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Charles Bradlaugh Roberts Bradlaugh Night5 5bradlaugh2

Mr. BRADLAUGH: Mr. Roberts says that I did not make my objection about Luke and the forty days of the Acts quite clear. I will try to do so now. I say the whole of the events following the resurrection are limited to one day by the 24th chapter of Luke. You will find the story as distinct as possible.

First, the journey from Emmaus: they "rose up the same hour" and returned to Jerusalem, where they found the eleven gathered together; then Christ appears, and after talking to them, he led them out to Bethany. If that don’t mean one day, language is not of much use. That is corroborated by Mark 16, which says that, when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared unto two of them, and afterwards to the eleven. "So then, after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." I say this chapter leaves no room for forty days.

Then, as to the women, I say the discrepancy is equally proved. Mr. Roberts says, that if forged, there would have been no discrepancy. I never said the gospels were forged. I say, like the mythic books of all religion, they have germs of historic fact, with the gradual addition of traditions. We may admit that, as ordinary men telling a story they believe, they vary, but we ought not to be damned or saved for our belief or non-belief of that story. In the case of two reporters, one might leave out some words, and another might misunderstand others, and then some discrepancies might be expected; but in a narrative divinely commissioned by God to give the exact truth, we should not expect that sort of thing. Matthew gives two women–the two Marys; Mark mentions two Marys and Salome; Luke named Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, "and other women that were with them"; and John only specifies Mary Magdalene. Mr. Roberts says all this is true; to use his own phrase, it is a real discrepancy on the surface, but that the discrepancy may be explained away. I must say that Mr. Roberts has a very different notion as to what is good evidence from myself; and I put my notions to you very strongly.

When as to David, he says that, with the exception of the affair with Uriah the Hittite, David never did anything that was not good. I cannot help reminding him of what is recorded in Samuel 27. 1 find that David went to Achish, king of Gath, for shelter. "And David said unto Achish, if I have now found grace in thine eyes let them give me a place in some town in the country that I may dwell there: for why should thy servant dwell in the royal city with thee? Then Achish gave him Ziklag; wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day." In return for this, David smote the land and left neither man nor woman alive, and took away the sheep and the oxen, and the asses, and the camels, and the apparel, and returned to Achish. David saved neither man nor woman alive to bring tidings to Gath. I say that was the conduct of an ungrateful scoundrel, who knew he was doing wrong. He was a traitorous thief, who murdered the people and stole their cattle. If that is religion, save me from that religion.

Then we come to another case. Mr. Roberts don’t think that David robbed. In I Samuel 25, two chapters before the one I have read from, we find that David asked Nabal to give things to him, the only justification being that he had not already taken them; and when Nabal in strong language said he would not do it, David prepared himself to take them by force, but Nabal’s wife met him and he took her. Mr. Roberts said that David committed no offence except in the case of Uriah the Hittite, and that these people were savages. I don’t wonder at the mischief done in Patagonia or Terra del Feugo of old. Why should they be killed because they are savages? Were they consulted by the God of high heaven before He made them? With such savage doctrines, such inhuman and damnable doctrines, instead of being an Atheist as I am, I would be an Anti-theist, if I thought it would avail–(A VOICE: "Shut up".) That is just what I am doing with your Bible. In the 9th of Exodus, you will find that all the cattle of Egypt died, and you will find, in the 19th verse, a caution was sent to those who believed, in order that they might escape with their cattle, so that they should not die; and we find that those that left their cattle in the field, discovered that they had become victims in the storm, although they had already been killed in the 6th verse.

Mr. Roberts says that the promise of the land to Abraham is misunderstood by Mr. Bradlaugh. Of course, if you have a 5 note given to you, and have ten thousand promised to you that you shall have them for ever, and you never receive one of them, that is a promise, and it is broken. That is the case of Abraham. The words I have read to you: "Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward and southward, and eastward and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed for ever." He never did give it. Mr. Roberts says, "But he will when Christ comes; and, therefore, pray Mr. Bradlaugh, what will you say to Christ then?" I don’t know. We shall see. Wait till it happens.

Then Mr. Roberts says that the texts about cruelty are not capable of the construction I put upon them, because these people may have been ordered to be punished. I draw attention to Deut. 20:10: "When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it." If the nation will make peace, they shall all be slaves; but if they won’t, "but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it; and when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword; but the women, and the little ones and the cattle, and all that is in the city shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies which the Lord thy God hath given thee." I ask if that is not a horrible and terrible doctrine? I ask how can that be divine revelation which is so full of cruelty? I ask whether it is not savage? This was the language which justified negro slavery, and still supports the Coolie trade. It is said these slaves are inferior beings– "savages". Why, that is language which might have been uttered in some far-off corner of the globe? I never expected to hear it in Birmingham. I hold slavery is a damnable cruelty everywhere; but where we have the stronger intellect against the savage, it is ten times more cruel.

How, then, shall we further proceed? Shall I follow Moses when conjuring with the magicians? Is that an authentic revelation from God which brought up the wicked frogs from the waters of Egypt to spread over the land? Is this believed which says that there was darkness over all the land of Egypt, but there was light in the dwellings of the children of Israel, though they might be living in the same house or be immediate neighbours, there being thus for the time light and dark, patchwork fashion? Follow Moses through his zig-zag journey, during which the clothes of the people were not to wear out? Imagine, a Jewish baby two months old on leaving Egypt arriving at Palestine in the same clothes 40 years after! Follow Moses, when in the war between the Amalekites and the Jews, he, like some Duke of Cambridge, seeks a place of safety while the battle goes on. Shall I follow him while the drooping hands are being held up until the Amalekites are beaten? Shall I follow him through the absurdities of the quails and the manna? Shall I follow him up the Mount where God says to him, "Let me alone that my wrath may wax hot against them, that I may consume them?" Shall I follow him where he persuades God that he is wrong, and repenteth him of the evil which he thought to do to the people? Follow Moses! I have followed him a step too far. Is this Bible an authentic revelation, or is it a record of a hundred different myths linked together from the minds of a thousand different men? I have never, from the first speech I made in this debate, said that this is the work of forgers; and no man, no honest man, would keep me to that which I don’t advance.

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