L. A. (Louis Aloisius) Lambert.

Rev. L. A. Lambert, LL.D. versus Col. R. G. Ingersoll : the Christmas sermon of the noted infidel dissected by the eminennt doctor online

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Online LibraryL. A. (Louis Aloisius) LambertRev. L. A. Lambert, LL.D. versus Col. R. G. Ingersoll : the Christmas sermon of the noted infidel dissected by the eminennt doctor → online text (page 1 of 12)
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• 1929 •

Rev. L. A. Lambert, LL. D.


Col. Robert G. IngersoU

The Christmas Sermon of the Noted Infidel Dissected
by the Eminent Doctor




Caxton Building - ^ = Cleveland, Oh'!o

REV. L. A. Lambert, LL.d.


VERSUS '^"^-^



Author of "Notes on Ingersoll," "Tactics
of Infidels," etc.







/ "THE l:2W YQr^r.




Oh, brother, 'mid far sands

The palmtree-cinctured city stands;

Bright white beneath, as heaven bright blue

Leans o'er it, while the years pursue

Their course, unable to abate

Its paradisal laugh at fate.

— Browning.

THE tendency of philosophic speculation, since
Kant, is largely towards agnosticism and in-
tellectual nihilism. It is maintained that we
cannot know what anything is, for the reason that
we know and can know only our impressions ;
C^vhether they have a cause or what that cause is
3we cannot know. In all perception we perceive
Cimerely a condition of ourselves ; and all knowledge,
^therefore, is a knowledge of ourselves. Nor can
Owe truly know this self, for we are conscious only
of its transitory moods and affections. We do not,
im in fact, know that we know ; we merely believe

«2 (iii)


i V /A' TR OD U C TI OX.

tliat we know. We do not know that things really
are, but suppose them to be. Truth, therefore,
is not a harmony of ideas with things, but a cor-
respondence of thought with thought. The crit-
ical philosophy, in denying the validity of infer-
ence from the subjective to the objective, denies
that knowledge has any real value. We are for-
ever shut up within our own self-consciousness,
impotent to know whether there is an external
world or whether we ourselves are anything. This
criticism of knowledge, so far as it affects our
views of the material universe, is simply ignored
as senseless hair-splitting; but w^hen it is applied
to the spiritual universe, to God and the soul,
many take it quite seriously and doubt whether
it is not destructive of the very foundations
of religious belief. It is impossible to persuade
them that they do not know what matter is, but
they accept, without much hesitation, a system of
hopeless nescience as to everything which deeply
and everlastingly interests the human mind and
heart. They are ready to believe that criticism
shatters all the priceless things to which men have
clung — '' The idols of metaphysics and the idols of
religion; the idols of the imagination and the idols
of history" — that it makes everything a lie : truth,
honor and justice, hope, faith and love, freedom,


duty and conscience. Much of the current scien-
tific speculation leads in the same direction. It
assumes that matter alone is real. The power,
behind and within all phenomena, is simply the
unknowable, that Is, the non-existent, since intel-
ligibility is co-extensive with being. There is
nothing but force and motion. The universe is a
machine which runs itself. It is, and the hypoth-
esis of God is not needed to explain either its
existence or its operation. Force and motion and
their modifications are the sum and substance of
all reality. Hence, human action is controlled by
the same physical laws which keep the stars in the
heavens, and a noble thought or a generous emo-
tion is not more admirable or more praiseworthy
than the feats of an acrobat. "The worst man,"
says Nietzsche, "is perhaps the best, for he is in-
dispensable to the keeping alive of instincts and
tendencies without which mankind had long since
fallen into lethargy and decay. Hate, envy, am-
bition, and whatever else is called wicked, preserve
the race, however prodigal and foolish the means.
Whatever, in fact, a man may do or omit, he is
probably a benefactor of the race." As knowledge
is meaningless, virtue is worthless. Necessity is
the only God and unreason is deified. In such a
>vorld life's true worth is lost. They who no longer


have the power to beHeve in the living, loving
God, lose faith in themselves. The only real thing
left to them is matter, and possession is the high-
est good ; money and self-indulgence are the
highest aims. Apart from this, they are mere
mental vagrants, who drift idly among all the
great and vital problems. They are, indeed, still
haunted by the Unseen, and hence it pleases them
to listen to those who pass with an irreverent and
mocking spirit, through the sanctities and infin-
ities, from which the noblest minds and hearts have
drawn hope and strength. In matters of the best
and highest, the absolute and eternally real, they
have neither faith nor knowledge, but, at the most,
some sort of opinions, which they hold lightly, as
being, in all probability, neither truer nor falser
than innumerable other opinions which have been
and yet shall be current. The existence of God,
the reality of the self, the intimations of conscience,
are interesting as questions of debate, as stimulants
of thought, but not as subjects about which it is
possible to know anything with certainty. They
incline to believe that God is only a concept, an
abstraction, just as truth, honor, duty, love, good-
ness, mercy, justice, science, progress, are abstrac-
tions. Thus the divine and infinite becomes for
them a world of shadows. Their highest aim is to


transform matter in every way. They think it a
godlike thing to move rapidly, to live in splendid
houses, to eat delicious food, to dwell in populous
cities, to possess millions of money. They strive
for a state of things in which they imagine happi-
ness may be found, not understanding that happiness
or blessedness does not consist in any possible static
condition, in the possession of any conceivable
thing, but in a ceaseless striving for the best, for
truth and love. Righteousness, not abundance, is
life. Fine clothes do not make the body strong and
healthy ; rich possessions do not make the soul great
andfree. "Thehighesttypeof man," says Aristotle,
'' finds his pleasures in the noblest things . " Of such
things money can never be the symbol or equivalent.
It is a means, not an end. As thought and love
unfold we perceive that they are more precious than
all else ; and thus we are led to understand that per-
sonal worth is the measure of all worth. What our
Lord said of the Sabbath is true of all things. They
are for man, not man for them. They are good and
useful because they are helps to a right course of
human life. Man is made for truth and love : the
avenues that lead to God ; and the measure of the
worth of all institutions, political, educational and
religious, is their power to bring men to the knowl-
edge of truth and the practice of love. This is the

viii INrRODUCriON.

measure of the value of every kind of human labor,
the principle underlying all our social problems.
The best climate is not that in which we are most
comfortable, but that which is most favorable to the
exercise of our noblest faculties, and the laborer is
most fortunate not where he receives the highest
pay, but where his work contributes most effect-
ively to the development of character. Faith itself
is not final ; it is a means, not an end. When it is
superseded by knowledge there is gain, not loss.
Knowledge and love are final, because they are the
highest conceivable modes of union with the eternal
and infinite.

The misery of our age is the consciousness that
w^hat we live for is not God's truth; and that what
it is easiest to turn to is still less His truth. We
live without hope, not knowing, in the universal
whirl, what to choose. We know that our way of
life is not the best, that the things we chiefly de-
sire are more or less worthless, and that we desire
them only because we ourselves are poor and mis-
erable. But this insight is looked upon with sus-
picion, we turn from it as from an evil suggestion ;
and plunge again into the world of appearance and
show, for we have neither a mind nor a heart to
know and love God's real world of truth and good-
ness. Those who have lost faith in God have no


faith in ideals. But idealism is conscientiousness,
and an age which does not believe in ideals is
fatally driven to seek money and indulgence as the
highest good. Hence our one virtue is thrift. The
thrifty succeed ; they gain wealth and honor, what
matter if they make themselves unintelligent and
incapable of the rational enjoyment of life. "The
free life of God," says Aristotle, "is such as our
brief best moments." Hence the high and free
enjoyment of the faculties which make us human is
the end of life, and the chief end of labor is to fit
us for a noble repose and leisure in which the soul
may play at ease amid the realms of truth, good-
ness and beauty. How far above us, with our
inner poverty and vulgar show, our knowledge not
for itself but for politics and trade, this pagan phi-
losopher rises, sitting there where we dare not soar I
To men who are not serious students, who are not
seeking after truth, to whom hunger and thirst for
righteousness is meaningless verbiage, w^ho. having
lost faith in the reality of the whole spiritual world,
hang helpless in the network of material aims and
desires, a frivolous and mocking critic and demol-
isher, like Colonel Ingersoll, comes with a charm
and persuasiveness equal to that of poets and ora-
tors. When we deliberately walk in lower ways, it
is pleasant to think that no man knows whether


there be higher. After hearing him, they say to
themselves: no one can know anything of God, the
soul, freedom of the will, and human responsibility.
The only thing we are certain of is that we see and
taste and touch. Let us get money and enjoy our-
selves. In humoring their religious doubt and
indifference, he helps to confirm them in philistin-
ism and secularism. In losing faith in God and in
their own godlike nature, they lose the mightiest
impulse to high and heroic life. "An immense
moral, and probably intellectual degeneration,"
says Renan, in his latest book, "would follow the
disappearance of religion from the world. You
can get much less from a humanity which disbe-
lieves in the immortality of the soul than from one
which believes."

Everything depends on what we really believe
and love. He who prefers alcohol to honor and
duty is what this preference makes him. An
infinite faith and hope have lived and still live
in the world. These have been and are the wings
whereon men have risen towards the highest and
the best. To persuade them that their divinest and
holiest thoughts and moods spring from mere delu-
sion is to discourage and degrade them. The soul
believes that it lives in God and with God. To
destroy this belief and to make it feel that it is


wedded only to matter, to what is beneatn it, is to
sadden and bewilder, to drive it forth from its true
home into a desert where it can commune only with
the senseless wilderness and beasts of prey. The
union of the higher with the lower produces the
lower. The mulatto, even the octoroon, is still a
negro. He who would help men, must help them
to believe that the beginning and end of all things
is life, not matter. Of the dead as utterly separate
from the living, we can have no conception ; for by
the very law of our being, we associate matter with
sensation and sensation with life. Life, then, is
within and around, beneath and above all things.
Our notions of matter are all permeated with
thought and feeling, consequently with life. Force,
size, hardness, and whatever other ideas enter into
our views of the material world, have meaning only
when blended with what lives and thinks. Nature
is instinct with mind, and if there were no Supreme
Mind there would be no universe. In the universe
there is a tendency from chaos to cosmos, from the
dead to the living, from the outward to the inward,
and this movement is Nature's revelation of God.
Life, conscious of itself, is aware of its own immor-
tality, for the highest consciousness is of that which,
like truth and love, is eternal.

Whoever seeks to persuade men to lower views


of life, is a frivolous thinker, and his influence is
fatally immoral. Only a great moral purpose can
sustain a great soul, and a great moral purpose
rests finally on faith in God. If there is no God,
all that is, is meaningless and vain. If He is, I
fear no evil; if He is not, I hope for no good.
Plato's precept is — learn to die; Spinoza's — : learn
to live; Christ's — learn to know God. Death
shows the vanity of life ; true life shows the im-
potence of death to do harm to those who love God.
He reveals Himself within the w^ill of man as
within his mind. We cannot even desire that
anything but the Infinite Best should satisfy us,
and, if we acted with full consciousness, we should
understand that in all things we pursue, we seek
God, however blindly; we should know that we
can be made blessed, not by the possession of
anything, not even by a virtuous condition of soul,
but only by the living view of God's presence in
the world. Whatever state we attain to, we value it
as a means to something better. Shall we not then,
at last, seek to reach the best? Or shall we believe
that life is but a sickly dream ? It is God who
whispers within the human conscience, which is
but a phase of consciousness ; it is He Who puts
morality in the nature of things; Who makes a high
and honorable mode of life, followed with perse-

IN TR OD UC riON. xiii

verance, become, in time, a pleasant kind of life,
while the immoral pursuit of power, or pleasure or
money leads to misery. It is He Who causes noble
and virtuous sentiments to give delight and cour-
age to those by whom they are genuinely felt,
whereas low passions make wretches and cowards.
It is He Who makes virtue self-preservative ; vice,

If the eye were not sunlike, how could it behold
the light? If the soul were not godlike, why
should it forever yearn for God, seeking Him,
behind all that it follows and loves? Our highest
aspirations reveal our deepest needs. Religion,
then, is the greatest and holiest factor within us.
"The thing a man does practically believe," says
Carlyle, "the thing a man does practically lay to
heart, and know for certain concerning his vital
relations to this mysterious universe, and his duty
and destiny there, that is, in all cases, the primary
thing for him, and creatively determines all the
rest." Whether or not man shall ever fathom
the mystery of being, shall ever truly read Nature's
secret, to believe in God, which in the past has
been the highest wisdom, will in the future also
continue to be the highest wisdom ; and as we
more and more realize that God is the highest truth,
perfect holiness and infinite love, we shall evolve,


not a new religious creed, but new and fairer
manifestations of the healing, strengthening and
ennobling power of religion — of that religion which
is embodied in the life and teachings of Christ.

In the midst of all our feeble and bewildering
scepticism, we see, more clearly than men have ever
seen before, the hopeless disappointment and dis-
gust which sensual indulgence involves. The thing
has been analyzed and we hold our breath. The
ideals of money and place the intelligent now rec-
ognize to be unsatisfactory; and we begin to under-
stand that, to be famous is to survive only as an im-
personal influence, to outlive ourselves in something
which is not ourselves. What remains to us then
but to be Buddhists or Christians, to aim either to
cease to be, or to live with the Eternal.? What is
truth and love? I find fault with Colonel Ingersoll,
not because his faith and opinions are not mine, but
because he approaches the most vital and sacred
subjects which the mind of man can consider in
a frivolous and mocking spirit ; because he dis-
cusses the most momentous and solemn of all
questions, without reverence, which is the highest
feeling known to man. "Look for a people en-
tirely destitute of religion," says Hume, "and if
you find them at all, be assured they are but a few
degrees removed from brutes." This is the tes-


timony of the most sceptical mind, whose thought
has found a permanent place in literature. Since
religion, of some kind, interpenetrates all thought,
love and aspiration is part of all human nobleness
and excellence, of all struggles for truth and jus-
tice, of all solace in wretchedness, of all hope in
the presence of death. To combat it, in its highest
form, with shameless assertion, sarcasm and ridi-
cule, is to sin against human nature itself. " Ridi-
cule is," to quote Carlyle again, "intrinsically a
small faculty. It is directly opposed to thought,
to knowledge, properly so called ; its nourishment
and essence is denial, which hovers only on the
surface, while knowledge dwells far below. More-
over, it is by nature selfish and morally trivial ; it
cherishes nothing but our vanity, which may, in
general, be left safely enough to shift for itself.
. It is not by derision or denial, but
by far deeper, more earnest, diviner means, that
anything truly great has been affected for man-
kind ; that the fabric of man's life has been reared,
through long centuries to its present height."
As it takes a hero to understand a hero, a poet to
love a poet, so only a reverent and religious mind
can rightly deal with questions of religion. We
are offended less by what Colonel Ingersoll says, than
by the spirit in which it is said. Marcus Aurelius,


in the midst of dissolving paganism, is bewildered.
He does not attempt to conceal his doubts as to
whether there are gods ; but he is always serious
and earnest, and hence his thoughts are precious
to all who think and feel, whatever their faith or
lack of faith may be. We are aware that he is a
man with men, who treats reverently whatever
mankind has held to be high and sacred. Soc-
rates drank hemlock because he was found guilty
of blaspheming the gods of Athens, but the noble
and religious spirit which breathes in all his utter-
ances makes him not only the father of philosophy,
but the brother of prophets and saints. For Vol-
taire, himself, it may be possible to find excuse, for
he was by nature a persifleur, a man born to take
a light and superficial view of all things, and to
mock, therefore, at himself and mankind. Besides
he lived in an age when religion had become asso-
ciated with inveterate and intolerable abuses. And,
then, he had wit and style, and not the mere
faculty of caricature.

Fichte, the least orthodox of men, accused even
of atheism, is always earnest and noble in his
treatment of religion. What worlds lie between
Colonel Ingersoll and him, who wrote these words :
"Even to the end of time all wise and reverent
men must bow themselves before this Jesus of


Nazareth ; and the more wise, intelligent and noble
they themselves are, the more humbly will they
recognize the exceeding nobleness of this great
and glorious manifestation of the Divine Life."
Richter, I suppose, was not a Christian, but this is
what he writes: "Christ was the holiest among
the mighty, and the mightiest among the holy. He
lifted, with His pierced hands, empires off their
hinges ; He turned the stream of history and He still
g(^verns the ages."

Colonel Ingersoll forgets that religion is not, in
any proper sense at all, a subject for verbal warfare
a question to be settled by a debating club. It is
our very human life, our highest aspiration, our
deepest need. It is a life to live, an attitude towards
God and His Universe to be ceaselessly held,
and only in a very minor way and chiefly for those
who have lost the sense of its real import is it a
matter for controversy and logic-chopping. As
the faith of healthful minds in the reality of the
external world is not disturbed by metaphysical
theories, so belief in God and the soul rides trium-
phant over the arguments of materialists and
atheists. Difficulties there are, many and possibly
insuperable, but whatever line of thought we take,
the moment we attempt to descend to the ultimate

cause and essence of things, reason seems to be-
I.C.S.— 2


come involved in hopeless contradictions. A uni
versal unconscious principle from which all things
proceed is as incomprehensible as an Infinite Being
Who thinks and loves. The religious do not claim
that they have a clear viev^r of the object of their
adoration. Their insistence upon the virtue and
necessity of faith is evidence of this. They rec-
ognize that what is plain is the exception, and that
mystery is everywhere. In the limitless expanse a
few stars twinkle; all else is darkness. "There is
a chain in the hand of God," says Max Miiller,
" which holds together all the beings of the universe,
even to the smallest grain of sand. Here and there
we discover its links, but, for the most part, it is
hidden from our sight." Whatever our solution of
the enigma of being and of life, we accept it on
faith. No man can know that the unconscious can
create consciousness. The atheist believes in his
dogma, as the theist believes in his God. The one
holds that the Infinite Power, which all dimly dis-
cern, is mere matter; the other is certain that it is
life and truth and love and beauty. If the atheist
ask, how could God create such a world? the theist
replies with the question : How could matter create
a soul which thinks and loves, which is nourished
by deathless hope and uplifted by infinite aspira-
tion.^ To those who affirm that the Almighty is


fatal, blind and senseless, great human hearts will
forever reply, with their cry of faith, that the in-
finitely strong is also the infinitely wise and good.
If the materialist were right, those who believe in
God would still have the better part. It is a higher
human thing and a mightier, to trust the larger
hope. We cannot but believe that the highest is
more nearly akin to what within us is high than to
what is low. The ship of faith is a Columbian ship.
Believers have been world-compellers and world-
re vealers. They have conquered with Paul ; they
have founded empires with Charlemagne; they have
written epics with Dante and Milton; they have
read the secret of the stars with Copernicus and
Kepler; they have sailed the sea of darkness with
Columbus; they have cleared the wilderness for the
people's rule, with Pizzaro and Cortez. Life's cur-
rent has welled within them in a clear, perennial,
fresh-flowing stream; and they have hugged death
himself, believing that he unlocks the door through
which we pass to God, by Whose throne flows life's
full tide. They live the life, and the doctrine
whereby it is expressed is for them nowise uncer-
tain. The objector they find to be something of a
trifler. He is not wholly in earnest about any-
thing, else he would find less time to argue and
dispute. This verbalism, after all, settles nothing


that is worth settling. He who tells us what diffi-
culties and doubts he has, and what difficulties
and doubts the faith of others suggests to him,
renders us no real service ; and he is, besides, as
uninteresting and tiresome to a self-active mind as
one who complains and laments. Let those, who
seek pretexts for doing nothing or doing ill, listen
to him; but they, who feel that life is eternity's
seedtime, dwell in worlds where all this phrase-
mongering is as unprofitable as the discussions of
schoolboys or as a politician's zeal for the country's
welfare. Why should the good and wise care to
see a man pull even the most wretched thatched
hovel about the heads of its inmates? Show them
how and where they may find a nobler dwelling,
and they will leave the hovel. Be a builder, not a
destroyer ; a creator, not an objector.

Colonellngersoll'smethodof criticism is one which
cultivated men have long since thrown aside. The

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Online LibraryL. A. (Louis Aloisius) LambertRev. L. A. Lambert, LL.D. versus Col. R. G. Ingersoll : the Christmas sermon of the noted infidel dissected by the eminennt doctor → online text (page 1 of 12)