Scientific and Religious Journal.
VOL. I. NOVEMBER, 1880. NO. 11.
THE LIFE AND CHARACTER OF OUR RELIGION.
The character which the gospel of Christ requires is made up of all that is lovely, is formed upon the highest model, but it is not composed of the insensibility, the anger, the pride, the egotism, the worldliness, which is so common among men. It is not the cold indifference of modern moralists; it is not the rank and scepticism of modern doubters, nor yet the intellectual rashness and moral phantoms of modern scientists. These have done all they could to take possession of the human heart, and have left it more miserable than it was before. The great author of our holy religion, through the instrumentality of our blessed Savior, brings us into the possession of his own spirit; imparts to us the elements of his own divine excellence; forms us anew in his own image. The idea of "Emanuel, God with us," is composed of the richest elements. It embraces all that is venerable in wisdom, wonderful in authority, and touching in goodness. Human greatness, blended with imperfections and many limitations, is seen only in detached and separate parts; never appears in any one character whole and entire; but in our Lord Jesus Christ these conceptions, or scattered rays of an ideal excellence, are brought together and constitute the real attributes of that Savior whom we worship, who stands in the nearest relation to us, who is the "head of all principality and power," and who pervades all nature with his presence. The object of the Christian religion is to recover man from his degraded, miserable condition, elevate him above his debasement, and reinvest him with the character of Christ, that he may eventually dwell with the angels in the perfections of the Infinite One.
The views and spirit transfused into the soul of the Christian are very different from the views and spirit of the world. The spirit of the world is pride and selfishness, the pride of rank and office, the pride of wealth and worldly accomplishments, which lives for the praise of men. On the contrary, the Savior imparts to all his worshipers the loveliest of all the graces, a heaven-born humility, a modest estimate of one's own worth, and a deep sense of unworthiness on account of human weakness. As Christians we learn to humble ourselves in view of the majesty and perfections of our heavenly Master. "Before honor is humility." The Savior commands an humble religion; its love is humble, its faith is humble; its repentance, its baptism, its hopes, its joys, its raptures are all humble. True greatness is not found except in an humble mind; never is an archangel more exalted, more truly great, than when he bows before the throne of Christ. The spirit of the world is self-will and insubordination, hard-heartedness and impenitence, or inflexible perseverance in sin. The spirit of the world is one of self-indulgence and guilty pleasure. Sinners are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. They are eager for enjoyment and obtain it in dissipated behavior, thought and feeling. Lawless pleasure is the idol of the sinner's heart and the rule of his life; it often leads him to shame, infamy and ruin. The religion of Christ gives, in the place of this, the love of God and duty. The pleasures of the Christian are much broader and brighter than the pleasures of the disobedient; they are far superior to the sinner's day dreams and pleasures of sense. The spirit of the world rejects the truth of God; distrusts his word; has not sufficient confidence in his declarations, or, it may be, love for his praises, and so leans upon self, having no wants, fears, or despondency which it does not presume to relieve for itself. And often it happens when corruptions, doubts and disobedience have kept rule until the poor man is ruined and the hope of a better day is literally exhausted, that the soul under the dominion of sin cries, "Lord, save, or I perish." Have you faith in God and in his word? then let unshaken confidence in Jesus Christ his son and our Savior become the great principle and impulse of action, rise up in the dignity of true manhood or womanhood and obey the gospel and live. It is hard to conceive of a darker, deeper chasm than that which would be made by the absence of this great principle and impulse of action which has formed thousands of characters in the image of the Redeemer.
Let no one suppose that the obligation to live a Christian life is a light one. Holiness is the highest attainment of a rational soul; it is the greatest good within the reach of man; it is the greatest good in the universe. Seek this, it is most sublime and excellent; seek to be virtuous and holy that your hearts may be won and subdued by the power of His own word. "Purify your souls in obeying the truth." There is nothing in the universe that can be a substitute for purity or holiness, it is an indispensable qualification for the heavenly world. O, when will men understand and realize that nothing possesses importance compared with this which relates to God and eternity. Never was there stronger evidence of folly than that man presents who chooses this world for his portion. If tears could quench the fires of torment they would be quenched at the remembrance of the folly which preferred this world's goods to the salvation of the soul. There is nothing upon earth that hurts the true-hearted, energetic Christian like the indifference with which those who have hope toward God are directing their way toward that "exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
In a short time we shall pass through the tomb. To-day we are floating upon the stream, to-morrow we may be floating upon the ocean of eternity. Another step and we have entered on the world of retribution, but what retribution is it? Is it the world of peace and joy? or is it the region of tribulation and anguish? "To those who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory and honor and immortality—eternal life. But to those who are contentious and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doth evil." Is it not a melancholy state of being to be gliding down the stream of time under the fearful uncertainty whether we will land in the realms of bliss or the regions of anguish? You may be happy without power above your fellows, without influence over them, without great learning, without wealth, but you can not be happy without God. Give man all of this world that he desires, multiply around him the gratifications of sense and the pleasures of thought, and if God is not his joy and refuge the day is not far distant when he will feel as did the poor prodigal in a far country feeding upon husks in nakedness and want; but if you are a Christian you dwell with God in Christ, for "God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses," and if any man be in Christ he is a new creature. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not—doth not serve sin. Nothing can make you miserable while you enjoy the presence of God. If you have accepted the Savior as "Emanuel, God with us," as "God manifested in the flesh," and have entered into him, you are at home with God—with the Father of your spirit—and why should you not be happy? "In him (Christ) all fullness dwells." God is there. Paul says, "All the promise of God in him are yea, and in him amen unto the glory of God by us." "It pleased the Father that in him all fullness should dwell." Are you in him? He says, "I am the door, by me if any man enter the same shall be saved," but the door was never known to be of any use to the man who passes by it. It is only of importance to those who enter. Have you no interest in this open door? It was said to a very needy people, "See, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it." God is in Christ, Christ is the great doorway to the Father's house. He says, "I am the way; no man cometh unto the Father but by me." Do you ask how shall I enter the door? Well, do you really believe that it is your own duty to enter the door, or do you wait to be thrown into it by some unknown spiritual convulsion that you never have as yet experienced? How is this? Let us see. When the Savior was in the world he gathered about him a great many disciples. John the Baptist also gathered a great many more and prepared them for the Lord. These all received the "baptism of repentance for the remission of sins," were converted and saved. Jesus said to them, "Now, ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you"—John xv, 3. All this was accomplished before these disciples were baptized at Pentecost or any where else with the Holy Spirit. It was not given until Jesus was glorified, and when it was given it was not given to sinners to make them saints, but to the disciples who were already converted and pardoned, to guide them into all truth, to endow them with apostolic authority.
Jesus said to them, "Ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts i, 8. So these disciples were converted and cleansed—saved before they were baptized with the Holy Spirit.
There is no case in all the world's history of a sinner being baptized with the Holy Spirit in order to his conversion from sin, or in order to put him into Christ. These disciples who were baptized with the Holy Spirit were by the same means qualified to fill the offices of apostles and prophets—were guided into all truth—preached the gospel with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, and that "gospel is the power of God unto salvation, unto every one that believeth." Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." Paul says, "Christ loved the church and gave himself for it that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." On Pentecost, when hundreds were convicted of their sins, and said, What shall we do? the answer from the spirit of God was, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. These all entered into Christ—the door, while those disciples who had entered a good while before Pentecost were put into the offices of apostles and prophets by the baptism of the spirit. No man should wait to be put into the open door, to be put into Christ, but should do as all the disciples of Christ did in the days of Christ and of his apostles—flee for refuge into an open door—not wait to be put in, but enter. You can be saved in heaven without being put into the office of an apostle or prophet, but you can not enter heaven without being sanctified and cleansed. Will you come and enter by the Lord Jesus, become a child of God by faith in Jesus Christ, being baptized into Christ? Do you say this is not the way? Then, why? O, why should the pages of this book of books be burthened with such things? Were those disciples who received the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins before Pentecost out of Christ—uncleansed—unwashed? No! They were clean through the word spoken unto them. They were converted—pardoned. Will you enter Christ, or wait to be put into Christ? Why is it that all men are not put into Christ? I answer, men are not put into Christ, they enter in—they come to Christ—they come to God—God is in Christ. The spirit and the bride say, come! And let him that heareth say, Come! And let him that is athirst come! And whosoever will let him take the water of life freely."
"Many of the Corinthians hearing believed and were baptized." "When the Samaritans believed, they were baptized, both men and women." This is our entrance into the door. We have now just entered into the church of Christ—into the family of God—it is God's house—we are at home in the Father's house, and naught will harm us if we live at home, if we are "obedient children not fashioning ourselves after our former lusts." The injunction comes to us here: "Add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge temperance, to temperance patience, to patience brotherly kindness, to brotherly kindness godliness, and to godliness charity, and if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind and can not see afar off, and had forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure, for if ye do these things ye shall never fall. For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life and enter through the gates into the city." Men in disobedience to the gospel feel, when they approach the cold Jordan of death, that every thing upon which they built their hopes is being swept away. Their thoughts, their treasures, their grandeur, their honors, their little world, their all, fails them here. They have lived at a distance from God, and now they tremble at the thought of approaching before him whose great mercy they have rejected. Death is a terror to sinful man—his afflictions are his darkest hours. It is not so with the Christian. To him death has no sting; over him the grave has no victory to boast, nor has the second death any power. He has unshaken confidence that every thing is safe in the hands of Jesus. What but obedience to the gospel of the blessed God will enable the child of faith, when flesh and heart fail to say, "Thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is fullness of joy, and at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore." What then must be the happiness of fixing the heart on God, where there is nothing unlovely, nothing fickle, nothing false or dying. We may place our affections on the things of earth, and sooner or later we are severed from them. Here all is change, disappointment and consequent sorrow. It is not so in Heaven where all, is pure and immutable. From our best affections towards creatures up to the love of God there is a height as lofty as his ways and attributes are above the attributes and ways of mortals. No fear can haunt the mind that he may change in his character of love. He is beyond the reach of accident or change, perfect in goodness and power, and to those who trust in him, he is a sure and never-ending, and ever-increasing source of joy. "Blessed are all they that put their trust in 'Emanuel.'" Their very sacrifices are more than compensated. If we give up self it is for the love of God. If we give up time it is for eternity, and in the exchange our happiness is not diminished either here or hereafter.
OUR INDEBTEDNESS TO REVELATION.—No. V.
LANGUAGE AND RELIGION.
BY P.T. RUSSELL.
Christian. Having in my last article traced language and religion to their necessary and only possible source, I am now ready to hear any objections that may be entertained. Mr. Skeptic, if you have any, present them.
Skeptic. Suppose that I admit all that you say, it would, in the nature of the case, account for the origin of one language only, while facts show that there are an unnumbered variety. So your argument is at fault. The same difficulty belongs to your conclusion concerning the origin of religion. Can you remove this difficulty?
Christian. Yes but while I am pleased with your frankness, I must say, the difficulty is only apparent, not real. Look at yonder tree. There is but one main stem, or trunk, and many leading branches. These principal branches are each also divided into several minor branches, and these also throw out many lesser limbs and twigs. So it is with languages. As the smallest twig at the extreme end of either of those limbs can be traced to the trunk through the main branches, so all the various languages that are in use to-day, can and may be traced to a few older ones, and these, again, to one principal or parent language. The English language of the present time differs widely from the English of three or four centuries ago. Its number of words have more than doubled. And this has not been the result of the creation of new words, but of borrowing from other and older languages. So extensively has this been carried on, that Dr. Webster says, that in gathering and arranging material for his dictionary, he found himself under the necessity of consulting thirty European and Asiatic languages. Our language may be called an amalgamation from a great many other languages. It is not an original language. We, like the ancient Greeks, have been borrowing extensively, and, like them, we have been careful to keep all that we borrowed. What is true of our language is equally true of all modern languages. Wherever there is commercial or other free intercourse, each party is found borrowing words from the other, and thus their vocabularies are lapping and continually increasing. I am now ready to introduce the important consideration, it is this, all modern languages are shaded by a few ancient ones. The English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, etc., are deeply shaded through borrowing from the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and ancient languages, while these last, as well as other ancient languages, have never borrowed from the former. This shows that Greek, Latin and Hebrew are older than the others. I shall now take for granted that which all real linguists declare to be true, viz: that the smaller number of languages from which we and our contemporaries have so freely borrowed, are all shaded by their borrowings from one; and, as the younger always borrows from the older, that one must of necessity be the parent language of all languages. This conclusion accounts for the word "babel" in our language, and its equivalent in all others, as well as for the existence of a multitude of words too tedious to mention.
RELIGION AND ITS ORIGIN.
The word is from "religo," and signifies to bind over. Webster says, "This word seems originally to have signified an oath or vow to the gods, or an obligation of such oath or vow." Religion, in its comprehensive sense, includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, in man's obligation to obey his commands—any religion consisting in a belief of a supreme power or powers, governing the world, and in the worshiping of such power or powers. That men have the power to become religious is too evident to require a word in argument; even Tyndal admitted that there was a place in man's psychological nature for religion. Now, since man possesses this, and as all his other powers and faculties were made for use, it is but reasonable that this faculty should also have its proper sphere of action.
They are these: First, was Polytheism or Monotheism the primitive religion? Second, is religion human or Divine in its origin? In answering these questions I shall gather facts, and from them deduce my conclusion, after the inductive method. First, universal history and tradition as far back as they can be traced, without one dissenting voice, locate the origin of man in Asia. From this point men migrated in every direction. Here, in Asia, their language and religion, if they had any, would be one and the same. This would, in the nature of the case, be true, whether religion was at first human or Divine. Again, as all derivative languages are found to be shaded by one primitive language, so all derivative religions will, on examination, be found to be shaded by the one primitive religion. That is, the leading or fundamental idea will be found more or less unclouded in all the more modern religions. Now, which is it that shades all religions? Is it Polytheism or Monotheism? Is the fundamental thought of either found in all the others? Will any one pretend that Polytheism is the primitive religion? Is its leading thought of many gods, found in all religions? It is not in Judaism, Christianity, nor Mahomedanism. These are one in their advocacy of one living and true God. This fact breaks the chain of Polytheism and ruins its claim to be considered the first religion. Here we must leave Polytheism and look after the claim of Monotheism. If this is the first form of religion, it must, according to our rule, shade all other religions; if it does not, then, from this stand-point all is yet in the dark.
In all time past it has been conceded that the maxim, "vox populi, vox dei," is true when taken in its broad or universal sense. "We are apt to attribute that to be true which all men presume. It is an argument with us that anything which seems true to all, as that there are gods, shows that they have engrafted in them an opinion concerning gods, neither is there any so void of laws or good manners that doth not believe that there are some gods."—Sen. Epist. C. 17. "This seems a firm thing which is alleged why we should believe gods to be, because no nation is so fierce, no man so wild, whose mind has not been imbued with an opinion concerning gods, or that uses proceed from bad customs. But all do however conceive a Divine power and nature to exist. Now, in all things, the consent of all nations is supposed to be the law of nature."—Cicero, Tusc., q. 1, p. 299. "In such a quarreling and tumult and gangling, you may see this one thing by common consent, acknowledged law and speech, that there is one God, the king and father of all, and many gods the children of God. This the Greek says; and this the Barbarian says; the inhabitant of the continent and the Islander, the wise and the unwise do say the same."—Max. Tyn., Dis. 1, p. 5. "It is an ancient saying and running in the race of all men, that from God were all things, and by him all things were constituted, and do consist."—Demundo (dedicated to Alexander), cap. 6. Here I rest, not for want of more witnesses, for the testimony of all antiquity is full on this point. There is not an ancient tribe, race, or nation, of which we have any information, historic or traditional, who did not acknowledge the existence of one Supreme Being. In this the chain is unbroken, so Monotheism must have been the first religion. The chain of Polytheism is broken many times. All nations did not acknowledge the existence of many gods. Indeed, no nation of antiquity acknowledged a plurality of supreme gods, while all nations acknowledged a Supreme God, who, with them, was the father of gods and men. So in this way the chain was always broken, never whole. Polytheism then could not, in the very nature of things, be the original religion with Monotheism engrafted upon it. Simple Polytheism never existed with any nation; it always displayed a supreme head, a Supreme God—father of gods and men. And even this form of Polytheism was acknowledged by a part of our race only. The idea is worthy of being repeated, that all nations of men throughout all antiquity acknowledged one living and true supreme and master God presiding over all gods and men. This idea lies at the foundation of all ancient Polytheism, and most certainly at the foundation of all ancient Monotheism. Now, as religion simply consists primarily in man's relation to God, with the accessory idea of dependence upon and obligation to him, the question is: Was that religion earthly or Divine in its origin? Were these thoughts the thoughts of men only, or were they too high for us? Can you think of your relation and obligation to a being of whom you have never heard or learned? No. Neither could man in the beginning, nor at any subsequent time. Religion came not from earth. Human genius was not and could not have been its foundation. There is but one other possible source, which is simply the will and teachings of the creator. Religion is unearthly, and hence Divine in its origin. The stream always declares the nature of the fountain.
Gentlemen skeptics, you boast of free and fearless thought. Make your vaunting good. Examine, if you dare, and let us have your strong reasons, if you have any.
The nature of man made revelation a necessity. This will be the theme of my next. Truth never fears the light, but known error is a coward, and loves the dark.
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A NOBLE book! All men's book. It is our first statement of the never-ending problem of man's destiny and God's ways with men on earth.—Carlyle.
FORCE AND LIFE.
DR. J.L. PARSONS.
The origin of force and life in the universe is a great puzzle to materialistic scientists. In the azoic period of our earth there was no life on it. The living creatures now on the earth must, therefore, have had some origin. That origin is not due to spontaneous generation, according to the testimony of the most enlightened scientists, Professor Haeckel to the contrary notwithstanding. The various vital manifestations and exhibitions of force in the universe are due to some cause. The intuitions of mankind, as well as the teachings of science, declare there must be a cause lying behind the universe which has produced it.
Two great philosophies contend for the mastery in the solution of the problem of life. Materialistic philosophy seeks to account for the origin of all things on principles which deny the existence of God, the Creator, and which make man wholly a material being. Christianity declares that the God of the Bible is behind the universe as its cause. The only things which materialists recognize as having any existence in the universe are matter and force. If force be used in the sense of mind or spirit, which it is not in this case, I have no objection to this statement. One of the first elementary lessons in material philosophy is the inertia of matter. Being at rest matter has no power to set itself in motion. Being in motion it has no power to put itself at rest. It is moved by a force which is in no sense an attribute of matter. Since the earth is in motion and teems with life, that motion and life must be due to force, which is the only remaining existence in the universe. As a cause lying behind the universe, this force is denominated the unknown force.
Prior to and in the azoic age we have nothing in the universe but matter and force, and according to Mr. Spencer, not only an unknown force, but also an unseen and an unknowable force. Subsequent to the azoic period and now we have the earth full of life, intelligence and religion due to the unknown force. This unknown, unseen and unknowable force may be studied in the light of its manifestations and effects, Mr. Spencer to the contrary notwithstanding. Since all effects are contained in their causes, the universe as an effect must have been and must be contained in the great unknown force as its cause. The characteristics which mark the effect must mark the cause also. If the stream be fresh water, the fountain which sends it forth must be fresh water also; for the stream is contained in the fountain. If there be no fountain there can be no stream. If there be no cause there can be no effect. If there be no involution there can be no evolution. The stream can not rise higher than its fountain. The universe now contains life. The unknown force must also contain life; for all effects are contained in their causes. The universe has in it mind. The unknown force must have mind; for all effects are contained in their causes. The universe has in it goodness and religion. So must the unknown force possess goodness and religion; for all effects are contained in their causes. The unknown cause of all things must possess mind, intelligence, goodness, holiness, else these things could not have proceeded from the unknown cause. "Ex nihilo nihil fit" is still true. But life, mind, energy, holiness, are attributes of the God of the Bible. Whenever science divests the unknown force of these attributes which characterize Jehovah, she has left a cause wholly inadequate to the production of the universe. Whenever she invests the unknown force with life, power, intelligence and goodness, she has set up the God of the Bible.
Again, man is possessed of a mind and a religious element in his nature. If man's origin be due to the monkey or the tadpole, then the monkey or the tadpole must have a mind and a religious nature; for all effects are contained in their causes. The monkey must have a mind superior to that of Newton's, and the tadpole must be more religious than man; for the stream can not rise higher than its fountain!
Man has a religious element in his nature. That element seeks to be satisfied religiously, as the eye instinctively seeks for light, the ear for sound, or the body for food. Until the constitutional elements of man's nature are changed, he will instinctively seek for a God capable of satisfying this element of his being. This part of man is satisfied in the Bible and in the God of the Bible. Hence I conclude that the race as a race will never go into atheism.
As for myself, I heartily believe and fully accept the statement of the inspired bard of Israel concerning the problem of force and life: "With thee is the fountain of life." God the author of life and the source of all the force in the universe. I do not for one moment believe the teaching of my learned skeptical professor of physiology, Sanford E. Chaillei, that life is the result of organization; that digestion is a chemical process; and that animal heat and force result from this process. His favorite illustration was the steam engine. The fuel in the fire-box generated the heat which made the water in the boiler boil, and thus the steam force was produced that moved the boat on the river. But, unfortunately for this illustration the Professor always left out of the consideration the fireman. No amount of fuel and water would ever generate force sufficient to turn a wheel without a fireman to light the fuel. So no amount of bread and meat in a man's stomach would ever generate enough force to produce a single blood corpuscle without the vital force to set in motion and keep up the process of digestion and assimilation. Without a God to endow the body with this vital force, there would be none, and consequently no digestion and no animal heat or physical force. If animal life and force result from organization and chemical digestion, a chemist could make a dead body live, where the organs are not destroyed, by putting food into the stomach and giving it time to chemically digest, which it would do in a short time, but it will neither produce animal heat nor support life. If digestion is a chemical process, the chemist ought to be able to take bread and meat and make a red blood corpuscle, which he can not do. Digestion and assimilation are vital processes. The vital force always eludes the test of the chemist; but that force is always present in the living animal economy. The chemist can purchase every ingredient that enters into the composition of bone except the vital force, without which he can not make an inch of bone. The making of bone is a vital process which takes place only in the living animal economy. No physician can possibly have a correct physiological theory of the cure of disease who ignores the presence and power and office of the vital force in the human system.
The body of man was formed of the dust of the ground according to Moses, and no mistake; Mr. Ingersoll to the contrary notwithstanding. Moses further says that the Lord God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul." According to this author, life did not result from organization. What the Almighty breathed into his nostrils was not atmospheric air; for the air was in his nostrils before Jehovah breathed the breath of life into them, and yet it did not make this body live. Using the term breath in the sense of air that we breathe, the old adage that "men die for the want of breath" is not true; for the body dead is surrounded with the same air as when it was living. When the Creator breathed the breath of life into the newly-formed body, and man became a living soul, he imparted more to it than simply air; and when the body dies, something more than simply air or breath has departed from it. Solomon was wiser than the average wise acre or the conceited materialistic doctor when he said concerning death: "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." "The body without the spirit is dead," says Inspiration. It is the presence of this spirit in the human body, imparted to it by the Almighty, which vitalizes the body, which produces the vital force, by which force the body is builded and its operations carried on.
As the Creator formed the body of the first man of the dust of the ground, and vitalized it by breathing into it the breath of life, and endowed it with a living germ and vital force by which, under proper circumstances, it reproduces itself; so God said: "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth." The seed has in it a germ of life and a hidden vital force which heat, moisture and the soil have the capacity of developing, so that it reproduces itself. Every vital manifestation of this seed is the result of vital force with which the Creator has endowed every perfect seed. This force in the animal and vegetable kingdoms produces vital manifestations.
Chemical and other physical forces never produce vital manifestations. "Gravity is that species of force by which all bodies or particles of matter in the universe tend toward each other." The reason why bodies are drawn towards each other in this manner is because God has endowed them with a force which compels them to act in this way. To call it the force of gravity is no explanation of either the origin or nature of this force. To say that gravity makes the apple fall down instead of up is a polite way of expressing one's ignorance of such questions. To say that nature makes a seed grow, that nature heals a wound, is only to make a show of learning. God made the worlds and upholds them by the power of his word. God energizes nature. All the physical and vital forces of the universe are but the manifestation of his power. God has endowed all things that grow with the germ of life. Atheistical philosophy starts without God and ends without him. It seeks for spontaneous generation, but never finds it. It would have a stream without a fountain, and an effect without a cause, and a world without a Creator. I have no use for any theory of life, or of medicine, which denies the existence of God, whom I regard as the source of all the forces in the universe. Nature is only the manifestation of his power and wisdom. There is nothing supernatural in the universe unless it be God himself. All the wonderful phenomena of the human body are the result of a living force with which he has endowed it, and are to be explained, if explained at all, by a better knowledge of the intentions and workings of this force. This knowledge will be obtained by a more careful study of nature, by a more intimate acquaintance with him and his works. Anatomically, physiologically, and intellectually, "man is fearfully and wonderfully made"; and every wonderful thing connected with him is worthy of our careful consideration.
ANSWERED, PERHAPS THE THOUSANDTH TIME, BY REQUEST FROM LOGANSPORT.
"Michal, the daughter of Saul, had no child unto the day of her death."—Second Samuel, vi, 23. "But the king took the five sons of Michal, whom she brought up for Adriel, the son of Barzillai, the Meholathite."—Second Samuel, xxi, 8. Dear friend, if you will notice the last quotation closely you will find that the words which I have italicised clearly indicate the true solution of the difficulty, which has no real historic existence. Those sons were not the natural sons of Michal, but adopted sons, which she brought up for Adriel, whose wife was Moreb, the natural mother of those children. But, somehow, it comes to pass that you refer me in both cases to the first book of Samuel instead of the second. How is this?
Second case. "And it came to pass after these things that God did tempt Abraham." The contrary does not happen to be a contradiction. Here it is, "Let no man say when he is tempted I am tempted of God; for God can not be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man with evil."—James i, 13. Any grammarian can see at once that there is no contradiction here. God did (try) tempt Abraham. When was this and what was it for? Well, it was thousands of years before James's present tense language was written. Suppose I give a parallel. Here it is: Let no Jew say when he offers a lamb he offers it to obey the Lord, for the Lord accepteth not lambs, neither does he require them of any man. The contradiction is found in the fact that some thousands of years in the past, the Lord did, for wise and benevolent purposes, require Jews to offer lambs. Now, can any man fail to see that there is no contradiction here. God did tempt Abraham. What was it for? Answer. He simply designed to teach Abraham, in a way that would impress the lesson upon the mind for all time to come, that the human beings were not to be offered in burnt sacrifices as the heathen were wont to do. His angel said to Abraham, "Stay thy hand." See! there is an offering fast by the horns in the bushes. Don't kill your son! Yes, God did try or tempt Abraham. It was a grand trial of his loyalty to God. And it was God's most effectual way of teaching Abraham and his posterity that they must not offer their sons and daughters in the fire as the heathen did. There is not only no contradiction here, but a grand lesson also, which represents God in just the reverse of the infidel interpretation of the case.
Third case. "And the man which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man."—Acts iv, 7. This voice heard by those persons was in the Hebrew tongue, and as such was not understood by those who were with Saul. So we have it upon record in the 22d chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, that "they saw the light and were afraid, but they heard not," that is, understood not, the voice. That the voice was in the Hebrew is asserted in the twenty-sixth chapter and the fourteenth verse. We often hear a man's voice, and fail at the same time—say we did not hear because we did not understand the words uttered. Such is the latitude of the original term translated by the word hear. So there is no contradiction here. The term hear in one passage is used with reference simply to the noise; in the other it is used with reference to the words spoken, which they understood not. So it is said, they heard them not. Can you hear a man speaking in a dead language? You can hear the voice in the sense of hearing the noise, but you can't hear the voice in the sense of hearing the language. No man can hear a language unless he understands it in the sense of the original term.
Your fourth case is in the following quotations: "And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel; for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."—Gen. xxxii, 30. It somehow happens that my good querist in giving this quotation refers me to the 31st chapter, which is wrong again. He says he has taken advice, and has read the contexts. Well, perhaps he has. But this is the second mistake any way. The first is reference to the wrong book. The second is reference to the wrong chapter. How is this?
Our querist's contrary is, however, in these words, "No man hath seen God at any time."—John's Record i, 18. Our friend, proposing these contradictions for my consideration, says he has "given himself the trouble to investigate;" has "read the context in connection with each quotation, and still they are not clear," yet for the last quotation he refers me to 1 John iv, 12. Well, well; how shall we understand this? And how shall we harmonize the quotations? Well, "No man hath seen God at any time"—this is true, for he is "the King Eternal, immortal, invisible, whom no man hath seen" with the literal eye, "nor can see." This teaching is positive and pointed, but in ancient times even "those to whom the word of God was sent were called gods." So said Jesus. The one Jacob saw was called a man. And again, there was a messenger—an angel, if you please—that bore Jehovah's name upon him. (See Exodus xxiii, 21, and context.) This was the angel of God's presence. "The angel of his presence saved them."—Isaiah lxiii, 9. God's great messenger bore his name. Men saw him, the angel, and seeing him saw God, for this angel was God with them—God's representative bearing his name. This angel God, or angel having God's name in him, talked with Moses. Moses saw him, and it is truthfully said that Moses saw God, that is, saw this angel whose name was that of God. "And when forty years were transpired there appeared to him, Moses, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it he wondered at the sight, and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him." * * * * * This (Moses) is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spoke to him in the Mount Sinai and with our fathers, etc. Moses went up into Sinai and saw God, but it was simply the angel that bore his name—the angel of his presence. That is all there is of it. I once sat in a church-house in Logansport when there were present representatives from different states in our Union, and a gentleman made a little address and introduced them to the audience, saying, Ohio is here, Iowa is here, Kentucky is here, Illinois is here, California is here. How was this? Well, those men were messengers from those states, and their presence was the presence of those several states. Just so the angel of God's presence was with Moses; and Stephen said, with our fathers. The presence of this angel was the presence of God, and they who saw him saw God, for this angel's name was God, or, in other words, "God's name was in him." But the God whose name this angel bore, and whose name even men bore who were called Gods, because to them the word of God was sent, and they, having God's word, were his representatives, has not been seen at any time, neither indeed can be with literal eyes.
N.B.—Friends who wish to engage our attention and space must remember the important rule among editors, and send their name along with their requests and articles.
SOME THINGS THAT NEED THOUGHT.
It has been said of past nations, that side by side have grown in their midst the elements both of greatness and of ruin. There is one phase of our society, as Americans, which is more to be dreaded than all others known to the philosophic mind, that is the reckless licentiousness which characterizes many politicians during political campaigns.
In ancient times a grand safeguard against this debasing practice was found in the law that said, "Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of my people." This evil, like all others, when it becomes a strong habit, is well calculated to stir up anger, and wrath, and hatred; to stir up the passions, and destroy confidence, which is always and only disastrous to the social state. This growing evil needs to be checked by some means, otherwise our country will experience tumults growing out of maddened party ambition, and party interests, which will cause disaster and grief. The ballot-box needs to be guarded with wise and severe laws, because it is the pivotal wheel in our government. And next to this, because of the relation it sustains to our government's welfare, is the reputation of our public officials. I would not screen them from their just deserts, but I do say that the leaders in political affairs should be, in common with all others, too high-minded to indulge in slandering each other, as many are in the habit of doing. It reminds me in some of our political campaigns of the cursing-matches of the Popes, in some of the councils that were held during the dark ages. It is possible that we have in Indiana, and perhaps in some of the other states, sufficient law upon the subjects of slander, but law that is disregarded, being seldom enforced, amounts to nothing. Then, there is a disposition growing out of the pride of character to disregard the slanderer's tongue. Yet licentiousness tends to civil and social ruin all the same. That is to say, it destroys confidence, breeds retaliation and corruption, and inflames all the baser passions known in the dying agonies of a civil government. As an American citizen I would warn our people to manufacture all the public sentiment possible against this low, vile, and debasing practice, by pleading with our countrymen against it. And let us never hold our peace until we shall have thrown such safeguard around our ballot-box as will put an end to all the abominable corruptions that now threaten our existence as a free people. Is it true of us, that we carry the seeds of our own destruction as a nation in our own bosom? Are we to die as a nation, over the ballot-box? Shall we be so foolish? Let statesmen and politicians look well to the essential elements of the nation's life, by the advocacy of reform at this point where reform is most needed. And let Christians of every name plead for morality as an essential qualification for a place at the head of so great affairs as belong of right to the people of counties, states and nation. Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. It is time for us to look after the moral elements of every man's life who proposes himself as a candidate for office in our midst, but we can well afford to be satisfied with the truth. Shall we look to this?
While we pray as Christians for such rulers and authorities as will look to the permanent and lasting interests of our country, let us vote as we pray. Do we pray one way and vote another? If so, let us repent. Do we pray for righteous rulers and for a good government and then vote for profane, wicked men; for men of intemperate habits, men who are perfectly indifferent to the moral welfare of our country; men who will disregard the welfare of the nation by neglecting the elements of national greatness? If political parties triumph in this government through slander, trickery, whisky and corruption, and continue to do so, the time will inevitably come when we will realize the facts of national ruin. We might as well think of a man having good health and living long upon the earth who takes poison into his stomach continually, as to think of future glory as a nation if we carry out our purposes by dishonest, illegal measures and by railing, in a slanderous and unjustifiable manner, against the best men of the nation. It has been said that political parties are necessary as checks to corruption, but when parties themselves indulge in all manner of corruption in order to succeed as parties, they are no longer checks, but abettors of corruption.
Let the preachers, whose business it is to reprove sin, and who have been kept from taking the risk of being shut out of Paradise, by being kept out of politics(?) open their mouths and be heard all over this country against all these immoral, vile practices indulged as a means of political success. The ignorant, fossilized partisan who looks no higher than party will perhaps raise a yell of indignation against them, but at the same time he will continue the use of the same old argument, viz: the pool of politics is too filthy for preachers to meddle with. Is it a filthy pool? Then let us bring all the purifying elements of the nation to bear upon it and see if there is anything in it besides corruption. If there is not, the sooner we find it out the better, and if there is, the sooner we get it separated from its corruption the better.
THE RELIGION AND SOCIETY OF GREECE.
HOW DOES IT COMPARE WITH OURS.
From the Egyptians and other nations to whom the Grecians were indebted for their earliest laws, they derived their established religion. To the worship of the twelve principal divinities the gratitude of the succeeding ages added the deification of heroes and legislators renowned for their important services to society. Various degrees of adoration were paid to the gods and to the souls of departed heroes. Temples were erected, festivals were instituted, games were celebrated, and sacrifices were offered with more or less pomp and magnificence to them all. A regular gradation of immortal beings was acknowledged to preside throughout universal nature from the Naiad, who was adored as the tutelary guardian of a stream to Jupiter, the father of gods and men, who ruled with Supreme power over heaven and earth.
The religion of the people extended little beyond the external honors paid to the gods of their country and the attendance upon sacrifices and processions. The sacred ceremonies were magnificent and public, except that the votaries of Bacchus and Ceres were indulged in their secret mysteries. The festivals were observed with every circumstance of pomp and splendor to charm the eye and please the imagination. A sacrifice was a feast attended with gayety and even licentiousness. Every temple was the resort of the idle and the dissolute, and the shrines of the Cyprian Venus and the Athenian Minerva could attest that devotion, far from being a pure and exalted exercise of the mind, was only the introduction to dissoluteness and debauchery.
The northern regions of Greece were particularly renowned for temples from which oracles were issued. The temple of Apollo at Delphi, situated upon a lofty rock near Parnassus, and that of Jupiter in the groves of Dodona, were celebrated for the responses of the Pythia and the priests; they were held in the greatest veneration for many ages, and their oracles were consulted even in the most enlightened times by philosophers themselves, who, in this instance, as well as many others, conformed to the popular superstitions.
The spirit of the religion of ancient Greece was included in these principles, that the worship of the gods was of superior obligation and importance to all other duties, and that they frequently displayed their power in this world in the punishment of the bad and the prosperity of the virtuous. Such were the opinions inculcated by the most celebrated philosophers and poets but the common people, more gratified by the fictions of the received mythology, than by tenets of pure morals, found in the actions recorded of their gods and goddesses a sufficient justification of every species of licentiousness. With respect to a future state of existence, the philosophers themselves appear to have fluctuated in uncertainty, as may be collected from the sentiments of Socrates. The poets inculcated a belief in Tartarus and Elysium. They have drawn a picture of Tartarus in the most gloomy and horrific colors, where men, who had been remarkable for impiety to the gods, such as Tantalus, Tityus and Sisyphus, were tormented with a variety of misery ingeniously adapted to their crimes.
The prospect of Elysium is beautiful and inviting, as described by Homer, Hesiod and Pindar. In that delightful region there is no inclement weather, but the soft zephyrs blow from the ocean to refresh the inhabitants who live without care and anxiety; there the sky is always serene and the sunshine is perpetual. The earth yields delicious fruits for their sustenance three times per year. But these enjoyments were confined to the persons who were of rank and distinction. Their Elysium was a sensual heaven. How very different is the Christian's future happy home?
Proteus informed Menelaus that he would be conveyed to the Islands of the Blessed, because he was the husband of Helen, and the son-in-law of Jupiter. No incentives to goodness from the consideration of a future state are held out by the older poets to the female sex, or to the ignoble or common people, however pure their conduct or exemplary their virtue. In later times we find that Pindar extends his rewards to good men in general; but Euripides is sometimes skeptical, and Iphigenia without hesitation expresses her disbelief of the popular mythology.
The learned Jortin says, It gives us pleasure to trace in Homer the important doctrine of a supreme God, a providence, and a free agency in man, supposed to be consistent with fate or destiny; a difference between moral good and evil, inferior gods or angels, some favorable to men, others malevolent, and the immortality of the soul; but it gives us pain to find these notions so miserably corrupted that they must have had a very weak influence to excite men to virtue and deter them from crime.—Jortin, Dissertation vi, p. 245.
This observation may be applied to the state of opinions even in the most enlightened times of Greece, when the credulity and ignorance of the common people, and the errors and doubts of the greatest philosophers, proved the necessity and the importance of the Christian religion.
The possible attainments of a religious nature were very different from ours. In the times of Lycurgus there were two hereditary kings or presidents; their power was controlled by Lycurgus, through the gift of equal authority to twenty-eight senators. The two kings commanded the armies and high-priests of the temples. The senators were the executive and legislative council of the state; with them the laws originated. The assembly of the people elected the senators by saying yes or no to the measures proposed to them, but had no right to discuss their propriety—were not allowed the privilege.
Lycurgus allowed every family an equal amount of land; prohibited the use of gold and silver, and made iron money the only currency of the country, in order to check the avarice of the people. He forbade foreign travel in order to retain the morals of his people, or keep them from the corruptions of other nations. To produce a hardy people, he required the women to indulge in all the athletic exercises of his government. The children were inspected as soon as they were born, and those considered worthy were handed over to the public nurses, and the unworthy, that is, the deformed and sickly, were taken out and left in the woods and upon the mountains to perish. All the children of the Spartans were considered as the property of the state, and their education consisted in accustoming them to endure the cravings of hunger and thirst, with the scourge of discipline and every degree of suffering. The business of Spartans consisted in preparing themselves for war. They were disciplined in such a manner that it was necessary to curb them constantly, lest they should rashly undertake to make conquests. Out of this character of the Greeks arose that old saying, "When Greek meets Greek then comes the tug of war."
Many of the laws of the Spartans would, in this country at least, destroy all the finer feeling, and inaugurate a reign of despotism utterly at variance with Christianity. God's time to give to the inhabitants of the earth the glorious system of our holy religion was not until our race was educated, so as to be no longer the slaves of the reigning ambition and passion of such men as Lycurgus. The Savior's hour was several centuries from Lycurgus. Here it is appropriate to remark that God, in his providence with the nations of men, has during all the ages given to men just as fast as they were able to receive.
THE RELATIONS OF CHRISTIANITY TO HUMAN GREATNESS.
Some who deny the existence of spirit apart from matter allow that the greatness of man consists in his being an eating animal. Others allow that it lies in the fact that he is a working animal; while some have allowed that it was found in the fact that he is a fighting animal. And all infidels agree in one thing, viz.: that man is simply an animal. But the animal nature of man is not to be considered, with any degree of truth, his crown of glory; his true greatness can not be identified with it. We are acquainted with animals that can eat more, and seem to do it with a greater relish. Others can run faster, jump higher, overcome greater weight and outdo him in all manner of physical labor. They are in possession of greater courage and fight with greater ferocity. So we must search for man's greatness outside of all these elements of character. Can we find no brighter, higher principles in the human character? To do so we must lay aside the animal nature of man altogether, and consider his character as it is blended with his intellectual and moral nature. In other words, we must consider man as man, not as an animal. We must consider him as a mind or spirit, and look to something higher than eating, laboring at the helm, and fighting, if we would discover his true greatness. In the improvement of mind is the true improvement of man in all his relations. Without this he is unqualified for all the various obligations that are necessary to be discharged in order to the development of true greatness. To be great a man must rise above the little, the mean, the vile and the degraded. To do this he must be educated, trained, until the fruits of a virtuous and useful intelligence are seen in his every-day life. Men are not considered great nor admired for the simple development of physical nature.
Infidels claim that cultivated literature is incompatible with religion. It has been said that a man of ardent piety can not produce a work that will live in after ages. This is a libel upon the truth, and upon him who said: "I am the truth."
Faith in God certainly places the maximum of greatness upon the human mind. The man who believes in the existence of mind apart from matter, and consequently looks upon death as a blessed state of rest to the good man which lies between the two great activities of time and eternity, and also believes in God and future rewards, has stronger motives to sound moral rectitude than the man who denies and ridicules these great truths. "The seat of law is the bosom of God, and her voice is the harmony of the world." It is respect for law that brings responsibilities home to the heart. Where there is no faith there is no respect for law pertaining to future rewards; and where this is the case there is no sense of moral obligations connecting man with the future retribution. So there is nothing resting upon an unbeliever's heart that will serve as a check upon his passions, and deter him from living with reference to the gratification of a mere animal nature. Skepticism, by shutting God out of the mind, destroys the very idea of law. Cicero's description of law is in these noble words: There is one true and original law conformable to reason and to nature, diffused over all, invariable, eternal, which calls to the fulfillment of duty and to abstinence from injustice, and which calls with that irresistible voice which is felt in all its authority wherever it is heard. This law can not be abolished or curtailed, nor affected in its sanctions by any law of man. A whole senate, a whole people, can not dispense from its paramount obligations. It requires no commentators to render it intelligible; nor is it different at Rome, at Athens, from what it was ages ago, nor is it different now from what it will be in ages to come. In all nations and in every age it has been, is, and forever will be the same—one, as God, its greatest author, is one. Man is man, truly, as he yields himself to this divine influence. Faith in God implants this law in the individual and national heart. Infidelity excludes its authority and influence and leaves man to the mercy of his undisciplined appetites. The fruits of infidelity have always been selfishness. The Christian believer regards himself as subordinated to a higher power, and labors under a sense of obligations which begets habits of self-control that are the life of morality. The ideal character of the Christian religion is such that faith in God and future rewards tend to make the earth life an image of the divine. This is the glory of both reason and faith, that it perceives the invisible. The students of the present have no trouble to see that the true greatness of the nation of antiquity was in their attribute of morality. Virtue and morality in an ancient ruler shines in history even across the dark ages, and makes glad the heart of the student of the nineteenth century. Faith in God has been the great leading thought in the rise of nations—that is, in reformations. Luther and Melancthon preceded Lord Bacon, Newton and Locke. The few stars that lit up the gloomy night that preceded the reformation and the revival of literature were lighted by the faith of God. Speaking of this fact, Dr. Goode says: "We behold a flood of noonday bursting all at once over every quarter of the horizon and dissipating the darkness of a thousand years; we behold mankind in almost every quarter of Europe, from the Carpathian Mountains to the pillars of Hercules, from the Tiber to the Vistula, waking as from a profound sleep to a life of activity and bold adventure; ignorance falling prostrate before advancing knowledge; brutality and barbarism giving way to science and polite letters; vice and anarchy to order and moral conduct.
"The modern opposers of Christianity, reasoning in a retro-grade motion—that is, going backwards—ascribe every improvement to science and philosophy, but it was religion that took the lead in both the great revival of learning and the reformation. Aldhelm, Bede and Alcuin were three great Anglo-Saxon luminaries of the eighth century. Alcuin was the tutor and confidential friend of Charlemagne. Ingulph, made abbot of Croyland by William the Conquerer, was the bright light of the eleventh century. To him we are indebted for much that has come down to us. John of Salisbury, Girald the Cambrian, and the monk Adelard, and Robert of Reading were all religious leaders. The last two traveled in Egypt and Arabia, studied mathematics at Cordovia. Adelard translated Euclid out of Arabic into Latin. Such also was Alfred the Great, who was victorious in prosperity and adversity, as a legislator and philosopher, as a soldier and politician, a king and a Christian; he was the pride of princes, the flower of society and the delight of mankind." Roger Bacon, of notoriety on account of his superior knowledge of physics, was the bright Christian light of the thirteenth century. From this century all the way through the reformation the revival of faith in God was the revival of the golden age of learning or literature. When faith in God expired in France the entire social fabric steadily declined until all crumbled and fell as in the ruins of an earthquake. At the same time the inhabitants, loosened from the restraints which faith in the living God imposes, stained every part of the country with blood, and its glory and grandeur perished. It has been well said that the rights of man can not be well secured and enjoyed unless he is viewed in his relations to God. Where government aims at and subserves this end it is a blessing. Blackstone has well remarked that the whole should protect all its parts, and that every part should pay obedience to the will of the whole; or, in other words, that the community shall guard the rights of each individual member, and that in return for this protection each individual should submit to the law of the community. Faith lets God down into the hearts of lawmakers, and a sense of accountability to him must, most certainly, have a grand tendency to refine laws in their first conception. At least it happens to be true that wherever God is feared and law made the basis of the legislation and policy of a nation, that nation is, in fact, found to excel in those interests which are essential to a nation's well-being and glory. We challenge any man, or set of men, to an estimate of the comparative purity and morals of the nations of the earth. It is, and forever will be, found to correspond with their religious systems. The great conflict which is now going on in every civilized country is a conflict between faith and infidelity. For the triumph of light and truth the very throne of God is pledged. There may be difficulties to encounter, but these will be vanquished. As well undertake to pluck the sun and stars from the heavens, and spread the black curtain of one long protracted night over the world, as to try to quench the light of immortal truth as it flows freely into the hearts of so many millions and stirs up the deep fountains of human spirits.
* * * * *
"Owing to the attitude of the churches for the last fifteen hundred years truth-telling has not been a very lucrative business."—Col. Ingersoll.
The Colonel's business has been very lucrative, therefore his has not been a truth-telling business.
THE THEORY OF THE ORIGINAL FREE-THINKERS.
See how they have advanced! "Free-thinking Christians," a name lately adopted by a society which arose in the year 1799, and has ever since regularly assembled in London, calling itself a church of God founded on the principles of free inquiry. Their first members separated from a congregation of Trinitarian dissenters in Parliament Court Chapel, Bishopgate street; they rejected the doctrine of the trinity, the atonement, and other points of Calvinism; then the sacraments and the immateriality of the soul; and lastly, the inspiration of the scriptures and public worship, for they have neither singing nor praying in their assemblies, and regard the Bible only as an authentic history.
These free-thinking Christians readily admit that, since their first assembling as a body, their sentiments have undergone considerable alteration on points of primary importance, but they contend that this is the natural consequence of free inquiry; that men who had heretofore been the slaves of error could not but advance in the attainment of truth after adopting a system which left thought unrestrained and conscience free, and they are still ready to renounce any opinion whenever it shall appear to them untenable. In consequence, their public meetings, which are mostly on Sunday forenoons, resemble rather a debating society than a Christian Church. The elder opens the meeting by stating the subject for consideration, and, at his call, several speakers successively address the meeting. It is not unusual to hear among them difference of opinion, and they are all prompt to controvert the current doctrines of the Christian world, to show their dissent from all sects and parties, and their aversion to the clergy and to Christian ministers of all denominations.
This society was little known till the year 1808, when they advertised their intention of publicly inquiring into the existence of a being called the devil. So singular a notice could not fail of drawing a considerable number of persons to their assembly, especially on a Sunday morning. The landlord of the house at which they met in the old 'Change, alarmed for his personal security, obliged them to remove, and they engaged the large room at the Paul's Head, Cateaton street. Here the magistracy interfered, but as they had taken the precaution to license themselves under the toleration act, nothing could be done legally to restrain them. Since then they have set up a periodical publication under the title of the "Free-thinking Christian's Magazine," in which they profess to disseminate Christian, moral, and philosophical truth, and they have erected a handsome meeting-house in the crescent behind Jewin street, Cripplegate, where this weekly assembly, consisting of members and strangers, is said to amount to between four and five hundred persons.
The following appears to be the latest summary of their opinions: "The Christian religion," they say, "consists in the worship of one God, eternal, just, and good, and in an obedience to the commands of Jesus, his messenger on earth, who taught the wicked to repent of the error of their ways and that God was ever ready to receive them. Forms and ordinances, parade and show, are no points of his system, but virtue and purity of heart can alone prepare man for a blissful existence beyond the grave, the wisdom and hope of which were furnished by the resurrection of the teacher of their faith, a member of earth and an heir of immortality."—Free-thinking Christians' Magazine; Hannah Adams's Dictionary of all Religions, page 82.
The above dictionary is in my possession. It was published in 1817 by James Eastburn & Company at the literary rooms, corner of Broadway and Pine streets, New York, and by Cummings and Hilliard, No. 1 Cornhill, Boston. The author credits the above article to the above-named magazine, so we may rely upon it as the freethinker's own presentation of his theory in its early history. It will be of great interest to all our readers, as it will enable them to see, at once, the origin of so-called free-thought. It had its origin with Calvinistic errors upon the subject of the Trinity, a vicarious atonement, and kindred ideas concerning human redemption. It will be of interest also to mark the improvements (?) of free-thinkers, who are always boasting of being in the advance guard in warring with error and ignorance.
They had neither singing nor prayers when they started out, and in these regards they have not apostatized from their first faith, for they are up to this time a praiseless and prayerless people, never praying unless it is when they have the cramp or some other disease. Their wants seem to be few and easily supplied. Health and hominy are the staples of spiritual food with them at the present. The time was when, as a society, they wished to wear some of the main elements of the Christian religion, such as belief in the existence of God; the existence of the church of God, and belief in the resurrection of Christ, and through him the resurrection of all men; but they have long ere this thrown aside all these. In the beginning of their history they were noted, as our author says, for their disposition to promptly "controvert the current doctrines of the Christian world," and "show their dissent from all sects and parties, and their aversion to the clergy, and to Christian ministers of all denominations." This trait of character they still retain, regardless of the advance of Christians from Calvinistic errors. This looks like they were determined on hating the profession of Christianity, regardless of its character. Such is their chronic disease.
They talk no more of worshiping the eternal God, nor of obeying the commands of Jesus. But it is just to say of their most noted leaders that they confess that the Christ life was, and is, the most exalted and praiseworthy life of all the ages. And, while this life remains to challenge the world to imitation, we Christians shall rejoice, believing in Christ and realizing that our foundation stands sure and secure. In their origin they built a fine church house, but now they go to China and borrow "Josh house," as an odius epithet for church house, forgetting that their China brethren are simply clinging to their own old philosophy of nature and her lessons, without the religion of the Bible; and, also, forgetting that they, themselves, allow that all that is, is right, being, from natural selection, simply the survival of the fittest. Eight years more and a century will have passed since free thought started out in Parliament Court Chapel, and from present indications we are inclined to think that all men will be under the necessity of conceding that Christianity is the fittest, for it stoutly refuses to die.
In their beginning they repudiated the idea of the inspiration of the Bible; to this they have held without change. Further than this, they acknowledged that the Bible was an authentic history, but now they calumniate the idea, and blaspheme the Bible and its God. In these respects they have grown backwards; and they no longer claim to "worship one God, eternal, just and good," nor to "obey the commands of Jesus," "rejecting sacraments, forms, ordinances, parade and show, along with song and prayer." Perhaps they cast up their accounts, and found that there could, in the very nature of things, be no worship outside of all these elements of worship, and then determined to be more honest at least, and endeavor in the future to people the earth with a non-worshipping, Godless, Christless, praiseless, prayerless, non-hoping set of inhabitants, who would give all up in death for the sake of free thought.
WHAT A MAN MAY BE AND BE A CHRISTIAN IN THE ESTIMATION OF COL. INGERSOLL.
We find the following in the Colonel's speech, which was delivered at Rockford, Ill., on Tuesday, October 5, 1880. We publish it in order to show the utter fallacy of the infidel's claim that Christianity is necessarily in conflict with education; that Christians are necessarily bigots, narrow-minded men, dangerous to the liberty of man, woman and child. Read it, ye fault-finding skeptics and infidels, and save your claims against the Christian religion if you can. Correllate it with the hollow utterances of Colonel Ingersoll, which are so often repeated by him in other addresses directed wholly against Christianity, if you can. Here it is:
"I have known him (Garfield) for years. I know him as well as I know any other man, and I tell you he has more brains, more education, wider and more splendid views than any other man who has been nominated for the Presidency by any party since I was born. Some people say to me: 'How can you vote for Garfield when he is a Christian and was a preacher?' I tell them: 'I have two reasons: One is, I am not a bigot, and the other is, General Garfield is not a bigot. He does not agree with me; I do not agree with him on thousands of things; but on the great luminous principle that every man must give to every other man every right that he claims for himself we do absolutely agree.' [Italics mine.—ED.] I would despise myself if I would vote against a man in politics simply because we differed about what is known as religion. I will vote for a liberal Catholic, a liberal Presbyterian, a liberal Methodist, a liberal anything ten thousand times quicker than I would vote for an illiberal free-thinker. I believe in the right. I believe in doing to other people in these matters as I would like them to do to me. General Garfield is an honest man every way; intellectual every way. He is a poor man; he is rich in honor, in integrity he is wealthy, and in brains he is a millionaire. * * * He is a great, good, broad, kind, tender man, and he will do, if elected President, what he believes to be right."
SUM OF POSSIBILITIES.
1. It is possible for an honest man to be the best educated man in the nation, and at the same time be a Christian.
2. It is possible for the millionaire in brains to be the best educated man in the nation, and at the same time be a Christian.
3. It is possible for a man to be a Christian, and not be a bigot.
4. It is possible for a man to be a Christian, and an advocate of the great luminous principle that every man must give to every other man every right that he claims for himself.
5. It is possible for a man to be a Christian and be a liberal man.
6. It is possible for a man to be honest every way, and be a Christian.
7. It is possible for a man to be a Christian, and be every way an intellectual man.
8. It is possible for a man to be a Christian, and be rich in honor.
9. It is possible for a man to be a Christian, and be wealthy in integrity.
10. It is possible for a man to be a Christian, and be a great man.
11. It is possible for a man to be a Christian, and be a good man.
12. It is possible for a man to be a Christian, and be a broad, kind, tender man.
13. It is possible for a man to be a Christian, and have wider and more splendid views than any other man.
And Colonel Ingersoll says he knows all this to be so. Now what shall we think of the utterances of lesser lights in infidelity since we have the living fact before us that Christianity is in perfect harmony with the very highest education; with the widest and most splendid views; with honesty every way; with greatness; with goodness; with integrity; with honor; with kindness and tenderness; with the great luminous principle that a man must give to every other man every right that he claims for himself? And it is also in perfect harmony with a great and liberal heart.
We have hope that Colonel Ingersoll will yet find his way into the temple of truth, which reveals the glory and grandeur of the perfect harmony that exists between Christianity and all that is truly great and good—since he has pronounced the word "Eureka."
LIFE AND FORCE ARE NOT THE SAME.
Hylozoism is the doctrine that life and matter are inseparable. This doctrine has been presented in several different forms. Straton, of Lampsacus, claimed that molecules were each and all of them in possession of life. The Stoics did not, however, accord life to each and every distinct particle of matter, but held that the universe, as a whole, was a being animated by a principle which gave to it motion, form and life. This principle they called the soul of the universe. This idea was advocated by the followers of Plotinus, who contended that this soul of the world animated the smallest particle of matter. Spinoza asserted that all things were alive in different degrees. Matter, according to Leibnitz and Boscovish, and others, is always endowed with force. Attraction and repulsion and chemical affinity, all indicate activity in matter; but all this fails to meet the demands of science, for this simple reason, life is a force always connected with organization, which much of matter wants. Spontaneous motion, growth, nutrition, separation of parts, and generation are phenomena which indicate the presence of life; which most certainly is not co-extensive with matter. So Hylozoism, ancient and modern, under whatever name you please to term it, breaks down. Here, also, we discover that it is foolishness to confound the terms life and force.
MACAULAY ON SUNDAY.
* * * This day is not lost. While the machinery is stopped, while the car rests on the road, while the treasury is silent, while the smoke ceases to rise from the chimney of the factory, the nation enriches itself none the less than during the working days of the week. Man, the machine of all machines, * * * is recuperating and gathering strength as well, that on Monday he returns to his work with his mind clearer, and more courage for his work, and with renewed vigor.
The Christian Foundation is approaching the close of its first year, and I think it proper now to return my heart-felt gratitude to those who have given strength to it in its youth, when strength was and is most needed. I do not claim that it is perfect or faultless, but I am glad to know that its reputation has been and is all that I can ask, viewing it in the light of my own limited intelligence. I have been and am endeavoring to make this journal food for the intellect. I have the consolation, whether it lives long or short, of knowing that I have given it my best energies and attention. And I have refrained from loading it with advertisements, simply for profits. I shall continue it if permitted by Providence. And as the year is drawing to a close, I wish to say to all its patrons, can you not remain with this journal at least through another year, and by so doing assist me in placing one matter of fact, biblical and scientific, as well as logical defense of our religion, upon a solid basis. It will continue to know no party or sect, and it will continue to defend the truth wherever found. "Truth stands true to her God; man alone vacillates."
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE'S ESTIMATE OF THE CHRIST.
Napoleon said, "I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions; that resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and whatever other religion the distance of infinity. As for me, I recognize the gods and these great men as beings like myself. Nothing announces them as divine. It is not so with Christ. Everything in him astonishes me; between him and whoever else in the world there is no term of comparison. He is truly a being by himself. In fact, the sciences and philosophy avail nothing for salvation, and Jesus came into the world to reveal the mysteries of Heaven and the laws of the spirit; also he has nothing to do but with the soul, and to that alone he brings his gospel. * * * Jesus borrowed nothing from our sciences. He is not a philosopher, since he advances by miracles, and from the commencement his disciples worshipped him.
"The Bible contains a complete series of facts of historical men, to explain time and eternity, such as no other religion has to offer. Even the impious themselves have never dared to deny the sublimity of the gospel. * * * In every other existence but that of Christ how many imperfections! * * Christ proved that he was the son of the Eternal by his disregard of time. All his doctrines signify one only and the same thing—eternity."
"LITTLE MYRTIE" BOGG, daughter of Dr. M.M. and Mary A. Bogg, of Macy, Indiana, departed this life on the 6th day of October, 1880. Aged two years, 7 months and 28 days. She leaves along with her parents three lovely sisters. One great consolation to parents and sisters is in the fact that "Little Myrtie" bore her afflictions with the fortitude and patience of even true womanhood, but best of all was the good Christian sense and rare intelligence that she exhibited in her last hours. Let her last words, "By, by," and "come and see Myrtie," burn upon the altar of the heart until we all meet her in the better land.
The punctuation and spelling from the original text have been faithfully preserved. Only obvious typographical errors have been corrected.