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or what peculiar combination of books, we shall revere as the Word of God;" and then denies to us the right of exercising the same amount of intellectual, moral, and religious liberty. It describes the circle in which we shall move, and think, and reason; and then authoritatively and dogmatically denies to us the moral or religious freedom to advance beyond it. It thus imposes what we conceive to be improper and demoralizing restrictions upon our thoughts and investigations--trammels the progressive development of our minds, and peremptorily denies to us the divine privilege of free discussion and a free expression of our inward sentiments.
It unites with society in its unphilosophical and unbrotherly treatment of the criminal, and of the unfortunate victim of crime; and it (that is, popular Theology) sanctions the old barbarian or Mosaic law of Capital Punishment.
It justifies society in the perpetuation of personal and national animosities and antagonisms. It permits war, confiscation of property, and carnage ; and it assists to promote successful military chieftains—without regard either to merit or demerit—to the responsible position of emperors and governors.
It sanctions the monarchical despotism of monopolies. It smiles, with silent approbation, upon the conflict between Labor and Capital. It permits the present unjust remuneration of the toiling millions.* It permits them to live from day to day without the least guarantee of a home in case of pecuniary adversity or ill health ; and, more than all, it openly and emphatically sanctions, by Scripture arguments, the dark and fearful sin of human slavery!
It deforms and enslaves, but it does not reform and emancipate the human mind, from the confinements and mournful influences of Sectarianism. Its influence is not positive and reformatory; but it is merely negatively restraining. It opposes almost every measure or movement which originates with the people. It engenders melancholy and erroneous conceptions of the nature and destiny of man. It keeps up a perpetual warfare between the head and the heart. It encourages a gladiatorial struggle against liberty of speech and freedom of action. It even opposes temperance reformation, unless it originates in the Church; and uniformly exerts its multiform influences, to restrain the progress of social and prison reforms, upon identical grounds.
* These charges apply to no particular section of this country, but, generally to all Christendom.
It generates cupidity and hypocrisy, by teaching our children to regard certain doctrines as truths, which (because those doctrines are not true) can not be felt; but which, nevertheless, are frequently manifested with all the show of confidence in their validity. This leads directly to practical dissimulation and deceit. Many persons are in the constant practice of exhibiting piety, who, at the same time, do not (because they can not) feel such piety to be sacred truth ; and this apparently willful hypocrisy on the part of some individuals, leads directly to the theological assumption—an assumption which has retarded human progress for agesthat the heart of man is desperately wicked and depraved by nature.
It instills dark and unwholesome thoughts into the minds of our children. It teaches them to believe in the most soulrevolting doctrines. They are educated to consider themselves as “totally depraved”—and as being under the “curse" of the living God. It teaches them to regard themselves as evil, and “sinners” by nature; and as incapable of being good and heaven-worthy, independent of the Bible and the Church. They are taught to believe in a “God of Love,” who, at the same time, encourages hate ; and in a "God of Heaven,” who, at the same time, permits the everlasting duration of Hell! Thus our youth become intellectually contaminated by the existing methods of religious education; and, when they advance in years, and become men and women, either they become bigots and sectarians, or else skeptics and misanthropes. A sadness and gloom are consequently thrown over our minds; and we deprive ourselves and our children of a large proportion of that enjoyment and progressive happiness which are the inalienable rights of man!
It asserts this whole world of human beings to be under an Adamic curse or condemnation. It has most dogmatically pronounced, and still continues to assert it, that all the sorrows, and perplexities, and vicissitudes, and trials, and discords, and diseases, and all the afflictions of this mundane state, are expressly sent by the living God to punish man for his alledged manifold transgressions! And it has openly opposed every medical reform, every social improvement, every benevolent design, upon the fabulous ground that such mortal attempts were wicked, and would prove unavailing, because they were in opposition to the “will” and punishment of God. It trammels the progress and advancement of mankind, by teaching our children and our communities to believe the erroneous and baneful doctrine, that no improvement or reformation can be permanently accomplished, except through the so-called “divine” instrumentalities and multifarious restrictions and principles of the established Church.
It strives to awaken in our minds what we consider to be imaginary compunctions of conscience. It imposes what we conceive to be unnecessary and deforming “trials” upon us; and causes us to “crucify” ourselves, and“ bear crosses" that are wholly unnatural and wrong. We therefore feel that it has defrauded us, and the generations that are gone, of two-thirds of the real happiness and mental consolations
which we solemnly believe to be ours, according to the laws of the human constitution and the universal Providence of God!
It dogmatically asserts Nature, and Reason, and Conscience even, to be subordinate to ecclesiastical authority. It inculcates the baneful doctrine that our very heartimpulses are naturally sinful and opposed to the “will of God.” Here again it creates a false issue between the heart and the head; and thus it has been the sole cause of impelling many minds into sad and hopeless insanity. It sheds a melancholy, dismal gloom over our families, our homes, and the nations of the civilized world. It renders this life a dark, and toilsome, and uncertain gift of God'; and, with its clouds of ignorance and superstition, it darkens our thoughts and anticipations of the other life. When our friends resign their material forms to the grave, then this supernaturalistic Theology fills our hearts with sadness, and our minds with distressing doubts, concerning their future welfare and eternal happiness. And thus it spreads gloom, and disconsolation, and suicidal melancholy, and insane despair, and mental misery, where joy, and cheerfulness, and righteousness, and happiness, should and might exist in abundance.
I have affirmed that there is no Positive Evil in existence. Now, what evidence have we that this statement is true ? The evidence, I reply, is universal. There is more harmony than discord ; more heat than cold; more light than darkness; more peace than war; more order than confusion. Of this I shall speak hereafter. But the fact that there is nothing absolutely devoid of goodness—that every thing is overruled for good in the end-stands as a pyramidal demonstration of the negational or temporary nature of what we term sin or evil. According to the light which I receive on these questions, every thing that ever occurred has accom
plished some good end,-yea, always more good than evil. Death is a terrible visitation, that is, to all external appearance; but the individual is truly born again. Just above a sharp thorn, the bud bursts open, and a flower unfolds. So every sorrow embosoms a joy-every grief is accompanied by some beneficent provision to mitigate its intensity, and secure a good result. Wars have at last turned in favor of human freedom. Family or local troubles have been greatly diminished by the art of war. But now, these vestiges of a protracted night of barbarian ignorance and patriarchal error. are, one by one, melting, like the ice that fetters the spring-time rivulets, and all will soon be converted into a mighty ocean of never-ebbing peace. The morning sun shines out over the kindling skies of the horizon; the millennial era is imperceptibly stealing over the world. The night has been eventful. Men have groped their way in darkness. Horrid dreams have fitted across the sleeper's mind; and moral shepherds have hailed them as the reflections of some disturbed and offended Divinity. But the chilliness and darkness of the night gradually subsidė, and a new dispensation sheds its celestial rays, kindling with richness and wisdom, over the slumbering millions ; and, lo! as the spring day dissipates the mists and gloom of winter, so
“old things pass away, and all things become NEW.” Errors, like the shadows of escaping clouds, will disappear when the “Sun of Righteousness”—of wisdom, truth, and brotherly loveshall send its all-searching light and healing warmth into their midst. Will you not, then, take a higher position in the moral grades of the spiritual universe ? I know you will. Like the eccentric comets, men primarily pursue strange paths in their revolutions around the Central Source of Right. But all truth is analogous—all principles immutable. Therefore, just as certain as the comet finally becomes a beautiful planet, and rolls harmoniously in the