Personal Deism Denied

Whoever attacks the prevailing religious opinion of his time must, in his turn, expect to be attacked. We haven't yet outgrown the barbarism that argument can be answered by personal abuse. The religious world of to-day has not yet outgrown the belief that you have to answer every argument not by showing it is bad, but by showing that the man who makes it is bad. It makes no difference whether the maker of an arithmetic turned out to be a rascal or not, we should still have to believe that ten times ten is a hundred. I expected to be attacked, and I have not been disappointed. I had always supposed religion taught men to love their enemies, or, at least, treated their friends decently, but I never knew of a minister who ever loved me, or who could forgive me. In return, I only want them to act so that I won't have to forgive them. I don't pretend to love my enemies, for I find it hard work to love my friends, and if I have the same feelings towards my enemies as towards my friends, I have no humanity in me. I deny that any man is under obligations to love his enemies. I believe in returning good for good and for evil Confucius' doctrine, exact justice without any admixture of revenge. All I ask of the Christian world is simply to tell the truth, but that is a good deal more than they will ever do. There was a time when falsehood from the pulpit smote like a sword, but it now has become almost an innocent amusement. Lying is now the last weapon left in the arsenal of Theology. They say I am in favor of too much liberty, but I am only in favor of justice, liberty, society. You cannot make men good by slavery; there is no regeneration in the chain. You can't make a man honest by tying his hands behind him. Good laws don't make good people, but good people make good laws. There was no reformation in force or in fear. You might scare a man so that he would not do a thing, but you could not scare him so that he would not want to do it. All the laws in the world won't change the disposition of a human being. It has been charged against me by the Rev. Joseph Cook that I am in favor of the dissemination of obscene literature.

When Cook made that statement he wrote across his reputation the word liar. When he said that, he knew he lied willfully and malignantly, and ever man who repeated the slander knew that he lied, and every religious editor who put it into his paper knew that he lied. With one or two exceptions I never knew an honest editor of a religious paper; if truth was red-hot it would never scorch them. I am simply in favor of allowing to the Literature of Science the same rights exactly in the mails of the United States as is allowed to the Literature of Superstition. I despise beyond the power of speech, the man who would read or circulate a book, the tendency of which would be to leave a stain on the fairest of all flowers, the heart of a girl or boy. The Rev. Joseph Cook is said to have spent a year in an insane asylum; that is the way I account for this lie of his. His friends made two mistakes, they were a little too slow in putting him in, and a little too fast in letting him out. If any orthodox clergymen will read to his congregation certain passages in the Bible that I will select, I will pay him $100 in gold. There wouldn't be a lady left in the church, and if a man stayed, it would be to chastise the man for insulting the women; I believe in keeping the family pure, and men who are trying to blacken my reputation are not fit to blacken my shoes. It is one of my arguments against a personal God that such men exist, an infinitely wise God would never have produced them. Nearly everybody is afraid to express his thoughts on the subject of God. They imagine there is some kind of being up yonder who would be filled with wrath at some poor human being who dared to express his best thoughts. Can you injure this God? No. Why? Because he is infinite. What do you mean by that? Conditionless. How can you injure a man? Only by changing his condition. If there is a God who is conditionless, you can't possibly change his conditions because he hasn't any; therefore you can't interfere with him in any way. You can't commit a single sin against him; therefore, you need have no fear. I can say my say fearlessly, and so can every other man. But all these hundreds of years the clergy have been telling the people there is such a crime as blasphemy. There is a personal God up there that made the world. He made you, and you ought to go down on your knees and thank Him. Thank Him for what? Ought the beggar to thank Him, who is starving in the midst of plenty? Ought the man who is born under some despotism and has to toil hard year after year yet never sees a decent meal? Ought the woman whose husband is a drunkard? Ought the poor invalid who is a slave to some hereditary disease? Ought the one who is born deformed? Ought the millions of poor slaves to thank God? Let us be honest? Ought the black man to thank God for having made the white man mean enough to hate him because he was black? Ought the poor widow who lives in misery and destitution? Ought the man who is forced to enter the army of a despot against his will? If you credit God with everything that is good, let us keep a double set of books, so as to keep the accounts straight on the other side and debit him with everything that is bad. Suppose we go to some strange island of 100,000 inhabitants.

We see a gentleman there who tells us all about it. Who do you have for your governor? An infinite being. Does he know everything? Everything. Can he do just what he wants? Exactly. After a little while I see some men dragging a woman along, tearing her child from her, and the poor woman shrieking in agony. I ask, What are they going to do with that woman? They are going to burn her. Does your Governor know it? Oh yes, he knew of it the moment they intended to do it. Could he have stopped it? Perfectly easy. Is that woman an enemy of his? Oh no, just the opposite; she prays and thanks him morn, noon and night, and she will do it in the midst of the flame and smoke. Are the men who are burning her his friends? No, they are his enemies. Such is the God that governs this world. Suppose the next man who tried to commit a murder should drop dead; suppose the hand of this next man who raised it to strike his wife a cruel blow should fall paralyzed at his side; suppose the next man who tried to commit any crime should fall to the ground, how many crimes do you think would be committed when the state of things came round generally? Not many. Is it possible any intelligent person really believes there is some Being who interferes with the affairs of this world? I read extracts from two sermons the other day. How I came to do it I don't know, but I did it. One was a sermon by the Rev. Mr. Moody on the subject of prayer, urging upon people to pray that portion of the Lord's prayer, "Thy will be done," as if it was necessary to coax God to have His own way. He says in his sermon there was a poor woman who had an exceedingly sick child; the doctor told her it couldn't live. Oh! said the mother, I can't consent that my darling child should die. She prayed to God such a prayer that it was almost a prayer of rebellion. "I can't spare my child, oh, God, spare it to me." She didn't want God's will done, but her own. God heard her prayer and saved the child, but when it got well it was an idiot, and the poor woman had to watch over and take care of that child fifteen long years, and the moral of the story is, how much better it would have been to let God kill that child when he wanted to. Is there any one here who believes in such a God as that? Yes, this doctrine is preached from almost every pulpit in the world. I read in another paper a sermon by the Rev. DeWitt Talmage about Dreams, that God still appears to men in dreams. Just think of it! An infinite being catching some poor fellow asleep and going at him. According to this story there was a poor old woman that had the rheumatism, and another woman nearly as poor that hadn't got rheumatism, and the woman without rheumatism used to wait on the other and take care of her.

All at once the one without the rheumatism died. Then the other old lady said, Where am I going to get anything to eat? That night God left his throne, after having given directions about winding up the sun and moon, and came to this old woman in a dream. He took her out of her house and carried her to where there was a large mountain of bread on the right hand and a large mountain of butter on the left hand. When I read that I said to myself, What a good place to start a political party. God said to the poor woman, All these provisions belong to your father; do you think that he will allow one of his children to starve? And the reverend gentleman says that the next day a man was in some mysterious way moved to go to the old lady, and seeing her destitution, he took pity on her and took care of her till she died. Is it possible that is a Being who interferes with the affairs of this world, and interfered to feed that poor woman? Then why don't he feed hundreds and thousands of others? Why show her mountains of bread and butter, and allow millions to die of famine in other parts of the world? Look at that terrible famine in China, which might have been prevented by a slight change in the wind. If God had changed the wind that would have changed the direction of the clouds, and they would have gone over all that parched up district and emptied themselves upon it, and there would have been plenty. But God didn't change the wind, and the clouds emptied into the sea. What would you think of a gardener who had an immense barrel of water in his garden, and when the ground got parched and the flowers and fruit were all dying from drought, took a pail of water from the barrel, carried it round the garden and emptied it into the barrel again. That is what God did to China when he allowed the clouds to empty themselves into the sea. Has God ever interfered in the affairs of this world? This is an all-important question, for, upon it depends the question whether we have any human rights at all. If there is an infinite Being who does everything to suit himself, we have no rights, and can't have any. Let him go on and do what he likes, we needn't trouble ourselves any more because we can't alter his plans. No one ever interfered to prevent slavery in any country -- at any time or in any place.

No one ever interfered to prevent any other form of human oppression or wrong. Hence you can't start a religion without a miracle. You must show that the facts of nature have been changed. Hence, they have always proved that point, that there is a God who interferes with the affairs of this world. But admit that he is infinite and it matters not, whether you pray to him or not. It makes no difference what you do. It is like trying to lift yourself by the straps of your boots; it is no good but you get good exercise from it. So it is with prayer. Let me go back to the time when society was first formed, a long time ago. Blackstone and Lock have always taken the ground that society was first formed by a contract. I don't believe it. They write as thought they supposed the trees formed groves by contract; that animals formed themselves in flocks and herds by agreement. How did men originally come to act together? By contract? No. By necessity? Yes. When men first formed themselves into society, they were not equal to the beasts. The latter was superior, and that is the reason why men at first worshiped beasts. No man ever worshiped anything that he didn't believe his superior. Let us get to the foundation of this idea of worship. When man first looked upon the lion he saw an animal that had greater strength than he. When he saw the serpent climb without hands, run without feet, and live apparently without food, it struck him with awe, he saw the powerful eagle flying against the storms and gazing at the blazing sun, he saw something that was superior to him. He didn't know how they got their living. He was filled with wonder and admiration, and the result was he began to worship beasts, and made gods out of lions, snakes and eagles. The story of the serpent in the garden of Eden and of the brazen serpent in the wilderness, are but reminiscences of an old serpent worship. Almost all kinds of animals were deified. The old Jews themselves, including Moses, worshiped Jehovah in the form of a bull. That accounts for the "horns on the altar." They not only worshiped that God but many others. Even in the time of Solomon and Jeroboam there were thirty temples in which other gods were worshiped besides Jehovah. After men found out that one animal by itself was not their superior they began to make gods composed of several animals. They took the lion for strength, the eagle for swiftness and the serpent for cunning, or long life, making together an animal that could not be killed. Take the Mexican Indians. What is their name for God? Stone spirit. One who wore an armor of stone. Where did they get that idea from? The Armadillo, that could not be pierced with their arrows; something they could not kill. I want to convince you all, as we go along, that we manufacture these gods ourselves, and every one of them is a poor job. After men got through worshiping beasts, simple and compound, they began worshiping man, the beautiful qualities in man as well as the good ones. The gods were first beasts, then men. Right here let me tell you that there is not a person in this house who can think of God except in the form of man. Why? Because that is the highest intellectual form you are acquainted with. You can't think of God on four legs or as a woman. Why? Because man made all the religions. We haven't yet become civilized enough to worship a principle.

If we worshipped God as a woman I should be more apt to join some church myself. Now, having traced the origin of God, the next question, does this God interfere in the affairs of this world, for, upon this depends the great question of human rights. The savage has always believed it. When his poor hut was blown down he thought God was mad with him or with one of his neighbors. Just think of the infinite maker of every shining world getting mad at the poor savage and pulling up his house. I tell you this world has been mightily abused, and it almost makes one die of pity to read its religious history. The priest said, You will have to employ me. I have influence. I am a lobbyist in the legislature of heaven. The priest said to the poor fellow, Divide with me. That was the commencement of slavery. The next point was to teach that God would hold a whole community responsible for what one man did. There could not be a meaner principle. They then taught that this God wanted to be worshipped, and a fine temple must be built to worship him in; that an infinite Being likes to see men go down on their knees and thank him. How gratifying would it be to us to have the millions of little animuculæ every where around us go down on their knees to us! Since God demanded worship, there must be some order to it, and certain gentlemen knew just what this Being wanted, and just the kind of ceremony that would suit him. Hence, the church and all these religious mummeries. All at once some terrible calamity would befall that community. Then what? Somebody has insulted God; has not brought his sacrifice, has not killed his sheep. Let us hunt him up and kill him and then our God will be appeased. They went so far as to say without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins; and they would sacrifice to God the one they loved best. Think of that man in Pocasset, Mass., who read the Old and New Testament so carefully and believingly that he killed his own child as a sacrifice. And no wonder either, if he believed those books. God told Abram to take his son Isaac and kill him; Abram started off to do the inhuman work, and was just going to kill his son, when God fortunately stopped him in the nick of time. Jephthah made a bargain with God that if God would let him whip his enemies, he would sacrifice the first thing that greeted him on his return. The prayer was granted, and as he neared his home a company of girls met him, and at their head was his own daughter. He sacrificed her. That man in Massachusetts having read these beautiful stories -- infamous lies I call them -- made up his mind God wanted him to sacrifice one of his children. If God told me to sacrifice one of my children to him, I wouldn't do it though I knew it was God who demanded it. I would say to Him, dash me to lowest depths of hell and I will go there rather than have the blood of my darling on my hands. This man only followed the example of God himself who sacrificed his own Son. I say there never was and never will be a God who demands a sacrifice. Could it make any infinite Being any better to give up to him that which you love most? It is simply insanity. The next step taken by the priest was to teach not only that all religion came from God, but that all political power came from God also--that God had made priests to tell people what to believe, and had kings to tell people what to believe, and had kings to tell them what to do. Only a little time back we find kings claiming that they reigned by divine right. The Bible says, "Be subject to the powers that be, because they are ordained of God." I deny it. If that doctrine had been carried out there never would have been any revolution in the world from that day to this. All political power comes from God, said the priest, consequently if a man said a word against the king or one of his nobles, he was a traitor to the Divine Being. The altar and throne fitted each other like the upper and lower jaw of a hyena and crushed liberty under foot. Just as long as men believed political power came from God they were cringing slaves, and the men who taught such a doctrine were themselves hypocrites and tyrants. After a while people began to think that after all political power didn't always come from God. The kings, however, kept on taking a little more and a little more, and the people grew more and more wretched and downtrodden, till finally they said, Power does not come from God, and in 1776 our fathers retired God from politics altogether. They said, Power comes only from the consent of the governed, and not from God. The true source of power is the will of the people. We are not going above the clouds to look for authority. Did our fathers understand religious liberty? Only two of three of them. How then did they come to leave God out of the Constitution? The colonies were not in favor of religious liberty; the pilgrim fathers were not. They left England for conscience's sake; they wanted the right to worship God as they thought best and went over to Holland. There they had to worship God according to their conscience, but other people also had the right to worship in a different way and to preach different doctrines, so the pilgrims came over here. They left England to escape persecution and left Holland to get away from religious liberty. When they got over they were ready to kill all those who differed from them. How then did they come to frame a Constitution without God? Because no three States had the same religion, and they could not agree upon which religion should be the bride of the State, which church should be married to the Constitution, so each church, rather than see some other church the bride of the State, was willing to see the State a bachelor, and God was left out in the cold. It was all owing to the meanness and jealousy of these churches that we have got a Constitution with no superstition in it. There are some lunatics even now-a-days who want to put God in the Constitution. I am opposed to it. If you get one Infinite Being in, there will be no room for other folks, and I don't think God himself would feel much complimented by being put there. These men had no idea of human rights, for they believed that God would hold a community responsible for the deeds of some individual. When that train of cars went down in Scotland the pulpit resounded with talk about Divine judgments for violating the Sabbath. One of the passengers was a sailor coming home to see his widowed mother, to take care of her in her declining years. Just think of God killer that man for crossing a bridge on Sunday. Imagine some rosy-cheeked little boys in a boat on Sunday fishing. At the end of their lines are fastened pin hooks, and an Infinite Being descends and keels over their boats because it is Sunday. Our fathers had no idea of religious liberty in their time, and their descendants to-day have not. In many States a man cannot testify in a court of justice because he doesn't believe in their God. If my wife and child were killed before my eyes and I took their corpse into court I would not be permitted to say who did it. This is not only depriving me of testimony, but it deprives the State of testimony. I can't believe in a personal God in any land where there is injustice; where innocence is not safe, where honest men toil and rogues ride in carriages, where hypocrisy is crowned and sincerity degraded. I can't conceive of this world being governed by an infinite being. If any good is to be done, man has got to do it. We must depend on ourselves. We mustn't consider the lilies of the field -- we must sow the field and reap and harvest the crops ourselves. I want to show you the extent to which the church has gone. Religion has never relied upon argument. Protestantism never gained an inch of soil except at the mouth of the cannon or the point of the sword; the smallest island in the seas has never been taken by Catholic or Protestant except at the point of the bayonet. Religion of love has always been shot into nations. Who are the most war-like nations in the world to-day? Christian nations. Who invent the best guns and the greatest cannon for killing human beings? Christian nations. Does any one of you wish to be a millionaire and famous for the rest of his life? Then invent a cannon that will blow more Christian brains into froth than the best cannon will, and your fortune is made, and your name will become famous. In the last eight years the national debts of Christendom have increased over $6,000,000,000. What Catholic nation is the most orthodox to-day? Spain. And is there any meaner nation? What next? Portugal. What next? Italy, the land covered with brigands, every one of which carries an image of the Virgin Mary or some favorite saint, and who crosses himself with holy water in the cathedral before he starts on his brigand word. What next? Ireland, poor Ireland, crushed beneath the hells of oppression for hundreds of years. Why? Simply because her oppressor was of a different religion. It is religion which has reduced Spain to a guitar, Italy to a hand-organ and Ireland to exile. What is the most orthodox Protestant nation to-day? Scotland! and in 1877 there were 12,000 women arrested in Glasgow for drunkenness. What nation is the most prosperous country in Europe to-day? France. There is a Christian nation., Russia. Our President has complimented the Czar that God left watching over the sparrows and watched over his infamous life and saved him from assassination.

Go with me to Siberia. Who are these poor creatures drawing wagons on their hands and knees? Girls of sixteen, seventeen and eighteen and twenty; what are they there for? For having said a word in favor of human liberty. That is all. Do you blame the lovers or the parents of these girls if they endeavored to send a bullet to the heart of the Czar who allows such brutality? In such a case my sympathies are closed around the point of the dagger. I have said that in many of our states an infidel is not allowed to testify in a court of justice. Let me prove it. (The Lecturer here read extracts from the laws or constitutions of the various states in support of his assertion.) In alluding to the judgment day, he said: Won't the orthodox be happy on that day! I want to show you a little picture I got from the old church where Shakespeare was buried, giving a description of the judgment day. About fifty fellows were coming out of their graves and devils grabbing them by the heels. There was a great cauldron with about twenty fellows in it, and devils pouring boiling pitch into it; five or six more were hung upon hooks by their tongues. Right in the other corner were some saints, and I never saw such a self-satisfied grin on any person's face in my life. They seemed to say to the sinner, "How now, Mr. Smarty, what did I tell you?" I believe there are lots of clergymen in the United States willing to die to see men in hell. I once read a little poem, translated from the Persian, of a good man who worked for seven long years in acts of charity and then mounted the steps of heaven and knocked at the gate. Who is there? cried a voice. Thy slave, O God! No answer. Again he toiled seven long years, in acts of charity and piety, and again ascended to the gate and knocked. Who is there? Thy servant, O God! No answer. Again he went back and toiled seven more years, and then mounted to the gates of heaven and knocked. Who is there? Thyself, O God! The gate opened and he entered heaven. The next great thing for us to do is to get God out of religion. Just so long as God is in religion there will be popes, cardinals, priests, clergy, cathedrals and churches, and all these religious creeds coming down from high for men to swallow. There will be no religious liberty until man himself is the source of religion, and humanity takes the place of superstition. I want to take a "d" from the name of the devil, so as to make it evil, and I want to stick an "o" into the word God, so that it will be the supreme good that men will worship in the future. When we do that there will be perfect religious liberty, and not till then. Hell is rapidly cooling off, and a man will have to take his overcoat with him. The liberty of man is asserting itself and would eventually become the religion of the world.

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