Fallacies of Orthodoxy.
Fallacies of Orthodoxy
T has been claimed by the existing Church in all ages that their particular religion has been beneficial to mankind; and one of the chief arguments in favour of orthodoxy, used by its exponents is, that mankind has programed, both morally and intellectually, just so far as he has become impregnated with faith; and it has been the aim of the many sects to outvie each other in converting the whole world to their religious views. Furthermore, it is adduced by orthodox theological teachers of the Christian creed, that exactly in proportion, as mankind leaves the faith of his fathers,—renounces their religion, and stands forward as an independent member of society, just in that proportion must he be shunned by all who would be regarded as well-regulated Christians. Now, although we are prepared to admit that there may be many honest exponents of so-called Christianity, while we acknowledge with all reverence that many of the teachings purporting to come from Jesus of Nazareth are sublime and grand, well calculated to increase the happiness of the human race and preserve morality; still, we claim, that as reasonable beings, we, individually, are entitled to use our reason, as much upon religious questions and old-time dogmas, as to exercise that right upon any other question at issue. In the social relations, in business activity, in the political arena, in the arts and sciences, in all philosophical and astronomical research, man has constantly exercised his right to individual standing and opinion, and on no other question have his conclusions been so utterly ignored, as upon the all-important question of religion. It must be acknowledged also, that man has advanced just exactly in proportion, as he has acted up to the dictates of his reason; that he has progressed intellectually only as his moral courage has allowed him to declare his opinions. We must remember, too, that every pioneer of a new fact, every discoverer of a new science, every creator of a new art, every innovator that this world has seen, has been persecuted to the full measure of oppressive power, because he dared—full of the sublimity of a new fact—to stand out from the ranks, and declare his individu- page 2 ality. Galileo was a martyr, not because his facts were false, not because there were any proofs that his theories were erroneous, but, because he upset a theological system by his discoveries, and overthrew an orthodox surmise by an objectionable truth; and Bruno, Socrates, and very many other grand minds, suffered each in their turn, for attempting the enlightenment of mankind. Take the Bible and read it as you would any other book, in an unbiassed spirit, and notice the very hazy ideas the writers enjoyed, respecting the Solar system; and the Church today still objects to any scientific research, in any direction, because she knows that her position becomes more untenable with every new fact discovered.
Orthodoxy is stagnant, it simply cannot advance, and the moment a man doubts, he is looked upon as a suspicious character. Now, all we ask, is, that man shall progress in his religion, as he does in mechanics, and that the blind superstition of past ages, shall be laid away with the wooden ploughs, and shell trumpets of a by-gone generation. In this creation man alone stands crowned with Kingly and God-like reason. Far below him are the animals of instinct, and brute force, to-day he stands supreme, as he ever has stood, because he commands a gift denied the lower animals, the divine spark of reason, and, whilst he uses and directs this faculty to benefit himself mentally, physically, and socially, strangely enough he seems inclined to accept as truth, any religious teaching he may acquire from his every day surroundings; in other words, man uses his reason to push his way to the front ranks in the arts and sciences, and seems to utterly collapse on any religious knowledge. We only ask for the free right to exercise this gift as much in religion, as in politics, as much in creed, as in physics, and in thus asking we fearlessly lay a few ideas before you. Bearing in mind that to doubt on religious questions is considered a crime, we acknowledge that our first attempt to reason out our individual opinion on Biblical Questions was a very timid one, but as we read that No man can save his brother's soul "—we felt a self responsibility for our belief, and, as belief must be based upon evidence, we were impelled forward, almost against our will, and what we considered at the time, our better judgment. Investigation at first only made things worse, and our position was not a particularly happy one, until reason came to the rescue, and demanded a deeper scrutiny, unbiassed by preconceived religious myths; and then the mind was untrammelled by a blind superstition and ignorance called faith, and fact, stern unrelenting fact, stood out distinctly and arrayed itself against its fictitious opponent, and insisted upon immediate investigation.
We found inaccuracies and misstatements on every page, revenge and wrath, where should have been pity and tears. We read that God was supreme and merciful, and found him ready to compromise, and turn vindictive. That he "was slow to page 3 anger and of great kindness," and yet guilty of commanding His chosen people to lead helpless women and innocent children to infamy and death. We read that the wicked shall go down into the pit, and all the people that forget God; and then we were told of the peculiar and justice-lacking doctrine of the atonement. The law of an eye for an eye, was supplanted by the injunction to turn to the striker the other cheek. We had been brought up to believe that the Old Testament teemed with prophecies concerning the advent of the Messiah, yet with sickening disgust we searched in vain for any such prophetic foretelling, and no impartial mind can honestly affirm, that Jesus was ever expected by any writer of the Jewish Testament; and if ever the so called Saviour lived, we claim that he was a reformer in his day. He taught a religion of love, infinitely superior to the older doctrine of despair, and although some precepts and examples are demonstrated as unworkable, and unsuited to a world such as we inhabit, though His teachings are sadly deficient in some respects, (as to private rights in property, &c.), yet for the man Jesus we have all reverence and respect, and He stands out sublime in contradistinction to the savage vindictiveness of the orthodox God.
Let me ask you,—Can you believe that an all-powerful God could be guilty of mean revenge? Candidly, do you feel that you can honestly declare that you have the smallest particle of reverence for the Jehovah depicted by Moses? Honestly, can you prostrate yourself before a Diety who is supposed to be full of hatred towards your fellow-men, and who only promises to save you from damnation, at the expense of nine-tenths of your fellow-beings? Taking David as a sample of a man after God's own heart, do you feel like trusting this being with the keeping of your sister's immortal soul? Beading what you do about this Infinite Spirit, the Bible (rod, do you not rather feel equal to risking instantaneous annihilation by challenging his right to act in the manner ascribed to him? Does it not seem that this Old Testament God idea, must have been the outcome of an ignorant, superstitions brain, a crawling, fearful phantasy born of a disordered reason, an attempt to describe what the writer intuitively felt he would be, had he the power he gave to his fancied God? We tell you the God idea has progressed as man has progressed! The God of the seventeenth century was a kingly conception compared with the Diety of the earlier ages, and the ideal God of the eighteenth century was not to be compared with the Almighty of the present day, and the God of the future will be infinitely above all previous evolvements, for unquestionably, man creates his own God, he can only realise a Supreme Intelligence, just in proportion as his reason out-shadows and conceives an ideal—and "Man's Ideal is Man's God."
The God of the early savage was represented by some rude image, the God of the Romanist is many degrees higher than page 4 this, and the difference between the intellectual strength of the savage, and the Romanist may be guaged by their conception of an Infinite Power.
Facts require no bolstering, they are there, self-evident and real; faiths are the exact opposite of this, the only thing required of you is to keep quiet, and believe. Facts prove themselves, are demonstrated by science, and are immutable, self-assertive, and palpable. Faith is the dry-rot of a dead forgotten past, a resurrection of antiquity, an assumption of ignorance, palmed upon credulity and weakly intellect. The fact and you may not exactly agree, but in religious controversy, whilst clinging faith is pleading with agonising tears for your adherence and friendship, naked facts, scorning the remnants of a vanished past, stands erect and defies your antagonism. Then, reason, king-like, acts as arbitrator, appeals to your intelligence, and demands in the name of suffering humanity, your honest alliance. Fact and Faith are the two opposing forces which have governed and ruled the lives of millions, and in the dark ages, Faith was a giant, whilst Fact was cradled in the bosom of gross ignorance. Faith is fast becoming imbecile, whilst Fact is being daily crowned with the laurel wreaths of knowledge in the incessant march of progress. Fact is real, tangible, sublime, and firm; facing the light of investigation, and courting the dissecting knife of earnest science, she dares an honest refutation, whilst Faith cringes and fawns, and asks you to take on trust, fictions which enveloped our world for centuries in darkness and despair, and adduces no support but antiquity, and claims a prestige that cannot be discounted in the sunlight of reason. Freedom in speech and thought must be admitted as essential to eternal progression, for, tied down and clogged by old-time prejudices, man stands in a narrow court, walled in by arbitary despotism. The outer world of advancing thought revolves unnoticed by him in his pent-up circle, and ignorance reigns, unbroken by the sunshine and storms developed by free inquiry. I Whereas, if Reason, which is almost almighty, is allowed to assume the rein of authority, the eagle eye of truth sweeps into the distant horizon of the unknown, and, guided by unfettered I reason, solves the problem which the orthodox Scriptures would I teach as being beyond the comprehension of finite man. The law of causality so dominant in Adam, and still more so in our primitive mother Eve, the "I want to know" of our first historical parents, has been blamed by the Church as causing the I whole of the crime and misery existing on our planet, and why? Because the Church has ever felt that this particular passion of man, this honest spirit of enquiry, this rending of the veil of mystery, this persistent endeavor to fathom the unknowable, and pierce the secrets of nature, this "I want to know" has, I from the earliest days, been antagonistic to the doctrine of any set creed, and further, the Church has always intuitively known that scientific investigation must eventually cause her downfall. page 5 Man, fresh from the Creator, a grovelling, naked savage, still had sufficient king-like dominion over the brutes to demand and maintain his supremacy. Yet, in his ignorance of astronomy and natural law of cause and effect, he felt and believed that there were two opposing powers around him, one of which intervened for his good, whilst the other only gloried in working him evil, and, whilst he feared both powers, and equally worshipped both forces, still, as he advanced, as his knowledge grew, his adoration alone has been preserved for the beneficent Being, or power, which he called God, and leaving the orthodox rut of his day and generation, he began to think a little. He noticed that cause and effect had a great deal more to do with his success or defeat than he at first imagined, and his love of enquiry caused him to become a student of natural philosophy, and as his brain became able to take in the mass of fact he gathered by observation, his terror lessened, and presently he stood upright in the sovereignty of independent manhood, and to-day, exactly in proportion that a nation claims its independence of dogma, and aspires to increasing knowledge, so exactly in that proportion shall we find an earnest, truth-seeking community.
It has been claimed that Christianity has raised the moral tone of the civilised world! and yet if we calmly deliberate on on the Bible teachings, we only wonder that, in spite of these Sacred writings, man feels under any moral obligation to-day.
We go further, and declare, in all earnestness—that the nineteenth century man is moral in spite of the Bible; and we affirm, that had the book never been written, man's moral tendencies would have been as clean, if not cleanlier than they are. Polygamy has long been discouraged by civilised races,. not because it is forbidden in the Scriptures, but rather because man's innate sense of right demanded the alteration. Slavery has been abolished in direct opposition to Bible teachings, and the right of conquest, with relation to private property, has become, through man's better nature, a dead letter. We do not sacrifice on the altar of war the innocency of prattlirg children, neither do our modern warriors revel in the abject spoilation of maidenly virtue—(see Numbers xxxi. 17-10)—we have learned better things—and we have not learned them from the book that enforces the command to slay every soul who defends, and spoil every heart that makes home beautiful and life worth having. We have grown better; the world has progressed in spite of the fulmination and denunciations of the Scriptures of the Church, and the anathemas of her priests; and we know, if there had been no brave soul who-was willing to sacrifice his life and reputation in the interests and for the development of his fellow man, the nineteenth century would still have been wrapped in the swaddling clothes of superstition and credulity. Bern ember this, man has advanced in spite of the Bible; man has achieved miracles in page 6 modern invention in the face of dogmatic creed; and man has dared to bring forward and prove startling theories, in direct opposition to orthodox calculations.
Scientific investigation has proved the age of our world to be at least six millions of years; orthodoxy limits it to as many thousands. Scientific minds reject the idea of an universal flood, whilst Scripture affirms it. Think for one moment! Mount Ararat is 17,000 feet high. Where could the water, necessary to attain that altitude have come from, and, still greater mystery, where has it gone to? Science demonstrates that had a flood ever been, piscatorial life must have become extinct, and a second creation necessary in consequence; for river-fish must have died by the mixing of the silt and fresh water, and deep-sea fish would have followed suit. We might go further into this flood question, and prove by figures the Bible absurdities as to space and accommodation in the ark; but we refer you to Win. Denton's work, entitled "Radical Discourses," and to Draper's "Conflict between Religion and Science," either of which will afford food for thought to any reflecting mind. Let us speak plainly: we do do so on all other questions, and that we have been silent on this all-important subject so long is a slur and disgrace to the dignity of manhood.
Had we a witness in any court of justice whose unsupported evidence was full of discrepancies and contradictory statements, we should at least hesitate to accept as truth any testimony he gave, and if, in excess of this, we found on inquiry that vindictive ignorance and selfish gain prompted his utterances, we should at once refuse to be guided in our verdict, even upon his oath. If we were about to purchase ever so small a section of land, we should demand as business men to see the title, to prove to our own satisfaction that the sale was bona fide.
If we hear of any great engineering feat we want to see the result, we want to know about it. We prove the truth of telegraphy, we know the efficacy of steam, and we have demonstrated the efficiency of all motive powers to the satisfaction of an overseeing governmental eye. The English Constitution, through its appointed officers, demanded a scrutiny before it would sanction water-carriage by steam, and only four or five years ago electric tramcars were objected to by the same Government, because they were not considered sufficiently safe as a means of transport. Thus a maternal Government legislates for the well-being of her subjects in this life, and tacitly leaves them to work out the problems of their future welfare.
In earlier days the Church was a recognised authority, not only on religion, but upon all other matters of importance; but she did not grow sufficiently fast to satisfy the cravings of the average man, and her retirement from politics and science ushered in the dawn of a new era to the detriment only of herself. She was considered infallible: to-day she is impotent. Until lalely, she was a power to be feared, now, a rain to be page 7 pitied. Four centuries ago, in the arrogance of her unlimited power, she abrogated kings, and with the tortures of her inquisition, rejected any truth that was likely to assail her position. To-day she is personified weakness, and will allow you to differ from her doctrines just a little, if you will only pay for a seat in her chancel.
Music probably is the most God-like art that man can claim. From the earliest historical records we gather that man has revelled in its delightful strains and been soothed by its entrancing melodies, and the Church to-day, stripped of its musical attractions would lose 50 per cent, of its so-called worshippers. It did not take the cunning of a nineteenth century priest to prove this fact, for from the most ancient M.S.S. we find that she employed music as an aid in her devotional exercises, and whilst she broke the statuary, the divine reflection of Deific power, whilst she burned the literature which was the result of many centuries' culture and learning—the epitome of the grandest minds, and a compilation of the most sublime truths, whilst she destroyed in blind hatred the master touches of the earliest painters, and robbed the canvas of the noblest conceptions, and gave to the fire the result of the most lofty intuitive genius and God-like aspirations—she retained music literally, for she imprisoned it in the bosoms of aesthetic womanhood and designing priestcraft,—she retained it, not for the benefit of the world, but with subtle reasoning she weighed well its effect on the masses, and many a soul rich in integrity, many a heart too pure to doubt what it could not understand, many a brain too lofty to stoop to attempt to find deceit in an undercurrent, many such, whose feelings were thus appealed to by divine harmony, were restful and seemingly satisfied, but not with the creed, it was the music that engendered lofty thoughts, the harmony that breathed of heaven, and the melody that instilled a rapture born of a celestial afflatus. Thus music has been an accessory to dogma and creed, and without it, the Church of Christ would fail in appealing to the sympathies of the people.
Now, it is a fact patent to the most superficial observer, that the Deity has granted to mankind the sublime gift of Reason, which has lifted him above the brute level, and, as no power so granted can with impunity be allowed to waste through disuse, we may with truth contend that the man who will not reason is a bigot, that the man who cannot reason is a fool, that he who dares not reason is a moral coward, and that he alone who unhesitatingly tries to solve by the light of reason, any question affecting his relative position to time and eternity is a man—a man in the full acceptation of the word. Man is essentially a progressive being; he bears to-day the stamp of a divinity more marked than it was 1000 years ago, and, as his race strides forward in the intellectual march, the imprint of greatness will be more discernable and easier to recognise if he employs reason as an adjunct in the social conference.page 8
Reason can be the only attribute calculated to enable man to keep his position, as it is due solely to this power that man has attained his present intellectual freedom. Faith is a peculiar mixture of ignorance and superstition. We trust, or have faith, because we are inclined to reverence what our parents believed; the doctrine of obedience has so permeated our being, so imbued our organism, that even after attaining majority, and been deemed qualified to think out our position on matters social, political, and scientific, we still remain orthodox to the religious sentiments of our forefathers. We know that many things which were considered most proper and consistent, have turned out on personal inspection to be full of fraud, and perfectly unfitted to cope with the necessities of the hour. We have seen new inventions displace old systems, new theories overturn old ideas, and fresh light has poured in on various subjects, and staggered our leading men of science, and every revelation has only brought man closer to fact and nearer to perfection. Yet in our religious ideas we have remained bigots; we have clung to faith and let reason cry out; we have trammelled and restrained man's kingly thought, for we have ignored the repeated contradictions and failures of a faith, and remained blind to the consistency and inflexibility of a fact.
We stood by faith, simply because our fathers did so, forgetting that our fathers were content with many other things beside faith that we long ago rejected and cast aside; also, faith was easy, it only required to be credited and obeyed. But fact was a very different personage. You were continually being hunted up to cope with some new discovery which she brought under your notice, and you wanted rest. It was so much easier to let someone else do the thinking that you sided with faith, and took your ease with your back turned, and your eyes closed to the most palpable fact, and you let faith preside, which she did by following your example and going to sleep.
We would wish that orthodox people were as conversant with the Bible as the average Freethinker, and science to-day demonstrates the utter impossibility of sacred statements, and as we have to take the Bible on faith, and the statement of science on dead fact, we admit that we lean considerably in favour of science to the detriment of our adherence to the good old Book. The most noble minds of the past have suffered martyrdoms of pain, because they elected to teach a new departure in science to the world, and in consequence were denounced as enemies to mankind. We know that the man of the million who stood forward to announce the birth of a new fact was wonted as insane; or imprisoned as a dangerous teacher. We know that Orthodoxy has ever been satisfied with the existing state of things, and that fact has always had to fight hard to maintain even the feeblest footing. In religious matters every new thought was trampled underfoot, and on the very question that man should he allowed more freedom and scope than any other, there has page 9 always been a strong tendency to break and burke honest enquiry.
Every man who doubts, strengthens and helps at the birth of a new fact; every honest doubter is a guarantee for the future freedom of our planet. Doubt is the outcome of reflection, and reflection is the pet child of Reason; and by the exercise of your honest reason on any point, you only claim your just privilege as a man.
Bigotry is despotic; Orthodoxy is sleepy ignorance; and as champions for man's intellectual freedom, we must endeavour to make truth heard and fact witnessed and confessed. The old argument that antiquity ought to claim consideration for the Bible teachings is not advanced by the Church, since recent discoveries in India prove indisputably that the Hindoo precepts are centuries older than the Christian; and that probably the Bible is partly copied from the Vedas is also a recognised doubt, expressed by many leading minds. That Brahminism is older than the Mosaic doctrine will not be denied by any Orthodox clergyman, and that the teachings of that faith will favourably compare with Bible tenets, we could prove by extracts taken from each. But our present effort is not so much in favour of any particular creed, as to endeavour to awaken a real and lively interest, absorbing and paramount, in the fact, that as man advances, socially, politically, and mentally, so he must progress in his religion. Probably the Bible suited the generation it was written for; but exactly as when babes, mother's milk was the natural and most proper food, and now, as men, we require stronger meat, so we must alter our spiritual diet.
The Ministry will tell you that their doctrine of atonement is nineteen centuries old, and We will tell you that the same idea was taught twenty-five centuries back, but the fact of its antiquity only proves that our fathers believed it and taught it, and it no more binds us to it, than the fact that they believed the world was flat, or that the sun stood still. Personally, I would rather be an honest doubter, often in error, yet earnestly striving to pierce the mysteries of nature, than be an abject believer on any subject, and I do not consider that a Divine intelligence has any right to endow a man with a reasoning brain, and then eternally damn him for the expression of an honest thought. God is infinite, therefore anything I do cannot possibly harm or injure him in any way. I know nothing of Him, only that He is infinite, He has not even written one direct word to give me an insight into his character, or to allow me to guage His disposition. That the Mosaic account of the Deity is an incorrect one—I am sure. That is, I have my own private opinions of the required attributes of a Supreme and Eternal Father, and to meet that opinion there must be an unswerving sense of mercy and love, I can imagine a God of goodness and truth, of nobility and intelligence, because my ideal of humanity is such, and it is impossible for me to imagine anything higher page 10 than my ideal, and when I read of the God of Genesis I feel impelled to exclaim, This God is a fraud; this picture of the Infinite" is the outcome of an ignorant, cruel, and debased brain; there is no sublimity or grandeur to command my respect, no gentleness that awakens my adoration, no kind forgiveness that calls up my esteem, absolutely nothing but punishment for enormities committed and planned by his own express command, and I say, once for all, that the God who could be guilty of the atrocities ascribed to Jehovah of the Pentateuch is beneath the contempt of any reasoning man. Understand me, I am speaking of the Bible God, whose existence I deny, and I deplore that there really is any necessity to endorse my honest conviction that he never existed. I want you to imagine the All-Powerful One as depicted by the Old Testament, and then ask yourself one question, can you respect Him'? And if you cannot respect a Being whom you only know by the way that He is represented, you must either decline his acquaintance or seek other references. I prefer the latter course, and my reason tells me that whilst the Bible Fiend is immeasurably beneath my notice, inwardly I feel the presence of an Intelligence who applauds my conviction. Personally, I feel that I would like to blot out the creeds which have promulgated such an awful theory respecting the Architect of the Universe, and, whilst I live, I am determined to give my honest thought in the plainest language at my command to rescue my ideal of a Creator from the degradations and aspersions fathered upon him by hypocritical and fraudulent priesthood. Honestly, it is easier to recognise a Divinity in the portrait given us of his Satanic Majesty, than to imagine a God of Justice in the Jewish Jehovah. I would far rather pay my homage to the Devil of Mosaic history than I would pay fealty to its God. The Satan introduced to our notice in the guise of a serpent disseminated the first truth, and gave the first lesson in general know ledge to our trembling parents. True, from a Bible standpoint, it was disobedience that he encouraged; but, had man not followed the dictate of Reason, he to-day would still be a grovelling, naked eater of roots, devoid of self-respect, and cringing in his ignorance to a power he either now repudiates or silently ignores.
The Devil was the first teacher, and his promise, "Ye shall not surely die," proved its truth with the rising of the morrow's sun, and I would infinitely prefer the dictatorship of Satan, and the companionship of such a Devil as depicted in the Book of Genesis, than I would own allegiance to the Jehovah, or claim a friendship with the God of the Israelites. From the first chapter of the Book of Moses to the last Psalm, the eye sickens with reading repetitions of the one fearful scene of bloodshed, and Satan takes a back seat in all these wholesale massacres.
The sacrifice of the innocent bale was not occasioned by page 11 an edict from Hell, but from Merciful Heaven. The infamy imposed upon beautiful imploring woman was in obedience to a divine mandate; and the reckless slaughter of manhood's pride, and the hacking of limbs from the body of the protector of a happy home, was caused by the command of a miscalled God of Justice. Honest indignation bids me hurl defiance at such a God and deny Him.
Let us be honest, and say straight out, we don't believe it, and if we do not believe it, why subscribe to it? Why support it? Let us be fair in the matter, and own to being perfectly able to think out our position without the aid of a devil dodger, or a church parson.
We admit that the Bible has been the text book of the Church, recognised in our own Courts of Justice, and revered in our schools. Yet it was the text book of slavery all Christendom over; (Leviticus xxv. 48-44). It was reverenced by Constantino, the bloody tryant of the fourth century, and is probably recognised by every criminal that our prisons contain. The Bible abounds in the most absurd fables, tells the filthiest of stories, advances bad logic, teaches defective science, and what is infinitely worse, it inculcates low morality.
The Doctrine of Jesuism should be fairly placed before us for our consideration, and we must be the arbitors of our own fate, whatever that may be. Let us examime all doctrine, and let us honestly accept what our common sense and reason tells us is the most correct. When man has sufficient courage to dare the opinions of a whole world, to assert the outcome of his honest investigation, then will humanity be free and untrammelled by the laws of usage and custom. Let us tell the truth, and shame—not the Devil—but the Church, for, like a vampire she has sucked the blood of energy from each succeeding generation. She has in turn occupied the positions of supreme adviser, councillor, guide and director, she has lost caste in every trial against honest endeavour and patient enquiry, and sturdy science at last throws off the long robe of fear, and daringly probes to the heart of Nature's secrets, in defiance and to the detriment of the old faith.
Every religion is dying a natural death. The open face of truth smilingly looks on, whilst science disencumbers orthodoxy of its frightful accessories. The thumb-screw and rack are laid aside—and no existing Church, even cares to be reminded that she ever used them. In the name of the Christian religion every fearful degree of crime has been executed. In the name of Christianity, millions of hearts have ceased to beat, and poison has done its rapid and fiendish errand. In the name of religion the faggots have been piled around the naked form of helpless woman, and broken hearted affection has stood by imploring human interference. In the name of Catholicism, priest-craft has exterminated thousands of honest thinkers irrespective of nationality or color. And creed-ridden man has become the page 12 assassin, where unfettered, he would have held out the hand of sympathy; and universal brotherhood has suffered and decayed because of priestly intolerance. Let us give to every mind the right that we claim for ourselves, and credit every being with the integrity that we feel we individually possess. Let free enquiry become a permanent ordinance, and naked truth, by severest tests prove to us, what lias so long been a dead thing, or, at best, a hidden reality. Let the "Age of Reason" assert itself, and although like Thomas Paine we may in consequence be deemed sufficiently dangerous to deserve the denunciations of the Church, we will steadily face the "crisis," and know that in the end, "the Rights of Man" must be a recognised feature in the legislation of all future governments; and, lest we are accused of tearing down and not rebuilding, let it be remembered, that if we do destroy what never actually existed, we are doing little real harm. We only cause humanity to face stern reality, and take up a definite position; and if man once faces a fact, however bare it may be, it will have one grand merit, it will be true, and freed from bias, every step forward will be so much gained. What is advanced will be first proved to be tangible and self-evident, and truth will be clothed in realistic beauty and kingly grace. Each man will become his own Saviour; each soul rest upon its own integrity; and every heart expand in love, which is the holiest passion inculcated by a Divinity, and every individual brain will truly be President and Emperor of the noblest work of nature, the epitome of the Universe, and the apex of Creation—Man.
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