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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 39

Letters to the Orthodox

page 5

Letters to the Orthodox.

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I am sure, Mr. Editor, you will let me defend my opinions in your new paper, and warn those of my belief against your teachings. If you won't you are as bad as we are, without the same excuse, for we believe that everybody else in the world will be damned if they cannot believe the mysteries which it is impossible for us to understand. You have, along with others of the same class, been telling us that much that we believe is absurd and foolish, but would it not be better for you to have unquestioning faith and follow in the footsteps of Tertullian, and meekly say, "Creda quia impossible"—(I believe because it is impossible)? Let me then appeal to your readers not to believe you, for what you say may be possible, and, consequently, is no trial to their faith, whereas that which is taught in our churches is often impossible and absurd, therefore, hard to believe, and thus there is all the greater merit in believing it. Any fool can believe what is simple and plain, and only page 6 needs a little common sense and experience to understand; but a man must be possessed of Divine grace and a very superior soul indeed to believe the creeds taught in our churches. What would be the good of our orthodoxy if everybody could understand it? Then it would come down to the level of our shallow intellects, and it would thus be possible for men to have originated it, just to keep us in their power and set themselves above the common herd; but the fact that it contains much that is foolish, requiring an extra amount of faith to accept, is a proof that it is from God! Let me illustrate, lest I be misunderstood. We believe that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Now if the statement had been made that Jonah was eaten by a shark, everybody could have believed that, and consequently there would have been no merit, no trial to our faith, in believing such a statement; but when we have to believe that a whale swallowed him, and kept him in its stomach undigested, for three days, and then spewed him out (because he was neither cold nor hot), every one who believes it knows how hard it is! However, I believe it and have often wished that it had been Jonah that had swallowed the whale, for it would have been a greater miracle, and I could have thus displayed my greater faith in believing it.

In your lecture on Sunday night, Mr. Editor, you wanted to throw ridicule on the statement of Joshua commanding the sun and moon to stand still! I suppose you follow in the steps of those infidels who say that it was impossible for these heavenly orbs to stop, because, in the first place, day and night are caused not by their motion around the earth, but by the motion of the earth page 7 on its own axis, and consequently if he had desired them apparently to stop, he should have commanded the earth to cease its motion; and, secondly, these infidels say that if the earth had stopped so suddenly it would never have gone again, since it would have been shattered to atoms. I would ask you and them whether you, or God, who wrote the account, knows most about astronomy? If God made the universe, surely he knows more about the working of it than you, and surely he could stop any star, and set it off again any time he pleased! I know you will answer in reply that the laws of the universe are unchangeable, but that is the argument of unbelievers; as for me, I am a believer, and so I accept anything and everything without a murmur, only leaving to myself the right to reject everything an unbeliever may bring against my faith.

In our Christian faith there are a thousand mysteries, and what seem to be contradictions, which would not have been the case if infidels had put it together for us, or if they had been consulted before it was given to the world; but the ways of Divinity are not the ways of infidels, and since Providence has given us these mysteries and contradictions to believe, it is our duty to bow our heads in submission, and, if we are weak in faith, be thankful there are not more.

There has been something said and written on "Eternal Torments," a subject venerable because of its antiquity—true, because of its scriptural support, and comforting—because it provides a hell for the infidels! There are people in this world, nay in this city, and I believe you are one, Mr. Editor, who would deprive us of the comforting hopes that all our enemies and people page 8 who are not of our opinion, will roast for ever whilst we enjoy the felicity of heaven! "What would be the good of heaven if everybody went there? I must give you to understand, Mr. Editor, that although I am not an aristocrat, our bishop is. Then do you think he would like to mix with common folks when he dies? Do you think he would like to mix with infidels and Spiritualists? No! No! It is indeed a comfort to think these will all go to hell.

For the present I will leave you with this thought, though to show you I do not do it maliciously, I may tell you that I and a few other old women are going to hold prayer meetings so that you may be brought over to our side. If you will permit me, I may trouble you again at some future time, but for the present,

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I am, yours faithfully,

A Country Clergyman