The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 53
28th March, 1882.
Rev. J. A. Dowie.
You commence your letter dated 18th March with a saying of the ancient Greeks—" Against stupidity even the gods are powerless,"—and, judging by the contents of your letter, I am inclined to believe the Greeks were not far wrong. Thomas Paine has immortalized a saying which your letter abundantly justifies:—" To argue with a man," said he, "who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead." It is out of no ill-feeling towards you personally that I say this, but because your letter conclusively proves either that you have not the capacity to reason accurately, or you have temporarily renounced that capacity. From the beginning to the end of your letter there is nothing else but misrepresentation of facts, imputation to me of views and opinions I have not avowed, wholesale libels upon the Spiritualists and Free-thinkers, and abuse, and insult, and personal spleen of the rankest order. I am not going (as you have done) to accuse you of these serious controversial defects, without even an attempt at substantiation; but in this letter I intend to prove that my charges against you are supported by the facts, and are such as you have forced upon yourself by your disingenuous conduct. This I intend shall be the difference between my letter and yours, that whereas we both bring charges against each other, you have failed (as I shall show) to support them with the necessary evidence; whereas I shall give undeniable proof (I mean, to all fair-minded men) that what I say of you is fully borne out by the evidence I shall adduce.
It is, therefore, the utmost folly on your part to shelter yourself from the force of what I have already said, and what I yet intend to say, behind a convenient theory of your own, to the effect that because, forsooth, I do not hold your creed, I must be page 2 under the influence of the devil (whose existence you cannot prove, and therefore only capable of abusing you. Such a method of argument puts an end at once to all fair play and crushes all logic beneath the iron heel of vituperation To put me in the same list with the writer of the verse you have quoted as from the spirits, and along with those who have threatened your life, simply because I retorted your abuse upon yourself, and proved that you had really done all of which you had accused me, in reference to dishonesty of discussion, is not only to neglect the rules of common courtesy, but to deliberately vilify by deliberate misrepresentation one against whom you can prove no charge, but that of being, at least, your equal.
Let us, for just one moment, consider this method of venomously stabbing an adversary, which you have apparently employed with all the skill and experience of a trained adept. Certain "spirits" have honoured you with a composition which is anything but flattering. The "scribe" of the said "spirit" was an inured gaol-bird; the composition was accompanied by abusive epithets, which, if I may be pardoned for saying so, look more like your own concoctions than anything else; and the inference from all this is, that only such things can be expected from Spiritualists! Such is the legitimate outcome, you more than insinuate, of the teachings of Spiritualism. Now, Rev. Sir, what would you say if I were to go to the Melbourne gaol and to insist that all the Christians there were there in direct consequence of Christian teaching, and that lowness of mind and conduct was all that could be expected from the believers of your faith? The good, the wise, the pure, the virtuous I would not think about—no, only the liars, the thieves, the murderers were the true Christians. What would you say then? Why! that I had grossly slandered and misrepresented you. Now, sir, is it not evident even to you that this is precisely the course you have taken? You instance conduct for which I am in nowise responsible, which I would unhesitatingly condemn, and which is no more the result of Spiritualism or Free-thought than are your misrepresentations of my arguments or your personal abuse of me, and you insist upon placing me upon that level. I ask you candidly, is it fair? Is it honourable? Would such reasoning be just if applied to yourself? I will ask you further are you prepared to defend the conduct of every murderer, thief, and criminal of every stamp, if he calls himself a Christian? Am I right if I class you and Ned Kelly together, because the notorious bushranger called himself a Christian? If not, why have you not the common honesty to perceive that you have acted with great injustice in ranking me with all that is filthy and objectionable in the Spiritualistic ranks?
You must pardon me for being a little sceptical as to what page 3 you say touching the correspondence you had with the "spirits" in Sydney—or, rather, the letters you received from them. One of your sentences on this point commences "Another of your friends wrote to me," by which you affirm that the "scribe" out of Darlinghurst, and the writer of another letter to you, were my friends. I am very sceptical on this point, for I know of no friend of mine in Sydney who has been in gaol for the crimes you indicate, or indeed for any crimes at all. Will you please, therefore, to mention their names, or otherwise to withdraw the foul accusation that they were my "friends?" Please also to mention the name of the "circle," and a few of the names of the "elevated" Spiritualists who are alluded to in the letter you have received and quoted. I am anxious for you to do this because I feel morally convinced that the whole affair is an imposition—I will not say of yours, but of someone's intending to cast contempt upon the doctrines you have undertaken to destroy. I therefore await your proofs for the various allegations you have made, and which, if proven, I should denounce as strongly as you.
Now, what warrant have you for saying—"Yes, your name is Legion, for you are many, and your devices are many. You are all things to all men, if by any means you can destroy some with your master's many wiles, ancient and modern?" Am I a Christian? Evidently not, according to your showing. Then, how can I be all things to all men? The fact of the matter is, I have not really avowed myself to be anything but an infidel and rationalist in these letters, and these colours I have never changed for a single moment, "What is more, I do not intend to change them, at least until better evidence than you have brought forward can be advanced to dislodge me from my position. 'Tis not I, but your own Paul, upon his own admission, who was "all things to all men," an unblushing hypocrite of the worst dye, and a dissimulator by profession. And I say this, too, without any desire to detract from any good he may have done, but simply to state a fact which is supported by New Testament evidence.
You say, that the statement you made that your beliefs were not in question "is the exact truth;" and you continue—"The question upon which alone you were called in by Mr. Strachan to help him concerning was 'Spiritualism,' for that was the only question discussed between him and I [I sic]. That question you have cunningly and persistently evaded. Your calling of my beliefs in question does not matter a jot. I met a drunken man who called them in question the other day, and whilst he was doing so he stammered, staggered, and fell into the gutter."
Now, in answer to this perversion of truth, let me refer you to Mr. Strachan's letter. In that letter did I accept any challenge of yours, or was it not I who challenged you? It was I who page 4 challenged you, which challenge you could accept or reject as you felt disposed. The question which Mr. Strachan asked you was, "Would you have any objection to enter into a public discussion on the following [italics mine]:—you to affirm 'That Orthodoxy s conducive to morality and progress,' and Mr. Thos. Walker . . to affirm 'That Infidelity is conducive to morality and progress.'" The challenge, therefore, was to you, and if you did not feel like accepting it, the simple course was open to you of declining it. But because this challenge to you was connected with, or arose out of, a conversation you had with Mr. Strachan, I am abused because I will not defend, in the manner you wish, what you attacked in his presence. Although in all probability I should not have challenged you had you not seen Mr. Strachan, nor Mr. Strachan seen me, yet the propositions which I worded for Mr. Strachan's letter, and for which alone I am responsible, were my generalization of the real issue there is between us, and my statement of the platform on which I was ready at any time to meet you. In my challenge I made no reference to Spiritualism whatever, and I think it was clear and distinct enough to enable you to understand precisely what it was that J wanted you to discuss with me. That challenge, which commenced this correspondence, called your beliefs in question; it asked you if you were ready to support them by evidence, and, in public discussion, to show the good you believe them to have done. But avoiding all this, the plainest of evidence, you insist that I shall be bound, not to my challenge, but to a conversation which you had with Mr. Strachan when I was absent! Could anything be more unfair? I am to stand by and defend, I say again, not what I have admitted my willingness to stand by and defend, but the opinions of Mr. Strachan, or your idea of those opinions, expressed to you in the course of a conversation upon the subject or Spiritualism; and that too, as I say, when I was absent, and did not even know of your presence in Melbourne!
|1st.||That the challenge arose with me, and was simply my own suggestion.|
|2nd.||That Mr. Strachan was simply one of the determining causes of it, and the instrument of its conveyance to you, but by no means the dictator or requester of it.|
|3rd.||That its deliberate intention was to call your beliefs in question, and to ask you if you were ready to defend them.|
|4th.||That I have evaded nothing which my challenge contained. I took it for granted that he who makes, or fain would make, such sad havoc of the faiths of others would not be loth to defend his own; but it seems in this I was mistaken.|
Your case of the drunken man with whom you say you would not discuss questions of religion and morality is beneath you as a clergyman, and I am half inclined to think that you invented it for the occasion. Granted that I am as drunk and incapable of understanding sound arguments on religion and morality as the man who fell into the gutter, is it likely to cause me to appreciate the comforts of sobriety to hear you abusing, falsifying, and slandering me? To compare a man to a drunkard in the gutter, because, having examined your faith he is bound by the laws of evidence to reject it as wanting in fact and proof, is indeed the trick of the cuttle fish with a vengeance. It is too late in the day to beg the question in this manner*, and you should leave the public to judge whether I am sufficiently sober, mentally and morally, to understand your arguments.
I have already partially replied to the following statement and accusation:—"Spiritualism," you say, "and that alone, is the question which originated this correspondence; but for reasons of your own, which you dare not avow, you shun it."
I have shown that "my challenge" "and that alone originated this correspondence," so it only remains for me further to point out the libel of the concluding sentence—I shun Spiritualism for reasons of my own which I dare not avow? Nothing could be more false than this statement, for not only did I in my last letter to you say, "If you will undertake a defence of your Orthodoxy, I will undertake a defence of Spiritualism pur et simple, since you appear to be so much afraid to meet Infidelity in any other form"; but I positively stated my reasons for preferring a discussion upon Infidelity rather than upon Spiritualism. "Spiritualism," said I, "in its present form is of modern origin; it therefore will not so effectually serve me as page 6 will the term Infidelity, in proving that our progress is not due to the influence of Christianity."
I have only so far shunned Spiritualism as to wish to stick to the terms of the challenge, though I have followed and corrected you in your tirade against the Spiritualists throughout. But now I am free to say more, as showing you that there is no reason for my conduct which I dare not avow. There are many things passing under the name of Spiritualism which I cannot defend, arising solely out of the ignorance and imperfection of humanity, just as there are follies committed by Christians to which you could not give your sanction. I believe, at present, that a diffusion of the sceptical spirit, and a cultivation of the habits of freedom of thought, are calculated to do far more good than a diffusion of the belief in Spiritualism among men. So this is the task I have now set myself:—To make, as far as I am able, my fellow-men be critical; to cause them to weigh the evidence of all facts claiming a super-mundane origin very carefully; and to reject even Spiritualism itself if the facts do not warrant its acceptance. There is much of Spiritualism that is simply superstition—less hurtful and despicable than that which you profess, it is true, but, nevertheless, superstition. This I am just as much anxious to destroy as I am that of yours, as I am anxious to have all superstition destroyed, even to that which lingers yet on the horizon of my own mentality. Superstition is the construction of ignorance; our lack of capacity to properly understand the nature of cause and effect, and their relation to each other. Men are superstitious, therefore, to the extent that they do not understand a phenomenon, its relation to its cause, and the nature of the cause itself. You, for instance, are superstitious when you attribute what I do to the action of the Devil; for, in doing so, you have a false idea of causation which determines my conduct, which causation is none other than my organization, its natural antecedents, and my surroundings. It is positive knowledge, verified by repeated tests, and submitted to the most searching examinations of criticism, which is calculated to remove all defects of this description; and it is this kind of knowledge, which has always been preceded by the sceptical spirit, and which has always been condemned as heresy by the Church in all its divisions, that I was anxious to defend in a public debate. As I said in my last letter to you, "The fact of the matter is, the freedom of thought permitted and encouraged by both Deists and Atheists has liberated humanity from the slavery of Faith, and opened to them the thousand doors of Truth." Again, "I was prepared to show the good that all forms of Infidelity have done, and are still calculated to do; for, encouraging (as they do) the freedom of thought, they enwiden the horizon of human knowledge, and open a myriad avenues to aspiration, discovery, page 7 and progression." Such, then, are my reasons more fully stated for preferring the term Infidelity, and which reasons, though stated briefly in my last letter, you so shamelessly asserted that I dare not avow.
As to whether you dare to defend your views in public discussion or not, I leave to the judgment of whoever may chance to read this correspondence.
I now come to that portion of your letter which reviews my charge of numerous misrepresentations. The first is about the arguing upon two distinct platforms at the same time. I asked you to quote to me from my letters where I had requested such an absurdity, and your reply now is that two letters mentioned "can leave no other impression upon candid minds than that you wanted one discussion, in which the issues would be confused, and not two distinct discussions; you never use the plural number, as would be required if Christianity and Infidelity were to be separately discussed upon their respective merits." And notwithstanding my explanation in my last letter, you add "that is my impression still." "Indeed," you say, "your closing question in that letter proves it; for you therein say—'Are you willing to discuss the relative merits of Orthodoxy and Infidelity?' You nowhere speak of two distinct discussions." It appears to me that you do not know the meaning of the word "discussion," which Ogilvie gives as "debate, disquisition, the agitation of a point or subject with a view to elicit truth, the treatment of a subject by argument." Now, it is not necessary to have two discussions to examine the relative merits of two things. You may discuss whether the rose or the violet is the more fragrant, without two discussions, may you not? And in the same manner you may discuss the relative merits of Orthodoxy and Infidelity in one discussion. Before me lies a copy of a debate which I held with the Rev. M. W. Green in the Temperance Hall in March, 1878. The title page reads "Report of an Oral Discussion," &c.
Subjects:—First Proposition.—"That Christianity is of Divine origin." Affirmed by Mr. Green, denied by Mr. Walker.
Second Proposition.—"That the Bible supports and parallels modern Spiritualism in all its phases, teaching, and phenomena." Affirmed by Mr. Walker, denied by Mr. Green.
Now, you will observe that there was only one discussion, but two subjects were discussed. The first subject took up five nights, and the second four nights, but we were not discussing the two at the same time, as you say we must if we had only one discussion.
|1st.||"That the Jesus of the Gospels is a historical character." Affirmed by Rev. A. Hatchard.|
|2nd.||"That the influence of Christianity upon the world has been injurious." Affirmed by Mrs. Besant.|
It is now, therefore, all the more evident that you misrepresented me on that point.
I asked you to point out the place where I demanded that you should discuss with me on "Infidelity, Materialism, Rationalism, Atheism, Deism, and a host of anonymous foes of God and man, &c.;" and, after calling this a most audacious question, you refer me to my letter of February 8th, where, after expressing my willingness to discuss Infidelity with you, I stated that "Infidelity not only covers Spiritualism, but Rationalism, Atheism, Deism," etc., &c. With this before me, I still have to repeat my question, where have I said that I would discuss with you upon all of these? I am willing to discuss with you on Infidelity, which Infidelity covers Atheism and Deism, Materialism and Spiritualism; but I did not say that I wanted to discuss, or, as you elsewhere define it, prove, Atheism and Deism, Materialism and Spiritualism. Again let me quote the wording of the proposition. I was willing to affirm "Infidelity is conducive to morality and progress." I am still anxious to undertake the proof of this, though perfectly conscious that there has been much called Infidelity from which I must dissent But to illustrate my meaning more clearly by stating a parallel case. Supposing I were to affirm that "Literature has been conducive to morality and progress," should I not in that have your assistance? And yet the word "Literature" not only covers the Bible, the Commentaries, "Foxe's Book of Martyrs," and Jonathan Edwards's Sermons, but all the heretical, obscene, and mischievous books that were ever written. It not only includes the epistles of Paul, but the "filthy" book of Dr. Child. What, then, because I should be willing to prove that "Literature has been conducive to morality and progress," must I necessarily pledge myself to defend and uphold every book that ever was published? Christianity, you will tell me, has been conducive to morality and progress. But Christianity covers the Romanists and the Shakers, the Lutherans and the Universalists, the Ranters and the Doppers, the Salvation Army and the Baptists, the Wesleyans and the Unitarians. I therefore charge you with being a Unitarian, a Shaker, and a Ranter, and with being ready to discuss with me upon these sects. Not just, you say. Quite so; neither is it just that you should charge me with pinning my convictions to everything that I admit the word Infidelity covers. "What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander," and if you charge page 9 me with sanctioning and adopting everything included in the term Infidelity, I charge you with holding and supporting everything which has ever passed under the name of Christianity. This also is still seen to be one of your "daring misrepresentations," and all the more so, since you were asked to point me out the very passage where I said I was willing to do what you said, and you have failed to do it. I, also, leave this point to the judgment of honest men.
You repeat the slander that I am like a "mercenary soldier;" and although you say you have again "fairly proved" it, I must confess that I do not see that you even attempt to prove it. You call my arguments, which went to prove that I could defend the good of a system without identifying myself with that system, "quibbling," without showing why they were such. You tell me that your arguments completely confounded me, and I could not answer them; and, mistaking all this for logic, you say, "I now repeat the charge, which I have again fairly proved." Evidently with you, if we may judge by this specimen, to support an assertion needs only more assertion, and to justify a charge, it is only necessary to invent others! Such is not the conduct of men with a good cause.
Such is your habit of misrepresentation that one is almost driven to believe that it is your ruling one; for it appears to be impossible for you to be just to the statements of another. "Your imagination," say you, "or the misguided inspiration of some mischievous spirit which was befooling you, led you to say that the orthodoxy which I would have defended would have included the most absurd and irreconcilable systems of pseudo-Christianity." Where did I say this? Again I want the very passage. I said nothing of the kind, sir; and I challenge you to prove your assertion. What I did say was, "Whatever your orthodoxy may be, in defending it you would be obliged to defend Those Points it has in Common with the rest of the sects called orthodox." I did not say your orthodoxy included the different sects which I mentioned, but that the word orthodoxy covered both your sect and the rest; that in orthodoxy, in its general sense, and not in your orthodoxy, were included all the systems cited, and that your orthodoxy possessing points in common with the orthodoxy of other people, in defending your orthodoxy at all (in which those points are included), you must to that extent defend the orthodoxy of the whole lot. Surely you cannot be blind to this fact, for to me it seems too self-evident to be doubted for a single moment.
Your sneer about "the misguided inspiration of some mischievous spirit which was befooling you" I treat with the contempt it deserves.
Instead of having "utterly failed" "to wriggle out" of the page 10 supposed "inconsistency" which you say you have "proved" me to he guilty of by stating that Infidelity covers systems of belief incongruous with each other, I proved in my last letter and I have added to that proof in this, that I was perfectly consistent: and to my arguments you have not even attempted to reply. Saying I have "utterly failed," and that you have "proved" a thing, is mere self-assertion, your unsupported ipse dixit—the folly of the egotist, and not the argument of a logician. You should show why and where I have failed, and how and when you have proved your charge. If your mere saying a thing proved it to be so, I admit your letter is abundant in proof; but if the proof of a statement means the proper and necessary evidence given in its support, then is your letter most deficient in this requisite, and this point is an illustration of the fact.
Basing an argument upon a misrepresentation of my last letter, you say, "Why, if I did so [defended orthodoxy, which included absurd and irreconcilable systems of pseudo-Christianity], I would be as great a mercenary, as a Christian, as you are as an Infidel or Spiritualist. You say, the Lutherans believe in the 'real presence' as do the Roman Catholics. The Anglicans and others do not. On this point there is no incongruity. Yet, in defending orthodoxy, you must defend both that of the Lutheran and that of the Anglican."
In this you have not only repeated the charge, without adducing one iota of proof, that I am a "mercenary Infidel," but you have added to its venom. You continue:—"Now, apart from the question of fact as to what are the Lutheran and Anglican doctrines concerning 'the real presence,' I must ask did any rational being ever make a more irrational statement than that which I have just quoted? Why, of course, I would only defend what I believed the Scriptures to teach on that or any question of Christian belief; and it would be as easy to get me to defend the dogma of papal infallibility, or any other screaming absurdity, as the doctrine of transubstantiation in any form.
You say, "Apart from the question of fact as to what are the Lutheran and Anglican doctrines." Do you mean to say, sir, that 1 have misrepresented these doctrines on this points If not, why do you say "Apart from the question of fact?" If you mean to imply that I have, then I demand your proof.
Now, the statement which you quoted was by no means irrational, but a simple statement of a fact: it is only your interpretation of it which is perfectly irrational. There is nothing in the quotation to justify you in concluding that I had said in it that in defending orthodoxy you would have to defend the doctrine of "the real presence." That is a point, I must conclude from your letter, upon which the Lutherans are not orthodox. You would, therefore, not have to defend that, since, in defending page 11 Orthodoxy at all, you would defend the Lutherans only so far as they are orthodox. The same is the case with the rest of the sects. You would only so far defend them as they are orthodox. To quote my letter again, "Yet in defending orthodoxy you must defend both that [the orthodoxy and not the heterodoxy] of the Lutheran and that of the Anglican." Could you do otherwise? If so, what could you do? "Why, of course," you answer "I would only defend what I believed the Scriptures to teach on that or any question of Christian belief." Quite so; but what you believe the Scriptures to teach, you believe to be sound orthodoxy, and to the extent that other people believe that the Scriptures teach the same things which you believe (however differently they may believe on other points) to that extent are they orthodox, and in defending your orthodoxy precisely to that extent would you defend their orthodoxy. And yet, I having made a clear and self-evident statement of this kind, you ask—Did any rational being ever make a more irrational statement? You then proceed, upon the mere basis of your own irrational interpretation, to build a pyramid of abuse, and you ask—Do you really think that all men are fools in every sense, as to suppose such conduct (as that you have mentioned from the evolution of your own inner-consciousness, but by no authority from me) would be tolerated by any number of men who were not idiots, or, perhaps, Spiritualists? I leave such abuse as this to speak for itself, and to bear its own witness as to your fairness, honesty, and "righteousness."
In my last letter I demanded that you should quote the very passage wherein I stated that Spiritualism, Materialism, Atheism, Rationalism, Deism, &c., were "equally conducive to morality and progress." And how have you replied? Have you quoted the paragraph? No! you have not; you have again sheltered yourself behind abuse. You speak of my "theatrical rage," when I said "I insist, sir, point me out the very paragraph, the very words, or forever know that you have told a liet either wilfully or in consequence of your logical imbecility." Since you have not quoted the paragraph, the very words, you stand convicted of a gross untruth, and my rage, whether "theatrical" or otherwise, being provoked by a knowledge of this fact, is perfectly justifiable.
"This, again, is only another cuttlefish kind of trick, an attempt to escape from your own words in the passage which I have already quoted, where you say, that the Infidelity you were prepared to prove is conducive to morality and progress 'covers' them all; and, therefore, that they are all equally good is to be fairly inferred [I did not ask you for your inference, but the paragraph from my letter], and equally conducive to morality and progresspage 12
"If I were to say 'Christianity covers Truth, Faith, Hope, Wisdom, and Love, and is conducive to morality and progress,' it would be fair for you to say that I held all these graces to be equally conducive to morality and progress, although I held the greatest of these to be love; and it was just in that sense that I employed the word 'equally.'"
Now, firstly, I did not give you a warrant to use the word "equally" in any sense; and, secondly, the sense in which you have used it appears to me illogical: although several things are equal, one of them is the greatest. To me such language seems like nonsense; and, employing the word as you have employed it in the illustration above, I most decidedly object to it being fathered upon me. You, and you alone, are responsible for the use of the word in any sense, but more especially in the sense of its meaning that several things are equal although one is the greatest! Doubtless you have borrowed this kind of reasoning from your belief in the Trinity.
Are all things equal which are included in a general term? This you say is a fair inference. Then let us give an application of this inference to test its validity.
The word animal "covers" all that exists in the animal kingdom, but, to specialize, it covers "man," "monkeys," "toads," "snakes," "donkeys," and "periwinkles."
All things covered by the same general term are equal to each other.
"Clergymen" and "donkeys" are covered by the same general term (animal).
Therefore they are equal to each other!
How would you like such logic applied to yourself? If it be bad logic when applied to you personally, why should it be good logic when applied to my statement?
|(1)||There is no God; nothing in the universe of being but matter, and the negative forces in matter.|
|(2)||Annihilation is True; or a conscious future existence in the sense of endlessness is a farce, &c.|
|(3)||Fatalism is a Truth. Man is not responsible for any act of this life. All things, including men and their actions, are fated, or necessitated to be precisely as they are. Man is a thing (italics yours).|
I will thus state how far I agree with these statements.
* "Three Essays on Religion," p. 6.
2nd. Not being able to grasp the meaning of the word "endlessness," no one having lived till then, I cannot pronounce an opinion upon the view taken by "the spirit." He has, however, as much evidence on his side as you have on yours.
3rd. I believe that all our actions are as much under the government of law as the return of the seasons or the movements of a planet. Nothing takes place without a sufficient cause to produce it.
"Man is a thing." Of course he is. Are you of opinion that he is no-thing? He must be some-thing, or else he does not exist.
"A French Normandy spirit, claiming to have been in the higher existence some three hundred years, coming by permission of the circle, advocated these theoretical (italics mine) dogmas," &c.
After giving the quotation, the author continues—"These exploded theories, once popular among Atheists in France, are still taught by this shrewd, intelligent spirit." I have italicized the first three words of this quotation to show you that Dr. J. M. Peebles regarded these theories as "exploded." Neither J. M. Peebles nor his work, therefore, advocates any such views as those you have cited.
† Huxley's "Hume," p. 131.
"In the first sentence of your letter, 11th February, you say—'I am spreading Infidelity.' Surely, then, you must admit there you are an infidel. [Quite right. So far, everything is fair.] In your letter of 8th February you say—'Infidelity not only covers Spiritualism, but Rationalism, Materialism, Atheism Deism,' &c., kc. Surely there you admit that you embody all these systems in your person. [Where do I say so? This is your inference—your construction, not my confession.] As you are spreading them all [again your own construction! which I did not ask for, and which is anything but a confession of mine], according to your own confession of 11th February [which simply stated that I was spreading Infidelity—not everything that is covered by the term Infidelity. Again your own construction], and you are, therefore, what I say you are, 'all rolled into one under the name of infidel.'" And without being able to see that you have done me a great injustice in so putting your own construction—which is so manifestly unfair—upon my language, you ask, Can anything be clearer? No, rev. sir, nothing can be clearer than the fact that you have misrepresented me, and that you are unable to quote the confession of mine which you said I had made, but which I knew I never had. At the risk of being tautological to excess, I will use the same logic with regard to you once more, that you may feel the force of its folly.
A being belonging to a class covered by a general term must also belong to and be a member of all classes covered by that term.
The term Infidelity covers Spiritualism, Materialism, Rationalism, Atheism, and Deism.
Thomas Walker is a Rationalist (and, consequently, an Infidel). Therefore he is a Materialist, Deist, Atheist, Spiritualist, &c., &c., all rolled into one!
Such is your argument, stated fairly. Now for its application to you:
The term animal covers men, donkeys, elephants, snails, an crocodiles.
Rev. J. A. Dowie is a man (and, consequently, an animal).
Therefore he is a snail, donkey, man, elephant, and crocodile all rolled into one!
Surely you will not admit that this logic is sound? Ana yet it is your own!
After getting through the charges of "misrepresentation," none of which you have answered, but all of which you have justified by your conduct, you do a little preaching. Since your little sermon is neither useful, sensible, nor eloquent, and since I page 15 warned you in my last letter against repeating such silly nonsense in the place of argument, I shall pass it by without further comment.
You say that I have slandered Paul by referring you to Romans iii. 7, in proof of his admission that he had told a lie; "for," you argue, "if the 8th verse is read with it, seeing it is a part of the same sentence, it is at once seen that he is speaking concerning false charges made against him—things 'slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say.' He no more imagines that if he told a lie it would abound to the glory of God, than he believes that it would be right to say, 'Let us do evil that good may come.' He says, concerning those who practise such iniquity, 'whose condemnation is just,' and that condemnation rests upon you; for here you are caught in the very act of slanderously reporting what you must know to be false."
Now let us examine this passage, not only in the light of its own expressions, but in the light, also, of other admissions of Paul. The passage to which I referred you reads:—"For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory, why yet am I also judged as a sinner?"
Now, nothing can be plainer than that Paul here says, in other words—I have told a lie! Granted. But if the truth of God hath more abounded for it, why do you blame me? The principle is distinctly laid down, that if the glory of God is to be gained, we should not be blamed for our lies! It is true that, in verse 8, he calls it a slanderous report to affirm, "as some do," that he and others say—Let us do evil that good may come. But still the fact remains that, in verse 7, he argues that if his lie hath abounded to the glory of God, he should not be judged for it as a sinner, and no amount of word-twisting can exculpate him from the charge. But lest you may conclude that this is simply my assumption, formed in the heat of controversy, I will quote to you the language of the Rev. H. C. V. Leibbrant, formerly a clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church, afterwards pastor of the Free Protestant Church at Graaff Reinet, South Africa, and now the keeper of the Cape colonial archives. He thus writes, in a letter to the Graaff Reinet Herald:—" Men of great learning and irreproachable orthodoxy, like the late Professor Vander Palm, of Leyden, who, as is well known, translated the whole Bible into the Dutch language, and which translation is held to be one of the very best in the world [italics mine], felt this difficulty, and could not render the passage as it is ordinarily done. He translates:—' If God's truth is more abundantly glorified by my lie, would it not follow that I could not be condemned as a sinner? and if the latter were the case, would we not then (as we are libelled, and as some say we teach) be permitted to do evil that good might result, though those who hold the doctrine are justly punished?'page 16
"If we follow the argument of Paul, we find him saying that though many of the Jews were unbelievers, that unbelief would not influence the faithful character of God towards man. Though all people are liars [How could all people be liars if Paul were not?—T. W.] God remains the same truthful being, that the latter part of the 4th verse of the 51st Psalm may be always applicable to him. Again, if man's sins are but additional proofs of the righteousness (i.e., the perfect character) of God, he most certainly cannot, by the rules of common sense, be considered unjust when he reveals his anger. Thus far the Apostle is perfectly intelligible; but, if he has hitherto spoken in general terms, he now at once refers to himself, and utters the words complained of—viz., that if his lie has furthered the glory of God, why should he be judged as a sinner because of that lie? Vander Palm saw it plainly, that if Paul really did say so, he likewise did lay down, in spite of his denial to the contrary, the doctrine condemned in Loyola. But, as Vander Palm took it for granted that the Apostle could not possibly have spoken as he is made to speak in the Greek Testament and the authorized versions, he gives the translation as quoted by me."
I have, therefore, the authority of no less a master than the orthodox professor of Leyden University—the learned Vander Palm—for the view I have taken. If Paul did utter the words of the 7th verse of Romans in the chapter quoted (and they are to be found in the Greek, the version of King James, and the late Oxford revision), then did he likewise lay down the doctrine condemned in the founder of the Jesuits! You must, therefore, either prove that Paul did not employ the words attributed to him, or else admit that he justified lying when he thought he could add to the glory of God thereby.
"And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without the law, as without the law (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ), that I might gain them that are without the law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak. I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."—(1 Cor. ix. 20-22.)
In order to save some, Paul here admits that he pretended to some to be a Jew, to others not a Jew; to some to be under the law, to others without the law; and I ask you how could he pos sibly do so without telling or acting a falsehood to one class or the other? If he was a Jew, then when in the presence of those who were not Jews he made it appear that he was not one, he page 17 was dishonest; he played the hypocrite, and he falsified his real character. The same argument applies vice versâ. Might not Paul be alluding to some such dissimulation as this when he said, according to the revised version, "But if the truth of God, through mv lie, abounded unto his glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner?" In the sixteenth verse of the 12th chapter of 2nd Corinthians, he further admits—"Nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile,"
Ogilvie gives the synonyms of "crafty" as "cunning, artful, wily, sly, fraudulent, deceitful, subtle" (I have taken the liberty to draw your attention to the last three words by italics.)
"Guile" is defined as "craft, cunning, artifice, duplicity, deceit, wile, subtlety, fraud" (my italics). I should therefore have the high authority of John Ogilvie, Ll.D., if I thus paraphrased the admission from Paul which I have just quoted—"Nevertheless, being deceitful, I caught you with fraud." I neither did an injustice to Paul nor you, therefore, when I advised you "not to follow Paul too closely in this respect."*
* I had thus far completed my reply to the Rev. J. A. Dowie's letter when he, in company with Dr. Singleton, called upon me to request my consent to the publication of the correspondence, without my reply. His plea was chiefly that, as he was to leave Melbourne very shortly, should the correspondence continue he would be unable to remain until its completion, as, according to his view, it would, unless stopped just when he wished it—i.e., when he had made a shamelessly abusive attack upon me and the subjects with which my public life has been associated, and before any reply to his arguments could be made—swell to a bulk too costly for publication. His further plea was that he had the right to the last word, inasmuch as I wrote the first to him; and, so he argued, his letters had simply been in reply to mine. I pointed out to him how unfair his offer was, since it was / who was replying to his attacks upon me, and acting on the defensive, and not vice versâ. His letter of 13th February attacked me personally and misrepresented my views and position, and the views and position of others, most egregiously. My letter of 20th February was a reply to that. At that stage I was perfectly willing to have the correspondence published, and to gain his consent or refusal thereto, I wrote to him, stating that it was my intention to publish it unless he replied to my last letter. After waiting for nearly a month I finally received the letter of 18th March. In that letter, not only (as the reader will see) are the old charges repeated, without the necessary proof of them being given, but new ones are brought forward. And to these the Rev. J. A. Dowie has the impudence to request that I will not reply! Could his cowardice, his unfairness, and the weakness of his position be better proved than by his own disingenuous conduct? I therefore warn all readers against any version of this correspondence published by him, since any such version is published without my consent, is only one-sided, and does not contain my last letter in reply to his of the 18th March.
"The scenes of the reign of terror in France not a century ago, when Infidelity established its worship of the goddess of reason in the form of a shameless woman of the streets, and ruled by the guillotine, until the land was deluged in blood, by fiends like Robespierre and Marat—these are triumphs of Paine, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, and all that horrid infidel crew who then manned the slave-ship of hell, when it bore the name of 'the Age of Reason.'"
By those who are interested in maintaining that all that is bad must necessarily be the result of Infidelity, it is quite natural to attribute all the crimes of the French Revolution to the spread of Infidelity; but whoever will go to the trouble to examine the facts in an unprejudiced mood will see that the crimes of that memorable epoch were the result of a too sudden rebound from the tyranny and heartless despotism of the Church and State. True, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, and Paine did much to produce the rebound by cutting the chains that so weightily pressed upon the people, but only the tension of the chains, and the force of the swelling powers of liberty; the oppression by the privileged classes, and the inherent tendency towards freedom of the downtrodden people, can fairly be charged with the excesses of September and the evils of the guillotine. People had been driven to madness by poverty, oppression, and despair, and when at last the door of liberty opened partially to them, we need not wonder if they jostled each other in the entrance, forced open the door without decorum, and, in the heat and excitement of the moment, committed follies and crimes for which more sober men would blush. The tiger had long been goaded, he had been lashed by his heartless masters into sullen fury, starved and branded, and set to tasks beyond his strength; but at last he broke his chain, and in the sweetness of revenge he forgot the sentiment of justice, and perpetrated deeds of startling cruelty. The flood had been dammed too long, its waters had swollen to overflowing, until at last, with a mighty rush, the flood-gates were cleared away and the unguided torrent flowed devastatingly onward.
By such images may we conceive the true nature of the French Revolution, which was nothing but an uprising of the people against despots, a struggle for human rights, a battle for the cause of Humanity. During the battle, it is true, there was much of excess and abundance of fault, but its intention was good, and on the whole it benefited the world far, far more than it injured it. The condition of France before the Revolution is almost, in our clay, inconceivable. Two hundred and fifty thousand tax-gatherers were wringing from the poor the pittance of their toils; men were dragooned into the army, taken to labour page 19 on the roads, and when starving were told by the minister Foulon that they could "eat grass." The nobles, the clergy, and the king rioted in pompous luxury, whilst the peasants were dying of hunger, doing the work of cattle, dragging their own ploughs through their fruitless fields, or being shot for sport from the tops of houses. Whilst Louis XV. counted his beads and violated young girls: whilst Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry held the reins of the State; whilst the clergy, sworn to celibacy, were giving sumptuous suppers and entertaining prostitutes; whilst the head of the Church was represented by men most hopelessly corrupt and profligate, the populace was wandering through France, from city to city, asking for bread and receiving a stone! Turned into a barren pasture, the people were like sheep, fleeced, till the very skin was cut, by the court, the nobles, and the clergy. And yet you wonder at the Revolution, and are horror-stricken at its crimes! Not a word against the Christian king, Louis the Well-beloved; not a word against the infamous debaucheries of the French clergy; not a word about the cruel despotism of the nobles and the collectors of the taxes. No! the villanies of these were committed whilst they waved unto the breeze the Christian flag, therefore they may be safely forgotten; but the lesser crimes committed by the encouragement or sanction of such men as Danton, Robespierre, or Marat, being committed in a fit of intoxicated zeal for Liberty, should be treasured in the memory for condemnation, for eternal hate, for a ready scarecrow, and as a whip by which to rouse the sluggish Christian hearts to the full bent of a dire revenge. Whatever excesses Christianity, in her maturity, may have committed, they are excusable, for "the flesh is weak;" but the follies of Liberty, whilst she is yet an infant, must never be pardoned, but held up for ever as the detestable progeny that naturally issue from her womb!
Lord Macaulay, in his essay on Milton, speaks forcibly to such as you, who despise Liberty because she has made some mistakes in her first struggles with the demon Tyranny. "Ariosto," says he, "tells a pretty story of a fairy, who, by some mysterious law of her nature, was condemned to appear at certain seasons in the form of a foul and poisonous snake. Those who injured her during the period of her disguise were for ever excluded from participation in the blessings which she bestowed. But to those who, in spite of her loathsome aspect, pitied and protected her, she afterwards revealed herself in the beautiful and celestial form which was natural to her, accompanied their steps, granted all their wishes, filled their houses with wealth, made them happy in love and victorious in war. Such a spirit is Liberty. At times she takes the form of a hateful reptile; she growls, she hisses, she stings. But woe to those who in disgust page 20 shall venture to crush her! And happy are those who, having dared to receive her in her degraded and frightful shape, shall at length be rewarded by her in the time of her beauty and her glory."
This same author, who cannot be accused of being an Atheist in the same essay, speaking of the English Revolution, said:—"We deplore the outrages which accompany revolutions; but the more violent the outrages, the more assured we feel that a revolution was necessary. The violence of these outrages will always be proportioned to the ferocity and ignorance of the people; and the ferocity and ignorance of the people will be proportioned to the oppression and degradation under which they have been accustomed to live."
Nor is Macaulay alone in this view of the question. Had I space, I could quote from Lamartine, Michelet, Carlyle, Besant, and a host of others in his support, who give illustrations taken from the French Revolution itself. The great historian of civilization, Henry Thomas Buckle, who was anything but an Atheist, assures us that, "In France, as is well known, the movement was extremely rapid; the old institutions, which were so corrupted as to be utterly unfit for use, were quickly destroyed, and the people, frenzied by centuries of oppression, practised the most revolting cruelties, saddening the hour of their triumph by crimes that disgraced the noble cause for which they struggled. All this, frightful as it was, did nevertheless form a part of the natural course of affairs; it was the old story of tyranny exciting revenge, and revenge blinding men to every consequence except the pleasure of glutting their own passions."
* The edition of Longmans, 1873
These are not one tithe of the persecutions which were heaped on literary men, but they are sufficient to show the ignorance and despotism of the "powers" that were.
I have alluded to the treatment of Rousseau, one of the personages you mentioned, and I now desire to show you the treatment to which Diderot and Voltaire were subjected.
Diderot happened to write a work in which he said "that people who are born blind have some ideas different from those who are possessed of their eyesight." "Whether," as Buckle says, "they suspected that the mention of blindness was an allusion to themselves, or whether they were merely instigated by the perversity of their temper, is uncertain; at all events, the unfortunate Diderot, for having hazarded the opinion, was arrested, and, without even a form of a trial, was confined in the dungeon of the Vincennes."
As to Voltaire, the treatment of this one of the greatest Frenchmen of the eighteenth century,* was not only a disgrace to France, but to humanity itself. For an imaginary offence (said to be composing a libel on Louis XIV.), which he never committed, without even a pretence of a trial or the smallest particle of proof, he was thrown into the Bastille, and kept a prisoner there for more than twelve months. Scarcely was he relieved when, at the instigation of the impudent, dissolute, and ignorant nobleman (sic), Chevalier de Rohan Chabot, he was publicly whipped in the streets of Paris, confined again for six months in the Bastille, and ordered at the end of that time to leave the country. This was because Voltaire had replied to the insolent query of Chevalier Rohan, "Who is that young man who talks so loud?" by the retort, "My lord, he is one who does not carry about a great name, but wins respect for the one he has."† Though he had been granted permission to publish his work on Charles XII., as soon as it was printed the history was forbidden to be circulated. When he published his work called "Philosophic Letters," it was ordered he should be again arrested, and that his work should be burned by the common hangman.
* See my pamphlet "Voltaire, the Infidel."
† Morley's "Life of Voltaire," p. 52.
Under the sting of persecution, the forces of intellect rallied, and every department of inquiry, just prior to the Revolution, became possessed by the ablest men. Science unfurled her white wings to the breeze, and she sailed through the seas of eloquence with her cargo of many discoveries. The condition of society became changed; wealth and birth no longer held a monopoly of respect, but were vanquished by the rivalry of the intellect of man.
"The Hall of Science," says Buckle, "is the temple of democracy. Those who come to learn confess their own ignorance, abrogate in some degree their own superiority, and begin to perceive that the greatness of men has no connection with the splendour of their titles or the dignity of their birth; that it is not concerned with their quarterings, their escutcheons, their descents, their dexter-chiefs, their sinister-chiefs, their chevrons, their bends, their azures, their gules, and the other trumperies of their heraldry; but that it depends upon the largeness of their minds, the powers of their intellect, and the fulness of their knowledge."
* Easay on "Ranke's History of the Popes," p. 566.
These historical facts you have chosen to forget, in order that you may follow in the footsteps of those who are so well described by the language of Burke, in his "Letter to a Peer of Ireland on the Penal Laws against Roman Catholics":—"From what I have observed, it is pride, arrogance, and a spirit of domination, and not a bigoted spirit of religion, that has caused and kept up these oppressive statutes. I am sure I have known those who have oppressed Papists in their civil rights exceedingly indulgent to them in their religious ceremonies, and who really wished them to continue Catholics, in order to furnish pretences for oppression. These men never saw a man (by converting) escape out of their power but with grudging and regret." And so it is with those who slander the Infidels. They rejoice that there are such, in order that they may gratify their propensity to abuse and injure them; and sorry I am to say it, but the evidence warrants me in believing that you follow close upon their heels. Like those obnoxious birds of carrion, such men soar high in the atmosphere, that they may scent the foul and putrid evils of humanity, pounce down upon them, and glut themselves to surfeiting; and then, made sick by their loathsome food, they vomit their abominable filth under the very eyes of the virtuous and the pure. Having so emptied themselves, they charge virtue with their own act, and lay their own evils at the door of the innocent!
How truly this is the case with those who charge all the crimes of the French Revolution to the freethinkers, we may learn from the following comparisons of Herbert Spencer, in which the crimes you have mentioned and those or Napoleon are contrasted. The comparisons are thus introduced:—
"Over ten thousand deaths we may fitly shudder and lament.
"As the ten thousand were slain because of the tyrannies, cruelties, and treacheries committed by them or their class, their deaths are very pitiable.
"The sufferings of the ten thousand, and of their relatives, who expiated their own misdeeds and the misdeeds of their class, may fitly form subjects for heartrending stories and pathetic pictures.
"That despair, and the indignation of a betrayed people, brought about this slaughter of ten thousand makes the atrocity without palliation."
"Two million deaths call for no shuddering or lamentation.
"As the two millions, innocent of offence, were taken by force from classes already oppressed and impoverished, the slaughter of them need excite no pity.
"There is nothing heartrending in the sufferings of the two millions who died for no crimes of their own or their class; nor is there anything pathetic in the fates of the families throughout Europe from which the two millions were taken.
"That one vile man's lust of power was gratified through the deaths of the two millions greatly palliates the sacrifice of them."
To this, after some comments, he adds:—" While the names of the leading actors in the Reign of Terror are names of execration, we speak of Napoleon as 'the Great,' and Englishmen worship him by visiting his tomb, and taking off their hats." *
I think, rev. sir, if you admit the validity of the evidence I have brought forward—and I do not see how it can be disputed, based, as it is, upon the best of authorities †—you cannot tail to perceive that you have done the men you mentioned a great wrong.
* "The Study of Sociology," pp. 158, 159.
† My authorities for the facts connected with the French Revolution are "Michelet," p. 61; Lamartine's "History of the Girondists," Vol. I., Book L, sees. 5-23; "Carlyle," Vol. I., Book I., chap. ii., p. 12, chap, iii., p. 14, chap, iv., pp. 19, 20; Buckle's "History of Civilization," Vol. I., p. 484, Vol. II., pp. 215, 224, 226, 231, 232, 233, 238, 239, 240, 241; Annie Besant's "Six Lectures on the French Revolution," pp. 14-22; Macaulay's "Essay on Milton," p. 19; "Essay on Ranke," p. 566; Morley's "Life of Voltaire," pp. 334-346; Voltaire's "Philosophical Dictionary," and E. B. Hamley's "Voltaire."
I have dwelt upon this point at some considerable length because it is a point on which the clergy often dwell, and which they are constantly turning to account as a whipper-in to their churches. I now leave it to the judgment of our readers to conclude whether you or I have been the more just as to the facts connected with these men and the French Revolution.
At a few pages further on in your pamphlet, I observe that, following in the usual course of those who feel it incumbent upon them to put down Infidelity at any price, you have allowed your malignity to get the better of your knowledge, to altogether usurp its place, or perhaps to be used because knowledge was altogether wanting. You make the startling affirmation that the teaching of Bradlaugh "commends similar abominations" to those recorded in the 38th chapter of Genesis. Name me a work of Bradlaugh's, or a single utterance of his, where he commends anything so horrible. I am fairly acquainted with the views held by the intrepid editor of the National Reformer, but I never yet met with a single expression of his which would warrant you in bringing against him so atrocious a charge. On the contrary, Mr. Bradlaugh, throughout his career as a reformer, has advocated a system of morality compatible with the highest refinement and the purest virtue of both man and woman. I, therefore, challenge you to point out where he has ever commended the abominations or similar ones to those recorded in the 38th chapter of Genesis! I insist that you shall support this charge with the necessary evidence from Mr. Bradlangh's own writings.
* Debate with Dr. M'Cann.
But why did they publish it? you ask. I will permit Mr. Bradlaugh and Mrs. Besant to reply in their own words. In their introduction to the prosecuted pamphlet, they say—"We publish this pamphlet, honestly believing that on all questions affecting the happiness of the people, whether they be theological, political, or social, the fullest right of free discussion ought to he maintained at all hazards. We do not personally endorse [mark this] all that Dr. Knowlton says: his Philosophical Proem seems to us full of philosophical mistakes, and, as neither of us are doctors, we are not prepared to endorse his medical views; but—[now observe the reason for publication]—since progress can only be made through discussion, and no discussion is possible where differing opinions are suppressed, we claim the right to publish all opinions, so that the public, enabled to see all sides of the question, may have the materials for forming a sound judgment" *
The work was therefore published in the interests of free discussion—in order to maintain the right to speak honestly and freely on all subjects, whether theological, political, or social. Without endorsing all that Dr. Knowlton said, it was the position of Mr. Bradlaugh and Mrs. Besant that Dr. Knowlton had a right to have his say.
* My italics.
It was to test this question thoroughly that Mr. Bradlaugh and Mrs. Besant resolved to re-publish the work. "On the 23rd March they published the book, personally delivering the first copies to the chief clerk, to the magistrates at Guildhall, to the head officer of the city police, and to the solicitors for the city of London, giving notice that on the 24th they would sell at a certain place and hour. On that day, at four p.m., they began to sell, sold 600 in the first twenty minutes, and have since sold, it is said, 135,000 copies."
I trust now, therefore, that you will be able to see that you have done Mr. Bradlaugh a gross injustice, and that if you do not frankly admit it in this case, that you will, at all events, carefully guard against making the same mistake in the future. With regard to the pamphlet itself there are various opinions, and it is not necessary here that I should hazard one of my own. A quotation or two, however, may be serviceable to you as facts which may somewhat temper your future expressions upon it. Dr. Charles R. Drysdale, member of the Royal College of Physicians of London, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Senior Physician to the Metropolitan Free Hospital, late Physician to the North London Consumptive Hospital, and Fellow of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London, Physician to the Rescue Societies' Lock Hospital, and Consulting Physician to the Harrington General Dispensary, in his little work, entitled "The Population Question," says:—"As it may "be of interest to know what evidence was tendered by myself, as a medical witness, in this case, I will put down briefly what I said. Asked whether I had read the incriminated pamphlet? I replied, 'Yes, some twenty years ago. I had always considered it an excellent little treatise, written by an able physician, and competent, as well as excellent, man. Considering that it was written forty years ago, when it is thought that people did not know so much as we do—although I don't believe we are so much in advance of the men of those days—the writer must have been a profound student of physiology, and well versed in the medical science of his day.' I added that, among my medical brethren in London, Sir Henry Thompson, Mr. Erichsen, Dr. Hardwicke, and Dr. Morell Mackenzie seemed quite to agree with me in this. In reply to a question by the Lord Chief Justice, as to whether page 29 there was anything prurient in the work, I replied, 'Certainly not. It is an excellent little book,'" &c.*
"The Lord Chief Justice, in summing up, said that the prosecution was most ill-advised, and that there was not a word in the pamphlet calculated to excite the passions" †
The finding of the jury was as follows:—"We are unanimously of opinion that the book in question is calculated to deprave-public morals; but, at the same time, we entirely exonerate the defendants from any corrupt motives in publishing it."
You will note, therefore, that even the jury—doubtless consisting chiefly of Christians—entirely exonerated "the defendants from any corrupt motives in publishing it." It is to be hoped, then, that when you next speak of the defendants in that trial, you will not forget that, whilst the Lord Chief Justice summed up both in favour of the book and its publishers, whilst some of the ablest medical men gave their opinion to the same end, and whilst the jury condemned the book, all were unanimous in freeing the characters of the defendants from the stain of corruption. It was admitted, and voluntarily expressed by a panel of jurymen, after a fair trial, in a court of justice, that Mr. Bradlaugh and Mrs. Besant had no corrupt motives in doing what they did. I beseech you once more to remember this whenever you speak of Mr. Bradlaugh again.
Let me now instance another specimen as to the way in which you answer my charges of misrepresentation:—" Your seventh complaint is, that I charge you with teaching 'mental, moral, social, and spiritual chaos and anarchy.' Well, if your letters do not prove the charge, what do they prove? I will leave the answer to those who may read the correspondence, in full confidence as to what the answer will be, if they are honest and unprejudiced." I asked you to point out the paragraph where I had taught such, and you have failed to do so, but you simply refer me to the whole of my letters, and you ask if they don't prove what you have concluded so unfairly that they do prove, without being able to point out the paragraphs which support you—what is it they prove? I will tell you. They prove that you have been guilty of misrepresentations and untruths, and that when you are called upon to substantiate your assertions, you reply by abusing me! The honest and unprejudiced, I am sure, will bear me out in this.
* "The Population Question," p. 82.
† Preface to Australian edition.
I did not say they could, but if all these men have fathered expressions and opinions which are the same as those of Dr. Child, they prove that the opinions of Dr. Child, which you quoted, are not peculiar to him, or to Spiritualists, since they are held by men who are not Spiritualists! What have you got to do with these men? Why, you have got to prove, not to assert, that they have not expressed the views which 1 quoted in my last letter, or else to admit that I quoted them fairly and faithfully, and that, consequently, the views of Dr. Child are not peculiarly Spiritualistic, since both Christians and Atheists have avowed them. To say you have "simply nothing" to do with them is to say that you have simply nothing to do with those who prove you to be guilty of misrepresentation, which is the most cowardly way possible of backing out of your difficulty! Did any man ever hear of such an absurdity? I say that the views of Dr. Child are not "peculiarly" spiritualistic, because a number of authors who are not spiritualistic have expressed the same things; and I either refer you to the works, or the recognized opinions of these men, but in the majority of cases quote the very words of the authors to support my case, and you reply—What page 31 have I to do with these authors? Simply nothing! All right; your admission that you have nothing to do with these authors I accept as a confession that you either cannot or will not controvert my position, and that, whichever the case may be, you have virtually left my position unassailed; and, however much you may verbally deny it, you have therefore admitted that, so far as you can prove to the contrary, Dr. Child's views which you quoted are not "peculiarly" spiritualistic!
But really I cannot help but laugh when I see how you continue to row in the same boat. You deny that these authors have expressed the opinions you quoted from Dr. Child, although my quotations from their works supporting the fact were lying before you, and then you add—"Even if they did (express the same views), it would in no way affect my argument." Even if it were proved that the doctrines of Dr. Child are not peculiarly spiritualistic, your argument would still be good—they are "peculiarly" spiritualistic! Should your argument be proven most conclusively false, according to your view of it, it would still be a good argument! By this we can gather what kind of arguments you consider the good ones!
But in the quotation which I have just made you deny by inference that Pope was a Christian, you accuse me of not having quoted Calvin, and, what is more serious still, of having "entirely misrepresented" him.
* Johnson's "Lives of the Poets," p. 418.
† Note 350, p. 110.
I plead guilty to the charge of not quoting Calvin, since I was under the impression that you, as a clergyman, would be sufficiently familiar with his views, and with the views of those who agree with him, to dispense with that necessity; but I must certainly repudiate the charge that I entirely misrepresent him. I intend to support my repudiation with the necessary proofs, which shall be the difference between my repudiation and your charge. I shall now, therefore, do what I omitted to do in ray last letter, for reasons which T have stated—namely, quote from the very works of John Calvin himself—after I have again drawn your attention to that portion of my last letter bearing upon this point. I therein asked—"But, further, is it not a fact that the Calvinists, who are Christians, believe that God has fore-ordained everything that happens, and that he has predestined some for heaven and some for hell? Reasoning from this standpoint, surely what God has fore-ordained and predestined is right!" Now, in this you say I have "entirely" misrepresented Calvin. Let us see:—"The children being vitiated in their parent, conveyed the taint to the grandchildren; in other words, corruption, commencing in Adam, is, by perpetual descent, conveyed from those preceding to those coming after them. The cause of the contagion is neither in the substance of the flesh nor the soul; but God was pleased to ordain [italics mine] that those gifts winch he had bestowed on the first man, that man should lose as well for his descendants as for himself."†
Here is another quotation, a little stronger:—"Because God, of his mere good pleasure, electing some, passes by others, they raise a plea against him. But if the fact is certain, what can they gain by quarrelling with God? We teach nothing but what experience proves to be true—viz., that God has always been at liberty to bestow his grace on whom he would." ‡
* Life of Pope, in "English Men of Letters." pp. 174, 175.
† "Institutes of Christian Religion," Book II., c. i., sec v., p. 289.
‡ Ibid, Book III., sec. i., p. 542.
Since you have disputed the facts which I mentioned in my last letter, and which I have now supported by the necessary evidence, I will venture to draw your attention to a statement made by the Rev. John Scott, M. A., Vicar of North Ferriby, &c., &c. (as says the title page of his work), which not only brings these doctrines home to Calvin, but to the other great stars who figured in the Reformation. The opinion of Œcolampadius is quoted on the subject thus:—"We cannot deny predestination, and that it cannot fail is most certain; but what then? Is God unjust? Is he untrue?"† So you see that not only Calvin, but Œcolampadius, was a believer in predestination.
"It has been clearly established concerning three of the very greatest reformers, Luther, Melancthon, and Zwingle (and we know that many more thought with them) that, at an early period, at least, of their course, they not only held those doctrines of election and predestination which have subsequently been denominated Calvinistic, but that they earned them to a length almost unknown among 'modern Calvinists.'"‡
In a note to this the author says, "Wicliffe also is well known to have gone far in the same line."
Instead, therefore, of simply mentioning Calvin by virtue of using the word "Calvinists," I might with perfect justice and accuracy have mentioned Luther, Melancthon, Zwingle, Œcolam-padius, Wicliffe, and "many more" as holding the doctrine of "predestination," and surely, I say again, what God has predestinated must be right!
* "Institutes of Christian Religion," Book III., sec. v., p. 534.
† "Calvin and the Swiss Reformation," c. vii., p. 250.
‡ Ibid, pp. 266, 267.
This language is certainly very strong, after I had indicated the passage that I believed to bear the interpretation I gave. But you endeavour to dispose both of my reference to and interpretation of the passage by the following device:—"You refer to, though you very cunningly did not exactly quote, his words in Romans ix. 21, 'Or hath not the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?' But continue the quotation to the next verse, and note how applicable it is to you, 'What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction."
Now I want you to remember that my argument for Paul's agreement with Child was based upon the position that Paul teaches the doctrine of predestination; that predestination means that whether we be wicked or holy we are predestinated to be what we are; and that, if the doctrine be true, God having predestinated us to be what we are, it must be right to be what we are, since I do not suppose you will admit that what God does is wrong! Then the whole point lies here—Does Paul teach the doctrine of predestination? If he does, I shall have proved my position. Then let us see if you are waranted by the facts in saying, "There is not a single passage in all his writings which will bear such an interpretation," and whether you have cleared away the difficulty by adding another verse and applying it to the abuse of me.
In order to understand the meaning of the verses you have quoted, and that we may, as far as possible, learn to place upon them the interpretation intended by their author, let us go back a little and follow up the context. In verse 13 Paul says, "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." Paul in the next verse defends this, and continues this defence in verse 15, "For he saith unto Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy [not according to merit or desert, you observe, but simply as a matter of his arbitrary exercise of will], and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." In the next verse the point is expressed more definitely, "So then it is not for him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." The whole point, therefore, as to a man's salvation depends upon what God has decided upon; not by the virtues of him that willeth or runneth, but of his own choice. Still plainer does this become in verse 17, where this illustration of it is given, "For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even of this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth." Surely this verse will bear the interpretation that page 35 Pharaoh was "raised up" or predestinated to do what be did in order that God might show his power! But let us proceed. The 18th verse reads, "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." Now Paul, or whoever wrote this chapter, saw, as clearly as I see, that this was nothing short of saying that we are what God makes us, and he thus anticipates the very natural objection to such a doctrine:—"Thou wilt say then unto me, why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?" Now observe his answer. He does not forsake the position he has taken, or modify it in the least. He does not show that he has been misunderstood, or that the questioner had misinterpreted him. No! he even adds by his reply to the force of what he has already said, and chides the imaginary questioner for daring to impugn it. "Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus?" It is in continuation of this same line of argument that the verse to which I referred occurs, and it immediately follows the one I have just quoted: "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" Now, what can he plainer than that Paul here compares man to the thing that is formed, and to a vessel made by no will of its own out of a lump of clay. God is the potter, and he can make whatever kind of vessel he pleaseth, and the vessel that is formed hath no light whatever to say why hast thou made me thus? Nothing to my mind could be more conclusive than that Paul taught the doctrine of pre-ordination in the passage to which I referred. I submit, furthermore, that the verse which you have added does not weaken the argument in the least. It is in fact simply a continuation of it and, with the addition of the following two verses, even adds to the strength of it. I will quote them together: "What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endureth with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted (mark the word) to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles!"
I contend, therefore, that I am on this point also supported by the evidence; but to show still further how reckless was your assertion that not a single passage of Paul's would bear the interpretation I have thus adopted, I will quote one or two others. In the Epistle which he writes to the Ephesians, the 1st chapter, the 4th, 3th, 11th verses, he thus positively expresses the doctrine in question:—"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the page 36 adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. ... In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." Surely these passages bear the interpretation I placed upon them! I will just give one or two more. They are from Romans viii. 29, 30, 33:—"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate, to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified. . . . Who shall lav anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth." I cannot conceive what Paul could have said to add to the force of his expressions, and to show more certainly that he taught the doctrine of predestination. I defy any man by the use of fairness and honesty to escape from the conclusion that in the above passages Paul most clearly teaches the doctrine disputed, and that to that extent, therefore, he agrees with the position of Dr. Child, viz., Everything happens by the will of God, and is therefore on that account right.
Painful and tedious as it is, I am now obliged to correct another of your misrepresentations. In my letter of 20th February I reproved you for having stated you were ashamed to quote from Dr. Child's book, whilst the book upon which your position is based abounds with the filthy and the obscene. I quoted to you from Genesis xxxviii. 8-10, requested you to read the whole chapter, after which I suggested that you should ask yourself if Dr. Child has advocated anything more horrible than the actual conduct of the villain Judah. The daughters of Lot, the wives of Solomon, and the adultery of David, I mentioned that I might ask you if Dr. Child was any worse than any of these wretches? The slaughter of the married women, and the sacrifice of thirty-two thousand virgins to the brutal lusts of Jewish soldiers, I instanced, that I might ask you—Is there anything more horrible in Dr. Child's work than this? To which I added, "If there be, I should be thankful if you would point it out." I then went on to ask you "Is the coarseness of Ezekiel anywhere surpassed by Dr. Child? and I finally concluded by asking you to find a passage in Dr. Child's book "more abominably filthy" than Jeremiah iii. 9. To these questions you have given no answer, but by placing a passage out of the order in which it occurred in my letter you make it appear that I had instanced all these crimes and obscenities as commanded and sanctioned by God! To this you reply at some length, instead of replying to the points for the proofs of which I introduced the quoted passages. I say the real point you have left unassailed. It was this: You are ashamed to quote certain passages in Dr. Child's book, because they are obscene. If this page 37 be true, does it not ill become you to say so, when the book upon which you build your own faith Contains passages much more obscene? Now, you have admitted the obscenity and criminality of certain of the characters and passages mentioned, but you say the criminal perpetrators therein were punished, or that a command from God had been misunderstood; but the most abominably filthy passage (that of Jeremiah iii. 9) you justify by saying "Any candid reader will see that God, by the mouth of his prophet, is reproving the people of Israel for their sins under the appropriate figure of an adulterous wife, and especially for idolatry." Even so; I still have to ask you, is there anything more abominably filthy in the whole of Dr. Child's book 1
Cannot even the dullest see, therefore, that you have failed to answer my charge—viz., that the Bible contains passages much more obscene than the book, "Whatever Is, Is Right"? for your justification of them by no means diminishes their obscenity.
But, as I have remarked—and this is where you have misrepresented me—you make it appear that I cited all the cases and verses as God's commands and sanctions, and on that assumption you thus address me:—"And yet you dare to quote this as an instance of God having 'sanctioned and commanded every crime which has disgraced humanity.'" In this you have quoted a fragment of my letter, which occurs after I had instanced all the cases under dispute as proof of the obscenity of the book from which you preach. Having, as I thought, and, as it turns out, correctly, proved that many portions of the Bible were most undoubtedly more obscene than the passage you cited from Dr. Child, I then went a step further and said:—"Every crime, sir, which has disgraced humanity, I can point out to you [not I have pointed out to you] as commanded and sanctioned by the God of the Old Testament Murder, rape, incest, theft, and lying are all stamped with divine authority in the book on which your orthodoxy rests." I said that I could, and now I will point out the divine sanction and command for the crimes enumerated. I will take them in the order given in my letter:—
Murder.—"And it came to pass that, at midnight, the Lord smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle [What had the poor cattle done to deserve being murdered?] And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead"*
* Exodus xii. 29, 30.
"And it came to pass, by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him and sought to kill him."*
"So the Lord our God delivered into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people; and we smote him until none was left to him remaining. . . . And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon, king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children of every city." †
"Thus saith the Lord God of Israel: 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 companion, and every man his neighbour." ‡
"And the Lord thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee." §
"So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vales, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded." ‖
"And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said—Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and light against them until they be consumed." ¶
"And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal." ‖ ‖
* Exodus iv. 24.
† Deuteronomy iii. 3, 6.
‡ Exodus xxxii. 27.
§ Deuteronomy vii. 22.
‖ Joshua x. 40.
¶ I Samuel xv. 18.
"It is only a portion of a dark and mysterious page of human history, the destruction [and you might have added worse than destruction] of the horribly wicked Midianites and Canaanites, who tilled the Promised Land with the foulest idolatries and vices which had ever cursed the earth [excepting, you might have said, those practised by the Jews themselves]. I do not pretend to solve all mysteries, as Spiritualists do [another libel and false-page 40 hood]. These events occurred more than thirty-three centuries ago, in a condition of human life, and under a dispensation of Divine government, entirely different to that under which we live [I should think so, or the Fates deliver us!] Such deeds would he wicked and wrong in our days; and we have far mightier weapons against our foes than weapons of human warfare. Possibly, this was one of the instances where Moses did not rightly interpret the commands of God."
* Deuteronomy xxxii. 42.
Now I ask you for, and I defy you to bring, a single passage from the whole of the. Bible where the Lord corrects Moses for having made the mistake you suggest. Although there are many a "Thus saith the Lord," and many apparent reports of conversations and dialogues between Jehovah and Moses in the Pentateuch, there is not one which accuses Moses of blundering, or that takes him to task or reproves him in the slightest for having acted unto the maids of Midian with such debauched barbarity.
You talk of the times being different then. The people were inferior to those of our day: and you admit that if these things were committed in our times they would "be wicked and wrong." Granted—but was the Lord also inferior? Did he not know better? Was he then of opinion that it was right to violate the virgin captives? Were the people worse when "under a dispensation of Divine government" than they are now under the government of Sir Bryan O'Loghlen? What you say amounts to this:—When God could talk to his people every day, and tell them what they should and should not do, they were exceedingly bad, but since God has left his people to their own resources they have become vastly more virtuous.
Supposing you went amongst a tribe of savages, and found them practising cannibalism and the crimes related in the chapter under review, would yon say to those savages—Brothers, you do well; and, as a mark of my approval of your conduct, I take the most accomplished villain amongst you as my favourite, the recipient of my commands and the executor of my decrees? If you did, would you not be sanctioning and prolonging such vices' If you would not, why give an apology which lays such a charge at the feet of your Deity?
The quotation you make from the 19th chapter of Matthew, and the reference to it, and to Mark, chapter x., have no bearing whatever on the case, for neither the Midianites nor their woeful misfortunes are mentioned therein. It is therein stated that because the men were hard-hearted, Moses "suffered" them to put away their wives, which seems to me very much like saying that because the Jews were bad, Moses suffered them to be much worse. "In the same way, then," you argue, "perhaps [I am pleased at the modest 'perhaps'] for the hardness of their hearts [whose hearts—those of the Jews, or those of the Midianites?] page 41 Moses was permitted to give such commands as in the passage you quote from Numbers; but it does not follow God approved such deeds. For instance, God permits such vile systems as Spiritualism, Mormonism, and Mohammedanism to exist; but he most certainly does not approve them."
If God permitted the horrible cruelty and wickedness of the Jews, why could he not tolerate a little of that of the Midianites? Why exterminate one nation and honour another, when the honoured nation, if there were any choice, was the worse of the two?
"God permits!' Why did he permit when he was in daily communication with Moses; was constantly working miracles of the most stupendous kind, and could, either by his commands or by a miracle, have prevented these execrable outrages?
"It does not follow God approved such deeds." Then find me a passage where he condemned them. Let me have no general application of some fine sentiment, but let me have the passages where Moses was blamed or corrected for his savagery! God could come down on Sinai to give instruction to Moses how a kid was to be killed, how hair-oil was to be made, or how Aaron was to cut his coat, but he said not a word about the evils done to the Midianites, or to check the brutality of his children. For forty days and forty nights God talks with Moses, and gives minute descriptions of fittings for a tabernacle, receipts for perfumery, and dictates prescriptions; but in all that period he never once found time to tell Moses that what he had done to the Midianites was wrong.
|1st.||That it is "only "a portion of a dark and mysterious page of human history.|
|2nd.||Though wrong now it was right then, because it happened thirty-three centuries ago.|
|3rd.||It was possibly a mistake of Moses.|
|4th.||Because they were hard-hearted they were permitted to do it—|
Incest.—The divine authority for this crime is found in the fact that the book you call God's Inspired Word contains accounts of its committal by several notable worthies (if such they may be called), without containing the necessary condemnation of these criminals for this particular offence. Since you page 42 have apologized for the shortcomings of Lot in this respect, let us take his case first. It is given in the 19th chapter of Genesis, commencing at the 30th verse. Lot's two daughters cause their father to drink wine, that they may lie with him and preserve his race. Now, I ask you for the passage where either Lot or his two daughters are expressly reproved for this sin? In the whole of the Bible as Lot, or are his daughters, mentioned in connection with this crime as being either condemned or punished? If so, where? Give me the passage. You know, rev. sir, you cannot. If ever they were either reproved or punished, the account of it, which is of far greater importance than the record of the offence, is not given in "God's inspired word," and we are left to conclude that the old man died in peace, without a sting upon his conscience, or a pang of remorse upon his heart. His daughters likewise disappear from our view, without a word of correction either from the angels, who visited them at Sodom, or from the Lord, who turned their mother into salt. All disappear behind the curtain which the Bible uplifted to show us their vice, but which it has dropped again without the scene of their correction. Until we see the scene of correction given to them, no other conclusion is possible but that their offence received the sanction of their deity.
"On the contrary," say you, "it was the result, alas, of that demoniac sin of intemperance, which Spiritualism does so much to foster in every sense." But surely Spiritualism did not foster Lot's intemperance! He was not a Spiritualist, was he? You must recollect he was such a favourite with his Lord, that two angels had been especially sent to warn him of the impending destruction of the city where he lived. He and his daughters were the only people worth saving out of the entire inhabitants of two cities, if we except Mrs. Lot, who was justly punished for the exercise of a feminine curiosity. Did not God know that Lot was addicted to the demoniac sin of intemperance? Did he not know that if he was not, he would be? Did he not know that he and his two daughters would forget themselves? If so, why did he save them? More than all, why did he kill Mrs. Lot, who, non-saline, would have saved her salacious husband from his sin? If God knew beforehand that the sin would be committed if he saved him and killed his wife, by saving him and killing his wife had he not prepared the way for the crime, and so far given his sanction to it? Will it be replied, that God did not know what was going to be the consequence of his own acts? Hardly, I think. Then we cannot escape from the conclusion—God not only never corrected them for their gross misdeed, but he gave the conditions which rendered it possible, with the knowledge that these conditions would ultimate in its perpetration!page 43
"Oh!" but you say, "God's curse rested upon the offspring of that sin, the Moabites and Ammonites." And what kind of justice do you call this? The sinners to go unpunished, but their children to be cursed for ages' The mistake in the punishment you speak of is, that it alights on the wrong people. Had Lot and his daughters been punished, there would have been some sense in it: but to never say a word to them, and to afflict the poor offspring generation after generation, does not, to my mind, seem fair. But point me out the passage where it is said that the Ammonites and the Moabites received the "many terrible judgments of God" because of the incest of their parents? You should have pointed out such passages, if such exist, to support your assertion; but, as is usual, where evidence is lacking, you think assertion is good enough.
Now, T am going to show you that the Bible gives altogether other reasons for the "many terrible judgments of God" upon these nations. In Deuteronomy xxiii. 3, 4 we learn "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord for ever." Why? Because of the sin of their parents? No; but "because they met you not with bread and with water in the way when ye came forth out of Egypt, and because they hired against thee Balaam, the son of Beor, of Pethor, of Mesopotamia, to curse thee." See also Nehemiah xiii. 1, 2, where the same reason is given. Another reason is given in Ezekiel xxv. 8-10:—"Thus saith the Lord God: Because that Moab and Seir do say, Behold the house of Judah is like unto all the heathen; therefore, behold, I will open the side of Moab from the cities, from his cities which are on the frontiers, the glory of the country, Beth-jeshimoth, Baal-meon, and Kiriathaim, unto the men of the east, with the Ammonites, and will give them in possession, that the Ammonites may not be remembered among the nations."
Yet another reason is given in Zephaniah ii. 9, 10:—"Therefore as I live, saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah. . . This shall they have for their pride, because they have-reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the Lord of Hosts."
Are not these passages a proof that the "many terrible judgments of God" were not for the sins of their parents? I think they are; and to make it clearer I quote to you the words of Moses concerning the Moabites and Ammonites, before they had become so proud:—"And the Lord said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle; for I will not give thee of their land for a possession, because I have given Ar page 44 unto the children of Lot for a possession."* "And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them, for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession."† This looks like punishing them for being the children of Lot, under such revolting circumstances, doesn't it? It seems to me to be more like rewarding them.
I will not mention the like crime in Amnon, the son of David, and in the villain Judah, recorded in the 38th chapter of Genesis, because either they were punished or repentance followed, but I will take now the case of Abraham. You will remember that when he went down into Egypt he told his wife to say she was his sister. Twenty-five years later he was travelling between Kadesh and Shur. "And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, she is my sister. And Abimelech, king of Gerah, sent, and took Sarah." When she was restored to Abraham he made this explanation: "And yet indeed she is my sister: she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife." How do you ex plain this"? If it be not incest, what is it?
Whilst upon this point, I would like also to ask you what you think the recent revisers of the New Testament meant when they altered the text of 1 Cor. vii. 36, so as to read:—"But if any man thinketh that he behaveth himself unseemly to his virgin daughter if she be past the flower of her age, and if need so requireth, let him do what he will; he sinneth not; let them marry"?
But is not the whole plan of salvation founded upon this sin? Was not Mary one of the children of God? And was she not overshadowed by God the Holy Ghost? If this seems blasphemous to you, remember, it is you, not I, who blaspheme, for you believe it, and I don't.
Theft.—I am not going to point out to you the wholesale plundering perpetrated by the Jews in those barbarous wars related in the Old Testament, which was nothing else but thieving on an extensive scale, and could only be justified among savages by such maxims as "Might makes right,"' and "To the victors belong the spoils." I will content myself with the instructions given by God himself to the Israelites just prior to their departure from Egypt:—"But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that soiourneth in her house, jewels of silver and jewels of gold, and raiment, and ye shall put them upon year sons and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians."‡
* Deuteronomy ii. 9.
† Ibid, 19
‡ Exodus iii. 22.
How much short of theft is this? It is not only theft that is commanded, but deception; they were not only to spoil the Egyptians, hut they were to do it under false pretences.
Do you reply that the Bible is not translated rightly? Then I answer that that is the fault of the Christians; and, whilst the Bible remains as it is, I shall not cease to wage war against such texts. If the Bible is not to your liking, alter it, by all means, but do not blame us if we insist that as the verse stands in the authorized version, which is in the hands of millions who do not understand Hebrew, it is a direct command for theft and dissimulation. We attack the version in the hands of the poor and unlearned, which has been placed there, not by infidels, but by Christians, and which receives the stamp of genuineness by being read throughout the churches of Christendom Sunday after Sunday. If it be a false version, if it be not correctly translated, if it contain passages not in harmony with the original inspired by God, why do the clergy put it forward as "God's inspired word," and insist that it is necessary for us to believe it in order to be saved? This passage is in the Bible, and I maintain that, as it stands, it fully supports my charge; and, as I did not translate the passage, and as the clergy, through all these many years, have not altered it, I do not see how we are to get out of the fact that the God of the Old Testament commanded and sanctioned theft.
"They only took what belonged to them," I fancy I hear you remark. Then why were they told to spoil the Egyptians? On this point, however, I will quote to you the satire of Voltaire:—"In vain does the secretary, who has done me the honour of writing to me in your name, assure me that you stole to the amount of upwards of nine millions in gold coined or carved, to-go and set up your tabernacle in the desert. I maintain that you carried off nothing but what lawfully belonged to you, reckoning interest at fort// per cent, (my italics), which was the lawful rate." *
* Philosophical Dictionary, Vol. II., p. 1)9.
I think I have now fulfilled my promise, and shown you that "murder, rape, incest, theft, and lying are all stamped with Divine authority in the Book on which your orthodoxy rests." I cannot leave this part of the subject, however, without showing you that that horrible crime, slavery, is sanctioned and commanded by the God of the Old Testament; and, not to unnecessarily increase the length of this letter, I will content myself with one quotation, though many passages might be cited. It is from Leviticus xxv. 44-46:—"Both thy bondmen and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; and they shall be your bondmen for ever." Could anything be a greater evidence of the barbarity of the Jews and their God than this?
Polygamy * and the degradation of woman are made so evidently certain and laudable in the Old Testament that I shall not consume my time by drawing your attention to the fact and supporting it by any quotations.
* "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel .... I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's Wives into thy bosom."—2 Samuel xii. 7, 8.
But where is it afterwards recorded that the punishments which you quoted, and those which I have just quoted, came on David for his sins? It appears to me that the original plan for punishment was altered, in consequence of David's admission that he had sinned; and, in the stead of these awful threats being carried out, the only affliction he received was the death of his child:—"And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die" (vv. 13, 14).
So much for the punishment, now for the repentance of David, both of which you sum up in this form:—"God is shown to be righteous and holy, hating sin, and punishing those who commit it; yet mercifully [Is it mercifully forgiving, if, as you say, 'God not only punished David, but his family, his kingdom, and the Jewish race? If this be mercy, how do you define barbarity?] forgiving, as in David's case, the truly penitent?"
"David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in and lay all night upon the earth. And the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the earth; but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. And it came to pass, on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead? But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was page 48 dead therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead."
"Then David arose from the earth, and washed and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat. Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? [This looks very much like repentance, I must say. One might, however, mistake it for selfish hypocrisy: 'While the child lives, I may get the Lord to overlook everything, and not even to punish my child. Anyhow, it's worth trying for, so I'll weep and fast.'] But, now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." *
This, then, was the extent and nature of David's repentance, since we perceive in the next verse he was thoroughly recovered, for "David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her: and she bare a son, and called his name Solomon, and the Lord loved him."
And what shall we say of this David, when we find that, after his adultery with Bathsheba, the murder of her husband, and the above repentance, he sang, as reported in 2 Samuel xxii.:—"... The Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me because he delighted in me. The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness: according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his judgments were before me: and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them. I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity. Therefore the Lord hath recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness in his eyesight."
But, apart from the crimes we have been discussing, this self-laudation of David comes but ill from a man who, on the bed of death, had stilt sufficient barbarity left to issue the following commands to Solomon, his son:—
"Moreover, thou knowest what Joab, the son of Zeruiab, did to me. . . . Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace.
* 2 Samuel xii. 16-23.
"Now, therefore, hold him not guiltless, for thou art a wise man and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him; but his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood" (1 Kings chap. ii. 5-9).
What a charitable farewell to the earth was this! Nevertheless, "David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite." 1 Kings xv. 5).
I will now pass to that portion of your letter which deals with my charges of misquoting.
Your apology for not underlining two words in one of your quotations you designate as an accident, though you stand by the result, and defend it by saying, "The sentiment is quite as detestable with them" (the italics). That may be your opinion; but I think my charge is proven, that, whether accidentally or not, you have weakened and misrepresented the passage in Dr. Child by not putting the words which he relied principally upon in italics, as he had done.
Now, after I had quoted the entire passage verbatim et literatim, without a single alteration, you retort the charge of misrepresentation upon me simply because I ask you a question upon it in my own way. The question and the quotation I will place side by side, so that you and the readers of this correspondence may judge whether I have misrepresented and misquoted or not:—
"Lucy, the courtesan, is led in an avenue of happiness where her inclinations immediately direct, with the deeper longings of her soul held for a time in check; and her sister Frances, the faithful wife and mother, in another avenue of happiness, where her inclinations lead."
"But cannot you see that, in the passage you have quoted to condemn, that Dr. Child has only stated what must be, to all Christians even, a self-evident truth? 'Lucy follows where her inclinations immediately direct,' with 'the deeper longings of her soul held for a time in check,' therefore she is a courtesan. Be kind enough to point out to me where this is wrong? "
The quotation which T made, in full, is on the left hand, and in the right-hand column I simply question you upon it, without professing to quote the passage as Dr. Child gives it, although in your letter you make it appear that I had palmed my question off as a literal citation. Hence the following is only of a piece with your other perversions:—"But I must first require you to page 50 omit the word 'follows' after the word 'Lucy,' and to add there the important words which you have left out, namely, 'the courtesan, is led in an avenue of happiness'—a much more important omission than my italics." It would not even be so if I professed to be quoting his very words, whereas I was simply quoting his meaning in another form!
Because I ventured upon asking you to point out where Dr. Child's statement was wrong, you abuse me by saying, "You evidently approve the principle of prostitution, as Dr. Child unquestionably does." Pray, sir, is this a sample of your Christian charity? Again let me inform you that Dr. Child does not "approve the principle of prostitution." He accounts for it, and gives to it what he believes its lawful place in the course of Nature; but he nowhere says he "approves" of it, but, on the contrary, as I pointed out in my last letter, distinctly says:—"Prostitution is an enemy to the good, the true, the beautiful—that are the crowning excellencies of the material world." I can only, therefore, in the face of this fact, denounce your uncharitable assertion as one of the grossest of libels.
You evade answering the question I asked of you by saying that if I put the question in another way you would refer me to the police, just as you now refer me to my wife 1 But where is Dr. Child's statement wrong? Where has he stated an untruth? This question, malgré your abuse, you have left untouched. Never mind to whom you will refer me; let me have a straightforward answer to the question I asked you in my last letter, and which I have just quoted in this, or admit like a man that you cannot answer it.
Your way of answering my charges is altogether dishonestly unique. You are charged with misquoting, and you reply: "But, if any reader of this correspondence has access to this book [Dr. Child's], and will test your quotations [mine], he will find them garbled and incorrect in every instance" (my italics). Now, this expression cannot be palmed off as "accidental," for I notice you first had written "in most instances," but this being apparently too weak for the willingness of your spirit to malign you have altered it to the quoted form. I repudiate your sweeping charge, and challenge its substantiation. I venture to affirm that I have in no single case quoted the author incorrectly, but that I have in every instance taken his words to express his precise meaning. I have nowhere weakened or strengthened his meaning by any omissions or additions of my own, as you have Although I may have dispensed with words and phrases before and after the quotation containing his meaning, it has only been because those words or phrases were not necessary to express the meaning, but were either introductory or conjunctional. To illustrate this let me take the passages which you have taken to page 51 support your charge and compare them with the original, in columns side by side. I will introduce the comparison by your own support of your charge. "Take for example that from page 19, where you say that Dr. Child writes, concerning prostitution, 'It is a condition of earthly degradation'—and there you stop without completing the sentence, which continues—'produced by the destruction of the material world, not by soul comparisons.' This is a daring piece of imposition; for, further on, as I quoted, he declares these 'distinctions' to be 'the fictitious destruction of self-excellence.'" I am here accused of a daring imposition because, having quoted the words by which prostitution is defined, I did not also quote the words by which it was explained! My point was the definition—not the reasons for, or explanations of, the crime in question; and I maintain that I quoted the words that defined it accurately and fairly, and that it would only have been a waste of time and space to have quoted words which did not alter the definition in the least, but were employed for another purpose altogether. Hut now the comparison:—
"The crime mentioned in the passage you said you were ashamed to quote is thus described:—'It is a condition of earthly degradation,' and 'an enemy to the good, the true, the beautiful—that are the crowning excellencies of the material world.'"
"What is prostitution? It is a condition of earthly degradation [my italics] produced by the distinctions of the material world, not by soul comparisons. The degradation of prostitution is a phantom of materialism that belongs to self-righteousness; that is produced by the fictitious distinctions of self-excellence. Prostitution, so called, in reality is an undisquised condition of life—an open expression of the elements of existence that are spontaneous and natural, and that are antagonistic to material glory. [And mark] Prostitution is an enemy to the good, the true, the beautiful—that are the crowning excellencies of the material world."
I now leave the reader to judge of the fairness of my quotation.
You continue:—"Again, your quotation from page 41 does not even begin with a sentence, nor end one; but is a mere distorted clip from the middle of one, which is written regarding things which are said to be 'the legitimate offspring of Nature.' It begins with groans and sighs, and then takes in your clips, going on to include, among other 'legitimate' things, 'ten thousand beliefs and anti-beliefs that agitate the religious and moral world,' &c. This is another case of garbling"page 52
Again I maintain that, for the point I wished you to notice I quoted the exact words, and no more. I did not misrepresent the author in the slightest, as again the comparison will show:—
"'The recognition of evil, its resistance and condemnation,' Among Other Things [Mark this, 'among other things'], Dr. Child informs us, 'are the legitimate offspring of Nature.'"
"Groans and sighs, the recognition of evil, its resistance and condemnation; the consciousness of self-excellence and the recognition of error and sin in humanity, with the unmeasured consequences of sadness-that follow; ten thousand beliefs and anti-beliefs that agitate the religious and moral world; misery and suffering, degradation and poverty, riches, prosperity, virtue, morals, and all the excellencies of the earth—all these are the legitimate offspring of Nature. Nature's law runs through the whole. This law is truth, existing in every condition, and in all these varied manifestations." [My italics.]
I have now given the full passage, and it will be seen that I did not do so before because it would he a consumption of space to no purpose. The parts I quoted expressed the meaning of the author exactly upon the point intended for your observation. All readers of this correspondence must, therefore, see how audaciously unfair has been your imputation to me of "garbling on this point.
You admit that you have disregarded the following caution of Dr. Child:—" Now, reader, do not go away and say that this book recommends murder." In spite of this caution you still insist that it does. Who should know the better, you or Dr. Child? Dr. Child, who wrote the book, and who certainly had the courage of his opinions—however erroneous they might be—expressly wished to warn his readers against a conclusion that would do him wrong, and he therefore informs us that he does not recommend murder. If you insist you know what Dr. Child meant and taught better than he himself did, and that he meant and taught exactly the opposite to what he said he did, you are certainly a more wonderful man than I thought. But, truly, the ways of the clergy and of Providence are mysterious!
I must, however, follow up your imputations. Thus you continue:—"Again, your quotation from p. 166 is only a part Of a sentence, which closes with these words—'They (meaning crime and punishment) are legitimate to that condition of life which produces them.' And on the same page he declares 'there is no distinction of merit and demerit to be instituted between the page 53 good man and the bad man'—thus completely nullifying your garbled quotation." Let us see:—
Both crime and punishment are links in the chain of cause and effect." [My italics].
"Both crime and punishment are links in the chain of cause and effect; they are legitimate to that condition of life that produces them."
Now, where have I misrepresented or garbled Dr. Child in this? But in your eagerness to nullify my quotation you have fallen into the very trap you had set for me. You have quoted from the middle of a paragraph, and have not given its meaning exactly. Thus:—
"And on the same page he declares 'there is no distinction of merit or demerit to be instituted between the good man and the bad man'—thus completely nullifying your garbled quotation."
"The deeper we look into the causes of human actions, the nearer we come to the conclusion that there is no distinction of merit and demerit to be instituted between the (food man and the had man, for the same stern and unalterable causes of Nature impel both to action; the same God of wisdom has created both, and holds both in his protecting hand of love."
Doesn't this look a "leetel" like living in a glass house?
"The quotation," you proceed, "from p. 196 is not from Dr. Child," &c. "Again, at p. 197, the quotation ... is from a letter of Miss Lizzie Doten's," "Again, the words you quote from p. 207 are not those of Dr. Child," &c. Well, my dear Mr. Dowie, I didn't say they were. After I had quoted the paragraph standing above, "Both crime and punishment," &c., I said distinctly, "The foregoing is from one of the notices, as are the following" viz., those just alluded to. Where did you learn this method of argument and fair play? Surely not under the Scotch professors. Will God punish your offspring for these your sins? Let us hope not.
I just want to return to a point that I did not notice in passing, because I wanted to keep to the issue in hand. I desire to show that, in the quotation you make from Dr. Child on p. 64, Dr. Child is perfectly orthodox, if we take the Bible utterances for our standard. I will place the passages side by side, that you may judge for yourself.page 54
"And the man we call a free moral agent kills another man that we call a free moral agent. This deed we call evil. What is the cause?—Nature. What is Nature? —God. And is Nature wrong? Is God, the great mainspring of nature, wicked? .... The desires of men, and the inclinations of men, from whence came they?—From God direct and immediate."
"Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" *
"I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I, the Lord, do all these things." †
"And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I, the Lord, have deceived that prophet," &c. ‡
"Man's doings are of the Lord, how can a man, then, understand his own way?" ‖
Add to these passages those which inform us that "the Lord repented of the evil that he said he would do unto them," and then set to work to abuse the Bible for containing these passages in perfect agreement with the above utterances of Dr. Child. If there be any difference between the two at all, it is that the passages from the Bible more strongly and authoritatively maintain that the Lord is the creator of evil than does the passage from Dr. Child you have held up for our abhorrence.
As to the passage being the identical defence which was made by "that cowardly and fiendish assassin of President Garfield, Guiteau," you must remember that Guiteau was neither a Freethinker nor a Spiritualist, but claimed to be a Christian inspired by God to commit the deed.
* Amos iii. 6.
† Isaiah xiv. 7.
‡ Ezekiel xiv. 9.
‖ proverbs xx. 24.
As soon as this is brought home to you, without a blush upon your unmanly face you iterate, "I will prove that these qualifications are valueless, in the light of his own writings;" which, to me, is saying simply this:—"I will prove that my misquotation is of no consequence by making other misquotations from the other works of Andrew Jackson Davis."
If this letter had not already reached too great a length. I would apply your own method of justification to the misquotation I have just made from Acts—"Ye must be circumcised." It would be easy by making other misquotations to prove that this was the positive teaching of the apostles. But I will illustrate your dishonourable method by a shorter example. I affirm that the New Testament teaches self-murder quite as strongly as you say do A. J. Davis and Dr. Child. Do you want my proofs? Then here they are, after your own fashion: "Then Judas . . . went and hanged himself." This is in the Bible, isn't it? Now observe this command: "Go and do thou likewise."* Now, both these passages being in the New Testament, it follows, according to your logic, that every man is commanded to go and hang himself. This is after the style by which the clergy prove whatever they want, and which you have adopted to make A. J. Davis and Dr. Child uphold what they only explained, but did not justify. This you have done, too, against the express utterances made to the contrary by these authors.
* Vide Matt. xxvii. 3-5; Luke x. 37.
"Now, reader, do not go away and say that this book recommends murder" (pp. 71, 72).
In spite of this, you insist that it does.
In the work of Andrew Jackson Davis from which you have quoted, "The History and Philosophy of Evil," the author expresses his conviction that the view that he takes is not calculated to destroy individual responsibility, cripple efforts at private reformation, or relax the moral power of philanthropists. "Just the contrary," says he, "is the effect. Let it be for ever remembered that an explanation is not a justification" (pp. 75, 76).
This is precisely what you have not remembered throughout your abusive tirade against him.
Space will not serve me, and time will not allow that I go through all your fresh perversions; but, to show how your additional quotations are only additional misrepresentations, verbally or otherwise, I will select a few of them for the purpose of comparison with the works you take them from.
|Your quotation and comment.||Extract from A. J. Davis, p. 70.|
|"His next is at p. 75, where he says, 'I hesitate not to affirm, once for all, that ignorance is a negative or passive fulcrum upon which the intellectual lever of spiritual progress acts with an almighty and universal sweep.' His position, therefore, is, that ignorance is the basis of progress, a doctrine which is most certainly true of Spiritualism, since its course is downward into utter chaos and anarchy." [Italics mine.]||"Sin is the child of evil; evil is the child of error; error is the child of ignorance; ignorance is the first condition of an immortal being whose whole existence is eternally to be swayed and regulated by the triple laws, Association, Progression, and Development:" [My italics.]|
|Your quotation from and comments on p. 109.||The quotation in full.|
|"Indeed, we have only to go a little further to find it so defined; for, on the same page, he writes:—'Evil is not a principle, is not a devil, is not a fluid, is not a solid, is not a sentiment, or a thing to be blasphemed against and fought down like a wild beast; but, quite otherwise (italics yours, which you did not signify], these authoritative teachers have demonstrated positively that What Men Term "Evil" [your emphasis, not the author's] is hut the temporary subversion of individual rights, the incidental misdirection of local forces, and the inversion of private page 57 faculties, Innately Good. [Again your emphasis, without an indication to that effect.] Oh! this is a very ideal of philosophy for every fiend in hell and on earth. Evil is not to be 'fought against,' for it is 'innately good.'"||"They have taught us very graciously to perceive and believe that evil is not a principle, is not a devil, is not a fluid, is not a solid, is not a sentiment, or a thing to be blasphemed against and fought down like a wild beast; but, quite otherwise, these authoritative teachers have demonstrated positively that what men term 'evil,' is but the temporary subversion of individual rights, the incidental misdirection of local forces, and the inversion or private faculties innately good; all of which, primarily, is traceable to the early protracted night of human ignorance, and is thence perpetuated through the unfolded generations of all the after ages by the wit and power of selfishness. . . And now, instead of indolently weeping as heretofore over past sorrows and spilt milk, instead of fighting Heaven by foolishly struggling with present vicissitudes, as sins, we lift our brows and stand erect, with arm and soul divinely prepared to supplant little thoughts with great ideas, to wisely control the conditions of uncontrollable laws—in short, to overcome evil with good, the good with better, and the better with best."—"History and Philosophy of Evil" pp. 109-111.|
|Your quotations, &c.||Quotations in full.|
|"'The true cure of evil is the true use of evil' This is certainly a new application of the saying 'Set a thief to catch a thief; it is setting Satan to cast out Satan—a very likely business."||"'The true cure of evil is the true use of evil.' Do you wish to make of your enemy a friend? Then become a friend to your enemy. Do you wish to befriend permanently an unfortunate acquaintance? Then study and act towards him so that he may very soon realize an independence; because all false reliance cultivated by you is future debility stored up against you. Do yon sincerely pray to destroy evil and banish human misery? Then become philosophical in your philanthropic exertions."—Ibid., p. 111.|
|"In his book, 'The Penetralia,' at p. 390, we are favoured with a report of a spiritualistic 'Utilitarian Convention,' which passed fourteen resolutions, the twelfth of which reads thus, 'Resolved—That "evil," so called, is not any transgression of any law, either physical or moral, &c.' Can it be necessary to go further in quotation? Here is the very key-note of Dr. Child's 'Whatever is, is right,' since 'evil' is held to be a transgression of no law, either physical or moral: hence everything we have been accustomed to consider physically and morally wrong is 'authoritatively' declared to be lawful and right."||"Twelfth. — Resolved: That 'evil,' so called, is not a transgression of any law, either physical or moral; but that evil (and sin) arise from internal conditions and from external circumstances over which individuals have no absolute control; therefore that the Harmonial Philosophy teaches universal charity towards both the agents and the victims of crime, and points to the progressive improvement and harmonization of those conditions and those circumstances which mould and influence the human character prior as well as subsequent to the event of birth."—"Penetralia," p. 396.|
I will not consume the time of the reader of this correspondence by extending these comparisons, for enough has been done to show your character as a controversialist. Did time and space permit, I could make extracts from all the works you have called into requisition, to show you and the public how unjustly you have acted towards them. But I think I have done sufficient.
To show you, furthermore, how unfairly you have acted, even supposing you to have quoted faultlessly throughout, in making all Spiritualists and Freethinkers responsible for the utterances of its leading authors, I am going to make a few quotations from Christian authors, and then to hold you and all Christians responsible for them. And I defy you to point out in the whole range of Spiritualistic literature anything more injurious to oar happiness, more baneful in its effects, and more derogatory to what has been called "the goodness of God," than the following:—
"And therefore I fear not to affirm that it had bene the dutie of the nobilitie, judges, rulers, and people of England, not only to have resisted and againstanded Marie, that Jezebel whome they call their queen, but also to have punished her to the death, with all the sort of her idolatrous preestes, together with all such as should have assisted her."—Knox.*
"This is the acme of faith, to believe that he is just who at his own pleasure has made us doomed to damnation; so that, as Erasmus says, he seems to delight in the tortures of the wretched, and to be more deserving of hatred than of love. If by any effort of reason I could conceive how God could be merciful and just, who shows so much anger and iniquity, there would be no need for faith."—Luther.
"The human will is like a beast of burden. If God mounts it, it wishes and goes as God wills; if Satan mounts it, it wishes and goes as Satan wills. Nor can it choose the rider it would prefer, or betake itself to him, but it is the riders who contend for its possession."—Luther, † [This even eclipses the position of Dr Child, and absolutely destroys Free Will.]
"Calvin declared that if Servetus came to Geneva, 'and his influence could prevent it, he should not go away alive.'" ‡
"I reverence it, because it is contemptible; I adore it, because it is absurd; I believe it, because it is impossible."—Tertullian.
"Take away Hell and the Inspiration of the Bible, and you take away all safeguards of morality."—Dr. Pcsey.
"The giving up witchcraft is, in effect, giving up the Bible. — Wesley's Journal.
* Knox, "Appellation." See Note to Lecky's "Europe," vol. ii.. P. 190.
† "De Servo Arb." part i., sec 24.
‡ See "Calvin and the Swiss Reformation," p. 366.
"The godly wife shall applaud the justice of the Judge in condemnation of her ungodly husband. The godly husband shall say Amen to the damnation of her who lay in his bosom! The godly parents shall say hallelujah! at the passing of the sentence of their ungodly child And the godly child shall from the heart approve the damnation of his wicked parent who begot him, and the mother who bore him."—Rev. Thomas Boston.*
"The rich man tormented in hell 'lifted up his eyes' and saw Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, and to his entreaties for succour and intercession Abraham had replied, 'Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed;' . . . Water boils at two hundred and twelve degrees Fahrenheit, but it requires two thousand and six hundred degrees to melt rocks. This, therefore, was the minimum of the heat of hell, whose frontiers, therefore, lie twenty-one miles below the surface of the earth. . . In these eternal fires every limb and member of our bodies, every nerve, and muscle, and tendon, every part of us, in fire, over which the sense of feeling predominates, would be for ever racked and tortured, and yet never consumed."—Rev. M. Walworth.
"No man should rejoice at weakness and diseases; but I think we may have a sort of gladness at boils and sores, because, without them, Christ's fingers, as a slain Lord, should never have touched our skin."—Rutherford.†
"Tongue, lungs, and liver, bones and all, shall boil and fry in a torturing fire."—Rutherford.‡
"Nothing is more intolerably painful than suffering the violence of fire enraged with brimstone; and hell is described by a lake of fire and brimstone, in which the wicked are tormented. Whether the fire be material or metaphorical, the reality and intenseness of the torment is signified by it. But ordinary fire, though mingled with the most torturing ingredients, is not an adequate representation of it; for that is prepared by men, but the tire of hell is prepared by the wrath of God for the devil and his angels. The divine power is illustriously manifested in that terrible preparation; so that, as some have expressed it, if one of the damned might pass from those flames into the fiercest flames here, it were to exchange a torment for a refreshment."—William Bates, D.D.§
"There Satan the first sinner lies,
And roars and bites his iron bands;
In vain the rebel tries to rise,
Crushed with the weight of both thy hands."—Watts.
* "Four-fold State," p. 336.
† See Note to "Buckle," Vol. III., p. 248.
‡ "Religious Letters," p. 17.
§ "The Four Last Things," p. 394 (published in 1837).
I shall make no further comment on these quotations, hut will leave them to speak for themselves.
You conclude your letter with a personal attack upon the private character of A. J. Davis. After having cited words as his which he only quoted [see, for instance, your quotation from "Genesis and Ethics of Conjugal Love," p. 40, commencing "The true plan of correcting the evils in social life, &c." This A. J. Davis quotes as the opinion of a good thinker; you quote it as the language of Davis himself], you refer to his personal history, recorded in his autobiography, called "The Magic Staff." So glaringly and malevolently have you slandered A. J. Davis in doing so, that I will simply content myself by asking all who may chance to read this correspondence to go to the trouble to turn to the book itself for a full and complete refutation of your contemptible charges. Throughout this correspondence you have seemed to glory in painting your opponents as the most depraved and iniquitous of mortals. There is no colour too black, no expression too strong, no epithet too severe to be applied to them. You have placed them in a world of your own creation, where the dark imaginings of your mind run riot, fiends gibe and jeer, and the sky is overhung with the dismal clouds of moral death and everlasting woe. Fallen to the lowest depths, drowning in the dark waters of the hopeless sea, struggling in the mire and mud—thus have you pictured and gloated over, as you have seen, your foes. Deeper and deeper you have increased the gloom, colder and colder you have made the night, wilder and wilder have become your dreams, until at last, with wild eyes glaring, with harsh voice shouting, and knuckles clasped, you saw your victims drink the very dregs of misfortune, become helpless to the buffeting of fiends, and perish amid the awful thunders and curses of your deity. You have filled their veins with a deadly poison, clothed them in the foulest rags of shame, and exposed them to showers of virulent abuse. The world to which you have confined them is never cheered by a smile of love, never touched by the hand of charity, never brightened by a ray of hope. Dark as the dismal dwellings of the dead, and clammy as sepulchral walls, is the abiding-place of your enemies. From the fabric of a disordered fancy you have woven the dark tapestry of abuse, and you have thrown over the form of innocence the dirty rags from the factory of your own brain. And all this, too, you have done whilst professing to serve the cause of him who forgave the woman taken in adultery, enjoined upon us to love our enemies, and instituted the test of discipleship by our love one for another!
I am not going to say that the Freethinkers and Spiritualists are immaculate by any means; but I am going to say that, take them man for man, they are better than the orthodox. And are page 61 the clergy so wondrously virtuous, so angelically pure, so spotless and sanctified, that the records of history and the voice of tradition are silent to all but their virtues? Alas! the sacred robes of the priests have oft been dipped in human blood, and the jewelled casket of virgin innocence has been robbed and spoiled by their licentious hands.. They have fed on the fat of the earth whilst making its people slaves, and they have talked of the blessings of heaven whilst they have filled the world with woe.
Granted that Andrew Jackson Davis was bad, have there not-been Christians worse 1 Paint him as black as you like, strike him as low as you please, even then, disfigured by your malice, he was not a drunkard, like Noah and Lot; he had not a thousand wives and concubines, as had King Solomon; he was not as bad as the adulterer David; he did not lend his wife to others, as Abraham did; nor did he turn the woman he had wronged, with her child upon her breast, to wander in the desert. None of these did he. He did not even kill his daughter to fulfil a vow, defraud his brother from his birthright, nor dance naked before the Lord. Women with children he had not ripped up, slain a thousand foes with the bone of a donkey, nor won a maid with thirty flesh-bits of the gallant Philistines. You read not of him, as we do of the Levite in the 19th chapter of Judges, that he exposed his wife to a lustful mob, who treated her so shamelessly that in the morning she fell dead on the door-step. No; these are the records the Bible gives of its principal characters, the favourites of a barbarous god, the chiefest stars that shine to us from the dark night of the Bible's youth. These crimes and characters live in the pages of the book you worship, and in communion with them you spend your life. Shame upon you, then, whilst you inhabit such a' shameless house, to scandalize your neighbour!
I am not going to defend the shortcomings of anybody, but I do most surely object to the priest of the kettle abusing the pan. When your Bible is free from the sanctions of the vices and crimes I have mentioned, then, and not till then, can you fairly uphold it, whilst you denounce its antagonists.
As to the views of A. J. Davis on "Marriage and Divorce," space only permits me to say that they are nobler and fairer than those of the Bible. There certainly is much to change in our marriage laws as they are at present, especially as administered by the priests. Woman is not recognized as the equal of man in her sphere; her position is not made that of a companion, but a sort of queen of the servants, who pledges herself to love, honour, and obey her would-be "lord and master." And, too, when a man and a woman hate each other, the law, in my opinion, perpetrates a crime by compelling them to live together. Whatsoever tends to add to the misery of the world is wrong—is immoral in page 62 the truest sense. If, therefore, the laws of marriage and divorce can be altered so as to add to the general happiness of mankind by all means let them be altered, and that, too, as speedily as possible. "The greatest happiness of the greatest number," with the least wrong possible to any, will be the aim and object of our future reformers.
I have now completed my task, which has often been tedious and wearisome, but which I have followed with an unflinching resolution throughout, that I might answer every point in your letter. I believe I am safe in saying—without a single exception —I have left no stone unturned, but I have accomplished all that I undertook, swelling this letter to its present bulk by the abundance of proofs of my points. To the public, who may read this correspondence, I leave the verdict, confident that my labour will not have been in vain, whilst exposing your foibles, denouncing your untruths, and showing the weakness of your position. Good must come of it, for "The truth is mighty, and shall prevail."
I would have liked much better to have defended Free-thought than Spiritualism from your attacks; but since you chose to ignore my challenge, and to attack me on Spiritualism, I made it a point of honour to follow you, that I might show the public that, whether Spiritualism be a fact or not, such clergy as you can only misrepresent it, and do God service by abusing its advocates. Whether the phenomena of Spiritualism are to be explained by an appeal to another world, or to this, and this alone, I have not discussed; but I have shown that you have libelled its supporters, perverted its philosophy, and misrepresented its literature. With the proofs of these charges made manifest in the course of my letter—
Whitelaw & Son, Printers, Elgin Street, Carlton.