Page images
PDF
EPUB

.

to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones that he die."

This is the religious liberty of God; the toleration of Jehovah. If I had lived in Palestine at that time, and my wife, the mother of my children, had said to me, "I am tired of Jehovah, he is always asking for blood; he is never weary of killing; he is always telling of his might and strength; always telling what he has done for the Jews, always asking for sacrifices; for doves and lambs-blood, nothing but blood.—Let us worship the sun. Jehovah is too revengeful, too malignant, too exacting. Let us worship the sun. The sun has clothed the world in beauty; it has covered the earth with flowers; by its divine light I first saw your face, and my beautiful babe." If I had obeyed the command of God, I would have killed her. My hand would have been first upon her, and after that the hands of all the people, and she would have been stoned with stones until she died. For my part, I would never kill my wife, even if commanded so to do by the real God of this universe. Think of taking up some ragged rock and hurling it against the white bosom filled with love for you; and when you saw oozing from

the bruised lips of the death wound, the red current of her sweet life—think of looking up to heaven and receiving the congratulations of the infinite fiend whose commandment you had obeyed!)

Can we believe that any such command was ever given by a merciful and intelligent God? Suppose, however, that God did give this law to the Jews, and did tell them that whenever a man preached a heresy, or proposed to worship any other god that they should kill him; and suppose that afterward this same God took upon himself flesh, and came to this very chosen people and taught a different religion, and that thereupon the Jews crucified him; I ask you, did he not reap exactly what he had sown? What right would this God have to complain of a crucifixion suffered in accordance with his own command?

Nothing can be more infamous than intellectual tyranny. To put chains upon the body is as nothing compared with putting shackles on the brain. No god is entitled to the worship or the respect of man who does not give, even to the meanest of his children, every right that he claims for himself. If the Pentateuch be true, religious persecution is a duty.

The dungeons of the Inquisition were

If

temples, and the clank of every chain upon the limbs of heresy was music in the ear of God. the Pentateuch was inspired, every heretic should be destroyed; and every man who advocates a fact inconsistent with the sacred book, should be consumed by sword and flame.

In the Old Testament no one is told to reason with a heretic, and not one word is said about relying upon argument, upon education, nor upon intellectual development-nothing except simple brute force. Is there to-day a christian who will say that four thousand years ago, it was the duty of a husband to kill his wife if she differed with him upon the subject of religion? Is there one who will now say that, under such circumstances, the wife ought to have been killed? Why should God be so jealous of the wooden idols of the heathen? Could he not compete with Baal? Was he envious of the success of the Egyptian magicians? Was it not possible for him to make such a convincing display of his power as to silence forever the voice of unbelief? Did this God have to resort to force to make converts? Was he so ignorant of the structure of the human mind as to believe all honest doubt a crime? If he wished to do away with the idolatry of the Canaan

Why did he

Why did he

ites, why did he not appear to them?
not give them the tables of the law?
only make known his will to a few wandering
savages in the desert of Sinai?
in the desert of Sinai? Will some theo-
logian have the kindness to answer these questions?
Will some minister, who now believes in religious
liberty, and eloquently denounces the intolerance of
catholicism, explain these things; will he tell us why
he worships an intolerant God? (Is a god who will

burn a soul forever in another world, better than a
christian who burns the body for a few hours in this?
Is there no intellectual liberty in heaven? Do the
angels all discuss questions on the same side? Are
all the investigators in perdition? Will the penitent
thief, winged and crowned, laugh at the honest folks
in hell? Will the agony of the damned increase or
decrease the happiness of God? Will there be, in
the universe, an eternal auto da fe?

[ocr errors]

1

XXIX.

CONCLUSION.

[ocr errors]

F the Pentateuch is not inspired in its astronomy,

geology, geography, history or philosophy, if it is not inspired concerning slavery, polygamy, war, law, religious or political liberty, or the rights of men, women and children, what is it inspired in, or about? The unity of God?-that was believed long before Moses was born. Special providence ?-that has been the doctrine of ignorance in all ages. The rights of property?-theft was always a crime. The sacrifice of animals?-that was a custom thousands of years before a Jew existed. The sacredness of life?-there have always been laws against murder. The wickedness of perjury?-truthfulness has always been a virtue. The beauty of chastity?—the Pentateuch does not teach it. Thou shalt worship no other God?-that has been the burden of all religions.

« FyrriHalda įfram »