Letters to the Orthodox.
Letters to the Orthodox.
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,
I am, yours faithfully,
A Country Clergyman
Letter No II.
I am glad, Mr. Editor, to fulfil my promise which I made to you and your readers in the last issue of the Reflector—viz,: that I would trouble you again. I say "trouble you" again, for I know what a trouble all the Orthodox are to the heretics, more especially if they are of such sound faith as I am.
You still, Mr. Editor, are going on in the evil "tenor of your ways." You still are trying to teach the people to use their common sense and reasoning powers. When will you learn to rely upon faith? Oh! when will you repose placidly in the bosom of Orthodoxy?
For the good of your readers and your hearers I will point out a few of the benefits I have received from being Orthodox.
1st. I never need to think. All my thinking is done for me. I get my creeds ready made as I do my clothes, and all that I have to do is to see that I hand them on to my children without a single heretical hole in them.
2nd. I have the comforting conviction that I shall be saved, and that you will be damned. This is indeed comforting. I am furthermore comforted by the fact that the blessings of heaven are reserved for a few, that I am among that few, and that we few choice spirits shall flap our angelic wings in Eternal bliss, whilst the page 10 great majority of the human race are roasting for ever. These "glad-tidings" I intend to preach to the miserable Kaffirs of this country. It will make them happy.
3rd. I am respected. The more I believe the more I am respected. I get invited out to sip tea and spend evenings with old women, simply because there's nothing I can't believe, if it is labelled "Orthodox." Respectability is Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy means a broad-cloth suit and free admission to all tea-fights and prayer-meetings. Turn heretic and you lose these blessings.
4th. I have now the privilege of talking nonsense without the fear of contradiction. I get in a pulpit and I am safe from criticism. Nobody dare to take me to task. I enjoy a glorious immunity from all questioning. Our Faith covers a multitude of defects, and really works miracles. It turns twaddle into perennial streams of divine comfort and instruction. Where should I and my brother clergymen be if it were not for such a Faith and such a miracle?
5th. By being Orthodox you may calculate on the support and co-operation of the Times, a paper which is truly the backbone of South African civilisation, and without which the world itself would be in danger of ruin. Talk Orthodox nonsense and you may calculate upon a paragraph in this great paper, but talk sound sense, and let it be "christened" heresy, and the clerks in the office won't treat you with common civility when you deliver your advertisements or settle your accounts. Who wouldn't be Orthodox when they enjoy such privileges and such immunities?
6th. This is the principal advantage—You need not be so good as you seem. What you fall short in conduct page 11 your belief will make up for you. Only get the credit of being a great "Believer," and your conduct will never be criticised. Only let people see your Faith, and then you can do pretty well as you like. Turn heretic and you're never safe. The Orthodox will watch your character like a cat watching a mouse. Orthodoxy enjoys a great immunity in this respect.
These, Mr. Editor, are only a few of the advantages privileges and immunities of Orthodoxy; but I feel sure they are sufficient to convince all the candid among your hearers and readers of the vast superiority it enjoys over Heresy, I would advise those among them who are heretics to turn Orthodox, and those who are Orthodox to keep so, if they expect the refreshing society of parsons and old women, and an easy passport to our brother saints "on the other side of Jordan."—I remain, yours, etc.
Letter No. III.
I know not, Mr. Editor, how to express my indignation at the method you and other heretics adopt to set aside the tenets and dogmas of our Faith. You presume to set aside the wisdom of ages and the truths of Biblical lore, by the use of your paltry understandings, and the mere exercising of wordly knowledge! Know you not that "The wisdom of man is foolishness with God?" How dare you talk about the mysteries of our Church, as though they were amenable to common sense? Again let me assure you that they can only be truly grasped when the acme of a sublime Faith has been achieved. It belongs not to man to question the ways of Providence, and it is the very height of presumption to think that any heretic can either understand, or reduce to reason, the extraordinary creeds invented by the clergy. Nothing can be done without Faith. Our every day life depends upon it. We trust each other as a matter of necessity. And shall we have more confidence in ordinary men than we have in the true Church? You, Mr. Editor, trusted yourself to the skill and management of the Captain and officers of the steamer that brought you to these shores, without insisting upon the examination of each man's certificate and a relation of his biography before you set foot upon their craft. You page 13 exercised your faith, and trusted that all was right. And will you be so profane as to insist upon the examination of our certificates, and will you demand evidence of our "divine call" to cur work, when we clergymen tell you that we are the Captains and officers of the ship that carries you to salvation? If you do, I for one will not give you evidence, for I think that the man who is so wicked as to doubt the word of a clergyman of my denomination, is not fit to be argued with.
I despair of doing any good to you, Mr. Editor, but I may benefit some of your readers, and for that reason I will show you what Faith has done in times past.
Gideon had an army of thirty-two thousand men. The hosts of the Midianites and Amalekites (the enemies of Israel) were like grasshoppers for multitude. It was decided by divine wisdom that thirty-two thousand Israelites were too many to beat them, so twenty-two thousand cowards were sent home. There remained an army, therefore, of ten thousand. They came to a river and Gideon was told to watch them. Seven hundred bowed down on their knees to drink, and were sent home for doing it. The remaining three hundred had lapped the water like dogs, and because they imitated dogs in this respect they were allowed to remain and fight. These three hundred men were divided into companies of a hundred men each, and every man was armed with a trumpet, a lamp, and a pitcher. Think of a British army equipped with such weapons in a war against the Zulus or Boers! Thus armed they marched among the hosts of the enemy. At the word of command they blew their horns, smashed their pots, and held up their lamps. Unaccustomed to such valiant and original page 14 Warfare, the Midianites and Amalekites fled as fast as they could, and the holders of the lamps were gloriously victorious. Where was ever such a battle as this? Where was ever victory gained by so novel a design? Talk of Thermopolæ! Why all the battles in the world sink into insignificance in comparison with this, which was won without the shedding of blood, by the blowing of horns, the breaking of pots, and the holding of lamps, by a small army of three hundred men! But, I tell you, it was Faith which did the work. Don't tell me that if they hadn't had the amount of faith they had, that the breaking of a few dishes would have terrified the Amalekites.
There is another case equally wonderful which just occurs to me. Joshua, the successor of Moses, as General of the Jewish army, met with a pretty considerable difficulty at a town called Jericho. The people of the place had taken great care to have it shut up and carefully walled round. By none of the usual strategems of war could the city be entered, so a new method was advised and adopted. Seven priests had seven rams' horns. They walked round the city once a day. Each day these seven priests gave variations on these horns, and on the seventh day such was the efficacy of the music they produced, that the walls fell down. You tell me that it was not a miracle! You assert that the walls fell in consequence of the vibration in the air, creating a sort of vacuum by the vigorous blowing of the seven trumpeters! I tell you it was their faith, and nothing else that worked the miracle.
So it has ever been. Faith is the parent of many wonders. It still is so. Without Faith who could page 15 escape the allurements of common sense? It is Faith that keeps us Orthodox, and it is knowledge that makes some heretics. Give me Faith and I am satisfied; take that from me and I have nothing to live on. I mean for! Trusting that Faith may become more abundant,—I remain, yours, etc.
Letter No IV.
One of the most annoying things in this modern age is the prevalency of common sense. The good old times are departing, and woeful times are most certainly at hand. It is even within my memory, when the word of a clergyman was never doubted, and when boys got deservedly thrashed by the schoolmaster and their parents when they forgot to lift their hats to the village curate. Sad indeed is it now, when even a common tradesman dares to question the existence of the devil, and refuses to pay his pew-rent, because we cannot prove to his satisfaction that he will go to hell if he does not. Oh! my Christian brethren, think of those happy times when the clergy had their own way, and had the power to make a man both pay his pew-rent and believe in an everlasting place of Fire and Brimstone! Those were glorious days! The clergy then were the most exalted of mankind, and the whole world knelt cringingly at their feet. This was as it should be, and we, divinely called, divinely aided, and divinely sanctioned men, could dispense to an unsaved world the undoubted passports to Eternal Glory, without any kind of opposition. The only way then to heaven was through our church, and the only guides to put you safely on the road were the clergymen of the said church. Now page 17 alas! every man gets to heaven as cheaply as possible, and for the sake of saving a few shillings, complacently walks round our church instead of going through it. It is shameful. It is destroying the business of those men who belong to the divine profession.
When men get common sense they get stingy. Where men, at death, used to leave all their lands and worldly possessions to the church, that the clergy might make sure of their souls getting to heaven all right, they now are so careless about their Eternal welfare that they leave all the wealth that Providence has granted them to their wives and children, and a few paltry charitable institutions! The church is left out in the cold! A man's wife and family, and his common brethren are actually considered of more account, now-a-days, than are the clergy! Sure the world is rushing on to ruin.
But there must be an end to all this presumption on the part of infidels some day or other. Common sense must be crushed out if the blessings of Faith are to be enjoyed and preserved; and since we clergymen in Africa are not at present able to do it, I believe that something Providential Will happen to bring the desired result about. Although I am not a Wesleyan, and according to the revered custom of my church really hate the Wesleyans, I am still exceedingly thankful to the Rev. J. S. Spencer for having drawn attention to the necessity there is for this, in the proper quarters and in the proper way. Prayer-meetings have great efficacy in ensuring a Providential destruction of all common sense upon religious matters. Therefore the Rev. J. S. Spencer has my sincere thanks for the good page 18 he has done us by taking part in the recent Wesleyan revivals, which I notice have secured even our church two new subscribers.
But Infidels need a warning. They think they are safe. But let them beware how they persist in their disrespect to the only men on earth who have been deservedly honoured by the distinctive title "Holy." What God did four thousand years ago to disrespectful heretics, he can do now. Let the twenty-sixth chapter of Numbers, and the ninth and tenth verses be read to learn the fact that because Dathan, Abiram, and Korah had been disrespectful to the High Priest, Aaron, and his brother, they, with their households, were swallowed alive by the earth. "And the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them," are the very words of Scripture. What an awful fate for a heretic to anticipate!
But to the young there is a still more striking case than this of punishment for disrespect to the priests. It seems that in the time of the Prophet Elisha, the profession of "Hairdresser" was not established; consequently, those who lost their hair through disease or age were obliged to go about with bald heads. I am aware that one or two dubious authorities are of opinion that there were "Hairdressers" in those days, and that wigs were so customary that it excited the risible faculties of the young to an immoderate degree to see a man with no hair at all upon his head. But be this as it may, one thing is certain: Elisha one day went out with a bald head. If he wore a wig, he had forgotten it, and had left it at home. Now Elisha was a man of God, and with or without hair, was to be respected. Some naughty little children from the city of Bethel, how- page 19 ever, could not resist the temptation to laugh at the old man without a wig. They not only laughed, but they allowed their levity to carry them so far that they exclaimed : "Go up, thou bald head; go up thou bald head." What was the result? Elisha simply turned round and cursed them in the name of the Lord. Immediately, thereupon, two she bears came out of the wood and ate up forty-two of them! Children of Cape Town beware what you say to the priests when you meet them in the streets! In the seventeenth chapter of Deuteronomy and the twelfth verse, we read, "And the man that will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there . . . even that man shall die."
Just another word of warning before closing, to those who refuse to contribute towards supporting parsons, Ananias and Sapphira refused to give all they had to Peter, and even told a lie, so as to keep a little back for their own use (as though it was more important that a man should have money to get something to eat and clothe himself with than to give to the priest), so the result was they were both struck dead, Reader, if the priest wants it, give all you have, lest you also be struck dead! May this fate, for such a sin, never be yours, is the prayer of, yours, etc.
Letter No. V.
It is one of the lamentable symptoms of this age, my Orthodox brethren, that the good old features of our Faith are dying out, and many of them have already disappeared, and are no longer practised, thought of, or cared for. That glorious ceremony, the Feast of Asses, for instance, has fallen altogether into disuse, and thus the Church has been deprived of one of its principal adornments.
This age is so forgetful of the sacred and divine, that it is quite possible there may be many among even my brother clergymen who have not heard of the "Feast of the Ass," which was at one time such a sacred ceremony and revered custom in several of the churches of France. For the purpose of giving them instruction, therefore, as to its nature and object, and for the purpose of showing how much of the spirit of sanctity and veneration we have lost by the abolition of this ceremony, I will give you the account of it very nearly in the words of Robertson, the historian, in his great work on Chas. V.
The "Feast of the Ass" was held in commemoration of the Virgin Mary's flight into Egypt. A beautiful young woman, in rich attire, with a child in her arms, was sat upon an Ass superbly caparisoned. With all page 21 due solemnity the Ass was slowly led in a priestly procession to the Altar. High mass was then performed, and the Ass, throughout the pomp and ritual of this performance, knelt (being trained) at the proper places. A hymn was then sung in praise of this animal which discoursed so sensibly to Balaam. At the conclusion, the priest, instead of dismissing his congregation with the usual words, "brayed three times like an Ass," and the people, instead of their usual response of "We bless the Lord," "brayed three times in the same manner." Robertson, after giving his authorities for this says, "This ridiculous ceremony was not, like the Festival of Fools, and some other pageants of this age, a mere farsical entertainment exhibited in the Church and mingled, as was then the custom, with an imitation of some religious rites; it was an act of devotion performed by the ministers of religion and by the authorities of the Church."
The only point upon which Robertson and I disagree, is in the kind of ceremony. He says, "This ridiculous ceremony;" I say this, "This religious and therefore sublime ceremony." It is evident to every man of sense that whatsoever is religious is proper; whatsoever is instituted by the Church, and by our religious "pastors and masters," is really venerable and sublime. If this ceremony had not been divine, I admit it would have been ridiculous, (as indeed would be quite a number of others which are still retained in the Church) but being religious it cannot possibly be so.
Perhaps I may qualify this a little lest I be misunderstood. There are faiths, customs, and practices in the false religions which certainly are ridiculous, and which page 22 are fit for nothing else but to be laughed at. That Mahomet should have journeyed from Mecca to Jerusalem on the mare Borak, and from thence to heaven, then back again to Jerusalem, and from there safely be conveyed on the mare to Mecca again; and all this in the tenth part of a night, is positively absurd.
That the walls of Thebes should construct themselves to the playing of a lute is also absurd. That Esculapius should raise Hippolytus from the dead; that Appolonius of Tyanna should have worked miracles, after the manner of Jesus, or that Christna should have been a prototype of Christ, is too ridiculous to deserve discussion. These things are not found in the Bible, hence their manifest absurdity. Had they been found therein, or had they been sanctioned by the Church, I frankly admit, that had they been a thousand times more absurd I should have held them as sublime and venerable. Had the story of "Sinbad the Sailor" been substituted in the stead of the Book of Jonah, it would be my duty to believe the story true and divine, and I should have done so. This is the beauty of Faith. Let us cherish this disposition to accept and revere the traditions, books, and doctrines of our Church with humble resignation, and as soon as possible let us restore "The Feast of the Ass." The cost of the importation of the Asses need not be considered. Several congregations already subscribe towards keeping several.—I remain, yours, etc.
Letter No. VI.
Let me once again caution you against the statements made by learned men and infidels. They would fain have us believe that our Faith rests purely upon the merits of its intrinsic worth and the integrity of its human founders. They tell us we are Christians, simply because we happen to be born in Christian lands, and because Christian education has been administered unto us. How false a Christian knows all this to be if once he believe in the doctrine of Election! We are Christians because it is God's will that we should be so, whilst it is also God's will that all the rest of mankind should be heathens and heretics. It is furthermore God's will that these heathens and heretics should go to hell for being such.
Anxious to subvert this Holy Faith, the scholars of our own time have conclusively shown that the Gospels upon which our Faith rests, were not written by their reputed authors, and that we have not the slightest trace of them before their supposed authors and the men whose lives they profess to give had long been in their graves. We are really informed upon the very best authority, that the Gospels which we have are nothing more nor less than condensations of a multitude of other Gospels which existed before them, which were read in the page 24 Primitive Churches, which were believed in as divine by the first Christians, which were for very many years the only Gospels in use, and of which, undoubtedly, our Gospels are very late, and, as we have said, condensed copies. But these fifty false Gospels, though they were the first, and for a long time the only ones in use, have been condemned by the Church, and that is sufficient to satisfy any good Christian as to their spuriousness.
Though these Gospels have been justly condemned, I cannot help but admit that some of them are very interesting to one who has accustomed himself to the glorious habit of believing. I am rather sorry, myself, that the "Gospel of the Infancy" has been omitted from the Canon, since it contains some pleasing accounts of the Life of Jesus during his boyhood, of which the Canonical Gospels leave us in ignorance. It is in this Gospel that we learn that as soon as Jesus was born he cried out, "Mary, I am the Son of God." When he was taken down into Egypt this Gospel informs us that all the idols fell down before him.
We also learn the following from this Gospel:—
When Mary had put the swaddling clothes of Jesus out to dry after their arrival in Egypt, a son of an Egyptian priest who was possessed of devils happened to come near them, and immediately the devils came out of the unfortunate man's nose, and they flew away in the shape of crows and serpents. One day he came in contact with a mule, which was none other than a man who had been transformed by the aid of witchcraft into that shape. Jesus got on the mule's back, and immediately it returned into a man. It appears that when Judas Iscariot was a boy, he even then was possessed of page 25 a devil, which caused him to attempt to bite the side of Jesus. Immediately Jesus cried out, and the devil jumped out of Judas, "and ran away like a mad dog" (chap, xiv.) It would also appear that when Jesus was quite young he was exceedingly fond of playing with other boys of his acquaintance. One day he made a number of clay sparrows, and he showed his superiority over his companions by commanding his clay birds to fly away, which they readily did. Whilst playing on one occasion with his companions upon the roof of a house, one of his companions fell off and was killed. The rest all ran away, leaving him alone to be accused of the crime of having killed the boy. When, however, the relations of the boy accused him of the murder, Jesus proposed that they should go down and ask the boy who was dead who had killed him. They agreed to this, so Jesus stood over the boy's head and exclaimed, "Zeinunus! Zeinunus! who threw thee down from the house-top?" Then the boy answered "Thou didst not, but such an one did." Whatever school Jesus went to, he knew more than his schoolmaster. He helped his father very materially by enlarging or decreasing any piece of carpentering work which Joseph had not made to the proper size. In this way, by the speaking of a single word, he enlarged the throne of Herod, which his father had made too small. He killed so many people who had offended him, that eventually his parents would not "allow him to go out of the house," because" every one who displeases him is killed." (1 Infancy xx. 1—16; 2 Infancy iii. 1—7).
These are by no means all the miracles which are recorded by the author or authors of the "Gospel of page 26 the Infancy," but they will serve to throw some light upon the early life of our Master. It is for this reason that I regret that the wisdom and inspiration of our Church have not seen fit to preserve it in the Canon. But since they have not, it only remains for me to submit to what our Church believes without a single murmur.
There are, as I have intimated, many other wonderful Gospels besides this one, all of which, either by the whole Church or sections of it, were at one time considered as infallible and divinely inspired. It becomes our duty, however, to reject them all since the Church has done so. Only let us be careful not to reject the four true Gospels (which are an epitome of the others) since our Church has sanctioned these. The infidels would have you place the whole of them in the same category, to use your common sense in judging and comparing their merits, and only to accept the good and beautiful, in whichsoever Gospel they are found. But what is the advice of an infidel compared with that of—Yours, etc.
Letter No VII.
I am both pleased and proud to learn from the Argus of Monday last, that the Rev. J. S. Spencer argued in his sermon delivered on the previous evening, that Creed is the most important thing in life. It shows that although the rev. gentleman is not a light in our church he is still sound and Orthodox.
I do not mean by this that the Mohammedan, Bhuddist, or Brahminical faith is to be considered above everything else, but that my Faith, and perhaps that of the Rev. J. S. Spencer is.
|1st.||Whilst men believe they are generally ignorant. Whilst they are ignorant they are easily governed. Therefore belief is a safeguard against insubordination.|
|2nd.||Whilst men believe they attend church. Those who attend church don't go anywhere else. Therefore Belief is a safeguard against Sabbath rambling and the like grievous sins for the good of human health.|
|3rd.||A Believer respects his clergyman, and thinks that he is almost a god. This does him good inasmuch as it provides him with a worthy object to look up to. Therefore Belief is a safeguard against disrespect.page 28|
|4th.||Believers support the clergy. By this means they prevent the labour-market being over-stocked in other directions. Therefore Belief is a safeguard against idleness. It employs the idle to preach for us.|
|5th.||Believers, furthermore, by supporting the Clergy cultivate habits of benevolence, since they often give the very necessities of life in order to keep the clergy. Hence Belief is a safeguard against miserly habits.|
|6th.||Belief does away with the necessity of Thinking and Reasoning. It is therefore a safeguard against intellectual advancement.|
|7th.||Belief makes the clergy the most important men in human society. It is therefore a safeguard against intellect being placed above such men of piety as I am.|
|8th.||Creed helps men out of difficulties. It gives them a character. Without a creed they would have no character. At least they wouldn't have a very good one. With a creed their character entitles them even to the laudation and respect of the clergy.|
|9th.||Our creeds are often our passports to society, position, wealth, and honour. Just to the extent of a man's Orthodoxy does he get on in our church. The most Orthodox are even smiled upon by our bishop.|
|10th.||Creeds give a man an easy conscience. However big a sinner he is, his creed gives him an assurance that everything will be all right in the end.|
|11th.||The worst men in the world have got to heaven through their creeds. The greatest villains of the page 29 world to-day, simply because of their creeds, stand a chance of getting to heaven that no infidel has, however good he may be.|
|12th.||This is the most important reason. If a man do not believe in what such as I and the Rev. J. S. Spencer tell him, he cannot possibly get to heaven. We have a patent-right upon these creeds. We have got a sole right to the narrow road, and no one can pass along or find his way unless he gets his instructions from us. Our creeds are the only keys that unlock the doors of heaven; and he who will not use them must not grumble if he be left outside.|
I know the infidel will say he is just as good as a parson; but that has nothing to do with it. The question is : Does he believe our creeds? However good a man may be, he is only fit for hell if he doubts myself and the Rev. J. S. Spencer. We two, and others like us, are here to show men to heaven and to sell them their tickets, and anyone who has the audacity to buy a ticket at another shop will have to burn everlastingly for it. This serves them right, for both the Rev. J S. Spencer and myself have done all we could to show our own importance, and to convince the people that we are the only people who have been favoured with the means of climbing the narrow road which leads to joy, save and except, of course, those who believe what we tell them and do as we command. All outside the Orthodox Faith are in very deed on the broad road, along with the Editor of the Reflector, and those who deem it more important to do what good they can, rather than believe in us.page 30
Let me then, dear reader, beseech you to believe. Believe all and everything the church teaches. Never mind how absurd or nonsensical it may be, it is your duty to believe it, if you wish to get to heaven. Throw away your reason, silence your intellect, and crush your common sense; for what are these but carnal things? Faith is what you want, or rather what we want; so let us have it abundantly, and so oblige quite a number of
Letter No VIII.
My dear Orthodox Friends,—It is my good fortune now to find a more direct method of addressing you, without the aid of that blasphemous supporter of common sense, the Cape Town Reflector. We may congratulate ourselves upon its present non-existence, though the existence still of numerous other and far abler periodicals in support of heresy must still be a very painful thorn in our sides.
It has delighted me beyond measure to learn from the daily papers that the Christians in Europe are taking a most decided stand against toleration in the case of the Jews. I am sure all good Christians, in every part of the world, must admit that all Jews should be put to death, because they cannot believe as we do. The Russians are doing what Christianity requires in driving all the Jews out of their country, and in subjecting them to every form of persecution and contempt. The agitation against the Jews in Germany and Poland is another most gratifying evidence that there still are Christians in those parts of the world.
Since it is an undoubted fact that now-a-days there are Christians who have become contaminated by the heretical ideas of this age, and who will, in consequence, shrink from the doctrine of intolerance and persecution page 32 which I have stated in the foregoing paragraph, it will perhaps be advisable for me to show from the very books of the Jews themselves that we should persecute them and put them to death. I will, therefore, adduce precept and example from the Old Testament (in which every real Christian firmly believes), to prove the lawfulness of persecution according to the decrees of God, and the absolute necessity of putting those to death who disagree with us.
When Aaron made a golden calf the Jews worshipped it. To this day the Jews worship "gold," and have no inconsiderable reverence for "calves." What was the result of this worship then? Three thousand of them were killed at the bidding of Moses. What should they be done to now for a similar offence? I answer—persecuted and killed.
We Christians know that we are right, and that all Jews, heathens, and heretics are wrong. We know that our God will roast them for ever after they are dead, and how can it be wrong for us to follow our God's example? When our God was upon earth he said—"He that believeth not shall be damned." Paul, inspired by him, said—"Though an angel from heaven were to preach any other Gospel than that which I have preached unto you, let him be accursed;" and John said, in proxy for God—"If any man take away from the words of this book (the Bible), etc., God shall take away his part out of the book of life;" which means, he shall go to hell. Now the Jew does not believe in Jesus; therefore he must be damned. The Jew preaches a different doctrine to that of Paul; therefore he is accursed. The Jew does not believe in the Book of page 33 Revelations; therefore his name is rubbed out of the Book of Life, and he must in consequence go to the bottomless pit.
Now, it is evident that the Jew is damned, accursed and destined for hell. Is he then fit to live? Any man who shows a kindness to a Jew—and the same thing applies to a heretic—has virtually appealed against the decrees of heaven. He has in effect said: God, who knows all things, only considers this man fit for Eternal suffering; I consider him deserving of being decently treated, and if I had my way he would never get even so far as Tophet or Limbo. Depend upon it, God knows better than we do, and if he has destined the Jew for perdition the sooner we help to get him there the sooner we fulfil God's wishes.
The New Testament is the Word of God. The God of the New Testament is the only God which men are permitted to worship. In short, the God of the New Testament is the God of the Old; whosoever therefore does not worship the God of the New, does not worship the God of the Old. The Jew does not worship the God of the New, therefore he does not worship the God of the Old.
Now, in the thirteenth chapter of Deuteronomy we read, "If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, let us go and serve other Gods * * * * thou shalt not consent unto him nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him; but thou, shalt surely kill him * * * and thou shalt stone him with stones page 34 that he die." It therefore follows that as the Old Testament God is the same as that of the New Testament, and as the Jew does not worship Him, if he worships at all he must worship "other Gods," and that therefore, according to the express command of Scripture he ought to be stoned to death!
The worshippers of "other gods" are always accounted Idolators in the Old Testament. Let us see then how such were treated in the good old Patriarchal and Theocratic times. When Elijah made that celebrated trial with the Priests of Baal, it will be remembered that he came off gloriously victorious. Elated with his victory, he made a dishonest device for getting all the prophets of Baal collected together in one place, and then he slew four hundred and fifty of them with his own hand. Though the Jews are not the prophets of Baal, they do not worship our God, and are therefore just as bad, and in the same category, and ought therefore to receive the same punishment.
Look at the way that Josiah exterminated idolators, and at the frightful treatment they received from Nebuchadnezzar after he was converted! Look how Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal, because Agag had not waited for Samuel, and had neglected to make a sacrifice to God! Think of those horrible massacres throughout the land of Canaan, of those miserable people who did not worship the only God who was able to harden Pharoah's heart and bring his people out of Egypt. Surely these are examples enough. When God sent hornets before his people of old to drive out those of a different nation and religion, surely it is not wrong for us to accomplish what we can page 35 in the same direction without the assistance of hornets. If it was right for Elijah to put those to death who differed from him, it must be right for us. If Moses, Samuel, Josiah, and Nebuchadnezzar acted rightly in putting the worshippers of "other gods" to death, at the command or with the approval of God, how can it possibly be wrong for us to follow in their footsteps? They either acted rightly or wrongly. If they acted rightly, it is our duty to imitate them. If they acted wrongly, then God was to blame, and the Bible is morally guilty. But if this be the case our Church is a fraud, since it assumes that the Bible is faultless. We Christian clergy have decided that the Church is not a fraud; and the Church having decided that the Bible is faultless, it of course follows that these worthies acted rightly. Having acted rightly, it furthermore follows that we ought to follow their examples. If we are in the right, then, we ought to put all to death who differ from us. Since the clergy say we are in the right, and since the clergy are infallible, it is as clear as noonday that every Jew, as well as every heretic, ought to be killed.
May the good work commenced in Germany and Russia succeed and :extend till we charitable Christians alone survive, is again the prayer of—Yours, etc.
Letter No. IX.
My heart begins to beat with joy, for my old days yet will bring me peace. In Spain the Roman Catholic Church has been chastising three editorial heretics; for what? for speaking against the clergy! Oh, for the courage and power of Roman Spain to smite the editors of Australia and all the heretical world, for the disrespectful way in which they speak of us! Not till the clergy have had restored to them their vanquished power will the world lie prostrate at their feet content to let them govern, which of course means, simply a government by God's servants, and therefore by God Himself. How happy such a time, when the babblings of science will be hushed, the freedom of thought destroyed, and the second age of Faith established for ever.
The refusal to bury Michael Fitzpatrick was another step in the right direction. This man had opposed the introduction of the Bible into the schools of the State and had set his face resolutely against the system of payments by results. He had upheld the State in preference to his church, and had exalted the secular authortity at the expense of the churchal. He preferred a sound education to an unwavering faith, and an upright life to attendance at church. He therefore deserved to page 37 be buried like a dog, and it gave me great pain when I learned that the authorities of the church, out of a craven fear of public indignation, descended to the hypocrisy of reading their service over him. Upon these questions we must make a decided stand. Since we cannot answer the arguments of the infidels we must coerce them; since we cannot refute the products of their common sense, it remains only that we crush that common sense entirely out. Persuasion having been tried and having failed, force becomes our only alternative The more force the more faith, the more faith the more pay, the more pay the more zeal, the more zeal the more glory ad libitum, ad infinitum. I remain, yours, etc.
Letter No X.
My Dear Orthodox Friends.—In this letter I intend to take my leave of you for a time, unless something of importance crops up on which I may deem it necessary to say a word. In this I shall only beseech you to maintain your orthodoxy in spite of everything especially in spite of all common sense and reason, which are the chief of its enemies. I would ask all my Orthodox brethren to read no books, admit no facts, think no thoughts which are calculated to enlighten them, for enlightenment is the death of Creed. Embrace the loving form of Ignorance, for she, with maternal generosity, supplies from her fruitful bosom the streams of Faith whereat the children of the Church may feed perpetually. Strike low and to the earth, and trample in the dust the majesty of Truth, for 'tis her light and her's alone, that has revealed unto the world our crimes and our deformities. Over her corpse let us build a temple to her departed memory.
As we appreciate the light of a star in the night-time, or of a feeble torch in the gloom, so in the darkness of the Night of Faith, do we appeeciate the feeble light of clerical wisdom. When the sun of science is shining our stars and torches are lost, in its too effulgent beams and are therefore unnoticed and unobserved. Across page 39 the Sun of Science then, let us spread the Pall of Ignorance, that its beams may reach us not, and that once more the peacefulness of night may be upon us. Then in the gloom of night we clergy will amuse the credulous world with a few intellectual fireworks lit from the fires of Hell. By the light of the torches that devils shall carry, we will preach the following glad tidings.
|1st.||God made man capable of falling. He made a tree, the eating of which would cause him to fall. He gave man an appetite for that tree, and placed the tree within his reach. He made a devil to induce him to eat thereof, He knew what would be the result and He permitted it.|
|2nd.||He afterwards drowned all His children in consequence of their doing what He knew they would do, and what He did not prevent.|
|3rd.||He caused all men to be sinners because of the sin of one man.|
|4th.||For being sinners He condemned all men to everlasting punishment.|
|5th.||He undertook to save a few by the murder of His innocent Son.|
|6th.||The majority are nevertheless doomed to eternal suffering. Only a few will be permitted to play the harps of Heaven.|
|7th.||Hypocrites, ignorant people and all believers of our creeds will stand a better chance of being among the few than the honest and upright among the heretics and heathens.page 40|
|8th.||There is an awful Devil, going about like a roaring lion seeking whom he shall devour. He at least devours nine for every one that gets salvation. If you don't pay your pew rents he's sure to get you.|
|9th.||God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to die, in order that nine out of every ten of the souls which He Himself had created might go to hell.|
|10th.||Millions of money are spent yearly in order to support the clergy, and to maintain bishops, and costly churches, amid the utmost pomp, splendour and luxury, whilst millions of human beings are starving.|
|11th.||Years and talents are wasted in defending the Bible, which, if used to emancipate the human mind and spread the glories of science, would banish the clergy from the face of the earth.|
|12th.||The voice of orthodoxy is inspired with the breath of the coward, and the man of Faith wears the fetters of the slave.|
With all the energies of our being if we wish to maintain our position and to defend our citadel from the attacks of the infidel, let us carry these glad tidings to our brethren, and rest not our lying tongues till from pole to pole these glad tidings spread. So, my dear brethren, you will greatly oblige your old friend,
A Country Clergyman.
J. C. Stephens, late Purton, Printer, 106 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne.