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must get in the water and struggle, so one must come in contact with,
combat, struggle with, and overcome moral evil in order to develop the
highest and strongest type of moral character.

"Heaven is not reached by a single bound;
But we build the ladder by which we rise
From the lowly earth to the vaulted skies,
And rise to its summit round by round."

The rise from a bestial to a moral plane involves the acquirement of a
knowledge of both good and evil. The moral conscience thus developed
plays the same role in the moral world that the consciousness of pain
does in the physical. As this consciousness of pain is a monitor to
warn us from physical danger, so the moral conscience is our monitor to
keep us from moral evil. And the higher this moral conscience is
developed, the more sensitive it becomes, the higher will its possessor
rise in the moral scale. This is the law which Paul tells us is
written in the hearts of all men, "their consciences meanwhile accusing
or excusing them." This may seem a strange philosophy. But it
comports with the facts of nature and life. The mystery of evil is not
solved. But at least we have a rational, working hypothesis upon which
to deal with it, as will further appear as we proceed.


_SIN_

Evil, at least in the physical world, exists separate and apart from
sin. We will not speculate upon the metaphysical differences that may,
or may not, exist between moral evil and personal guilt. But I wish to
record briefly the views I ultimately arrived at concerning the nature
and consequences of sin.

According to the orthodox doctrine, altho sin is defined in the New
Testament as the "transgression of the law," it is something _more_
than this; - a direct personal offence against God; and that therefore
its penalties are punitive and vindictive, designed to vindicate the
person of God against insult and injury by disobedience to his law.
Punishment was therefore believed to be administered judicially,
according to the extent of the offense, that the sinner might be made
to suffer _purely for suffering's sake_, measure for measure. I long
ago abandoned this doctrine. I accept fully the New Testament teaching
that "sin is the transgression of the law," - not the law of Moses or
any other penal code, - but the great universal, immutable law of Nature
in the moral world. That God is the author of this law does not make
its violation any more a personal offense against God than the
violation of a State statute is a personal offense against the
Governor, or legislature, or the judge that administers it. God cannot
be personally sinned against. If so He is neither infinite nor
immutable. To constitute a personal offense the person offended must
take cognizance of it, which necessarily involves _a change of mind_
toward the offender, - otherwise it is not an offense. The same
condition would be involved in a second change of mind toward the
offender, upon his repentance and forgiveness. Neither is consistent
with any idea of infinity or immutability. Neither does God ever
punish sin. Sin is its own punishment, and it operates automatically.
No sin was ever committed that the sinner did not pay the penalty in
full. From this there is no more escape than there is from the law of
gravitation. If I put my hand into the fire I cannot avoid being
burned. If I take poison I cannot avoid the consequences. The fact
that there may be an antidote for the poison in no way destroys the
truth of this fundamental law.

"The moving finger writes, and having writ
Moves on; Nor all your piety nor wit
Can lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all your tears wash out a word of it."


Jesus illustrated this law fully and beautifully in the parable of the
Prodigal Son, and I can do no better than quote its substance here.
This young man left his father's house. This was not a personal
offence against his father, altho the father may well have conjectured
what would be the result. He was of age and had a right to go. He
spent his funds in riotous living, and as a consequence was reduced to
want and suffering, his punishment for his sin. To thus waste his
funds was sin, _He punished himself_ by his own conduct. His
sufferings became so intense and severe that he resolved to abandon his
present surroundings and return home at any cost, even to becoming a
menial servant in his father's house. Here we get a clear view of the
_purpose_ of punishment, not as vindictive, but remedial and
corrective. The young man suffered until his sufferings accomplished
their end in correcting and changing his life. As soon as this was
done his punishment ended. Just so with all punishment for sin. It
will continue until its remedial and corrective purpose is completed
and no longer, whether in this life or some other. When the young man
returned home his father received him, not as a servant, but a son.
But remember, _his wasted fortune was not restored_. "Was he not
freely forgiven?" Yes; but forgiveness does not blot out nor restore
the past; nor absolve one from the natural consequences of his own acts
already committed. It simply means a new opportunity and a new start,
but with the handicap of the consequences of the past life. The
returned prodigal was forgiven. He had the opportunity to begin life
anew as a son, just as he was before. But his material resources
represented in his squandered fortune, and the time he lost while
squandering it, were lost forever! Be as diligent and frugal as he
might, he could never, thru time or eternity, reach that attainment
_which he might have reached_, had he used the same diligence and
frugality from the start, in the use of his natural inheritance as his
operating capital.

Hence, one sins, not against God, but most of all _against himself_, by
violating the law of his own being, and of humanity. And the
_consequences_ of sins committed can never be escaped, in this world or
any other. If this kind of gospel had been preached to humanity during
all these past centuries of Christianity, - instead of a gospel that
teaches that no matter how vile, wicked and sinful one may be, nor how
long he may thus live in sin, if, in the last hour of life he will only
"believe in Jesus," at death he will go sweeping thru the gates of
heaven into eternal glory on a complete equality with the noblest
saints and purest characters that ever lived on earth, - this world
would now be much better than it is.

"Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," whether divinely
inspired or not, is as eternally true, certain, and unescapable in the
moral world as are the stars in their courses. Man sins against
society in transgressing those natural laws of social relations that
bind society together. But even in this, while society suffers from
his sins, the sinner himself must ultimately suffer for his own sins
above all others.

The question has often been asked me, "If a man cannot sin against God,
but only against himself and society, by what standard, gauge, or
measure am I to determine what is right or wrong?" I think the Golden
Rule answers that question completely. All sins are either personal or
social or both. A man may, by some sort of self-indulgence or abuse or
by his own secret thoughts sin against himself _only_, from which he
alone must suffer. He may also sin against society by doing some evil
to or against some one else or against society as a whole, from which
both he and others may suffer. A simple rule of conduct may be this:
In view of any proposed course of conduct, word or act, these questions
may be asked: "What may be the result? Will it in any way injure me,
or any one else? Is any possible evil consequence, either to myself or
any one else, likely to come of it?" If the answer is in the
affirmative, it is wrong; otherwise not. These are my simple views of
sin.


_SALVATION_

What is salvation? Almost the universal answer of Christendom has been
for eighteen centuries, escape from hell hereafter and the assurance of
heaven. Yet, according to the record we have of him, Jesus never
taught any such doctrine. It is true that he refers several times to
the Gehena of the Jews, "where their worm dieth not and the fire is not
quenched," but always as a natural consequence of some failure to do,
or perform certain things that they should do; but never does he appeal
to any one to do or perform anything _for the purpose of escaping it_.

Did the reader ever notice that in all the record we have of the
sayings of Jesus, he is nowhere quoted as having ever said one word
about the great, fundamental doctrines of Christianity, over which
pagans and Christians wrangled for four centuries; and over which
Christians have wrangled and fought with each other for fourteen
centuries? Do we find where Jesus ever said one word about the Garden
of Eden, the fall of Adam, original sin, total depravity, vicarious
atonement, the mode of baptism, the Trinity, the possession of the Holy
Spirit, or any form of ecclesiastical organization or church polity?

Salvation, and Jesus so taught, pertains to this life exclusively. It
simply means _to save this life_, - not from physical death, nor hell
hereafter, - but to its proper function, use and purpose, according to
the will of God, as revealed in nature and human experience. In
simpler words, it is to save this life from sin, wrong doing of every
kind, and making of it the highest, noblest and best it is capable of.

This is what Jesus taught; and Jesus is the savior of mankind _only_ in
that he has taught mankind _how to live_, - not by dying for it. Thus
to save this life to the highest, noblest and best of which it is
capable, is to save it from sin unto righteousness; and this is to save
it both here and hereafter. He that _continually lives right_ cannot
die wrong. And whatever the next life may be, it is but a
continuation, a larger unfolding and fruition of this. Salvation is
here, not hereafter.


_HEAVEN AND HELL_

But do I not believe in heaven and hell? Yes, and no. I believe in
both, and neither. I do not believe in either the kind of heaven or
hell I was taught in the church. Yet, I have already said that I did
not believe any sin ever committed by man ever went unpunished, either
here or hereafter, until the full penalty was paid, and the punishment
had completed its remedial and corrective purpose. And I will say here
that I do not believe any good deed or word ever performed or said by
man ever went unrewarded up to the full value of its merit, either here
or hereafter. But I believe both heaven and hell to be
_conditions_, - not places, - and we have them both here in this life,
and will have them hereafter. Each individual makes his own heaven, or
his own hell, and carries it with him when he leaves this life. To
quote from Omar Khayyam:

"I sent my Soul thru the invisible
Some letter of that After-life to spell;
And by and by my Soul returned to me
And answered: I myself am Heaven and Hell;
Heaven's but the vision of fulfilled desire,
And Hell the shadow of a Soul on fire."


The idea of a literal lake of fire and brimstone to be the eternal
abode of by far the larger part of the human race, according to the
orthodox doctrine of Christianity, is not only unreasonable, but
unthinkable. If it exists God must have made it; and such a thought is
a caricature of God. Such a view of hell practically involves the
necessity of the personal devil that has always been associated with
it; and this is also both unreasonable and unthinkable. If such a
being exists he is either co-eternal with God - which is
unreasonable - or God created him - which is unthinkable. The idea that
there is in this universe two co-eternal antagonistic spirits in
eternal warfare with each other challenges human credulity. If the
Bible story of creation and the fall of man is true, as interpreted by
orthodox Christianity, the devil got the best of God right from the
start, and has held it ever since; and according to the current
doctrines of the plan and means of salvation, will hold it eternally.
This leads us inevitably to one of two conclusions: God is neither
Infinite, Omniscient, nor Omnipotent, else He would not have permitted
such a condition to come about, and permit Himself to be thus defeated
in his plans and purposes, and lose eternally ninety percent of the
highest product of his own creation, Man, whom He made in his own image
and likeness. If we still insist that God is Infinite, Omniscient, and
therefore knew in advance all that ever would take place, including the
fall of Adam and its consequences, Omnipotent, and therefore able to
prevent it, but did not, it only makes the matter worse.

But to take the other horn of the dilemma, that God _created_ the devil
first an angel in heaven, who afterwards led a rebellion in heaven and
had to be cast out, and that hell was then created as a place in which
to put him, but where it proved afterwards that he could not be kept,
but got out and robbed God of the noblest product of his creative
genius at the very threshold of creation, corrupting the very fountain
of human life itself, whereby he became the ultimate possessor of
nine-tenths of all the race forever, is only to make the matter still
worse than before. He certainly was not Omniscient, and therefore able
to foreknow what this newly created angel would ultimately do, else He
would not have made him; nor was He Omnipotent, else He would have
prevented it. But if it still be insisted - and unfortunately it is by
far the greater part of Christianity - that God is, nevertheless and
notwithstanding, Infinite, Omniscient and Omnipotent, and either
deliberately planned or supinely sat by and permitted these things to
take place, _then He is not_ a God of goodness, love, justice, truth,
mercy and benevolence, but an unthinkable monster, more diabolical and
cruel than the wildest savage ever known to the earth, or the most
ferocious beast of prey in the jungle. I might naturally fear such a
God, but never love or respect, but eternally hate him.

I have already given my views of the story of Eden and the fall of man;
that man never fell, but is still incomplete, but progressing onward
and upward forever; that he was never, on the general average, higher
or better than now; and as the years and ages go on he will continue
thus to grow better and nobler, making his own heaven as he goes along,
and destroying his own hell by learning his lessons of suffering for
wrong doing, and leaving it behind him. No, God did not make man in
his own image, implant in his very nature that eternal aspiration
upward that is possessed by every normal human being, and then make a
devil to tempt and ruin him, and a hell in which to eternally torment
him.

I quote again from Omar Khayyam:

"Oh, Thou who didst with pitfall and with gin
Beset the road I was to wander in,
Thou wilt not with predestined evil round
Enmesh, and then impute my fall to sin.
... "Ne'er a peevish boy
Would break the bowl from which he drank in joy;
And he that with his hand the vessel made
Will not in after wrath destroy."


_REDEMPTION AND ATONEMENT_

It is hardly necessary to the purpose of this work, to say anything at
all on these subjects. If man was never lost, kidnapped or stolen from
God, he needed no _redeemer_, to _buy him back_ with a price. If man
never "fell" from the favor of God by disobedience, and thereby
incurred his anger, illwill and wrath that sought vengeance on his
life, he needed no one to mediate, propitiate or atone for him by
shedding his own blood as a substitute. The whole doctrine of
redemption and atonement falls flat when the doctrine of the fall of
man is removed from under it. But as this is the very crux of the
whole orthodox Christian system, the reader may be interested to know
what conclusions I reached concerning it, after some years of study, as
to both its origin and meaning. These conclusions I reached, not only
from the study of the Bible, but from the study of history generally;
and especially the history of religion, in other races as well as the
Jews. It must be remembered that this doctrine of atonement by the
shedding of blood, is - or rather was, - in one form or another, common
to many ancient religions and nations. It was by no means exclusively
Jewish or Christian. It probably had a common origin and purpose in
all.

I have already intimated that all religious doctrine and practice had
their origin in man's attempt to solve the problem of evil, sin,
suffering and death; and to remedy it. I will treat this more fully
when I come to consider the subject of religion specifically.

The general solution of this problem, if not the almost universal one,
was, that men had offended the gods and incurred their anger and
illwill; and for this reason the gods continually afflicted them thru
life and ultimately destroyed them. Thus death was the final penalty
for sin. The gods could be finally satisfied only with the life, - the
blood, - of the transgressor. "For the blood is the life." This
doctrine is not confined to Genesis and the Jews. In fact, the best
Biblical scholars of today are of the opinion that this story of Eden
and the fall were not originally Jewish at all; but that the tradition
was learned during the exile in Babylonia and Persia, where, it has
been learned from recent excavations, the tradition existed centuries
before the time of the captivity. It is believed that this tradition
so fitted into the Jewish history and gave them such a satisfactory
solution of their own sufferings and misery that it was brought back by
them, and, with some adaptations, incorporated into their own sacred
literature as a part of their own history. Thus, Genesis is now
believed by the best scholars and most competent critics, not to be the
first book of the Bible written, but in its present form, one of the
last written of the Old Testament. But this is a digression.

Quite early, however, tho the time and the exact reason why are both
unknown, it is evident that man conceived the idea that, tho he could
not escape ultimate death, yet, he might in some way appease the wrath
of the gods, and thus at least mitigate his afflictions in this life,
by offering them the life - the blood - of a substitute. Thus originated
the practice of offering burnt offerings to the gods, so common among
so many ancient tribes and nations besides Israel. It was believed
that the gods would be satisfied, at least for the time being, with the
blood of an innocent victim, especially if it was the best, or the most
precious the offerer had. And from this grew the offering of human
sacrifices, especially one's own children, as Abraham offering Isaac,
Jephtha his daughter, and the practice in Israel so severely condemned
by some of the earlier prophets, of making "their children pass the
fire unto Moloch."

Other offerings in the course of time grew up, such as fruits,
vegetables, incense, etc.; but no offering was acceptable as an
_atonement for sin_, except the offering of blood. Thus Cain brought
an offering "of the fruit of the ground" and Jehovah rejected it. But
Abel came with "the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.
And Jehovah had respect unto Abel and unto his offering."

The later Levitical ritual with its organized priesthood, tabernacle,
temple, etc., was by no means the beginning of this idea of appeasing
the wrath of Jehovah by blood atonement; but was only the more perfect
and systematic organization and administration of it. Blood was
considered so precious, because it was the life, that the children of
Israel were forbidden to eat it on penalty of death. "For the life of
the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to
make atonement for your sins: for it is the blood that maketh atonement
by reason of the life." Lev. xvii, 11.

I shall assume here that the reader is already sufficiently familiar
with the practices of the Jews, as recorded thruout the Old Testament,
concerning this matter of blood atonement, to render it unnecessary to
go into further details. If he is not already familiar with it, he can
easily become so.

The question has been asked, why _burn_ the offering? Why was it not
sufficient simply to shed the blood? Perhaps in the beginning this was
the practice. There is nothing said about burning the offerings of
either Cain or Abel. It is highly probable they were not burnt.
Jehovah was satisfied with the mere _sight_ of blood, the destruction
of a life. But this, Cain did not offer. There was no _blood_ in his
fruit-offering; hence Jehovah was not only unappeased, but insulted.
The first mention of "burnt-offerings" in the Bible is the offering
made by Noah after the flood. From this on they are common. The
purpose of burning the offering was simply to cook it, - to roast it.
The offering was nearly always eaten. Sometimes only the fat,
considered the choicest part, was burnt as an offering to the god;
while the people and priests ate the balance, either roasted or boiled.
See a full account of this in 1 Sam. ii, 12f. As man has always made
his gods in his own image he imagined the gods, like himself, loved to
eat. Therefore, in addition to appeasing the wrath of the god by the
sight of the blood of the victim, his favor was supposed to be further
obtained by feeding him. As the good host always sets the best he has
before his guest, so the best part of the sacrificed victim was placed
on the altar for the god. Altho invisible, it was firmly believed that
the god consumed the burning flesh or fat, as it was reduced to smoke
and ascended to heaven. The parties making the offering, - sometimes
only an individual, or a family, but often the whole tribe, - ate the
balance. They were therefore, "eating with the god," and consequently
on good terms with him, just as eating together today is an indication
of friendship, or the taking of salt together among certain savage
tribes is a token of peace and friendship, or the smoking from the
common pipe among the early American Indians. Later in Israel, the
whole offering was burnt. Jehovah was entitled to it all. Men had
outgrown the idea of "eating with Jehovah."

We now come back more specifically to the _purpose_ of this blood
atonement. We have no account in all the Old Testament where it was
ever offered with direct reference to a future life, - for the purpose
of escaping hell. We have already seen that there is absolutely
nothing in the story of Eden and the fall of man, upon which to
predicate any thought of immortality after physical death, either a
heaven or hell. We now come to note that there is nowhere any _direct_
reference to a life after death, in any book of the Old Testament,
written _before_ the exile. The account of Saul having the witch of
Endor call up Samuel after his death; and David's faith that he could
go to his dead child, indeed indicate some belief at this time in an
after-life; but nowhere is there the remotest reference to a hell, a
separate place of torment for the wicked. In the case of Samuel being
recalled to converse with Saul, he says, that altho Jehovah had
departed from Saul, and notwithstanding Saul's great wickedness,
"Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me," - the saintly Samuel, all
in the same place. There are a few direct references to a future life,
_in a few places only_, in some of the books written _during_ or
_after_ the exile. But nowhere in the Old Testament do we find a
single reference to the offering of the sacrifice of atonement with any
reference whatever to a future life. To ancient Israel, Jehovah was a
God of the present, - not the future. He did things _then_, - in the
present tense. He was the God of the _living_, - not of the dead. And
Jesus affirmed the same thing.

He was exclusively a God for this world and this life. The atoning
sacrifice was offered to appease his wrath against them for their past
sins, not the sin of the individual only, but the sins of the whole
nation. The benefits they expected to receive from this remission of
sins thru the blood of the atonement were _here_ and _now_, - not in
some future life.

We pass rapidly now to the time of the Christ. Altho the canonical
books of the Old Testament give us no clue to any definite, fixed
beliefs among the Jews concerning a future life, heaven, hell or the
resurrection of the dead, yet, according to the New Testament


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