Mr. BRADLAUGH: Mr. Roberts said why don’t I touch the question that Christ rose from the dead. I thought I had challenged that what he had said about Christ being seen for forty days according to Acts was contradicted in Luke. I thought I had said, giving texts to him on the previous nights, and reminding him of it tonight, that the statement about Christ being three days and three nights in the grave was not true. I thought I had shown him on each of the two nights that the statements about the women who came to the tomb were self contradictory, one making it one woman, another making it two, and another making it more; and while I have mentioned these contradictions relating to the resurrection, it is simply an impertinence to say that I have not dealt with it.
Now we have a new case made. First, the Bible don’t teach hell-fire; and for the purposes of this debate Mr. Roberts is governed by the authorised English version, which he agreed to accept. Mark, 9th chapter, verses 43 to 48: "If thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." And that is repeated over and over again. Matthew 25:41: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels". Matthew 18:8: "Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire." Well, if "everlasting fire" don’t mean everlasting fire, if fire that can’t be quenched don’t mean fire that can’t be quenched, then we have got to get a new language. It cannot be said that this is wrongly translated from some other tongue, because Mr. Roberts has agreed to accept the authorised English version as authority in this debate. Then he says that the slavery of the Bible was a mere servitude, in which rights were recognised, but that the American slave laws did not recognise rights. I say that is not true. I have read with attention the decisions relating to the slave laws of America, and I say there was no portion of the slave laws of America which said that a man might beat his slave within three days of his life, and that if he lived till the third day he was not to be punished because he was his money; and I say that in Exodus 21:20, 21, it is provided that "if a man smite his servant or his maid with a rod, and he die under his hand, he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished, for he is his money". I say that I am not here to defend American slavery. I admitted that American slavery reduced man to the position of a chattel, I admitted that it was damnable and wicked, and I admitted that the clergy defended it on the authority of this very book. I affirm that it was under cover of this book that pious slave-holders upheld their iniquitous system. Our friend says God in His highest wisdom knew what was best. I say that it was never best for any men at any time in the world to have the right to buy people whom they might beat within three days of their lives; I say it was never right for a rich murderer to escape because he paid for the man he had murdered. I say that it never could have been right to steal a woman and then turn her adrift. I say the whole thing is as monstrous as it can be. Then I am told, I am defied to prove the epistles of Paul to be a forgery. That is not the language that a man who is bound to prove them to be true should use to his opponent. Mr. Roberts has told me about the proceedings of law courts. If I don’t understand the Bible I understand the proceedings of law courts, and no man who knows me will say I don’t–and I say it is a most ridiculous proposition to say that if the plaintiff had not proved any case at all, that the defendant would try to contradict the case he had proved. If a deed is put in as evidence, it is not received as evidence until that deed is verified: it is only a piece of paper to which no attention is paid until it is proved by whom it was written. It is simply a piece of paper that the clerk of the court won’t read, because there is nothing in evidence about it.
Then I am told that I have led you off with silly criticisms. The wisdom of the criticisms must be judged by others by and bye. I have only followed Mr. Roberts in the course he has taken. I did not attack the general teachings of Christianity tonight until he had referred to the scepticism of myself to-night, and then it was a fair retort to the speech he had made. If he wants to confine us to a critical examination of the book, I will follow him step by step; but if he fancies that flowers of speech will do, then to the best of my ability I will try flowers of speech too. I don’t pretend that we have the deep and profound mind of our friend, who pretends to see evidence where it does not exist; but we have sufficient intelligence for the ordinary affairs of life, and we want that kind of evidence put to us here. Then we are told that there is a comparison between you killing Frenchmen who invade your country, and God telling the Jews to kill Canaanites who were born in the country the Jews invaded under the direction of your merciless Deity. Mr. Roberts says you will be justified in killing Frenchmen who invade your country.
Mr. ROBERTS: No, I did not.
Mr. BRADLAUGH: You did.
Mr. ROBERTS: No; I asked them if they believed they would be.
Mr. BRADLAUGH: But you must have meant something. If it was not intended to explain the one point by an analogy to the other, then it was a mere trick of speech, which might be proper in an infidel not governed by the considerations of the Bible, as Mr. Roberts is, but which ought never to have come from his side at all. Friends, we have nearly finished. I ask, is there one of you who has had the slightest evidence given to you that Christ rose? Has there been an attempt to prove any one of the facts, any kind of evidence given of the authenticity of any one of the books? No; all we have had is a daring "I defy Mr. Bradlaugh to disprove it!" My business is not to advance a line of negative proof: my business is to examine the evidence submitted from the other side; and you have not to do with my mere opinion. My mere opinion may be correct, or it may be incorrect. I pretend to no infallibility. I am ready to examine the evidence if it be submitted to me; but unless, during the three nights of the debate to come, Mr. Roberts is prepared to advance something, he had better make an announcement that he is not prepared to do it now, but will on some other occasion. This is the proper time and place to prove that it is God’s Word, and it cannot be God’s Word if it be full of cruelty, crime, treachery, deceit, and murder; full of those abominations which a civilised world has set aside. I beg to propose a vote of thanks to the Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN: That had better be reserved till the last meeting.