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Charles Bradlaugh Roberts Bradlaugh Night4 4bradlaugh3

Mr. BRADLAUGH: Mr. Roberts is good enough to tell you that I am extremely familiar with the early fathers. I am obliged to him for that admission. I wish I could return the compliment. He says they are "trashy", but he did not say so when he opened his first speech.

Mr. ROBERTS: I did.

Mr. BRADLAUGH: You did not. You said you had them, and I challenged you to read them off one after the other as if they were really good evidences. I say either you had not read anything whatever of the writings which you attribute to Tatian, to Theophilus, to Athenagoras, to Mileto, to Justin Martyr, and, in that case, you ought to have mentioned them, or you represented them to this audience, knowing they did not say what you pretended they did. That is the plain and simple issue. You have said they gave evidence which an idiot could give. I admit that, but they are not evidence for me. It is you who call idiotic witnesses. And now I am told I don’t give you texts. Why the complaint has been that I gave so many texts. My familiarity with the fathers should have been anticipated, or I should not have deserved to have come to a debate of this kind. But now that I am familiar with them, they are trash. I agree they are trash, but they are your best evidence–your only evidence. If Mr. Roberts was not prepared to produce the writings of these fathers he should not have used their names. He says he cannot follow me. I took up everyone of them, one after another, and simply knocked each one of them to pieces. I think that was following them pretty closely. He says he cannot understand my logic about Peter, if the stories were forged. He knows I don’t pretend that the whole of the stories were forged. I have said that I consider the Christian myths have grown like other myths, and Mr. Roberts has not refuted the assertion. At the close of the first century Christians existed, I admit, to a large extent; but at the close of the 19th century more Mormons exist than there were Christians at the close of the first century. What does that prove? By my friend’s argument it proves Mormonism. But in that case he will say that the men were foolish who built up the Mormon system, and that the success of Mormonism is no proof that the Bible is not true. I account for Christianity in the same way; I account for sun worship in the same way, and for the worship of the general forces of the world, and for the entire myths and supersitions which embody themselves under the names of different religions throughout the world. The clear and precise duty of Mr. Roberts in this debate was to have steered clear of external evidences, and if he thought a public audience was not the proper place to have tested Mileto, Tatian, Theophilus, & co., he should not have brought them before you at all, and should not have come before a public excited audience, but challenged me to a written debate, where there can be no excitement. Does he expect to become more familiar with these witnesses, because of my familiarity with them? He says they are trash. He says they are idiotic, and none but an idiot would give that kind of evidence.

Then we have now an attempt in words but not in truth to perform a promise which Mr. Roberts undertook, namely to show that the Pentateuch was in a place called Shiloh in the time of Joshua. That was the proposition which Mr. Roberts undertook to prove. He has quoted to you some texts saying that Moses wrote the law, but he has not identified the law with those five books at all, though much of the five books certainly was not law, and much of the five books could not by possibility have been written by Moses. He tried to trick the question about the Pentateuch being in the ark, and he jumped out of the frying-pan into the fire by saying the Pentateuch was not put into the ark, but in a place beside it. If the Pentateuch was not in the ark, what was the good of tracing the ark? If the Pentateuch was in place beside the ark we have nothing at all to do with the ark. Then he says as evidence that the Pentateuch was in the ark, or near to it, or by the side of it, and that a number of things mentioned in the law ought to be there. No doubt it ought to be if God revealed it; it would have been there, if God ordered it to be put there, but it is not there. For a long while it was not known to exist, and in the 2nd of Kings 22nd chap. and 8th verse, we read about somebody finding it. We learn from Eusebius that, in the captivity of the people under Nebuchadnezzar, the Scriptures were destroyed, and God inspired Ezra to write them afresh. I want external evidence; Mr. Roberts says it is trash, yet he brought it. You cannot have external evidence except you read it. You say you want internal evidence; yet if I quote the immorality of the book, you pass that by. If I refer to flat contradictions in the book, oh, Mr. Bradlaugh is incoherent. You spin the Acts of the Apostles by the yard, and then say Mr. Bradlaugh is to disprove it. A debate of this kind might have been useful, but if I had known that my opponent knew no more of the common rudiments of the case than he has shown, I should have refused his challenge. I understood he was the representative of a respectable set of men. Some of those men I have come in contact with in America and England, and I have found to be honest men. I am not going to say hard things of them. I don’t find idiots and shallow pates in those who have disagreed with me. My life has taught me that there are men not more shallow than myself (though I may not agree with them), and I have learned that the worst shallowness is to profess to be acquainted with learned authorities, relying upon the ignorance of untaught men who have taken the pains to know every scrap you can bring. Four nights of this debate have gone. If aught of proof has been given that this book is God’s Divine message to man, I confess I have not heard it. I have only heard the speeches of a man who varies and twists, and shifts and turns, and then, with all his evidence upon the platform–here where he might have read it to you, where he said he would read it to you if challenged to do it–says he won’t take up good time with doing so, or that he hasn’t time to do it. It was not true; it was not honest; it was not fair. He said he would and did not, because it would only have proved he was ignorant of the subject. Friends, is this the way to prove God’s truth? Then he sneers at Republicanism. Was that meant as a sneer to me? I am not ashamed of my Republicanism, and if I only wanted reasons to be republican, it would be when I found an ordained king like David, "a man who kept God’s commandments and walked in the way that was right in His eyes", trampling on His people, robbing His people, murdering and betraying His people, ruining His people. I say that is enough to make any man republican. You tell me republicanism won’t succeed. I don’t know the relevancy it has to the argument, but I do place it against the lustful, lying, cowardly Brunswicks, and the wicked and lustful Bourbons. I place it against kings living upon the people–and against a sham of a book which sanctions such a system, without which it could not otherwise be defended. I have nearly done. I know you have men who could better plead in this cause than myself, but at any rate you have one here who has never made fight against what he conceives to be true, and never degraded the platform by manufacturing an argument for the purpose of defeating an opponent.

The CHAIRMAN: The discussion will be continued to-morrow evening at the same hour.

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