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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 82

Warning words to doubters, culled from the Scriptures

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Warning Words to Doubters culled from The Scriptures.

Warning words to doubters culled from the scriptures

When Sir Isaac Newton discovered the law of gravitation, he added such a valuable link to the chain of human knowledge, that it earned for him the gratitude of his fellow men in every civilised country of the globe. But grand and honorable as was the discovery, truth and justice compelled him to not only believe, but also to acknowledge to the world that his triumphant success was due to the equal, if not greater discoveries of his noble predecessor, Kepler. Newton had made an astounding discovery; but he owed it to those who had lived and labored before him. He owed it to the mighty past—that vast storehouse of experience upon which the future builds and expands the knowledge which regulates the destinies of human life. And while the astronomer is indebted to the past, so everybody and everything is also indebted to it for the circumstances which have operated together to bring about the wonderful results we see to-day. The millions of active brains in our little planet, producing their millions of ideas, have also to thank the past for having scattered and nourished ideas from which the present have grown. Many of the ideas which now fill the minds of the Europeans, trace their origin in the East, while much of their page break literature can be traced to a similar source. But of all that has thus come over to us, there is nothing which has produced such striking results as The Bible. For hundreds of years it has supplied the theme for moral deductions, and some of the greatest minds have learnt valuable lessons from its pages. The field is a large one; let us see if we who live in this advanced nineteenth century cannot find something to repay Our labors in this rich harvest. Let us open the volume at the second book ascribed to Moses, and we shall read : "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor" (1). How opportunely this presents itself to us at a time when about one half of human efforts are spent on deceiving and misrepresenting—when the witness in the box exaggerates the culprit's faults, and the counsel for the defendant smears him over with false flattery—when nearly every church-goer has a bad word for one who attends a different church, and the other has an equally bad word for some one else—when, in short, a great part of human eloquence is devoted to the spreading of scandal and falsehood, accompanied by the inevitable mistrust which follows—how opportune is this suggestion ! And then how timely comes the warning : "Thou shalt not steal" (2). at a time when our mighty nation is seeking to steal the lands which are now in the possession of other nations. And again : "Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him." (3). Could anything better meet the cases of those who evade their duties to their fellow creatures by means of fradulent insolvencies and forgeries, or enter actions for damages against their fellows on the mock charge of blasphemy and such like. In former days, blasphemy charges were made, as we are told in the case of Jesus, to silence conflicting opinions; nowadays, such charges have an additional object—they are instituted to extort money from the accused. Well may we repeat at the present time: "Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him." Not only do we have robbers cross our path, but we occasionally have the misfortune to incur the displeasure of the impulsive and intolerant; and many a harsh word has been uttered, and many a home rendered miserable, though forgetfulness of the fact that "anger resteth in the bosom of fools" (4). How many a page break mother in her anger has foolishly cursed her child for departing from her own belief, when a little cool reflection would have told her that the child was right. How many a Calvin has in his anger metaphorically burned his Servetus, when a good-humored chat would have cleared up all difficulties, and the two might have pulled together instead of against each other. Had our fellow-men but studied the wisdom of the injunction, "Thou shalt not kill" (5), how many a bloody war and ghastly murder would have been averted "Thou shalt not kill"—Splendid emblem for the battle-flag ! Glorious motto for the crusaders ! Grand precept for the Spanish inquisitors, or the English rulers who hanged heretics. But no; the modern idea of justice practically accepts the motto with three words added, and it reads thus : "Thou shalt not kill, but I shall."

But perhaps one of the best lessons which the present age can learn from The Bible is the example set them by the three Babylonian governors, as narrated in The Book of Daniel. The king had ordered that everyone should, upon a given signal, fall down and worship a certain image; but it transpired that these three men were determined to refrain from doing so. They were, therefore, arraigned before the ruler, and were threatened with burning if they held out any longer. But they were not to be intimidated in that manner. "King," said they, "we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up" (6). There is a lesson for the nineteenth-century sycophants who fawn and cringe before the priestly idols held up to them in the present day. There is a good example for them to follow from those three brave heretics of old. They were determined to worship a god of their own make or none at all. "We will not serve thy gods" said they to their ruler twenty-five centuries ago. How many of us can muster courage to do the same after all the time that has elapsed? Men and women! answer in thousands "I can," or else hide your heads in cowardly shame i If you do not falter, we shall search further.

See that vast concourse wending its way to the massive and stately church at the usual sound of the bell this bright Sabbath morning. Haste to them and read these words : "Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting" (7). If they still persist in their attendance do not deter them, as it is their own business to amuse themselves as they like; for we are told in the same volume page break that "One man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (8). That is an excellent piece of advice for society in the present day. It is very much required, too, and probably it was in olden times, for we find it several times in The Bible. "Let no man, therefore, judge you in meat," it says in another part, "or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon or of the Sabbath days", (9). Besides this we are told in two places (10) how Jesus performed the operation of what is known as breaking the Sabbath day, and although the bigots tried to put him to death for it, he persisted in his action, because he believed he was doing right. And so it is in our own times; bigots still persecute, and we need a great many to follow Jesus' example by breaking the Sabbath day. How sensible a rebuke, and how appropriate to the present time, is that where it says :—"When thou prayest, thou shall not be as the hypocrites are; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets that they may be seen of men" (11). What a volume of canting, twaddle, and hypocrisy would be spared if all church-goers and preachers were to practice that sound piece of advice! Go into any church, or any Salvation Army meeting, and see how they ignore this advice of Jesus. It is time they commenced to act upon it, by doing their praying at home where none can hear. And even then there follows an excellent piece of advice regarding their home prayers :—"When ye pray, use not vain repetitions as the heathens do, for they think they shall be heard by much speaking" (12). There is good advice. It says in effect that when you pray, the less you say the better. What a wise remark ! It reminds one of the old saying, that "God helps those that help themselves," or the advice of Cromwell, to "trust in God and keep your powder dry." Is not this sound common sense? Is it not the best way of spending life while it lasts? For we shall not live for ever. A few score years, and then we shall be no more, but shall die like a dog, as The Bible tells us : "For that which befalleth the sons of men, befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast; for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again" (13). But strange to say, this well- page break known fact is disputed by our preachers time after time. They may believe it to be true, but, at all events, they do not say so in their sermons. Perhaps they cannot understand the solemn fact; for a man cannot help believing what he does. He cannot be wise by an effort of the will As The Bible says : "Though thou shouldst bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him" (14). When will mankind learn the truth of this proverb? When will they learn the great truth that man is the creature of circumstance? —that circumstances have made him what he is, and that no brute force can abruptly change his nature? Circumstances have made some powerful and tyrannical, and others weak and subservient. The strong make slaves of the weak. The strong heed not when they are told to "undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke" (15). But they strive to add to the burdens of the others by taking advantage of the powers of political and other institutions, and thus by means of taxation, bribery, and intimidation, cause the weak to support those things with which they disagree and from which they suffer; and should they dare to think for themselves, their rulers and priests will exert their powerful influence to deter them from so doing, although they are told "to break every yoke." But why submit to this tyranny?—this slavery? Use your wits instead to help yourself. "Be not overmuch wicked, neither be thou foolish : why shouldst thou die before thy time?" (16).

Life is short at the best, and while it lasts make the most of it. Though tyrants and bigots may oppress and malign you, grieve not at their malice, but live it down. Let your actions belie their misrepresentations, and act so that you can face the world as a conscientious, honest man; for "a good name is better than precious ointment" (17); and you are more likely to acquire one by leading an upright life than your persecutors are by maligning you. Always be careful, however, to conform your actions to your precepts Do not be seen figuring in those gaudy assemblages, where each one indulges in meaningless ceremonials to "keep up appearances," but be what you seem: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works" (18), and you may then work your way through the world without the necessity of acting the part of a hypocrite in the gallanty page break shows of superstition. This is the wisest course, and one best calculated to make your life a happy one. Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding" (19). This is so apparent a fact, that we would expect almost everyone nowadays to appreciate it. But, alas, bigotry and its parent, ignorance, exist in the nineteenth century, and upon many an unfortunate fanatic is forced the truth of the old proverb, that "poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction" (20). It is useless to be doggedly obstinate when facts stare us in the face. We must take things as we find them. Remorse is foolish; we must each be up and doing, and assisting to make the world better than we found it. We must dispel its cares and sorrows nud make our fellow creatures happy; and we must do it with a good will, for a "merry heart doeth good like a medicine" (21), and frequently much better.

With happiness, too, we must combine diligence and industry, in order to acquire some of the world's wealth. "Wealth," as The Bible truly tells us, "maketh many friends" (22). But when we have secured it we should be judicious in its expenditure. Many squander their wealth on that numerous body of beggars and paupers who do no work themselves, but take a large portion of the earnings of the workers, with which to build costly edifices with tall steeples and elaborate fittings, and also to secure those domestic comforts which the producers of this wealth have so foolishly deprived themselves of. They not only deprive themselves, but they deprive the other members of their own household of this wasted wealth—the very ones who look to them for support and assistance. "A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children," (23). says The Bible; and will not every sensible man agree that this is a wiser action than transferring it to the managers of "the solemn meeting" which Jesus is said to have so forcibly condemned? Of course it is, and everyone would practise this economy if they were not afraid of their priests and rulers. "Be not afraid of them that kill the body," (24). said Jesus several hundred years ago and yet to-day we are afraid of those who extort our wealth from us by means of empty and meaningless threats, which they dared not execute if they could.

We must be courageous and manly. We must each feel that we are as good as another man, if not better. Our rulers page break and priests consider themselves superior to us, and if we let them trample us down, we deserve it for our cowardice. But if instead, we realise that "Jack's as good as his master," and that tyranny and oppression can he baffled by determination and independence; then, and then only, shall we get what we desire We must act and think for ourselves. The words addressed to the ancient Romans are equally applicable when addressed to us : "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." (8). If we act upon that principle, then shall we prosper; but if we fawn and cringe before the contemptible creatures who seek to raise themselves upon our shoulders, we shall remain their slaves; and while assisting to support them in their luxurious idleness, we shall have t0 rest satisfied with the miserable pittance of "kicks and halfpence" which they choose to allow us. Shall we then remain slaves? No! We shall maintain our ground fearlessly and unwaveringly, standing up resolutely for our individuality; we shall think, say, and act as we deem best in spite of the threats and promises of priests and rulers; and we shall stand mutually agreed, for the good of ourselves and of others, to abide by that excellent precept:

"Let every man be fully persuaded, in his own mind."

References.—1. Exod. xx., 16; 2. Exod. xx., 15; 3. Levit. xix., 1,3; 4. Eccles. vii., 9; 5. Exod. xx., 13; 6. Daniel iii., 18; 7. Isaiah i., 13; 8. Romans xiv., 5; 9. Collos. ii., 16; 10. Matt, xii., 1—5. and John v., 16; 11. Matt, vi., 5; 12. Matt, vi., 7; 13. Eccles. iii., 16, 20; 14. Prov. xxvii., 22; 15. Isaiah, lviii., 6; 16. Eccles. vii., 17; 17. Eccles. vii., 1; 18. Matt, v., 16; 19. Prov. iii., 13; 20. Prof. xiii.. 18; 21. Prov. xvii., 22; 22. Prov. xix., 4; 23. Prov. xiii., 22; 24. Luke xii., 4.

David A. Andrade

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I'd Never Smile Again.
If I believed in that dread place,
Where millions writhe in pain,
In untold angonies and woe,
I'd never smile again.

If I believed one soul was there,
Who mercy asked in vain,
The awful thought would haunt me still,
I'd never smile again.

If I believed one friend was there,
I'd weep my eyes away;
I would not have my greatest foe,
Dwell there a single day.

If I believed my child was there,
The thought would crush my brain;
I'd curse the day that I was born,
And never smile again.

I'd wish the world had never been,
Or ever breathed mankind;
I'd wish the race would cease to live;
Die,—body, soul, and mind.

I'd wish the sun would cease to shine,
And darkness fill the sky;
The universe sink into naught,
And God himself might die.

N.B.—A special discount allowed to Y.M.C.A's. and other religious bodies upon orders for this tract in sufficient quantities.

Published by W.C. Andrade, 120 Swanston Street, Melbourne.