacred but
that the laugh of a child will make it holier still.  There is no God
in the heavens that is pleased at the sadness of childhood.  You cannot
make me believe that.  You fill their poor, little, sweet hearts with
the fearful doctrine of hell.  A little child goes out into the garden;
there is a tree covered with a glory of blossoms and the child leans
against it, and there is a little bird on the bough singing and
swinging, and the waves of melody run out of its tiny throat, thinking
about four little speckled eggs in the nest, warmed by the breast of
its mate, and the air is filled with perfume, and that little child
leans against that tree and thinks about hell and the worm that never
dies; think of filling the mind of a child with that infamous dogma!

Where was that doctrine of hell born?  Where did it come from? It came
from that gentleman in the dug-out;  it was a souvenir from the lower
animal.  I honestly believe that the doctrine of hell was born in the
glittering eyes of snakes that run in frightful coils watching for
their prey.  I believe it was born in the yelping and howling and
growling and snarling of wild beasts, I believe it was born in the grin
of hyenas and in the malicious chatter of depraved apes, I despise it,
I defy it and hate it; and when the great ship freighted with the world
goes down in the night of death, chaos and disaster, I will not be
guilty of the ineffable meanness of pushing from my breast my wife and
children and padding off in some orthodox canoe.  I will go down with
those I love and with those who love me.  I will go down with the ship
and with my race.  I will go where there is sympathy.  I will go with
those I love. Nothing can make me believe that there is any being that
is going to burn and torment and damn his children forever.  No, sir!
You will never make me believe you can divide the world up into saints
and sinners, and that the saints are all going to heaven and the others
to hell. I don't believe that you can draw the line.

You are sometimes in the presence of a great disaster; there is a fire;
at the fourth story window you see the white face of a woman with a
child in her arms, and humanity calls out for somebody to go to the
rescue through that smoke and flame, maybe death.  They don't call for
a Baptist, nor a Presbyterian, nor a Methodist, but humanity calls for
a man.  And all at once, out steps somebody that nobody ever did think
was much, not a very good man, and yet he springs up the ladder and is
lost in the smoke, and a moment afterward he emerges, and the cruel
serpents of fire climb and hiss around his brave form, but he goes on
and you see that woman and child in his arms, and you see them come
down and they are handed to the bystanders, and he has fainted, maybe,
and the crowd stand hushed, as they always do, in the presence of a
grand action, and a moment after the air is rent with a cheer.  Tell me
that that man is going to hell, who is willing to lose his life merely
to keep a woman and child from the torment of a moment's flame--tell me
that he is going to hell; I tell you that it is a falsehood, and if
anybody says so he is mistaken.

I have seen upon the battlefield a boy sixteen years of age struck by
the fragment of a shell and life oozing slowly from the ragged lips of
his death-wound, and I have heard him and seen him die with a curse
upon his lips, and he had the face of his mother in his heart.  Do you
tell me that that boy left that field where he died that the flag of
his country might wave forever in the air--do you tell me that he went
from that field, where he lost his life in defense of the liberties of
men, to an eternal hell? I tell you it is infamous!--and such a
doctrine as that would tarnish the reputation of a hyena and smirch the
fair fame of an anaconda.

Let us see whether we are to believe it or not.  We had a war a little
while ago and there was a draft made, and there was many a good
Christian hired another fellow to take his place, hired one that was
wicked, hired a sinner to go to hell in his place for five hundred
dollars!  While if he was killed he would go to heaven.  Think of that.
Think of a man willing to do that for five hundred dollars!  I tell you
when you come right down to it they have got too much heart to believe
it; they say they do, but they do not appreciate it.  They do not
believe it.  They would go crazy if they did.  They would go insane.
If a woman believed it, looking upon her little dimpled darling in the
cradle, and said, "Nineteen chances in twenty I am raising fuel for
hell," she would go crazy.  They don't believe it, and can't believe
it. The old doctrine was that the angels in heaven would become happier
as they looked upon those in hell.  That is not the doctrine now; we
have civilized it.  That is not the doctrine.  What is the doctrine
now?  The doctrine is that those in heaven can look upon the agonies of
those in hell, whether it is a fire or whatever it is, without having
the happiness of those in heaven decreased--that is the doctrine.

That is preached today in every orthodox pulpit in Harrisburg. Let me
put one case and I will be through with this branch of the subject.  A
husband and wife love each other.  The husband is a good fellow and the
wife a splendid woman.  They live and love each other and all at once
he is taken sick, and they watch day after day and night after night
around his bedside until their property is wasted and finally she has
to go to work, and she works through eyes blinded with tears, and the
sentinel of love watches at the bedside of her prince, and at the least
breath or the least motion she is awake; and she attends him night
after night and day after day for years, and finally he dies, and she
has him in her arms and covers his wasted face with the tears of agony
and love.  He is a believer and she is not.  He dies, and she buries
him and puts flowers above his grave, and she goes there in the
twilight of evening and she takes her children, and tells her little
boys and girls through her tears how brave and how true and how tender
their father was, and finally she dies and she goes to hell, because
she was not a believer; and he goes to the battlements of heaven and
looks over and sees the woman who loved him with all the wealth of her
love, and whose tears made his dead face holy and sacred, and he looks
upon her in the agonies of hell without having his happiness diminished
in the least.

With all due respect to everybody, I say, damn any such doctrine as
that.  It is infamous!  It never ought to be preached; it never ought
to be believed.  We ought to be true to our hearts, and the best
revelation of the infinite is the human heart.

Now, I come back to where I started from.  They used to think that a
certain day was too good for a child to be happy in, so they filled the
imagination of this child with these horrors of hell.  I said, and I
say again, no day can be so sacred but that the laugh of a child will
make the holiest day more sacred still. Strike with hand of fire, oh,
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 keys; blow bugler, blow, until thy silver notes do touch the
skies, with moonlit waves, and charm the lovers wandering on 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; oh, rippling river of life, thou
art the blessed boundary-line between the beasts and man, and every
wayward wave of thine doth drown some fiend of care; oh, laughter,
divine daughter of joy, make dimples enough in the cheeks of the world
to catch and hold and glorify all the tears of grief.

I am opposed to any religion that makes them melancholy, that makes
children sad, and that fills the human heart with shadow.

Give a child a chance.  When I was a boy we always went to bed when we
were not sleepy, and we always got up when we were sleepy.  Let a child
commence at which end of the day they please, that is their business;
they know more about it than all the doctors in the world.  The voice
of nature when a man is free, is the voice of right, but when his
passions have been damned up by custom, the moment that is withdrawn,
he rushes to some excess.  Let him be free from the first.  Let your
children grow in the free air and they will fill your house with
perfume. Do not create a child to be a post set in an orthodox row;
raise investigators and thinkers, not disciples and followers;
cultivate reason, not faith; cultivate investigation, not superstition;
and if you have any doubt yourself about a thing being so, tell them
about it; don't tell them the world was made in six days--if you think
six days means six good whiles, tell them six good whiles.  If you have
any doubts about anybody being in a furnace and not being burnt, or
even getting uncomfortably warm, tell them so--be honest about it.  If
you look upon the jaw-bone of a donkey as not a good weapon, say so.
Give a child a chance.  If you think a man never went to sea in a fish,
tell them so, it won't make them any worse.  Be honest--that is all;
don't cram their heads with things that will take them years and years
to unlearn; tell them facts--it is just as easy.  It is as easy to find
out botany, and astronomy, and geology, and history--it is as easy to
find out all these things as to cram their minds with things you know
nothing about,* and where a child knows what the name of a flower is
when it sees it, the name of a bird and all those things, the world
becomes interesting everywhere, and they do not pass by the
flowers--they are not deaf to all the songs of birds, simply because
they are walking along thinking about hell.

[* "We know of no difference between matter and spirit, because we know
nothing with certainty about either.  Why trouble ourselves about
matters of which, however important they may be we do know nothing and
can know nothing?"--Huxley]

I tell you, this is a pretty good world if we only love somebody in it,
if we only make somebody happy, if we are only honor-bright in it, if
we have no fear.  That is my doctrine.  I like to hear children at the
table telling what big things they have seen during the day; I like to
hear their merry voices mingling with the clatter of knives and forks.
I had rather hear that than any opera that was ever put on the stage.
I hate this idea of authority.  I hate dignity.  I never saw a
dignified man that was not after all an old idiot.  Dignity is a mask;
a dignified man is afraid that you will know he does not know
everything. A man of sense and argument is always willing to admit what
he don't know--why?--because there is so much that he does know; and
that is the first step towards learning anything--willingness to admit
what you don't know and when you don't understand a thing, ask--no
matter how small and silly it may look to other people--ask, and after
that you know.  A man never is in a state of mind that he can learn
until he gets that dignified nonsense out of him, and so, I say let us
treat our children with perfect kindness and tenderness.

Now, then, I believe in absolute intellectual liberty; that a man has a
right to think, and think wrong, provided he does the best he can to
think right--that is all.  I have no right to say that Mr. Smith shall
not think; Mr. Smith has no right to say I shall not think; I have no
right to go and pull a clergyman out of his pulpit and say:  "You shall
not preach that doctrine," but I have just as much right as he has to
say my say.  I have no right to lie about a clergyman, and with great
modesty I claim--and with some timidity--that he has no right to
slander me--that is all.

I claim that every man and wife are equal, except that she has a right
to be protected; that there is nothing like the democracy of the home
and the republicism of the fire-side, and that a man should study to
make his wife's life one perpetual poem of joy; that there should be
nothing but kindness and goodness; and then I say that children should
be governed by love, by kindness, by tenderness, and by the sympathy of
love, kindness and tenderness. That is the religion I have got, and it
is good enough for me whether it suits anybody else in the world or
not. I think it is altogether more important to believe in my wife than
it is to believe in the master; I think it is altogether more important
to love my children than the twelve apostles--that is my doctrine.  I
may be wrong, but that is it.  I think more of the living than I do of
the dead.  This world is for the living.  The grave is not a throne,
and a corpse is not a king.  The living have a right to control this
world.  I think a good deal more of today than I do of yesterday, and I
think more of tomorrow than I do of this day; because it is nearly
gone--that is the way I feel, and this my creed.  The time to be happy
is now; the way to be happy is to make somebody else happy; and the
place to be happy is here.  I never will consent to drink skim milk
here with the promise of cream somewhere else.

Now, my friends, I have some excuses to offer for the race to which I
belong.  In the first place, this world is not very well adapted to
raising good people; there is but one-quarter of it land to start with;
it is three times as well adapted to fish-culture as it is to man, and
of that one-quarter there is but a small belt where they raise men of
genius.  There is one strip from which all the men and women of genius
come.  When you go too far north yon find no brain; when you go too far
south you find no genius, and there never has been a high degree of
civilization except where there is winter.  I say that winter is the
father and mother of the fireside, the family of nations; and around
that fireside blossom the fruits of our race.  In a country where they
don't need any bed-clothes except the clouds, revolution is the normal
condition not much civilization there.  When in the winter I go by a
house where the curtain is a little bit drawn, and I look in there and
see children poking the fire and wishing they had as many dollars or
knives or something else as there are sparks; when I see the old man
smoking and the smoke curling above his head like incense from the
altar of domestic peace, the other children reading or doing something,
and the old lady with her needle and shears--I never pass such a scene
that I do not feel a little ache of joy in my heart.

Awhile ago they were talking about annexing San Domingo.  They said it
was the finest soil in the world, and so on.  Says I, "It don't raise
the right kind of folks; you take five thousand of the best people in
the world and let them settle there and you will see the second
generation barefooted, with the hair sticking out of the top of their
sombreros; you will see them riding barebacked, with a rooster under
each arm, going to a cockfight on Sunday."  That is one excuse I have.

Another is, I think we came from the lower animals, I am not dead sure
of it.  On that question I stand about eight to seven.  If there is
nothing of the snake, or hyena, or jackal in man, why would he cut his
brother's throat for a difference of belief? Why would he build
dungeons and burn the flesh of his brother man with red hot irons?  I
think we came from the lower animals. When I first heard that doctrine
I did not like it.  I felt sorry for our English friends, who would
have to trace their pedigree back to the Duke of Orangutan, or the Earl
of Chimpanzee. But I have read so much about rudimentary bones and
rudimentary muscles that I began to doubt about it.  Says I:  "What do
you mean by rudimentary muscles?"  They say:  "A muscle that has gone
into bankruptcy--"  "Was it a large muscle?"  "Yes."  "What did our
forefathers use it for?"  They say:  "To flap their ears with." After I
found that out I was astonished to find that they had become
rudimentary; I know so many people for whom it would be handy today, so
many people where that would have been on an exact level with their
intellectual development.  So after while I began to like it, and says
I to myself:  "You have got to come to it."  I thought after all I had
rather belong to a race of people that came from skull-less vertebrae
in the dim Laurentian period, that wiggled without knowing they were
wiggling, that began to develop and came up by a gradual development
until they struck this gentleman in the dug-out; coming up
slowly--up-up-up--until, for instance, they produced such a man as
Shakespeare--he who harvested all the fields of dramatic thought, and
after whom all others have been only gleaners of straw, he who found
the human intellect dwelling in a hut, touched it with the wand of his
genius and it became a palace--producing him and hundreds of others I
might mention--with the angels of progress leaning over the far horizon
beckoning this race of work and thought--I had rather belong to a race
commencing at the skull-less vertebrae producing the gentleman in the
dug-out and so on up, than to have descended from a perfect pair upon
which the Lord has lost money from that day to this.  I had rather
belong to a race that is going up than to one that is going down.  I
would rather belong to one that commenced at the skull-less vertebrae
and started for perfection, than to belong to one, that started from
perfection and started for the skull-less vertebrae.

These are the excuses I have for my race, and taking everything into
consideration, I think we have done extremely well.

Let us have more liberty and free thought.  Free thought will give us
truth.  It is too early in the history of the world to write a creed.
Our fathers were intellectual slaves; our fathers were intellectual
serfs.  There never has been a free generation on the globe.  Every
creed you have got bears the mark of whip, and chain, and fagot.  There
has been no creed written by a free brain.  Wait until we have had two
or three generations of liberty and it will then be time enough to
seize the swift horse of progress by the bridle and say--thus far and
no farther; and in the meantime let us be kind to each other;  let us
be decent towards each other.  We are all travelers on the great plain
we call life and there is nobody quite sure, what road to take--not
just dead sure, you known.  There are lots of guide-boards on the plain
and you find thousands of people swearing today that their guide-board
is the only board that shows the right direction.  I go and talk to
them and they say: "You go that way, or you will be damned."  I go to
another and they say:  "You go this way, or you will be damned."  I
find them all fighting and quarreling and beating each other, and then
I say: "Let us cut down all these guide-boards."  "What," they say,
"leave us without any guide-boards?"  I say:  "Yes.  Let every man take
the road he thinks is right; and let everybody else wish him a happy
journey; let us part friends."

I say to you tonight, my friends, that I have no malice upon this
subject--not a particle; I simply wish to express my thoughts. The
world has grown better just in proportion as it is happier; the world
has grown better just in proportion as it has lost superstition; the
world has grown better just in the proportion that the sacerdotal class
has lost influence--just exactly; the world has grown better just in
proportion that secular ideas have taken possession of the world.  The
world has grown better just in proportion that it has ceased talking
about the visions of the clouds, and talked about the realities of the
earth.  The world has grown better just in the proportion that it has
grown free, and I want to do what little I can in my feeble way to add
another flame to the torch of progress.  I do not know, of course, what
will come, but if I have said anything tonight that will make a husband
love his wife better, I am satisfied; if I have said anything, that
will make a wife love her husband better, I am satisfied; if I have
said anything that will add one more ray of joy to life, I am
satisfied; if I have said anything that will save the tender flesh of a
child from a blow, I am satisfied; if I have said anything that will
make us more willing to extend to others the right we claim for
ourselves, I am satisfied.

I do not know what inventions are in the brain of the future; I do not
know what garments of glory may be woven for the world in the loom of
the years to be; we are just on the edge of the great ocean of
discovery.  I do not know what is to be discovered; I do not know what
science will do for us.  I do know that science did just take a handful
of sand and make the telescope, and with it read all the starry leaves
of heaven; I know that science took the thunderbolts from the hands of
Jupiter, and now the electric spark, freighted with thought and love,
flashes under waves of the sea.  I know that science stole a tear from
the cheek of unpaid labor, converted it into steam, and created a giant
that turns with tireless arms the countless wheels of toil; I know that
science broke the chains from human limbs and gave us instead the
forces of nature for our slaves; I know that we have made the
attraction of gravitation work for us; we have made the lightnings our
messengers; we have taken advantage of fire and flames and wind and
sea; these slaves have no backs to be whipped; they have no hearts to
be lacerated; they have no children to be stolen, no cradles to be
violated.  I know that science has given us better houses; I know it
has given us better pictures and better books; I know it has given us
better wives and better husbands, and more beautiful children. I know
it has enriched a thousand-fold our lives; and for that reason I am in
favor of intellectual liberty.

I know not, I say, what discoveries may lead the world to glory; but I
do know that from the infinite sea of the future never a greater or
grander blessing will strike this bank and shoal of time than liberty
for man, woman and child.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have delivered this lecture a great many times;
clergymen have attended, and editors of religious newspapers, and they
have gone away and written in their papers and declared in their
pulpits that in this lecture I advocated universal adultery; they have
gone away and said it was obscene and disgusting.  Between me and my
clerical maligners, between me and my religious slanderers, I leave
you, ladies and gentlemen, to judge.

Ingersoll's Lecture on Human Rights

Ladies and Gentlemen:  I suppose that man, from the most grotesque
savage up to Heckle, has had a philosophy by which he endeavored to
account for all the phenomena of nature he may have observed.  From
that mankind may have got their ideas of right and wrong.  Now, where
there are no rights there can be no duties.  Let us always remember
that only as a man becomes free can he by any possibility become good
or great. As I said, every savage has had his philosophy, and by it
accounted for everything he observed.  He had an idea of rain and
rainbow, and he had an idea of a controlling power.  One said there is
a being who presides over our world, and who will destroy us unless we
do right.  Others had many of these beings, but they were invariably
like themselves.  The most fruitful imagination cannot make more than a
man, though it may make infinite powers and attributes out of the
powers and attributes of man.  You can't build a God unless you start
with a human being.  The savage said, when there was a storm, "Somebody
is angry."  When lightning leaped from the lurid cloud, he thought,
"What have I been doing?" and when he couldn't think of any wrong he
had been doing, he tried to think of some wrong his neighbor had been

I may as well state here that I believe man has come up from the lowest
orders of creation, and may have not come up very far; still, I believe
we are doing very well, considering.

But, speaking of man's early philosophy, his morality was founded first
on self-defense.  When gathered together in tribes, he held that this
infinite being would hold the tribe responsible for the actions of any
individual who had angered him.  They imagined this being got angry.
Just imagine the serenity of an infinite being being disturbed, and a
God breaking into a passion because some poor wretch had neglected to
bring two turtle doves to a priest!

Then they sought out this poor offending individual, to punish him and
appease the wroth of this being.  And here commenced religious

Now, I do not say there is no God, but what I do say is that I do not
know.  The only difference between me and the theologian is that I am
honest.  There may or there may not be an infinite being, but I do not
know it, and until I do I cannot conceive of any obedience I owe to any
unknown being.

As soon as men began to imagine they would be held responsible for the
act of any other person, came the necessity for some one to teach them
how to keep from offending the being.  Some called him medicine man,
some called him priest; now, we call him theologian.  These men set out
to teach men how to keep from offending this being, and they laid down
certain laws to regulate the conduct of men.  First of all it was
necessary to believe in this power.  To disbelieve in him was the worst
offense of all. To have some human being, dressed in the skin of a wild
beast, deny the existence of this infinite being, was more than the
infinite being could stand.  The first thing, therefore, was to believe
in this power, the next to support this gentleman standing between you
and the supreme wrath.  These gentlemen were the lobbyists with the
power, and sometimes succeeded in getting the veto used in favor of
their clients.

For ages, as mankind slowly came through the savage state, the world
was filled with infinite fear.  They accounted for everything bad that
happened as the wrath of this supreme being. But they went from
savagery to barbarism--a step in improvement--and then began to build
temples to, and make images of, this being.  Then man began to believe
he could influence this being by prayer, by getting on his knees to the
image he had made.

Nothing, I suppose astonishes a missionary more than to see a savage in
Central Africa on his knees before a stone praying for luck in hunting
or in fighting.  And yet it strikes me--we have our army chaplains
before a battle praying for the success of our side.  They don't pray
for assistance if our cause is just, but they pray, "Lord help us!"  I
can't see the difference between the two.

But there is this said in favor of prayer that, whether successful or
not, it is a sort of intellectual exercise.  Like a man trying to lift
himself, he may not succeed, but he gets a good deal of exercise.

But as man proceeds, he begins to help himself and to take advantage of
mechanical powers to assist him, and he begins to see he can help
himself a little, and exactly in the proportion he helps himself he
comes to rely less on the power of priest or prayer to help him.  Just
to the extent we are helpless, to that extent do we rely upon the

As religion developed itself, keeping pace with the belief in theology,
came the belief in demonology.  They gave one being all the credit of
doing all the good things, and must give some one credit for the bad
things, and so they created a devil.  At one time it was as
disreputable to deny the existence of a devil as to deny the existence
of a God; to deny the existence of a hell, with its fire and brimstone,
as to deny the existence of a heaven with its harp and love.

With the development of religion came the idea that no man should be
allowed to bring the wrath of God on a nation by his transgressions,
and this idea permeates the Christian world today.  Now what does this
prove?  Simply that our religion is founded on fear, and when you are
afraid you cannot think.  Fear drops on its knees and believes.  It is
only courage that can think.  It was the idea that man's actions could
do something, outside of any effect his mechanical works might have, to
change the order of nature; that he might commit some offense to bring
on an earthquake, but he can't do it.  You can't be bad enough to cause
an earthquake; neither can you be good enough to stop one. Out of that
wretched doctrine and infamous mistake that man's belief could have any
effect upon nature grew all these inquisitions, racks and collars of
torture, and all the blood that was ever shed by religious persecution.

In Europe the country was divided between kings and priests.  The king
held that he got the power from the unknown; so did the priests.  They
could not say that they got it from the people; the people would deny
it; the unknown could not deny it.  And thus the altar and throne stand
side by side. And republicanism was a thing unknown.

It has been said that the pilgrim fathers came to this country to
establish religious liberty.  They did no such thing.  They were not in
favor of it.  They came with the Testament in their hands, and with it
they could have no idea of religious liberty.  When they had
established thirteen colonies here, and had struggled for and obtained
their independence, they established federal government, but did they
seek after religious liberty?  No!  When they formed a federal
government each church and each colony was jealous of the other.  They
said to the general government, "You can't have any religion in the
constitution," but each state could make its own religion, and they
made them.

Here the speaker read copious extracts from the statutes of the
different states in reference to the qualifications for the exercise of
citizenship--the religious belief necessary; and, on concluding, asked,
"Had they (the members who drew up these state constitutions) any idea
of religious liberty."

Continuing, he said:  "Now, my friends, there's a party started in this
country with the object of giving every man, woman and child the rights
they are entitled to.  Now every one of us has the same rights.  I have
the right to labor and to have the products of my labor.  I have the
right to think, and furthermore, to express my thoughts, because
expression is the reward of my intellectual labor.  And yet in the
United States there are states where men of my ideas would not be
allowed to testify in a court of justice.  Is that right?  There are
states in this country where, if the law had been enforced, I would
have been sent to the penitentiary for lecturing.  All such laws are
enacted by barbarians, and our country will not be free until they are
wiped from the statute books of every state.

Does an infinite being need to be protected by a State Legislature?  If
the bible is inspired, does the author of it need the support of the
law to command respect?  We don't need any law to make mankind respect
Shakespeare.  We come to the altar of that great man and cover it with
our gratitude without a statute.  Think of a law to govern tastes!
Think of a law to govern mind, or any question whatever!  Think of the
way in which they have supported the bible!  They've terrorized the old
with laws, and captured the dear, little innocent children and poisoned
their minds with their false stories until, when they have reached the
age of manhood, they have been afraid to think for themselves.  Let us
see what the laws are now, by which they guard their bible and their

[Here the speaker read extracts from the statutes of several states in
reference to blasphemy and profanation of the Sabbath, commenting on
each as he ran them through:]  Pursuing the thread of his discourse, he
said:  Every American should see to it that all these laws are done
away with once and forever.

There has been a reaction of late years.  This country has begun to be
prosperous.  We don't think much of religion; 'tis only when hard times
come we turn our attention toward it.  There are people in this country
who say we are getting too irreligious, too scientific.  Now, is it not
a fact that we are happier today than at any period in our history?
You live in a great country, though perhaps you do not know it.  But
live in any other country for a while, and you'll find it out.  See,
then, what we've got by looking a little to the affairs of the world!
The bible can't stand today without the support of the civil power.  No
religion ever flourished except by the support of the sword, and no
religion like this could have been established except by brute force.

At one time we thought a great deal of clergymen, but now we have got
to thinking they ain't of as much importance as a man that has invented
something.  The church seeing this has made up its mind that it is
necessary to do something, and so got up a plan to be acknowledged by
law.  Here's what they wish to do:  [Here the speaker read some
extracts from the constitution of the National Reform Association.]
Continuing he said:  Our fathers, in 1776, building better than they
knew, retired the gods from politics.  I do not believe Jesus Christ is
the ruler of nations. If he is the ruler of one he is the ruler of all.
Why does he not then rule one as well as another?  If you give him
credit for the good things of one you must denounce him for the tyranny
and despotism of others.  The revealed word of God is not the standing
of civil justice in this country!  The bible is not the standard of
right and wrong or of decency in this country.

You can't put God in the constitution, because if you do there would be
no room for the folks.  Whatever you put in the constitution you must
enforce by the sword, and you can't go to war with any man for not
believing in your God.  God has no business there, and any man that is
in favor of putting him there is an enemy to the interests of American

Now for the purpose of preventing the name of God being put in the
constitution, there's another little party has been started and these
are its doctrines:  We want an absolute divorce between church and
state.  We demand that church property should not be exempt from
taxation.  If you are going to exempt anything, exempt the homesteads
of the poor.  Don't exempt a rich corporation, and make men pay taxes
to support a religion in which they do not believe.  But they say
churches do good.  I don't know whether they do or not.  Do you see
such a wonderful difference between a member of a church and the man
who does not believe in it?  Do church members pay their debts any
better than any others?  Do they treat their families any better?  Did
you ever hear of any man coming into a town broke and inquire where the
deacon of a Presbyterian church lived?  Has not the church opposed
every science from the first ray of light until now?  Didn't they damn
into eternal flames the man who discovered the world was round? Didn't
they damn into eternal flames the man who discovered the movement of
the earth in its orbit?  Didn't they persecute the astronomers?  Didn't
they even try to put down life insurance by saying it was sinful to bet
on the time God has given you to live?  Science built the Academy,
superstition the Inquisition. Science constructed the telescope,
religion the rack; science made us happy here, and says if there's
another life we'll all stand an equal chance there; religion made us
miserable here, and says a large majority will be eternally miserable
there. Should we, therefore, exempt it from taxation for any good it
has done?

The next thing we ask is a perfect divorce between church and school.
We say that every school should be secular, because its just to
everybody.  If I was an Israelite I wouldn't want to be taxed to have
my children taught that his ancestors had murdered a supreme being.
Let us teach, not the doctrines of the past, but the discoveries of the
present; not the five points of Calvinism, but geology and geography.
Education is the lever to raise mankind, and superstition is the enemy
of intelligence.

We demand, next, that woman shall be put upon an equality with man.
Why not?  Why shouldn't men be decent enough in the management of the
politics of the country for women to mingle with them?  It is an
outrage that anyone should live in this country for sixty or seventy
years and be forced to obey the laws without having any voice in making
them.  Let us give woman the opportunity to care for herself, since men
are not decent enough to seek to care for her.  The time will come when
we'll treat a woman that works and takes care of two or three children
as well as a woman dressed in diamonds who does nothing.  The time will
come when we'll not tell our domestic we expect to meet her in heaven,
and yet not be willing to have her speak to us in the drawing room.

Ignorance is a poor pedestal to set virtue upon and mock-modesty should
not have the right to prevent people from knowing themselves.  Every
child has a right to be well-born, and ignorance has no right to people
the world with scrofula and consumption.  When we come to the
conclusion that God is not taking care of us and that we have to take
care of ourselves, then we'll begin to have something in the world
worth living for.

I would wish there was seated upon the throne of the universe one who
would see to it that justice did always prevail.  I do not propose to
give up the little world I live in for the unknown.

I would wish that the friends who bid us "good night" in this world
might meet us with "good morning" there.  Just as long as we love one
another we'll hope for another world; just as long as love kisses the
lips of death will we believe and hope for a future reunion.  I would
not take one hope away from the human heart or one joy from the human
soul, but I hold in contempt the gentlemen who keep heaven on sale; I
look with contempt on him who keeps it on draught; I look with pitying
contempt on him who endeavors to prohibit honest thought by promising a
reward in another world.  If there is another world we'll find when we
come there that no one has done enough good to be eternally rewarded,
no one has done enough harm to meet with an unending, eternal pain and
agony.  We'll find that there is no being that ever hindered a man from
exercising his reason.  Now, while we are here, no matter what happens
to us hereafter, let us cultivate strength of heart and brain to stand
the inevitable.  No creed can help you there. When the heart is touched
with agony nothing but time can heal it.

I want, if I can, to do a little to increase the rights of men, to put
every human being on an equality, to sweep away the clouds of
superstition, to make people think more of what happens today than what
somebody said happened 3,000 years ago.  This is all I want:  To do
what little I can to clutch one-seventh of our time from superstition,
to give our Sundays to rest and recreation.  I want a day of enjoyment,
a day to read old books, to meet old friends, and get acquainted with
one's wife and children.  I want a day to gather strength to meet the
toils of the next.  I want to get that day away from the church, away
from superstition and the contemplation of hell, to be the best and
sweetest and brightest of all the days in the week.  The best way to
make a day sacred is to fill it up with useful labor.  That day is best
on which most good is done for the human race.  I hope to see the time
when we'll have a day for the opera, the play--good plays--for they do
good.  You never saw the villain foiled in a play where the audience
did not applaud.  You never saw them applaud when the rascal was
successful in his villainy.  If you could go to a theater and see put
upon the stage the scenes of the old testament, with its butcheries and
rapes and deeds of violence, you would detest it all the days of your
life.  I'd like to have every horror of the old testament set on this
stage, to have somebody represent the being as he is represented there,
giving his brutal orders, and let the orthodox see their God as he
really is.

I want to have us all do what little we can to secularize this
government--take it from the control of savagery and give it to
science, take it from the government of the past and give it to the
enlightened present, and in this government let us uphold every man and
woman in their rights, that everyone, after he or she comes to the age
of discretion, may have a choice in the affairs of the nation.

Do this, and we'll grow in grandeur and splendor every day, and the
time will come when every man and every woman shall have the same
rights as every other man and every other woman has.  I believe, we are
growing better.  I don't believe the wail of want shall be heard
forever; that the prison and gallows will always curse the ground.  The
time will come when liberty and law and love, like the rings of Saturn,
will surround the world; when the world will cease making these
mistakes; when every man will be judged according to his worth and
intelligence.  I want to do all I can to hasten that day.

Ingersoll's Lecture on Talmagian Theology (Second Lecture)

Col. Ingersoll began, "Only a few years ago the pulpit was almost
supreme.  The palace was almost in the shadow of the cathedral, and the
power behind every throne was a priest.  Man was held in physical
slavery by kings, and in a mental prison by the church. He was allowed
to hold no opinions as to where he came from, nor as to where he was
going.  It was sufficient for him to do the labor and believe the kings
would do the governing and the priests the thinking--and, my God, what
thinking!  If the world had obeyed the priests we would all be idiots
tonight.  The eagle of intellect would have given way to the blind bat
of faith. They were the rack, the faggot, the thumbscrew in this world,
and hell in the next.  Only a few years ago no man could express an
honest thought unless he agreed with the church.  The church has been a
perpetual beggar.  It has never plowed, it never sowed, it never spun,
yet Solomon in all his glory was not so arrayed. Thanks to modern
thought, the brain of the nineteenth century, to Voltaire, Paine, Hume,
to all the free men, that beggar--the church--is no longer upon
horseback; and it fills me with joy to state that even its walking is
not now good.  Only a little while ago a priest was thought more than
human.  Nobody dared contradict the minister.  Now there are other
learned professions.  There are doctors, lawyers, writers, books,
newspapers, and the priest has hundreds of rivals.

The priest grew jealous, hateful; he was always thankful for an
epidemic or pestilence, so that people would turn to him in despair.
In our country all the men of intellect were in the pulpit once.  Now
there are so many avenues to distinction the men of brain, heart and
red blood have left the pulpit and gone to useful things.  I do not say
all. There are still some men of mind in the pulpit, but they are
nearer infidels than any others. Where do we get our ministers?  A
young man, without constitution enough to be wicked, without health
enough to enjoy the things of this world, naturally, fixes his gaze on
high.  He is educated, sent to a university where he is taught that it
is criminal to think.  Stuffed with a creed, he comes out a shepherd.
Most of them are intellectual shreds and patches, mental ravelings,
selvage.  Every pulpit is a pillory in which stands a convict; every
member of the church stands over him with a club, called a creed.  He
is an intellectual slave, and dare not preach his honest thought.
There are thousands of good men in the pulpit, honest men.  I am simply
describing the average shepherd; they tell me "they've been called,"
that Almighty God selected them. He looked all over the world and said:
"Now, there's a man I want!"  And what selections!  Shakespeare was not
called.  Yet he has done more for this world than all the ministers who
have ever lived in it.  Beethoven!  He was not called.  Raphael was not
called. He was all an accident.  All the inventors, discoverers,
poets--God never called one of them; he turned his attention to popes,
cardinals, priests, exhorters; and what selections he has made!  It's

In the United States a great many ministers have been good enough to
take me for a text.  Among others the Rev. Mr. Talmage, of Brooklyn.  I
have nothing to say about his reputation.  It has nothing to do with
the question.  Some ministers think he has more gesticulation than
grace. Some call him a pious pantaloon, a Christian clown; but such
remarks, I think, are born of envy. He is the only Presbyterian
minister in the United States who can draw an audience.  He stands at
the head of the denomination, and I answer him.  He's a strange man.  I
believe he's orthodox, or intellectual pride would prevent his saying
these things. He believes in a literal resurrection of the dead; that
we shall see countless bones flying through the air.  He has some
charges against me, and he has denied some of my statements.  He has
produced what he calls arguments, and I am going to answer some of the
charges.  Next Sunday afternoon, at 2 o'clock; in this place, I shall
have a matinee, and answer his arguments.  He says I am the champion
blasphemer.  What is blasphemy?  To contradict a priest?  to have a
mind of your own? Whoever takes a step in advance is a blasphemer.
Blasphemy is what a last year's leaf says to a this year's bud.  To
deny that Mohammed is the prophet of God is not blasphemy in New York.
It is in Constantinople. It is a question, then, largely of Geography.
It depends on where you are.  The missionary who laughs at a modern God
is a blasphemer.  In a Catholic country whoever says Mary is not the
mother of God is a blasphemer.  In a Protestant country to say she is
the mother of God is blasphemy.  Everything has been blasphemy.  My
doctrine is this:  He is a blasphemer who refuses to tell his honest
thought; who is not true to himself; who enslaves his fellow man; who
charges that God was once in favor of slavery.  If there is any God,
that man is a blasphemer. They're afraid we'll injure God.  How?  Is
infinite goodness and mercy to become livid with wrath because a finite
being expresses an opinion?  I cannot help the infinite.  That man only
is the good man who helps his fellow man.  I know then who would do
anything for God, who doesn't need it, but nothing for men, who do need
it.  Why should God be so particular about my believing his book?  It's
no more his work than the stars of gravitation. Yet I may declare that
the earth is flat, and he'll not damn me for that.  But if I make a
mistake about that book I'm gone.  I can blaspheme the multiplication
table and deify the power of the wedge--in fact, the less I know the
better my chance will be.  I say that book is not inspired, and there
is no infinitely good God who will damn one human soul.  At the
judgment, if I am mistaken I own up--I am here, I do not know where I
came from, nor where I am going--I'll be honest about it.  I am on a
ship and not on speaking terms with the captain, but I propose to have
a happy voyage, and the best way is to do what you can to make your
fellow passengers happy.  If we run into a good port, I'll be as happy
an angel as you'll meet that day.  Blasphemy is the cry of a defeated
priest--the black flag of theology--it shows where argument stops and
slander and persecution begin.  I am told by Mr. Talmage that whoever
contradicts this word is a fool, a howling wolf, one of the assassins
of God.  I presume the gentleman is honest.  Take Mr. Talmage, now, he
is a good man. Mr. Humboldt, he was another good man.  What Humboldt
knew and what Talmage didn't know would make a library.

The next charge is that I have said the universe was made of nothing,
according to the bible.  False in one thing, false in all, he says.
Think of that rule.  Let us apply that to man.  If the world was
created, what was it make of?  and who made that? If the Lord created
it, what did He make it of?  Nothing.  That's all He had.  No sides, no
top, nothing.  Yet God had lived there forever.  What did He think
about?  What did He do?  Nothing. Nothing had ever happened.  All at
once He made something.  What did He make it of?  Mr. Talmage explains.

He says if I knew anything I would know that God made this world out of
His omnipotence.  He might just as well made it out of His memory.
What is omnipotence?  Is it a raw material?  The weakest man in the
world can lift as much nothing as God.  Yet He made this world out of
His omnipotence.  It is so stated by a doctor of divinity, and I should
think such divinity would need a doctor!  I don't believe this.  I
believe this universe has existed throughout all eternity--everything.
All that is, is God.  I do not give to that universe a personality that
wants man to get his knees into dust and his fingers in holy water;
that wants some body to ring a bell or eat a wafer.  I am a part of
this universe, and I believe all there is, is all the God there is.  I
may be mistaken; I don't know.  I just give my best opinion.  If
there's any heaven, I'll give it there.  But there'll be no discussion
in heaven. Hell is the only place where mental improvement will be

I have said, it is charged, that the bible says the world was made in
six days.  He says I don't understand Hebrew.  The bible says the world
was made in six days.  God didn't work nights--evening and morning were
the first day.  God rested on the seventh day, and sanctified it.
That, they say, didn't mean days; it meant good whiles.  He made the
world in six good whiles.  Adam was made, I think along about Saturday.
If the account is correct, it's only 6,000 years since man made his
appearance. We know that to be false.  A few years ago a gentleman who
was going to California in the cars met a minister. They came to the
place called the Sink of the Humboldt, the most desolate place in the
world.  Just imagine perdition with the fire out.  The traveler asked
the minister whether God made the earth in six days, and the minister
said he did. Then don't you think, said he, He could have put in
another day's work to great advantage right here?  I am charged, too,
with saying that the sun was not made till the fourth day, whereas,
according to the bible, vegetation began on the third day, before there
was any light.  But Mr. Talmage says there was light without the sun.
They got light, he says, from the crystallization of rocks.  A nice
thing to raise a crop of corn by.  There may have been volcanoes, he
says.  How'd you like to farm it, and depend on volcanic glare to raise
a crop?  That's what they call religious science.  God won't damn a man
for things like that.  What else? The aurora borealis!  A great
cucumber country!  It's strange He never thought of glow worms!
Imagine it!  a Presbyterian divine gravely saying vegetation could grow
by the light of the crystallization of rocks--by the light of volcanoes
in other worlds, probably now extinct.

He says of me, too in his pulpit, that I was in favor of the
circulation of immoral literature.  Let me tell you the truth. Several
gentlemen, so-called, were trying to exclude from the mails, books
called infidel. I said the law should be modified. It is impossible for
anybody to reach the depth of one who will print or circulate obscene
books.  One of my objections to the bible is that it contains obscene
stories.  Any book, couched in decent language, should have the liberty
of the United States mails.  Where books are immoral and obscene, I
say, burn them, and have always said it.  Mr. Talmage said what he knew
to be untrue.  He said it out of hatred, and because he cannot answer
the arguments I have urged. I believe in pure books and pure
literature.  But when a God writes there is no excuse for Him. In
Shakespeare we say obscene things are impure--we do not say they are
inspired.  That I have falsified the records of the bible showing the
period of Jewish slavery, is another of the charges against me.  That
slavery extended over a period of 215 years; and he proceeded to
substantiate this statement by being through a long and somewhat
complicated genealogical table.  If I made any misstatement I was
misled by the new testament.  Mr. Talmage may settle with St. Paul.  If
you can depend on what my friend Paul says, the Jews, in 215 years,
increased from seventy persons till they had 600,000 men of war.  I
know it isn't so, and so does any man who knows anything. For such an
increase as this each woman must have borne somewhat over fifty-seven
children, and every child lived.

The next charge is that I have laughed at holy things.  Holy things!
The priest always says:  "Now don't laugh; look solemn; this is no
laughing matter." There's nothing a priest hates like mirthfulness.  He
despises a smile.  I read in the bible that God gave a recipe to Aaron
for making hair-oil and said if anybody made any like it, kill him.
Well, I don't believe it.  The penalty for infringing on that patent
was death.  Do you believe an infinite God gave a recipe for hair-oil?
Is it possible for absurdity to go beyond that?  That's what they call
a holy thing. And water for baptism!  Do you believe God will look for
this water-mark on the soul?

The next charge is that I misquote the scriptures.  That's because I
don't know Hebrew.  Why didn't He write to me in English?  If He wishes
to hold a gentleman responsible, why doesn't He address him in his
native tongue?  Why write His word in such a way that hundreds of
thousands make their living explaining it?  If I'd only understood
Hebrew I would have known God didn't make Eve out of a rib.  He made
her out of Adam's side.  How did He get it out?  Well, I suppose He cut
it out with a kind of a splinter of His omnipotence!  Then our mother
was made from a rib.  When you consider the material used it was the
most successful job ever done.  There's even a serpent in the bible
that knows a language.  It won't do.  Sin, how did it come into the
world? Where did the serpent come from?  He was wicked. Adam's sin did
not make him bad.  Then there was sin in the world before Adam.
There's no sense in it--not a particle.  Then Talmage touches me upon
the flood.  His flood didn't come to America, because America was not
discovered then. He says it was a partial flood.  Then why did they
have to take any birds in the ark?  How did Noah get the animals in the
ark?  Talmage says it was through the instinct to get out of the rain.
According to the bible they went in before the rain began.  Dr. Scott
says the angels helped carry them in.  Imagine an angel with an animal
under each wing. It must have rained 800 feet a day for forty days.
Why does Talmage try to explain a miracle?  The beauty of a miracle is
it cannot be explained.  The moment the church begins to explain the
church is gone. All it's got to do is swear it is so.  The ark landed
on Ararat, which is 17,000 feet high.  There was only one window,
twenty-two inches square. Talmage says the window ran clear around the
ark.  The bible doesn't say so.  That's Brooklyn; that's no bible.

If the bible account is true the ark must have struck bottom on the top
of a mountain.  Would any but a God of mercy and kindness people a
world, and then drown them all?  A God cruel enough to drown His own
children ought not to have the impudence to tell me how to bring up
mine.  Why did He save eight of the same kind of people to take a fresh
start?  Why didn't He make a fresh lot, kill His snake, and give His
children a fair show?  It won't do.

Talmage says the bible does not favor polygamy and slavery. There was
room enough on the table of stone for saying man should only have one
wife and no slaves.  If not, God might have written it on the other
side.  David and Solomon were pursued of God, but they had a pretty
good time of it.  Most anybody would be willing to be pursued that way.
There is not a word in the old testament against slavery or polygamy.
Frederick Douglas, a slave in Maryland, is the greatest man that state
ever produced.  He was enslaved by Christians.  Why did God pay so much
attention to blasphemers, and so little to slaveholders and robbers?  I
am opposed to any God that was ever in favor of slavery.  The bible
upholds polygamy, and that's the reason I don't uphold the bible. The
most glorious temple ever erected is the home--that's my church.  I've
misquoted the story of Jonah, Talmage says.  When somebody had been
guilty of blasphemy the winds rose; they tried to get Jonah ashore, but
couldn't do it.  The sea waxed.  He was swallowed by a whale.  The
people of Minerva wrapped all their cattle up in sack-cloth, and if
anything would have pleased God I should think that would.  Jonah sat
under a gourd, and God made a worm out of some omnipotence he had left
over, and set it work on the ground.  Talmage doesn't think Jonah was
in the whale's belly--he said in his mouth.  Well, judging from the
doctor's photograph, that explanation would be quite natural to him.
He says he might have been in the whale's stomach, and avoided the
action of the gastric juice by walking up and down.  Imagine Jonah,
sitting on a back tooth, leaning against the upper jaw, longingly
looking through the open mouth for signs of land!  But that's scripture
and you've got to believe it or be damned.  Let me say his brother
preachers will not thank Talmage for his explanations.  I don't believe
it, and if I am to be damned for it, I'll accept it cheerfully.

They say I was defeated for Governor of Illinois because I was an
infidel, and that I am an infidel because I was defeated.  That's
logic. Now I'll tell you.  They asked me whether I was an infidel, and
I said I was!  I was defeated.  I preserved my manhood and lost an
office.  If everybody were as frank as I was, some men now in office
would be private citizens.  I would rather be what I am than hold any
office in the world and be a slimy hypocrite.

Next they say I slandered my parents because I do not believe what they
believed.  My father at one time believed the bible to be the inspired
word of God.  He was an honorable man, and told me to read the bible
for myself and be honest.  He lived long enough to believe that the old
testament was not the word of God. He had not in his life as much
happiness as I have in one year. I hope my children will dishonor me by
being nearer right than I am.  If I have made a mistake, I want my
children to correct it. My mother died when I was 2 years old.  Were
she living tonight, or if she does live, she would say, be absolutely
true to yourself and preserve your manhood.  If Talmage had been born
in Constantinople he would have been a dervish.  He is what he is
because he can't help it.  His head is just that shape.  I am taking
away the hope and consolation of the world, he says.  His consolation
is that ninety-nine out of every hundred are going to hell.  His church
was founded by John Calvin, a murderer. Better have no heaven than a
hell. I would rather God would commit suicide this minute than that a
single soul should go to hell.  I want no Presbyterian consolation, I
want no fore-ordination, no consolation, no damnation.

[Col. Ingersoll concluded with a few remarks about the bible women,
saying that women today are as true to the gallows as Mary Magdalene
was to the cross.]

Wherever there are women there are heroines.  Shakespeare's women are
vastly superior to the bible women.  I am accused of putting out the
light-houses on the shores of the other world.  The Christians are
trimming invisible wicks and pouring in allegorical oil.  The Christian
is willing wife, children and parents shall burn if only he can sing
and have a harp.  Mr. Talmage can see countless millions burn in hell
without decreasing the length of his orthodox smile.

Ingersoll's Lecture on Talmagian Theology (Third lecture)

We must judge people somewhat by their creeds.  Mr. Talmage is a
Calvinist, and he therefore regards every human being who has been born
only once as totally depraved.  He thinks that God never made a single
creature that didn't deserve to be damned the minute He finished him.
So every one who opposes Mr. Talmage is infamous.  The generosity of an
agnostic is meanness, his honesty is larceny and his love is hate.
Talmage is a consistent follower of Calvin and Knox, and a consistent
worshiper of the Jehovah of the ancient Jews.  I oppose not him, but
his creed, because it tends to crush out the natural tendencies in men
to joyousness and goodness.  There is something good in every human
being, and there is something bad.  There are no perfect saints and no
totally bad persons.  There is the seed of goodness in every human
heart and the capacity for improvement in every human soul.  Isn't it
possible for a man who acts like Christ to be saved, whatever be his
belief?  Cannot a soul be infinitely generous?  And can any God damn
such a soul?  If Mr. Talmage's creed be true, nearly all the great and
glorious men of the past are burning today.  If it be true, the
greatest man England has produced in 100 years is in hell.  The world
is poorer since I spoke here last, for Darwin has passed away.  He was
a true child of nature--one who knew more about his mother than any
other child she had.  Yet he was not a Calvinist.  He did not get his
inspiration from any book, but from every star in the heavens, from the
insect in the sunbeam, from the flowers in the meadows, and from the
everlasting rocks.

If the doctrine of the Calvinists is true, what right had any one to
ask an unbeliever to fight for his country in the civil war? What right
has a believer to buy an unbelieving substitute, when some day he will
look over the edge of heaven, and pointing downward, would say to a
friend, "that is my substitute blistering there"?

Mr. Talmage says that my mind is poisoned, and that the reason why all
infidels' minds are poisoned is that they don't believe the Jew bible.
Let us see whether it is worth believing.  I deny that an infinitely
merciful God would protect slavery or would uphold polygamy, which
pollutes the sweetest words in language. I will not believe that God
told men to exterminate their fellow-men, to plunge the sword into
women's breasts and into the hearts of tender babes.  I am opposed to
the Jew bible because it is bad.  I don't deny that there are many good
passages in it, nor that among all the thorns there are some roses.  I
admit that many Christians are doing all they can to idealize the
frightful things in the old testament.  It is the protest of human
nature. Now, they tell me that this book is inspired.  Let us see what
inspired means.  If it means anything, it is that the thoughts of God,
through the instrumentality of men, constitute this Jew bible, and that
these thoughts were written.  Now just suppose that some voice
whispered in your ear, how would you know it was God's?  How did these
gentlemen of old know it was God who was talking to them?  If anyone
now told you that God whispered in his ear, you wouldn't believe him.
Why?  Because you know him.  Why are we asked to believe those ancient
gentlemen? Because we don't know them.  Another reason, according to
Mr. Talmage, why the Jew bible is inspired, is that prophecies in it
have been fulfilled.  How do we know that the prophecies were not
fulfilled before they were written?  They are so vague that you can't
tell what was prophesied.  If you will read the Jew bible carefully,
you will see that there was not a line, not a word, prophesying the
coming of Christ. Catholics were right in saying that if the Jew bible
was to be kept in awe it must be kept from the people.  Protestants are
wrong in letting the people read it.

Another argument of Mr. Talmage for the inspiration of the bible is
that the Jews have been kept as a wandering, persecuted race to fulfill
the prophecies of the old testament.  I don't believe an infinitely
merciful God would persecute a race for thousands of years to use them
as witnesses.  Christian hate has not allowed the Jews to earn a
[living?] or at least to practice a profession, and now, by a kind of
poetic justice, the Jews control the money of the world.  Emperors go
to their bankers with hats in hand and beg them to discount their
notes.  This is because God has cursed the Jews.  Only a little while
ago Christians have robbed Hebrews, stripped them naked, turned them
into the streets, and pointed to them as a fulfillment of divine
prophecy.  If you want to know the difference between some Jews and
some Christians compare the address of Felix Adler with the sermon of
the Rev. Dr. Talmage.  Mr. Talmage thinks that the light of every
burning Jewish home in Russia throws light upon the gospel.  Every
wound in a Jewish breast is to him a mouth to proclaim the divine
inspiration of the bible.  Every Jewish maiden violated is another
fulfillment of God's holy word.  What do these horrid persecutions
prove, except the barbarity of Christians? Next it is said that martyrs
prove the truth of the bible.  Mr. Talmage affirms that no man ever
died cheerfully for a lie.  Why, men have gone cheerfully to their
death for believing that a wafer was God's flesh. Thousands have died
for their belief in Mohammed.  Men have died because they believed in
immersion.  Either Mr. Talmage is a Catholic, a Mohammedan, a Baptist,
or else he believes that these thousands died for lies. Every religion
has had its martyrs, and every religion cannot be true.  Then it is
said that miracles prove the inspiration of the bible. But it is
impossible by the human senses to establish a violation of nature's
laws.  When the Hebrews threw down sticks before Pharaoh, and they
became snakes, did he believe?  No; because he was there.  After the
Jews had been lead through the desert and had been fed with bread
rained from heaven, had been clothed in indestructible pantaloons, and
had quenched their thirst with water that followed them over mountains
and through sands; when they saw Jehovah wrapped in the smoke of Sinai
they still had more faith in a calf that they could make than anything
Jehovah could give them.  It was so with the miracles of Christ. Not
twenty people were converted by one of them.  In fact, human testimony
cannot substantiate a miracle.  Take the miracle about the bears which
ate the children who laughed at the bald-headed old prophet.  What do
you suppose Mr. Talmage would say that meant?  Why, first, that
children ought to respect preachers, and second, that God is kind to
animals. Nearly every miracle in the old testament is wrought in the
interest of slavery, polygamy, creed or lust.  I wish by denying them
to rescue the reputation of Jehovah from the assaults of the bible.

Who are the witnesses to the truth of the narratives of the Jews'
bible? Eusebius was one.  He lived in the reign of Constantine, and
said that the tracks of Pharaoh's chariots could be seen--perfectly
preserved in the sands of the Red sea.  He was the man who forged the
passage in Josephus which speaks about the coming of Christ.  Good
witness, isn't he.  Another one was Polycarp. We don't know much about
him.  He suffered martyrdom in the reign of Marcus Aurelius, and when
the fire wouldn't burn and he looked like gold through it, a heathen
was so mad about it that he ran his sword through Polycarp.  The blood
gushed out and quenched the fire, while the martyr's soul flew up to
heaven in the form of a dove.  And that's all we know about Polycarp.
To know how much reliance should be placed upon the judgment of such
trustworthy witnesses, we should look at what some of their beliefs
were.  They thought that the world was flat; that the phoenix story was
true; that the stars had souls and sinned; and one said there were four
gospels because there were four winds and four corners of the earth.
He might have added that it was also because a donkey has four legs.

So far as the argument drawn from the sufferings of the martyrs is
concerned, the speaker said that thousands upon thousands of men had
died as cheerfully in defense of the koran as Christians had died in
defense of the bible.  Their heroic suffering simply proved that they
were sinners in their beliefs, not that those beliefs were true.  This
argument, as advanced by Mr. Talmage, proves too much.  Every religion
on the face of the globe has had its martyrs, but all religions cannot
be true.  Men do die cheerfully for falsehoods when they believe them
to be true.

[The question of miracles was discussed at some length, and Col.
Ingersoll declared it was impossible to establish by any human evidence
that a miracle had ever been performed.]

Pharaoh was not convinced by the alleged miracle performed by Aaron, of
turning a stick into a serpent.  Why?  Because he was there, and no
such miracle was ever done.  No twenty people were convinced by the
reported miracles of Christ, and yet people of the nineteenth century
were coolly asked to be convinced on hearsay by miracles which those
who are supposed to have seen them refuse to credit.  It won't do.  The
laws of nature never have been interrupted, and they never will be.
All the books in the universe will never convince a thinking man that
miracles have been performed.

[The lecture was sprinkled throughout with the satirical wit for which
Col. Ingersoll is famous, and concluded by the enumeration of a long
list of "unscientific" facts and events recorded in the bible.]

Ingersoll's Lecture on Religious Intolerance

"How anybody ever came to the conclusion that there was any God who
demanded that you should feel sorrowful and miserable and bleak
one-seventh of the time is beyond my comprehension. Neither can I
conceive how they can say that one-seventh of time is holy.  That day
is the most sacred day on which the most good has been done for
mankind.  Now, there was a time among the Jews, when, if a man violated
the Sabbath, they would kill him.  They said God told them to do it.  I
think they were mistaken.  If not, if any God did tell them to kill
him, then I think he was mistaken.  I hope the time will come when
every man can spend the Sabbath just as he pleases, provided he does
not interfere with the happiness of others.  I would fight just as
earnestly that the Christian may go to church as that the infidel may
have the right to spend the Sabbath as he wishes.  Are the people who
go to church the only good people?  Are there not a great many bad
people who go to church?  Not a bank in Pittsburgh will lend a dollar
to the man who belongs to the church, without security, quicker than to
the man who don't go to church.  Now, I believe that all laws upon the
statute-book should be enforced.  I do not blame anybody in this town.
I am perfectly willing that every preacher in this town should preach.
They are employed to preach, and to preach a certain doctrine, and if
they don't preach that doctrine they will be turned out.  I have no
objection to that.  But I want the same privilege to express my views,
and what is the difference whether the man pays the day he goes in, or
pays for it the week before by subscription.

What would the church people think if the theatrical people should
attempt to suppress the churches?  What harm would it do to have an
opera here tonight?  It would elevate us more than to hear ten thousand
sermons on the world that never dies.  There is more practical wisdom
in one of the plays of Shakespeare than in all the sacred books ever
written.  What wrong would there be to see one of those grand plays on
Sunday?  There was a time when the church would not allow you to cook
on Sunday.  You had to eat your victuals cold.  There was a time they
thought the more miserable you feel the better God feels.  There are
sixty odd thousand preachers in the United States.  Some people regard
them as a necessary evil; some as an unnecessary evil.  There are sixty
odd thousand churches in the United States; and it does seem to me that
with all the wealth on their side; with all the good people on their
side; with Providence on their side; with all these advantages they
ought to let us at least have the right to speak our thoughts.

The history of the world shows me that the right has not always
prevailed.  When you see innocent men chained to the stake and the
flames licking their flesh, it is natural to ask, why does God permit
this?  If you see a man in prison with the chains eating into his flesh
simply for loving God, you've got to ask why does not a just God
interfere?  You've got to meet this; it won't do to say that it will
all come out for the best.  That may do very well for God, but it's
awful hard on the man.  Where was the God that permitted slavery for
two hundred years in these United States?  The history of the world
shows that when a mean thing was done, man did it; when a good thing
was done, man did it.

But there was a time when there was a drought, and this tribe of
savages with their false notions of religion says somebody has been
wicked. Somebody has been lecturing on Sunday.  Then the tribe hunted
out the wicked man.  They said you've got to stop. We cannot allow you
to continue your wickedness, which brings punishment upon the whole of
us. What is the reason they allow me to speak tonight.  Because the
Christians are not as firm in their belief now as they were a thousand
years ago.  The luke warmness and hypocrisy of Christians now permit me
to speak tonight.  If they felt as they did a thousand years ago they
would kill me.  So religious persecution was born of the instinct of
self-defense.  Is there any duty we owe to God?  Can we help him, can
we add to his glory or happiness?  They tell me this God is infinitely
wise, I cannot add to his wisdom; infinitely happy--I cannot add to his
happiness.  What can I do?  Maybe he wants me to make prayers that
won't be answered.  I cannot see any relation that can exist between
the finite and the infinite. I acknowledge that I am under obligations
to my fellow man.  We owe duties to our fellow man.  And what?  Simply
to make them happy.

The only good, is happiness; and the only evil, is misery, or
unhappiness.  Only those things are right that tend to increase the
happiness of man; only those things are wrong which tend to increase
the misery of man.  That is the basis of right and wrong.  There never
would have been the idea of wrong except that man can inflict
sufferings upon others.  Utility, then, is the basis of the idea of
right and wrong.

The church tells us that this world is a school to prepare us for
another, that it is a place to build up character.  Well, if that is
the only way character can be developed it is bad for children who die
before they get any character.  What would you think of a school-master
who would kill half his pupils the first day?

Now, I read the bible, and I find that God so loved this world that He
made up His mind to damn the most of us.  I have read this book, and
what shall I say of it?  I believe it is generally better to be honest.
Now, I don't believe the bible.  Had I not better say so?  They say
that if you do you will regret it when you come to die.  If that be
true, I know a great many religious people who will have no cause to
regret it--they don't tell their honest convictions about the bible.
There are two great arguments of the church--the great man argument and
the death-bed. They say the religion of your fathers is good enough.
Why should your father object to your inventing a better plow than he
had.  They say to one, do you know more than all the theologians dead?
Being a perfectly modest man I say I think I do.  Now we have come to
the conclusion that every man has a right to think. Would God give a
bird wings and make it a crime to fly?  Would he give me brains and
make it a crime to think? Any God that would damn one of his children
for the expression of his honest thought wouldn't make a decent thief.
When I read a book and don't believe it, I ought to say so.  I will do
so and take the consequence like a man.  And so I object to paying for
the support of another man's belief.  I am in favor of the taxation of
all church property.  If that property belongs to God, He is able to
pay the tax. If we exempt anything, let us exempt the home of the widow
and orphan.

[A voice here interrupted the speaker.

Col. Ingersoll--What did the gentleman say?  A voice--O, he's drunk.

Col. Ingersoll--I didn't think any Christian ought to get drunk and
come here to disturb us.

The speaker resumed:]

The church has today $600,000,000 or $700,000,000 of property in this
country.  It must cost $2,000,000 a week, that is to say $500 a minute,
to run these churches.  You give me this money and if I don't do more
good with it than four times as many churches I'll resign.  Let them
make the churches attractive and they'll get more hearers.  They will
have less empty pews if they have less empty heads in the pulpit.  The
time will come when the preacher will become a teacher.

Admitting that the bible is the book of God, is that His only good job?
Will not a man be damned as quick for denying the equator as denying
the bible?  Will he not be damned as quick for denying geology as for
denying the scheme of salvation?  When the bible was first written it
was not believed.  Had they known as much about science as we know now
that bible would not have been written.

Col. Ingersoll next gave his views of the Puritans, declared they left
Holland to escape persecution and came came here to persecute others.
He referred to the persecutions heaped upon those of other religious
belief by the Puritans, paid the Catholics the compliment to say that
Maryland, which they ruled, was the first colony to enact a law
tolerating religious views not held by themselves, and went on to
explain that God was never mentioned in the constitution of the United
States because each colony had a different religious belief, and each
sect preferred to have God not mentioned at all than to having another
religious belief than their own recognized.

"In 1876," said the speaker, "our forefathers retired God from
politics. They said all power comes from the people.  They kept God out
of the constitution and allowed each state to settle the question for

The present laws of different states were neatly reviewed, so far as
they relate to the prevention of infidels giving testimony and to
religious intolerance in any way, and these features were all branded
and discussed as a gigantic evil.

The lecture was attentively listened to by the immense audience from
beginning to the end, and the speaker's most blasphemous fights were
the most loudly applauded.

Ingersoll's Lecture on Hereafter

My Friends:   I tell you tonight, as I have probably told many of you
dozens of times, that the orthodox doctrine of eternal punishment in
the hereafter is an infamous one!  I have no respect for the man who
preaches it, or pretends to you he believes it.  Neither have I any
respect for the man who will pollute the imagination of innocent
childhood with that infamous lie!  And I have no respect for the man
who will deliberately add to the sorrows of this world with this
terrible dogma; no respect for the man who endeavors to put that
infinite cloud and shadow over the heart of humanity.  I will be frank
with you and say, I hate the doctrine; I despise it, I defy it; I
loathe it--and what man of sense does not.  The idea of a hell was born
of revenge and brutality on the one side, and arrant cowardice on the
other.  In my judgment the American people are too brave, too generous,
too magnanimous, too humane to believe in that outrageous doctrine of
eternal damnation.

For a great many years the learned intellects of Christendom have been
examining into the religions of other countries and other ages, in the
world--the religions of the myriads who have passed away.  They
examined into the religions of Egypt, the religion of Greece, that of
Rome and the Scandinavian countries.  In the presence of the ruins of
those religions, the learned men of Christendom insisted that those
religions were baseless, false and fraudulent.  But they have all
passed away.

Now, while this examination was being made, the Christianity of our day
applauded, and when the learned men got through with the religion of
other countries, they turned their attention to our religion, and by
the same methods, by the same mode of reasoning and the same
arrangements that they used with the old religions they were
overturning the religion of our day.  How is that? Because every
religion in this world is the work of man.  Every book that was ever
written was written by man.  Man existed before books.  If otherwise,
we might reasonably admit that there was such a thing as a sacred bible.

I wish to call your attention to another thing.  Man never had an
original idea, and he never will have one, except it be supplied to him
by his surroundings.  Nature gave man every idea that he ever had in
the world; and nature will continue to give man his ideas so long as he
exists.  No man can conceive of anything, the hint of which he has not
received from the surroundings.  And there is nothing on this earth,
coming from any other sphere whatever.

As I have before said, man has produced every religion in the world.
Why is this?  Because each generation sends forth the knowledge and
belief of the people at the time it was made, and in no book is there
any knowledge formed, except just at the time it was written.
Barbarians have produced barbarian religions, and always will produce
them.  They have produced, and always will produce, ideas and belief in
harmony with their surroundings, and all the religions of the past were
produced by barbarians.  We are making religions every day; that is to
say, we are constantly changing them, adapting them to our purposes,
and the religion of today is not the religion of a few months or a year
ago. Well, what changes these religions?  Science does it, education
does it; the growing heart of man does it.  Some men have nothing else
to do but produce religions; science is constantly changing them.  If
we are cursed with such barbarian religions today--for our religions
are really barbarous--what will they be an hundred or a thousand years

But, friends, we are making inroads upon orthodoxy that orthodox
Christians are painfully aware of, and what think you will be left of
their fearful doctrines fifty or a hundred years from tonight?  What
will become of their endless hell--their doctrine of the future anguish
of the soul; their doctrine of the eternal burning and never-ending
gnashing of teeth.  Man will discard the idea of such a future--because
there is now a growing belief in the justice of a Supreme Being.

Do you not know that every religion in the world has declared every
other religion a fraud?  Yes, we all know it.  That is the time all
religions tell the truth--each of the other.

Now, do you want to know why this is:  Suppose Mr. Johnson should tell
Mr. Jones that he saw a corpse rise from the grave, and that when he
first saw it, it was covered with loathsome worms, and that while he
was looking at it, it suddenly was re-clothed in healthy, beautiful
flesh. And then, suppose Jones should say to Johnson, "Well, now, I saw
that same thing myself.  I was in a graveyard once, and I saw a dead
man rise and walk away as if nothing had ever happened to him!"
Johnson opens wide his eyes and says to Jones, "Jones, you are a
confounded liar!" And Jones says to Johnson, "You are an unmitigated
liar!"  "No, I'm not; you lie yourself."  "No!  I say you lie!"  Each
knew the other lied, because each man knew he lied himself.  Thus when
a man says:  "I was upon Mount Sinai for the benefit of my health, and
there I met God, who said to me, "Stand aside, you, and let me drown
these people;" and the other man says to him, "I was upon a mountain,
and there I met the Supreme Brahma."  And Moses steps in and says,
"That is not true!" and contends that the other man never did see
Brahma, and the other man swears that Moses never saw God; and each man
utters a deliberate falsehood, and immediately after speaks truth.

Therefore, each religion has charged every other religion with having
been an unmitigated fraud.  Still, if any man had ever seen a miracle
himself, he would be prepared to believe that another man had seen the
same or a similar thing.  Whenever a man claims to have been cognizant
of, or to have seen a miracle, he either utters a falsehood, or he is
an idiot.  Truth relies upon the unerring course of the laws of nature,
and upon reason. Observe, we have a religion--that is, many people
have.  I make no pretensions to having a religion myself--possibly you
do not. I believe in living for this beautiful world--in living for the
present, today; living for this very hour, and while I do live to make
everybody happy that I can.  I cannot afford to squander my short
life--and what little talent I am blessed with in studying up and
projecting schemes to avoid that seething lake of fire and brimstone.
Let the future take care of itself, and when I am required to pass over
"on the other side," I am ready and willing to stand my chances with
you howling Christians.

We have in this country a religion which men have preached for about
eighteen hundred years, and men have grown wicked just in proportion as
their belief in that religion has grown strong; and just in proportion
as they have ceased to believe in it, men have become just, humane and
charitable.  And if they believed in it tonight as they believed, for
instance, at the time of the immaculate Puritan fathers, I would not be
permitted to talk here 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 thank them for it, and I say it to their credit.

As I have said, we have a religion.  What is it?  In the first place,
they say this vast universe was created by a God.  I don't know, and
you don't know, whether it was or not.  Also, if it had not been for
the first sin of Adam, they say 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 no sin, no death.  As for myself I am glad there is death
in the world, for that gives me a chance.  Somebody has to die to give
me room, and when my turn comes I am willing to let some one else take
my place.  But if there is a Being who gave me this life, I thank Him
from the bottom of my heart--because this life has been a joy and a
pleasure to me.  Further, because of this first sin of Adam, they say,
all men are consigned to eternal perdition!  But, in order to save man
from that frightful hell of the hereafter, Christ 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 called the bible, and wherever
that bible has been read men have immediately commenced throttling each
other; and wherever that bible has been circulated they have invented
inquisitions and instruments of torture, and commenced hating each
other with all their hearts.  Then we are told that this bible is the
foundation of civilization, but I say it is the foundation of hell and
damnation!, and we never shall get rid of that dogma until we get rid
of the idea that the book is inspired.  Now, what does the bible teach?
I am not going to ask this preacher or that preacher what the bible
teaches; but the question is, "Ought a man be sent to an eternal hell
for not believing this bible to be the work of a merciful God?"  A very
few people read it now; perhaps they should read it, and perhaps not;
if I wanted to believe it, I should never read a word of it--never look
upon its pages, I would let it lie on its shelf, until it rotted!
Still, perhaps, we ought to read it in order to see what is read in
schools that our children might become charitable and good; to be read
to our children that they may get ideas of mercy, charity humanity and
justice!  Oh, yes!  Now read:

"I will make mine arrows drunk with blood and my sword shall devour
flesh."--Deut. xxxii, 42.

Very good for a merciful God!

"That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the
tongue of the dogs in the same."--Psalms lxviii, 24.

Merciful Being!  I will quote several more choice bits from this
inspired book, although I have several times made use of them.

"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.

"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 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.

"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."

(Do not forget that these things were done by the command of God!)

"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 those 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, until they had destroyed them, neither left they
any to breathe."  (As the moral and just 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 had
commanded Joshua.

"So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country,
and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain and mountain
of Israel, 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 theme and slew them.

"Joshua made war a long time on all those kings.  There was not a city
that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites, the
inhabitants of Gibeon; all the others they took in battle.

"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, 7-23.

"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, shaft 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 those nations.

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

"But thou shalt utterly destroy them."

(Neither the old man nor the woman, nor the beautiful maiden, nor the
sweet dimpled babe, smiling upon the lap of its mother.)

"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 throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother,
and every man his neighbor."--Es. xxxii, 29.

(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 and their firesides.  Oh, most merciful God!  The old
testament is full of curses, vengeance, jealousy and hatred, and of
barbarity and brutality.  Now, do you for one moment believe that these
words were written by the most merciful God?  Don't pluck from the
heart the sweet flower of piety and crush it by superstition.  Do not
believe that God ever ordered the murder of innocent women and helpless
babes. Do not let this superstition turn our heart into stone.  When
anything is said to have been written by the most merciful God, and the
thing is not merciful, that 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 than 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 king.  Let us see.

"Let every soul be subject to the higher powers; For there is no power
but God:  the powers that be are ordained of God."--Rom. xiii, I.

"Therefore to must needs be subject not only for wrath, but also for
conscience sake."--Rom. viii, 4, 4.

(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 men liberty, to clothe him in all his
just rights, I am on the side of that rebellion.)

Does the bible give woman her rights?  Does it treat woman as she ought
to be treated, or is it barbarian?  We will see:

"Let woman learn in silence with all subjection."--I Tim. ii, 11

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

"But suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man,
but to be in silence.  For Adam was first formed, then Eve. (Indeed!)

"And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the
transgression."  (Poor woman!)

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 hast taken them

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

"Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her
head, and pare her nails."--Deut. xxi, 10, 11, 12.

(That is self-defense, I suppose!)

I need not go further in bible quotations to show that woman,
throughout the old testament, is a degraded being, having no rights
which her husband, father, brother, or uncle is bound to respect.
Still, that is bible doctrine, and that bible is the word of a just and
omniscient God!

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 has 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 now?

"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."

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

"Then was Jesus lead 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

"And when the tempter came to him, he said if thou be the Son of God,
command these stones to 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, 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, and Him only shalt thou serve."--Matt. iv, 1-7.

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

"Again, the devil taketh him into an exceedingly 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 wilt
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."--Matthew iv, 8-11.

(Now only 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, who had
the impudence to promise God a world in which he did not have a
tax-title to an inch of land.)

Now, what of the Sabbath--the Lord's day?  Why is Sunday the Lord's
day? If Sunday alone is the Lord's day, whose day is Monday, Tuesday,
Friday, etc.?  No matter!  The idea, that God hates to hear your
children laugh on Sunday!  On Sunday let your children play games.  I
see a poor man who hasn't money enough to go to a big church, and he
has too much independence to go to the little church which the big
church built for charity.  If he enters the portals of the big church
with poor clothes on, the usher approaches him with a severe face, and
"Brother, I'm sorry, but only high-toned servants of the living God
congregate in this church for worship, and with that seedy suit on they
cannot admit you. All the seats in this magnificent edifice are owned
and represented by 'solid' men, by men of capital.  We pay our pastor
$5,000 a year--the annual eight weeks vacation thrown in--and it would
not be profitable for us to seriously encourage the attendance of so
insignificant a person as yourself.  Just around the corner there is a
little cheap church with a little cheap pastor, where they can dish up
hell to you in an approved style--in a style more suitable to your
needs and condition; and the dish will not be as expensive to you,

If I had chanced to be that poor man in the seedy garments, and had
been endeavoring to serve my Maker for even half a century, I would
have felt like muttering audibly, "You go to hell!"  (I am not much
given to profanity, but when I am sorely aggravated and vexed in
spirit, I declare to you that it is such a relief to me, such a solace
to my troubled soul, and gives me such heavenly peace, to now and then
allow a word or phrase to escape my lips which can serve the no other
earthly purpose, seemingly, than to render emphatic my otherwise mildly
expressed ideas.  I make this confession parenthetically, and in a
whisper, my friends, trusting you will not allow it to go further.)

Now, I tell you, if you don't want to go to church, go to the woods and
take your wife and children 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 the distant hills, go home with your
hearts filled with throbs of joy and gladness, and the cheeks of your
little ones covered with the rose-blushes of health!  There is more
recreation and solid enjoyment in that than putting on your Sunday
clothes and going to a canal-boat with a steeple on top of it and
listening to a man tell you that your chances are about ninety-nine
thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine to one for being eternally damned!

Oh, strike with a hand of fire, 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 but discord 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
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 cheek to catch and hold and glorify all the tears
of grief!

Do not make slaves of your children on Sunday.  Don't place them in
long, straight rows, like fence-posts, and "Sh! children, it's Sunday!"
when by chance you hear a sound or rustle.  Let winsome Johnny have
light and air, and let him grow beautiful; let him laugh until his
little sides ache, if he feels like it; let him pinch the cat's tail
until the house is in an uproar with his yells--let him do anything
that will make him happy.  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--we may see it some day.  It is really
easier to wake a child with a kiss than a blow; with kind words than
with harshness and a curse.  Another thing:  let the children eat what
they want to. Let them commence at whichever end of the dinner they
please. They know what they want much better than you do.  Nature knows
perfectly well what she is about, and if you go a-fooling with her you
may get into trouble. The crime charged to me is this: I insist that
the bible is not the word of God; that we should not whip our children;
that we should treat our wives as loving equals; that God never upheld
polygamy and slavery; deny that God ever commanded his generals to
slaughter innocent babes and tear and rip open women with the sword of
war; that God ever turned Lot's wife into a pillar of salt (although
she might have deserved that fate); that God ever made a woman out of a
man's, or any other animal's rib!  And I emphatically deny that God
ever signed or sealed a commission appointing his satanic majesty
governor-general over an extensive territory popularly styled hell,
with absolute power to torture, burn, maim, boil, or roast at his
pleasure the victims of his master's displeasure!  I deny these things,
and for that I am assailed by the clergy throughout the United States.
Now, you have read the bible romance of the fall of Adam?  Yes, well,
you know that nearly or quite all the religions of this world account
for the existence of evil by such a story as that!  Adam, the miserable
coward, informed God that his wife was at the bottom of the whole
business!  "She did tempt me and I did eat!"  And then commenced a row,
and we have been engaged in it ever since!  You know what happened to
Adam and his wife for her transgressions?

In another account of what is said to have been the same
transaction--which is the most sensible account of the two--the Supreme
Brahma concluded, as he had a little leisure, that he would make a
world, and a man and woman.  He made the world, the man, and then the
woman, and then placed the pair on the Island of Ceylon.  (Bear in
mind, there were no ribs used in this affair.)  This island is said to
be the most beautiful that the mind of man can conceive of.  Such birds
you never saw, such songs you never heard! and then such flowers, such
verdure!  The branches of the trees were so arranged that when the
winds swept through, there floated out from every tree melodious
strains of music from a thousand!  Aeolian harps!  After Brahma put
them there, he said: "Let them have a period of courtship, for it is my
desire and will that true love should forever precede marriage."  And
with the nightingale singing, and the stars twinkling, and the little
brooklets murmuring, and the flowers blooming, and the gentle breezes
fanning their brows, they courted, and loved!  What a sweet courtship.
Then Brahma married the happy pair, and remarked:  "Remain here; you
can be happy on this island, and it is my will that you never leave
it."  Well, after a little while the man became uneasy, and said to the
wife of his youth, "I believe I'll look about a little."  He determined
to seek greener pastures.  He proceeded to the western extremity of the
island, and discovered a little narrow neck of land connecting the
island with the mainland, and the devil--they had a genuine devil in
those days, too, it seems, who is always "playing the devil" with
us--produced a mirage, and over on the mainland were such hills and
vales, such dells and dales, such lofty mountains crowned with
perpetual snow, such cataracts clad in bows of glory, that he rushed
breathlessly back to his wife, exclaiming:--"O, Heva! the country over
there is a thousand times better and lovelier than this; let us
migrate."  She, woman-like, said "Adami, we must let well enough alone;
we have all we want; let us stay here."  But he said:  "No, we will
go." She followed him, and when they came to this narrow neck of land,
he took her upon his back and carried her across.  But at the instant
he put her down there was a crash, and looking back they discovered
that this narrow neck of land had fallen into the sea. The mirage had
disappeared, and there was nothing but rocks and sand, and the Supreme
Brahma cursed them to the lowest hell. Then Adami spoke--and it showed
him to be every inch a man--"Curse me, but curse not her; it was not
her fault, it was mine." (Our Adam says, with a pusillanimous
whine,--Curse her, for it is her fault:  she tempted me and I did eat!"
The world, today, is teeming with just such cowards!)  Then said
Brahma, "I will save her, but not thee."  And then spoke his wife, out
of the fullness of the love of a heart in which there was enough to
make all her daughters rich in holy affection, "If thou wilt not spare
him, spare neither me; I do not wish to live without him. I love him."
Then magnanimously said the Supreme Brahma, "I will spare you both, and
watch over you and your children forever!"

Now, tell me truly, which is the grander story?  The book containing
this story is full of good things; and yet Christians style as heathens
those who have adopted this book as their guide, and spend thousands of
dollars annually in sending missionaries to convert them!

It has been too often conceded that because the new testament contains,
in many passages, a lofty and terse expression of love as the highest
duty of man, Christianity must have a tendency to ennoble his nature.
But Christianity is like sweetened whisky and water--it perverts and
destroys that which it should nourish and strengthen.

Christianity makes an often fatal attack on a man's morality--if he
happens to be blessed with any--by substituting for the sentiments of
love and duty to our neighbors, a sense of obligation of blind
obedience to an infinite, mysterious, revengeful, tyrannical God!  The
real principle of Christian morality, is servile obedience to a
dangerous Power!  Dispute the assertions of even your priest as to the
requirements, dislikes, desires and wishes of the Almighty, and you
might as well count yourself as lost, sulphurically lost!  If you are
one of God's chosen, or in other words, have been saved, and are even
so fortunate as to attain to the glories and joys of the gold-paved
streets of heaven, you are expected, in looking over the banisters of
heaven down into the abyss of eternal torture, to view with complacency
the agonized features of your mother, sister, brother, or infant
child--who are writhing in hell--and laugh at their calamity!  You are
not allowed to carry them a drop of water to cool their parched tongue!
And if you are a Christian, you at this moment believe you will enjoy
the situation!

If a man in a quarrel cuts down his neighbor in his sins, the poor,
miserable victim goes directly to hell!  The murderer may reasonably
count on a lease of a few weeks of life, interviews his pastor,
confesses the crime, repents, accepts the grace of God, is forgiven,
and then smoothly and gently slides from the rudely-constructed
scaffold into a haven of joy and bliss, there to sing the praises of
the Lamb of God forever and forever! Poor, unfortunate victim!  Happy

Ah, what a beautiful religion humanitarianism and charity* might become!

[* The following incident, showing Col. Ingersoll's disposition to
practice what he preaches whenever the opportunity presents itself, we
have never before seen in print.  One day, during the winter of 1863-4,
when the colonel had a law office in Peoria. Ill.--and before the close
of the late war of the rebellion--a thinly clad, middle-aged, lady-like
woman came into his office and asked assistance, "My good woman, why do
you ask it?" "Sir, my husband is a private in the --th Illinois
infantry, and stationed somewhere in Virginia, but I do not know where
as I have not heard from him for nearly six months, although previous
to that time I seldom failed to get a letter from him as often as once
a week, and whenever he received his pay the most of his money came to
me. To tell the truth, I do not know whether he is living or not.  But
one thing I do know, I do not hear from him. I have seven children to
provide for, but no money in the house, not a particle of bread in the
pantry, nor a lump of coal in the shed, and the landlord threatening to
turn us out in the storm. This city pledged itself to give wives a
certain sum monthly, providing they consented to their husband's
responding to the call of the President for troops, but, disregarding
these pledges, we and our children are left to starve and freeze, and
to be turned out of our houses and homes by relentless landlords. Now,
sir, can you tell me what I am to do?

The Colonel drew his bandanna from his great coat pocket, lightly
touched his eyes with it, and rising to his feet, pointed to a
chair--"Sit down, madame, and remain till I return.  I will be back in
a few minutes."  He picked up a half-sheet of legal-cap and a pencil,
and departed for the law and other offices of the building--of which
there were several.  Entering the first that appeared, "Good morning,
Smith, give me half-a-dollar."  "Well, now, colonel, you are--"  "Never
mind if I am--I must have it!"  It came.  He entered another.  "Hello!
colonel, what's new?"  "I want a half-dollar from you!"  "What for?"
"None of your business--I want the money."  He got it.  He entered a
third.  "Hello, Bob!  Anything new on eter--"  "Never mind, I must have
fifty cents!"  "But--"  "But nothing, Jones, give me what I ask for."
Of course he got what he asked for.  So on through fourteen offices,
from which he obtained $7.  Returning to his office, he put his hand in
his own pocket and drew forth a $5 note, and handed the woman $12.
"Take this, my good woman, and make it go as far as you can.  If you
obtain relief from no other source, call on me again and I will do the
best I can for you!"  And still Col. Ingersoll is styled by hell-fire
advocates an infidel, atheist, dog!]

To do so sweet a thing as to love our neighbors as we love ourselves;
to strive to attain to as perfect a spirit as a Golden Rule would bring
us into; to make virtue lovely by living it, grandly and nobly and
patiently the outgrowth of a brotherhood not possible in this world
where men are living away from themselves, and trampling justice and
mercy and forgiveness under their feet!

Speaking of the different religions, of course they are represented by
the different churches; and the best hold of the churches, and the
surest way of giving totally depraved humanity a realizing sense of
their utterly lost condition, is to talk and preach hell with all its
horrible, terrible concomitants.  True, the different priests advocate
the doctrine, only when they see that it is the only thing to rouse the
sinners from their lethargy; for where is the man who will not accept
the grace of Jesus Christ, if he becomes convinced that his state in
the hereafter is a terrible one!  The ministers of the different
churches know full well which side of their bread is buttered.  A
priest is a divinity among his people--a man around whom his
parishioners throw a glamour of sanctity, and one who can do no wrong;
albeit, his chief and growing characteristics are tyranny, arrogancy,
self-conceit, deception, bigotry and superstition!  Tyrannical do I
call them?  Most assuredly! Suppose, for example, the Methodist, or
Presbyterian church had the power to decide whether you, or I, or any
other man, should be a Methodist or Presbyterian, and we should decline
to follow the path pointed out to us, or either of us, what I solemnly
and candidly ask you, would be the result?  Our fate would be more
terrible than their endless hell!  The inquisition would rise again in
all its horrid blackness!  Instruments of torture would darken our
vision on every hand!  But, thank God--not that terrible being whom
Christians would have us believe is our Maker--this is a free
land--free as the air we breathe; and you and I can partake of the
orthodox waters of life freely, or we can let them alone!  When I see a
man perched upon a pedestal called a "pulpit"     a man who is one of
nature's noblemen, physically, and fully able to breast the storms of
life and earn his honest living--telling his hearers with perspiring
brow and all his might and main of the terrors of the seething cauldron
of hell, and how certain it is that they are to be unceremoniously
dumped therein to be boiled through all ages, yet never boiled
done--unless they seek salvation--when I look upon that man, honor
bright, I pity him, for I cannot help comparing him with the lower
animals!  Then there is a reaction, and I feel an utter contempt for
him, for he may know, when he declares hell is a reality, that he is

Now, of the deception of the preacher.  At the close of a sermon in an
orthodox church, Rev. Mr. Solemnface steps to the side of Bro.
Everbright, who has been absent from the brimstone-mill for several

"Ah, Bro. Everbright, how do you do?  Long time since I have seen you;
how's your family?  Quite well?  Is it well with thee today?  Rather
lukewarm, eh?  Sorry, sorry.  Well, brother, can you do something for
us financially, today?  Our people think my pulpit is too common, and
say a couple hundred will put it in good shape, and make it desirable
and attractive.  Can you contribute a few dollars to the fund?"

"Well, Bro. Solemnface, for four long months I have been ill; not a
day's work have I done, and not a cent of money have I that I can call
my own.  Next year I trust I can do something for the cause of my

"Ah-h-h-h-h-h!" and Bro. S.'s face assumes a terrible look of
disappointment, and he is gone in a moment.  Out upon such a fraud!
The pulpits of the land are full of them.  The world is cursed with
them! They possess all the elements of vagabonds, dead-beats,
falsifiers, beggars, vultures, hyenas and jackals!

In past ages the cross has been in partnership with the sword, and the
religion of Christ was established by murderers, tyrants and
hypocrites. I want you to know that the church carried the black flag,
and I ask you what must have been the civilizing influence of such a
religion?  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, saying:  "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 of
today.  We are taught by them that fathers and mothers can all be happy
in heaven, no matter who may be in hell; that the husband could be
happy there, with the wife that would have died for him at any moment
of his life, in hell.  But they say, "Hell, we don't believe in fire.
I don't think you understand me.  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?  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, you will meet some one who has suffered, whose nakedness you have
clothed, and the fire will cool up a little.  According to this
Christian doctrine, you won't care how mean you were once.  Is it a
compliment to an infinite God to say that every being He ever made
deserved to be damned the minute He had 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?

We sit by the fireside and see the flames and sparks fly up the
chimney--everybody happy, and the cold wind and sleet beating on the
window, and out on the doorstep a mother with a child on her breast
freezing.  How happy it makes a fire, that beautiful contrast.  And we
say God is good, and there we sit, and there 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 that is the
Christian heaven. Don't you see that these infamous doctrines petrify
the human heart? And I would have every one who hears me swear that he
will never contribute another dollar to build another church, in which
is taught such infamous lies.  Let every man try to make every day a
joy, and God cannot afford to damn such a man. Consequently humanity is
the only real religion.

"Man's inhumanity to man Makes countless millions mourn."

Ingersoll's Lecture on the Review of His Reviewers

Ladies and Gentlemen:   "What have I said?"  "What has been my offense?
I have been spoken of as if I were a wolf endeavoring to devour the
entire fold of sheep in the absence of the shepherd."  I believe in the
trinity of observation, reason and science; the trinity of man, woman
and child; the trinity of love, joy and hope; and thought that every
man has a right to think for himself, and no other man has the right to
debar him of this privilege by torture, by social ostracism, or any of
the numerous other expedients resorted to by the enemies of
advancement. I ask:  "Does God wish the lip-worship of a slave? a
sneak? of the man that dares not reason?  If I were the infinite God, I
would rather have the worship of one good man of brains than a world of
such men.  I am told that I am in danger of everlasting fire, and that
I shall burn forever in hell:  I tell you, my friends, if I were going
to hell tonight I would take an overcoat with me.  Do not tell me that
the eternal future of a man may depend upon his belief, I deny it.
That a man should be punished for having come to an honest conclusion,
the honest production of his brain; that an honest conclusion should be
deemed a crime and so declared, it is an infamous, monstrous assertion,
and I would rather go to hell than to keep the company of a God who
would damn his child for an honest belief.

"Next, I 'preached' that a woman was the equal of man, entitled to
everything that he is entitled to, to be his partner, and to be
cherished and respected because she is the weaker, to be treated as a
splendid flower.  I said that man should not be cross to her, but fill
the house that she is in with such joy that it would burst out at the
window.  I have said that matrimony is the holiest of sacraments, and I
have said that the bible took woman up thousands of years ago and
handed her down to man as a slave, and I have said that the bible is a
barbarous book for teaching that she is a slave, and I repeat it, and
will prove later what I have said.  I have pleaded for the right of
man, of wife, and of the little child; I have said we can govern
children by love and affection; I have asked for tender treatment for
the child of crime; I have asked mothers to cease beating their
children and take them to their hearts; and for this I am denounced by
the religious press and men in the pulpits as a demon and a monster of
heresy, who should be driven out from among you as an unclean thing.

"But I should not complain.  Only a few years ago I should have been
compelled to look at my denouncers through flame and smoke; but they
dare not treat me so now or they would.  One hundred years ago I should
have been burned for claiming the right of reason; fifty years ago I
should have been imprisoned and my wife and children would have been
torn away from me, and twenty-five years ago I could not have made a
living in the United States in my profession--the law.  But I live now
and can see through it all, and all is light.  I delivered another
lecture, on "Ghosts," in which I sought to show that man had been
controlled in the past by phantoms created by his own imagination; in
which the pencil of fear had drawn pictures for him on the canvass of
superstition, and that men had groveled in they dirt before their own
superstitious creations.  I endeavored to show that man had received
nothing from these ghosts but hatred, blood, ignorance and unhappiness,
and that they had filled our world with woe and tears.  This is what I
endeavored to show--no more.  Now, every one has as much right to
differ with me as I with them, but it does not make the slightest
difference for the purpose of argument whether I am a good man or a
bad, whether I am ugly or handsome--although I would not object to
resting my case on that issue; the only thing to be considered and
discussed is, is what I have said true, or is it untrue?

"Now, I said that the bible came from the ghosts, and that they gave us
the doctrine of immortality of the soul, which I deny. Now, the
immortality of the soul, if there is such a thing, is a fact, and
therefore no book could make it.  If I am immortal, I am; if not, no
book can make me so.  The doctrine of immortality is based in the hope
of the human heart, and is not derived from any book or creed.  It has
its origin in the ebb and flow of the human affections, and will
continue as long as affection, and is the rainbow in the sky of hope.
It does not depend on a book, on ghosts, superstition of any kind; it
is a flower of the human heart.  I did say that these ghosts, or the
book, taught that human slavery was right, that most monstrous of all
crimes, that makes miserable the victim and debases the master, for a
slave can have all the virtues while the master can not.  I did say
that it riveted the chains upon the oppressed, and that it counseled
the robbing of that most precious of all boons--Liberty.  I add that
the book upheld all this, that it sustained and sanctified the
institution of human slavery.  I did also assert that this same book,
which my critics claim was inspired by God, inculcated the doctrine of
witchcraft, for which people, through its teaching were hanged and
burned for bringing disease upon the regal persons of kings, and for
souring beer.  I did say that this book upheld that most of all
infamies, polygamy, and that it did not teach political liberty or
religious toleration, but political slavery and the most wretched
intolerance.  I did try to prove that these ghosts knew less than
nothing about medicine, politics, legislation, astronomy, geology and
astrology, but I am also aware that in saving these things I have done
what my censors think I ought not to have done.  But the victor ought
not to feel malice, and I shall have none.  As soon as I had said all
these things, some gentlemen felt called upon to answer them, which
they had a right to do.  Now, I like fairness, am enamored with it,
probably because I get so little of it.  I can say a great many mean
things, for I have read all the religious papers, and I ought to be
able to account for every motive in a mean manner after.

"The first gentleman whom I shall call your attention to is the Rev.
Dr. Woodbridge.  It seems that when I delivered my lectures the
conclusion had come to "that man does not believe in anything but
matter and force--that man does not believe in spirit."  Why not?  If
by spirit you mean that which thinks, I am one of them myself.  If you
mean by spirit that which hopes and reasons and loves and aspires, why,
then, I am a believer in spirits; but whatever spirit there is in this
universe I will take my oath is a natural product and not superimposed
upon this world.  All I will say is that whatever is, is natural, and
there is as much goodness in my judgment, as much spirit here in this
world as in any other, and you are just as near the heart of the
universe here as you ever can be.

But, they say, "there is matter and force, and there is force and there
is spirit."  Well, what of it?  There is no matter without force.  What
would keep it together unless there was force?  Can you imagine matter
without force?    Honor bright, can you conceive of force without
matter?  And what is spirit?  They say spirit is the first thing that
ever was.  It seems to me sometimes as though spirit was the blossom
and fruit of all, and not the commencement.  But they say spirit was
first. What would that spirit do?  No force--no matter--a spirit living
in an infinite vacuum without side, edge or bottom.  This spirit
created the world; and if this spirit did, there must have been a time
when it commenced to create, and back of that an eternity spent in
absolute idleness.  Can a spirit exist without matter or without force?
I honestly say I do not know what matter is, what force is, what spirit
is; but if you mean by matter anything that I can touch, or by force
anything that we can overcome then I believe in them.  If you mean by
spirit anything that can think and love, I believe in spirits.

"The next critic who assailed me was the Rev. Mr. Kalloch.  I am not
going to show you what I can withstand.  I am not going to say a word
about the reputation of this man, although he took some liberties with
mine.  This gentleman says negation is a poor thing to die by.  I would
just as lief die by that as the opposite.  He spoke of the last hours
of Paine and Voltaire and the terrors of their death-beds; but the
question arises, is there a word of truth in all he said?  I have
observed that the murderer dies with courage and firmness in many
instances, but that does not make me think that it sanctified his
crime; in fact, it makes no impression upon me one way or the other.
When a man through old age or infirmity approaches death the
intellectual faculties are dimmed, his senses become less and less, and
as he loses these he goes back to his old superstition. Old age brings
back the memories of childhood.  And the great bard gave in the corrupt
and besotted Falstaff--who prattled of babbling brooks and green
fields--an instance of the retracing steps taken by the memory at the
last gasp.  It has been said that the bible was sanctified by our
mothers.  Every superstition in the world, from the beginning of all
time, has had such a sanctification.  The Turk dying on the Russian
battlefield, pressing the Koran to his bosom, breathes his last
thinking of the loving adjuration of his mother to guard it.  Every
superstition has been rendered sacred by the love of a mother.  I know
what it has cost the noble and the brave to throw to the winds these
superstitions.  Since the death of Voltaire, who was innocent of all
else than a desire to shake off the superstitions of the past, the
curse of Rome has pursued him, and ignorant protestants have echoed
that curse.  I like Voltaire. Whenever I think of him it is as a plumed
knight coming from the fray with victory shining upon his brow.  He was
once in the Bastille, and while there he changed his name from Francis
Marie Aloysius to Voltaire; and when the Bastille was torn down
"Voltaire" was the battle cry of those who did it.  He did more to
bring about religious toleration than any man in the galaxy of those
who strove for the privilege of free thought.  He was always on the
side of justice.  He was full of faults and had many virtues. His
doctrines have never brought unhappiness to any country.  He died as
serenely as anyone could.  Speaking to his servant, he said, "Farewell
my faithful friend."  Could he have done a more noble act than to
recognize him who had served him faithfully as a man?  What more could
he wished?  And now let me say here, I will give a $1,000 in gold to
any clergyman who can substantiate that the death of Voltaire was not
as peaceful as the dawn.  And of Thomas Paine, whom they assert died in
fear and agony, frightened by the clanking chains of devils, in fact,
frightened to death by God--I will give $1,000 likewise to anyone who
can substantiate this absurd story--a story without a word of truth in
it.  And let me ask, who dies in the most fear, the man who, like the
saint, exclaims:  "My God, my God! why hast thou forsaken me?" or
Voltaire, who peacefully and quietly bade his servant farewell?  The
question is not who died right, but who lived right.  I look upon death
as the most unimportant moment of life, and believe that not half the
responsibility is attached to dying that is to living properly.  This
Rev. Mr. Kalloch is a baptist.  He has a right to be a baptist.  The
first baptist, though was a heretic; but it is among the wonders that
when a heretic gets fifteen or twenty to join him he suddenly begins to
be orthodox.  Roger Williams was a baptist, but how he, or anyone not
destitute of good sense, could be one, passes my comprehension.  Let me

Suppose it was the Day of Judgment tonight and we were all assembled,
as the ghosts say we will be, to be judged, and God should ask a man:

"Have you been a good man?"


"Have you loved your wife and children?"


"Have you taken good care of them and made them happy?"


"Have you tried to do right by your neighbors?"


"Paid all your debts?"


And then cap the climax by asking:

"Were you ever baptized?"

Could a solitary being hear that question without laughing?  I think
not.  I once happened to be in the company of six or seven baptist
elders (I never have been able to understand since how I got into such
bad company), and they wanted to know what I thought of baptism.  I
answered that I had not given the matter any attention, in fact I had
no special opinion upon the subject. But they pressed me and finally I
told them that I thought, with soap baptism was a good thing.

The Rev. Mr. Guard has attacked me, and has described me, among other
things, as a dog barking at a train.  Of course he was the train.  He
said, first, the bible is not an immoral book, because I swore upon it
when I joined the Free and Accepted Masons.  That settles the question.
Secondly, he says that Solomon had softening of the brain and fatty
degeneration of the heart; thirdly, that the Hebrews had the right to
slay all the inhabitants of Canaan according to the doctrine of the
survival of the fittest.  He says that the destruction of these
Canaanites, the ripping open by the bloody sword of women with child
was an act of sublime mercy.  Think of that!  He says that the
Canaanites should have been driven from their homes, and not only
driven, but that the men who simply were guilty of the crime of
fighting for their native land--the old men with gray hairs; the old
mothers, the young mothers, the little dimpled, prattling child--that
it was an act of sublime mercy to plunge the sword of religious
persecution into old and young.  If that is mercy, let us have
injustice.  If there is that kind of a God I am sorry that I exist.
Fourthly, Mr. Guard said God has the right to do as he pleases with the
beings he has created; and, fifthly, that God, by choosing the Jews and
governing them personally, spoiled them to that degree that they
crucified Him the first opportunity they had.  That shows what a good
administration will do. Sixthly, He says polygamy is not a bad thing
when compared with the picture of Anthony and Cleopatra, now on
exhibition in this city.  I will just say one word about art.  I think
this is one of the most beautiful words in our language, and do you
know, it never seemed to me necessary for art to go into partnership
with a rag?  I like the paintings of Angelo, of Raphael--I like those
splendid souls that are put upon canvas--all there is of human beauty.
There are brave souls in every land who worship nature grand and nude,
and who, with swift, indignant hand, tear off the fig leaves of the
prude.  Seventhly, it may be said that the bible sanctions slavery, but
that it is not an immoral book if it does.  Mr. Guard playfully says
that he is a puppy nine days old; that he was only eight days old when
I came here.  I'm inclined to think he has over stated his age.  I
account for his argument precisely as he did for the sin of Solomon,
softening of the brain, or fatty degeneration of the heart.  It does
seem to me that if I were a good Christian and knew that another man
was going down to the bottomless pit to be miserable and in agony
forever, I would try to stop him, and instead of filling my mouth with
epithet and invective, and drawing the lips of malice back from the
teeth of hatred, my eyes would be filled with tears, and I would do
what I could to reclaim him and take him up in the arms of my affection.

The next gentleman is the Rev. Mr. Robinson, who delivered a sermon
entitled 'Ghost against God, or Ingersoll against Honesty.'  Of course
he was honest.  He apologized for attending an infidel lecture upon the
ground that he hated to contribute to the support of a materialistic
showman.  I am willing to trade fagots for epithets, and the rack for
anything that may be said in his sermon.  I am willing to trade the
instrument of torture with which they could pull the nails from my
fingers for anything which the ingenuity of orthodoxy can invent.
When I saw that report--although I do not know that I ought to tell
it--I felt bad.  I knew that man's conscience must be rankling like a
snake in his bosom, that he had contributed a dollar to the support of
a man as bad as I.  I wrote him a letter, in which I said:  "The Rev.
Samuel Robinson, My Dear Sir.  In order to relieve your conscience of
the stigma of having contributed to the support of an unbeliever in
Ghosts, I herewith enclose the dollar you paid to attend my lecture."
I then gave him a little good advice to be charitable, and regretted
exceedingly that any man could listen to me for an hour and a half and
not go away satisfied that other men had the same right to think that
he had.

The speaker went on to answer the argument of Mr. Robinson with regard
to persecution, contending that protestants had been guilty of it no
less than catholics; and showing that the first people to pass an act
of toleration in the new world were the catholics in Maryland.  The
reverend gentleman has stated also that infidelity has done nothing for
the world in the development of art and science.  Has he ever heard of
Darwin, of Tyndall, of Huxley, of John W. Draper, of Auguste Comte, of
Descartes, Laplace, Spinoza, or any man who has taken a step in advance
of his time?  Orthodoxy never advances, when it does advance, it ceases
to be orthodoxy.

A reply to certain strictures in the Occident led the lecturer up to
another ministerial critic, namely, the Rev. W.E. Ijams.

I want to say that, so far as I can see, in his argument this gentleman
has treated me in a kind and considerate spirit.  He makes two or three
mistakes, but I suppose they are the fault of the report from which he
quoted.  I am made to say in his sermon that there is no sacred place
in the universe.  What I did say was:  There is no sacred place in all
the universe of thought; there is nothing too holy to be investigated,
nothing too sacred to be understood, and I said that the fields of
thought were fenceless, that they should be without a wall.  I say so
tonight. He further said that I said that a man had not only the right
to do right, but to do wrong.  What I did say, was:  "Liberty is the
right to do right, and the right to think right, and the right to think
wrong," not the right to do wrong.  That is all I have to say in regard
to that gentleman, except that, so far as I could see, he was perfectly
fair, and treated me as though I was a human being as well as he.

The speaker sarcastically referred to the slurs thrown upon him by his
reviewers, who have claimed that his theories have no foundation, his
arguments no reason, and that his utterances are vapid, blasphemous,
and unworthy a reply.  He said that their statements and their actions
were sadly at variance, for, while declaring him a senseless idiot,
they spent hours in striving to prove themselves not idiots; in other
words, in one breath they declare that his views were absolutely
without point, and needed no explaining away; while in direct rebuttal
of this declaration, they devoted time and labor in attempts to
disprove the very things they called self-evident absurdities.

Turning from this subject, Mr. Ingersoll read numerous extracts from
the bible, with interpolated comments.  He claimed that the bible
authorized slavery, and that many devoted believers in that book had
turned the cross of Christ into a whipping post.  He did not wish it
understood that he could find no good in believers in creeds; far from
it, for some of his dearest friends were most orthodox in their
religious ideas, and there had been hundreds of thousands of good men
among both clergy and laymen.  History has shown no people more nobly
self-sacrificing than the Jesuit Fathers who first visited this country
to proselyte among the Indians.  But these men and their like were
better than their creeds; better than the book in which their faith was
centered. The bible tells us distinctly that the world was made in six
days--not periods, but actual, bona fide days--a statement which it
iterates and reiterates.  It also tells us that God lengthened the day
for the benefit of a gentleman named Joshua, in other words, that he
stopped the rotary motion of the earth.  Motion is changed into heat by
stoppage, and the world turns with such velocity that its sudden
stoppage would create a heat of intensity beyond the wildest flight of
our imagination, and yet this impossible feat was performed that Joshua
might have longer time to expend in slaying a handful of Amorites.  The
bible also upholds the doctrines of witchcraft and spiritualism, for
Saul visited the witch of Endor, and she, after preparing the cabinet,
trotted out the spirit of Samuel, said spirit kindly joining in
conversation with Saul, without requiring the aid of a trance medium.
The speaker then quoted at length from Leviticus concerning wizards and
evil spirits, described the temptation of Christ by Satan, and the
driving of devils from man into swine. He sneered at the rights of
children as biblically described, citing the law which sentenced them
to be stoned to death for disobedience to parents, the almost sacrifice
of Isaac by his father, and the actual murder of Jephthah's daughter,
asking if a God who could demand such worship was worthy the love of
man.  He next referred to the conversation between God and Satan
concerning the man Job, and of the reward given to the latter for his
long continued patience.  His three daughters and his seven sons had
been taken from him merely to test his patience, and the merciful God
gave him in exchange three other daughters and seven sons, but they
were not the children whom he had loved and lost. The bible represents
woman as vastly inferior to man, while he believed, with Robbie Burns,
that God made man with a prentice-hand, and woman after He had learned
the trade.  Polygamy, also, was a doctrine supported by this pure and
pious work; a doctrine so foul that language is not strong enough to
express its infamy. The bible taught, as a religious creed, that if
your wife, your sister, your brother, your dearest friend, tempted you
to change from the religion of your fathers, your duty to God demanded
that you should at once strike a blow at the life of your tempter. Let
us suppose, then, that in truth God went to Palestine and selected the
scanty tribes of Israel as his chosen people, and supposing that he
afterward came to Jerusalem in the shape of a man and taught a
different doctrine from the one prescribed by their book and their
clergy, and that the chosen people, in obedience to the education he
had prepared for them, struck at the life of him who tempted them.
Were they to be cursed by God and man because the former had reaped the
harvest of his own sowing?

Ingersoll's Lecture on "How the Gods Grow"

Ladies and Gentlemen:  Priests have invented a crime called blasphemy.
That crime is the breastwork behind which ignorance, superstition and
hypocrisy have crouched for thousands of years, and shot their poisoned
arrows at the pioneers of human thought.  Priests tell us that there is
a God somewhere in heaven who objects to a human being, thinking and
expressing his thought.  Priests tell us that there is a God somewhere
who takes care of the people of this world; a God somewhere who watches
over the widow and the orphan; a God somewhere who releases the slave;
a God somewhere who visits the innocent man in prison; the same God
that has allowed men for thousands of years to burn to ashes human
beings simply for loving that God.  We have been taught that it is
dangerous to reason upon these subjects--extremely dangerous--and that
of all crimes in the world, the greatest is to deny the existence of
that God.

Redden your hands in innocent blood; steal the bread of the orphan,
deceive, ruin and desert the beautiful girl who has loved and trusted
you, and for all this you may be forgiven; for all this you can have
the clear writ of that bankrupt court of the gospel.  But deny the
existence of one of these gods, and the tearful face of mercy becomes
lurid with eternal hate; the gates of heaven are shut against you, and
you, with an infinite curse ringing in your ears, commence your
wanderings as an immortal vagrant, as a deathless convict, as an
eternal outcast.  And we have been taught that the infinite has become
enraged at the finite simply when the finite said:  "I don't know!"
Why, imagine it.  Suppose Mr. Smith should hear a couple of small bugs
in his front yard discussing the question as to the existence of Smith;
and suppose one little red bug swore on the honor of a bug that, in his
judgment, no such man as Smith lived.  What would you think of Mr.
Smith if he fell into a rage, and brought his heel down on this little
atheist bug and said:  "I will teach you that Smith is a diabolical
fact!"  And yet if there is an infinite God, there is infinitely a
greater difference between that God and a human being than between
Shakespeare and the smallest bug that ever crawled.  It cannot be;
there is something wrong in this thing somewhere.

I am told, also, that this being watches over us, takes care of us.
And the other day I read a sermon (you will hardly believe it, but I
did); I had nothing else to.  I had read everything in that paper,
including the advertisements; so I read the sermon. It was a sermon by
Rev. Mr. Moody on prayer, in which he took the ground that our prayer
should be "Thy will be  done;"  and he seemed to believe that if we
prayed that prayer often enough we could induce God to have his own
way.  He gives an instance of a woman in Illinois who had a sick child,
and she prayed that God would not take from her arms that babe.   She
did not pray "Thy will be done," but she prayed, according to Mr.
Moody, almost a prayer of rebellion, and said:  "I cannot give up my
babe."  God heard her prayer, and the child got well; and Mr. Moody
says it was an idiot when it got well.  For fifteen years that woman
watched over and took care of that idiotic child; and Mr. Moody says
how much better would it have been if she had allowed God to have had
his own way.  Think of a God who would punish a mother for speaking to
Him from an agonizing heart and saying, "I cannot give up my babe," and
making the child an idiot.  What would the devil have done under the
same circumstances?  That is the God we are expected to worship.  I
range myself with the opposition. The next day I read another sermon
preached by the Rev. De Witt Talmage, a man of not much fancy, but of
great judgment.  He preached a sermon on dreams, and went on to say
that God often visited us in dreams, and that He often convinces men of
His existence in that way.  So far as I am concerned I had rather see
something in the light.  And, according to that sermon, there was a
poor woman in England, a pauper who had the rheumatism, and there was
another pauper who had not the rheumatism; and the pauper who had not
the rheumatism used to take food to the pauper that had.  After a while
the pauper without rheumatism died, and then the pauper with the
rheumatism began to think in her own mind, who will bring me food?
That night God appeared to her in a dream.  He did not cure her
rheumatism though.  He appeared to her in a dream, and he took her out
of the house and pointed on the right hand to an immense mountain of
bread, and on the left hand to an immense mountain of butter.  And when
I read that I said to myself, my Lord, what a place that would be to
start a political party.  And he said to her:  "These belong to your
father; do you think that he will allow one of his children to starve?
What a place would Ireland be with that mountain of bread and butter!
Until I read these two sermons I hardly believed that in this day and
generation anybody believed that God would make a child an idiot simply
because the mother had prayed for its sweet dear life, or that God's
visits are only in dreams.  But so it is.

Orthodoxy has not advanced upon the religion of the Fiji Islander.  It
is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Now we are told that there
is a god; and nearly every nation has had a god; generally a good many
of them.  You see the raw material was so cheap, and Gods were
manufactured so easily, that heaven has always been crammed with the
phantoms of these monsters.  But they say there is a god, and every
savage tribe believes in a God.  It is an argument made to me every
day.  I concede to you that fact; I concede to you that all savages
agree with you.  I admit it takes a certain amount of civilization, a
certain amount of thought, to rise above the idea that some personal
being, for his own ends, for his own glory, made and governs this
universe. I admit that it takes some thought to see the universe is
good and all that is good, and every star that shines is a part of God,
and I am something, no matter how little, and that the infinite cannot
exist without me, and that therefore I am a part of the infinite.  I
admit that it takes a little civilization to get to that point.

Now every nation has made a god, and every man that has made a god has
used himself for a pattern; and men have put into the mouth of their
god all their mistakes in astronomy, in geography, in philosophy, in
morality, and the god is never wiser or better than his creators.  If
they believe in slavery, so did he; if they believe in eating human
flesh, he wanted his share; if they were polygamous, so was he; if they
were cruel, so was he.  And just to the extent that man has become
civilized, he has civilized his god.  You can hardly imagine the
progress that our God has made in four thousand years.

Four thousand years ago He was a barbarian; tonight He is quite an
educated gentleman.  Four thousand years ago He believed in killing and
butchering little babes at the breasts of their mothers; He has
reformed.  Four thousand years ago He did not believe in taking
prisoners of war.  He said, kill the old men; mingle their blood with
the white hair.  Kill the women.  But what shall we do, O God, with the
maidens?  Give them to satisfy the lust of the soldiers and of the
priests!  If there is anywhere in the serene heaven a real God.  I want
him to write in the book of His eternal remembrance, opposite my name,
that I deny that lie for Him.

Four thousand years ago our God was in favor of slavery; four thousand
years ago our God would have a man beaten to death with rugged rocks
for expressing his honest thought; four thousand years ago our God told
the husband to kill his wife if she disagreed with him upon the
important subject of religion; four thousand years ago our God was a
monster; and if He is any better now, it is simply because we have made
Him so. I am talking about the God of the Christian world.  There may
be, for aught I know, upon the shore of the eternal vast, some being
whose very thought is the constellation of those numberless stars.  I
do not know; but if there is he has never written a bible; he has never
been in favor of slavery; he has never advocated polygamy, and he never
told the murderer to sheathe his dagger in the dimpled breast of a
babe.  But they say to me, our God has written a book.  I am glad he
did, and it is by that book that I propose to judge them.  I find in
that book that it was a crime to eat of the tree of knowledge.  I find
that the church has always been the enemy of education, and I find that
the church still carries the flaming sword of ignorance and bigotry
over the tree of knowledge.

And if that story is true, ought we not after all to thank the devil?
He was the first school master; he was the first to whisper liberty in
our ears; he was the author of modesty.  He was the author of ambition
and progress.  And as for me, give me the storm and tempest of thought
and action rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith.  Punish me
when and how you will, but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of
knowledge.  And there is one peculiar thing I might as well speak of
here.  While the world has made gods, it has also made devils; and as a
rule the devils have been better friends to man than the gods.  It was
not a devil that drowned the world; it was not a devil that covered
with the multitudinous waves of an infinite sea the corpses of men,
women and children.

That was the good god.  The devil never sent pestilence and famine; the
devil never starved women and children; that was the good God.  The
meanest thing recorded of the devil is what happened concerning my
servant Job.  According to that book God met the devil and said:
"Where have you been?"  "Oh, been walking up and down."  "Have you
noticed my man Job; nobody like him!"  "Well, who wouldn't be; you have
given him everything; but take away what he has, and he will curse you
to your face." And so the devil went to work and tried it.  It was a
mean thing. And that was all done to decide what you might call a wager
on a difference of opinion between the serene highnesses.  He took away
his property, but Job didn't sin; and when God met the devil, he said:
"Well, what did I tell you, smarty?"  "Ah," he said, "that is all very
well, but you touch his flesh and he will curse you; and he did, but
Job didn't curse him.  And then what did God do to help him!  He gave
him some other children better looking than the first ones.  What kind
of an idea is that for a God to kill our children and then give us
better looking ones! If you have loved a child, I don't care if it is
deformed, if you have held it in your arms and covered its face with
kisses, you want that child back and no other.

I find in this bible that there was an old gentleman a little short of
the article of hair.  And as he was going through the town a number of
little children cried out to him "Go up, thou bald head!"  And this man
of God turned and cursed them.  A real good-humored old fellow!  And
two bears came out of the woods and tore in pieces forty-two children!
How did the bears get there? Elisha could not control the bears.
Nobody but God could control the bears in that way.  Now just think of
an infinite God making a shining star, having his attention attracted
by hearing some children saying to an old gentlemen, "Go up, thou bald
head!" and then speaking to his secretary or somebody else, "Bring in a
couple of bears now!"  What a magnificent God!  What would the devil
have done under the same circumstances?  And yet that is the God they
want to put into the constitution in order to make our children gentle
and kind and loving.

You hate a God like that.  I do; I despise him.  And yet little
children in the Sabbath-school are taught that infamous lie. Why, I
have very little respect for an old man that will get mad about such a
thing, anyway.  What would the Christian world say of me if I should
have a few children torn to pieces if they should make that remark in
my face? What would the devil have done under the same circumstances?
I tell you, I cannot worship a God who is no better than the devil!  I
cannot do it.  And if you will just read the old testament with the
bandage off your eyes and the cloud of fear from your heart, you will
come to the conclusion that it was written not only by men, but by
barbarians, by savages, and that it is totally unworthy of a civilized
age.  I believe in no God who believes in slavery.  I will worship no
God who ever said that one of His children should own another of His
children.  But they say to me, there must be a God somewhere!  Well, I
say I don't know. There may be.  I hope there is more than one--one is
so lonesome.  Just think of an old bachelor, always alone!  I want more
than one.  And they say, somebody must have made this!  Well, I say I
don't know.  But it strikes me that the indestructible cannot be
created.  What would you make it of?  "Oh, nothing!"  Well, it strikes
me that nothing, considered in the light of a raw material, is a
decided failure.  For my part, I cannot conceive of force apart from
matter, and I cannot conceive of matter apart from force.  I cannot
conceive of force somewhere without acting upon something; because
force must be active, or it is not force; and if it has no matter to
act upon, it ceases to be force.  I cannot conceive of the smallest
atom of matter staying together without force. Beside, if some god made
all this, there must have been some morning when he commenced!  And if
he has existed always, there is an eternity back of that when he never
did anything; when he lived in an infinite hole, without side, top or
bottom!  He did not think, for there was nothing to think about.
Certainly he did not remember, for nothing had ever happened.  Now I
cannot conceive of this! I do not say it is not so.  I may be damned
for my smartness, yet--I simply say I cannot conceive of it, that is
all.  But men tell me, you cannot conceive of eternity!  That is just
what I can conceive of.  I cannot conceive of its stopping.  They say I
cannot conceive of infinite space!  That is just what I can conceive
of; because, let me imagine all I can, my imagination will stand upon
the verge and see infinite space beyond.  Infinite space is a necessity
of the mind, because I cannot think of enough matter to fill it.
Eternity is a necessity of the mind, because I cannot dream of the
cessation of time.  But they say there is a design in the world,
consequently there must be a designer. Well, I don't know.

Paley says that the more wonderful a thing is, the greater the
necessity for creation; that a watch is a wonderful thing, and that it
must have had a creator; that the watchmaker is more wonderful than the
watch, therefore he must have had a creator. Then we come to God; He is
altogether more wonderful than the watchmaker, therefore He had no
creator.  There is a link out somewhere; I don't pretend to understand
it.  And so I say, that had the world been any other way, you would
have seen the same evidence of design, precisely.  We grow up with our
conditions, and you cannot imagine of a first cause.  Why?  Every cause
has an effect.

Strike your hands together; they feel warm.  The effect becomes a cause
instantly, and that cause produces another effect, and the effect
another cause; and there could not have been a cause until there was an
effect.  Because until there was an effect, nothing had been caused;
until something had been caused, I am positive there was no cause.  Now
you cannot conceive of a lost effect, because the lost effect of which
you can think, will in turn become a cause and that cause produce
another effect.  And as you cannot think of a lost effect, you cannot
think of a first cause; it is not thinkable by the human mind.

They say God governs this world.  Why does He not govern Russia as well
as He does Massachusetts?  Why does He allow the Czar to send beautiful
girls of sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, simply for saying a word in
favor of human liberty, to mines in Siberia, where they draw carts with
knees bruised and bleeding, with hands scarred and swollen?  What is
that God worth that allows such things in the world He governs?  Did He
govern this country when it had four millions of slaves?--when it
turned the cross of Christ into a whipping-post--when the holy bible
was an auction-block on which the mother stood while her babe was sold
from her breast?--when bloodhounds were considered apostles?  Was God
governing the world when the prisoners were confined in the Bastille?
It seems to me, if there is a God, and someone would repeat the word
"Bastille." it would cover almost his face with the blood of shame.
But they say heaven will balance all the ills of life.  Let us see:  A
large majority of us are sinners--at least a large majority with whom I
am acquainted; and a majority of the Christians with whom I am
acquainted are worse than sinners.  And if their doctrine is true, you
will be astonished at the gentlemen you will see in hell that day.  You
will know by the cast of their countenance that they used to preach
here.  They say that it may be that the sinners here have a very good
time, and that the Christians don't have a very good time; that it is
awful hard work to serve the Lord, and that you carry a cross when you
deny yourself the delights of murder and forgery, and all manner of
rascality that fills life with delight.  But they say that while the
rascals are having a good time, they will catch it in the other world.
But, according to their account, ninety-nine out of a hundred will be
damned, and I think it will be a close call for the hundredth.  Like
that dear old Scotch woman, when she was talking about the Presbyterian
faith, some one said to her:  "My dear woman, if your doctrine is true,
nobody but you and your husband will be saved."  "Ah," said she,  "I'm
na' sae sure about John."  About one in a hundred will be saved, and
the other ninety-nine will be in misery.  So that on the average there
will not be half as much happiness in the next world as in this.  So,
instead of God's plan getting better, it gets worse; and throughout all
the ages of eternity there will be less happiness than in this world.
This world is a school; this world is where we develop moral muscle.
It may be that we are here simply because men cannot advance only
through agony and pain. If it is necessary to have pain and agony to
advance morally, then nobody can advance in heaven.  Hell will be the
only place offering opportunities to any gentleman who wishes to
increase his moral muscle.

A gentleman once asked me if I could suggest any improvement on the
present order of things, if I had the power.  Well, said I, in the
first place, I would make good health catching instead of disease.
There will be no humanity until we get the orthodox God out of our
religion.  I want to do what little I can to put another one in God's
name, so that we will worship a supreme human god, so that we will
worship mercy, justice, love and truth, and not have the idea that we
must sacrifice our brother upon the altar of fear to please some
imaginary phantom. See what Christianity has done for the world!  It
has reduced Spain to a guitar, Italy to a hand organ and Ireland to
exile.  That is what religion has done.  Take every country in the
whole world, and the country that has got the least religion is the
most prosperous, and the country that has got the most religion is in
the worst condition.

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, Iris 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 ice
halls of the North; and Thor, with iron glove and glittering hammer,
dashes mountains to the earth no more.

Broken are the circles and the 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 Danae lies unnoticed, naked to the stars.
Hushed forever are the thunders of Sinai; lost are the voices of the
prophets, and the lard once flowing with milk and honey is but a desert
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 man is 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 with 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
our 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 sceptre 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 Jehovah sits upon the old throne. Who will be His

Ingersoll's lecture on The Religion of Our Day

Ladies and Gentlemen:--I am glad that I have lived long enough to see
one gentleman in the pulpit brave enough to say that God would not be
offended at one who speaks according to the dictates of his conscience;
who does not believe that God will give wings to a bird, and then damn
the bird for flying.  I thank the pastor and I thank the church for
allowing its pastor to be so brave.

I admit that thousands and thousands of church people, with their
pastors and the deacons, are today advocating religious principles that
they deem right and good.  I honor these men, but I do not believe that
their method is a good one.  I do not want these people to forgive me
for the views I entertain, but I want them so to act that I will not
have to forgive them.  I am the friend of every one who preaches the
gospel of absolute intellectual liberty, and that man is my friend.

Is there a God who says that if man does so and so He will damn him?
Can there be such a fiend?  I am not responsible to man unless I injure
him; nor to God unless I injure Him, but one cannot injure God, for "He
is infinite."

When I was young I was told that the bible was inspired, written by
God, that even the lids of the book were inspired.  They say He is a
personal God; if so, He has not revealed Himself to me. There may be
many gods. As I look around I see that justice does not prevail, that
innocence is not always effectual and a perfect shield.  If there be a
God these things could not be.  If God made us all, why did He not make
us all equally well.  He had the power of an infinite god.  Why did God
people the earth with so many idiots?  I admit that orthodoxy could not
exist without them, but why did God make them?  If we believe the bible
then He should have made us all idiots, for the orthodox Christian says
the idiots will not be damned, simply transplanted, while the sensible
man, who believeth not, will be sent to eternal damnation?  If there is
any God that made us, what right had He to make idiots?  Is a man with
a head like a pin under any obligation to thank God?  Is the black man,
born in slavery, under any obligation to thank God for his badge of

What kind of a God is it that will allow men and women to be put in
dungeons and chains simply because they loved Him and prayed to Him?
And what kind of a God is it that will allow such men and women to be
burned at the stake?  If God won't love such men and women, then under
what circumstances will he love?

Famine stalks over the land and millions die, not only the bad but the
good, and there in the heavens above sits an infinite God who can do
anything, can change the rocks and the stones, and yet these millions
die.  I do not say there is no God, but I do ask, what is God doing?
Look at the agony, and wretchedness and woe all over the land.  Is
there goodness, is there mercy in this?  I do not say there is not, but
I want to know, and I want to know if a man is to be damned for asking
the question?

(He eloquently recited the agonies that clustered around the French
Bastille, where great men and heroic women suffered and died for loving
liberty, and said:  If there is a God, I think that one word, Bastille,
would bring the blush of shame to His face.)

I find that the men who have received revelation are the worst; and
that where the bible goes there go the sword and the fagot. If an
infinite God makes a revelation to me He knows how I will understand
it.  If God wrote the bible he knew that no two people would understand
it alike.

When I read the bible I found that God in His infinite wisdom couldn't
control the people He had created and that He had to drown them.  If I
had infinite power and couldn't make a people that I could control and
had to drown them, why I'd resign.

Then I read in the bible such cruel things, and I do not believe that
God can be cruel.  Such cruelty may make one afraid, but cannot inspire
love.  I can't love a god that will inflict pain and sorrow, and I

The preachers say all unbelievers will go to hell--tidings of great
joy. When I confront them they--say I'm taking away their consolation.
The old bible does not mention hell or heaven.  Now God should have
notified Adam and Cain of hell, but He didn't. When He came to drown
all those people He didn't tell a single one that He would drown him.
He talked all about water--nothing about fire.  When He came down on
Mount Sinai, and told Moses how to cut out clothes for a priest, He
never said one word on the subject.  When God gave Moses the ten
commandments, engraved on stone, there He said not one word about hell.
There was plenty of room on the stone; why did He not add:  "If you
don't keep these commandments you will be damned."  Through all these
ages, when God was talking all the time, and when every howling prophet
had His ear, not one word did He utter of hell or heaven.  For 4,000
years God got along without mentioning those places or even hinting of
them.  It seems to me that we ought to have been notified by Him.

(Here the orator recalled many stories from the old bible and subjected
them to keen irony and ridicule.  Reciting the story wherein the she
bears came out of the woods and tore to pieces the forty children who
mocked the prophet, he asked:  If God did that, what would the devil
have done under the same circumstances?  Why; he said, did not God give
a sure cure for leprosy, unless He wanted to have His chosen people to
have that frightful disease?)

Do you believe that God ever told a widow if her brother-in-law refused
to marry her to spit in his face?  Do you believe any such nonsense
from a god?  I call that courting under difficulties.  (Then Colonel
Ingersoll dwelt pathetically on the sweet, innocent babes eaten up by
the lions in the den, after Daniel was rescued from their jaws, and
asked the question, what kind of a god was it that allowed such
horrible deeds?)

They say that I pick out all the bad things in the bible.  Well, God
ought not to have put bad things in the book.  If you only read the
bible you will not believe it.  Why, it is such a bad book that it has
to be supported by legislation.  In Maine and elsewhere they will send
you to jail for two years if you deny the bible or the judgment day.

No, we are told we must not only believe in the God we have been
talking about, but must also believe in another one.

Let us look at the church today.  The orthodox church--that is, all but
the Universalist.  He is trying to be orthodox, but he can't get in.
The God of the Universalists, to say the least, is a gentleman.

Now, what is this religion?  To believe certain things that we may be
saved, that we won't be damned.  What are they? First, that the old and
new testament are inspired.  No matter how kind, how just a man may be,
unless he believes in the inspiration, he will be damned.

Second, he must believe in the trinity.  That there are three in one.
That father and son are precisely of the same age, the son, possibly, a
little mite older; that three times one is one, and that once one is
three.  It is a mercy you don't know how to understand it, but you must
believe it or be damned.  Therein you see the mercy of the Lord.  This
trinity doctrine was announced several hundred years after Christ was
born:  Do you believe such a doctrine will make a man good or honest?
Will it make him more just?  Is the man that believes any better than
the man who does not believe?  How is it with nations?  Look at Spain,
the last slave-holder in the civilized world; she's christian, she
believes in the trinity!  And Italy, the beggar of the world. Under the
rule of priestcraft money streamed in from every land and yet she did
not advance.  Today she is reduced to a hand-organ.  Take poor Ireland,
groaning under the heel of British oppression; could she cast off her
priests she would soon be one with America in freedom.

Protestantism is better than Catholicism, because there is less of it.
Both dread education.  They say they brought the arts and sciences out
of the dark ages; why, they made the dark ages and what did they
preserve?  Nothing of value, only an account of events that never
happened.  What did they teach the world! Slavery!

The best country the sun ever shown upon is the northern part of the
United States, and there you will find less religion than anywhere else
on the face of the earth.  You will find here more people that don't
believe the bible, and you will find better husbands, better wives,
happier homes, where the women are most respected and where the
children get less blows and more huggings and kissings.  We have
improved just as we lost this religion and this superstition.

Great Britain is the religious nation par excellence, and there you
will find the most cant and most hypocrisy.  They are always thanking
God that they have killed somebody.  Look at the opium war with China.
They forced the Chinese to open their ports and receive the deadly
drug, and then had the impudence to send a lot of driveling idiots of
missionaries into China.

Go around the world, and where you find the least superstition, there
you will find the best men, the best women, the best children.  Two
powerful levers are at work; love and intelligence.  The true test of a
man is generosity, that covers a multitude of sins.

They have got so now they damn a man on a technicality.  You must be
baptized by immersion, sprinkling or pouring.  If you come to the day
of judgment and can't show the watermark, you're damned!

What more:  That a fellow named Adam, whom you don't know and never
voted for, is your representative.  You are charged with his sins.
Equally abused is the doctrine of atonement, that you are created with
the sacrifice of another.  If Christ had more virtue than Adam had
meanness, then you are ahead.

Atonement is the corner-stone of the Christian religion.  But there is
one great objection.  It saves the wrong man, and it is not honest.
(In holding up the atonement to ridicule the orator said:  "If Judas
had failed to betray Christ, the mother of Christ would be in hell
today." Then he ridiculed the miracles recorded in the new testament,
pronounced them absurdities.  He said that the four apostolic writers
were very contradictory in their statements, and did not even agree as
to the last word of this great man.)

The ascension was the most striking, the grandest of the miracles, if
true, yet the ascension is only recorded by two of these writers.  If
He was God, I know he will forgive somebody for not believing the
miracles, unless convinced.

Another contradiction in the book:  in one gospel the condition of
salvation is "whosoever believeth shall not be damned," and in another
we are promised that if we forgive our enemies God will forgive us--and
there's sense in this last promise.  The first I believe a lie--it was
never spoken by God.

Christ said:  Love your enemies.  Nobody can do that.  The doctrine of
Confucius is sound--to love one's friends and to do justice to one's
enemies without any mixture of revenge.

If Christ was God, did He not know on His cross what crimes would be
done in His name?  Why didn't He settle all disputes about the trinity
and about baptism?  Why didn't He post His disciples? Because He could
no more see into the future than I can.  Only in this way can you
acquit him of the crimes committed in His name. The way to save our own
souls is to save another soul.  God can't turn into hell a man who
makes on this earth a little heaven for himself, wife and babes.

Any minister who preaches the doctrine of hell ought to be ashamed.  I
want, if I can while I live, to put an end to all belief in this
infamous doctrine.  That doctrine has done incalculable harm, wrought
incalculable injury.  I despise it, and I defy it.

The orthodox church says that religion does good; that it restrains
crime.  It restrains a man from artificial, not from natural crimes.  A
man can be made so religious that he will not eat meat on Friday, yet
he will steal.

Did you ever hear of a tramp coming to town and inquiring where the
deacon of the Presbyterian church lived.

The bible says consider the lilies.  What good would it do a naked man
standing out in the bitter blasts of this night to consider the lilies.

What is the social position of a man in heaven who through all eternity
remembers that if he had had a grain of courage he would never have
been there.

The realization of our day does not satisfy the intelligence of the
people--the people have outgrown it.  It shocks us and we have got to
have another religion. We must have a religion of charity; one that
will do away with poverty, close the prisons and cover this world with

Ingersoll's Lecture on Heretics and Heresies

"Liberty, a word without which--All other words are vain."

Whoever has an opinion of his own, and honestly expresses it, will be
guilty of heresy.  Heresy is what the minority believe; it is a name
given by the powerful to the doctrine of the weak. This word was born
of the hatred, arrogance, and cruelty of those who love their enemies,
and who, when smitten on one cheek, turn the other.  This word was born
of intellectual slavery in the feudal ages of thought.  It was an
epithet used in the place of argument.  From the commencement of the
Christian era, every art has been exhausted, and every conceivable
punishment inflicted to force all people to hold the same religious
opinions.  This effort was born of the idea that a certain belief was
necessary to the salvation of the soul.  Christ taught, and the church
still teaches, that unbelief is the blackest of crimes.  God is
supposed to hate with an infinite and implacable hatred, every heretic
upon the earth, and the heretics who have died are supposed, at this
moment, to be suffering the agonies of the damned.  The church
persecutes the living, and her God burns the dead.

It is claimed that God wrote a book called the bible, and it is
generally admitted that this book is somewhat difficult to understand.
As long as the church had all the copies of this book, and the people
were not allowed to read it, there was comparatively little heresy in
the world; but when it was printed and read, people began honestly to
differ as to its meaning.  A few were independent and brave enough to
give the world their real thoughts, and for the extermination of these
men the church used all her power.  Protestants and Catholics vied with
each other in the work of enslaving the human mind.  For ages they were
rivals in the infamous effort to rid the earth of honest people.  They
infested every country, every city, town, hamlet, and family.  They
appealed to the worst passions of the human heart.  They sowed the
seeds of discord and hatred in every land.  Brother denounced brother,
wives informed against their husbands, mothers accused their children,
dungeons were crowded with the innocent; the flesh of the good and true
rotted in the clasp of chains, the flames devoured the heroic, and in
the name of the most merciful God, his children were exterminated with
famine, sword and fire.  Over the wild waves of battle rose and fell
the banner of Jesus Christ.  For sixteen hundred years the robes of the
church were red with innocent blood.  The ingenuity of Christians was
exhausted in devising punishment severe enough to be inflicted upon
other Christians who honestly and sincerely differed with them upon any
point whatever.

Give any orthodox church the power, and today they would punish heresy
with whip, and chain, and fire.  As long as a church deemed a certain
belief essential to salvation, just so long it will kill and burn if it
has the power.  Why should the church pity a man whom her God hates?
Why should she show mercy to a kind and noble heretic whom her God will
burn in eternal fire? Why should a Christian be better than his God?
It is impossible for the imagination to conceive of a greater atrocity
than has been perpetrated by the church.  Let it be remembered that all
churches have persecuted heretics to the extent of their power. Every
nerve in the human body capable of pain has been sought out and touched
by the church.  Toleration has increased only when and where the power
of the church has diminished.  From Augustine until now the spirit of
the Christian has remained the same. There has been the same
intolerance, the same undying hatred of all who think for themselves,
the same determination to crush out of the human brain all knowledge
inconsistent with the ignorant creed.

Every church pretends that it has a revelation from God, and that this
revelation must be given to the people through the church; that the
church acts through its priests, and that ordinary mortals must be
content with a revelation--not from God--but from the church.  Had the
people submitted to this preposterous claim, of course there could have
been but one church, and that church never could have advanced.  It
might have retrograded, because it is not necessary to think, or
investigate, in order to forget. Without heresy there could have been
no progress.

The highest type of the orthodox christian does not forget. Neither
does he learn.  He neither advances nor recedes.  He is a living
fossil, imbedded in that rock called faith.  He makes no effort to
better his condition, because all his strength is exhausted in keeping
other people from improving theirs.  The supreme desire of his heart is
to force all others to adopt his creed, and in order to accomplish this
object, he denounces all kinds of free thinking as a crime, and this
crime he calls heresy.  When he had the power, heresy was the most
terrible and formidable of words.  It meant confiscation, exile,
imprisonment, torture, and death.

In those days the cross and rack were inseparable companions. Across
the open bible lay the sword and fagot.  Not content with burning such
heretics as were alive, they even tried the dead, in order that the
church might rob their wives and children.  The property of all
heretics was confiscated, and on this account they charged the dead
with being heretical--indicted, as it were, their dust--to the end that
the church might clutch the bread of orphans.  Learned divines
discussed propriety of tearing out the tongues of heretics before they
were burned, and the general opinion was that this ought to be done, so
that the heretics should not be able, by uttering blasphemies, to shock
the christians who were burning them.  With a mixture of ferocity and
christianity, the priests insisted that heretics ought to be burned at
a slow fire, giving as a reason, that more time was given them for

No wonder that Jesus Christ said, "I came not to bring peace but a

Every priest regarded himself as the agent of God.  He answered all
questions by authority, and to treat him with disrespect was an insult
offered to God.  No one was asked to think, but all were commanded to

In 1208 the inquisition was established.  Seven years afterward; the
fourth council of the Lateran enjoined all kings and rulers to swear an
oath that they would exterminate heretics from their dominions.  The
sword of the church was unsheathed, and the world was at the mercy of
ignorant and infuriated priests, whose eyes feasted upon the agonies
they inflicted.  Acting as they believed, or pretended to believe under
the command of God, stimulated by the hope of infinite reward in
another world--hating heretics with every drop of their bastille
blood--savage beyond description--merciless beyond conception--these
infamous priests in a kind of frenzied joy, leaped upon the helpless
victims of their rage.  They crushed their bones in iron boots, tore
their quivering flesh with iron hooks and pinchers, cut off their lips
and eyelids, pulled out their nails, and into the bleeding quick thrust
needles, tore out their tongues, extinguished their eyes, stretched
them upon racks, flayed them alive, crucified them with their head
downward, exposed them to wild beasts, burned them at the stake, mocked
their cries and groans, ravished their wives, robbed their children,
and then prayed God to finish the holy work in hell.

Millions upon millions were sacrificed upon the altars of bigotry.  The
Catholic burned the Lutheran, the Lutheran burned the Catholic; the
Episcopalian tortured the Presbyterian, the Presbyterian tortured the
Episcopalian.   Every denomination killed all it could of every other;
and each Christian felt it duty bound to exterminate every other
Christian who denied the smallest fraction of his creed.

In the reign of Henry the VIII., that pious and moral founder of the
Apostolic Episcopal church, there was passed by the Parliament of
England an act entitled, "An act for abolishing of diversity of
opinion."  And in this act was set forth what a good Christian was
obliged to believe.

First, that in the sacrament was the real body and blood of Jesus

Second, that the body and blood of Jesus Christ was in the bread, and
the blood and body of Jesus Christ was in the wine.

Third, that priests should not marry.

Fourth, that vows of chastity were of perpetual obligation.

Fifth, that private masses ought to be continued.

And sixth, that auricular confession to a priest must be maintained.

This creed was made by law, in order that all men might know just what
to believe by simply reading the statute.  The church hated to see the
people wearing out their brains in thinking upon these subjects.  It
was thought far better that a creed should be made by Parliament, so
that whatever might be lacking in evidence might be made up in force.
The punishment for denying the first article was death by fire.  For
the denial of any other article, imprisonment, and for the second

Your attention is called to these six articles, established during the
reign of Henry VIII, and by the Church of England, simply because not
one of these articles is believed by that church today.  If the law
then made by the church could be enforced now, every Episcopalian would
be burned at the stake.

Similar laws were passed in most Christian countries, as all orthodox
churches firmly believed that mankind could be legislated into heaven.
According to the creed of every church, slavery leads to heaven,
liberty leads to hell.  It was claimed that God had founded the church,
and that to deny the authority of the church was to be a traitor to
God, and consequently an ally of the devil.  To torture and destroy one
of the soldiers of Satan was a duty no good Christian cared to neglect.
Nothing can be sweeter than to earn the gratitude of God by killing
your own enemies.  Such a mingling of profit and revenge, of heaven for
yourself and damnation for those you dislike, is a temptation that your
ordinary Christian never resists.

According to the theologians, God, the father of us all wrote a letter
to His children.  The children have always differed somewhat as to the
meaning of this letter.  In consequence of these honest differences,
these brothers began to cut out each other's hearts.  In every land,
where this letter from God has been read, the children to whom and for
whom it was written have been filled with hatred and malice.  They have
imprisoned and murdered each other, and the wives and children of each
other. In the name of God every possible crime has been committed,
every conceivable outrage has been perpetrated.  Brave men, tender and
loving women, beautiful girls, prattling babes have been exterminated
in the name of Jesus Christ.  For more than fifty generations the
church has carried the black flag.  Her vengeance has been measured
only by her power.  During all these years of infamy no heretic has
ever been forgiven.  With the heart of a fiend she has hated; with the
clutch of avarice she has grasped; with the jaws of a dragon she has
devoured, pitiless as famine, merciless as fire, with the conscience of
a serpent. Such is the history of the church of God.

I do not say, and I do not believe, that Christians are as bad as their
creeds.  In spite of church and dogma, there have been millions and
millions of men and women true to the loftiest and most generous
promptings of the human heart.  They have been true to their
convictions, and with a self-denial and fortitude excelled by none,
have labored and suffered for the salvation of men.  Imbued with the
spirit of self-sacrifice, believing that by personal effort they could
rescue at least a few souls from the infinite shadow of hell, they have
cheerfully endured every hardship and scorned danger and death.  And
yet, notwithstanding all this, they believed that honest error was a
crime.  They knew that the bible so declared, and they believed that
all unbelievers would be eternally lost.  They believed that religion
was of God, and all heresy of the devil.  They killed heretics in
defense of their own souls and the souls of their children.  They
killed them, because, according to their idea, they were the enemies of
God, and because the bible teaches that the blood of the unbeliever is
a most acceptable sacrifice to heaven.

Nature never prompted a loving mother to throw her child into the
Ganges.  Nature never prompted men to exterminate each other for a
difference of opinion concerning the baptism of infants.  These crimes
have been produced by religions filled with all that is illogical,
cruel and hideous.  These religions were produced for the most part by
ignorance, tyranny, and hypocrisy.  Under the impression that the
infinite ruler and creator of the universe had commanded the
destruction of heretics and infidels, the church perpetrated all these

Men and women have been burned for thinking that there was but one God;
that there was none; that the Holy Ghost is younger than God; that God
was somewhat older than his Son; for insisting that good works will
save a man, without faith; that faith will do without good works; for
declaring that a sweet babe will not be barred eternally, because its
parents failed to have its head wet by a priest; for speaking of God as
though He had a nose; for denying that Christ was His own father; for
contending that three persons, rightly added together, make more than
one; for believing in purgatory; for denying the reality of hell; for
pretending that priests can forgive sins; for preaching that God is an
essence; for denying that witches rode through the air on sticks; for
doubting the total depravity of the human heart; for laughing at
irresistible grace, predestination, and particular redemption; for
denying that good bread could be made of the body of a dead man; for
pretending that the Pope was not managing this world for God, and in
place of God, for disputing the efficacy of a vicarious atonement; for
thinking that the Virgin Mary was born like other people; for thinking
that a man's rib was hardly sufficient to make a good sized woman; for
denying that God used His finger for a pen; for asserting that prayers
are not answered, that diseases are not set to punish unbelief; for
denying the authority of the bible; for having a bible in their
possession; for attending mass, and for refusing to attend, for wearing
a surplice; for carrying a cross, and for refusing; for being a
Catholic, and for being a Protestant, for being an Episcopalian, a
Presbyterian, a Baptist, and for being a Quaker.  In short, every
virtue has been a crime, and every crime a virtue.  The church has
burned honesty and rewarded hypocrisy, and all this she did because it
was commanded by a book--a book that men had been taught implicitly to
believe, long before they knew one word that was in it.  They had been
taught that to doubt the truth of this book, to examine it, even, was a
crime of such enormity that it could not be forgiven, either in this
world or in the next.

The bible was the real persecutor.  The bible burned heretics, built
dungeons, founded the Inquisition, and trampled upon all the liberties
of men.

How long, O how long will mankind worship a book?  How long will they
grovel in the dust before the ignorant legends of the barbaric past?
How long, O how long will they pursue phantoms in a darkness deeper
than death?

Unfortunately for the world, about the beginning of the sixteenth
century a man by the name of Gerard Chauvin was married to Jeanne
Lefranc, and still more unfortunately for the world, the fruit of this
marriage was a son, called John Chauvin, who afterward became famous as
John Calvin, the founder of the Presbyterian church.

This man forged five fetters for the brain.  These fetters he called
points.  That is to say, predestination, particular redemption, total
depravity, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints.
About the neck of each follower he put a collar, bristling with these
five iron points.  The presence of all these points on the collar is
still the test of orthodoxy in the church he founded.  This man, when
in the flush of youth, was elected to the office of preacher in Geneva.
He at once, in union with Farel, drew up a condensed statement of the
Presbyterian doctrine, and all the citizens of Geneva, on pain of
banishment, were compelled to take an oath that they, believed this
statement.  Of this proceeding Calvin very innocently remarked, that it
produced great satisfaction.  A man by the name of Caroli had the
audacity to dispute with Calvin.  For this outrage he was banished.

To show you what great subjects occupied the attention of Calvin, it is
only necessary to state, that he furiously discussed the question, as
to whether the sacramental bread should be leavened or unleavened.  He
drew up laws regulating the cut of the citizens' clothes, and
prescribed their diet, and all whose garments were not in the Calvin
fashion were refused the sacrament.  At last, the people becoming tired
of this petty, theological tyranny, banished Calvin.  In a few years,
however, he was recalled and received with great enthusiasm.  After
this, he was supreme, and the will of Calvin became the law of Geneva.
Under the benign administration of Calvin, James Gruet was beheaded
because he had written some profane verses.  The slightest word against
Calvin or his absurd doctrine was punished as a crime.

In 1553, a man was tried at Vienne by the Catholic church for heresy.
He was convicted and sentenced to death by burning.  It was his good
fortune to escape.  Pursued by the sleuth hounds of intolerance he fled
to Geneva for protection.  A dove flying from hawks, sought safety in
the nest of a vulture.  This fugitive from the cruelty of Rome asked
shelter from John Calvin, who had written a book in favor of religious
toleration.   Servetus had forgotten that this book was written by
Calvin when in the minority; that it was written in weakness to be
forgotten in power; that it was produced by fear instead of principle.
He did not know that Calvin had caused his arrest at Vienne, in France,
and had sent a copy of his work, which was claimed to be blasphemous to
the archbishop.  He did not then know that the Protestant, Calvin, was
acting as one of the detectives of the Catholic church, and had been
instrumental in procuring his conviction for heresy.  Ignorant of all
this unspeakable infamy, he put himself in the power of this very
Calvin.  The maker of the Presbyterian creed caused the fugitive
Servetus to be arrested for blasphemy.  He was tried; Calvin was his
accuser. He was convicted and condemned to death by fire.  On the
morning of the fatal day, Calvin saw him; and Servetus, the victim,
asked forgiveness of Calvin, the murderer, for anything he might have
said that had wounded his feelings.  Servetus was bound to the stake,
the fagots were lighted.  The wind carried the flames somewhat away
from his body, so that he slowly roasted for hours. Vainly he implored
a speedy death.  At last the flame climbed around his form; through
smoke and fire his murderers saw a white, heroic face.  And there they
watched until a man became a charred and shriveled mass.

Liberty was banished from Geneva, and nothing but Presbyterianism was
left; honor, justice, mercy, reason and charity were all exiled; but
the five points of predestination, particular redemption, irresistible
grace, total depravity, and the certain perseverance of the saints
remained instead.

Calvin founded a little theocracy in Geneva, modeled after the old
testament, and succeeded in erecting the most detestable government
that ever existed, except the one from which it was copied.

Against all this intolerance, one man, a minister, raised his voice.
The name of this man should never be forgotten.  It was Castellio.
This brave man had the goodness and the courage to declare the
innocence of honest error.  He was the first of the so-called reformers
to take this noble ground.  I wish I had the genius to pay a fitting
tribute to his memory.  Perhaps it would be impossible to pay him a
grander compliment than to say, Castellio was in all things the
opposite of Calvin.  To plead for the right of individual judgment was
considered as a crime, and Castellio was driven from Geneva by John
Calvin.  By him he was denounced as a child of the devil, as a dog of
Satan, as a beast from hell, and as one who, by this horrid blasphemy
of the innocence of honest error, crucified Christ afresh, and by him
he was pursued until rescued by the hand of death.

Upon the name of Castellio, Calvin heaved every epithet, until his
malice was satisfied and his imagination exhausted.  It is impossible
to conceive how human nature can become so frightfully perverted as to
pursue a fellow-man with the malignity of a fiend, simply because he is
good, just and generous.

Calvin was of a pallid, bloodless complexion, thin, sickly, irritable,
gloomy, impatient, egotistic, tyrannical, heartless and infamous.  He
was a strange compound of revengeful morality, malicious forgiveness,
ferocious charity, egotistic humility, and a kind of hellish justice.
In other words, he was as near like the God of the old testament as his
Health permitted.

The best thing, however, about the Presbyterians of Geneva was, that
they denied the power of the Pope, and the best thing about the Pope
was, that he was not a Presbyterian.

The doctrines of Calvin spread rapidly, and were eagerly accepted by
multitudes on the continent.  But Scotland, in a few years, became the
real fortress of Presbyterianism.  The Scotch rivaled the adherents of
Calvin, and succeeded in establishing the same kind of theocracy that
flourished in Geneva.  The clergy took possession and control of
everybody and everything.  It is impossible to exaggerate the slavery,
the mental degradation, the abject superstition of the people of
Scotland during the reign of Presbyterianism.  Heretics were hunted and
devoured as though they had been wild beasts.  The gloomy insanity of
Presbyterianism took possession of a great majority of the people.
They regarded their ministers as the Jews did Moses and Aaron.  They
believed that they were the especial agents of God, and that whatsoever
they bound in Scotland would be bound in heaven.  There was not one
particle of intellectual freedom.  No one was allowed to differ from
the church, or to even contradict a priest.  Had Presbyterianism
maintained its ascendancy, Scotland would have been peopled by savages
today.  The revengeful spirit of Calvin took possession of the Puritans
and caused them to redden the soil of the new world with the brave
blood of honest men.  Clinging to the five points of Calvin, they, too,
established governments in accordance with the teachings of the old
testament. They, too, attached the penalty of death to the expression
of honest thought.  They, too, believed their church supreme, and
exerted all their power to curse this continent with a spiritual
despotism as infamous as it was absurd.  They believed with Luther that
universal toleration is universal error, and universal error is
universal hell. Toleration was denounced as a crime.  Fortunately for
us, civilization has had a softening effect upon the Presbyterian
church.  To the ennobling influence of the arts and science the savage
spirit of Calvinism has, in some slight degree, succumbed. True, the
old creed remains substantially as it was written, but by a kind of
tacit understanding it has come to be regarded as a relic of the past.
The cry of "heresy" has been growing fainter and fainter, and, as a
consequence, the ministers of that denomination have ventured now and
then to express doubts as to the damnation of infants, and the doctrine
of total depravity. The fact is, the old ideas became a little
monotonous to the people.  The fall of man, the scheme of redemption
and irresistible grace, began to have a familiar sound.  The preachers
told the old stories while the congregation slept. Some of the
ministers became tired of these stories themselves. The five points
grew dull, and they felt that nothing short of irresistible grace could
bear this endless repetition.  The outside world was full of progress,
and in every direction men advanced, while the church, anchored to a
creed, idly rotted at the shore.  Other denominations, imbued some
little with the spirit of investigation, were springing up on every
side, while the old Presbyterian ark rested on the Ararat of the past,
filled with the theological monsters of another age.

Lured by the splendors of the outer world, tempted by the achievements
of science, longing to feel the throw and beat of the mighty march of
the human race, a few of the ministers of this conservative
denomination were compelled by irresistible sense, to say a few words
in harmony with the splendid ideas of today.

These utterances have upon several occasions so nearly awakened some of
the members, that, rubbing their eyes, they have feebly inquired
whether these grand ideas were not somewhat heretical? These ministers
found that just in proportion as their orthodoxy decreased, their
congregations increased.  Those who dealt in the pure unadulterated
article, found themselves demonstrating the five points to a less
number of hearers than they had points. Stung to madness by this bitter
truth, this galling contrast, this harassing fact, the really orthodox
have raised the cry of heresy, and expect with this cry to seal the
lips of honest men. One of these ministers, and one who has been
enjoying the luxury of a little honest thought, and the real rapture of
expressing it, has already been indicted, and is about to be tried by
the Presbytery of Illinois.

He has been charged:

First.  With speaking in an ambiguous language in relation to that dear
old doctrine of the fall of man.  With having neglected to preach that
most comforting and consoling truth, the eternal damnation of the soul.

Surely, that man must be a monster who could wish to blot this blessed
doctrine out and rob earth's wretched children of this blissful hope!

Who can estimate the misery that has been caused by this most infamous
doctrine of eternal punishment?  Think of the lives it has blighted--of
the tears it has caused--of the agony it has produced.  Think of the
millions who have been driven to insanity by this most terrible of
dogmas.  This doctrine renders God the basest and most cruel being in
the universe.  Compared with him, the most frightful deities of the
most barbarous and degraded tribes are miracles of goodness and mercy.
There is nothing more degrading than to worship such a God.  Lower than
this the soul can never sink.  If the doctrine of eternal damnation is
true, let me have my portion in hell, rather than in heaven with a God
infamous enough to inflict eternal misery upon any of the sons of men.

Second.  With having spoken a few kind words of Robert Collyer and John
Stuart Mill.

I have the honor of a slight acquaintance with Robert Collyer. I have
read with pleasure some of his exquisite productions.  He has a brain
full of the dawn, the head of a philosopher, the imagination of a poet,
and the sincere heart of a child.

Is a minister to be silenced because he speaks fairly of a noble and
candid adversary?  Is it a crime to compliment a lover of justice, an
advocate of liberty; one who devoted his life to the elevation of man,
the discovery of truth, and the promulgation of what he believed to be

Can that tongue be palsied by a presbytery that praises a self-denying
and heroic life?  Is it a sin to speak a charitable word over the grave
of John Stuart Mill?  Is it heretical to pay a just and graceful
tribute to departed worth?  Must the true Presbyterian violate the
sanctity of the tomb, dig open the grave, and ask his God to curse the
silent dust? Is Presbyterianism so narrow that it conceives of no
excellence, of no purity of intention, of no spiritual and moral
grandeur outside of its barbaric creed?  Does it still retain within
its stony heart all the malice of its founder?  Is it still warming its
fleshless hands at the flames that consumed Servetus? Does it still
glory in the damnation of infants, and does it still persist in
emptying the cradle in order that perdition may be filled?  Is it still
starving the soul and famishing the heart?  Is it still trembling and
shivering, crouching and crawling, before its ignorant confession of
faith?  Had such men as Robert Collyer and John Stuart Mill been
present at the burning of Servetus, they would have extinguished the
flames with their tears.  Had the Presbytery of Chicago been there,
they would have quietly turned their backs, solemnly divided their
coat-tails and warmed themselves.

Third.  With having spoken disparagingly of the doctrine of

If there is any dogma that ought to be protected by law, predestination
is that doctrine.  Surely it is a cheerful, joyous thing to one who is
laboring, struggling and suffering in this weary world, to think that
before he existed, before the earth was, before a star had glittered in
the heavens, before a ray of light had left the quiver of the sun, his
destiny had been irrevocably fixed, and that for an eternity before his
birth he had been doomed to bear eternal pain!

Fourth.  With having failed to preach the efficacy of vicarious

Suppose a man had been convicted of murder, and was about to be
hanged--the Governor acting as the executioner.  And suppose just as
the doomed man was to suffer death, some one in the crowd should step
forward and say, "I am willing to die in the place of that murderer.
He has a family, and I have none."  And suppose further that the
Governor should reply, "Come forward, young man, your offer is
accepted.  A murder has been committed, and somebody must be hung, and
your death will satisfy the law just as well as the death of the
murderer."  What would you then think of the doctrine of  vicarious

This doctrine is the consummation of two outrages--forgiving one crime
and committing another.

Fifth.  With having inculcated a phase of the doctrine commonly known
as "Evolution" or "Development."  The church believes and teaches the
exact opposite of this doctrine.  According to the philosophy of
theology, man has continued to degenerate for six thousand years.  To
teach that there is that in Nature which impels to higher forms and
grander ends, is heresy of course. The Deity will damn Spencer and his
"Evolution," Darwin and his "Origin of Species," Bastin and his
"Spontaneous Generation," Huxley and his "Protoplasm," Tyndall and his
"Prayer Guage," and will save those, and those only who declare that
the universe has been cursed from the smallest atom to the grandest
star; that everything tends to evil, and to that only; and that the
only perfect thing in Nature is the Presbyterian confession of faith.

Sixth.  With having intimated that the reception of Socrates and
Penelope at heaven's gate was, to say the least, a trifle more cordial
than that of Catherine II.

Penelope waiting patiently and trustfully for her lord's return,
delaying her suitors, while sadly weaving and un-weaving the shroud of
Laertes, is the most perfect type of wife and woman produced by the
civilization of Greece.

Socrates, whose life was above reproach, and whose death was beyond all
praise, stands today, in the estimation of every thoughtful man, at
least the peer of Christ.

Catharine II assassinated her husband.  Stepping upon his corpse, she
mounted the throne.  She was the murderess of Prince Ivan, the
grand-nephew of Peter the Great, who was imprisoned for eighteen years,
and who, during all that time, saw the sky but once.  Taken all in all,
Catharine was probably one of the most intellectual beasts that ever
wore a crown.

Catharine, however, was the head of the Greek Church, Socrates was a
heretic, and Penelope lived and died without having once heard of
"particular redemption," or "irresistible grace."

Seventh.  With repudiating the idea of a "call" to ministry, and
pretending that men were "called," to preach as they were to the other
avocations of life.

If this doctrine is true, God, to say the least of it, is an
exceedingly poor judge of human nature.  It is more than a century
since a man of true genius has been found in an orthodox pulpit.  Every
minister is heretical just to the extent that his intellect is above
the average. The Lord seems to be satisfied with mediocrity; but the
people are not.

An old deacon, wishing to get rid of an unpopular preacher, advised him
to give up the ministry, and turn his attention to something else.  The
preacher replied that he could not conscientiously desert the pulpit,
as he had a "call" to the ministry.  To which the deacon replied, "That
may be so, but it's mighty unfortunate for you that when God called you
to preach, He forgot to call anybody to hear you."

There is nothing more stupidly egotistic than the claim of the clergy
that they are, in some divine sense, set apart to the service of the
Lord; that they have been chosen and sanctified; that there is an
infinite difference between them and persons employed in secular
affairs.  They teach us that all other professions must take care of
themselves; that God allows anybody to be a doctor, a lawyer,
statesman, soldier, or artist; that the Motts and Coopers--the
Mansfields and Marshalls--the Wilberforces and Sumners--the Angelos and
Raphaels--were never honored by a "call."  These chose their
professions and won their laurels without the assistance of the Lord.
All these men were left free to follow their own inclinations while God
was busily engaged selecting and "calling" priests, rectors, elders,
ministers and exhorters.

Eighth.  With having doubted that God was the author of the 109th Psalm.

The portion of that Psalm which carries with it the clearest and most
satisfactory evidences of inspiration, and which has afforded almost
unspeakable consolation to the Presbyterian church, is as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

"Let the extortioner catch all that he hated; and let the strangers
spoil his labor.

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

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

"But do thou for me, O God the Lord, for Thy name's sake; because Thy
mercy is good, deliver thou me....  I will greatly praise the Lord with
my mouth."

Think of a God wicked and malicious enough to inspire this prayer.
Think of one infamous enough to answer it.  Had this inspired Psalm
been found in some temple erected for the worship of snakes, or in the
possession of some cannibal king, written with blood upon the dried
skins of babes, there would have been a perfect harmony between its
surroundings and its sentiments.

No wonder that the author of this inspired Psalm coldly received
Socrates and Penelope, and reserved his sweetest smiles for Catharine
the Second!

Ninth.  With having said that the battles in which the Israelites
engaged with the approval and command of Jehovah surpassed in cruelty
those of Julius Caesar.

Was it Julius Caesar who said, "And the Lord our God delivered him
before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people.  And we
took all his cities, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women and
the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain?"

Did Julius Caesar send the following report to the Roman Senate? "And
we took all his cities at that time, there was not a city which we took
not from them, three-score city, all the region of Argob, the kingdom
of Og, in Bashan.  All these cities were fenced with high walls, gates
and bars; besides unwalled towns a great many.  And we utterly
destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon, king of Heshbon, utterly
destroying the men, women, and children of every city."

Did Caesar take the city of Jericho "and utterly destroy all that was
in the city, both man and woman, young and old?"  Did he smite "all the
country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the
springs, and all their kings, and leave none remaining that breathed,
as the Lord God had commanded?"

Search the records of the whole world, find out the history of every
barbarous tribe, and you can find no crime that touched a lower depth
of infamy than those the bible's God commanded and approved.  For such
a God I have no words to express my loathing and contempt, and all the
words in all the languages of man would scarcely be sufficient.  Away
with such a God!  Give me Jupiter rather, with Io and Europa, or even
Siva with his skulls and snakes, or give me none.

Tenth.  With having repudiated the doctrines of total depravity.

What a precious doctrine is that of the total depravity of the human
heart!  How sweet it is to believe that the lives of all the good and
great were continual sins and perpetual crimes; that the love a mother
bears her child is, in the sight of God, a sin; that the gratitude of
the natural heart is simple meanness; that the tears of pity are
impure; that for the unconverted to live and labor for others is an
offense to heaven; that the noblest aspirations of the soul are low and
groveling in the sight of God; that man should fall upon his knees and
ask forgiveness, simply for loving his wife and child, and that even
the act of asking forgiveness is in fact a crime.

Surely it is a kind of bliss to feel that every woman and child in the
wide world, with the exception of those who believe the five points, or
some other equally cruel creed, and such children as have been
baptized, ought at this very moment to be dashed down to the lowest
glowing gulf of the hell!

Take from the Christian the history of his own church; leave that
entirely out of the question, and he has no argument left with which to
substantiate the total depravity of man.

A minister once asked an old lady, a member of his church, what she
thought of the doctrine of total depravity, and the dear old soul
replied that she thought it a mighty good doctrine if the Lord would
only give the people grace enough to live up to it?

Eleventh.  With having doubted the "perseverance of the saints."

I suppose the real meaning of this doctrine is that Presbyterians are
just as sure of going to heaven as all other folks are of going to
hell. The real idea being, that it all depends upon the will of God,
and not upon the character of the person to be damned or saved; that
God has the weakness to send Presbyterians to Paradise, and the justice
to doom the rest of mankind to eternal fire.

It is admitted that no unconverted brain can see the least of sense in
this doctrine; that it is abhorrent to all who have not been the
recipients of a "new heart;"  that only the perfectly good can justify
the perfectly infamous.

It is contended that the saints do not persevere of their own free
will--that they are entitled to no credit for persevering; but that God
forces them to persevere; while on the other hand, every crime is
committed in accordance with the secret will of God, who does all
things for His own glory.  Compared with this doctrine, there is no
other idea, that has ever been believed by man, that can properly be
called absurd.

As to the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, I wish with all
my heart that it may prove to be a fact, I really hope that every
saint, no matter how badly he may break on the first quarter, nor how
many shoes he may cast at the half-mile pole, will foot it bravely down
the long home-stretch, and win eternal heaven by at least a neck.

Twelfth.  With having spoken and written somewhat lightly of the idea
of converting the heathen with doctrinal sermons.

Of all the failures of which we have any history or knowledge the
missionary effort is the most conspicuous.  The whole question has been
decided here, in our own country, and conclusively settled.  We have
nearly exterminated the Indians; but we have converted none.  From the
days of John Eliot to the execution of the last Modoc, not one Indian
has been the subject of irresistible grace or particular redemption.
The few red men who roam the Western wilderness have no thought or care
concerning the five points of Calvin.  They are utterly oblivious to
the great and vital truths contained in the Thirty-nine articles, the
Saybrook platform, and the resolutions of the Evangelical Alliance.  No
Indian has ever scalped another on account of his religious belief.
This of itself shows conclusively that the missionaries have had no

Why should we convert the heathen of China and kill our own?  Why
should we send missionaries across the seas, and soldiers over the
plains?  Why should we send bibles to the East and muskets to the West?
If it is impossible to convert Indians who have no religion of their
own; no prejudice for or against the "eternal procession of the Holy
Ghost," how can we expect to convert a heathen who has a religion; who
has plenty of gods and bibles and prophets and Christs, and who has a
religious literature far grander than our own?  Can we hope, with the
story of Daniel in the lion's den, to rival the stupendous miracles of
India?  Is there anything in our bible as lofty and loving as the
prayer of the Buddhist?  Compare your "Confession of Faith" with the

"Never will I seek nor receive private individual salvation--never
enter into final peace alone; but forever and everywhere will I live
and strive for the universal redemption of every creature throughout
all worlds.  Until all are delivered, never will I leave the world of
sin, sorrow and struggle, but will remain where I am."

Think of sending an average Presbyterian to convert a man who daily
offers this tender, this infinitely generous and incomparable prayer!
Think of reading the 109th Psalm to a heathen who has a bible of his
own, in which is found this passage:  "Blessed is that man, and beloved
of all the gods, who is afraid of no man, and of whom no man is afraid!"

Why should you read even the new testament to a Hindoo, when his own
Chrishna has said:  "If a man strike thee, and in striking drop his
staff, pick it up and hand it to him again?"  Why send a Presbyterian
to a Sufi, who says:  "Better one moment of silent contemplation and
inward love, than seventy thousand years of outward worship?"
"Whosoever would carelessly tread one worm that crawls on earth, that
heartless one is darkly alienate from God; but he that, living,
embraceth all things in his love, to live with him God bursts all
bounds above, below."

Why should we endeavor to thrust our cruel and heartless theology upon
one who prays this prayer:  "O God, show pity toward the wicked; for on
the good thou hast already bestowed thy mercy by having created them

Compare this prayer with the curses and cruelties of the old
testament--with the infamies commanded and approved by the being whom
the are taught to worship as a God, and with the following tender
product of Presbyterianism:  "It may seem absurd to human wisdom that
God should harden, blind, and deliver up some men to a reprobate sense;
that He should first deliver them over to evil, and then condemn them
for that evil; but the believing spiritual man sees no absurdity in all
this, knowing that God would never be a whit less good, even though He
should destroy all men."

Of all the religions that have been produced by the egotism, the
malice, the ignorance and ambition of man, Presbyterianism is the most

But what shall I say more? for the time would fail me to tell of
Sabellianism, of a "Model trinity" and the "eternal procession of the
Holy Ghost."

Upon these charges a minister is to be tried, here in Chicago; in this
city of pluck and progress--this marvel of energy, and this miracle of
nerve.  The cry of "heresy" here, sounds like a wail from the Dark
Ages--a shriek from the Inquisition, or a groan from the grave of

Another effort is being made to enslave a man.  It is claimed that
every member of the church has solemnly agreed never to outgrow the
creed; that he has pledged himself to remain an intellectual dwarf.
Upon this condition the church agrees to save his soul, and he hands
over his brains to bind the bargain. Should a fact be found
inconsistent with the creed, he binds himself to deny the fact and
curse the finder.  With scraps of dogmas and crumbs of doctrine, he
agrees that his soul shall be satisfied forever.  What an intellectual
feast the confession of faith must be!  It reminds one of the dinner
described by Sidney Smith, where everything was cold except the water,
and everything sour except the vinegar.

Every member of a church promises to remain orthodox, that is to
say--stationary.  Growth is heresy.  Orthodox ideas are the feathers
that have been molted by the eagle of progress.  They are the dead
leaves under the majestic palm; while heresy is the bud and blossom at
the top.

Imagine a vine that grows at one end and decays at the other. The end
that grows is heresy; the end that rots is orthodox. The dead are
orthodox, and your cemetery is the most perfect type of a well
regulated church.  No thought, no progress, no heresy there.  Slowly
and silently, side by side, the satisfied members peacefully decay.
There is only this difference--the dead do not persecute.

And what does a trial for heresy mean?  It means that the church says
to a heretic, "Believe as I do, or I will withdraw my support; I will
not employ you; I will pursue you until your garments are rags; until
your children cry for bread; until your cheeks are furrowed with tears.
I will hunt you to the very portals of the tomb, and then my God will
do the rest.  I will not imprison you.  I will not burn you.  The law
prevents my doing that.  I helped make the law, not, however, to
protect you, nor deprive me of the right to exterminate you, but in
order to keep other churches from exterminating me."

A trial for heresy means that the spirit of persecution still lingers
in the church; that it still denies the right of private judgment; that
it still thinks more of creed than truth; that it is still determined
to prevent the intellectual growth of man. It means that churches are
shambles in which are bought and sold the souls of men.  It means that
the church is still guilty of the barbarity of opposing thought with
force.  It means that if it had the power, the mental horizon would be
bounded by a creed, that it would bring again the whips, and chains,
and dungeon keys, the rack and fagot of the past.

But let me tell the church it lacks the power.  There has been, and
still are, too many men who own themselves--too much thought, too much
knowledge for the church to grasp again the sword of power.  The church
must abdicate.  For the Eglon of superstition, science has a message
from truth.

The heretics have not thought and suffered and died in vain. Every
heretic has been, and is, a ray of light.  Not in vain did Voltaire,
that great man, point from the foot of the Alps, the finger of scorn at
every hypocrite in Europe.  Not in vain were the splendid utterances of
the infidels, while beyond all price are the discoveries of science.
The church has impeded, but it has not and it cannot stop the onward
march of the human race. Heresy can not be burned, nor imprisoned, nor
starved.  It laughs at presbyteries and synods, at Ecumenical councils
and the impotent thunders of Sinai.  Heresy is the eternal dawn, the
morning star, the glittering herald of the day.  Heresy is the last and
best thought.  It is the perpetual new world; the unknown sea, toward
which the brave all sail.  It is the eternal horizon of progress.
Heresy extends the hospitalities of the brain to new thoughts.  Heresy
is a cradle; orthodoxy a coffin.

Why should a man be afraid to think, and why should he fear to express
his thoughts?

Is it possible that an infinite Deity is unwilling that man should
investigate the phenomena by which he is surrounded?

Is it possible that a God delights in threatening and terrifying men?
What glory, what honor and renown a God must win in such a field!  The
ocean raving at a drop; a star envious of a candle; the sun jealous of
a firefly!

Go on, presbyteries and synods, go on!  Thrust the heretics out of the
church.  That is to say, throw away your brains--put out your eyes.
The Infidels will thank you.  They are willing to adopt your exiles.
Every deserter from your camp is a recruit for the army of progress.
Cling to the ignorant dogmas of the past; read the 109th Psalm; gloat
over the slaughter of mothers and babes; thank God for total depravity;
shower your honors upon hypocrites, and silence every minister who is
touched with that heresy called genius.

Be true to your history.  Turn out the astronomers, the geologists, the
naturalists, the chemists, and all the honest scientists.  With a whip
of scorpions, drive them all out.  We want them all.  Keep the
ignorant, the superstitious, the bigoted, and the writers of charges
and specifications.  Keep them, and keep them all.  Repeat your pious
platitudes in the drowsy ears of the faithful, and read your bible to
heretics, as kings read some forgotten riot-act to stop and stay the
waves of revolution.  You are too weak to excite anger.  We forgive
your efforts as the sun forgives a cloud--as the air forgives the
breath you waste.

How long, O how long will man listen to the threats of God, and shut
his ears to the splendid promises of Nature?  How long, O how long will
man remain the cringing slave of a false and cruel creed.

By this time the whole world should know that the real bible has not
yet been written; but is being written, and that it will never be
finished until the race begins its downward march or ceases to exist.
The real bible is not the work of inspired men, nor prophets, nor
apostles, nor evangelists, nor of Christ. Every man who finds a fact,
adds, as it were, a word to this great book.  It is not attested by
prophecy, by miracles or by signs.  It makes no appeal to faith, to
ignorance, to credulity of fear.  It has no punishment for unbelief,
and no reward for hypocrisy.  It appears to men in the name of
demonstration.  It has nothing to conceal.  It has no fear of being
read, of being investigated and understood.  It does not pretend to be
holy or sacred; it simply claims to be true.  It challenges the
scrutiny of all, and implores every reader to verify every line for
himself.  It is incapable of being blasphemed.  This book appeals to
all the surroundings of man.  Each thing that exists testifies of its
perfection.  The earth with its heart of fire and crowns of snow; with
its forests and plains, its rocks and seas; with its every wave and
cloud; with its every leaf, and bud, and flower, confirms its every
word, and the solemn stars, shining in the infinite abysses, are the
eternal witnesses of its truth.

Ingersoll's Lecture on The Bible

The true bible appeals to man in the name of demonstration.  It has
nothing to conceal.  It has no fear of being read, of being
contradicted, of being investigated and understood.  It does not
pretend to be holy or sacred, it simply claims to be true.  It
challenges the scrutiny of all, and implores every reader to verify
every line for himself.  It is incapable of being blasphemed.  This
book appeals to all the surroundings of man. Each thing that exists
testifies of its perfection.  The earth, with its heart of fire and
crowns of snow; with its forests and plains, its rocks and seas; with
its every wave and cloud; with its every leaf and bud and flower,
confirms its every word, and the solemn stars, shining in the infinite
abysses, are the external witnesses of its truth.

I will tell you what I mean by inspiration.  I go and look at the sea,
and the sea says something to me; it makes an impression upon my mind.
That impression depends, first, upon my experience; secondly, upon my
intellectual capacity. Another looks upon the same sea. He has a
different brain, he has had a different experience, he has different
memories and different hopes. The sea may speak to him of joy and to me
of grief and sorrow. The sea cannot tell the same thing to two beings,
because no two human beings have had the same experience. So, when I
look upon a flower, or a star, or a painting, or a statue, the more I
know about sculpture the more that statue speaks to me. The more I have
had of human experience, the more I have read, the greater brain I
have, the more the star says to me. In other words, nature says to me
all that I am capable of understanding.

Think of a God wicked and malicious enough to inspire this prayer in
the 109th Psalm! Think of one infamous enough to answer it! Had this
inspired Psalm been found in some temple erected for the worship of
snakes, or in the possession of some cannibal king, written with blood
upon the dried skins of babes, there would have been a perfect harmony
between its surroundings and its sentiments.

Now, I read the bible, and I find that God so loved this world that he
made up his mind to damn the most of us. I have read this book and what
shall I say of it? I believe it is generally better to be honest. Now,
I don't believe the bible. Had I not better say so? They say that if
you do you will regret it when you come to die. If that be true, I know
a great many religious people who will have no cause to regret it--they
don't tell their honest convictions about the bible.

The bible was the real persecutor. The bible burned heretics, built
dungeons, founded the Inquisition, and trampled upon all the liberties
of men. How long, O how long, will mankind worship a book? How long
will they grovel in the dust before the ignorant legends of the
barbaric past? How long, O how long, will they pursue phantoms in a
darkness deeper than death?

The believers in the bible are loud in their denunciation of what they
are pleased to call the immoral literature of the world; and yet few
books have been published containing more moral filth than this
inspired word of God. These stories are not redeemed by a single flash
of wit or humor. They never rise above the dull details of stupid vice.
For one, I cannot afford to soil my pages with extracts from them; and
all such portions of the scriptures I leave to be examined, written
upon, and explained by the clergy. Clergymen may know some way by which
they can extract honey from these flowers. Until these passages are
expunged from the old testament, it is not a fit book to be read by
either old or young. It contains pages that no minister in the United
States would read to his congregation for any reward whatever. There
are chapters that no gentleman would read in the presence of a lady.
There are chapters that no father would read to his child. There are
narratives utterly unfit to be told; and the time will come when
mankind will wonder that such a book was ever called inspired.

But as long as the bible is considered as the work of God, it will be
hard to make all men too good and pure to imitate it; and as long as it
is imitated there will be vile and filthy books. The literature of our
country will not be sweet and clean until the bible ceases to be
regarded as the production of a god.

In the days of Thomas Paine the church believed and taught that every
word in the bible was absolutely true. Since his day it has been proven
false in its cosmogony, false in its astronomy, false in its
chronology, false in its history, and so far as the old testament is
concerned, false in almost everything. There are but few, if any,
scientific men who apprehend that the bible is literally true. Who on
earth at this day would pretend to settle any scientific question by a
text from the bible? The old belief is confined to the ignorant and
zealous. The church itself will before long be driven to occupy the
position of Thomas Paine!

I love any man who gave me, or helped to give me, the liberty I enjoy
tonight. I love every man who helped put our flag in heaven. I love
every man who has lifted his voice in all the ages for liberty, for a
chainless body, and a fetterless brain. I love every man who has given
to every other human being every right that he claimed for himself. I
love every man who thought more of principle than he did of position. I
love the men who have trampled crowns beneath their feet that they
might do something for mankind.

The best minds of the orthodox world, today, are endeavoring to prove
the existence of a personal Deity. All other questions occupy a minor
place. You are no longer asked to swallow the bible whole, whale, Jonah
and all; you are simply required to believe in God, and pay your
pew-rent. There is not now an enlightened minister in the world who
will seriously contend that Samson's strength was in his hair, or that
the necromancers of Egypt could turn water into blood, and pieces of
wood into serpents. These follies have passed away.

For my part, I would infinitely prefer to know all the results of
scientific investigation than to be inspired as Moses was. Supposing
the bible to be true; why is it any worse or more wicked for
free-thinkers to deny it, than for priests to deny the doctrine of
evolution, or the dynamic theory of heat? Why should we be damned for
laughing at Samson and his foxes, while others, holding the nebular
hypothesis in utter contempt, go straight to heaven?

Now when I come to a book, for instance, I read the writings of
Shakespeare--Shakespeare, the greatest human being who ever existed
upon this globe. What do I get out of him? All that I have sense enough
to understand. I get my little cup full. Let another read him who knows
nothing of the drama, who knows nothing of the impersonation of
passion; what does he get from him? Very little. In other words, every
man gets from a book, a flower, a star, or the sea, what he is able to
get from his intellectual development and experience. Do you then
believe that the bible is a different book to every human being that
receives it? I do. Can God, then, through the bible, make the same
revelation to two men? He cannot. Why? Because the man who reads is the
man who inspires. Inspiration is in the man and not in the book.

The real oppressor, enslaver and corrupter of the people is the bible.
That book is the chain that binds, the dungeon that holds the clergy.
That book spreads the pall of superstition over the colleges and
schools. That book puts out the eyes of science, and makes honest
investigation a crime. That book unmans the politician and degrades the
people. That book fills the world with bigotry, hypocrisy and fear.

Volumes might be written upon the infinite absurdity of this most
incredible, wicked and foolish of all the fables contained in that
repository of the impossible, called the bible. To me it is a matter of
amazement, that it ever was for a moment believed by any intelligent
human being.

Is it not infinitely more reasonable to say that this book is the work
of man, that it is filled with mingled truth and error, with mistakes
and facts, and reflects, too faithfully perhaps, the "very form and
pressure of its time?" If there are mistakes in the bible, certainly
they were made by man. If there is anything contrary to nature, it was
written by man. If there is anything immoral, cruel, heartless or
infamous, it certainly was never written by a being worthy of the
adoration of mankind.

It strikes me that God might write a book that would not necessarily
excite the laughter of his children. In fact, I think it would be safe
to say that a real god could produce a work that would excite the
admiration of mankind.

The man who now regards the old testament as, in any sense, a sacred or
inspired book is, in my judgment, an intellectual and moral deformity.
There is in it so much that is cruel, ignorant and ferocious that it is
to me a matter of amazement that it was ever thought to be the work of
a most merciful deity.

Admitting that the bible is the book of God, is that His only good job?
Will not a man be damned as quick for denying the equator as denying
the bible? Will he not be damned as quick for denying geology as for
denying the scheme of salvation? When the bible was first written it
was not believed. Had they known as much about science as we know now,
that bible would not have been written.

Every sect is a certificate that God has not plainly revealed His will
to man. To each reader the bible conveys a different meaning. About the
meaning of this book, called a revelation, there have been ages of war
and centuries of sword and flame. If written by an infinite God, He
must have known that these results must follow; and thus knowing, He
must be responsible for all.

Paine thought the barbarities of the old testament inconsistent with
what he deemed the real character of God. He believed that murder,
massacre and indiscriminate slaughter had never been commanded by the
Deity. He regarded much of the bible as childish, unimportant and
foolish. The scientific world entertains the same spirit in which he
had attacked the pretensions of kings. He used the same weapons. All
the pomp in the world could not make him cower. His reason knew no
"Holy of Holies," except the abode of Truth.

Nothing can be clearer than that Moses received from the Egyptians the
principal parts of his narrative, making such changes and additions as
were necessary to satisfy the peculiar superstitions of his own people.

According to the theologians, God, the Father of us all, wrote a letter
to His children. The children have always differed somewhat as to the
meaning of this letter. In consequence of these honest difficulties,
these brothers began to cut out each other's hearts. In every land,
where this letter from God has been read, the children to whom and for
whom it was written have been filled with hatred and malice. They have
imprisoned and murdered each other, and the wives and children of each
other. In the name of God every possible crime has been committed,
every conceivable outrage has been perpetrated. Brave men, tender and
loving women, beautiful girls and prattling babes have been
exterminated in the name of Jesus Christ.

The church has burned honesty and rewarded hypocrisy. And all this,
because it was commanded by a book--a book that men had been taught
implicitly to believe, long before they knew one word that was in it.
They had been taught that to doubt the truth of this book--to examine
it, even--was a crime of such enormity that it could not be forgiven,
either in this world or in the next.

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 you 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 such atrocity.

Whether the bible is false or true, is of no consequence in comparison
with the mental freedom of the race. Salvation through slavery is
worthless. Salvation from slavery is inestimable. As long as man
believes the bible to be infallible, that book is his master. The
civilization of this century is not the child of faith, but of
unbelief--the result of free thought.

What man who ever thinks, can believe that blood can appease God? And
yet our entire system of religion is based on 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 any sane man can read the bible and still
believe in the doctrine of inspiration.

The bible was originally written in the Hebrew language, and the Hebrew
language at that time had no vowels in writing. It was written entirely
with consonants, and without being divided into chapters and verses,
and there was no system of punctuation whatever. After you go home
to-night 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.

The real bible is not the result of inspired men, nor prophets, nor
evangelists, nor christs. The real bible has not been written, but is
being written. Every man who finds a fact adds a word to this great

The bad passages in the bible are not inspired. No god ever ordered a
soldier to sheathe his sword in the breast of a mother. No god ever
ordered a warrior to butcher a smiling, prattling babe. No god ever
upheld tyranny. No god ever said, be subject to the powers that be. No
god endeavored to make man a slave and woman a beast of burden. There
are thousands of good passages in the bible. Many of them are true.
There are in it wise laws, good customs, some lofty and splendid
things. And I do not care whether they are inspired or not, so they are
true. But what I do insist upon is that the bad is not inspired.

There is no hope for you. It is just as bad to deny hell as it is to
deny heaven. 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 may be it was a
pictorial sin. And only a pictorial atonement!

Man must learn to rely on himself. Reading bibles  will not protect him
from the blasts of winter, but  houses, fire 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.

Ingersoll's Lecture on Voltaire

Ladies and Gentlemen:  The infidels of one age have often been the
aureoled saints of the next.

The destroyers of the old are the creators of the new.  As time sweeps
on the old passes away and the new in its turn becomes of old.

There is in the intellectual world, as in the physical, decay and
growth, and ever by the grave of buried age stand youth and joy.

The history of intellectual progress is written in the lives of

Political rights have been preserved by traitors; the liberty of mind
by heretics.

To attack the king was treason; to dispute the priest was blasphemy.

For many years the sword and cross were allies.  Together they attacked
the rights of man.  They defended each other.

The throne and altar were twins--two vultures from the same egg.

James I said:  "No bishop; no king."  He might have added:  No cross,
no crown.  The king owned the bodies of men; the priest, the souls. One
lived on taxes collected by force, the other on alms collected by
fear--both robbers, both beggars.

These robbers and these beggars controlled two worlds.  The king made
laws, the priest made creeds.  Both obtained their authority from God,
both were the agents of the infinite.  With bowed backs the people
carried the burdens of one, and with wonder's open mouth received the
dogmas of the other.  If the people aspired to be free, they were
crushed by the king, and every priest was a Herod, who slaughtered the
children of the brain.

The king ruled by force, the priest by fear, and both by both. The king
said to the people:  "God made you peasants, and He made me king; He
made you to labor, and me to enjoy; He made rags and hovels for you,
robes and palaces for me.  He made you to obey and me to command.  Such
is the justice of God,"  And the priest said:  "God made you ignorant
and vile; He made me holy and wise; you are the sheep, I am the
shepherd; your fleeces belong to me.  If you do not obey me here, God
will punish you now and torment you forever in another world.  Such is
the mercy of God."

"You must not reason.  Reason is a rebel.  You must not
contradict--contradiction is born of egotism; you must believe. He that
has ears to hear let him hear.  Heaven is a question of ears."

Fortunately for us, there have been traitors and there have been
heretics, blasphemers, thinkers, investigators, lovers of liberty, men
of genius, who have given their lives to better the condition of their

It may be well enough here to ask the question:  "What is greatness?"
A great man adds to the sum of knowledge, extends the horizon of
thought, releases souls from the Bastille of fear, crosses unknown and
mysterious seas, gives new islands and new continents to the domain of
thought, new constellations to the firmament of mind.  A great man does
not seek applause or place; he seeks for truth; he seeks the road to
happiness, and what he ascertains he gives to others.       A great man
throws pearls before swine, and the swine are sometimes changed to men.
If the great had always kept their pearls, vast multitudes would be
barbarians now.

A great man is a torch in the darkness, a beacon in superstition's
night, an inspiration and a prophecy.  Greatness is not the gift of
majorities; it cannot be thrust upon any man; men cannot give it to
another; they can give place and power, but not greatness.  The place
does not make the man, nor the sceptre the king.  Greatness is from

The great men are the heroes who have freed the bodies of men; they are
the philosophers and thinkers who have given liberty to the soul; they
are the poets who have transfigured the common and filled the lives of
many millions with love and song.  They are the artists who have
covered the bare walls of weary life with the triumphs of genius.  They
are the heroes who have slain the monsters of ignorance and fear, who
have outgazed the Gorgon and driven the cruel gods from their thrones.

They are the inventors, the discoverers, the great mechanics, the kings
of the useful who have civilized this world.

At the head of this heroic army, foremost of all, stands Voltaire,
whose memory we are honoring tonight.  Voltaire! a name that excites
the admiration of men, the malignity of priests. Pronounce that name in
the presence of a clergyman, and you will find that you have made a
declaration of war.  Pronounce that name, and from the face of the
priest the mask of meekness will fall, and from the mouth of
forgiveness will pour a Niagara of vituperation and calumny.  And yet
Voltaire was the greatest man of his century, and did more for the
human race than ally other of the sons of men.

On Sunday, the 21st of November, 1694, a babe was born; a babe
exceedingly frail, whose breath hesitated about remaining.  This babe
became the greatest man of the eighteenth century.

When Voltaire came to this "great stage of fools," his country had been
christianized--not civilized--for about fourteen hundred years.  For a
thousand years the religion of peace and good will had been supreme.
The laws had been given by christian kings, sanctioned by "wise and
holy men."

Under the benign reign of universal love, every court had its chamber
of torture, and every priest relied on the thumbscrew and rack.  Such
had been the success of the blessed gospel that every science was an
outcast.  To speak your honest thoughts, to teach your fellow men, to
investigate for yourself, to seek the truth, these were crimes, and the
"Holy Mother Church" pursued the criminals with sword and flame.

The believers in a God of love--an infinite father--punished hundreds
of offenses with torture and death.  Suspected persons were tortured to
make them confess.  Convicted persons were tortured to make them give
the names of their accomplices.  Under the leadership of the church
cruelty had become the only reforming power.  In this blessed year 1694
all authors were at the mercy of king and priest.  The most of them
were cast into prisons, impoverished by fines and costs, exiled or
executed. The little time that hangmen could snatch from professional
duties was occupied in burning books.  The courts of justice were traps
in which the innocent were caught.  The judges were almost as malicious
and cruel as though they had been bishops or saints. There was no trial
by jury, and the rules of evidence allowed the conviction of the
supposed criminal by the proof of suspicion or hearsay.  The witnesses,
being liable to torture, generally told what the judges wished to hear.

When Voltaire was born the church ruled and owned France.  It was a
period of almost universal corruption.  The priests were mostly
libertines, the judges cruel and venal.  The royal palace was a house
of prostitution.  The nobles were heartless, proud, arrogant and cruel
to the last degree.  The common people were treated as beasts.  It took
the church a thousand years to bring about this happy condition of

The seeds of the revolution unconsciously were being scattered by every
noble and by every priest.  They were germinating slowly in the hearts
of the wretched; they were being watered by the tears of agony; blows
began to bear interest.  There was a faint longing for blood.  Workmen,
blackened by the sun, bowed by labor, deformed by want; looked at the
white throats of scornful ladies and thought about cutting them.  In
those days the witnesses were cross-examined with instruments of
torture; the church was the arsenal of superstition; miracles, relics,
angels, and devils were as common as lies.

Voltaire was of the people.  In the language of that day, he had no
ancestors.  His real name was Francois Marie Arouet.  His mother was
Marguerite d'Aumard.  This mother died when he was seven years of age.
He had an elder brother, Armand, who was a devotee, very religious and
exceedingly disagreeable.  This brother used to present offerings to
the church, hoping to make amends for the unbelief of his brother.  So
far as we know none of his ancestors were literary people.  The Arouets
had never written a line.  The Abbe le Chaulieu was his godfather, and,
although an abbe, was a deist who cared nothing about his religion
except in connection with his salary.  Voltaire's father wanted to make
a lawyer of him, but he had no taste for law.  At the age of 10 he
entered the college of Louis le Grand.  This was a Jesuit school, and
here he remained for seven years, leaving at 17, and never attending
any other school.  According to Voltaire he learned nothing at this
school but a little Greek, a good deal of Latin, and a vast amount of

In this college of Louis le Grand they did not teach geography,
history, mathematics, or any science.  This was a Catholic institution,
controlled by the Jesuits.  In that day the religion was defended, was
protected, or supported by the state.  Behind the entire creed were the
bayonet, the ax, the wheel, the fagot, and the torture chamber.  While
Voltaire was attending the college of Louis le Grand the soldiers of
the king were hunting Protestants in the mountains of Cevennes for
magistrates to hang on gibbets, to put to torture, to break on the
wheel or to burn at the stake.

There is but one use for law, but one excuse for government--the
preservation of liberty--to give to each man his own, to secure to the
farmer what he produces from the soil, the mechanic what he invents and
makes, to the artist what he creates, to the thinker the right to
express his thoughts.  Liberty is the breath of progress.  In France
the people were the sport of a king's caprice.  Everywhere was the
shadow of the Bastille.  It fell upon the sunniest field, upon the
happiest home. With the king walked the headsman; back of the throne
was the chamber of torture.  The church appealed to the rack, and faith
relied on the fagot.  Science was an outcast, and philosophy,
so-called, was the pander of superstition.  Nobles and priests were
sacred. Peasants were vermin.  Idleness sat at the banquet and industry
gathered the crumbs and crusts.

At 17 Voltaire determined to devote his life to literature.  The father
said, speaking of his two sons, Armand and Francois:  "I have a pair of
fools for sons, one in verse and the other in prose."  In 1713
Voltaire, in a small way, became a diplomat.  He went to The Hague
attached to the French minister, and there he fell in love.  The girl's
mother objected. Voltaire sent his clothes to the young lady that she
might visit him. Everything was discovered and he was dismissed.  To
this girl he wrote a letter, and in it you will find the keynote of
Voltaire:  "Do not expose yourself to the fury of your mother.  You
know what she is capable of. You have experienced it too well.
Dissemble; it is your only chance. Tell her that you have forgotten me,
that you hate me; then after telling her, love me all the more."  On
account of this episode Voltaire was formally disinherited by his
father.  The father procured an order of arrest and gave his son the
choice of going to prison or beyond the seas.  He finally consented to
become a lawyer, and says:  "I have already been a week at work in the
office of a solicitor learning the trade of a pettifogger."  About this
time he competed for a prize, writing a poem on the king's generosity
in building the new choir in the cathedral Notre Dame.  He did not win
it.  After being with the solicitor a little while, he hated the law,
he began to write poetry and the outlines of tragedy.  Great questions
were then agitating the public mind, questions that throw a flood of
light upon that epoch.

Louis XIV having died, the regent took possession; and then the prisons
were opened.  The regent called for a list of all persons then in the
prisons sent there at the will of the king.  He found that, as to many
prisoners, nobody knew any cause why they had been in prison.  They had
been forgotten.  Many of the prisoners did not know themselves, and
could not guess why they had been arrested.  One Italian had been in
the Bastille thirty-three years without ever knowing why.  On his
arrival to Paris thirty-three years before he was arrested and sent to
prison.  He had grown old.  He had survived his family and friends.
When the rest were liberated he asked to remain where he was, and lived
there the rest of his life.

The old prisoners were pardoned; but in a little while their places
were taken by new ones.  At this time Voltaire was not interested in
the great world--knew very little of religion or of government.  He was
busy writing poetry, busy thinking of comedies and tragedies.  He was
full of life.  All his fancies were winged, like moths.  He was charged
with having written some cutting epigrams.  He was exiled to Tulle,
three hundred miles away.  From this place he wrote in the true vein:
"I am at a chateau, a place that would be the most agreeable in the
world if I had not been exiled to it, and where there is nothing
wanting for my perfect happiness except the liberty of leaving.  It
would be delicious to remain if I only were allowed to go."  At last
the exile was allowed to return.  Again he was arrested; this time sent
to the Bastille, where he remained for nearly a year. While in prison
he changed his name from Francois Marie Arouet to Voltaire, and by that
name he has since been known.  Voltaire began to think, to doubt, to
inquire.  He studied the history of the church of the creed.  He found
that the religion of his time rested on the usurpation of the
scriptures--the infallibility of the church--the dreams of insane
hermits--the absurdities of the fathers--the mistakes and falsehoods of
saints--the hysteria of nuns--the cunning of priests and the stupidity
of the people.  He found that the Emperor Constantine, who lifted
christianity into power, murdered his wife Fansta and his eldest son
Crispus the same year that he convened the council of Nice to decide
whether Christ was a man or the son of God.  The council decided, in
the year 325, that Christ was consubstantial with the Father.  He found
that the church was indebted to a husband who assassinated his wife--a
father who murdered his son--for settling the vexed question of the
divinity of the Savior.  He found that Theodosius called a council at
Constantinople in 381 by which it was decided that the Holy Ghost
proceeded from the Father--that Theodosius, the younger, assembled a
council at Ephesus in 431 that declared the Virgin Mary to be the
mother of God--that the Emperor Martian called another council at
Chalcedon in 451 that decided that Christ had two wills--that Pognatius
called another in 680 that declared that Christ had two natures to go
with his two wills--and that in 1274, at the council of Lyons, the
important fact was found that the Holy Ghost "proceeded" not only from
the Father, but also from the Son at the same time.

So Voltaire has been called a mocker!  What did he mock?  He mocked
kings that were unjust; kings who cared nothing for the sufferings of
their subjects.  He mocked the titled fools of his day.  He mocked the
corruption of courts; the meanness, the tyranny, and the brutality of
judges.  He mocked the absurd and cruel laws, the barbarous customs.
He mocked popes and cardinals, bishops and priests, and all the
hypocrites on the earth.  He mocked historians who filled their books
with lies, and philosophers who defended superstition.  He mocked the
haters of liberty, the persecutors of their fellow-men.  He mocked the
arrogance, the cruelty, the impudence and the unspeakable baseness of
his time.

He has been blamed because he used the weapon of ridicule. Hypocrisy
has always hated laughter, and always will.  Absurdity detests humor
and stupidity despises wit.  Voltaire was the master of ridicule.  He
ridiculed the absurd, the impossible.  He ridiculed the mythologies and
the miracles, the stupid lives and lies of the saints.  He found
pretense and mendacity crowned by credulity.  He found the ignorant
many controlled by the cunning and cruel few.  He found the historian,
saturated with superstition, filling his volumes with the details of
the impossible, and he found the scientists satisfied with "they say."
Voltaire had the instinct of the probable.  He knew the law of average;
the sea level; he had the idea of proportion; and so he ridiculed the
mental monstrosities and deformities--the non sequiturs--of his day.
Aristotle said women had more teeth than men.  This was repeated again
and again by the Catholic scientists of the eighteenth century.
Voltaire counted the teeth.  The rest were satisfied with "they say."

We may, however, get an idea of the condition of France from the fact
that Voltaire regarded England as the land of liberty. While he was in
England he saw the body of Sir Isaac Newton deposited in Westminster
Abbey.   He read the works of this great man and afterward gave to
France the philosophy of the great Englishman.  Voltaire was the
apostle of common sense.  He knew that there could have been no
primitive or first language from which all other languages had been
formed.  He knew that every language had been influenced by the
surroundings of the people. He knew that the language of snow and ice
was not the language of palm and flower.  He knew also that there had
been no miracle in language.  He knew it was impossible that the story
of the Tower of Babel should be true.  That everything in the whole
world had been natural.  He was the enemy of alchemy, not only in
language, but in science.  One passage from him is enough to show his
philosophy in this regard.  He says:  "To transmute iron into gold two
things are necessary.  First, the annihilation of the iron; second, the
creation of gold."  Voltaire was a man of humor, of good nature, of
cheerfulness. He despised with all his heart the philosophy of Calvin,
the creed of the somber, of the severe, of the unnatural.  He pitied
those who needed the aid of religion to be honest, to be cheerful.  He
had the courage to enjoy the present and the philosophy to bear what
the future might bring.  And yet for more than a hundred and fifty
years the Christian world has fought this man and has maligned his
memory. In every christian pulpit his name has been pronounced with
scorn, and every pulpit has been an arsenal of slander.  He is one man
of whom no orthodox minister has ever told the truth.  He has been
denounced equally by Catholics and Protestants.

Priests and ministers, bishops and exhorters, presiding elders and
popes have filled the world with slanders, with calm calumnies about
Voltaire. I am amazed that ministers will not or cannot tell the truth
about an enemy of the church.  As a matter of fact, for more than 1,000
years almost every pulpit has been a mint in which slanders were coined.

For many years this restless man filled Europe with the product of his
brain.  Essays, epigrams, epics, comedies, tragedies, histories, poems,
novels, representing every phase and every faculty of the human mind.
At the same time engrossed in business, full of speculation, making
money like a millionaire, busy with the gossip of courts, and even with
the scandals of priests.  At the same time alive to all the discoveries
of science and the theories of philosophers, and in this babel never
forgetting for a moment to assail the monster of superstition. Sleeping
and waking he hated the church.  With the eyes of Argus he watched, and
with the arms of Briarieius he struck.  For sixty years he waged
continuous and unrelenting war, sometimes in the open field, sometimes
striking from the hedges of opportunity, taking care during all this
time to remain independent of all men.  He was in the highest sense
successful.  He lived like a prince, became one of the powers of
Europe, and in him, for the first time, literature was crowned.
Voltaire, in spite of his surroundings, in spite of almost universal
tyranny and oppression, was a believer in God and in what he was
pleased to call the religion of nature.  He attacked the creed of his
time because it was dishonorable to his God.  He thought of the Deity
as a father, as the fountain of justice, intelligence and mercy, and
the creed of the Catholic church made him a monster of cruelty and
stupidity.  He attacked the bible with all the weapons at his command.
He assailed its geology, its astronomy, its idea of justice, its laws
and customs, its absurd and useless miracles, its foolish wonders, its
ignorance on all subjects, its insane prophecies, its cruel threats,
and its extravagant promises.  At the same time he praised the God of
nature, the God who gives us rain and light, and food and flowers, and
health and happiness--he who fills the world with youth and beauty.

In 1755 came the earthquake at Lisbon.  This frightful disaster became
an immense interrogation.  The optimist was compelled to ask, "What was
my God doing?  Why did the Universal Father crush to shapelessness
thousands of his poor children, even at the moment when they were upon
their knees returning thanks to Him?" What could be done with this
horror?  If earthquake there must be, why did it not occur in some
uninhabited desert on some wide waste of sea?  This frightful fact
changed the theology of Voltaire.  He became convinced that this is not
the best possible of all worlds.  He became convinced that evil is evil
here, now and forever.

Who can establish the existence of an infinite being?  It is beyond the
conception--the reason--the imagination of man--probably or
possibly--where the zenith and nadir meet this God can be found.

Voltaire, attacked on every side, fought with every weapon that wit,
logic, reason, scorn, contempt, laughter, pathos and indignation could
sharpen, form, devise or use.  He often apologized, and the apology was
an insult.  He often recanted, and the recantation was a thousand times
worse than the thing recanted.  He took it back by giving more.  In the
name of eulogy he flayed his victim.  In his praise there was poison.
He often advanced by retreating, and asserted by retraction.  He did
not intend to give priests the satisfaction of seeing him burn or
suffer. Upon this very point of recanting, he wrote:  "They say I must
retract. Very willingly.  I will declare the Pascal is always right.
That if St. Luke and St. Mark contradict one another it is only another
proof of the truth of religion to those who know how to understand such
things; and that another lovely proof of religion is that it is
unintelligible.  I will even avow that all priests are gentle and
disinterested; that Jesuits are honest people; that monks are neither
proud nor given to intrigue, and that their odor is agreeable; that the
Holy Inquisition is the triumph of humanity and tolerance.  In a word,
I will say all that may be desired of me, provided they leave me in
repose, and will not prosecute a man who has done harm to none."

He gave the best years of his wondrous life to succor the oppressed, to
shield the defenseless, to reverse infamous decrees, to rescue the
innocent, to reform the laws of France, to do away with torture, to
soften the hearts of priests, to enlighten judges, to instruct kings,
to civilize the people, and to banish from the heart of man the love
and lust of war. Voltaire was not a saint.  He was educated by the
Jesuits. He was never troubled about the salvation of his soul.  All
the theological disputes excited his laughter, the creeds his pity, and
the conduct of bigots his contempt.  He was much better than a saint.
Most of the Christians in his day kept their religion not for everyday
use but for disaster, as ships carry lifeboats to be used only in the
stress of storm.

Voltaire believed in the religion of humanity--of good and generous
deeds.  For many centuries the church had painted virtue so ugly, sour
and cold that vice was regarded as beautiful. Voltaire taught the
beauty of the useful, the hatefulness and hideousness of superstition.
He was not the greatest of poets, or of dramatists, but he was the
greatest man of his time, the greatest friend of freedom, and the
deadliest foe of superstition.  He wrote the best French plays--but
they were not wonderful.  He wrote verses polished and perfect in their
way. He filled the air with painted moths--but not with Shakespearean

You may think that I have said too much; that I have placed this man
too high.  Let me tell you what Goethe, the great German, said of this
man:  "If you wish depth, genius, imagination, taste, reason,
sensibility, philosophy, elevation, originality, nature, intellect,
fancy, rectitude, facility, flexibility, precision, art, abundance,
variety, fertility, warmth, magic, charm, grace, force, an eagle sweep
of vision, vast understanding, instruction rich, tone excellent,
urbanity, suavity, delicacy, correctness, purity, cleanness, eloquence,
harmony, brilliancy, rapidity, gayety, pathos, sublimity, and
universality perfection, indeed, behold Voltaire."

Even Carlyle, the old Scotch terrier, with the growl of a grizzly bear,
who attacked shams, as I have sometime thought, because he hated
rivals, was forced to admit that Voltaire gave the death stab to modern
superstition.  It was the hand of Voltaire that sowed the seeds of
liberty in the heart and brain of Franklin, of Jefferson, and of Thomas

Toulouse was a favored town.  It was rich in relics.  The people were
as ignorant as wooden images, but they had in their possession the
dried bodies of seven apostles--the bones of many of the infants slain
by Herod--part of a dress of the Virgin Mary, and lots of skulls and
skeletons of the infallible idiots known as saints.

In this city the people celebrated every year with great joy two holy
events:  The expulsion of the Huguenots and the blessed massacre of St.
Bartholomew.  The citizens of Toulouse had been educated and civilized
by the church.  A few Protestants, mild because in the minority, lived
among these jackals and tigers. One of these Protestants was Jean
Calas--a small dealer in dry goods.  For forty years he had been in
this business, and his character was without a stain.  He was honest,
kind and agreeable.  He had a wife and six children, four sons and two
daughters.  One of the sons became a Catholic.  The eldest son, Marc
Antoine, disliked his father's business and studied law.  He could not
be allowed to practice unless he became a Catholic.  He tried to get
his license by concealing that he was a Protestant. He was
discovered--grew morose.  Finally he became discouraged and committed
suicide by hanging himself one evening in his father's store.  The
bigots of Toulouse started the story that his parents had killed him to
prevent his becoming a Catholic. On this frightful charge the father,
mother, one son, a servant, and one guest at their house were arrested.
The dead son was considered a martyr, the church taking possession of
the body. This happened in 1761.  There was what was called a trial.
There was no evidence, not the slightest, except hearsay.  All the
facts were in favor of the accused.  The united strength of the
defendants could not have done the deed.

Jean Calas was doomed to torture and to death upon the wheel. This was
on the 9th of March, 1762, and the sentence was to be carried out the
next day.  On the morning of the 10th the father was taken to the
torture room.  The executioner and his assistants were sworn on the
cross to administer the torture according to the judgment of the court.
They bound him by the wrists to an iron ring in the stone wall four
feet from the ground and his feet to another ring in the floor.  Then
they shortened the ropes and chains until every joint in his arms and
legs were dislocated.  Then he was questioned.  He declared that he was
innocent.  Then the ropes were again shortened until life fluttered in
the torn body; but he remained firm.  This was called the question
ordinaire.  Again the magistrate exhorted the victim to confess, and
again he refused, saying that there was nothing to confess.  Then came
the question extraordinaire.  Into the mouth of the victim was placed a
horn holding three pints of water.  In this way thirty pints of water
were forced into the body of the sufferer.  The pain was beyond
description, and yet Jean Calas remained firm.  He was then carried to
a scaffold in a tumbril.  He was bound to a wooden cross that lay on
the scaffold.  The executioner then took a bar of iron, broke each leg
and arm in two places, striking eleven blows in all.  He was then left
to die if he could.  He lived for two hours, declaring his innocence to
the last.  He was slow to die and so the executioner strangled him.
Then his poor lacerated, bleeding and broken body was chained to a
stake and burned.  All this was a spectacle--a festival for the savages
of Toulouse.  What would they have done if their hearts had not been
softened by the glad tidings of great joy, peace on earth and good will
to men?

But this was not all.  The property of the family was confiscated; the
son was released on condition that he become a Catholic; the servant if
she would enter a convent.  The two daughters were consigned to a
convent and the heart-broken widow was allowed to wander where she

Voltaire heard of this case.  In a moment his soul was on fire. He took
one of the sons under his roof.  He wrote a history of the case.  He
corresponded with kings and queens, with chancellors and lawyers.  If
money was needed he advanced it. For years he filled Europe with the
echoes of the groans of Jean Calas.  He succeeded.  The horrible
judgment was annulled--the poor victim declared innocent and thousands
of dollars raised to support the mother and family.  This was the work
of Voltaire.

Sirven, a Protestant, lived in Languedoc with his wife and three
daughters.  The housekeeper of the bishop wanted to make one of the
daughters a Catholic.  The law allowed the bishop to take the child of
Protestants from its parents for the sake of its soul. The little girl
was so taken and placed in a convent.  She ran away and came back to
her parents.  Her poor little body was covered with the marks of the
convent whip.  "Suffer little children to come unto me."  The child was
out of her mind; suddenly she disappeared; and three days after her
little body was found in a well, three miles from home.  The cry was
raised that her folks had murdered her to keep her from becoming a
Catholic. This happened only a little way from the christian city of
Toulouse while Jean Calas was in prison.  The Sirvens knew that a trial
would end in conviction.  They fled.  In their absence they were
convicted, their property confiscated.  The parents sentenced to die by
the hangman, the daughters to be under the gallows during the execution
of their mother and then to be exiled.  The family fled in the midst of
winter; the married daughter gave birth to a child in the snows of the
Alps; the mother died, and at last the father, reaching Switzerland,
found himself without the means of support.  They went to Voltaire.  He
espoused their cause.  He took care of them, gave them the means to
live, and labored to annul the sentence that had been pronounced
against them for nine long and weary years. He appealed to kings for
money, to Catherine II of Russia, and to hundreds of others.  He was
successful.  He said of this case:--The Sirvens were tried and
condemned in two hours in January, 1762, and now in January, 1772,
after ten years of effort, they have been restored to their rights."

This was the work of Voltaire.  Why should the worshipers of God hate
the lovers of men?

Espenasse was a Protestant, of good estate.  In 1740 he received into
his house a Protestant clergyman, to whom he gave supper and lodging.
In a country where priests repeated the parable of the "Good Samaritan"
this was a crime.  For this crime Espenasse was tried, convicted and
sentenced to the galleys for life.  When he had been imprisoned for
twenty-three years his case came to the knowledge of Voltaire, and he
was, through the efforts of Voltaire, released and restored to his

This was the work of Voltaire.  There is not time to tell of the case
of Gen. Lally, of the English Gen. Byng, of the niece of Corneille, of
the Jesuit Adam, of the writers, dramatists, actors, widows and orphans
for whose benefit he gave his influence, his money and his time.

But I will tell another case:  In 1765 at the town of Abbeville an old
wooden cross on a bridge had been mutilated--whittled with a knife--a
terrible crime.  Sticks, when crossing each other, were far more sacred
than flesh and blood.  Two young men were suspected--the Chevalier de
la Barre and d'Ettalonde. D'Ettallonde fled to Prussia and enlisted as
a common soldier. La Barre remained and stood his trial.  He was
convicted without the slightest evidence, and he and d'Ettallonde were
both sentenced:  First, to endure the torture, ordinary and
extraordinary; second, to have their tongues torn out by the roots with
pincers of iron; third, to have their right hands cut off at the door
of the church; and fourth, to be bound to stakes by chains of iron and
burned to death by a slow fire.  "Forgive us our trespasses as we
forgive those who trespass against us." Remembering this, the judges
mitigated the sentence by providing that their heads should be cut off
before their bodies were given to the flames.  The case was appealed to
Paris; heard by a court composed of twenty-five judges learned in law,
and the judgment was confirmed.  The sentence was carried out on the
1st day of July, 1766.

Voltaire had fought with every weapon that genius could devise or use.
He was the greatest of all caricaturists, and he used this wonderful
gift without mercy.  For pure crystallized wit he had no equal.  The
art of flattery was carried by him to the height of an exact science.
He knew and practiced every subterfuge.  He fought the army of
hypocrisy and pretense, the army of faith and falsehood.  Voltaire was
annoyed by the meaner and baser spirits of his time, by the cringers
and crawlers, by the fawners and pretenders, by those who wished to
gain the favors of priests, the patronage of nobles.  Sometimes he
allowed himself to be annoyed by these scorpions; sometimes he attacked
them.  And, but for these attacks, long ago they would have been
forgotten. In the amber of his genius Voltaire preserved these insects,
these tarantulas, these scorpions.

It is fashionable to say that he was not profound.  This is because he
was not stupid.  In the presence of absurdity he laughed, and was
called irreverent.  He thought God would not damn even a priest
forever.  This was regarded as blasphemy.  He endeavored to prevent
Christians from murdering each other, and did what he could to civilize
the disciples of Christ.  Had he founded a sect, obtained control of
some country, and burned a few heretics at slow fires, he would have
won the admiration, respect and love of the christian world.  Had he
only pretended to believe all the fables of antiquity, and had he
mumbled Latin prayers, counted beads, crossed himself, devoured now and
then the flesh of God, and carried fagots to the feet of Philosophy in
the name of Christ, he might have been in heaven this moment, enjoying
a sight of the damned.

If he had only adopted the creed of his time--if he had asserted that a
God of infinite power and mercy had created millions and billions of
human beings to suffer eternal pain, and all for the sake of his
glorious justice--that he had given his power of attorney to a cunning
and cruel Italian pope, authorizing him to save the soul of his
mistress and send honest wives to hell--if he had given to the nostrils
of this God the odor of burning flesh--the incense of the fagot--if he
had filled his ears with the shrieks of the tortured--the music of the
rack, he would now be known as St. Voltaire.

Instead of doing these things he willfully closed his eyes to the light
of the gospel, examined the bible for himself, advocated intellectual
liberty, struck from the brain the fetters of an arrogant faith,
assisted the weak, cried out against the torture of man, appealed to
reason, endeavored to establish universal toleration, succored the
indigent, and defended the oppressed. He demonstrated that the origin
of all religions is the same, the same mysteries--the same
miracles--the same impostures--the same temples and ceremonies--the
same kind of founders, apostles and dupes--the same promises and
threats--the same pretense of goodness and forgiveness and the practice
of the same persecution and murder.  He proved that religion made
enemies--philosophy, friends--and that above the rites of gods were the
rights of man. These were his crimes.  Such a man God would not suffer
to die in peace.      If allowed to meet death with a smile, others
might follow his example, until none would be left to light the holy
fires of the auto da fe.  It would not do for so great, so successful
an enemy of the church to die without leaving some shriek of fear, some
shudder of remorse, some ghastly prayer of chattered horror, uttered by
lips covered with blood and foam. For many centuries the theologians
have taught that an unbeliever--an infidel--one who spoke or wrote
against their creed, could not meet death with composure; that in his
last moments God would fill his conscience with the serpents of
remorse.  For a thousand years the clergy have manufactured the facts
to fit this theory--this infamous conception of the duty of man and the
justice of God.  The theologians have insisted that crimes against men
were, and are, as nothing compared with crimes against God.  That,
while kings and priests did nothing worse than to make their fellows
wretched, that so long as they only butchered and burnt the innocent
and helpless, God would maintain the strictest neutrality; but when
some honest man, some great and tender soul, expressed a doubt as to
the truth of the scriptures, or prayed to the wrong god, or to the
right one by the wrong name, then the real God leaped like a wounded
tiger upon his victim, and from his quivering flesh tore the wretched

There is no recorded instance where the uplifted hand of murder has
been paralyzed--no truthful account in all the literature of the world
of the innocent child being shielded by God.  Thousands of crimes are
being committed ever day--men are at this moment lying in wait for
their human prey--wives are whipped and crushed, driven to insanity and
death--little children begging for mercy, lifting imploring,
tear-filled eyes to the brutal faces of fathers and mothers--sweet
girls are deceived, lured and outraged, but God has no time to prevent
these things--no time to defend the good and protect the pure.  He is
too busy numbering hairs and watching sparrows.  He listens for
blasphemy; looks for persons who laugh at priests; examines baptismal
registers; watches professors in college who begin to doubt the geology
of Moses and the astronomy of Joshua.  He does not particularly object
to stealing, if you don't swear.  A great many persons have fallen dead
in the act of taking God's name in vain, but millions of men, women and
children have been stolen from their homes and used as beasts of
burden, but no one engaged in this infamy has ever been touched by the
wrathful hand of God.  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 any discredit on his profession.  The
murderer upon the scaffold, with a priest on either side, smilingly
exhorts the multitude to meet him in heaven.  The man who has succeeded
in making his home a hell meets death without a quiver, provided he has
never expressed any doubt as to the divinity of Christ or the eternal
"procession" of the Holy Ghost.

Now and then a man of genius, of sense, of intellectual honesty, has
appeared.  Such men have denounced the superstition of their day.  They
have pitied the multitude.  To see priests devour the substance of the
people--priests who made begging one of the learned professions--filled
them with loathing and contempt. These men were honest enough to tell
their thoughts, brave enough to speak the truth.  Then they were
denounced, tried, tortured, killed by rack or flame.  But some escaped
the fury of the fiends who loved their enemies and died naturally in
their beds.  It would not do for the church to admit that they died
peacefully. That would show that religion was essential at the last
moment. Superstition gets its power from the terror of death.  It would
not do to have the common people understand that a man could deny the
bible, refuse to kiss the cross; contend that humanity was greater than
Christ, and then die as sweetly as Torquemada did after pouring molten
lead into the ears of an honest man, or as calmly as Calvin after he
had burned Servetus, or as peacefully as King David after advising with
his last breath one son to assassinate another.

The church has taken great pains to show that the last moments of all
infidels (that Christians did not succeed in burning) were infinitely
wretched and despairing.  It was alleged that words could not paint the
horrors that were endured by a dying infidel. Every good Christian was
expected to, and generally did, believe these accounts.  They have been
told and retold in every pulpit of the world.  Protestant ministers
have repeated the lies invented by Catholic priests, and Catholics, by
a kind of theological comity, have sworn to the lies told by the
Protestants. Upon this point they have always stood together, and will
as long as the same falsehood can be used by both.  Upon the death-bed
subject the clergy grew eloquent.  When describing the shudderings and
shrieks of the dying unbeliever their eyes glitter with delight.  It is
a festival. They are no longer men. They become hyenas.  They dig open
graves.  They devour the dead. It is a banquet.  Unsatisfied still,
they paint the terrors of hell.  They gaze at the souls of the infidels
writhing in the coils of the worm that never dies.  They see them in
flames--in oceans of fire--in gulfs of pain--in abysses of despair.
They shout with joy. They applaud.

It is an auto da fe, presided over by God.  But let us come back to
Voltaire--to the dying philosopher.  He was an old man of 84. He had
been surrounded with the comforts, the luxuries of life. He was a man
of great wealth, the richest writer that the world had known.  Among
the literary men of the earth he stood first. He was an intellectual
monarch--one who had built his own throne and had woven the purple of
his own power.  He was a man of genius.  The Catholic God had allowed
him the appearance of success.  His last years were filled with the
intoxication of flattery--of almost worship.  He stood at the summit of
his age. The priests became anxious.  They began to fear that God would
forget, in a multiplicity of business, to make a terrible example of
Voltaire.  Toward the last of May, 1778, it was whispered in Paris that
Voltaire was dying.  Upon the fences of expectation gathered the
unclean birds of superstition, impatiently waiting for their prey.  Two
days before his death, his nephew went to seek the cure of Saint
Surplice and the Abbe Gautier, and brought them to his uncle's sick
chamber, who, being informed that they were there, said:  "Ah, well,
give them my compliments and my thanks."  The abbe spoke some words to
him, exhorting him to patience.  The cure of Saint Surplice then came
forward, having announced himself, and asked of Voltaire, elevating his
voice, if he acknowledged the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The
sick man pushed one of his hands against the cure's coif, shoving him
back, and cried, turning abruptly to the other side:  "Let me die in
peace."  The cure seemingly considered his person soiled and his coif
dishonored by the touch of a philosopher.  He made the nurse give him a
little brushing and went out with the Abbe Gautier.  He expired, says
Wagnierre, on the 30th of May, 1778, at about a quarter past 11 at
night, with the most perfect tranquility.  A few moments before his
last breath he took the hand of Morand, his valet de chambee, who was
watching by him, pressed it, and said:  "Adieu, my dear Morand, I am
gone."  These were his last words.  Like a peaceful river, with green
and shaded banks, he flowed without a murmur into the waveless sea,
where life is rest.

From this death, so simple and serene, so kind, so philosophic and
tender; so natural and peaceful; from these words so utterly destitute
of cant or dramatic touch, all the frightful pictures, all the
despairing utterances have been drawn and made. From these materials,
and from these alone, or rather, in spite of these facts, have been
constructed by priests and clergymen and their dupes all the shameless
lies about the death of this great and wonderful man.  A man, compared
with whom all of his calumniators, dead and living, were, and are, but
dust and vermin.  Let us be honest.  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 the world
as Voltaire or Diderot?  Did all the ministers of Scotland add as much
to the such 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 if infidels had never
been?  The infidels have been the brave and thoughtful men; the flower
of all the world; the pioneers and heralds of the blessed day of
liberty and love; the generous spirits of the unworthy past; the seers
and prophets of our race; the great chivalric souls, proud victors on
the battlefields of thought, the creditors of all the years to be.

In those days the philosophers--that is to say, the thinkers--were not
buried in holy ground.  It was feared that their principles might
contaminate the ashes of the just.  And they also feared that on the
morning of the resurrection they might, in a moment of confusion, slip
into heaven.  Some were burned and their ashes scattered; and the
bodies of some were thrown naked to beasts, and others buried in unholy
earth.  Voltaire knew the history of Adrienne Le Couvreur, a beautiful
actress, denied burial.  After all, we do feel an interest in what is
to become of our bodies.  There is a modesty that belongs to death.
Upon this subject Voltaire was infinitely sensitive.  It was that he
might be buried that he went through the farce of confession, of
absolution, and of the last sacrament.  The priests knew that he was
not in earnest, and Voltaire knew that they would not allow him to be
buried in any of the cemeteries of Paris.  His death was kept a secret.
The Abbe Mignot made arrangements for the burial at
Romilli-on-the-Seine, more than 100 miles from Paris. Sunday evening,
on the last day of May, 1778, the body of Voltaire, clad in a dressing
gown, clothed to resemble an invalid, posed to simulate life, was
placed in a carriage; at its side a servant, whose business it was to
keep it in position.  To this carriage were attached six horses, so
that people might think a great lord was going to his estates.  Another
carriage followed in which were a grand-nephew and two cousins of
Voltaire.  All night they traveled, and on the following day arrived at
the courtyard of the abbey.  The necessary papers were shown, the mass
was performed in the presence of the body, and Voltaire found burial.
A few moments afterward the prior who "for charity had given a little
earth" received from his bishop a menacing letter forbidding the burial
of Voltaire.  It was too late.  He could not then be removed, and he
was allowed to remain in peace until 1791.

Voltaire was dead.  The foundations of State and throne had been
sapped. The people were becoming acquainted with the real kings and
with the actual priests.  Unknown men born in misery and want, men
whose fathers and mothers had been pavement for the rich, were rising
towards the light and their shadowy faces were emerging from darkness.
Labor and thought became friends.  That is, the gutter and the attic
fraternized. The monsters of the night and the angels of dawn--the
first thinking of revenge and the others dreaming of equality, liberty
and fraternity. For 400 years the Bastille had been the outward symbol
of oppression. Within its walls the noblest had perished.  It was a
perpetual threat. It was the last and often the first argument of king
and priest.  Its dungeons, damp and rayless, its massive towers, its
secret cells, its instruments of torture, denied the existence of God.
In 1789, on the 14th of July, the people, the multitude, frenzied by
suffering, stormed and captured the Bastille.  The battlecry was, "Vive
le Voltaire!"

In 1791 permission was given to place in the Pantheon the ashes of
Voltaire.  He had been buried 110 miles from Paris.  Buried by stealth
he was to be removed by a nation.  A funeral procession of a hundred
miles; every village with its flags and arches in his honor; all the
people anxious to honor the philosopher of France--the savior of
Calas--the destroyer of superstition!  On reaching Paris the great
procession moved along the Rue St. Antoine.  Here it paused, and for
one night upon the ruins of the Bastille rested the body of
Voltaire--rested in triumph, in glory--rested on fallen wall and broken
arch, on crumbling stone still damp with tears, on rusting chain, and
bar and useless bolt--above the dungeons dark and deep, where light had
faded from the lives of men and hope had died in breaking hearts.  The
conqueror resting upon the conquered.  Throned upon the Bastille, the
fallen fortress of night, the body of Voltaire, from whose brain had
issued the dawn.

For a moment his ashes must have felt the Promethean fire, and the old
smile must have illumined once more the face of the dead.

While the vast multitude were trembling with love and awe, a priest was
heard to cry, "God shall be avenged!"

The grave of Voltaire was violated.  The cry of the priest, "God shall
be avenged!" had borne its fruit.  Priests, skulking in the shadows,
with faces sinister as night-ghouls--in the name of the gospel,
desecrated the gave.  They carried away the body of Voltaire.  The tomb
was empty.  God was avenged!  The tomb was empty, but the world is
filled with Voltaire's fame.  Man has conquered!

What cardinal, what bishop, what priest raised his voice for the rights
of men?  What ecclesiastic, what nobleman, took the side of the
oppressed--of the peasant?  Who denounced the frightful criminal code
the torture of suspected persons?  What priest pleaded for the liberty
of the citizen?  What bishop pitied the victim of the rack?  Is there
the grave of a priest in France on which a lover of liberty would now
drop a flower or a tear?  Is there a tomb holding the ashes of a saint
from which emerges one ray of light?  If there be another life, a day
of judgment, no God can afford to torture in another world a man who
abolished torture in his.  If God be the keeper of an eternal
penitentiary, He should not imprison there those who broke the chain of
slavery here.  He cannot afford to make eternal convicts of Franklin,
of Jefferson, of Paine, of Voltaire.

Voltaire was perfectly equipped for his work.  A perfect master of the
French language, knowing all its moods, tenses, and declinations, in
fact and in feeling, playing upon it as skillfully, as Paganini on his
violin, finding expression for every thought and fancy, writing on the
most serious subjects with the gayety of a harlequin, plucking jests
from the mouth of death, graceful as the waving of willows, dealing in
double meanings--that covered the asp with flowers and flattery, master
of satire and compliment, mingling them often in the same line, always
interested himself, therefore interesting others, handling thoughts,
questions, subjects, as a juggler does balls, keeping them in the air
with perfect ease, dressing old words in new meanings, charming,
grotesque, pathetic, mingling mirth with tears, wit with wisdom, and
sometimes wickedness, logic, and laughter.  With a woman's instinct
knowing the sensitive nerves--just where to touch--hating arrogance of
place, the stupidity of the solemn, snatching masks from priest and
king, knowing the springs of action and ambition's ends, perfectly
familiar with the great world, the intimate of kings and their
favorites, sympathizing with the oppressed and imprisoned, with the
unfortunate and poor, hating tyranny, despising superstition, and
loving liberty with all his heart.  Such was Voltaire, writing "Edipus"
at seventeen, "Irene" at eighty-three, and crowding between these two
tragedies, the accomplishment of a thousand lives.

Ingersoll's Lecture on Myth and Miracles

Ladies and Gentlemen:  What, after all, is the object of life? What is
the highest possible aim?  The highest aim is to accomplish the only
good.  Happiness is the only good of which man by any possibility can
conceive.  The object of life is to increase human joy, and that means
intellectual and physical development.  The question, then, is:  Shall
we rely upon superstition or upon growth?  Is intellectual development
the highway of progress or must we depend on the pit of credulity? Must
we rely on belief or credulity, or upon manly virtues, courageous
investigation, thought, and intellectual development? For thousands of
years men have been talking about religious freedom.  I am now
contending for the freedom of religion, not religious freedom--for the
freedom which is the only real religion.  Only a few years ago our poor
ancestors tried to account for what they saw.  Noticing the running
river, the shining star, or the painted flower, they put a spirit in
the river, a spirit in the star, and another in the flower. Something
makes this river run, something makes this star shine, something paints
the blossom of that flower.  They were all spirits.  That was the first
religion of mankind--fetichism--and in everything that lived,
everything that produced an effect upon them, they said:  "This is a
spirit that lives within."  That is called the lowest phase of
religious thought, and yet it is quite the highest phase of religious
thought.  One by one these little spirits died.  One by one nonentities
took their places, and last of all we have one infinite fetich that
takes the place of all others.  Now, what makes the river run?  We say
the attraction of gravitation, and we know no more about that than we
do about this fetich.  What makes the tree grow?  The principle of
life--vital forces. These are simply phrases, simply names of
ignorance. Nobody knows what makes the river run, what makes the trees
grow, why the flowers burst and bloom--nobody knows why the stars
shine, and probably nobody ever will know.

There are two horizons that have never been passed by man--origin and
destiny.  All human knowledge is confined to the diameter of that
circle.  All religions rest on supposed facts beyond the circumference
of the absolutely known.  What next?  The next thing that came in the
world--the next man--was the mythmaker. He gave to these little spirits
human passions; he clothed ghosts in flesh; he warmed that flesh with
blood, and in that blood he put desire--motive.  And the myths were
born, and were only produced through the fact of the impressions that
nature makes upon the brain of man.  They were every one a natural
production, and let me say here, tonight, that what men call
monstrosities are only natural productions.  Every religion has grown
just as naturally as the grass; every one, as I said before, and it
cannot be said too often, has been naturally produced.  All the
Christs, all the gods and goddesses, all the furies and fairies, all
the mingling of the beastly and human, were all produced by the
impressions of nature upon the brain of man--by the rise of the sun,
the silver dawn, the golden sunset, the birth and death of day, the
change of seasons, the lightning, the storm, the beautiful bow--all
these produced within the brain of man all myths, and they are all
natural productions.

There have been certain myths universal among men.  Gardens of Eden
have been absolutely universal--the golden age, which is absolutely the
same thing.  And what was the golden age born of? Any old man in Boston
will tell you that fifty years ago all people were honest.  Fifty years
ago all people were sociable--there was no stuck-up aristocracy then.
Neighbors were neighbors.  Merchants gave full weight.  Everything was
full length; everything was a yard wide and all wool.  Now everybody
swindles everybody else, and calls it business.  Go back fifty years
and you will find an old man who will tell you that there was a time
when all were honest.  Go back another fifty years and you will find
another sage who will tell you the same story. Every man looks back to
his youth, to the golden age, and what is true of the individual is
true of the whole human race.  It has its infancy, its manhood, and,
finally, will have an old age. The garden of Eden is not back of us.
There are more honest men, good women, and obedient children in the
world today than ever before.

The myth of the Elysian fields--universally born of sunsets. When the
golden clouds in the west turned to amethyst, sapphire, and purple, the
poor savage thought it a vision of another land--a land without care or
grief--a world of perpetual joy.  This myth was born of the setting of
the sun.  A universal myth, all nations have believed in floods.
Savages found everywhere evidences of the sea having been above the
earth, and saw in the shells souvenirs of the ocean's visit.  It had
left its cards on the tops of mountains.  The savage knew nothing of
the slow rise and sinking of the crust of the earth.  He did not dream
of it. We now know that where the mountains lift their granite
foreheads to the sun, the billows once held sway, and that where the
waves dash into white caps of joy, the mountains will stand once more.
Everywhere the land is, the ocean will be; and where the ocean is the
land will be. The Hindoos believed in the flood myth. Their hero, who
lived almost entirely on water, went to the Ganges to perform his
ablutions, and, taking up a little water in his hand, he saw a small
fish that prayed him to save it from the monster of the river, and it
would save him in turn from his enemies.  He did so, and put it into
different receptacles until it grew so large that he let it loose in
the sea; then it was large enough to take care of itself.  The fish
told him that there was going to be an immense flood, and told him to
gather all kinds of seed and take two of each kind of animals of use to
man, and he would come along with an ark and take them all in. He told
him to pick out seven saints.  And the fish towed the ark along tied to
its horns, and took them in and carried them to the top of a mountain,
where he hitched the ark to a tree.  When the waters receded, they came
out and followed them down until they reached the plain.  There were
the same number--eight--in this ark as there were with Noah.

I find that the myth of the virgin mother is universal.  The virgin
mother is the earth.  I find also in countries the idea of a trinity.
In Egypt I find Isis, Osiris, and Horus.  This idea prevailed in
Central America among the Aztecs.  We find the myth of the judgment
almost universal.  I imagine men have seen so much injustice here that
they naturally expect that there must be some day of final judgment
somewhere.  Nearly every theist is driven to the necessity of having
another world in which his god may correct the mistakes he has made in
this.  We find on the walls of Egyptian temples pictures of the
judgment; the righteous all go on the right hand, and those unworthy on
the left.  The myth of the sun god was universal.  Agni was the sun god
of the Hindoos.  He was called the most generous of all gods, yet he
ate his own father and mother.  Baldur was another sun god; he was a
sun myth.  Hercules was a sun god, and so was Samson.  Jonah, too, was
a sun god, and was swallowed by a fish. So was Hercules, and a
wonderful thing is that they were swallowed in about the same place,
near Joppa.  Where did the big fish go?  When the sun went down under
the earth, it was thought to be followed by the fish, which was said to
swallow it, and carry it safely through the under world.  The sun thus
came to be represented as the body of a woman with the tail of a fish,
and so the mermaid was born.  Another strange thing is that all the sun
gods were born near Christmas.  The myth of Red Riding Hood, was known
among the Aztecs.  The myth of eucharist came from the story of Ceres
and Bacchus. When the cakes made by the product of the field were
eaten, it was the body of Ceres, and when the wine was drank it was the
blood of Bacchus. From this idea the eucharist was born.  There is
nothing original in christianity. Holy water!  Another myth.  The
Hindoos imagined that the water had its source in the throne of God.
The Egyptians thought the Nile sacred.  Greece was settled by Egyptian
colonies, and they carried with them the water of the Nile, and when
any one died the water was sprinkled on him.  Finally Rome conquered
Greece physically, but Greece conquered Rome intellectually.  This is
the myth of holy water, and with it grew up the idea of baptism, and I
presume that that is as old as water and dirt.  The cross is another
universal symbol.  There was once an ancient people in Italy before the
Romans, before the Etruscans. They faded from the world, and history
does not even know the name of that nation.  We find where they buried
the ashes of their dead, and we find chiseled, hundreds of years before
Christ, the cross, a symbol of a hope of another life.  We find the
cross in Egypt, in the cylinders from Babylon, and, more than that, we
find them in Central America.  On the temples of the Aztecs we find the
cross, and on it a bleeding, dying god.  Our cross was built in the
middle ages.

When Adam was very sick he sent Seth, his son, to the garden of Eden.
He told him he would have no trouble in finding it; all he had to do
was to follow the tracks made by his mother and father when they left
it.  He wanted a little balsam from the tree of life that he might not
die.  Seth found there a cherub, with flaming sword, who would not let
him pass the door.  He moved  his wings so that he could see in, and he
saw the tree of life, with its roots running down to hell, and among
them Cain, the murderer.  The angel gave Seth three seeds, and told him
to put them in his father's mouth when he was buried and to watch the
effect.  The result was that these trees grew up--one pine, one cedar,
and on cypress.  Solomon cut down one of these trees to put in the
temple, but it grew through the roof and he threw it into the pool of
Bethesda.  When the soldiers went for a beam on which to crucify Christ
they took this tree and made a cross of it.  Helen, the mother of
Constantine, went to Jerusalem to find this cross.  She found the two
crosses, also, that the thieves were crucified on.  They could not tell
which was which, so they called a sick woman who touched them, and when
she touched the right one she was immediately made whole.

Such is myth and fable.  The history of one religion is substantially
the history of all religions.  In embryo man lives all lives.  The man
of genius knows within himself the history of the human race; he knows
the history of all religions.  The man of imagination, genius, having
seen a leaf and a drop of water, can construct the forests, the rivers,
and the seas.  In his presence all the cataracts fall and foam, the
mists rise, and the clouds form and float.  To really know one fact is
known its kindred and its neighbors.  Shakespeare, looking at a coat of
mail, instantly imagined the society, the conditions that produced it,
and what it, in its turn, produced.  He saw the castle, the moat, the
drawbridge, the lady in the tower, and the knightly lover spurring over
the plain.  He saw the bold baron and the rude retainer, the trampled
serfs, and all the glory and the grief of feudal life.  The man of
imagination has lived the life of all people, of all races.  He has
been a citizen of Athens in the days of Pericles; listened to the eager
eloquence of the great orator, and has sat upon the cliff, and with the
tragic poet heard "the multitudinous laughter of the sea."  He has seen
Socrates thrust the spear of question through the shield and heart of
falsehood--was present when the great man drank hemlock and met the
night of death tranquil as a star meets morning.  He has followed the
peripatetic philosophers, and has been puzzled by the sophists.  He has
watched Phidias, as he chiseled shapeless stone to forms of love and
awe.  He has lived by the slow Nile, amid the vast and monstrous.  He
knows the very thought that wrought the form and features of the
Sphinx. He has heard great Memnon's morning song, has laid him down
with the embalmed dead, and felt within their dust the expectation of
another life, mingled with cold and suffocating doubts--the children
born of long delay.  He has walked the ways of mighty Rome, has seen
the great Caesar with his legions in the field, has stood with vast and
motley throngs and watched the triumphs given to victorious men,
followed by uncrowned kings, the captured hosts and all the spoils of
ruthless war. He has heard the shout that shook the Coliseum's roofless
walls when from the reeling gladiator's hand the short sword fell,
while from his bosom gushed the stream of wasted life.  He has lived
the life of savage men--has trod the forest's silent depths, and in the
desperate name of life or death has matched his thought against the
instinct of the beast. He has sat beneath the bo tree's contemplative
shade, rapt in Buddha's mighty thought, and he has dreamed all dreams
that light, the alchemist, hath wrought from dust and dew and stored
within the slumbrous poppy's subtle blood.  He has knelt with awe and
dread at every prayer; has felt the consolation and the shuddering
fear; has seen all the devils; has mocked and worshiped all the gods;
enjoyed all heavens, and felt the pangs of every hell.  He has lived
all lives, and through his blood and brain have crept the shadow and
the chill of every death, and his soul, Mazeppa-like, has been lashed
naked to the wild horse of every fear and love and hate. The
imagination hath a stage within the brain, whereon he sets all scenes
that lie between the morn of laughter and the night of tears, and where
his players body forth the false and true, the joys and griefs, the
careless shadows, and the tragic deeps of human life.

Through with the myth-makers, we now come to the wonder-worker. There
is this difference between the miracle and the myth--a myth is an
idealism of a fact, and a miracle is a counterfeit of a fact.  There is
some difference between a myth and a miracle. There is the difference
that there is between fiction and falsehood and poetry and perjury.
Miracles are probably only in the far past or the very remote future.
The present is the property of the natural.  You say to a man:  "The
dead were raised 4,000 years ago."  He says, "Well, that's reasonable."
You say to him, "In 4,000,000 years we shall all be raised." He says,
"That is what I believe."  Say to him, "A man was raised from the dead
this morning," and he will say, "What are you giving us?"  Miracles
never convince at the time they were said to have been performed.

John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ.  He was cast into
prison. When Christ heard of it He "departed from that country."
Afterward he returned and heard that John had been beheaded, and he
again departed from that country.  There is no possible relation
between the miraculous and the moral.  The miracles of the middle ages
are the children of superstition.  In the middle ages men told
everything but the truth, and believed everything but the facts.  The
middle ages--a trinity of ignorance, mendacity and insanity.  There is
one thing about humanity. You see the faults of others, but not your
own.  A Catholic in India sees a Hindoo bowing before an idol and
thinks it absurd.  Why does he not get him a plaster of paris virgin
and some beads and holy water? Why does the protestant shut his eyes
when he prays? The idea is a souvenir of sun worship.  It is the most
natural worship in the world. Religious dogmas have become absurd.  The
doctrine of eternal torment today has become absurd, low, groveling,
ignorant, barbaric, savage, devilish and no gentleman would preach it.

Science, thou art the great magician!  Thou alone performest the true
miracles.  Thou alone workest the real wonders.  Fire is thy servant,
lightning thy messenger.  The waves obey thee, and thou knowest the
circuits of the wind.  Thou art the great philanthropist.  Thou hast
freed the slave and civilized the master.  Thou hast taught man to
chain, not his fellow-man, but the forces of nature--forces that have
no backs to be scarred, no limbs for chains to chill and eat--forces
that never know fatigue, that shed no tears--forces that have no hearts
to break. Thou gavest man the plow, the reaper and the loom--thou hast
fed and clothed the world.  Thou art the great physician.  Thy touch
hath given sight.  Thou hast made the lame to leap, the dumb to speak,
and in the pallid cheek thy hand hath set the rose of health.  "Thou
hast given thy beloved sleep"--a sleep that wraps in happy dreams the
throbbing nerves of pain.  Thou art the perpetual providence of
man--preserver of life and love.  Thou art the teacher of every virtue,
and the enemy of every vice. Thou has discovered the true basis of
morals--the origin and office of conscience--and hast revealed the
nature and measure of obligation.  Thou hast taught that love is
justice in its highest form, and that even self-love, guided by wisdom,
embraces with loving arms the human race.  Thou hast slain the monsters
of the past. Thou hast discovered the one inspired book.  Thou hast
read the records of the rocks, written by wind and wave, by frost and
flame--records that even priestcraft cannot change--and in thy wondrous
scales thou hast weighed the atoms and the stars.  Thou art the founder
of the only true religion.  Thou art the very Christ, the only savior
of mankind!

Theology has always been in the way of the advance of the human race.
There is this difference between science and theology--science is
modest and merciful, while theology is arrogant and cruel.  The hope of
science is the perfection of the human race. The hope of theology is
the salvation of a few and the damnation of almost everybody.  As I
told you in the first place, I believe in the religion of freedom.  O
liberty! thou art the god of my idolatry.  Thou art the only deity that
hates the bended knee. In thy vast and unwalled temple, beneath the
roofless dome, star-gemmed and luminous with suns, thy worshipers stand
erect.  They do not bow or cringe or crawl or bend their foreheads to
the earth.  Thy dust hast never borne the impress of lips, upon thy
sacred altars mothers do not sacrifice their babes, nor men their
rights.  Thou askest naught from man except the things that good men
hate, the whip, the chain, the dungeon key.  Thou hast no kings, no
popes, no priests to stand between their fellow-men and thee.  Thou
hast no monks, no nuns, who, in the name of duty, murder joy.  Thou
carest not for forms nor mumbled prayers.  At thy sacred shrine
hypocrisy does not bow, fear does not crouch, virtue does not tremble,
superstition's feeble tapers do not burn, but reason holds aloft her
inextinguishable torch, while on the ever-broadening brow of science
falls the ever coming morning of the ever better day.

Ingersoll on The Chinese God

Messrs. Wright, Dickey, O'Conner and Murch, of the select committee on
the causes of the present depression of labor, presented the majority
special report upon Chinese immigration.

These gentlemen are in great fear for the future of our most holy and
perfectly authenticated religion, and have, like faithful watchmen from
the walls and towers of Zion, hastened to give the alarm.  They have
informed Congress that "Joss has his temple of worship in the Chinese
quarters, in San Francisco.  Within the walls of a dilapidated
structure is exposed to the view of the faithful the god of the
Chinaman, and here are his altars of worship.  Here he tears up his
pieces of paper; here he offers up his prayers; here he receives his
religious consolations, and here is his road to the celestial land."
That "Joss is located in a long, narrow room, in a building in a back
alley, upon a kind of altar;" that "he is a wooden image, looking as
much like an alligator as like a human being;"  that the Chinese "think
there is such a place as heaven;" that "all classes of Chinamen worship
idols;"  that "the temple is open every day at all hours;"  that "the
Chinese have no Sunday;"  that this heathen god has "huge jaws, a big
red tongue, large white teeth, a half-dozen arms, and big, fiery
eyeballs.  About him are placed offerings of meat, and other
eatables--a sacrificial offering."

No wonder that these members of the committee were shocked at such a
god, knowing as they did that the only true God was correctly described
by the inspired lunatic of Patmos in the following words:

"And there sat in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks one like
unto the son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt
about the paps with a golden girdle.  His head and his hairs were white
like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and
his feet like unto fine brass as if they burned in a furnace; and his
voice as the sound of many waters.  And he had in his right hand seven
stars; and out of his mouth went a sharp, two-edged sword; and his
countenance was as the sun shining in his strength."

Certainly, a large mouth, filled with white teeth, is preferable to one
used as the scabbard of a sharp, two-edged sword.  Why should these
gentlemen object to a god with big fiery eyeballs, when their own Deity
has eyes like a flame of fire?

Is it not a little late in the day to object to people because they
sacrifice meat and other eatables to their god?  We all know that for
thousands of years the "real" God was exceedingly fond of roasted meat;
that He loved the savor of burning flesh, and delighted in the perfume
of fresh, warm blood.

The following account of the manner in which the "living God" desired
that His people should sacrifice tends to show the degradation and
religious blindness of the Chinese--:

"Aaron therefore went unto the altar and slew the calf of the
sin-offering which was for himself.  And the sons of Aaron brought the
blood unto him.  And he dipped his fingers in the blood and put it upon
the horns of the altar, and poured out the blood at the bottom of the
altar; but the fat and the kidneys and the caul above the liver of the
sin-offering he burnt upon the altar, as the Lord commanded Moses, and
the flesh and the hide he burnt with fire without the camp.  And he
slew the burnt offering.  And Aaron's sons presented unto him the blood
which he sprinkled round about the altar....  And he brought the meat
offering and took a handful thereof and burnt upon the altar..... He
slew also the bullock and the ram for a sacrifice of peace offering,
which was for the people.  And Aaron's sons presented unto him the
blood which he sprinkled upon the altar, round about, and the fat of
the bullock and of the ram, the rump and that which covereth the
inwards, and the kidneys, and the caul above the liver, and they put
the fat upon the breasts and he burnt the fat upon the altar.  And the
breasts and the right shoulder Aaron waved for a wave-offering before
the Lord, as Moses had commanded."

If the Chinese only did something like this, we would know that they
worshiped the "living" God.  The idea that the supreme head of the
"American system of religion" can be placated with a little meat and
"ordinary eatables," is simply preposterous.  He has always asked for
blood, and has always asserted that without the shedding of blood there
is no remission of sin.

The world is also informed by these gentlemen that "the idolatry of the
Chinese produces a demoralizing effect upon our American youth by
bringing sacred things into disrespect, and making religion a theme of
disgust and contempt."

In San Francisco there are some three hundred thousand people. Is it
possible that a few Chinese can bring "our holy religion" into disgust
and contempt?  In that city there are fifty times as many churches as
joss-houses.  Scores of sermons are uttered every week; religious books
and papers are plentiful as leaves in autumn, and somewhat dryer;
thousands of bibles are with in the reach of all.  And there, too, is
the example of a Christian city.

Why should we send missionaries to China if we cannot convert the
heathen when they come here?  When missionaries go to a foreign land,
the poor, benighted people have to take their word for the blessings
showered upon a Christian people; but when the heathen come here, they
can see for themselves.  What was simply a story becomes a demonstrated
fact.  They come in contact with people who love their enemies.  They
see that in a Christian land men tell the truth; that they will not
take advantage of strangers; that they are just and patient; kind and
tender; and have no prejudice on account of color, race, or religion;
that they look upon mankind as brethren; that they speak of God as a
universal Father, and are willing to work, and even to suffer, for the
good, not only of their own countrymen, but of the heathen as well.
All this the Chinese see and know, and why they still cling to the
religion of their country is to me a matter of amazement.

We all know that the disciples of Jesus do unto others as they would
that others should do unto them, and that those of Confucius do not
unto others anything that they would not that others should do unto
them. Surely, such peoples ought to live together in perfect peace.
Rising with the subject, growing heated with a kind of holy
indignation, these Christian representatives of a Christian people most
solemnly declare that anyone who is really endowed with a correct
knowledge of our religious system which acknowledges the existence of a
living God and an accountability to Him, and a future state of reward
and punishment, who feels that he has an apology for this abominable
pagan worship, is not a fit person to be ranked as a good citizen of
the American union.  It is absurd to make any apology for its
toleration.  It must be abolished, and the sooner the decree goes forth
by the power of this government, the better it will be for the
interests of this land.

I take this the earliest opportunity to inform these gentlemen
composing a majority of the committee that we have in the United States
no "religious system;"  that this is a secular government. That it has
no religious creed; that it does not believe nor disbelieve in a future
state of reward and punishment; that it neither affirms nor denies the
existence of a "living God;"  and that the only god, so far as this
government is concerned; is the legally expressed will of a majority of
the people.  Under our flag the Chinese have the same right to worship
a wooden god that you have to worship any other.  The constitution
protects equally the church of Jehovah and the house of Joss.  Whatever
their relative positions may be in heaven, they stand upon a perfect
equality in the United States.  This government is an infidel
government.  We have a constitution with man put in and God left out;
and it is the glory of this country that we have such a constitution.

It may be surprising to you that I have an apology for pagan worship,
yet I have.  And it is the same one that I have for the writers of this
report.  I account for both by the word superstition.  Why should we
object to their worshiping God as they please?  If the worship is
improper, the protestation should come not from a committee of
congress, but from God himself.  If He is satisfied, that is sufficient.

Our religion can only be brought into contempt by the actions of those
who profess to be governed by its teachings.  This report will do more
in that direction than millions of Chinese could do by burning pieces
of paper before a wooden image.  If you wish to impress the Chinese
with the value of your religion, of what you are pleased to call "the
American system," show them that Christians are better than heathens.
Prove to them that what you are pleased to call the "living God"
teaches higher and holier things, a grander and purer code of morals,
than can be found upon pagan pages.  Excel these wretches in industry,
in honesty, in reverence for parents, in cleanliness, in frugality, and
above all by advocating the absolute liberty of human thought.

Do not trample upon these people because they have different conception
of things about which even this committee knows nothing.

Give them the same privilege you enjoy of making a god after their own
fashion, and let them describe him as they will.  Would you be willing
to have them remain, if one of their race, thousands of years ago, had
pretended to have seen God, and had written of Him as follows:  "There
went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth; coals
were kindled by it.... and he rode upon a cherub and did fly?"  Why
should you object to these people on account of their religion?  Your
objection has in it the spirit of hate and intolerance.  Of that spirit
the inquisition was born.  That spirit lighted the fagot, made the
thumbscrew, put chains upon the limbs, and lashes upon the backs of
men. The same spirit bought and sold, captured and kidnapped human
beings; sold babes, and justified all the horrors of slavery.  Congress
has nothing to do with the religion of the people.  Its members are not
responsible to God for the opinions of their constituents, and it may
tend to the happiness of the constituents for me to state that they are
in no way responsible for the religion of the members.  Religion is an
individual not a national matter, and where the nation interferes with
the right of conscience, the liberties of the people are devoured by
the monster, superstition.

If you wish to drive out the Chinese, do not make a pretext of
religion. Do not pretend that you are trying to do God a favor.
Injustice in His name is doubly detestable.  The assassin cannot
sanctify his dagger by falling on his knees, and it does not help a
falsehood if it be uttered as a prayer.  Religion, used to intensify
the hatred of men toward men, under the pretense of pleasing God, has
cursed this world.

A portion of this most remarkable report is Intensely religious. There
is in it almost the odor of sanctity; and when reading it, one is
impressed with the living piety of its authors.  But on the
twenty-fifth page, there are a few passages that must pain the hearts
of true believers.  Leaving their religious views, the members
immediately betake themselves to philosophy and prediction.  Listen:

"The Chinese race and the American citizen, whether native-born or who
is eligible to our naturalization laws and becomes a citizen, are in a
state of antagonism.  They cannot, nor will not, ever meet upon common
ground and occupy together the same so-called level.  This is
impossible.  The pagan and the Christian travel different paths.  This
one believes in a living God; that one in the type of monsters and
worship of wood and stone.  Thus in the religion of the two races of
men, they are as wide apart as the poles of the two hemispheres.  They
cannot now, nor never [sic] will, approach the same religious altar.
The Christian will not recede to barbarism, nor will the Chinese
advance to the enlightened belt [wherever it is] of civilization.... He
cannot be converted to those modern ideas of religious worship which
have been accepted by Europe, and which crown the American system."

Christians used to believe that through their religion all the nations
of the earth were finally to be blest.  In accordance with that belief
missionaries have been sent to every land, and untold wealth has been
expended for what has been called the spread of the gospel.

I am almost sure that I have read somewhere that "Christ died for all
men," and that "God is no respecter persons."  It was once taught that
it was the duty of Christians to tell to all people the "tidings of
great joy."  I have never believed these things myself, but have always
contended that an honest merchant was the best missionary.  Commerce
makes friends, religion makes enemies; the one enriches, and the other
impoverishes; the one thrives best where the truth is told, the other
where falsehoods are believed.  For myself, I have but little
confidence in any business, or enterprise, or investment, that promises
dividends only after the death of the stockholders.

But I am astonished that four Christian statesmen, four members of
Congress in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, who seriously
object to people on account of their religious convictions, should
still assert that the very religion in which they believe--and the only
religion established by the living God--head of the American system--is
not adapted to the spiritual needs of one-third of the human race.  It
is amazing that these four gentlemen have, in the defense of the
Christian religion, announced the discovery that it is wholly
inadequate for the civilization of mankind that the light of the cross
can never penetrate the darkness of China; "that all the labors of the
missionary, the example of the good, the exalted character of our
civilization, make no impression upon the pagan life of the Chinese;"
and that even the report of this committee will not tend to elevate,
refine and Christianize the yellow heathen of the Pacific Coast.  In
the name of religion these gentlemen have denied its power and mocked
at the enthusiasm of its founder. Worse than this, they have predicted
for the Chinese a future of ignorance and idolatry in this world, and,
if the "American system"--of religion us true, hellfire in the next.

For the benefit of these four philosophers and prophets, I will give a
few extracts from the writings of Confucius that will in my judgment,
compare favorably with the best passages of their report:

"My doctrine is that man must be true to the principles of his nature,
and the benevolent exercises of them toward others.

"With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and with my bended arm
for a pillow, I still have joy.

"Riches and honor acquired by injustice are to me but floating clouds.

"The man who, in view of gain, thinks of righteousness; who, in view of
danger, forgets life, and who remembers an old agreement, however far
back it extends, such a man may be reckoned a complete man.

"Recompense injury with justice, and kindness with kindness."

There is one Word which may serve as rule of practice for all one's
life.  Reciprocity is that word.

When the ancestors of the four Christian Congressmen were barbarians,
when they lived in caves, gnawed bones, and worshiped dried snakes, the
infamous Chinese were reading these sublime sentences of Confucius.
When the forefathers of these Christian statesmen were hunting toads to
get the jewels out of their heads to be used as charms, the wretched
Chinese were calculating eclipses and measuring the circumference of
the earth.  When the progenitors of these representatives of the
"American system of religion" were burning women charged with nursing
devils, these people, "incapable of being influenced by the exalted
character of our civilization," were building asylums for the insane.

Neither should it be forgotten that, for thousands of years, the
Chinese have honestly practiced the great principle known as civil
service reform--a something that even the administration of Mr. Hayes
has reached only through the proxy of promise.

If we wish to prevent the immigration of the Chinese, let us reform our
treaties with the vast empire from whence they came. For thousands of
years the Chinese secluded themselves from the rest of the world.  They
did not deem the Christian nations fit to associate with.  We forced
ourselves upon them.  We called, not with cards, but with cannon.  The
English battered down the door in the names of Opium and Christ.  This
infamy was regarded as another triumph for the gospel.  At last, in
self-defense, the Chinese allowed Christians to touch their shores.
Their wise men, their philosophers protested, and prophesied that time
would show that Christians could not be trusted.  This report proves
that the wise men were not only philosophers, but prophets.

Treat China as you would England.  Keep a treaty while it is in force.
Change it if you will, according to the laws of nations, but on no
account excuse a breach of national faith by pretending that we are
dishonest for God's sake.

Ingersoll's Letter, Is Suicide a Sin? (Colonel Ingersoll's First Letter)

I do not know whether self-killing is on the increase or not.  If it
is, then there must be, on the average, more trouble, more sorrow, more
failure, and, consequently, more people are driven to despair.  In
civilized life there is a great struggle, great competition, and many
fall.  To fail in a great city is like being wrecked at sea.  In the
country a man has friends.  He can get a little credit, a little help,
but in the city it is different.  The man is lost in the multitude.  In
the roar of the streets his cry is not heard.  Death becomes his only
friend. Death promises release from want, from hunger and pain, and so
the poor wretch lays down his burden, dashes it from his shoulders and
falls asleep.

To me all this seems very natural.  The wonder is that so many endure
and suffer to the natural end, that so many nurse the spark of life in
huts and prisons, keep it and guard it through years of misery and
want; support it by beggary; by eating the crust found in the gutter,
and to whom it only gives days of weariness and nights of fear and
dread.  Why should the man, sitting amid the wreck of all he had, the
loved ones dead, friends lost, seek to lengthen, to preserve his life?
What can the future have for him?

Under many circumstances a man has the right to kill himself. When life
is of no value to him, when he can be of no real assistance to others,
why should a man continue?  When he is of no benefit, when he is a
burden to those he loves, why should he remain?  The old idea was that
"God" made us and placed us here for a purpose, and that it was our
duty to remain until He called us.  The world is outgrowing this
absurdity. What pleasure can it give "God" to see a man devoured by a
cancer?  To see the quivering flesh slowly eaten?  To see the nerves
throbbing with pain?  Is this a festival for "God"?  Why should the
poor wretch stay and suffer?  A little morphine would give him
sleep--the agony would be forgotten and he would pass unconsciously
from happy dreams to painless death.

If "God" determines all births and deaths, of what use is medicine, and
why should doctors defy, with pills and powders, the decrees of "God"?
No one, except a few insane, act now according to this childish
superstition.  Why should a man, surrounded by flames, in the midst of
a burning building, from which there is no escape, hesitate to put a
bullet through his brain or a dagger in his heart?  Would it give "God"
pleasure to see him burn?  When did the man lose the right of

So, when a man has committed some awful crime, why should he stay and
ruin his family and friends?  Why should he add to the injury?  Why
should he live, filling his days and nights, and the days and nights of
others, with grief and pain, with agony and tears?

Why should a man sentenced to imprisonment for life hesitate to still
his heart?  The grave is better than the cell.  Sleep is sweeter than
the ache of toil.  The dead have no masters.

So the poor girl, betrayed and deserted, the door of home closed
against her, the faces of friends averted, no hand that will help, no
eye that will soften with pity, the future an abyss filled with
monstrous shapes of dread and fear, her mind racked by fragments of
thoughts like clouds broken by storm, pursued, surrounded by the
serpents of remorse, flying from horrors too great to bear, rushes with
joy through the welcome door of death.

Undoubtedly there are many cases of perfectly justifiable
suicide--cases in which not to end life would be a mistake, sometimes
almost a crime.

As to the necessity of death, each must decide for himself.  And if a
man honestly decides that death is best--best for him and others--and
acts upon the decision, why should he be blamed?

Certainly the man who kills himself is not a physical coward.  He may
have lacked moral courage, but not physical.  It may be said that some
men fight duels because they are afraid to decline. They are between
two fires--the chance of death and the certainty of dishonor, and they
take the chance of death.  So the Christian martyrs were, according to
their belief, between two fires--the flames of the fagot that could
burn but for a few moments and the fires of God, that were eternal.
And they chose the flames of the fagot.

Men who fear death to that degree that they will bear all the pains and
pangs that nerves can feel rather than die, cannot afford to call the
suicide a coward.  It does not seem to me that Brutus was a coward or
that Seneca was.  Surely Anthony had nothing left to live for.  Cato
was not a craven.  He acted on his judgment.  So with hundreds of
others who felt that they had reached the end--that the journey was
done, the voyage was over, and, so feeling, stopped.  It seems certain
that the man who commits suicide, who "does the thing that stops all
other deeds, that shackles accident and bolts up change," is not
lacking in physical courage.

If men had the courage they would not linger in prisons, in almshouses,
in hospitals, they would not bear the pangs of incurable disease, the
stains of dishonor, they would not live in filth and want, in poverty
and hunger, neither would they wear the chain of slavery.  All this can
be accounted for only by the fear of death or "of something after."

Seneca, knowing that Nero intended to take his life, had no fear. He
knew that he could defeat the Emperor.  He knew that "at the bottom of
every river, in the coil of every rope, on the point of every dagger,
Liberty sat and smiled."  He knew that it was his own fault if he
allowed himself to be tortured to death by his enemy.  He said, "There
is this blessing, that while life has but one entrance, it has exits
innumerable, and as I choose the house in which I live, the ship in
which I will sail, so will I choose the time and manner of my death."
To me this is not cowardly, but manly and noble.

Under the Roman law persons found guilty, of certain offenses were not
only destroyed, but their blood was polluted, and their children became
outcasts.  If, however, they died before conviction, their children
were saved.  Many committed suicide to save their babes.  Certainly
they were not cowards.  Although guilty of great crimes, they had
enough of honor, of manhood, left to save their innocent children.
This was not cowardice.

Without doubt many suicides are caused by insanity.  Men lose their
property.  The fear of the future over powers them.  Things lose
proportion, they lose poise and balance, and in a flash, a gleam of
frenzy, kill their selves.  The disappointed in love, broken in
heart--the light fading from their lives--seek the refuge of death.
Those who take their lives in painful, barbarous ways--who mangle their
throats with broken glass, dash themselves from towers and roofs, take
poisons that torture like the rack--such persons must be insane.  But
those who take the facts into account, who weigh the arguments for and
against, and who decide that death is best--the only good--and then
resort to reasonable means, may be, so far as I can see, in full
possession of their minds.

Life is not the same to all--to some a blessing, to some a curse, to
some not much in any way.  Some leave it with unspeakable regret, some
with the keenest joy, and some with indifference.

Religion, or the decadence of religion, has a bearing upon the number
of suicides.  The fear of "God," of judgment, of eternal pain will stay
the hand, and people so believing will suffer here until relieved by
natural death.  A belief in the eternal agony beyond the grave will
cause such believers to suffer the pangs of this life.  When there is
no fear of the future, when death is believed to be a dreamless sleep,
men have less hesitation about ending their lives.  On the other hand,
orthodox religion has driven millions to insanity.  It has caused
parents to murder their children and many thousands to destroy
themselves and others.

It seems probable that all real, genuine orthodox believers who kill
themselves must be insane, and to such a degree that their belief is
forgotten, "God" and hell are out of their minds.  I am satisfied that
many who commit suicide are insane, many are in the twilight or dusk of
insanity, and many are perfectly sane.

The law we have in this State making it a crime to attempt suicide is
cruel and absurd and calculated to increase the number of successful
suicides.  When a man has suffered so much, when he has been so
persecuted and pursued by disaster that he seeks the rest and sleep of
death, why should the State add to the sufferings of that man?  A man
seeking death, knowing that he will be punished if he fails, will take
extra pains and precautions to make death certain.

This law was born of superstition, passed by thoughtlessness and
enforced by ignorance and cruelty.

When the house of life becomes a prison, when the horizon has shrunk
and narrowed to a cell, and when the convict longs for the liberty of
death, why should the effort to escape be regarded as a crime?

Of course, I regard life from a natural point of view.  I do not take
gods, heavens or hells into account.  My horizon is the known, and my
estimate of life is based upon what I know of life here in this world.
People should not suffer for the sake of supernatural beings or for
other worlds or the hopes and fears of some future state.  Our joys,
our sufferings and our duties are here.  The law of New York about the
attempt to commit suicide and the law as to divorce are about equal.
Both are idiotic. Law cannot prevent suicide.  Those who have lost all
fear of death, care nothing for law and its penalties.  Death is
liberty, absolute and eternal.

We should remember that nothing happens but the natural.  Back of every
suicide and every attempt to commit suicide is the natural and
efficient cause.  Nothing happens by chance.  In this world the facts
touch each other.  There is no space between--no room for chance.
Given a certain heart and brain, certain conditions, and suicide is the
necessary result.  If we wish to prevent suicide we must change
conditions.  We must, by education, by invention, by art, by
civilization, add to the value of the average life.  We must cultivate
the brain and heart--do away with false pride and false modesty.  We
must become generous enough to help our fellows without degrading them.
We must make industry useful work of all kinds--honorable.  We must
mingle a little affection with our charity--a little fellowship.  We
should allow those who have sinned to really reform.  We should not
think only of what the wicked have done, but we should think of what we
have wanted to do.  People do not hate the sick.  Why should they
despise the mentally weak--the diseased in brain?

Our actions are the fruit, the result, of circumstances--of
conditions--and we do as we must.  This great truth should till the
heart with pity for the failures of our race.

Sometimes I have wondered that Christians denounce the suicide; that in
old times they buried him where the roads crossed, and drove a stake
through his body.  They took his property from his children and gave it
to the State.

If Christians would only think, they would see the orthodox religion
rests upon suicide--that man was redeemed by suicide, and that without
suicide the whole world would have been lost.

If Christ were God, then he had the power to protect himself from the
Jews without hurting them.  But instead of using his power he allowed
them to take his life.

If a strong man should allow a few little children to hack him to death
with knives when he could easily have brushed them aside, would we not
say that he committed suicide?

There is no escape.  If Christ were, in fact, God and allowed the Jews
to kill Him, then He consented to His own death--refused, though
perfectly able, to defend and protect Himself, and was, in fact, a

We cannot reform the world by law or by superstition.  As long as there
shall be pain and failure, want and sorrow, agony and crime, men and
women will untie life's knot and seeks the peace of death.

To the hopelessly imprisoned--to the dishonored and despised--to those
who have failed, who have no future, no hope--to the abandoned, the
broken-hearted, to those who are only remnants and fragments of men and
women--how consoling, how enchanting is the thought of death!

And even to the most fortunate death at last is a welcome deliverer.
Death is as natural and as merciful as life.  When we have journeyed
long--when we are weary--when we wish for the twilight, for the dusk,
for the cool kisses of the night--when the senses are dull--when the
pulse is faint and low--when the mists gather on the mirror of
memory--when the past is almost forgotten, the present hardly
perceived--when the future has but empty hands--death is as welcome as
a strain of music.

After all, death is not so terrible as joyless life.  Next to eternal
happiness is to sleep in the soft clasp of the cool earth, disturbed by
no dream, by no thought, by no pain, by no fear, unconscious of all and

The wonder is that so many live, that in spite of rags and want, in
spite of tenement and gutter, of filth and pain, they limp and stagger
and crawl beneath their burdens to the natural end.  The wonder is that
so few of the miserable are brave enough to die--that so many are
terrified by the "something after death"--by the specters and phantoms
of superstition.

Most people are in love with life.  How they cling to it in the arctic
snows--how they struggle in the waves and currents of the sea--how they
linger in famine--how they fight disaster and despair!  On the
crumbling edge of death they keep the flag flying and go down at last
full of hope and courage.

But many have not such natures.  They cannot bear defeat.  They are
disheartened by disaster.  They lie down on the field of conflict and
give the earth their blood.

They are our unfortunate brothers and sisters.  We should not curse or
blame--we should pity.  On their pallid faces our tears should fall.

One of the best men I ever knew, with an affectionate wife, a charming
and loving daughter, committed suicide.  He was a man of generous
impulses.  His heart was loving and tender.  He was conscientious, and
so sensitive that he blamed himself for having done what at the time he
thought wise and best.  He was the victim of his virtues.  Let us be
merciful in our judgments.

All we can say is that the good and the bad, the loving and the
malignant, the conscientious and the vicious, the educated and the
ignorant, actuated by many motives, urged and pushed by circumstances
and conditions sometimes in the calm of judgment, sometimes in
passion's storm and stress, sometimes in whirl and tempest of
insanity--raise their hands against themselves and desperately put out
the light of life.

Those who attempt suicide should not be punished.  If they are insane
they should, if possible be restored to reason; if sane, they should be
reasoned with, calmed and assisted.

Ingersoll's Letter, The Right to One's Life Colonel Ingersoll's
Eloquent Reply to His Critics

In the article written by me about suicide the ground was taken that
"under many circumstances a man has the right to kill himself."

This has been attacked with great fury by clergymen, editors and the
writers of letters.  These people contend that the right of
self-destruction does not and can not exist.  They insist that life is
the gift of God, and that He only has the right to end the days of men;
that it is our duty to beat the sorrows that He sends with grateful
patience.  Some have denounced suicide as the worst of crimes--worse
than the murder of another.

The first question, then, is:

Has a man under any circumstances the right to kill himself?

A man is being slowly devoured by a cancer--his agony is intense--his
suffering all that nerves can feel.  His life is slowly being taken.
Is this the work of the good God?  Did the compassionate God create the
cancer so that it might feed on the quivering flesh of this victim?

This man, suffering agonies beyond the imagination to conceive, is of
no use to himself.  His life is but a succession of pangs. He is of no
use to his wife, his children, his friends or society.  Day after day
he is rendered unconscious by drugs that numb the nerves and put the
brain to sleep.  Has he the right to render himself unconscious?  Is it
proper for him to take refuge in sleep?

If there be a good God I cannot believe that He takes pleasure in the
sufferings of men--that He gloats over the agonies of His children.  If
there be a good God, He will, to the extent of His power, lessen the
evils of life.

So I insist that the man being eaten by the cancer--a burden to himself
and others, useless in every way--has the right to end his pain and
pass through happy sleep to dreamless rest.

But those who have answered me would say to this man:    "It is your
duty to be devoured.  The good God wishes you to suffer. Your life is
the gift of God.  You hold it in trust, and you have no right to end
it. The cancer is the creation of God and it is your duty to furnish it
with food."

Take another case:  A man is on a burning ship; the crew and the rest
of the passengers have escaped--gone in the lifeboats--and he is left
alone.  In the wide horizon there is no sail, no sign of help.  He
cannot swim.  If he leaps into the sea he drowns, if he remains on the
ship he burns.  In any event he can live but a few moments.

Those who have answered me, those who insist that under no
circumstances a man has the right to take his life, would say to this
man on the deck, "Remain where you are.  It is the desire of your
loving, heavenly father that you be clothed in flame--that you slowly
roast--that your eyes be scorched to blindness and that you die insane
with pain.  Your life is not your own, only the agony is yours."

I would say to this man:  "Do as you wish.  If you prefer drowning to
burning, leap into the sea.  Between inevitable evils you have the
right of choice.  You can help no one, not even God, by allowing
yourself to be burned, and you can injure no one, not even God, by
choosing the easier death."

Let us suppose another case.

A man has been captured by savages in central Africa.  He is about to
be tortured to death.  His captors are going to thrust splinters of
pure into his flesh and then set them on fire.  He watches them as they
make the preparations.  He knows what they are about to do and what he
is about to suffer.  There is no hope of rescue, of help.  He has a
vial of poison.  He knows that he can take it and in one moment pass
beyond their power, leaving to them only the dead body.

Is this man under obligation to keep his life because God gave it until
the savages by torture take it?  Are the savages the agents of the good
God?  Are they the servants of the infinite?  Is it the duty of this
man to allow them to wrap his body in a garment of flame?  Has he no
right to defend himself?  Is it the will of God that he die by torture?
What would any man of ordinary intelligence do in a case like this?  Is
there room for discussion?

If the man took the poison, shortened his life a few moments, escaped
the tortures of the savages, is it possible that he would in another
world be tortured forever by an infinite savage?

Suppose another case.  In the good old days, when the inquisition
flourished, when men loved their enemies and murdered their friends,
many frightful and ingenious ways were devised to touch the nerves of

Those who loved God, who had been "born twice," would take a fellow-man
who had been convicted of heresy, "lay him upon the floor of a dungeon,
secure his arms and legs with chains, fasten trim to the earth so that
he could not move, put an iron vessel, the opening downward, on his
stomach, place in the vessel several rats, then tie it securely to his
body.  Then these worshipers of God would wait until the rats, seeking
food and liberty, would gnaw through the body of the victim.

Now, if a man about to be subjected to this torture had within his hand
a dagger, would it excite the wrath of the "good God," if with one
quick stroke he found the protection of death?

To this question there can be but one answer.

In the cases I have supposed it seems to me that each person would have
the right to destroy himself.  It does not seem possible that the man
was under obligation to be devoured by a cancer; to remain upon the
ship and perish in flame; to throw away the poison and be tortured to
death by savages; to drop the dagger and endure the "mercies" of the

If, in the cases I have supposed, men would have the right to take
their lives, then I was right when I said that "under many
circumstances a man has a right to kill himself."

Second, I denied that persons who killed themselves were physical
cowards.  They may lack moral courage; they may exaggerate their
misfortunes, lose the sense of proportion, but the man who plunges the
dagger in his heart, who sends the bullet through his brain, who leaps
from some roof and dashes himself against the stones beneath, is not
and cannot be a physical coward.

The basis of cowardice is the fear of injury or the fear of death, and
when that fear is not only gone, but in its place is the desire to die,
no matter by what means, it is impossible that cowardice should exist.
The suicide wants the very thing that a coward fears.  He seeks the
very thing that cowardice endeavors to escape.

So the man, forced to a choice of evils, choosing the less is not a
coward, but a reasonable man.  It must be admitted that the suicide is
honest with himself.  He is to bear the injury, if it be one.
Certainly there is no hypocrisy, and just as certainly there is no
physical cowardice.

Is the man who takes morphine rather than be eaten to death by a cancer
a coward?

Is the man who leaps into the sea rather than be burned a coward? Is
the man that takes poison rather than be tortured to death by savages
or "Christians" a coward?

Third, I also took the position that some suicides were sane; that they
acted on their best judgment, and that they were in full possession of
their minds.

Now, if, under some circumstances, a man has the right to take his
life, and if, under such circumstances, he does take his life, then it
cannot be said that he was insane.

Most of the persons who have tried to answer me have taken the ground
that suicide is not only a crime, but some of them have said that it is
the greatest of crimes.  Now, if it be a crime, then the suicide must
have been sane.  So all persons who denounce the suicide as a criminal
admit that he was sane.  Under the law, an insane person is incapable
of committing a crime. All the clergymen who have answered me, and who
have passionately asserted that suicide is a crime, have by that
assertion admitted that those who killed themselves were sane.

They agree with me, and not only admit, but assert that "some who have
committed suicide were sane and in the full possession of their minds."

It seems to me that these three propositions have been demonstrated to
be true:  First, that under some circumstances a man has the right to
take his life; second, that the man who commits suicide is not a
physical coward; and, third, that some who have committed suicide were
at the time sane and in full possession of their minds.

Fourth, I insisted, and still insist, that suicide was and is the
foundation of the Christian religion.

I still insist that if Christ were God He had the power to protect
Himself without injuring His assailants--that having that power it was
His duty to use it, and that failing to use it He consented to His own
death and was guilty of suicide.  To this the clergy answer that it was
self-sacrifice for the redemption of man, that He made an atonement for
the sins of believers. These ideas about redemption and atonement are
born of a belief in the  "fall of man," on account of the sins of our
"first parents," and of the declaration that "without the shedding of
blood there is no remission of sin."  The foundation has crumbled.  No
intelligent person now believes in the "fall of man"--that our first
parents were perfect, and that their descendants grew worse and worse,
at least until the coming of Christ.

Intelligent men now believe that ages and ages before the dawn of
history man was a poor, naked, cruel, ignorant and degraded savage,
whose language consisted of a few sounds of terror, of hatred and
delight; that he devoured his fellow-man, having all the vices, but not
all the virtues of the beasts; that the journey from the den to the
home, the palace, has been long and painful, through many centuries of
suffering, of cruelty and war; through many ages of discovery,
invention, self-sacrifice and thought.

Redemption and atonement are left without a fact on which to rest.  The
idea that an infinite God, creator of all worlds, came to this grain of
sand, learned the trade of a carpenter, discussed with Pharisees and
scribes, and allowed a few infuriated Hebrews to put Him to death that
He might atone for the sins of men and redeem a few believers from the
consequences of His own wrath, can find no lodgment in a good and
natural brain.

In no mythology can anything more monstrously Unbelievable be found.

But if Christ were a man and attacked the religion of His times because
it was cruel and absurd; if He endeavored to found a religion of
kindness, of good deeds, to take the place of heartlessness and
ceremony, and if, rather than to deny what He believed to be right and
true; He suffered death, then He was a noble man--a benefactor of His
race.  But if He were God there was no need of this.  The Jews did not
wish to kill God.  If He had only made himself known, all knees would
have touched the ground.  If He were God it required no heroism to die.
He knew that what we call death is but the opening of the gates of
eternal life.  If He were God, there was no self-sacrifice.  He had no
need to suffer pain.  He could have changed the crucifixion to a joy.

Even the editors of religious weeklies see that there is no escape from
these conclusions--from these arguments--and so, instead of attacking
the arguments, they attack the man who makes them.

Fifth, I denounced the law of New York that makes an attempt to commit
suicide a crime.

It seems to me that one who has suffered so much that he passionately
longs for death should be pitied, instead of punished--helped rather
than imprisoned.

A despairing woman who had vainly sought for leave to toil, a woman
without home, without friends, without bread, with clasped hands, with
tear-filled eyes, with broken words of prayer, in the darkness of night
leaps from the dock, hoping, longing for the tearless sleep of death.
She is rescued by a kind, courageous man, handed over to the
authorities, indicted, tried, convicted, clothed in a convict's garb
and locked in a felon's cell.

To me this law seems barbarous and absurd, a law that only savages
would enforce.

Sixth, in this discussion a curious thing has happened.  For several
centuries the clergy have declared that while infidelity is a very good
thing to live by, it is a bad support, a wretched consolation, in the
hour of death.  They have, in spite of the truth, declared that all the
great unbelievers died trembling with fear, asking God for mercy,
surrounded by fiends, in the torments of despair.  Think of the
thousands and thousands of clergymen who have described the last
agonies of Voltaire, who died as peacefully as a happy child smilingly
passes from play to slumber; the final anguish of Hume, who fell into
his last sleep as serenely as a river, running between green and shaded
banks, reaches the sea; the despair of Thomas Paine, one of the
bravest, one of the noblest men, who met the night of death untroubled
as a star that meets the morning.

At the same time these ministers admitted that the average murderer
could meet death on the scaffold with perfect serenity, and could
smilingly ask the people who had gathered to see him killed meet him in

But the honest man who had expressed his honest thoughts against the
creed of the church in power could not die in peace.  God would see to
it that his last moments should be filled with the insanity of
fear--that with his last breath he should utter the shriek of remorse,
the cry for pardon.

This has all changed, and now the clergy, in their sermons answering
me, declare that the atheists, the free-thinkers, have no fear of
death--that to avoid some little annoyance, a passing inconvenience,
they gladly and cheerfully put out the light of life.  It is now said
that infidels believe that death is the end--that it is a dreamless
sleep--that it is without pain--that therefore they have no fear, care
nothing for gods or heavens or hells, nothing for the threats of the
pulpit, nothing for the day of judgment, and that when life becomes a
burden they carelessly throw it down.

The infidels are so afraid of death that they commit suicide. This
certainly is a great change, and I congratulate myself on having forced
the clergy to contradict themselves.

Seventh, the clergy take the position that the atheist, the unbeliever,
has no standard of morality--that he can have no real conception of
right and wrong.  They are of the opinion that it is impossible for one
to be moral or good unless he believes in some being far above himself.

In this connection we might ask how God can be moral or good unless he
believes in some being superior to himself.

What is morality?  It is the best thing to do under the circumstances.
What is the best thing to do under the circumstances?  That which will
increase the sum of human happiness--or lessen it the least.
Happiness, in its highest, noblest form, is the only good; that which
increases or preserves or creates happiness is moral--that which
decreases it, or puts it in peril, is immoral.

It is not hard for an atheist--for an unbeliever--to keep his hands out
of the fire.  He knows that burning his hands will not increase his
well-being, and he is moral enough to keep them out of the flames.

So it may be said that each man acts according to his intelligence--so
far as what he considers his own good is concerned.  Sometimes he is
swayed by passion, by prejudice, by ignorance, but when he is really
intelligent, master of himself, he does what he believes is best for
him.  If he is intelligent enough he knows that what is really good for
him is good for others--for all the world.

It is impossible for me to see why any belief in the supernatural is
necessary to have a keen perception of right and wrong.  Every man who
has the capacity to suffer and enjoy, and has imagination enough to
give the same capacity to others, has within himself the natural basis
of all morality.   The idea of morality was born here, in this world,
of the experience, the intelligence of mankind.  Morality is not of
supernatural origin.  It did not fall from the clouds, and it needs no
belief in the supernatural, no supernatural promises or threats, no
supernatural heavens or hells to give it force and life.  Subjects who
are governed by the threats and promises of a king are merely slaves.
They are not governed by the ideal, by noble views of right and wrong.
They are obedient cowards, controlled by fear, or beggars governed by
rewards, by alms.

Right and wrong exist in the nature of things.  Murder was just as
criminal before as after the promulgation of the ten commandments.

Eighth, many of the clergy, some editors and some writers of letters
who have answered me have said that suicide is the worst of crimes,
that a man had better murder somebody else than himself.  One clergyman
gives as a reason for this statement that the suicide dies in an act of
sin, and therefore he had better kill another person.  Probably he
would commit a less crime if he would murder his wife or mother.

I do not see that it is any worse to die than to live in sin.  To say
that it is not as wicked to murder another as yourself seems absurd.
The man about to kill himself wishes to die.  Why is it better for him
to kill another man, who wishes to live?

To my mind it seems clear that you had better injure yourself than
another.  Better be a spendthrift than thief.  Better throw away your
own money than steal the money of another.  Better kill yourself if you
wish to die than murder one whose life is full of joy.

The clergy tell us that God is everywhere, and that it is one of the
greatest possible crimes to rush into His presence.  It is wonderful
how much they know about God and how little about their fellow-men.
Wonderful the amount of their information about other worlds and how
limited their knowledge is of this.

There may or may not be an infinite being.  I neither affirm nor deny.
I am honest enough to say that I do not know.  I am candid enough to
admit that the question is beyond the limitations of my mind.  Yet I
think I know as much on that subject as any human being knows or ever
knew, and that is--nothing.

I do not say that there is not another world, another life; neither do
I say that there is.  I say that I do not know.  It seems to me that
every sane and honest man must say the same. But if there is an
infinitely good God and another world, then the infinitely good God
will be just as good to us in that world as he is in this.  If this
infinitely good God loves His children in this world, He will love them
in another.  If He loves a man when he is alive, He will not hate him
the instant he is dead. If we are the children of an infinitely wise
and powerful God, He knew exactly what we would do--the temptations
that we could and could not withstand--knew exactly the effect that
everything would have upon us, knew under what circumstances we would
take our lives--and produced such circumstances himself.  It is
perfectly apparent that there are many people incapable by nature of
bearing the burdens of life, incapable or preserving their mental poise
in stress and strain of disaster, disease and loss, and who by failure,
by misfortune and want, are driven to despair and insanity, in whose
darkened minds there comes like a flash of lightning in the night, the
thought of death, a thought so strong, so vivid, that all fear is lost,
all ties broken, all duties, all obligations, all hopes forgotten, and
naught remains except a fierce and wild desire to die.  Thousands and
thousands become moody, melancholy, brood upon loss of money, of
position, of friends, until reason abdicates, and frenzy takes
possession of the soul.  If there be an infinitely wise and powerful
God, all this was known to Him from the beginning, and He so created
things, established relations, put in operation causes and effects that
all that has happened was the necessary result of his own acts.

Ninth, nearly all who have tried to answer what I said have been
exceeding careful to misquote me, and then answer something that I
never uttered.  They have declared that I have advised people who were
in trouble, somewhat annoyed, to kill themselves; that I have told men
who have lost their money, who had failed in business, who were not
good in health, to kill themselves at once, without taking into
consideration any duty that they owed to wives, children, friends, or

No man has a right to leave his wife to fight the battle alone if he is
able to help.  No man has a right to desert his children if he can
possibly be of use.  As long as he can add to the comfort of those he
loves, as long as he can stand between wife and misery, between child
and want, as long as he can be of use, it is his duty to remain.

I believe in the cheerful view, in looking at the sunny side of things,
in bearing with fortitude the evils of life, in struggling against
adversity, in finding the fuel of laughter even in disaster, in having
confidence in tomorrow, in finding the pearl of joy among the flints
and shards, and in changing by the alchemy of patience even evil things
to good.  I believe in the gospel of cheerfulness, of courage and

Of the future I have no fear.  My fate is the fate of the world, of all
that live.  My anxieties are about this life, this world. About the
phantoms called gods and their impossible hells, I have no care, no

The existence of God I neither affirm nor deny.  I wait.  The
immortality of the soul I neither affirm nor deny.  I hope, hope for
all of the children of men.  I have never denied the existence of
another world, nor the immortality of the soul.  For many years I have
said that the idea of immortality, that like a sea has ebbed and flowed
in the human heart, with its countless waves of hope and fear beating
against the shores and rocks of time and fate, was not born of any
book, nor of any creed, nor of any religion.  It was born of human
affection, and it will continue to ebb and flow beneath the mists and
clouds of doubt and darkness as long as love kisses the lips of death.

What I deny is the immortality of pain, the eternity of torture.

After all, the instinct of self-preservation is strong.  People do not
kill themselves on the advice of friends or enemies.  All wish to be
happy, to enjoy life; all wish for food and roof and raiment, for
friends, and as long as life gives joy the idea of self-destruction
never enters the human mind.

The oppressors, the tyrants, those who trample on the rights of others,
the robbers of the poor, those who put wages below the living point,
the ministers who make people insane by preaching the dogma of eternal
pain; these are the men who drive the weak, the suffering and the
helpless down to death.

It will not do to say that "God" has appointed a time for each to die.
Of this there is, and there can be, no evidence.  There is no evidence
that any god takes any interest in the affairs of men--that any sides
with the right or helps the weak, protects the innocent or rescues the
oppressed.  Even the clergy admit that their God, through all ages, has
allowed his friends, his worshipers, to be imprisoned, tortured and
murdered by His enemies.  Such is the protection of God.  Billions of
prayers have been uttered; has one been answered?  Who sends plague,
pestilence and famine?  Who bids the earthquake devour and the volcano
to overwhelm?

Tenth, again I say that it is wonderful to me that so many men, so many
women endure and carry their burdens to the natural end; that so many,
in spite of "age, ache and penury," guard with trembling hands the
spark of life; that prisoners for life toil and suffer to the last;
that the helpless wretches in poor-houses and asylums cling to life;
that the exiles in Siberia, loaded with chains, scarred with the knout,
live on; that the incurables, whose every breath is a pang, and for
whom the future has only pain, should fear the merciful touch and clasp
of death.

It is but a few steps at most from the cradle to the grave; a short
journey.  The suicide hastens, shortens the path, loses the afternoon,
the twilight, the dusk of life's day; loses what he does not want, what
he cannot bear.  In the tempest of despair, in the blind fury of
madness or in the calm of thought and choice the beleaguered soul finds
the serenity of death.

Let us leave the dead where nature leaves them.  We know nothing of any
realm that lies beyond the horizon of the known, beyond the end of
life. Let us be honest with ourselves and others. Let us pity the
suffering, the despairing, the men and women hunted and pursued by
grief and shame, by misery and want, by chance and fate until their
only friend is death.

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