Jonas Hartzel.

A defense of the Bible against the charges of modern infidelity; consisting of the speeches of Elder Jonas Hartzel, made during a debate conducted by him and Mr. Joseph Barker, in July 1853 online

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Online LibraryJonas HartzelA defense of the Bible against the charges of modern infidelity; consisting of the speeches of Elder Jonas Hartzel, made during a debate conducted by him and Mr. Joseph Barker, in July 1853 → online text (page 24 of 26)
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They concede too much to justify their opposition.
One thing is manifest from their writings, they had
most incorrect views of the Christianity of the New
Testament. They were waring, and yet are with the
false exhibitions of it rather than the thiag itself ; for
upon their own admissions, it is an exotic, a plant
of an unearthly growth. Can they say of any other
what they say of this ? " It is the best ;" " it is
most holy;" "it promotes the happiness of man-
kind," etc. Take Joseph Barker's fifteen principles
upon which he based the concession, " that the Bible
is the friend of all truth and virtue, and the enemy
of all error and vice." Can they concede this much
to any system of infidelity ? Let them select the
best from Celsus to Joseph Barker. Let them revise
it and correct it, and then sit in judgment upon its
merits. Will they concede to their own what they
have to the Bible ? I am willing to refer the decision
to themselves. Or if they are not pleased with this
test, I will propose to them another. Let them take
any other, claiming a human or divine origin — any
of the Pagan mytJia^ and when by consent of the
whole infidel fraternity, or a majority if they cannot
agree, or friend Barker himself, and now having
made the selection, he or they may throw it into
their little " allembec" and distil it until they have
nothing left but the essence^ and then they shall have
the privilege of another purifying process ; they may
put it through their best crucible once and again,
until they are saHisfied they have expurgated all the

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diosd — ^tken we will submit the book to a competent
committee for examination, and if said committee
shall decide that it is the "best," the most "holy"
religion — " best caknkted to promote the "happi-
ness of mankind" — that it is the " friend of all truth
and virtue and the enemy of all error and yice." I
again pledge my honor as a notan and as a Ohristian,
that I will be forthcoming in the sum of $1000 for
such book upon the delivery of it, or I will give them
yet another chance. Joseph Barker may write out a
rdigion himself, and have the benefit of the copy-
right and as soon as he can get the aforesaid decision
in its favor, I will be forthcoming to him in the spe-
cified sum. This I submit as a standing proposition.
Until this is done, or something of the kind, I must
say that your eulogies upon the Bible are most un-
candid, if not invidious, and your thrusts at it un-
called for. Suppose Christians would eulogize
infidel books and then speak of them as you do about
the bible, you would say hypocrites — and justly too.
But somehow, injidds eaeape ths charge of hypocrisy.
There is a reason for this ; though they would do
with the Bible as one of dd did with his fellow —
give him one hand in token of firiendship, and with
the other thrust a dagger through his heart. When
such admissions in favor of the Bible as the foregoing,
(and they are but a few of the many that might be
cited,) and infidel opposition to the Bible are before
my mind, and their zeal in carrying it forward — a
zeal worthy of a better cause. I can come to no other

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concltision, (despite all my charity — and the allow-
ance I am ever disposed to mi^e for weak hmnanity,)
than, that infidelity is a disease of the heart, not of
the head.

We will read a few extracts from the " Christian,"
By Joseph Barker, from page 145 to 155 :

"Infidelity is not bom with us. We not only are not bom in-
fidels, but we are not eyen bom with an inclination — a ]»edis-
position to infidelity. On the eontrary, we are bom with a strons^
inclination or predisposition to beliere. We are bom, in laot, wi&
a strong inclination to belieye eveijthing that is told us by those
who are older than ourselves." " If, therefore, men become un-
belieyers, it is in spite of their nature. To become infidels, men
must do violence to nature, l^ature must be shocked and per-
verted before it can di^dieve ; before it can reject the great prin-
cijples of religion. Nor does infidelity arise from a want of
evidence of the tmth of Christianity, ot from any defect in the
character of that evidence. The evidences of the trutii of the
Christian religion, appear to me to be as complete and decisive as
can well be imagined. The doctrines themselves bear every mark
of truth that doctrines can bear." And I ask, what is there more
wonderful, in what Christianity tells us with respect to the future
life of man, than there is in that which the earth itself tells us,
with respect to the origin of the earth, of the vegetable and animal
tribes wnich still remain to ffrace it, or which have perished in its
past revolutions, or of the human race itself ? The more I look
at nature, the more am I astonished that men diould find a diffi-
culty in believing the teachings of Christianity with respect to the
future destiny of man. A great portion of Cfhristianity is proved
to be true by every good man in his own experience ; and there
are many portions w the history of Christ which are sufficiently
proved to be true, by the experience of every religious reformer.
" At the same time, the historical evidences of Christianity are
quite sufficient to satisfy an unprejudiced man who is acquainted
with them, that the historical facts of the New Testament are true,
or that the records of them contained in the Gk)spels and Acts of
Apostles are substantially COTrect." "And if inndelity does not
arise from any want of evidence of the trath of Christianity, much
less does it arise from any defect in the character of Christianity.
No one that understands Cnristianity, can say that it is a defective,
a foolish, or a mischievous system. No one that understands
Christianity as taught and exemplified by Christ can help regard-
ing it as a system of freedom, of purity, of benevolence, and of
peace. " A^ain, infidelity does not originate in greatness of soul.

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It is not an unusual largeness of intellect, or a peculiar elevation
of moral principle, or extraordinary benevolence and conscientious-
ness that leads men into unbelief. Unbelievers generally have not
been distinguished for peculiar greatness of intellect, or for great
superiority with regard to benevolence and conscieniiousness. On
the contrary, those who have deserved to be called infidels, have,
in general, been remarkable for widely different qualities." **Who
are the m^i that have distinguished themselves above their co>
temporaries in lat^ times, either for largeness of intellect or yigpr
of mind, or purity of character, or fulness of benevolence, or dis-
interested and unwearied efforts in the cause of human freedom and
human happiness ? Tou will at once refer to such men as Newton,
the fame of whose intellectual ereatness has run through the woiM;
and Milton, whose labors in the cause of libertv, and whose supe-
riority as a poet, have raised him to a lofty ana eternal eminence.
And Locke, whose depth of thought, and power of elucidation,
have secured to his writings universal respect; and Penn, whose
learning and intelligence were both of them great — ^whose purity
and temperance, whose courage and benevolence were still greater,
and whose labors in the cause of truth and righteousness, of uni-
versal freedom and improvement have scarce had a parallel in the
history of our nation. All these were Christians. And the best
and greatest of our own days are Christians. The best and greatest
men m England, the ^eatcst and best men in Europe, and the
greatest and best men m America, are Christians ; and even some
among the greatest and best men in Asia have been Christians."
" Again, infidelity does not originate in greatness of knowledge.
It does not spring from alarge acquaintance with science. A belief
in Christianity is in no way dependent on ignorance for its strength.
And doubts and disbelief of Christianity are in no way indebted
to knowledge for their existence. The greatest scholars, the most
devoted investigators of nature, most ardent lovers of science, the
greatest admirers of the wondrous works of creation ; the men that
have gained the largest acquaintance with literature and art, are to
be found amongst the benevers in Christianity." "We observe
again, that infiaelitv does not originate in superiority of moral
character. As we have already intimated, those who are really
infidels are not, in general, superior characters. There is reason
to believe, that in a great many cases the infidelity of people has
originated in moral depravity. There is no reason to believe that
it has in any case originated in moral purity, or virtuous excel-
lence." " Then again, some become unbelievers through the in-
fluence of vice. They are unwilling to give up their bad practices,
and therefore reject and at length disbelieve the religion that con-
demns their baa practices. They are unwilling to live in accord-
ance with the requirements of religion, and therefore deny and at
length disbelieve the r^igion whose requirements annoy them. It
is unpleasant to believe a religion which condemns us. It is nn-

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pleasant to beliere a rdigion which forbids us to do what we are
anxious to do, and which requires us to do that which we are
unwilling to do. It is an old saying, that '*men love darkness
better than light, because their deeds are evil." It is an old cus-
tom for men to reject a message from Heaven, because it clashes
witti their inclinations and pursuits. ** How can ye believe," says
Jesus, "who receive honor one of another?" "How can ye be-
lieve," he says a^ain in effect, " who refuse to act in accordance
with the lignt which you already possess t Act righteously and
you shall soon know of the doctrine which I teach, whether it be
of God, or whether I speak of myself."

Again, when I think of the wicked and profligate
lives of some leading infidels, I am yet more con-
firmed in this conviction. I know that infidels are
disposed to repel this charge — ^they do this by com-
parison, bnt their comparisons are unfair. They
compare their best infidels with the most delinquent
professors ; perhaps such as are not esteemed by the
church. Suppose Christians would compare their
most worthy professors with the most base and un-
principled men professing infidelity, and then shout
victory! A just comparison will be between th^
founders of Christianity and of infidelity and their
adherents. That will bring Christ and the Apostles,
Volney, Carlyle, Voltaire, Paine, with others into the
comparison. I cannot conmiit such an outrage upon
your feelings as to carry the comparison farther than
to name the parties. I will, however, select one of
the greatest infidel boast, namely Monsieur Voltaire,
with a few kindred spirits, and read a few sketches
from the pen of Joseph Barker, and let him speak
for himself of these infidel worthies. I shall do this
partly from a sense of duty to an absent friend. I
allude to Mrs. Wilson. To make myself understood,

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let me say that Mrs. Wilson, in her correspondenee
with Joseph Barker, referred to the wicked lives of
Voltaire and Paine, as I have just done. Mr. Barker
called into question the integrity of my religious
sister, as you will see. — ^liberator April 22, 1863 :

*'Mr8. Wilson's tales about Voltaire and Paine reqaire no
answer. He would be a simpleton, indeed, that could place any
reliance on the tales of churcn and bible men respecting the lives
or deaths of heretics and unbelieya^. I know what priests and
bigots are, when proYoked by heresy^ or unbelief. They are the most
unconscionable liars, and the most infernal haters, on God's earth.
I have had experience of tiieir cruelty and lies. And I have read
church history, and no little of priestly controversy. I cannot con-
ceive a more awful perversion of humanity — a more inhuman <Mr
infernal monster — a more unutterable or unbiounded hater ; a being
more reckless of tnith, or more ravenous for innocent blood, than
the priest or bigot Talk of tigers ; they are spirits of gentleness
and love compared with the priest or bi^t, when excited by the

Eresence of the man who sets at naueht his authority or speaks to
im of reform. But Mrs. Wilson ret^ us to the genuine lett^«
between the Rev. Father Capuchin and the Archbishop of Anneci.
I know what genuine letters mean. Letters between two chief
priests respecting an unbeliever.

" But she refers us to a General Biographical Dictionary. Does
^e suppose we do not know how General Biographical Dic-
tionaries are made ? But she says, Voltaire cried out, " I shall go
to hell." Then why do you say he was an infidel — infidels do not
believe in heU. Again she says Voltaire's creed Was the essence
of Popery."

You shall now hear Mr. Barker in defense both of
Mrs. Wilson and myself. "Christianity Trium-
phant," pages 413 to 417 : In answer to the 130th
infidel objection, that —

"When the Catholics and Protestants were persecuting and
utterly destroying each other, in the kingdom of France, Voltaire,
out of his own purse, built a colony to keep them from each other.
Point to a Christian that has done as much. It is to Voltaire and
those like him that we owe the freedom that we now enjoy."

Arts. There is nothing in the history of Voltaire to warrant those
commendations : what our opponents say in his favor is quite a
misrepresentation. The idea «f Voltairo building a colony, and

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thereby separatine the Protestants and Catholics of France from
one another, is altogether monstroas. But if Voltaire had done so,
yet for our opponents to suppose that no Christian had eyer done as
much, shows them to be strangely ignorant of Christian history.
What did Penn do ? What did Richunl Reynolds do t What did
Professor Franks and Oberltn do ? What did Wesley do ? What
did John Williams do t What did the men and women do whose
deeds ot b«iey<^ence are noticed in preceding pages of this work ?
To tihink of comparing Toltaire with Christian worthies, is out of
all character. As Voltaire appears to be the best man that un-
belieyers haye to boast, I will here gtye a brief outline of his his-
tory: —

He was educated by the Jesuits at the school of Louis le Orand,
and yery early showed a leaning to licentiousness and infidelity.
When he left tine Jesuits, his father sent him to the schools of law :
but he formed a connection with a number of leading infidels, and
all his father's efforts to induce him to deyote himself to some
regular employment were in yain. He soon became a proficient in
lewdness and mfidelihr. To break him off from his associates, his
father sent him into Holland ; but Hieire he seduced a young lady,
and conducted himself in other respects so badly, that be was sent
back to France in disgrace.

He now pursued clandestine authorship, and meetibg both with
jMTOtection and persecution, he rose to some eminence as a wit. He
went on in feasting and wantonness, and writing ancmymous
pamphlets. He foraied an acquaintance with Rousseau, and
quarreUed with him, and they were neyer friends more. He is
next found throwing his " Henriade," a poem he had composed,
into the fire in a rage, because some Mends, whom he had called
together to hear it r^ before its publication, suggested some im-
proyements. He next quarrels with the Cheyalier de Rohan, and
learns fencing that he may challenge him to a duel, and is sent to
the Bastile six months for nis pains.

He next came to England — associated with some Enelish infidels,
and got a large subscription made for him, which laid the founda-
tion of his fortune. He then returned to France,^ and by lottery
gambling, and some successful speculations in African w^eat ana
Spanish commerce, ^p!«atly increased his stock of money. By
army contracts he gained eight hundred thousand francs. He now
pursued his work of auth(»%hip briskly, but wrote such works for
obscenity and blasphemy, thatlie concealed himself and his name.

He now retired to Cirey, with a lewd woman of the name of
Chatelet, with whom he lived on terms of infamous intimacy.
Here he feasted, and wrote, and revelled in uncleanness, and quar-
reled with his harlot, corresponded with the infidel Kin^ of Prussia,
•was very miserable, and had the mortification to see his harlot run
off with M. de S. Lambert.

He returned to Paris, visited the King of Prussia, got distinctions.

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a good salaiy, ^aj suppers, but showing himself over greedy, he
. disgusted the king, quarreled with him, abused the king's literary
friends, composed a libel called * The Private Life of Frederick II.,'
together witn other libels, returned to Paris, but never forgave his
inndel brother king Frederick.

He now, at the age of sixty, took up his residence at Ferney,
where he lived for the last twenty years of his life. Here he edu-
cated a daughter of Oorneille the dramatist, and got her married ;
and assisted the family of Galas, and of Sirven. Two youn?
officers, one of them, De Barre, were accused of blasphemy and
obscenity in their orgies, and with having destroyed a cross at
Abbeville. These young men were condemned to death, and De
Barre actually suffered. One of Voltaire's works was found in
the young man's possession, and had served to corrupt him. When
Voltaire cried out against the sentence, it was justly answered,
that the guilt also attached to him, for having corrupted the young
men's imaginations by his filthy and impious writings.

His chief occupation at Ferney was a bitter and ceaseless war
against the religion of Christ. Sometimes it was a large book,
sometimes a penny pamphlet ; now a treatise on divinity, and then
a tale or a song ; out hostilities never ceased Let it be remarked
that it was after he was sixty years of age that his infidelity be-
came most shameless, his ribaldry most insolent, and his obscenity
most offensive. Yet with all his zeal for pollution and impiety,
such was his timidity, or his consciousness that he was wrong, that
all his attacks on Christianity came out with false names, and when
they were attributed to him, he would deny them even with an oath.
*' vanity and personal feeling," says my author, "mixed with all
his doctrines, and colored his best works. A disposition to make
light of every thing spoils all. He is also ever wanting in impar-
tiality ; the promotion of infidelity is ever kept in view, and truth
and history are made to bend to tnis. ' I am tired,' said this poor
creature, ' of hearing it said, that twelve men were sufficient to
establish the Christian religion ; I am anxious to show that it re-
quires but one to destroy it 1' " Poor man I

His opposition to Christianity, as one of his bio^aphers ob-
serves, did not arise from a love to truth or to mankind, but from
the spirit of misanthrophy and sensuality. His whole conduct was
unworthy of one who pretended to be a reformer. " Not only was
the moral conduct of Voltaire censurable," says one of his biogra
phers, "and his conversation licentious, but his writings were
replete with gross indecency and insulting outrage to all that is
modest and uncorrupted. BTor was it merely by the indulgence of
sensuality that he was unfit to serve as a model : he was subject to
anger, and envy, and hatred, and was full of malice, falsehood and
hypocrisy. Sometimes he would be seen tearing with his teeth a
stupid pamphlet, written to depreciate his genius ; at another time
we find him writing anonymous libels against men whom in public




he flattered. And as to his pretensions to benevolence, what was
he ready to sacrifice, or even to risk, for the welfare of mankind ?
By the course he took he gained more power, riches, and fame, than
he could possibly have acquired in any other way. As for any
serious danger to his life or liberty, there was none ; but when the
smallest dagger appeared, even of his having to encounter the
ecclesiastics, what was his conduct ? He fled from the danger,
made the most hvpocritical submissions, feigned what he did not
believe, and professed himself a disciple of that religion which he
daily insulted. In writing to Mr. and Msle. d'Argental, he says —
' My .angels, if I had a hundred thousand men, I know what I
would do ; but as I have them not, I shall take the Sacrament at
Easter, and you may call me hypocrite as long as you please. No,
my dear marquis, no ! the moclem Socrates will not drink hem-
lock.' *' In the same sense he wrote that, " if he lived at Abbeville,
he would take the sacrament every fortnight." (Correspondence.)
Is this the man that is to be compared with Him who laid down
his life for mankind, and freely sealed the truth with his blood ?
Is this the man who is exalted above those martyrs to the interests
of truth and human happiness, of which the history of Christianity
is full ?

That Voltaire did some good I do not pretend to deny : the mast
malignant and selfish and debauched characters in the universe will
sometimes do a kind turn. Nero himself was kind on occasions,
and murderers and thieves are kind and honest when it suits their
interests, and it will sometimes happen that men are placed in
such circumstances, that they are obliged to do some seeming act
of kindness, or fall into disgrace. This was the case with Voltaire;
and hence, in the midst of a long life of pollution, and deceit, and
ra^, and malignity, there appear some particles of better seeming
things, like here and there a spark amidst the smoky clouds of a
troubled volcano. But none that had any regard to truth and
decency, would ever think of comparing the conduct of such a char-
acter with the peaceful, the pure, the chaste, the benevolent and
godlike lives of such men as Howard, and Boyle, and Penn, and
Wesley, and thousands more, who have made it their business,
and felt it their happiness, to toil and plan and suffer for the
welfare of their fellow-men."

Again, '' Christianity Triumphant," pages 339 and
and 340 :

*' Rousseau held the doctrine of irresponsibility, and he surely
could not imagine that new-bom infancy could have any voluntary
faith ; and yet he exposed his own five little ones in the street, and
left them to perish. William Beadle held the doctrine of irresponsi-
bility ; he believed that man had no power either over his belief
or conduct ; and yet he murder^ in one night his wife and all hf

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children, and then destroyed himself. Diderot, one of the principal
leaders amons the believers in irresponsibility in France, who pro-
fessed to befieve that men were no more to be blamed for toeir
unbelief or crimes, than the winds which blew down the trees, still
contended that evil-doers should be put to death, to furnish pow^-
ful motives or circumstances to prevent others from doins^ evil.
D'Alembert, another leader of the same school, used his influence
with the Censor of the Press in France, to induce him to suppress
the writings of such as wrote against himself ; and when the Censor
of the Press sent him a letter mildly declining to do so, he cursed
and swore, and in his fury tore the letter to pieces. When the
believers in irresponsibility in France got hold of political power,
their deeds of blood and death were revolting and diabolical b^ond
all paralld. The ministers of religion werehung to the lamp-posts
wimout a trial : the guillotine was kept going night and day:
terror seized on all hearts, and a cruel death presented itself to
every eye. The historjr of the dreadful deeds perpetrated by the
disciples of irresponsibility in France, is about the darkest, the
most appidlinK* and the linost heart-rending tale in the whole his-
toiy or crime."

Also page 418 of the same book, answering the
ISlst infidel objection, viz:

" What half century has produced Biore wars than tha last V*
Ana. And in what half centuiy; have inidel philosophers and
statesmen had so much to do with the affkirs of nations ? The
horrors of the last centurv should teach us what we are to expect
when power fedls into tne hands of unbelievers. Compare the
history of Europe when power was in the hands of such ra&a as
the infidel Frederick, and the infidel philosophers of France, with

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Online LibraryJonas HartzelA defense of the Bible against the charges of modern infidelity; consisting of the speeches of Elder Jonas Hartzel, made during a debate conducted by him and Mr. Joseph Barker, in July 1853 → online text (page 24 of 26)