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not be made straight. Nay, he is unable to keep the Christian Church without spot or wrinkle for a single generation, charm he never so wisely; but Paul fell out with such as were apostles before him, and the seamless ecclesiastical coat is roughly rent in twain betwixt the two!
3. He is not All-Wise. He does not know how his own creation will work. He finished the world, and found that his one man, running alone, did not prosper; it was necessary to make a woman, to help him; she was an afterthought. Her first step ruins the man she was meant to serve; and God is surprised at the disobedience. He must alter things to meet this unexpected emergency; he grows wiser and wiser by continual experiment.
4. He is not All-Righteous. He does great wrong to the Egyptians, for he hardens Pharaoh's heart, so that he may have an excuse for putting the king and people to death. He does injustice to the Canaanites, whom he butchers by Joshua; he provides a punishment altogether disproportionate to the offences of men, and will make them suffer forever for the sin committed by their mythological ancestor, six thousand years before you and I were born; he creates souls by the million, only to make theui perish everlastingly. In the whole course of human history, you cannot find a tyrant, murderer, kidnapper, who is so unjust as God is represented by the ecclesiastical theology.
5. He is not All-Loving. Of the people before Christ, he loved none but Jews; he gave no other any revelation, and without that, they must perish everlastingly! Since Jesus he loves none but Christians, and will save no more; the present heathen are to die the second death; and of Christians he loves none but Chnrch-members. Nay, the Catholics will have it, that he hates everybody out of the Roman Church, while the stricter Protestants retaliate this favor upon the Catholics themselves. Nay, they deny salvation to all Unitarians and Universalists, to the one because they declare that the man Jesus was not God the Creator; and to the other because they say that God the Father is not bad enough to damn any man forever and ever. You remember that scarcely was Dr. Channing cold in his coffin, before orthodox newspapers rung with the intelligence that he was doubtless then suffering the pangs of eternal damnation, because he had " denied the Lord that bought him." You know the damnation pronounced on old Dr. Ballou, simply because he said men were brethren, and the God of earth and heaven is too good-hearted to create anybody for the purpose of crunching him into hell forever and ever. According to some strict sectarians, God loves none but the elect—an exceedingly small number. It has been the doctrine of the Christian Church for fifteen or sixteen hundred years that God will reject from heaven all babies newlyborn who die without baptism; the sprinkling of infants was designed to save these little ones, who, as Jesus thought, needed no salvation, but were already of the kingdom of heaven. Accordingly, to save the souls of children ready to perish without ecclesiastical baptism, the Catholic Church mercifully allows doctors, nurses, mid wives, servants, anybody, to baptize a child newly born, by throwing water in its face, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and that saves the little thing. But the doctrine of infant damnation follows logically from the first principles of the ecclesiastical theology. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned!"
6. He is not All-Holy, perfectly faithful to himself. He is capricious and variable; men can wheedle him into their favorite plans; now by penitence or a certain belief, they can induce God to remove the consequences of their wicked deeds; and the effects of a long life of wickedness will all at once be miraculously wiped clean off from the man's character; he will take the blackest of siuners and wash him white in the blood of the Lamb, and "in five minutes he shall be made as good a Christian as he could become by fifty years of the most perfect piety and morality." Since God is thus changeable, men think they can alter his plan by their words, can induce him to send rain when they want it, or to •' stay the bottles of heaven " at their request, to check disease, to curse a bad man, or to pervert and confound the intellect of a thinking man. Hence comes the strange phenomenon which you sometimes see of a nation assembling in the churches, and asking God to crush to the ground another people at war with them; two years ago you saw Englishmen bending their knees in the name of Christ, to ask God to blast the Russians at Sebastopol, and the Russians bending their knees and in the same name asking God to sink the British ships in the depths of the Black Sea!
Put all these things together—God i3 not represented as a perfect Creating Cause, who makes all things right at first; nor a perfect Preserving Providence, who administers all things well, and will bring all out right at last. Even his essential presence is only an exception in the world, here for a moment, and then long withdrawn. According to the ecclesiastical conception, God transcends man in power and wisdom, but is immensely inferior to the average of men in justice and benevolonce; nay, in hate and malignity he transcends the very worst man that the very worst man could conceive of in his heart!
I. Now, this idea of God is not adequate to the purposes of Science. To explain the World of Matter, the naturalist wants a sufficient power which is always there, acting by a constant mode of operation; not irregular, vanishing, acting by fits and starts; but continuous, certain, reliable; an intelligent power which acts by law, not caprice and miracle. No other God is adequate Cause of the Universe, or of its action for a single hour.
But the Christian Church knows no such God, for all the Biblical depositions concerning him, all the pretended affidavits whence it has made its conception of God, came from men who had no thought of a general law of matter or of mind, and no notion of a God who acted by a constant mode of operation, and who was the indwelling Cause and Providence of all things that are. Just so far as any scientific thinker departs from that limited idea of God, who comes and goes and works by miracle, so far does he depart from the ecclesiastical theology of Christendom. The actual tacts of the Universe are not reconcilable with what the ecclesiastical theology teaches about Goil. This has become apparent, step by step, in the last three centuries.
Galileo reported the facts of astronomic nature just as they were. The Eoman Church must silence her philosopher, or else revolutionize her notion of God. Had not she God's own affidavit that he stopped the sun and moon a whole day, to give Joshua time for butchery of men, women, and children? would she allow a philosopher to contradict her with nothing but the Universe on his s!de? He must swear the earth stands still. "And yet it does move though!"
Geologists relate the facts of the universe as they find them in the crust of the earth. The Churches complain that these facts are inconsistent with the story in Genesis. "We have," say they, "God's deposition that he made the Universe in six days, rested on the seventh, and was refreshed! What is the testimony of the rocks and the stars, to the anonymous record on parchment, or the printed English Bible?" So the geologist also has a bad name in the Churches, many equivocate, and some lie.
For the history of the heavens and earth, theologians would rely on the word of a man whose name even they know nothing of, and reject the testimony of the Universe itself, where the footprints of the Creator are yet so plain and deeply set. Zoologists find evidence, as they think, that the human race has had several distinct centres of origination; that men were created in many places: and a great outcry is at once raised. Such facts are inconsistent with the ecclesiastical idea of God! So, to learn the structure of the heavens, the earth, or of mankind, you must not go to the heavens, the earth, or mankind; you must go to the Book of Genesis, and if the facts of the Universe contradict the anonymous record therein, then you must break with the Universe and agree with the minister, for the actual testimony of things is worth nothing in comparison with the words of a Hebrew writer whom nobody knows!
The great obstacle to the advancement of science, nay, to the diffusion of knowledge, is not the poverty of mankind, not the lack of industry, talent, genius amongst men of science; but it is the ecclesiastical conception of God. Not a step can be taken in astronomy, geology, zoology, but it separates a man from that'notion. The ecclesiastical conception of God being thus utterly inadequate to the purposes of science, philosophic men turn off from the theology of Christendom; and some, it is said, become atheists. Look at the scientific men of England, France, and Germany, for proof of this. In America there is no considerable class of scientific and learned men, who stand close together, write books for each other, and so make a little public of their own; so here the scientific man does not stand in a little green-house of philosophy as in Europe, where he is sheltered from public opinion, lives freely, and expands his flowers in an atmosphere congenial to his natural growth, but he is exposed to all the rude blasts of the press, the parlor, and the meeting-house; so is he more cautious than his congeners and equivalents in Europe, and does not commonly tell what he thinks; nay, sometimes tells what he does not think, lest he should lose his public reputation amongst bigoted men! To this there are some very honorable exceptions; scientific men who do not count it a part of their business to prop up a popular error, but who know society has a right to demand that they tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. But if you wijl take the hundred foremost men of science in all Christendom who are not ministers, I do not think that ten of them have any belief in the common ecclesiastical conception of God. Some have better—nay, a true idea of God, but dare not divulge it; and some, alas! seem to have no notion at all. Accordingly, men of science turn from theology; some become atheists, and all lose much from lack of a satisfactory idea of God. You all know what clerical complaints are made of the infidelity and atheism of scientific men. Three hundred years ago the Church suspected doctors, and invented this proverb:—"As many doctors, so many atheists;" because the doctors knew facts irreconcilable with the ecclesiastical theology. I think the charge of atheism grossly unjust, when it is brought against the great body of scientific men; but where it is true, it ought to be remembered that in the last two hundred and fifty years the Christian Church has had no idea of God adequate to the purposes of science, and fit for a philosopher to accept; and if it be so, will you blame the philosopher for rejecting what would only disturb his processes? The cause of the philosopher's atheism often lies at the Church's door, and not in the scholar's study.
II. But this ecclesiastical conception of God is as inadequate to the purposes of Religion, as of Science. In religious consciousness we all want a God whom we can absolutely rely upon; who is always at hand, not merely separate and one side from the World of Matter or the World of Man. We want a deity who acts now, and is the Infinite God, who desires the best of possible things for each man, who knows the best of possible things, and has will and power to bring about the best of possible things, and that for all persons. We want a God all-powerful, all-wise, all-just, all-loving, all-faithful; a perfect Creator; a perfect Provider, who will be just to each of his children. I put it to each one of you—thoughtfulest or least-thinking—is there one of you who will be content with a God who does not come up to your highest conception of power, wisdom, justice, love, and holiness? Not one of yon will be content to rely on lessl You must falsify your nature before you can do it. But according to the ecclesiastical conception, God is the most capricious unjust, unreliable of all possible beings. Look at this old and venerable doctrine of eternal damnation, believed by all the Christian sects, save the Universalists, Unitarians, and Spiritualists—not yet a sect—who make at the most some four or five millions out of the two hundred and fifty or sixty millions of Christendom. This is the doctrine:—God is angry with mankind, aHd will burn the greater part of them in hell, forever and ever. Why is •' his wrath so hot against usf"
1. The Jews are God?s ancient covenant people; with them he made a bargain, sworn to on both sides: it was for a good and sufficient consideration, value received by each party; he commanded them to observe the Mosaic form of religion forever; if any prophet shall come, working never so many miraoles, and teach them a different conception of God, they must put him to death, and all his followers, with their wives, their children, and their cattle. (Deut. xiii.) But now all these "chosen people" are to be damned forever because they do not believe the theology of Paul and Jesus, whom the Divine law commands the Jews to slay with the edge of the sword for teaching that theology, So God commands the Jews to kill every man among them who shall teach the Christian doctrine, and yet will damn them for not believing it.
2. The Heathen also are to be damned because they have no faith in Christ, no belief in the popular theology of the Catholic or Protestant sects. But that theology is unreasonable, and thoughtful, unprejudiced men cannot believe it; besides that, the greater part of the Heathens never heard of such doctrines, or of Christ; still God will damn them, millions by millions, to eternal torment, because they have not believed what was never preached to them, what they never heard they must believe. Three hundred years ago Spanish Jesuits preached the doctrine of eternal damnation to the heathen at Japan, who asked of the missionaries, "Is it possible that God will damn men forever?" "Certainly, without doubt," was the reply. "And if a man dies who has not heard of these things before, will God damn him forever?" "Yes," was the answer. The whole multitude fell on their faces and wept bitterly and long, and would not believe it. Do you blame them for casting those priests from the island, and saying, "Let the salt sea separate us from the Christian world forever."
3. Then the Christians themselves are not certain of their salvation. The Catholics are the majority, and they say God will damn all the Protestants; the Protestants say the same of the Catholics. The ecclesiastical idea of God in both represents him as ready enough to damn either; and if the first priuciple of the Catholic Church be true, no Protestant can be