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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 48

What the Church Wishes

What the Church Wishes.

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

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

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

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

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

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