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sects. Questions that had been settled centuries before
by authority in the old church were dragged forth to
renewed discussion. lyUther was describing his frequent
interviews with the de\-il in his bed room. Demons and
witches were poisoning the air, and bringing calamity and
misfortune, against which there was but one safeguard
and remedy, reading texts of scripture and prayer. But
however the sects might differ in their understanding of
the sacred language, upon a number of things they were
all agreed; every text of scripture was to be taken liter-
ally ; heresy could not be too severely punished; a
curtailment of the pleasures of life increased the chances
of heaven ; the world was a ' ' sink of iniquity ' ' destined for



PREFACE. 43

early destruction, and presided over by a God who never
smiles, and troubled by a devil who never sleeps, the
latter with millions of offspring, man pursuing demons,
inflicting insanity, sickness and many other of the mis-
fortunes of life.

In these beliefs the two churchs were in entire accord
and must equally answer for the miseries and cruelties
they have inflicted upon humanity in enforcing them.
Theories and doctrines so persistently advanced and
upheld by both churches, and which have proved so dis-
astrous to humanity do not properly belong, and should
have no place in Christianity. They are not only without
the aiithority of the Master, but are mostly in opposition
to his teaching and example. The most harmful of them
owe their origin to the fables and myths introduced into
the sacred book second-hand from Egyptian and Oriental
sources, centuries before the Christian era, and it is not
surprising that legends due to the faculty of romance in
the minds of some barbarous Assyrians or Pharos, far
back in the cradels of humanity, when introduced as
foundations for rules of life, and as explanations of the
mysterious processes of nature along the whole line of
human advancement should have been constantly rejected



44 PREFACE.

and denied by the reasoning portion of mankind, and it
is scarcely conceivable that now, within a few months of
the twentieth century, they should be upheld by both
churches as inspirations of the Deity. Not so surprising
either when we consider that for seventeen centuries, the
undeveloped minds of youth in all Christendom, have
been moulded into the acceptance of beliefs, which, had
they been presented without that gradual absorption in
which reason takes no part would have been long ago
rejected on account of their improbability. In no place
is this better understood than among the churches, and
as a consequence, they have been in perpetual contention
with each other for the early education of j'outh.

The most inspiring and hopeful spectacle in all human-
ity is an assemblage, wrapt in the devotional exercises of
Christianity, listening attentivelj^ to the eloquent minis-
trations of an earnest leader, who pleads the cause of
virtue and charity as it is exhibited in the written life and
character of the Model Man. The great central story
never wearies in interest, and never grows old ; a willing
sacrifice and suffering for the benefit of mankind. Such
never failing kindness, such lessons of brotherhood, such
love for men, such tenderness for children, such consider-



PREFACE. 45

ation beyoud his time for women, and with such a
pathetic and suffering end as to capture their emotional
natures for all time. And above all bringing the tidings
of a hope, that comes to men, as a boat of rescue comes
to a storm-tossed ship slowly sinking into the depths ; so
cherished in Christian households as to become a wor-
shiped member of them, to be defended as one of them,
upheld if need be by force of arms and sacrifice of life.
And the lesson of it all, and the hopefulness and inspira-
tion of it all is, that wherever mankind dwells, be it in
castles or cottages, amid the crow^ds of cities, or among
quiet country fields, there are laurels everywhere among
them all for him who will sacrifice himself that others
may gain ; esteem and veneration among them all for
him, whose life is pure, and whose ways are ways of kind-
ness and charity. Vice can never reign supreme but for a
time amid such inherent affinity for goodness implanted
in every human heart, and as the days of general consent
and unobstructed knowledge enHghten and control the
affairs of men, more and more certain, as time rolls on,
will come protests and rebelUons against the temporary
triumph of evil.

Of that entrancing story which has captured civiliza-



46 PREFACE.

tion, and has come to be a part of it, what is there in the
Master that deserves such barbaric surroundings ; such
inconsequential details of obscure and barbarous lives ;
such vindictive retaliations and brutal conflicts, sacreligi-
ously involving the Diety as a promoter of them ; wild
fictions of early ages, inventions of the infancy of man,
conflicting accounts of historical events, fragmentary
parts by difierent persons at different periods ; explana-
tions in many branches of science, now known to be mis-
taken and absurd, and containing texts, that either openly
sanction or have been twisted into service of the most
stupendous outrages that humanity has suffered.

"Considering the asserted origin of these records —
indirectly from God himself — we might justly expect that
they would bear to be tried by any standard that man can
apply, and vindicate their truth and excellence in the
ordeal of human criticism. We ought therefore to look
for universality, completeness, perfection. We might
expect that they would present us with just \dews of the
nature and position of this world in which we live, and
that, whether dealing with the spiritual or material, they
would put to shame the most celebrated productions of
human genius, as the magnificent mechanism of the



PREFACE. 47

heavens, and the beautiful forms of the earth are superior
to the vain contrivances of man. We might expect that
they would propound with authority, and definitely settle
those all important problems, which have exercised the
mental powers of the ablest men of Asia and Europe for
so many centuries, and which are at the foundation of all
faith and all philosophy ; that they should distinctly tell
us, in unmistakable language, what is God, what is the
world, what is the soul, and whether man has any criter-
ion of truth ; that they should explain to us how evil can
exist in a world, the Maker of which is omnipotent, and
altogether good ; that they should reveal to us in what
the affairs of men are fixed by destiny, in what by free
will ; that they should teach us whence we came, what is
the object of our continuing here, what is to become of
us hereafter. And since a written word claiming a divine
origin must necessarily accredit itself, even to those most
reluctant to receive it, its internal evidences becoming
stronger and not weaker, with the strictness of the exami-
nation to which they are submitted, it ought to deal with
those things that may be demonstrated by the increasing
knowledge and genius of many anticipating therein his
conclusions. Such a work noble as may be its origin,



48 PREFACE.

must not refuse, but court the test of natural philosophy,
regardmg it not as an antagonist but as its best support.
As years pass on and human science becomes more exact
and more comprehensive, its conclusions must be found
in unison therewith. When occasion arises they should
furnish us at least the foreshadowings of the great truths
discovered by astronomy and geology, not offering for them
the wild fictions of earlier ages. They should tell us how
suns and worlds are distributed in infinite space, and how,
in their succession they come forth in limitless time.
They should say how far the dominion of God is carried
out by law, and what is the point at which it is his pleas-
ure to resort to his own arbitrary will. How grand would
have been the description of the magnificent universe
written by the omnipotent hand ! Of man they should
set forth his relations to other living beings, his place
among them, his privileges and responsibilities. They
should not leave him to grope his way through the ves-
tiges of Greek philosophy, and to miss the truth at last,
but they should teach him wherein true knowledge con-
sists, anticipating the physical science, physical power,
and physical well being of our own times, nay, even
unfolding for our benefit things that we are still ignorant



PREFACK. 49

of. The discussion of subjects, so many and so high, is
not outside the scope of a work of such pretensions. Its
manner of deaUng with them is the only criterion it can
offer of its authority to succeeding times." *

How unHke this is our asserted Sacred Book, with its
fables, its myths and legends, its deadly texts that have
scourged mankind. By its pretension of divine authority,
carrying forward into our civilization superstitions, that
otherwise would have melted away under the light of
knowledge ; putting a limit to learning, obstructing it,
and denouncing it, in many of its branches ; paralizing
thought, and substituting in its stead a blind faith, insti-
tuted and cultivated by ecclesiasticism, to bring men under
its control ; holding up as an example of divine favor, the
low moral standard of barbaric times ; recounting mur-
ders, incests, adulteries and obscenities, that would have
banished the book long since from the regions of refine-
ment and civilization, but for its assumed origin, and
which serve, by their easy and undenied access to young
minds, as a stimulation to destructive pruriency ; sanc-
tioning human slavery', and encouraging bloodshed by
battle ; setting an example of extortionate tithes for the



* Draper's InteUectual Deve'opemeut of Europe.



50 PREFACE.

support of ecclesiasticism ; uttering the most heartrending
curses, as coming directly from the Almighty, for failure
to comply with his assumed commands, and which have
been made the example, 'authorizing the horrible cruelties
inflicted upon mankind by the churches, literary models
as they are of those anathemas, interdicts, and excom-
munications, b)^ which the older church terrorized human-
it}^ for fifteen hundred years. ' ' I will also do this unto
you, I will even appoint over you terror, consumption,
and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and
cause sorrow of heart, and ye shall sow your seed in vain ;
for your enemies shall eat it." "I will also send wild
beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children,
and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number,
and your highways shall be desolate." "For they went
and served other gods, and worshiped them, gods whom
they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them ;
and the anger of the lyord was kindled against this land
to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this
book." "Do not I hate them O I^ord that hate thee, j^ea
I hate them with a perfect hate. " " Thou shalt not suf-
fer a witch to live." "A man, also or a woman that hath
a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to



PREFACE. 51

death." "And ye shall chase your enemies, and they
shall fall before you by the sword." Solely on the
authority of such deadly texts as these, and the book is
full of them, the world has been overspread in blood. It
was these that gave Spain a pretended sanction of the
lyord to exterminate fifteen millions of people in Mexico
and Peru, with a better and higher civilization than itself,
and to rob them of their wealth and possessions. It was
these, and such as these, that authorized and instigated
the Inquisition, which from 1481 to 1808, put to torture
and horrible death by burning, 340,000 human beings.
It was these that induced the massacre of St. Bartholo-
mew with its 30,000 victims of fire and sword ; the Eng-
lish persecutions under Bloody Mary, in which three
hundred fellow-creatures perished ; the almost total anni-
hilation of the Albigenesis in the south of France. This
war was carried on with more ferocious cruelt}' than any
ever recorded in history ; the fanatical fury of the soldiers
was stimulated by the exortations of the clergy. At the
storming of Baziers, when it was proposed to spare the
Catholics, a monk exclaimed, "Kill all, God will recog-
nize his own," and the atrocious precept was but too well
observed. The war terminated by the complete devasta-



52 PREFACE.

tion of the country, and the almost complete extermina-
tion of its inhabitants. Follo^^'ing along in the bloody
path of these barbaric scriptural commands, we have to
record the witch burnings of Europe and America, dur-
ing the term of Christian supremacy, calculated in the
hundreds of thousands ; the Crusades, and purely religi-
ous wars since the time of Constantine, whose victims are
beyond computation ; and all this to no other purpose or
end, but that the world should be forced into the belief
of, what is kno\vn to be, the theological system of a low
social development ; this the terrible cost to humanit}',
for the adoption and systematic retention by the churches,
of the ancient Jewish beliefs and modes of thought ; this
the infliction, that ecclesiasticism might prevail, using the
sermon on the mount to capture the consciences of men,
and scourging them with the mandates, curses and pun-
ishments of a Hebrew divinity, to bring them into line
for its purposes. In taking these Jewish annals to its
heart, making them a part of itself, as objects of example
and worsnip, has not Christianity retarded the advance of
mankind ? Has it not, by them, obstructed knowledge,
prevented a greater expansion of human sympathy, and
prolonged the betterment of social conditions?



PRBPACE. 53

In these days of enlightenment and higher thought,
the vestiges are everywhere seen of our fifteen centuries
of misdirection. Almost every Christian life bears the
impress of these cruel Hebrew traditions. The com-
mander of a battleship in the war with Spain, after his
slaughter of numbers of the enemy, assembles his men to
give "thanks to the Lord," and the next moment cau-
tions them not to cheer because " the poor fellows are
dying," illustrates, that mingling of Jewish superstition
with the teaching and example of the Master, to be ob-
served everywhere in our present civilization. The inher-
ent religious impulses of mankind — natural religion — some
of which, finding no more congenial quarters, is attracted
to the churches, regard war with feelings of greater re-
pulsion than does orthodox theology, indoctrinated in the
belief of its divine sanction, and consequently, the success
of the American arms, so plainly due to natural causes,
was celebrated by the churches in the usual ancient
Hebraic method by ' ' thanks to the Ivord. ' ' The supreme
intolerance of Christianity which has wrought such
havoc with mankind, is plainly due to the suggestions of
Hebrew scripture, and it is only the natural religion
within the churches, and that large portion outside of



54 PREFACE.

them, which is forcing Christianity into a purer worship,
and destroying its superstitons. It demands for all things,
holy as well as unholy, the right of critical examination,
and it sees but little else in our Sacred Book worth pre-
ser\dng, outside the sermon on the mount, and its exten-
sions. It is this natural religion of conscience, encourag-
ing and encouraged by science and reason, which has
wrested the control of civilization from ecclesiasticism. Its
intellectusl strength prevails at last over the intellect-
ual strength of theolog)^ ; but the unthinking of the
multitude are many, and the battle commencing four cen-
turies ago still lingers, theology backed by its weak
numbers, its old weapons destroyed, and science by its
strong men with searchlights.

But the searchlights of science can not disturb the
heart of Christianity. Its doctrine of atonement, de-
stroyed by the established truth of evolution ; its account
of the creation and the deluge, proved to be fables ; its
miracles discredited, and many of them demonstrated by
science to be untrue, it still holds within itself, an
element which is in harmony with the aspirations of
mankind for the coming betterment on earth and here-
after. All these things that it has lost are but perverted



PREFACE. 55

offrisings from its body, not a part of the body itself
* * I^ove one another. Do unto others as you would that
others shall do unto you, ' ' are the golden words that have
established it in the world as a living moving power. Of
these its soul and life are composed, and these no arrow
of science can reach. Its dogmas aside, every human
being within the precincts of civilization is born a Chris-
tian, and but for its early perversion at the hands of a
crafty priesthood, its intolerent and cruel career from
forced and unworthy association, all men, learned as well
as unlearned, would be working in its ranks.

It came into the world and entered society, making its
way from below upward. lyike all movements coming out
of the lower levels, it was socialistic. Its originator, for
he cannot be called its leader, was the first person who
had ever appeared in the world as the instigator of a great
reform movement benefitting the whole of mankind with-
out some apparent or suspected motive, in denial of his abso-
lute unselfishness, and the movement in its early stages,
partaking and wholly composed of his inspiration, was a
pure unselfish socialism. Its members were bound to-
gether by the closest brotherhood, loving and caring for
each other by divine command ; declared equal by a



56 PREFACE.

mandate of Heaven, in an age when three-fourths of
mankind were outcasts, uncared, neglected, and abused
by a cruel oligarchy, slaves and dependents, among whom
it was a misfortune and misery to have been born, and
having a religion so purposeless and unpromising as to
afford nothing but a momentary spectacular display. To
these people the new religion was as congenial and wel-
come as the warm sunshine and verdure of summer after
a long sojourn in the Arctic, Its doctrines touched society
where it had most need of their humane precepts and
uprising. For nearly a century no system of dogmas, no
doctrine of atonement, no extensive church authority
had been determined, and the whole stress of religious
teaching was directed toward the worship of a moral
ideal, and the cultivation of moral qualities. Its numbers,
which had been looked upon until then, by the higher
and governing class with either contemptuous silence, or
occasional argumentive opposition, were become so in-
creased that their political weight gave promise of a new
field for the exercise of authority and power, and from
thence on began that addition of intellectual forces which
have so completely changed its character.

Every change instituted by its new leaders was with



PREFACE. 57

the sole purpose of increasing its numbers and of argu-
menting its political weight. They began by making a
compromise with paganism in adopting some of its ritu-
als, pandering to the imaginations of the uncultivated
multitude by spectacular display, inventing a sj^stem of
church government with an executive head, adopting the
Jewish annals for its organic laws and modes of thought,
cultivating a belief in miracles and increasing them on
every opportune occasion, until with the one end in view
of overcoming the world as Caesar did with his legions,
more bloody than Csesar, taking into their hands a move-
ment full of humanity, instituted by men in the lower
walks of life to soften their hard lines and give them new
hopes, and to increase their sympathies and feelings of
brotherhood, it became, and in many parts of the world
remains to this day, under its attached dispensation of
ecclesiastical dogma and control, a handmaid of kings
and emperors in oppression, an upholder of deadly super-
stition, an intimidator of free thought and free learning,
an unconcerned looker-on upon the miseries of life beyond
its proselyting interest, careless of the whole world and
its affairs, except so far as it can profit by its theory of
exclusive salvation, and the mouth piece in cant phrases,



58 PREFACE.

which have long since lost their force and meaning, of a
lingering barbarism.

And yet the world was never so much in need of a pure
Christianity. An expanded benevolence cherished and
assisted as much by skepticism as the churches is one of
the characteristics of modern society. Although the phys-
ically strong do not prey upon the physically weak as
pitylessly as in the olden time, the financially strong are
preying upon the financially weak with as little consci-
ence, and the intellectually strong are preying upon the
intellectuall}'' weak with as much cunning, as they were
in barbaric times. Civilization has increased the two last
mentioned evils. The strugghng masses under a load of
grinding wealth, in their better knowledge are no longer
appeased by the promises of an adulterated and composite
Christianity, whose chief business for centuries has been
to set before them an awaiting paradise, in recompense for
their earthly wrongs ; but now, the multitude impressed
with a knowledge belonging to these times, is proof
against these allurements. The toiling millions who make
easy places for the few, and increase their wealth, and
who have carried out to a successful end the brilliant
material advancement which surrounds us, is the world



PREFACE. 59

proper, all the rest are merely dependants. Into this
world and down among these quarters from whence it
came Christianity must prepare itself to re-enter, and of
this the shadow is already to be seen. It must discard its
dogmas and superstitions, which it has even now con-
signed to partial obscurity and silence, and in place of
them, take on the things of the world. It must go
among the money changers of the temples, and into the
halls and by-ways of legislation, giving battle everywhere
with evil ; for it is through these that the world is given
or denied its betterment, and it must set science on its
right hand, recognizing it as an attribute of the Diety.
Christianity with this companion, its pure ideal recovered
from its ecclesiastical mists, setting out on its new journey
through the world, blazing the way for truth instead of
suppressing it, conforming itself in all ways to the
natural religion of mankind, would become to humanity
what the sun is to the earth, comforting the souls of men
b}' its hopes, enlarging their charities by its precepts,
and warming into life many a germ of virtue and goodness,
which else, would never have blossomed, to shed its moral
fragrrance on the earth.



6o PREFACE.

The foregoing was written to indicate that Hne of
thought, whose convictions are briefly expressed, here
and there, through the pages of this little book, now
offered to the public in its third edition. It is always
safer and pleasanter to deal with received theology in the
spirit of reverance, usually found in literature ; thus
offending no one, and meeting the approval of a worthy
and influential class ; but, there are other reasons why an
adverse criticism of theological methods and beliefs, are
not so often publicly exploited as their importance to
society deserves. In the first place experience has shown
that errors of religious belief, fixed upon the mind in
infancy and youth, are seldom removed by discussion.
We are not yet arrived at that stage, when the love of
truth so predominates in the minds of men, that they
will sacrifice every prejudice, and reject all opposing
influence to obtain it. Christianity has imposed an
elaborate system of prejudices on every young mind
within its jurisdiction and they have become entwined
with all the most hallowed associations of childhood,
appealing so strongly to the affections, that any expressed
denial of their exact truth excites, in most cases, a feeling
of resentment, and often stirs to petty persecution. A



PREFACE. 6 1

large majority of the human race accept their opinions
from authority, and all authority heretofore has encour-
aged beliefs, which appear so inseparably connected with
the moral well being of society, and which hold in con-
tinued supremacy, institutions and modes of thought
whose subversion it is alleged would be in many ways
dangerous. Yet, the fact remains that it is mostly
through its inroads upon these old beliefs that the world
has arrived at its present stage of progress, and the opin-
ion of orthodox theologians that they should be retained


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Online LibraryWilliam SimpsonThe man from Mars; his morals, politics and religion → online text (page 3 of 14)